Archive for September, 2008

The Domestic Scientist

Ever wonder what Guitar Hero Cupcakes would look like? Or maybe you’ve thought to yourself HEY I should make d20 cookies to bring to my next D&D campaign kickoff? No? Well maybe, just maybe you’re also a fan of BAKING?! Woah there tiger, I know I said the B-word, but you’re going to have to calm down there.

Just hang a left and head to this place where you can find all these things and more. I love reading this blog because it’s a baking/craft blog for those of us who own Wii’s and can effortlessly write up a character sheet. In high school I used to hang out in my friend’s basement, which we called the hobbit hole, and play D&D or Vampire until the wee (wii) hours of the night. I think my best character was a level 13 Drow… But enough of the geek-talk!

The Domestic Scientist is great if you’re looking for a design for a DS case or for a great recipe. Check out the most recent, a recipe for S’mores cookies, which I’m actually seriously craving right about now…

September 30, 2008 at 12:00 am 1 comment

I am a Chocobot, not a Chocobo.

I love chocolate.

It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise since a) I’m a girl, and most if not all girls love and NEED chocolate on a monthly basis… b) I’m a baker. c) I only function if there’s a constant stream of chocolate syrup dripping into my veins at all times.. I’m a Chocobot (not to be confused with a Chocobo.) So there. There are three good reasons why I love my chocolate and I’d die without it.

I made this dough last night and refrigerated it overnight so that when I woke up, I would be able to slice the log and bring the cookies into work for people to enjoy. (NOTE: These cookies hardly made it to work, they were so good… ) After all, I’m going to be there all day and I’d might as well ensure that everyone’s going to be a in a good mood. If chocolate doesn’t help them, then nothing will.

Chocominty Coconut Cookies

Chocominty Coconut Cookies

Chocominty Coconut Cookies

2/3 c whole-wheat pastry flour
3 tbsp c all-purpose flour
1/2 c plus 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2c shredded coconut
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
6 tbsp cool unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Mix all your ingredients together and then form into an 8 inch log before wrapping in saran wrap and letting it chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Then, take it out and slice into 1/4 inch slices, place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until the edges start to crack. Enjoy!

I dipped them halfway into melted semi-sweet chocolate and then let them cool on parchment. They didn’t need it.. but damn, they were good with the extra chocolate. What cookie ISN’T good with some more chocolate?!

September 29, 2008 at 12:00 am 4 comments

Daring Bakers Challenge: Lavash Crackers

The Daring Bakers Challenge for this month was Lavash Crackers, crispy pita-like crackers that you spice up savory or sweet. I chose a combination of the two. The secondary part of the challenge was to make the recipe completely vegan or gluten free, or both. I chose vegan, the easy way out for sure… But I completed the challenge nonetheless. And I think they look darned good. See for yourself For my alteration of the recipe, I created these babies.

Lavender Lavash Crackers with Sweet Potato Dip

Lavender Lavash Crackers with Sweet Potato Dip

Lavender and Sweet Potato have always hit the spot for me. Something about the natural sweetness of the Sweet Potato as well as the subtle savory yet flowery aroma of the lavender. These turned out to be a big hit. I brought them to the first ever SUGAR Queens meeting and they were 3/4 gone when the meeting ended. When I came home, the last quarter of them was inhaled by my hubby. Talk about a hit. Here’s the recipe if you’re interested.

1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tb honey
1 Tb canola oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball.  You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter.  Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled.  Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.  Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour.  Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax.  At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down.  Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes.  When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes.  Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.  Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment.  If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.)  Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough.  You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking.  If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

(I sprinkled half of my crackers with Granulated Sugar and half with Kosher Salt. This gave everyone the choice of whether they’d like their experience to be Salty or Sweet. I loved the Sweet ones… but that’s just me the carboholic talking.)

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough). When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

NEXT, our challenge was to make a dip that would be suitable with it. I threw this together:

Sweet Potato Garlic Dip

2 garlic cloves
2 sweet potatoes
2 medium carrots
1/2 to 3/4-cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)

Put unpeeled garlic cloves on aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes, until soft. Microwave or boil unpeeled potatoes until done. Peel carrots, cut into large chunks and microwave or boil until soft. Drain carrots, peel potatoes and put both in a food processor. Squeeze in the baked garlic. Add 1/2-cup broth and blend. With motor running, add oil. Add remaining broth as needed until purée is fairly smooth and full. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to room temperature for serving and stir in the optional herbs right before serving with raw vegetables and bread sticks.

Hope you all enjoy! Let me know what you think. I HIGHLY recommend this sweet potato dip AND the crackers.

Happy Baking, Folks!

September 28, 2008 at 12:00 am 2 comments

Etsy Finds

Here are some of the terrific confection-related finds that I’ve seen on Etsy.com this week. Check them out!

Cherry Vanilla Cupcake Soap

Cherry Vanilla Cupcake Soap

I know that I’m going to have to get me some of this Cupcake Soap. You’d better believe that I was all over that Warm Vanilla Sugar lotion from Bath & Body Works… Now I can step out of the shower smelling like something I baked. I want to always smell this good. Just tell your family members that this is SOAP not FOOD. I know, I know.. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse the two, especially when the former looks like this. Yum! Check out Lily Bay Soap if you’re into natural bath products… Or if you just want to play a trick on someone by leaving this in the shower

Sweet Skully

Sweet Skully

This would look phenomenal next to my new Ink. I think I’ll have to purchase one for me and one for my sister… These are ultimately cute and so totally rad. Check out Stoopidgerl if you like things that are Sweet and Sour at the same time. Tons of eye-popping resin jewelery. This is one killer shop.

Dunking the Cookie Dangle Earrings

Dunking the Cookie Dangle Earrings

I had to take a second look at these earrings. No, seriously. They’re Milk and Cookies earrings. I want to get these for my friend Tiffany over at The Cookie Blog. Ya’ like? CuteAbility just screams “SWEET VINTAGE, BATMAN!”  Doilies, sugar and tea parties.

Cupcake Pin

Cupcake Cutie Pie

And this would be yet another pin that I would love to add to my collection. Poison and Antidote’s shop is laden with delicious looking and unfortunately inedible confections that are well suited to rounding off my Etsy finds this week.

Really. If I keep on looking, I know that I’m going to get a little funny with my funny money and start digging into my real-life money. All good things must come to an end, right! Until next Saturday, that is!

September 27, 2008 at 12:00 am 1 comment

Cakeoff 02 – Choco Cookie Battle

I have never personally made Chocolate Cookies. Yeah. Believe it. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying and loving every chocolate cookie that I’ve ever seen. I love the rich dark color and the chocolate flavor. And most of the chocolate cookies that I’ve made have had chunks in them, either white chocolate or nuts or best: more chocolate.

At work we have a cookie called the Chocolate Duet Cookies. Due to a contract that I signed, I’m not allowed to tell you what’s in it… but it’s good: 680 calories and 35g of fat good. And who hasn’t had one of those Girl Scout cookies, Thin Mints. I could pack those away like there was no tomorrow if I weren’t do afraid of gaining 50 lbs in the process.

So here’s my question: Is it possible to make a Chocolate Cookie that tastes good and doesn’t add 4 inches to your waistline? I’ve got two recipes up for question this week. I’ll make both of them, in small small batches, serve them to my friends and family without telling them anything about the recipe or how many calories, blah blah blah.. and we’ll see which one’s best. THEN I’ll reveal the nutritional info on them and we’ll see who reigns supreme.

Contenders:

Chocolate Dream Cookie: a rich chocolate cookie with chocolate chunks

4oz Bittersweet Chocoalte, chopped
1 tbsp Butter
1 1/2 tbsp AP FLour
1/8 tsp Baking Powder
1 Eggs
1/3c Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Vanilla
3/4c Semisweet Chocolate Chips

In a medium saucepan cook and stir bittersweet chocolate and butter over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool mixture about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed about 5 minutes or until thickened and pale yellow. Gently stir in flour mixture and cooled melted chocolate. Stir in chocolate peices.

Immediately, using a small ice cream scoop, drop dough in mounds about 1 inch high on cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are set but centers are soft. Cool these cookies completely before removing from the sheets. These need to set!

————–OR————-
Chunky Chocolate Cookie: Crispy double chocolaty cookie

1c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4c butter
1 1/4 oz unsweet baking chocolate
3/4c granulated sugar
1 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
6 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a wire whisk, mix dry ingredients thoroughly; set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened baking chocolate over medium-low heat; stir constantly until completely melted.

In a large mixing bowl using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs and vanilla until blended. Add chocolate and butter mixture. Add dry ingredients, 1/3 at a time alternating with sour cream; mix well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet, spacing them 2″ apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool and eat!

Enjoy the cakeoff! Results will be posted on Thursday, October 2nd.

September 26, 2008 at 12:00 am 2 comments

My Sacred Cupcake & Coco’s Birthday Cakes

Yesterday, I headed over to Matt Lukesh over at Seppuku Tattoo here in Savannah, GA to finish up the tattoo that he started a couple of weeks ago. It’s my Sacred Cupcake. What do you think?

Sacred Cupcake

Sacred Cupcake

——————————————————————————–

I love birthdays. I love them because there’s cake and frosting involved. Sure, there are presents and hugs and congrats and sometimes crazy parties, but my favorite part of a birthday is a cake baked especially for me. And so I return that favor to anyone around me, so that they know that I made this cake especially for them.

Coco is a friend of mine at work who’s always upbeat. I asked her what her cake choice would be this year and she said: Make it vinage, and throw in some magical and maybe some whimsical. So that’s what I did.

Vintage white cake with strawberry frosting

Vintage white cake with strawberry frosting

Vintage white cupcake with Magical strawberry frosting and Whimsical over-sized nonpareils.

Vintage White Cake

1/2c Unsalted room temp Butter
3/4c Granulated Sugar
1/3c Milk
1/3c Water
1 1/2c Cake Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Egg Whites

Cream the butter and the sugar together until it forms a light fluffy cream. Then, add 1/2c of the flour. Combine well and then add the water. Combine well and then add another 1/2c of the flour as well as the baking powder and the salt. Combine well and add the milk. Combine, mix in the final portion of the flour and beat on high for a couple of minutes. Should be VERY light in color and fairly fluffy.

Beat the egg whites until you get stiff peaks, probably should take about 4 minutes. THEN, fold them into the batter until you cannot see any streaks of egg white. Spoon into cupcake papers, filling them 2/3 of the way. Bake them at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean

Magical Strawberry Frosting

4oz Cream Cheese
1/2c Pureed Frozen Strawberries
4c Powdered Sugar

First combine the cream cheese with 1c of the powdered sugar. This will probably look like crumbs when it’s fully combined. Beat it an additional minute on high and it will become a cream again. Then, add the strawberries. Combine well. It should look really thin. Add the rest of the powdered sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency. You should have ALOT of frosting. More than double what you will need.. so maybe half the recipe?

Construction

When the cakes are fully cooled, frost them each with about 1-2 tbsp of the frosting. Spread it out using a butter knife or a small offset spatula. I let them cool for about 20 minutes and then I flipped them into a dish containing my Whimsical over-size Nonpareils. You’re finished. Enjoy!

Coco's Cakes

Coco's Cakes

Happy Baking, folks!

September 25, 2008 at 12:01 am 12 comments

First Day of Fall

Today is the first day of fall, my favorite season of all! I love it when the leaves start to turn and fall off of the trees this time of year. I’m from New England originally, and this season was the most beautiful up in the North. The cool air was welcomed in NY just as it is in GA. What better to do on the first day of Fall than to bake spicy fall cookies? I’ll tell you what: Nothing. That’s right. There’s nothing better to do.. Except maybe *eating* spicy fall cookies.

Spicy Acorn Squash Cookies

3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp Sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup winter squash
1 eggs
3/4 cup AP flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground ginger

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the Squash and the eggs and combine until well mixed. Slowly add all the dry ingredients (Sifted first, of course!!) into the wet batter. This should all come together quite nicely, and smell even nicer.

Form into tablespoon-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 for about 12-15 minutes or until done. Cook on a cookie sheet and serve as you like them!

Enjoy these treats with applesauce, or even better, some apple cider. I cut mine open horizontally and filled them with a thin buttercream to add some sweetness.

Happy Baking, Folks!

September 22, 2008 at 12:00 pm 1 comment

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