Sunday, November 25, 2012

Almond Joy?

I was tempted to forgo this week's recipe.  I love pumpkin....anything pumpkin.  But the almond cake didn't sound appealing to me.  I'm not even sure why.  I eat almonds almost daily as a "good for you" snack at work. (natural and unsalted of course)  But for some reason, anything other than these almonds (that I eat daily), make me think of marzipan.  And I guess marzipan isn't a favourite thing for me.  Honestly, I don't even remember the last time I had anything that was a marzipan.  Perpaps it is a childhood turnip.  (which I will now eat...but not right now...the stars have to be perfectly aligned and other things....)  So perhaps I should give this Pumpkin Almond Cake a chance. 

Almond flour?  What the?  Does this even exist?  And I'm pretty sure if I didn't make my own Peanut Butter, I am not going to make my own almond flour. 
Silly Baked Boys. 

First off, I did find almond flour.  (I'm apologize for ever doubting the Baked Boys.)  Correction, I saw almond flour but didn't actually buy it.  Well.....I was in shock to see it........and I forgot this recipe was up next on our weekly baking challenge.  D'oeth.  No big whoop...there's nothing I like more than going out a gazillion times to pick up grocery items......meow! (somebody needs a timeout)

The smell of all the spices has made everything better.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger oh my!  They are a perfect complement to the pumpkin puree. 

Mmm Pumpkin.  Have I mentioned I love pumpkin?  I love it sooooo much.  And not just the taste of  I love the whole pumpkin.  Love the looks and the colour and the association with halloween. 
Did the Great Pumpkin show up in your pumpkin patch this year?  No?  Mine neither.  Sigh.

Through the magic of blogging (and yes, it is magic...just like the Great Pumpkin) the cake has been mixed and put in a tin.  (and I'm hoping through magic, the bowls, mixer, measuring cups and utensils will be cleaned) 

Can we use magic to bake it now??  Can we? Can we? 

Yes.  Yes we can.


What we have here is a baked cake.  Yes, yes we do.  It seems good.  Pumpkin and spice...that's nice.
 It was all going so well.  This cake would have been perfect if I had stopped here.  But I didn't.  I went ahead with the frosting.  My apologies to marzipan.  It is really almond butter that causes me grief.  How is that possible?  I love almonds and I love peanut butter.  How is it that almond butter can taste so appauling to me?  I don't understand it.  But still I went ahead with making the frosting.....and frosting the cake with it. 
Wait, I feel like the cake is missing something....more shadow?  (sorry about the was late)

A candy pumpkin...perfect.  (well other than that almond butter frosting...oh and the shadow)


Hey Mikey, she kinda almost likes it! 

Kinda almost liked it.  That kinda almost sums up my feelings on this cake.  Maybe a cream cheese frosting would have made it better (for me).  Let us never speak of almond butter again.  <shiver>

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baking with Julia-Best Ever Brownies

Best Ever?

Let me start by saying that I am not a huge Brownie fan. <gasp>  I don't hate them.  (who could hate anything with chocolate?)  I'd say they just aren't my go to dessert treat. 

I did try the Best Ever Brownies by Baked and I did like those.
But those Baked Boys can do no wrong in my eyes.

So these ones will have to live up to the Baked ones.  I haven't even started baking yet, but I'm already having my doubts about them.

I find it really hard to gauge when a brownie is done.  They are so easy to under or over bake.    (of course my thing is overbaking so generally no worries about underbaking)

Gosh, I am feeling like a regular Negative Nelly going into this baking session.   Hope all this negativity doesn't transfer over to my kitchen. 

Looking at the recipe, I was worried about it not being chocolatey enough.  The last brownies I made had a lot of chocolate in them, including dark cocoa powder. 
I was tempted to change this recipe around and add more chocolate and cocoa powder but then I remembered that  I'm not someone who plays with recipes before I've even tried it.  Don't know what came over me!
So I'm sticking with the original recipe as is. 


Chop the Chocolate....

Add the butter.....

Turn on some heat and make it all melty good...

Fairly simple recipe.  Though I have to admit I was a little confused by the instructions regarding the eggs and sugar.  But I think I got it right.  The brownies look good going into the oven.  I have high hopes for these, after all the negative nelly stuff earlier on.

I have baked them for the full 28 minutes plus a few more minutes as I used an 8 inch pan rather than a 9 inch.  (now I'm not saying size just changes things) 
The middle feels giggly.  But the instructions do say the brownies will be perfect if they're just barely set and still pretty gooey.  Okay, well I'd say I've reached that point with these brownies.  Will leave them to cool for a bit and then have a look.


So the brownies have now been cooling on a rack.  And they still seem pretty gooey.  It was difficult to get a clean cut brownie.  Putting them in the fridge has helped to firm everything up but it still isn't the same as other brownies I've had.   I guess I'm more of an advocate for the cakey brownie.  Perhaps if I had baked it for longer.  Ah well.....truth be told it did taste good. 
Would I try this recipe again?  Maybe, but I've so many other brownie recipies to try and one that I already love.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Just for Grits and Giggles

Like it would be possible for me to do anything Grit related without first including the all famous quote from the TV series, Alice.  Flo said this a lot!

 "Mel, Kiss mah Grits!"    (just between you and me, I don't think she was referring to actual grits)

All right, it is out of my system.  I can move on now.  No, it isn't.  But I'll try to keep it inside.  Flo's voice is now stuck in my head. 
I have never had nor made grits before.  I am assuming grits is another word for cornmeal.  But will google that (or Bing it).  Surely Wikipedia wouldn't lie.  Okay, so grits, cornmeal and polenta seem to be the same thing....just different grinds.  (grits have a courser grind)  It will be interesting to see if I can find Grits in the grocery store.  (I think Grits might be more of an American thing)  But I could see a company like Bob's Red Mill having such a product in the grocery stores here. (or the health food stores) 
Okay, these grits almost didn't happen.   But after going to three stores I finally found some grits.  They only had one type, Hominy Grits, so I hope they will do for the recipe. 
There is a whole lotta cheese in these grits.  Sounds good, especially if it then needs to be baked.  Kind of like a baked pasta I guess. 
Hold the phone....the Baked boys say Grits is a breakfast thing.  Back to the Google!  Sorry, in my mind I had this image of eating these for dinner.  And google says that's okay....grits can be eaten at any time of the day.  All hail the Google. 
Nothing can be bad with this much cheese!! 

And the cheese has received Kitten Approval.  (whew)

Well, I thought I was going to have a little helper in the kitchen, but it turns out FE9 news is on and my kittens love to be up to date on their news.  If you need a good giggle or have cats that like to watch some good shows, try this link.  These are some funny cats!  I love the grilled cheese episode. 

Sorry girls, I gotta get back to mah grits.
'The grits will be really thick', is a total understatement, Baked boys!  Holy Hannah these grits are thick!

I'm getting a good workout stirring.  Good thing I didn't go to the gym today....would have been too tired to stir mah grits. (yes, that is the story I'm sticking with)  Good day to you.
Hey look....cheese.
The grits are looking better and better all the time.  Cheese makes everything pretty.

And now out of the oven all bubbly and warm.


We decided to have the grits with dinner.  I couldn't wait for breakfast.(but am totally thinking of having the leftover grits for breakfast now)  
I thought the grits went great with our leftover Saag Gosht.  I will definitely be making these again.  I have come to understand the comfort food goodness that are grits.

This grit just got real.  (and my hubbie thought I was being corny using the quote from Alice)  What 'til he reads that line! 
Honey, are those tears of joy....tears of joy for marrying me? 
Remember your promised to Grit and Bear me....or something like that.
Honey? Hon? 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What a!

Everything about this bar sounds yummy.  Who wouldn't love caramel and coconut together. (okay, other than those who neither like coconut nor caramel)  But I won't believe there are such people in my life.  Nope.

It is almost like a cookie on top of a cookie.  It starts with a shortbread base (that in itself would be good enough)  But then we add caramel (again, we could stop here and it would be awesome)  But wait, there's more.  Coconut!  (did you hear that?  Angels singing)  And in case that wasn't enough (and apparently it wasn't) the Baked boys then added chocolate.  Eeeeee!!!

I haven't even made them yet, and I am already in cookie heaven.

The smell of coconut is filling the house.  Lovely.  I could stop here and I'd be happy just with the smell of the coconut.  Cha! Right!
Moving on to the shortbread base of this cookie now.  Shortbread is another simple thing to make (much like pie dough....oh...sigh)
Well it looks good.  And you know what they say, 'better to look good than to taste good'.  No wait, that's not it.

Moving on again.  We're walking.....we're walking.....straight to the caramel layer.  Oh dang.
Caramel.  It thinks it's so good....oh don't stir me, I'm caramel.  Come on!  How am I not supposed to stir you???  Ack!  On a positive note while the caramel was doing its thing I also had to warm up the cream and condensed milk. (and it didn't mind being stirred at all)  Mmmm Hmmm. 

Now I'm not the worrying type, but if I were, I'd be a little concerned at how freaking long it is taking for the caramel to get up to 240-250 degrees again.  Okay, I can't wait any longer.  It is now just at 240...enough.  It seems okay, so I'm not going to fret.  The coconut got stirred in nice and the layer went onto the shortbread base.  And I remembered to save a cup of the coconut for the next layer.  (and there was much rejoicing)

Could I get a clean up in the kitchen?    Welcome to the sticky goodness that is known as caramel and coconut.

After the coconut layer I just had to decide on how to coat the squares in chocolate.  Oh, speaking of squares (no, I'm not going to out anyone in my blog for being a already know who you are....let's pause for an awkward square moment--I'm looking at your caramel).

Anyhoo, I was a little worried about cutting the squares because of the layers.  But I was able to make then into pretty tidy squares.  I think  the caramel on top helped the shortbread base stay together.  
So I decided on dipping the bottoms in the chocolate and then drizzling the rest of the chocolate over the top.  Good idea in theory, but the chocolate coating on the bottom gets all melty.....not a mess free eating experience. 

Naked Bars

Chocolate coated Bars

I think the bars turned out really well.  They are a very sweet bar no denying that. (and I'm not just saying that because three people told me so) 
Oh and as a public service announcement: Do not try to eat these straight out of the refrigerator.  That caramel gets hard!!!  These babies need to be left on the counter for a bit to let the caramel soften up.   Your teeth will thank you. 


Friday, November 09, 2012

Birthday Cake

Happy Birthday, Honeybunny.

I've decided to make a cake for my husband's upcoming birthday.  I've become foolishly confident in my baking abilities since I bought the three Baked cookbooks.  I swear, these books have given me a false sense of being a baking goddess.  I have never been a cake maker....unless the mix comes from a box.  (and I've always been okay with that)  But then I discovered these cookbooks and I feel like I've had an Ah ha moment.  I now feel brave enough to try cake recipes.  And hence my offering to make my guy a cake for his birthday.  (I feel like I should have a back up cake just in case)  eek! 

So which cake do I make him?  Earlier this year I made the Chocolate Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache.  And let me tell you, it was awesome.  (I give total credit to the recipe and good ingredients)  The cake went together so well and looked and tasted wonderful.  Perhaps this is where that false confidence started to grow. Hmm.

In the past few months, I've made two cakes.  The first was the Root Beer Bundt Cake.  Very interesting cake to make.  I like the idea of a bundt cake, as it is so much quicker to put together than a 3 layer cake.  I didn't get a strong taste of root beer in the cake. (the second day I could taste it a bit)  And I got no taste of root beer in the icing at all, but that might have been because I actually drank the rest of the root beer rather than save it for the frosting. D'oh!  (silly bundt) Other than not tasting like root beer, the icing was very nice and thick on top of the cake. (I used diet coke instead)  The cake and icing was super chocolatey due to the Valrhona Cocoa Powder. (I highly recommend it if you've never tried it)  The cake is definitely a keeper.  I would make it again; perhaps for someone's birthday. 

The second cake I made was the Caramel Apple Cake.  This cake is a beauty(in the book).  The picture in the cookbook is stunning.  Okay, all the cakes in the cookbooks are stunning and those pictures make me want to try the recipes.  I know I don't have the skills (yet) to make my cakes as beautiful, but that's okay.  I like to have something to strive for.  (some call it false hope)  :oP
Now this Caramel Apple Cake didn't turn out as well as I had hoped.  I found that my buttercream didn't want to stay together. (for some reason the butter kept separating)  Meh....what are ya gonna do?  It still tasted good, but wasn`t up to my standards.  Because the buttercream didn't take, the layers were a bit woobly.  I was waiting for the cake layers to all slide away....but it didn't happen. 
This cake reminded me (in flavour) to the Spanish bar cakes we used to be able to buy in the grocery store.  I will make it again one day and hopefully the buttercream gods will smile on me....but not a beaming smile that would melt my butter!!

The third cake that I want to try is the Sweet and Salty Cake.  It looks super yummy.  But wait, there's another cake that has now caught my eye.  Dafna from Stellina Sweets made the Oopsy Daisy cake but into cupcakes. (I loved her post about it)
And so it was with great anticipation that I made the Oopsy Daisy Cake.  The idea of chocolate and peanut butter was of course super tempting.  My only trepidation of course was the buttercream.  My experience from my last cake still fresh in my memory.  But the buttercream gods (or is it the frosting gods) were smiling on me and it turned out perfectly.  (am lighting a candle for my good blessing)
The cake was good.  No, the cake was really good.  The milk chocolate and peanut butter combo was divine.
I think we might have a winner for hubbie's birthday cake.  I know, I know, I should be letting him pick his favourite.  And I will do my best to encourage him in my the right direction.  Honestly, I'd be happy to bake any of these cakes for his birthday.
And the winner is..........the Oopsy Daisy Cake.  :o) 

Love you more than gum drops, honeybunny.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Baking with Julia-Buttermilk Crumb Muffins


This is my second post for TWD-Baking with Julia.  After reading everyone's 'rewind' posts from last tuesday, I'm excited to try more recipes from Baking with Julia. 

The usual suspect.
I was able to start this recipe without going to the grocery store first.  Okay, it is a fairly basic recipe. 

But still, I feel I need some props for this feat!!  Small cheering crowd?  No?  Not even some Beatnik applause? 

This is another recipe (much like my last post--the lemon loaf cake) that doesn't involve the use of a mixer, processor or blender.  Everything just gets mixed by hand.  As much as I love my kitchenaid mixer, it is nice to take a break from the appliances in the kitchen. 

I made this batch as a full 2 dozen. They did come out a little small and I should have taken them out sooner than 20 minutes, as they were a little dry. I think my next batch I will make the recommended 16. I should have paid better attention to the recipe....but once I took out two muffin pans I just got carried away with filling it.

 Next time, I will probably add applesauce or something in place of the shortening and even add some apple chunks, as the spices in this muffin are a perfect compliment to apples.
Now I don't have an aversion to shortening. And I'm not sure why there is such an aversion to it, as it isn't like this recipe calls for a great deal of it. Nor am I likely to eat all the muffins (and hence all the shortening). Grumble, grumble, grumble. And when I look at the nutritional data for shortening and butter, I see very little difference. (though shortening seemed to look better nutritionally) Strange, no?


I did try this recipe again.  And I did replace the shortening.  I used pumpkin puree instead.  And I think perhaps I over mixed it, as the muffins were a little tough....though nice and moist.   I will try them again with applesauce as I've used that a lot as an oil replacement.

They are good muffins.  I just need to learn to not over mix or over bake. 
Over and out!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Tell me I'm pretty

I feel like I just gave away the ending.  What surprises can be left, now that you know there is a hint of maple syrup?  (of course it could be that one ingredient that I forget and then it will be a surprise when one doesn't even taste a hint of it)  Surprise!  I forgot it! 
No, no, I'll remember it.  There are very few ingredients in this recipe, so I better remember it!! 
Oh and I'm going to do my best to make this pie pretty...'cause the Baked guys say this pie would not win any beauty pageants.  They're all gonna to laugh at you. (name that Stephen King movie/book)  I can honestly say that I do NOT want this pie making to end up in any way, shape or form to this movie.  It just popped into my head and it's still there.  Let's just get into pie making and hope it goes away. (be cool)

Pie dough.  It generally taunts me and I don't have a good track record with it.  I'm not above just going out and buying a pre-made one.  But today I'm going to pull up my big girl pants and make me a pie dough!  The Baked Note says not to fret about the sticky dough.  I haven't even started the recipe and I'm fretting.  (not a good sign)

I have a feeling some deep breathing exercises might be necessary today.  And perhaps some self affirmation from Stuart Smalley.

Okay, I'm ready to get this dough into a state of pie.  On paper, pie dough could not be easier.  Yet it causes me much angst.  Oh sure I can make pie dough, but it seems so moody.  Some days it can be all light and flaky yet other days heavy and  tough.  Bi-polar pie dough?
The Baked boys weren't kidding when they said the dough would be sticky.  But I'm not going to fret.  Just going to pop it in the fridge and forget about it.

The dough was real easy to roll out. It didn't stick to the rolling pin, or the surface I rolled it on. In fact, the dough seems quite sturdy <<worry lines forming on forehead>>does that mean the crust is going to be tough?


I'm just going to move onto the filling now and not fret about the pie dough. Very simple filling; eggs, butter, sugars, buttermilk, flour, maple syrup.

Easy peasy just whisk it all together.  And ignore the fact that the flour doesn't really whisk into the eggs very well.  But that's okay, the addition of the sugars seems to have helped the flour dissolve.  Moving onto a new worry..... it looks like the butter is curdling after being stirred in.  Not going to worry about it. (can't afford the botox to fix all these worry lines)  I'm just going to pour this filling into my unbaked pie crust.  Ooooo, it fits in there perfectly.

It has been in the oven for 55 minutes now.  It is still looking wobbly in the middle.  Not sure how much longer I will have to keep it in the oven.  Am afraid the crust is going to get to brown. (worry lines on standby)  Will give it the full hour and another 5 minutes.  And giving it another 5 minutes.  And I'm giving it another 5 minutes.....ummm.....and another 5....

Okay, it is out of the oven now.  And all puffed up.

After 20 minutes cooling it has settled down and looks like a perfectly simple (grandma just baked) pie. a rustic way.

And tasty.  Liking the hint of maple syrup.