Box of Delicious! {Foodie Pen Pal June & Coffee Brownie Recipe}

This month, as a part of the Foodie Pen Pals, I received a box from Heather and sent a box to Dustin.

A few weeks ago, I gave you a peek inside the box I got from Heather. Now it is finally time for the reveal!

Here’s what I got:

In case you can’t read all the labels, it’s Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar-Caramel with Black Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate (filled with) Speculoos Cookie Spread, Justin’s Organic Peanut Butter Cups, Artisana Pecan Butter, Jessica’s Vanilla Maple Granola, Artisana Coconut Butter, and Trader Joe (Jaques) Fleur Del Sel Caramels. (Heather did say she loves Trader Joe’s in her note, which, by the way, is the card with the cherries on it in the background.)

Thanks, Heather for the yumminess and for making me want to visit my local TJ’s! :)

For Dustin, I used some of the coffee from last month’s box to make brownies. I really like the idea of using something from the last box to forward on to the next one. Just a fair warning for the other foodie pen pals reading this right now.

I forgot to include the recipe in Dustin’s box, so I am putting it here:

Adapted from Epicurious: (original recipe)

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 15 tablespoons (2 sticks minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons finely ground coffee beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch metal pan with nonstick spray. Combine sugar, butter, cocoa, ground coffee, and salt in large metal bowl. Place bowl over saucepan of simmering water and whisk until butter melts and ingredients are blended (texture will be grainy). Remove bowl from over water; cool mixture to lukewarm if necessary. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. Sift flour over and fold in.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool brownies in pan.

Note: the original recipe includes pecans in the brownies and a mocha frosting, but I thought the brownies were good as is.

May Daring Bakers Challenge: Cream Puffs

As you may have noticed, I missed the April DB Challenge for many reasons: busy, not finding the ingredients, not having the right equipment.

This month, I was able to make (or attempt to) cream puffs needed to build the real challenge: “The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.”
I’ve made all of the components before, thanks to culinary school. I’ve even made all of the components for various jobs I’ve had either before or after culinary school. I know how to make pate a choux (the batter for the puffs). I know how to make pastry cream. I know how to make caramel. I know how to make chocolate glaze (which in this case was just melted chocolate).

So, I decided that I would make these special. I used some vanilla beans I bought a while back for the pastry cream. I used chocolate from TCHO chocolate, made right here in San Francisco.

But, for some reason (maybe because I was tired from working, or out of practice-I had not made these things for about 1 year-or whatever) these things, when I made them at home, did not turn out too well. The pastry cream was a little lumpy. The puffs did not “puff”.

Nonetheless, I have a pile of chocolate-dipped, vanilla pastry cream-filled cream puffs on a plate and called the challenge complete. Follow the jump to see the recipe and attempt this on your own, and to see the pictures of my croquembouche (and I use the term loosely, because, like I said, it is just a pile, and not a pretty cone shape). Maybe next time I will get a good night’s sleep and I will post another time with better cream puffs or something else made with pate a choux (you can also make eclairs, churros, and other similar items). Continue reading

…and now we bring you back to our (regularly scheduled) blogging.

Okay, so I hope you like the changes I’ve made so far. If you are new here, take a look around. I just started filing away the recipes I’ve used and featured on this site in a neat page I like to call the “recipes” page. It can be found at the top of this one. I have just slightly changed the look or “theme” of the pages to be more readable. I am also going to have shorter posts, and the recipes will be after the “jump” (just click on the little ” read more” link.) As previously mentioned, you’ll also be able to find the recipes on the new page.

So here is today’s post: peanut butter-peanut brittle and chocolate pudding


I wanted to try out (or really, use) the Silpat (a silicone non-stick mat used on cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans or any other flat surface to create a non-stick surface that is reusable and easy to clean) and the ramekins I/my mother bought me for my birthday. What better way to try these new kitchen items than to make brittle and chocolate pudding? I couldn’t think of anything either. (Yet.)

Both recipes were actually quite similar in method, and both things are easy to make. Quite simply, add things to a heavy-bottomed pot, wait a bit, add some more things, stir them around, and pour them out. Almost sounds like the hokey-pokey. (Just put your right hand in, etc. You don’t hear the similarities? Hmm…maybe that’s just my inner child poking it’s way out. Get it? POKING? Hokey-POKEy? Huh?) Anyway, if you are still interested in finding out about how to make brittle and/or chocolate pudding, just click away, and I’ll see you after the jump. (Just put your whole-self in…)

Continue reading

Fabulous Food Festival

Yesterday, I went to the Fabulous Food Festival. It was a bunch of booths of free samples and demos and other giveaways, but mostly businesses trying to sell their products to the masses. I think this picture explains it pretty well (if not, check out the picture at the bottom of this post.):

I tried some olive oils, and some fudge, along with some interesting things, such as tea infused chocolate. I even networked (sorta) by talking to the people who were selling chocolate bars and other chocolaty items. I did get this one guy’s business card who said that I should call him when I do start up my own business and that he would give me samples of his chocolate to use. I also found this company that rents out commercial kitchen space to caterers and bakers, and other chefs that are trying to start a business, but don’t have the money for kitchen space yet. I think the most random item being sold at the food festival was sheets. I didn’t get what that company was doing there. There were some other non-food but food related items there, such as “pies” that weren’t really pies, but little ornaments that looked like pies, but had things inside them that made them smell like pie, but then they also had other scents that I wouldn’t want to associate with pie, such as lavender. Is it me, or do flowers just not belong in food? I mean sure, one could argue that fruits are flowers, too, but don’t get me started there. I also tasted fennel pollen for the first time. Sure, it was mixed with other spices that you would generally use with apples, such as nutmeg, and cloves, and I wasn’t really sure what exactly fennel pollen was, and it was pretty much masked by the other flavors, but I guess it was good. I also bought some honey sticks, which are meant to be eaten kinda like pixie sticks, you just bite off the end, and then suck down the flavored honey. I guess you could also squeeze it into some tea, I guess it is probably just the right amount.

I also bought chocolate covered caramel, which had sea salt on top, which, since I like sweet and salty together, was good, though this was a little too salty for my taste. Overall, an interesting experience at the festival.

Today, I was going to do some volunteering down at the Food Bank, but then had other plans, but then those plans got changed, so now I am left with just hanging out in my apartment with nothing to do. Perhaps I’ll end up baking something, and therefore blogging about it later, but we’ll see.