Baking without a recipe

Everyone says baking is an exact science, and it is because of the reactions between the different ingredients. But it is possible to change a recipe because baking is really all about the correct ratios. For example, cookie dough, or, as I posted before, 1-2-3 dough, is a ratio of 1 part butter, 2 parts sugar, and 3 parts flour. With adding some eggs, some baking powder, and some flavor (such as vanilla extract) and you’ve got a cookie dough. I used this recipe to make cookie dough at work without a written recipe. I used 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar (cream together); 2 eggs, added one at a time; a little vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and 3 cups of flour (mix until all ingredients combine). I was making Snickerdoodle cookies, so I added some cinnamon. I also made peanut butter cookies using 1/3 cup peanut butter and 2/3 cup butter. All of the other ingredients remained the same. This is the first time I made cookie dough without following a recipe. I was quite proud of myself because of this. I will see exactly how well I did once I try baking them off, but I think it will be okay. If it does work out okay, I will definitely be more confident in my baking abilities and about how much going to pastry school has really taught me!

NaBloPoMo: Post 2

Ever since I moved to San Francisco, and I have told people that I graduated from the CIA with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts, I have been asked what my specialty is/what my favorite thing to bake is. I have almost a different answer every time because I like to bake just about anything and don’t really have a “specialty”. I do, however, have a few favorite recipes that I like to turn to, and since this post is a part of the NaBloPoMo, and the theme this month is fan, I bring you a list of my favorite things to bake, and their recipes:

  1. Better Than Brownie Cookies. They are a great chocolaty cookie recipe that I found on another blog a couple of years ago and I like baking them every so often. I have come up with different variations of the recipe such as using butterscotch or peanut butter chips instead of the second cup of chocolate chips. I think, like brownies, these cookies allow you to have a very creative license. Last night I dreamed about making them with a sprinkle of sea salt on them. (Yes, I dream about dessert!)
  2. Pie Pops. Also found on a blog a couple of years ago. Every time I make them or bring them up in conversation, people get pretty excited about them. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s a mini pie on a stick.
  3. Chocolate chip cookies. I have always liked using the recipe from the back of the Nestle chocolate chip bag for as long as I have been making chocolate chip cookies (which is a long time). I also like adding different things to them. This recipe has oatmeal and bananas in it.
  4. Ice Cream. I have yet to buy an ice cream machine/attachment for my KitchenAid (though my birthday is coming up in November; hint, hint, nudge, nudge) but I love making ice cream. I love that this is also one of those things you can get really creative with. By the way, while it’s not on my favorite list, it is National Rocky Road Ice Cream Day!
  5. Brownies/Blondies. So easy and so chewy and good. Love to make brownies in a smaller pan than what is called for. Usually, brownies are baked in a 9×13 pan and I bake them in a 9×9 or an 8×8. This makes them more fudgy and gooey and that’s what you want in a brownie, right? I know it’s kinda weird, but I also only like the middle-no edges for me!

So there it is. The top five things I like to bake. My turn to ask: what’s your favorite thing to bake/what’s your specialty? (you can answer in the comments)

C is for cookie, and that’s good enough for me!

Purim was celebrated on Saturday and what a day it was!

In the morning, I ran with the Jews For Run group in their Pacing For Purim “race”. It was the first time I went running (other than going to the gym) and I had a great time (even getting drenched in the rain)! It was motivational to run in a group and to get inspiration from runners of all kinds of experience.

The main highlight of the day was Purim Palooza (see pictures here -I’m in some!) I went to the show at Temple Emanu-el as Cookie Monster, but took the hat off that made the costume, and became just someone in a onesie at the after party at the Rockit Room. Anyway, as Cookie Monster, I thought it was a good idea to show up with a bunch of cookies, and since it was Purim, I decided on Hamentashen. I used the same recipe as before, and used chocolate chips as the filling and put some poppy seeds in the dough. I found that the ones that were more closed tasted better, since you got chocolate in each bite.

This post was brought to you by the letter H, for Hamentashen!

The Cookie Experiment

I did a baking experiment about the difference between baking powder and baking soda. For this experiment, I baked chocolate chip cookies.

I made four varieties:

  1. with no leaveners
  2. with only baking powder
  3. with only baking soda
  4. with both baking soda and baking powder

The recipe called for baking soda only, so I guess you could call that the “control” of the experiment. The 3rd and 4th varieties were chewier and tastier than the 1st and 2nd varieties. Below are the pictures representing each variety. You can tell that the baking powder creates a cookie that doesn’t spread as much and kept more of a dome shape, while the baking soda created a flatter, more spread out cookie.

no leaveners used

only baking powder used

only baking soda used

both baking powder and baking soda used

February Daring Bakers’ Challenge

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I found both the cookies and the panna cotta to be easy to make and involved ingredients I had on hand. Both items were well-liked by my roommates and were eaten almost instantly.


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Butterscotch Blondies

I made these blondies for a potluck/housewarming/birthday party that I am going to later today. The recipe is simple, and except for the butterscotch chips, (unless you are like me) involves ingredients that you have on hand. If you’ve baked brownies before, (or any other cookie) then this recipe will come really easily to you. I got it from the Hershey’s website, and it is listed as beginner. It also lists the butterscotch chips as Hershey’s brand, but I used Nestle. (Is that wrong? to use one brand and then follow another brand’s recipe?) I will be tasting them later, since they just came out of the oven, but I am sure they will be tasty, since the batter was good. :) Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Cookies with a Twist

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I like using ingredients that I’ve had leftover. I was also in the mood to make cookies with all of the talk about them on other blogs for the holidays. Therefore, I made whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. The twist in these cookies is the whole wheat flour, along with cinnamon-sugar and semi-sweet baker’s chocolate—all ingredients I had leftover from previous baking adventures. (Including, but not limited to, doughnuts and corn-stalk rolls.)

All week long, I’ve been eating the dough out of the fridge, and just baked off a few today. Both ways of consuming the dough are really great, but of course you have to wait longer for the baked ones. :)

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