Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chocolate Valentino and Cinnamon Ice Cream

Back in the fall, I came across and it quickly became one of those sites that I had to check every day. I love looking at pictures of food, and that's exactly what that site is...beautifully taken pictures of any type of food you can imagine. While on the site, I kept seeing "Daring Bakers" pictures and was intrigued. Finally last month I decided to join up, and my first challenge was Chocolate Valentino (Flourless Chocolate Cake) and homemade ice cream. It was a great challenge, perfect for Valentines Day.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Chocolate Valentino
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, rough chopped (I used chocolate chips)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated

-Place your chocolate and butter in a double boiler and melt, stirring often.
-Place egg yolks in one mixing bowl, whites in another. Whip up whites until stiff peaks form, but do not over mix (the result will be a dry cake.)
-With the same beater, beat the egg yolks together. Add to cooled chocolate.
-Fold 1/3 egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then the remaining 2/3. Mix until no white shows, but be careful not to deflate.
-Pour batter into a prepared pan (3/4 full) and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reaches 140 degrees (cake top will look like a brownie, and a cake tester will appear wet.)
-Cool for 10 minutes and then unmold.

Cinnamon Ice Cream
1 c. white sugar
2 c. heavy cream (divided)
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon

In a saucepan, stir together sugar, 1 c. heavy cream, and milk. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat and temper eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and stir in remaining heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add in vanilla and cinnamon.

At this point, I was too lazy to try to get my ice cream maker out of our storage shed (to be honest, I don't think I could of gotten it out,) so I chose to go the longer, non-ice cream maker route. I placed the mixture in a shallow dish, and put it in the freezer. Every 30-45 minutes I stirred it, making sure that the edges were scraped. The end result was awesome; super creamy.

The cake was incredibly chocolaty and a little on the bitter side. By itself, I didn't care for it. When I paired it with whipped chocolate ganache and the cinnamon ice cream, it was unbelievable. SO GOOD.

All in all, my first challenge with the Daring Bakers was quite successful! I am really looking forward to the next challenge!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ice cream cone cupcakes

I have been wanting to do some decorating with the girls lately, and decided this morning to make ice cream cone cupcakes. They were pretty excited about the idea, and I was too. I remember when I was little, my mom making these for me one year to take to school for my birthday. My birthday is tomorrow, so maybe I was being a little nostalgic...feeling "old" and remembering when I helped my mom make them. Em had wanted to make a big swirl on the cupcakes, but since my normal frosting is pretty heavy, I decided to try out 7 Minute Frosting. I've wanted to make it for a long time, but just never really had a reason to. I whipped up a batch of it, and it was really, really yummy; a lot like marshmallow fluff. I made it this morning, and have been craving a fluffernutter ever since.

7 Minute Frosting
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
4 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Boil until a candy thermometer reads 242 degrees (about 4 or 5 minutes.) Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a mixing bowl until foamy. While beating, stream hot sugar into the eggs. Beat on high for about 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla, and continue beating for another 2 minutes.

To make the cupcakes, I used the Moosewood Chocolate Cake recipe. I have another chocolate cake recipe that I like a little better, but the Moosewood is so incredibly quick and easy to whip up. The flavor is great, it is moist, and I've also found that it's a pretty decent recipe to use when I need to carve a cake. Anyway, I placed the ice cream cones in muffin tins and filled them with the cake batter (about 1/2 inch from the top.) I thought maybe I overfilled them, as a few spilled over, but now looking back at the Moosewood site, I think maybe I have my recipe written down wrong (I think I only have 1/2 tsp. of baking soda written...and I've been making it that way for the last year! LOL!) One recipe filled 12 ice cream cones. Then just carefully place them in a preheated oven and bake!

I let the frosting refrigerate for a few hours before I had the girls frost the cupcakes. It firmed it up a little more and made it a little easier for a kid to work with.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuxedo Strawberries

I'm not going to lie...I'm a little embarrassed to post about these. I am SO out of practice! But I haven't posted in a few days, so I figured I might as well. On Saturday we are having Ad's mom up for Valentine's lunch, and she loves chocolate covered strawberries. I make them for her a few times a year, so I decided to make these tuxedo strawberries to garnish the dessert I'm making, and also make extra for her take home. The last time I made tuxedos was last Valentine's; I think I should make them a little more often to keep in practice! I just couldn't get my "v"'s consistent on all the strawberries, and the bows...forget about it! Maybe I can blame it on "background distractions?" I'm not a big chocolate covered strawberry person, but I ate a few to "hide" my mistakes...maybe there is something about the chocolate not being set up all the way that makes them taste better to me? I don't know, but they were awesome. I could of eaten the whole tray, but I have to keep remembering...beach in April!

Friday, February 6, 2009


Blondies, like brownies, are one of those things that I've always struggled with. I've just never been able to find a recipe that I really liked...until today. I finally made it out last night and got some items to replenish the Pantry, and was originally planning on making some kind of biscotti. I ended up searching Allrecipes for top recipes that used chocolate chips, and came across one for blondies, and figured I'd give it a go. Of course, I had to mess with the original recipe (you'd think 400 people rating it 5 stars would tell me it's already perfect, right?....Uhhhh, no.) but I really liked the end result.

2/3 c. melted butter
2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
a couple glugs of vanilla extract (around 1 tbsp.)
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shredded coconut (I put this through a small food processor to make it finer)
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and on the fluffier side (you won't be able to get it super fluffy because the butter is melted, but it will increase some in volume.) Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and coconut until combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in a prepared 9x13 pan (I actually will probably use either a 11x15 or a 1/2 sheet next time, as I like bar cookies to be on the thin and wide side.) Bake for approximately 30 minutes. They will be slightly gooey on the inside, but will set up when cooled.

I think the only thing I will do differently next time is use milk chocolate chips...the store I went to was out of them last night, and semi-sweet were only $1.24 a package...I'm just not a big fan of semi-sweet, though. Still, the blondies were still great, and I will be cutting them up in the morning and adding them to my shipment of other cookies to send to a solider in Iraq!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Operation Baking Gals R6

Saturday starts a new round of Operation Baking Gals, so I'm stocking the freezer with a few types of cookies so that I'm all ready to pack my box early in the shipping period. As I've said in other posts, I love versitile cookie doughs. My favorite chocolate chip cookie dough (other than one that I've already posted) is one that I can do so many things with. Today I chose to make Valentine Sugar Cookies and Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies out of the dough.

Cookie Dough
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 pkg. instant pudding mix
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp. vanilla (I really just do a few glugs)
1/2 tbsp. butter flavoring (the pantry has been out of this, as well)
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar for a few minutes. Add pudding mix and extracts. Beat in eggs until mixture is really light and fluffy. Add flour and baking soda and mix until well combined.

For the sugar cookies, I used vanilla pudding mix. I rolled tbsp. full of dough in sugar/sprinkle mix (the dough is soft and sticky, so you have to put it in the sugar first and then roll it) and then baked on ungreased cookie sheets for about 10 or so minutes, or until the edges just started to get golden. You can check the bottoms, too; they should just be light brown.

For the Andes Cookies, I used chocolate pudding mix and added 1 bag of Andes baking chips after my flour was combined. Then I just dropped tbsp. full of dough on ungreased cookie sheets and baked for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to overbake, though...I let a few go a little long. These don't look the most beautiful; if I weren't shipping them off to Iraq and had to worry about the "melting" factor, I would of melted more Andes chips and striped them.

I have done so many things with this recipe; added butterscotch chips and chopped honey roasted peanuts...coconut and white chocolate chips...there are SO many different things you can do, especially when you factor in the many types of pudding mix that are out there!

These cookies are INCREDIBLY good, but I have recently realized that if I go "cheap" and use margarine instead of butter, they are too soft and will stick to each other when stored.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Baking Gals Thank You

I just received a letter today from SFC Alex Herrera, who is stationed in Iraq, thanking Baking Gals for the shipment of cookies that we sent. It was really great of Alex to send a letter, along with a picture. I'm glad that they enjoyed them!

PB&J Bars

Paige's Pantry is empty. I don't mean a little empty. I mean like really empty. In the "old days'" (bc the crappy economy) I was always making sure that I had "back stock" of everything you could imagine for any baking emergency that may arise. I guess an empty pantry forces one to be a little creative, hence the creation of these PB&J Bars. Most recipes that I found called for peanut butter chips...pb chips?! I don't even have any chocolate chips! And the jelly part...I had 6 jars of different types of jellies and jams that were almost empty (apple, black cherry, raspberry, marmalade, apricot, and tart cherry) so I figured I might as well clean out a shelf in the fridge while I'm at it and mix the jams/jellies all together. Since I couldn't find an exact recipe for bars that I wanted to try, I decided to concoct one out of a cookie recipe. I thought they turned out pretty yummy, but definitely needed strawberry jam for a true "pb & j" flavor.

PB&J Bars
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. strawberry jam (more or less to your liking)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat for a few minutes to really get it nice and light. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats and mix until combined.

Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Pat 2/3 of the dough mixture into the pan. The dough will be sticky, so use wet hands to pat it down. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cool until the puffiness goes away.

Spread jam onto the baked layer (if you have not waited for the puffiness to go down, the jam will not spread, but will sink...and yes, I found this out when I was too impatient to wait for it to cool.) Take remaining 1/3 of dough, break it up into small pieces and place it evenly on top of the jam layer. Using wet hands, pat it down.

Bake for about 30 more minutes, until top is browned and doesn't jiggle. Cool slightly before cutting; refrigerate to set up.