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)

Indie Mart: I’m selling my sweets (again)!

I am going to be selling my homemade sweets at this:
INDIE MART JULY 300
I am making chocolate-covered pretzels, pie pops, and cookie sandwiches. Come down to the Mission and get some goodies! :)

Here are all of the details:

July 18th Indie Mart..back with more DIY. more fun. and more antics.
The Indie Mart is hitting the street again Sunday July 18th, from 12-6pm. We got over 90 vendors bringing you the best makers, designers, vintage, handmade unique goodies, art, baked treats and much more. Tons of interactive vendors offering customization or showing you how it’s made. About a third of our vendors are new, keeping to our promise of new vendors from all over Cali & SF.
We also have more DIY! Thanks to all of you who loved up on our woodland creature terrariums. This Indie Mart you can make your own terrarium, make pie in a jar to take home & bake OR you can sew up & create your own Sock Monster with help from WorkshopSF. We also got Broke Ass Crafts with Broke Ass Stuart with all kinds of fun dirt cheap crafts to make. We’re also welcoming Forage SF who host the underground farmers market, who are bringing a few rad vendors with them. San Franpsycho live printing out their badass milktruck. Besides our usual standby’s on stiff drinks, cheap beers & fresh BBQ food from thee Parkside… We got a life size terrarium where you can hang out, drink some beers & kick it with the gnomes, deer and relax. PBR’s forest right next to it, where you can hang out and get some sweet PBR giveaways..did someone say a tallboy sleeping bag?! Puppies & kittens for adoption from WonderDog. Heavy Metal Aerobics pumping at 3pm for all to join in (SF Weekly & 7×7 Best of SF winner). Photobooth. All lady DJ’s outside all day playing hella rock & roll. Bike parking & all kinds of fun!
Bands inside:
Chappo Music from NYC (4:15pm, http://www.chappomusic.com)
The Downer Party (3:30pm, http://www.myspace.com/downerpartytime)
Super Adventure (2:45pm, http://www.myspace.com/superadventureclubmusic)
Microfiche (2pm, http://www.myspace.com/microfichemusic)
DJ’s outside all day: DJ Cherry T, Sassy Mags, Danelle (from Heavy Metal Aerobics) & Resident DJ Rick Moranis (previously Sarahdactyl)
This month’s featured artist: Kelly from Retro Whale. Peep her rad art here!
The Indie-Mart Street Fair
Sunday July 18th, 12-6pm
Thee Parkside- 17th st & all down Wisconsin
Ride your bike, take the 22 Muni Line
Valet bike parking from the SF Bike Coalition
ALL AGES- 21 to booze it up.
$3 to git in!
http://www.indie-mart.com
http://www.twitter.com/indiemart
http://www.facebook.com/people/Indie-Mart/1330994393
JUST GOOD SHOPPING. GOOD FOOD. GOOD MUSIC. GOOD DRINKING. GOOD PEOPLE. GOOD ALL DAY FUN. THE INDIE MART.
http://www.indie-mart.com

baking FAIL turns into awesome ICE CREAM! (aka this is what I did today)

Since I had some left over cookie dough from the pie pops, and some time to kill today, I was wondering what I had that I could mix with it. I found butter, sugar (brown and regular, granulated), and cinnamon—all ingredients I needed for cinnamon rolls! So, I softened and rolled out the dough, and softened the butter and mixed it with the sugars and cinnamon. Spread the butter mixture on the dough, rolled it up, cut 1″ pieces, placed them in a cake pan (I didn’t use my jelly roll pan because there weren’t that many pieces, and put them in a pre-heated, 375 degree oven. (sounds good, right? and if you look at the picture, it looks like they turned out well, and people ate them so quickly that all I had time to take a picture of was the empty pan—but after reading the title of this entry, you already know this is not true!) After about 5 minutes, I started to smell the butter browning. (kind of a nutty smell) So, I checked on the rolls, and found that all of the butter had melted out of the dough. I could have been frustrated, and dumped the whole thing, but instead, I put the pan back in the oven, and finished baking the dough, about another 15 minutes. Overwhelmed by the delicious smell of butter and sugar, I quickly thought “I bet this would be good in some ice cream. Like brown butter ice cream, with little cinnamon cookies sprinkled in.” So, I ran out, and got some Bryer’s  vanilla ice cream (now with 30% more REAL vanilla beans!) and put the softened ice cream in a bowl, and dumped in my buttery, sugary, cinnamony dough pieces, and used a rubber spatula to mix them together. Dipped a spoon in, tasted, and LIKED it!

Now, I don’t have any fancy equipment, such as a food processor, or ice cream maker (but they are on my gift wish list—and my birthday IS coming SOON…) but these items would be useful for making the dough pieces smaller, and I would have liked to make my own ice cream, because I did go to pastry school, and I know how to make it, but especially because I am not the biggest Breyer’s fan. (also realized I don’t have a rolling pin-I just used my hands to press out the dough-no big deal, since it was a small amount.) Anyway, the end result is still good, and because I am such a huge fan of chocolate, I added some chocolate syrup, but the extra flavor was not needed. (she writes, as she dips her spoon back in the bowl for some more ice cream…) Lesson learned: what might seem like a complete baking FAIL may turn out to be something GREAT.

While I don’t have a picture of the failed cinnamon rolls, I do have some pictures of the ice cream, and I am willing to share with you the recipe for the ice cream, and real cinnamon roll recipes, in case you want to make those instead of the failures-turned-good rolls.
First, the fail-rolls:
If your dough has been in the refrigerator or freezer (as in you didn’t just make it), then you need to soften it. I did this by putting it in the microwave. Easy and quick. Then, like I said, I rolled it out, spread on the butter mixture, etc.
I used part of the recipe for the Mama’s mini-cinis (below) to figure out the right butter-sugar-cinnamon ratio. I used 3 tablespoons of butter, about 1-1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and a dash of ground cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp if you are really into measuring what I like to call “the small stuff”—spices, vanilla, etc. that don’t make much of a difference in a recipe, unless you put in TOO much.) After spreading the butter mixture on the dough, I rolled it up, cut 1″ pieces and placed them in the pan. 375 degrees. 15-20 minutes. I don’t know exactly why, perhaps I was looking to soak up all of the butter that melted out, but I flipped over the baked dough. I used maybe a quart of ice cream. All I know for sure is that the label says 1.5 quarts, and there is some left, about enough for a good-sized bowl full. You’ll know it’s enough because You won’t see any cookie pieces sticking out, it will just look like lumpy soft serve.
So, it was really easy to fix this baking fail. Just add ice cream!
Now, some of you might want the satisfaction of cinnamon rolls that never fail, but are really easy and quick to make, so I introduce to you Mama’s mini-cinis. This is not a recipe from my mother, but someone else’s, who decided to put this recipe up on the interweb.
Mama’s mini-cinis:
Ingredients:
2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls (I guess Pillsbury makes these)

6 TBS butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans (optional)
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls, and separate each portion along center perforation to form 4 rectangles; press diagonal perforations to seal.
Stir together butter, sugars, pecans, and cinnamon. Spread over one side of each rectangle. Roll up jelly roll fashion, starting at long end. Gently cut each log into 6 (1″ thick) slices, using a serrated knife. Place rolls 1/4″ apart into 2 8″ cake pans. (can also use a jelly roll pan, but you want something with edges-do not use a cookie sheet.) bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. cool 5-10 minutes. makes 2 dozen.

Stir together powdered sugar and remaining ingredients, drizzle over warm rolls. (of course, you could eat these with ice cream, too!)

note: to make slicing easier, place logs in freezer for about 10 minutes.

Easy as pie: the pictures: part two: extras

we had a lot of left over pie filling so we made a pecan pie and blueberry cookie crumble. (see Easy as pie post)

Easy as pie: the pictures: part one: pie pops.

the three fillings: pumpkin, pecan, and blueberry, and a little chunk of the cookie dough.

cutting out the cookie dough

first one up, blueberry.

next, pecan. look at how gooey they are!

pumpkin is last.

baked blueberry pie pops! a little bit messy, but still really yummy!

a bunch of baked pie pops!

Easy as pie.

Last night, with the help of my assistant pastry chef (Benjie), I finally had a chance to make pie pops. Although fun to make, it is a long process, especially if you are like us, and like to make things from scratch. You could do things the more convenient way, and buy pre-made dough, and pre-made pie filling, and then just put all of the ingredients together, but where’s the adventure in that?
So, first came the dough. The other blogs that we found the pie pops on used traditional pie crust, but I wanted to try something different, so I made a dough that is similar to cookie dough. In fact, the recipe I used is from the Culinary Institute of America‘s book, Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft, called 1-2-3 cookie dough. You may be thinking it is called that because it is easy as 1-2-3, which is true, but it is really called that because the recipe’s formula is a 1 to 2 to 3 ratio of butter, sugar, and flour. (ex: 1lb butter, 2lbs of sugar, and 3lbs of flour, with the addition of eggs (4) and flavorings.) I also used pie dough, just to see and taste the difference. The cookie dough recipe is similar to the CIA’s recipe for traditional pie dough, which they conveniently call, 3-2-1 pie dough. (3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, 1 part water.) I will share all recipes used at the end of this post. All of the recipes I used were really easy, mostly containing steps basically including “put all ingredients in bowl and mix together”. As far as textures go, the cookie crust was crunchier, and the pie dough was flakier, but both were good. I also liked the look of the cookie dough pops better, they came out shiner and just all-around nicer-looking.
Next, we made the fillings! We tried three different pie fillings, blueberry, pecan, and pumpkin. While it was fun to have all of the different flavors in the end, next time we are going to stick with one flavor. This is for simplicity, and because you do not use a lot of filling for each pop, we ended up making a full pecan pie, a blueberry cookie crumble, and have the left over pumpkin pie filling waiting it’s turn to be made into a full-sized pie in the freezer. So much pie! I think the pops made with the cookie crust were the best, because you can add more filling, and the ratio of crust to filling was perfect, compared to the pie dough, which left little room for filling, and therefore, the high ratio of crust to filling was not good.The fillings were all good, my favorite was the blueberry, not to sweet, not too tart. The pumpkin filling was okay, but would be better with real pumpkin, and not canned. (Yes,we used some convenience items. Perhaps later, when pumpkins, and other squash items are in season, I will make pumpkin pie from real pumpkin.) The pecan filling was gooey, and tasted good, but since it was the runniest, it created the flattest pops. I am happy to have used the rest of that filling for its own full-sized pie (made with leftover pie dough). Yum! I have not tried the blueberry cookie crumble, which was leftover cookie dough, left over blueberry filling, sprinkled with brown sugar, a little bit of flour, and cinnamon. I am sure it is good, though.
Okay, time for recipes! The filling recipes all came from the wonderful internet and the dough recipes came from the CIA’s Baking and Pastry book, as previously mentioned.

1-2-3 cookie dough: I scaled down the recipe to yield about 3 pounds of dough. This may sound like a lot of dough, but it gets used quickly. If you do have leftover dough, you could make a crumble, like I did, or refrigerate or freeze for later use. This makes really great tart dough, for those of you who like fresh fruit tarts.
Ingredients:
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
1 pound of sugar
2 eggs
1.5 pounds of flour
Method:
Cream together butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time. Slowly incorporate all of the flour. Be sure not to over mix, just be sure that all of the ingredients are combined.
Cover, and chill until cool to the touch.
Use plenty of flour underneath dough when rolling it out. However, too much flour will prevent it from sticking together.  If using for pie pops, you should be able to roll out pressed together scraps 2-3 times.
Since I don’t want to make this post uber long, I am just including links to the filling recipes I used:
Blueberry, Pumpkin, and Pecan.
Although I like the recipe for 3-2-1 pie dough, from the CIA, I did use this one, which follows the same recipe formula, but is easier to measure for those Suzy-homemakers out there with out the convenience of a kitchen scale. This makes enough for a bunch of pops, or one 9″ pie crust. This can also be refrigerated or frozen for later use.
Pie Dough:
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup of water, cold

 Method:
Place flour in a bowl. Cut butter into small pieces, about pea-size, and place in bowl. Toss around butter pieces, to be sure they are all completely covered in flour. Start to press dough together. This will help determine how much water should be used. My dough was coming together nicely, so I started out by adding only 1/4 cup of water. Then I pressed the dough together, and added just enough water to form a soft, smooth dough.
I was able to keep pressing together all of the scraps of dough and adding some dough that had not been rolled out yet, which allowed me to re-roll numerous times.
We followed the instructions on Bakerella‘s site on how to make the pie pops. Despite all of the work to be done for the dough and the fillings, the actual assembly is pretty easy.  Basically, cut out the circles of dough, place them on the cookie sheet, press on lollipop sticks (found at a craft store), place on a spoonful of filling, place another circle of dough on top, use another stick to help press down the top layer of dough, brush tops with egg white, bake in 375-degree oven for about 10-14 minutes. Let cool, and enjoy!
Okay, I am currently having trouble uploading the pictures, so you will have to use your imagination for now, and I will try to upload them soon!

my first dessert post is chocolate-filled

The desserts consumed over the weekend all involved chocolate in some way. Not very surprising, because I am somewhat of a choco-holic.
I went to Fish and Farm Friday night, and I had the wonderful Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse. This was served with chocolate ice cream and caramel-as a sauce on the plate, and a piece of caramel with salt (like a piece of brittle), that I consumed at the very end. I love the salty-sweet combo of  peanut butter and chocolate. The mousse was rich, but not overwhelming. I am not sure that the ice cream was a necessary addition to the dessert, but nonetheless, it was good, and chocolaty, and therefore fully consumed by me.

The next day, I was going to attempt the pie pops, as previously mentioned, but lollipop sticks are nowhere to be found in San Francisco, so I made the “better than brownie cookies” as presented on the Technicolor Kitchen blog. These are great cookies and certainly live up to their name.  Texture-wise, I tend to like fudge-y brownies, rather than cake-y brownies, and these cookies were somewhere inbetween. However, these cookies are similar to brownies because they have a crusty outer layer. I like this texture contrast. Also, I do not like the edges of brownies (I like the pieces from the middle of the pan.) so these cookies are better, because you don’t have the chewy, slightly burnt edges of a brownie. The cookies also take about half the time (about 12-14 minutes) than brownies usually take to bake, which is a plus, because I am impatient; once I smell the chocolate and sugar melting together in the oven, I want to just dive right in eat the partially baked brownie batter. These cookies are good warm or room temperature, if you can wait long enough to let them cool before eating them all. Next time I might add peanut butter chips, or butterscotch chips, rather than chocolate chips. Maybe even try adding some banana bits.
Those were my chocolate-filled dessert tastes for this week. Hopefully, lollipop sticks will be found, and I will have the opportunity to make pie pops, and maybe something else on a stick. I can’t wait for more sweet fun! (pun intended.)