Part Two(s)

So, we made the Better Than Brownie Cookies (again) but this time we added butterscotch chips instead of chocolate chips. They were well-received at the Break-fast that we went to after Yom Kippor ended last night.

Also, we made pumpkin pie from the leftover filling that was in Benjie’s freezer from the pie pops.
That was really good, too. For the crust, I made the dough that was supposed to be turned into puff dough for turnovers, so it was a little bit different than basic pie dough. This recipe included milk and sugar, which I used in place of ice water in ordinary pie crust. We will be making turnovers some time in the near future, so look for the crust recipe then.

No pictures of anything, sorry. Though, I will have my camera ready tomorrow night, when we make some meringues! :o)

chocolate cookies: part 2

Okay, so I made some more chocolate cookies, again, because I was wanting something sweet and chocolaty, and a limited supply of ingredients. This recipe is also very simple and easy, and quick to make. It came from The Little Black Book of Chocolate and is called chocolate wafers. It says it makes about 24 wafers, but I think I made fewer than that because I ended up eating some of the batter, and probably scooped them a little bit bigger than “walnut size” and ate them right out of the oven, before I got a chance to count them. (Yes, I could have counted them before they went into the oven.) Also, since I just made chocolate cookies that looked very similar to these, I found no reason to take a picture of them. But if you really want a picture of these particular chocolate cookies, I would be happy to make them again, and post a picture. :o)
Chocolate Wafers
1-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

This is the regular “creaming method”, for those of you who come from the professional baking world. For those not from the professional baking world, here’s what that means:

  1. Cream together the sugar and butter, until “light and fluffy”. (I put “light and fluffy” in quotes because it is a phrase I read all the time and think “what does that mean?” of course, I know it means lighter in color, and not little butter chunks mixed with sugar. (Oh, Chef Haymon, you would be so proud.)
  2. Beat in the egg and vanilla. 
  3. Gradually beat in the flour and cocoa powder and baking powder and salt. Mix until just combined.
  4. Scoop into walnut sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Press down.
  5. Bake in preheated 375º oven for 8-10 minutes. Cool on racks. 

Again, try not to eat them all right when they come out of the oven.

**Update: literal comment note from my roommate: “These things are so good! VERY addictive! Thank you…” Just goes to show you how good these really are; they were gone in about 24 hours!**

In case you are wondering, we did not make the Better Than Brownie Cookies (another part two) last night. But maybe tomorrow, or Saturday, if we are not too busy with everything else for the dinner we are hosting. (Or, rather, that Benjie is hosting and I am helping with, since it is at his house.) Maybe they will be made on Sunday, before we go down to San Jose? Anyway, they will be made over the weekend. So, look for them after Yom Kippor. If you are “celebrating”, have an easy fast!

craving chocolate

tonight, I was craving something chocolate. literal thought process: “I want something chocolaty. But I know I don’t have anything. I could get out of my PJs and grab something from the convenience store. Nah. Hmm, let me go to the kitchen and see what’s in my cabinet. Cocoa powder. (reads ingredients listed for chocolate cake) No milk. Hmm…(searches cabinet for more chocolate products. Finds Baker’s chocolate, the unsweetened little squares. Reads back of box. Recipe for Soft and Chewy Chocolate Drops.) Hmm…I seem to have all of these ingredients. Oh, wait…FOUR chocolate squares?! (dumps out contents of box) Oh, I have TWO. Easy! I’ll just cut the recipe in half. (re-reads recipe.) It calls for three eggs. Oh well, I’ll figure out what half an egg is.” Long story short…(weird expression, by the way.) I made the cookies on the back of the Baker’s box. Really easy and quick. I omitted the glaze, because I did not have any cool whip. But no worries, these cookies are good with out it, and as the title of the recipe says, they are soft and chewy. Oh, and they took care of my chocolate craving, no problem.
Soft & Chewy Chocolate Drops
I will post the whole recipe, the one that is on the back of the box, even though when you grab your box, you can just read it from there. :o)
4 squares (4 oz) unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 cups flour
350º oven. My spoonful made about 2 dozen cookies.
Microwave chocolate and butter until butter is melted. Stir in chocolate until chocolate is melted. Add sugar. Mix well. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour, mix well. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or until dough is easier to handle. *I did not do this, and found the dough easy enough to scoop right away.* Bake 8 minutes, or until set.
That’s it. Try not to eat all of them as soon as they come out of the oven.

Just a little p.s/preview: tomorrow night’s baking adventure during movie night might be Better Than Brownie Cookies, Part 2, this time with peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips, instead of chocolate chips. Should be interesting, I like playing around with flavors. We’ll be bringing them to break-fast on Monday. That also means no post for Monday. Sorry, I am already not living up to my Monday/Thursday regular schedule. Oh well. Also, Friday night, or Saturday morning, we might be making pumpkin pie, or using the leftover pie filling for some dessert to share with the crew that is coming over for dinner on Saturday night. Keep coming back for more updates regarding these baking adventures!

apples and honey

So, to celebrate the Jewish New Year, it is tradition to eat apples and honey together. Since I am not such a fan of fruit, but more of a fan of everything sweet, I decided to make apple and honey lollipops. They turned out pretty well, and even look good enough to give away to the various homes I will be entering to celebrate the holiday (or Holy Day, as some people might call it.) this weekend. Making candy is pretty easy to do. It just takes some time (doesn’t everything?!) to wait for the sugar to boil to become about 300 degrees. (professional candy makers call this the hard crack stage, but last night we called it “waiting for the crack”.) Since it is so easy, this will probably be my shortest post yet. (But perhaps my sweetest?!)
Lollipops (makes about 20-30 depending on how big you make them and how fast you are with the hot sugar)
1. Spray either a marble slab or counter space (if you are lucky enough to have one…) or a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with some non-stick spray.
2. Measure your ingredients. I did this in a liquid (glass) measuring cup, because if you pour the corn syrup on top of the sugar, it is easier to get out. It is really easy to remember: 1/2 cup of each: sugar, corn syrup, and water. For the apple flavored candy, I used apple juice concentrate, about 2 tablespoons. Do not add the flavor to the sugar mixture yet. You will do this after the sugar reaches the right temperature.
3. Pour the sugar, syrup, and water into a pot and let boil. If you have a candy thermometer (which I do, but did not remember it last night) you can use it to take the temperature of the boiling sugar mixture, and you want to wait till it reaches 293-300 degrees. (I looked at many sites and the temperature for hard crack stage varies from site to site. The Baking and Pastry book from the CIA says 293 degrees.) If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can test the sugar the old fashioned way, by putting some syrup into cold water. If you can form a ball and it is hard to crack, you are all set. Also, 300 degrees is right before sugar starts to caramelize (it starts at around 310 degrees) so, if you notice your sugar starting to turn yellowish/goldish then that is also a good way to know when the sugar is at the right temperature.
4.  Add flavoring (and coloring, but it has to be oil based to work). Mix quickly.
5. Pour the sugar onto the pan, and quickly insert a lollipop stick, and rotate the stick so that you can be sure that it is completely covered in candy. You have to work quickly because the sugar will get thick and start to set up.
6. After the lollipops have cooled some, you can transfer them to wax paper and let them finish cooling before wrapping them.
If you are like me, and want to create two-flavored lollies, you can just pour the second flavor on top of the first.
That’s it. Pretty easy, huh? If you have any questions, of course you can post them as comments, and I will try to help, but I also found this website helpful, too.
Pictures! I like the top one, the pop looks kinda like an apple, I think. :o)

yellow cake and chocolate: two ways

Since I now have a job (although a temporary one) I am on somewhat of a regular schedule, and I want to blog regularly, so I am going to bake either Mondays or Wednesdays (during the dinner and movie nights that Benjie and I have) or both, if I am feeling up to the challenge, and then blog about what I bake either Monday evening, (before trivia night!) or Thursday during the day. These next couple of weeks will be busy with High Holy Day celebrations (Rosh Hashanah-The Jewish New Year and Yom Kippor-the Day of Atonement), but I think I can still make it work. Today, I made “yellow cake” (known in the professional baking world as sponge cake or vanilla cake) and finished them off with chocolate in two different ways.

1. traditional cake: vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. I don’t have a cake wheel (again, something to add to the birthday wish list) so I didn’t cut the cake in half and fill it with frosting, but I did the Suzie-homemaker version, and just iced the top and sides of the cake. so, nothing that special to blog about.

2. non-traditional: cake balls. I used the crumbs of the second cake (or, rather, made cake crumbs with the second cake) and leftover frosting from the first cake to make the balls. Then I made chocolate powdered sugar with unsweetened baker’s chocolate and powdered sugar. I rolled the cake balls in this mix. a very rich, moist, way to eat cake.
not goin’ to lie, I did use a cake mix, and pre-made frosting, because I was feeling kinda lazy, and didn’t feel like going shopping for all of the ingredients for making cake from scratch. but, of course, all of this can be done from scratch, and will be just as tasty.  therefore, I feel like it is unnecessary to explain the first cake much further, because I just followed the directions on the box. However, I will share with you the steps I took to make the cake balls in a little more detail.
Cake Balls: 
1. Create cake crumbs from any kind of cake you want to make (I suggest a moist cake, such as sponge cake) this should be fairly easy, especially if you start with a warm cake. You can get all fancy and technical with a food processor, and make really nice cake crumbs, but I just used my hands.
2. I put the rest of the frosting in the bowl with the cake crumbs and mixed them together, again, by hand. (of course, you can use any frosting flavor that matches the flavor of the cake that is being used)
3. Roll the mixture into balls. (Again, you can get fancy and make all of your cake balls the same size by using a scoop.)

4. Make the chocolate powdered sugar. I used unsweetened baker’s chocolate, that I melted and added powdered sugar to it. (2 ounces of chocolate, and about 3/4 cups of sugar) To make things easier, I added the sugar 1/4 cup at a time. The result that I got, since, again, I just mixed by hand, (and when I say “by hand” I really mean with a spoon or spatula, or whatever is appropriate in the situation, rather than something electrical.) was a bowl of small chocolatey-sugary balls. (see picture)

5. Roll the cake balls in the chocolate powdered sugar.

6. Have your “non-traditional” cake. (and share it, too!-ah ha!-a reference to the blog title!)

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:
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.