Posts filed under: ‘Holiday Gifts‘
On our belated honeymoon my husband and I went on a southern adventure. We drove down the coast, visited some friends in DC, North Carolina, and then on to Florida. I made a point of stopping at Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah because I adore their cookbook and now their establishment too. I highly recommend the Bourbon Bread pudding. Then we ventured on to Florida to hit up Harry Potter World and Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
I’ve adored Disney as just about anyone does, from the time I was a kid, mostly because I thought I’d become an animator.
My infamous French toast recipe is now been included on Spoonful a Disney blog for crafting and cooking. It’s one of 15 crockpot recipes and I myself can’t wait to try the semi homemade Caramel buns!
It’s kind of funny as things work out as just last night I was recommending the documentary Walt and El Grupo to my brother, a film about how Walt Disney became an American diplomat in South America during World War II. I mentioned to my brother it would make an excellent Christmas gift should he ever need an idea of what to get for me… I’m shameless.
Follow me on Instagram for Pics from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Magic Kingdom.
Add a comment December 10, 2013
I have a number of colleagues who are foodies and I spent a fair amount of my “water cooler” chat discussing sweets and baking endeavours. Today I gave some tips about icing a cake, later on the security personelle and I discussed pies and puddings. Lemon Meringue came up and I realized I’ve never made one!! Dare I admit?! A study of lemon merignue is soon to come.
In this conversation I found myself thinking of my grandmother who was a decorated pie maker, in fact when she passed away her banana cream pie was mentioned in her eulogy. Her birthday is this month so a banana cream recipe is in our sweet future.
Around midnight as I left work and I popped into a grocery store that was open late I found myself shocked and elated to find rhubarb on display in the produce aisle. I searched high and low for this red-celery-looking-tart veggie all summer with few results. Some grocers even looked at me funny when I asked for it. Its typically in season when strawberries are, in May and June (in New York). The few times I found it in the blistering summer months my motivation to bake Strawberry Rhubarb Pie did not last far past my trip home, and sadly the rhubarb usually spoiled before I got up the energy to heat up my kitchen in 90 degree weather.
This rare find of Rhubarb sealed the day for me. Lets talk pie!
As I mentioned my rhubarb went bad a time or two before I got around to cooking it. Then of course it dawned upon me that perhaps a hot summer day isn’t always a pie baking day. But you don’t have to sacrifice your rhubarb. Chop it up and freeze it! The last strawberry rhubarb I made was at Thanksgiving.
Yeah I know- no one is jonesing for reminders of cold weather or Turkey naps as its finally feeling like spring is here. There were so many pies at Thanksgiving that my father joked that each of us could have one to ourselves.
Sure fresh fruit is always preferred, but using frozen fruit doesn’t change any of your preparations in making the pie. By the way I really like the freezer bags that ziplock makes– you can suck the air out of the bag and lengthen the life of your goods in the freezer–saving them from freezer burn.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Strawberries, hulled and sliced (hulled means de-stemmed)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients. If you are working with frozen fruit allow the fruit to thaw or warm over low heat before adding sugar and cornstarch. Simmer all ingredients over low heat until thickened. With frozen fruit you will be dealing with higher water content, so thickening might take a little longer. Remove from heat and refridgerate until ready to use.
This crust recipe came from SmittenKitchen and I absolutely love the recipe. Click that link because the pictures and instructions are GREAT!
2 and 1/2 c flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 oz) very cold unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoon sized pieces
1 c ice water
Add cubes to water and set aside. Combine Flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl– the extra room is important for the mixing process. Add butter and blend with your pastry blender– you can get these anywhere and if you want a blue ribbon in pie– you need one! (I got a great one at Target that also included a pie server, and pastry wheel.
A key to a wonderfully flaky pie crust, as suggested at smitten kitchen is visible chunks of butter. By using a pastry blender you are layering the butter between thin sheets of flour– key to allowing the steam production (butter melts and emits steam that puffs the flour) rendering a flaky crust. Once the butter and flour are combined and appear to be almost chunky– the size of peas add water.
Switch the pastry blender out for a spatula and start to pour the ice water over the dough. You may need some additional water, though I found that the 1 cup was adequate. Fold with the spatula, then knead with your hands for a minute, no more. Once combined wrap tightly in plastic wrap. This recipe makes enough for a double crust pie, or 2 single crust pies. Its ideal to split the dough in two and wrap separately. Refridgerate for at least an hour prior to rolling out. You can also freeze it if you are planning to use in the future.
Rolling the dough: If you’d like to save on the mess factor feel free to lace two large sheets of plastic wrap on the counter and roll. I, however, don’t mind making a huge mess. Flour your clean countertop. Knead dough to warm slightly, making the dough easier to work with.
Shape into a circular mound. Start by placing your rolling pin in the center of the dough. Work evenly out to the top and bottom of the dough, then side to side.
I typically just pick the dough up and rotate it 90 degrees. (roll top to bottom, then rotate 90 degrees, and repeat.) This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking– re flour if you need to, and its not as awkward with your arms. The dough will receed slightly as you roll it but be patient.
To determine if the dough is big enough to cover your pie plate. Set the plate (face down) lightly in the center of the dough to measure– there should be 2-3 inches around the perimeter of your pie plate. Some folks fold the rolled dough in quaters then unfold in the plate, or you can lightly flour the top surface of the dough, then roll the dough around your rolling pin, unroll across the plate.
Work dough into corners of plate. Cut excess crust at pie plates edge (save and reuse in the future). Patch any holes that might have torn.
Fold and pinch edges around pie plate. Use your index finger to push dough in between the knuckles of your index and middle finger on your opposite hand. Fill with filling.
Roll second part of dough. Thickness for both dough layers should be about a 1/6- 1/8 of an inch. I have misplaced my pastry wheel so instead I used a Wilton Ribbon Cutter and Embosser. It can be a little cumbersome to put together, but it allows you to cut 2 ribbons at once that are even and uniformly measured. In this case I used the 3/4 inch embossers, with the crimped edge cutter. Make sure you stack enough spacers so that the spacers stop just past the inside piece. Tighten washer and end cap. The cutter should roll easily though its tight enough that the cutters and spacers don’t waiver. Use your index finger to press on the washer to steady the ribbon cutter as you roll.
Attach ribbons at the edge and weave ribbon pieces over and under one another. *You can vary your lattic top appearance by weaving the lattice tightly together, or loosely apart, and of course you can cut the ribbons thicker or thinner.
Paint, using a pastry brush, with and egg yolk and a tsp or 2 of water.
Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. The pie is done when the filling begins to bubble. Its always a good idea to place a cookie sheet beneath a pie with a fruit filling so that any bubbling fruit does not bubble over and set off your fire alarm.
Add a comment April 6, 2011
In time for Valentines Day these are a great homemade, but really easy to make confection for someone you are sweet on. But first, I want to mention the event I made these for and my favortie, absolute favorite organization: VDay.
When I was in college studying theatre and wondering “What the hell am I gonna do after I graduate?!?!” I auditioned for a play, and got the chance to be on stage in a neighboring college’s production of The Vagina Monologues. I was also studying Solo Performance Art and quickly learned about the controversial play’s author Eve Ensler. I ended up doing a presentation on Eve and her work. I was astounded how she choose to use her piece to help others. To this day I don’t think any other playwright has written the rights to their work in such a giving and original way.
Each year (to this day) Eve allows college and community organizers to perform The Vagina Monologues, free of royalties. Proceeds from the performances are donated to a local organization who help to end violence against women and girls. I soon decided that it was odd the the super progressive, funky, eclectic and very eccentric college I attended didn’t do their own annual production of TVM. So the following year I produced and directed the first of 2 VDay events during my college career. Currently there are 1500 schools across the country who participate, raising millions for non profits in their communities. 4,000 events will take place this year around the world, and VDay has evolved too. Organizers can present many plays and films including The Vagina Monologues, A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer, Any One of Us, and films: What I Want my Words to Do to You, and Until the Violence Stops. There are book clubs for young girls, and teach-ins for the issues that VDay spotlights each year: Haiti being this years spotlight Campaign. There are V groups for men too, because violence doesn’t just affect women. VDay involves many amazing women and men who are all committed to ending violence and they use art to spread this transformative message.
Ever been on a stage? I’m sure you can attest to a metamorphosis feeling of being an actor, storyteller, or having seen a great piece that really changed your life. One of my favorite plays I’ve ever seen, is aptly called Metamorphoses— a pool of water instead of stage? A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. And thats theatre– art really. My story with VDay doesn’t really end. I made a brief but powerful connection to one of the Campaign Directors at the West End Theatre the year I first produce The Vagina Monologues, the next year I was interning and amoungst all the volunteering I still do for VDay whenever I can, and especially when they need a theatre nerd backstage. And that Campaign Director, Shael well I was there when she went into labor for her daughter Aela, and every year I make her birthday cake. Its our thing. And its always been my excuse to show a little V-girl what cool lady’s can do for the people who are special to them.
I hope to make the world a great place one cake at time, and VDay, aside from being all over my professional resume has been at the heart of how I want the world to be: happy, safe, amazing, accepting of everyone, for everyone. When violence is no longer perpetrated against women and girls– we are all ladies and gents safe, happy, accepting, progressing. We’re better. Better People, Better Friends, better family, better lovers, better artists. GOOD. If you want to get involved: be in a play, become or wake up that activist in you, reach out, open up, raise funds for a good cause, get educated, educate, become apart of a heart beat, a backbone of people who want the world to be a better place, be an artist, inspire, lead, be an example to the next generation of people, make the world better for your own kids, then go to VDay.org. You’ll find a performance or film screening near you and organizers always need help, so reach out and jump in. Make a donation if you want.
On to a really easy recipe just in time for VDay. Save the cash on store bought chocolates and make these for your sweetie.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles:
Start with a package a Nestle’s mini morsels.
Omit the eggs and levening agents. Walnuts are optional, and you are good to go.
Combine 3/4 c sugar, 3/4c brown sugar, 1c butter and 1 tsp vanilla
Add 2 1/4c flour and 1 tsp salt.
Its like a fluffy cloud of buttery sugar!
Fold in chips.
and you are ready to start scooping.
Of course try to get these as uniform as possible, scooping and rolling the truffles in your hands. Chill in the refridgerator for about an hour or longer before you dip in chocolate.
In a double boiler or microwave gently heat 1 c (more if you need) semisweet chocolate chips. I recommend adding 2 tbsp butter or shortening to thin the chocolate for a really thin consistency. Use a plastic fork with the 2 middle tines removed. Dip chilled truffles and allow to set on wax paper.
I like to finish these off by placing them in mini cupcake cups or candy cups for display.
Of course you can doctor these but using vegan butter and chocolate. I haven’t seen mini vegan chocolate chips, but chopping up your chocolate always works.
2 comments February 8, 2011
Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was on my way out the door of my apartment, when I saw two young kids with a puppy. It turns out they’d found her abandoned in the park across the street. She gave me one look with her German Shepard black lined eyes and I, of course immediately fell in love. We called animal care and control, filed a report, searched craiglist and the neighborhood for signs that she’d run away or gotten lost but as it turned out she was abandoned. Its pretty sad when you think about the strays and abandoned animals who need good loving homes. My cat is also a stray from the park who I found late one night crying outside my apartment. I like to think I didn’t find them, Minnie my cat and Billie, my dog, but that they found me.
So this week as a nice favor to my lovely boyfriend, a constant supporter to all my cake endeavours and all eccentric endeavours not cake related of course, I’ve got Billie with me in the city where we found her last summer. She visits often on weekends but typically lives upstate with my boyfriend who also couldn’t bare to bring her to a shelter after we found her. Having a dog is hard, early walks, giving up lunch breaks to take her out– in the rain, the snow, the biting cold, but one look at her Maybelline eyes and you can’t resist, so I’m happy to have another roommate this week, though my cat is not sooo pleased.
So heres a little holiday treat for puppy girls like Billie. Ever go into a store that carries a full variety of Bob’s Red Mill products and wonder Who in the World could possible use all that flour?
I’ve been perplexed by this question and this: what in the world is Spelt Flour anyway? It turns out you’ll need a little variety in your ground grain reperatoire with these puppy treats. My dog makes me incredibly happy, even though she is still a puppy and has her moments of absolute zaney off the wall bonkers craziness, shes a sweetie. And thankfully she is not totally food obsessed. She does her fair share of begging, and she does love treats, especially these. I think I have 2 buried in my couch currently– she likes to save her treats for later.
From Baking for Your Dog by Ingeborg Pils
9 oz whole grain Rye flour
3 1/2 oz rolled oats
1 oz lard
3 1/2 oz sausage meat
6 fluid oz water
Mix ingredients to form a dough. I added some bacon left over from breakfast the day before, I also opted to use the bacon grease left from breakfast instead of throwing it away. I should also mention that I didn’t use all the water, it just made he dough too gummy, so I suggest 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the refridgerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven for 320 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
On a floured surface roll our to 1/2 ” thickness cut out shapes with cookie cutters (dog bones came with the recipe book). I cut mine a bit thinner, closer to 1/4 of an inch. I used the rye flour to flour the surface, it adds a bit of texture. Make Place on cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Turn off oven and let dry within oven. Cookies will brown slightly on the bottom. I flipped the cookies after cooking and then allowed them to dry.
These cookies are good because the aren’t super greasy, though they have a meaty flavor. Billie loves bacon and sausage, however she likes to bury her treats when she gets them, making for some greasy pillows and cushions if I don’t watch her. These cookies are somewhat dry so if your dog is like Billie, you have little worry about. Store in cookie tin. Treat will keep for 2 weeks.
1 comment December 14, 2010
I love how in just about any borough of New York City all you have to do is walk 3 blocks in any direction and you’ll find yourself in a completely different neighborhood. For instance in my neighborhood you’ll find mostly hispanic, namely Dominican folks. A few blocks north you’ll find a predominantly Irish neighborhood. The differences in population from block to block may not be as stark in all parts of the city like Little Italy and China town, but all the same I absolutely love the fact that these small cramped islands we all share make us tolerate each other even accept each other and help us to build our little niches in each community.
Thus this cake recipe became very interesting to me as I’d gotten this same recipe from some very diverse students. Some of my students come from the Caribbean. And I’ve been fortunate to taste many versions of a cake they hold dearest in their Heritage. Black Cake. Black cake is a rich, dense Fruit cake that take lots of preparation: soaking fruit in wine for weeks even months, and repeatedly dousing your baked confection with rum. Traditionally Black cake is then covered with royal icing, and finally a layer of almond paste, or marzipan rolled out over the top. This cake is a feat to make, and master and it is delicious, and that’s not just the rum talking.
Then I realized how cool it was that this gem of the islands was also held in great esteem on a very different island…England. Of course this seems like no revelation considering how the West Hemisphere was discovered, explored, and conquered by an array Europeans. So no, Christmas Cake, (as the Brits call), being a shared tradition, wasn’t that big of a surprise after all. But I still relish in the fact that food brings people together. It’s the reason I write this blog really. And when it comes down to cake, well you couldn’t think of a better food that is iconic of celebration. So with one year coming to an end and another beginning I’d like to dedicate this recipe to anyone who aims to live, rather Celebrate life, and all the great things that make us unique and all the wonderful and tasty things we share.
I made this cake for the first time, as a grooms cake for friends of mine who were getting married, See the drum cake under “Weddings” in the gallery. Murielle a native of Haiti wanted a grooms cake that would be special for her soon to be husband Paul. I carved the cake into a drum, and modeled after one of Paul’s hand drums. I think myself a good baker but was nonetheless intimidated at the thought that it would be eaten by a crowd of wedding guests who would be well versed in black cake.
Murielle later gave me the report that she and Paul not only loved the design and the delicious cake, but that it was devoured by their guests who loved it and refered to it as Voodoo Cake. This recipe originally came to me by a former student Deborah Levine. Its been somewhat modified.
2 cups butter
2 cup white sugar
1/4 Barbancourt Rum (Adding rum is optional and the original recipe called for white rum. I HIGHLY recommend getting your hands on WONDERFUL Haitian rum called “Barbancourt” Pronounced: Bar bahn Coo in french. )
1 tb lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tb almond extract
1 grated zest of lime
2 pounds chopped dried mixed fruit
2 cups red wine + apprx 1 bottle red wine for soaking
1 cup dark molasses
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
pinch of salt
At least 3 weeks ahead of time soak dried fruit in wine. Typically dark and golden raisins, prunes, cherries and currants are used. I highly recommend that whatever dried fruit you choose– you choose fruits that don’t contain sulfites as a preservative. It’s slightly more pricey, but I the preservatives added to dried fruit has a distinct flavor (YUCK) and in my opinion is TOTALLY UNNECESSARY!!! The point of drying fruit is to preserve it! In the health food aisle of most stores you will find organic dried fruits in many varieties. I used Mangos, Pineapples, Papayas, cherries, cranberries, raisins, prunes, figs, blueberries– well just about anything I could find. I think the sweet tropical fruits like papayas and pineapples add to the flavor of the cake. Chop or just rip the pieces of fruit with your fingers and cover with red wine of your choice. I think Layer Cake is a great wine, especially for cake making– I’m a fan of the Primitivo, or the Pinot Noir. Seal in a large tupperwear container and let soak at room temp for 3 weeks or more.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and Flour 2 9″ round baking pans.
In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and add rum, lime juice, lime zest, vanilla and almond extracts. Blend fruit in a food processor. Stir in soaked fruit, wine, and molasses.
Sift dry ingredients: flour, baking powder salt and spices. Fold batter and pour into pans.
This batter was sooo fluffy and light, mousse like.
Bake for 80-90 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center come out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and place on cooling rack to cool complete.
Brush on additional wine or Barbancourt rum after baking. I’m not a liquor drinking but if you are anything like me you might enjoy a small glass of Barbancourt on ice. Its got a hint of vanilla about it and is an excellent i to a rum cake. Continuously brush rum a few tablespoons at a time. Soaking cakes with rum in colonial times allowed cakes to be preserved throughout long journeys– especially overseas. I’ve had some students assure me that a black cake can last years…though I haven’t tried it myself. Paul and Murielle tell me they brush rum what they have left of their voodoo cake and plan to have it on their first anniversary.
Traditionally black cake is covered with royal icing. Add a tsp of glycerin to a recipe of royal icing to keep it from hardening. Roll out marzipan just as you would with Fondant– dusting work surface with powdered sugar, and cover cake. This is all a bit too sweet for me so I just go with buttercream.
I made a black cake this week for a holiday party in the costume shop at work, hence the buttons, notions, and other sewing accoutrements. It was a big hit!
4 comments December 10, 2010
Its cookie season. So I’m going to start off with my favorite recipe of all time. Chocolate Chip cookies from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book.
First reason I love this bookis because the first copy I owned was given to me by my beloved grandmother, an avid and exceptional baker– when she was eulogized years ago, her banana cream pie was mentioned– thats the kind of reputation she had. My grandmother taught me to make all kinds of things: jam, cookies, pies. We also used to cook way inadvance and she would totally let me indulge by sneaking a few cookies here and there out of the freezer. I bought a used copy on Amazon.com for under $3. Sure its stained and a little dog-earred, but it looks just like the one I lost and as the seller stated, its worn appearance is a testament to the recipes inside.
Second reason to love this book: all the fabulous cooky (spelled that way on purpose) recipes illustrated in super saturated 1970’s photography. This book came about before food stylists really existed I assume, nonetheless fullbleed super saturdated color photos still keep you inspired.
Third reason to love this book: in the back they dedicate recipes for cookies based on the years they were most popular. For example the Chocolate Chip was the Best Cooky of 1935-1940. Some historical highlights mentioned in these years: 1936 Edward VIII abdicates the throne to marry the woman he loves. 1938 Gone with the Wind premiers to become one of the most popular movies of all time. And truthfullly I don’t think we are all that different then we were all these years later. Prince William and his lady Kate will be married this year, and the last of the Harry Potter books has made it to the theatres breaking records again. I doubt the Chocolate Chip Cooky will ever go out of style.
Chocolate Chip Cookies: I typically double this recipe as listed below.
2/3 c shortening*
(I generally despise shortening, but certain cooky recipes it helps to keep the cookies puffy instead of melting all over the pan. You can change the ratio of shortening to butter if you feel inclined.)
2/3 c butter
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar ( I used 1/3 light brown and 1/3 dark brown, either or both work. The more the molasses–dark brown will add a more chewy the cooky’s texture)
2 tsp pure vanilla
3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 c chopped walnuts
2 c (12 oz) chocolate chips
Cream butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla. I suggest you cream the shortening, butter, and sugar first. The butter should be soft but still cool. Take out of the fridge 30 minutes before you use. After the fats and sugar are blended add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until smooth.
Combine dry ingredients. You can sift the flour, soda, and salt if you choose, honestly I’d rather not use the time.
Fold in the chips and walnuts. Nuts are of course optional, but I absolutely believe that walnuts are as apart of chocolate chip cookies, as the chips are. To each their own. I should also note that you should go lightly on the chips. 2 cups are only 12oz, so you shouldn’t use the whole of the 16oz bag,unless of course you are a choco-holic and in that case go for it!
I scoop the dough with a small ice cream scooper so that the cookies are uniform. Press the dough down in the center with your fingers. Make sure there is at least 2 inches between each as the dough rises and spreads.
Bake on parchment lined baking sheet. Do not use wax paper! Unless you want your cookies to taste like chocolate chip crayons. You can continue to reuse the same parchment sheet until its dark brown, then disguard and line with fresh sheet.
Cook for approximate 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out when the centers of the cookies are still pale, “lilly livered” as my grandmother used to say. The cookies continue to bake as they cool, so taking them out slightly underdone renders them perfect.
I’m hoping to do some other variations of the Chocolate Chip Cookie in the future, if you are looking for some GREAT insight I suggest you DVR Good Eats. Alton Brown does a number of recipes oc the cookie: Chewy, crispy, fluffy. Using bread flour, cake, flour, butter and/or shortening will give you a slightly different result. Missed it on TV? DVD sets of the show are now available and would make a great Christmas gift for your favorite foodie!
Add a comment December 7, 2010
This is what I think of when I think of the quentessential christmas cookie. Maybe because it was always on the platter of assorted Holiday goodies when I was a kid. Truth be told buckeyes are not really cookies. More of a cross between a peanut butter cup and a truffle…and ohhh so delicious.
This is my grandmother’s recipe, she was quite the baker back in her day. And if my childhood lessons with Nana in kitchen weren’t reason enough for me to take up cake decorating, it was most interesting to find out that my great aunt Betty, my grandmother’s sister, was a cake decorator herself.
1 1/2 c Peanut butter
1/2 c butter
1 box (14oz) Confectioner’s (10x) sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c chocolate chips
1 tbsp crisco
Combine peanut butter, butter, vanilla and sugar. Kneed into a dough or mix in your counter top mixer with a dough hook. Roll dough into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter. For best results use a small cookie dough scooper to achieve consistency in size. Chill on a cookie sheet for 30-60 minutes.
Melt chocolate and crisco (in a doubleboiler, in the microwave, or on very lower heat stirring constantly.)
Screwer doughballs with tooth picks. Its best to pour chocolate into a drinking glass for dipping. Holding toothpick, dip into balls into melted chocolate, about 2/3 of the way. The “buckeye” is the yellowy center of the peanut butter peaking out. Place each dipped buckeye into small candy cups or mini cupcake liners and chill. These are a great addition to any holiday cookie assortment.
Or try the dipping method from the oreo truffles from a few posts past and use a plastic fork breaking the two middle tongs off. This allows you to toss the candy in the chocolate. I actual drew a little dot– for the buck’s eye with red chocolate just to change it up a little.
Add a comment December 22, 2009
Now for a great Holiday idea! I have a friend who is a wonderful illustrator and for christmas you may be lucky to receive a one of a kind sketch from him. With that for inspiration, why not give the gift of baking? Now you can give a big box of homemade cookies or dare I say…a fruit cake? Or you can allow your gift recipients to bake it out for themselves…Heres what I mean.
Cake in a Jar! I once gave a friend green tea cake in a jar as a gift which she then had to bring through security at the airport. She got through with many compliments on what a great idea it was. There are plenty of websites and stores that sell these premade, but if you’re anything like me, your wallet is somewhat empty as is your fridge, except for that huge pantry full of baking supplies from granulated sugar to gumpaste. So heres how you do it:
1. Find a jar. Either go through your recycling or you can go to Michael’s like I did…well I also work there, and grabbed one of these fancy plush holiday jars.
2. Fill with all the dry ingredients of a cake or cookie recipe, like the Scarlet Velveteen recipe below. Make sure to layer your ingredients to give some texture and achieve a striped effect. Its best to choose a recipe that has diverse colors. Cookie recipes are great as you get beautiful colors and textures between the brown sugar, walnuts, flour and chocolate chips.
3. Make sure to include directions to make you jarred confection, so that your gift recepient know what and how much to add of the wet ingredients.
** For an extra cool striped effect for your Scarlet Velvet cake in a jar, dye the sugar red. Have you been spending your hard earned cash on fancy colored sugars? Not just the holiday blue, green, and red, but that fancy pink and neon green? Use this trick not only to make your gift super cool, but to avoid spending cash on something you can do on your own. To achieve colored sugar simply add a few drops of food coloring to granulated sugar in a plastic bag and shake it up. Adding 2 TB to the 1 1/2 cups called for in the previous red velvet recipe is a little much so I recommend spreading the the sugar out on a cookie sheet to dry for a few hours.
WAIT THERES MORE!!! IT’S TIME FOR MY FIRST GIVE AWAY!!!! ‘Tis the season! So go ahead and comment on either this Cake in a jar post or the Scarlet velveteen and you just may receive (winners will be picked out of my santa hat) one of these great plush jars to make (and gift) your very on CAKE IN A JAR!!
7 comments December 17, 2009
Red Velvet Cake is pretty popular these days. I first heard of it the first time I watch Steel Magnolias (the funniest movie to ever make you cry.) The Bleeding Armadillo Groom’s cake was so ridiculous and memorable, that it is often the very specific request of my friends when choosing their birthday cake.
I suppose with all these cake shows on TV these days Red Velvet is regularly featured and therefore very much in the vernacular of cake eaters, maker and decorators. But where did it come from, what is it , and how can I make it? Well Red Velvet is a mildly chocolate flavored cake. Where as your typical homemade chocolate cake would be comprised of 1/3 c of unsweetened cocoa per aproximate 3-4 cups of batter, red velvet has only 2-3 tablespoons of cocao. It gets its ruby hue from adding red food coloring.
I was a bit disappointed when I figured this out seeing as I expected something unique to be used in achieving this famously colored confection. It turns out that historically Red Velvet was dyed red using something quiet unique in fact even if most people don’t make it this way anymore. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel is famous for its red velvet cake and they used boiled beets to achieve the color. My understanding is, that this was an economical way to concoct this cake during World War II when most ingredients were rationed.
I’ve been finding that both Red Velvet Recipes and Cream Cheese frosting recipes have been big searches on my site so here is one recipe for Red Velvet Cake. I’m not sure where I got it from. Just have had it sitting in my ever growing recipe box jotted on a piece of paper. I assume the frequency of the search is due to the nature of this cake being perfect red addition to the dessert table during the holidays. I’ll include a cool way to package this cake and give it away as gifts in my next post!
Scarlet Velveteen Cake
Sift together, then set aside:
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tb unsweetened Cocao
1/2 tsp salt
In a separate bowl lightly beat 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla.
Add 1 1/2c sugar and 3/4 c vegetable oil .
Stir in 1 c buttermilk. (if you don’t have buttermilk use 1 c milk with 3 tsp of apple cider vinegar.)
Add 2 tb red food coloring,Then add dry ingredients. Mix and bake at 350 degreesfor about 15 minutes in a well grease pan.
2 comments December 16, 2009
I’m a big Harry Potter Fan. I didn’t start reading these books until recently. I figured by the time the fifth movie came out that it was time to join the rest of the population. Little did I know what a guilty pleasure these books are. The further I get in this series the more I’m aghast at just how huge J.K. Rowling’s imagination is.
My favorite Character (I’m reading The Half Blood Prince currently) is Sirius Black. I didn’t think it was possible to have a crush on a fictional story book character…it is. (If you haven’t read the Potter books, stop reading this blog and go to the Library. –Spoiler Alert) Sirius is a wrongly accused felon, escaped convict, member of the rebel organization Order of the Phoenix, general outlaw, and Harry’s Godfather. Sirius is misunderstood, bruding, and the way Gary Oldman portrays him in the movies is just wonderful.
So here is a spin on a recipe straightout of my grandmother’s kitchen. Black Out Cake was big in the 1950’s. Traditionally this is a multi layered chocolate cake, covered in chocolate frosting with layers of chocolate pudding in between. The signature mark of a Black Out Cake is the chocolate cake crumbs crushed against the sides of the cake. I looked around, improvised and decided to just take license with the amount of chocolate in this recipe as I wanted this not to be just a Black out Cake, but a Sirius (seriously) blackout Cake.
Sirius Black (Out) Cake:
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup of milk
2 1/4 flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 bar bittersweet chocolate (ghiradelli is what I used.)
The bittersweet chocolate was not originally in this recipe. Melt in a double boiler or like I did, place it in a oven safe bowl and pop it into your preheating oven (350 degrees). It only takes a few minutes to start melting. Take it out and stir and you’ll find you don’t have to have it completely melted in the oven, stirring it will finish the melting process. Remember its very easy to burn chocolate!! Let the bitter sweet chocolate cool, but not harden.
Sift your dry ingredients: flour, soda, powder, salt. Set aside.
Whisk together milk and cocoa. The mixture will become a thick mousse like consistency. Set aside.
Combine butter, shortening, and sugar until FLUFFY. Trust me you’ll want to stop beating this at the crumbly stage, but mix until its legitamately FLUFFY. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each egg. Now add dry ingredients and milk ingredients alternating.
By the way this is the classic process in making homemade spongey cake:
1. Beat butter and sugar till fluffy.
2. Add one egg at a time
3. Alternate flour mix and milk, starting and ending with flour.
Alright we are almost done. Fold in the bittersweet chocolate, remember it shouldn’t be hot and it should still be a liquid consistency.
Pour batter into two 8″ or 9″ round pans. (butter and flour the pans) And cook for apprx 30 minutes. The addition of the bittersweet chocolate makes this cake more like a brownie and more likely to dry out so make sure not to overcook.
2/3 c white sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c milk (2%)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate OR 3 oz 100% cocoa ghiradelli chocolate. (Siriusly take license with the chocolate!)
Combine everything over low heat. Increase heat to medium, whisking constantly until pudding is boiling. Remove from heat. Place in a bowl with plastic wrap against surface of pudding so it doesn’t form a skin (eww pudding skin!). Refridgerate until cool.
Make chocolate butter cream icing. (Ingredients: butter and /or shortening, vanilla extract, water, Unsweetened cocoa powder, powdered sugar.)There is a video with it if you forget how. Click Butter Cream on the side bar.
You’ll also want to make Ganache. Ganache is semisweet chocolate and heavy cream. I used 16oz. chocolate and 8oz. of cream, melted and whisked over low heat. You can do a 1:1 ratio. Ganache can be heated and used as a syrup, cooled slightly and piped, or spread like a frosting. Its pretty awesome in terms of versatility.
OKAY. So when your cake is cool slice each layer in half (horizontally). Now you will have a 4 layer cake. You could go as far as 3 times if your cake is thick enough. Pipe a ring of frosting around the bottom layer and fill in with pudding. Stack the next layer and repeat. Now frost the cake with butter cream and refrigerate. Once the cake has “crusted” meaning you can touch the icing with your hand and it doesn’t stick, instead it is smooth and hard–has a layer of crust– you are ready to cover with ganache.
Its best to assemble this cake on a cardboard cake circle that is the exact same size– so an 8″ circle for an 8″ cake. This will allow you to move the cake around, pour Ganache over it without messing up the board or plate you will ultimately display the cake on. If by this point your ganache has hardened, reheat in the microwave, or over low heat or by placing in a bath of warm water. Mix to assure that all the ganache is melted and smooth.
Place a tall sturdy cup on a large cookie sheet. Place cake on top of cup. You can now pour the ganache over the cake– be generous and just DUMP it! push ganache toward the side with a long metal spatula. Excess will drip onto cookie sheet, and you can reuse this extra on other cakes later. Once cake is covered make one smooth pulling motion across the top of the cake to assure that the layer of ganache is even– this will also give you a smooth top.
Like I said Ganache can also be piped. I added some black food coloring to my leftover ganache and placed in a piping bag and just swirled it all over the cake. I was trying to imitate all the cool prison tattoos Sirius has. I thought this was a bit cooler than crumbing the side.
4 comments November 20, 2009