Baking

Cake Flour Brownies

It’s official. I don’t have any sugar of any kind left in my stock. I don’t count the sweetener packets for my tea as sugar, either, or else I’d have plenty! I used the last of my granulated and brown sugar in these brownies from Cookie Madness, and even then I almost didn’t have enough.

I can’t wait till I have my own kitchen and supplies again, because this whole being in transition thing is doing a number on me. I’m so excited to start moving into my first apartment this week and to have multiple people to bake for again. Just need to restock a few things . . . or everything! I expect I’ll be back to my regular self soon enough.

Thankfully I had some cake flour to use as a vehicle for chocolate delivery. I enjoyed these brownies, but I have to say I’m definitely a fudgey brownie person. Cakey brownies are good and all, but they’re not my first dessert choice.

The unsweetened chocolate, paired with the dark brown sugar I used, made for a rich chocolate flavor. I totally would have made a buttercream frosting to accompany these if I could have. Then I bet this treat would be just perfect!

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Baking

The Infamous Birthday Ice Cream Bomb

My suitemate has a very soft spot for ice cream. We were talking about what type of birthday cake she wanted, and she asked if I could make an ice cream cake. Of course, I replied, do you want something like Carvel’s? What’s Carvel’s, she asked. Oh dear. My heart stopped at that response and I had no idea what to say. How could she have never heard of a Carvel ice cream cake? Fudgie the Whale? I guess it’s not as prominent on the West Coast.

After this complete shock, I asked if she might like an ice cream bomb. I wasn’t as shocked that she’d never heard of this, so I tried to explain the concept. You layer ice cream and cake and anything you want in a bowl, and then you turn the giant frozen mound out onto a plate. This description resulted in her mouth hanging open in amazement because this proposed bomb was the perfect dessert for her. In the days leading up to its creation, she still didn’t completely understand what I was going to make, but she didn’t care as long as it had ice cream. I thought about what flavors to use, and settled on Half Baked, Starbuck’s Signature Hot Chocolate, and Trader Joe’s Mint Chocolate Chip. I also included a brownie base and fudge sauce between each layer of ice cream. It was going to be epic!

Building the bomb went fine, but freezing it was another matter entirely. My other suitemate and I had gone to Trader Joe’s earlier in the day, and because she and my roommate don’t really cook, the freezer was full to capacity. So much so that we had a hard time keeping the door closed because it would always pop open when we closed the fridge. I thought we had shifted things around well enough to get the bomb to fit, but at the unveiling I realized I was wrong. Evidently the door was left popped open, so the bomb had been slowly melting all day, but I didn’t find out until I tried to turn it out onto the plate. Complete disaster. It was fine for a second, but then I swear time slowed down as we just watched it collapse into itself. Cue four freaking out girls and a rush to throw everything out of the freezer to shove the exploded bomb back in.

In the brief time is was out of the freezer and then on the plate, it had melted all over the place and lost any shape it may have had. We were scared to open the freezer to check on it, in case it had spilled over even more. We had another problem because we had a ton of frozen items just sitting on our couch. Thankfully our RAs are fantastic and one of them let us put our things in her freezer.

We let the bomb stay in the freezer for the rest of the night and vowed to try again the next day. I managed to coerce it back into the bowl and into a semi-dome shape, but by then the different ice cream flavors had sort of mixed, so the layer effect was lost. We sang Happy Birthday and got ready to eat, but we found that the brownie had also frozen rock hard, so I could barely cut through it. Not to be deterred, the four of us cast aside our bowls and dug right in with our spoons. It was delicious!

We also made a birthday dinner, which consisted of: Butternut Squash Ravioli, Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli, Parmesan and Arugula Ravioli, a vegetable mix, artichoke hearts, and my creamy garlic bread. Despite how good dinner was, dessert definitely out shined it. You just can’t compete with five pints of ice cream and a giant brownie!

Baking

I’ve Created a MONSTER!

Biscoff Spread has been making its rounds in baking blogs over the past few months, and I have been dying to get my hands on a jar. I knew that Trader Joe’s sold a version of it as Speculoos Cookie Spread, but I hadn’t been able to find it because I always seemed to go there at the busiest times possible and preservation of my sanity didn’t allow for browsing.

Everything changed on Thursday, though. It was February vacation for the public schools, which meant no work for me. I used my free morning to go grocery shopping, because I hadn’t gone since my birthday, which was two weeks before. Can I just say, a calm and empty Trader Joe’s is even worse than a jam-packed Trader Joe’s. It was amazing to actually be able to walk calmly down the tiny aisles and actually LOOK at the products. I usually go in with my list and a plan of attack and leave hating everyone and everything because there were so many people inside. Thursday was the exact opposite, and it was heaven. But not for my poor wallet. It was totally worth it, though, because I finally found the coveted Speculoos Cookie Spread.

I came home and almost immediately opened the jar and stuck a spoon in it. Heaven. In. A. Jar. That is all I have to say. My suitemates weren’t much more articulate when I gave them a taste. I’m absolutely going back next week and getting another jar or two because Trader Joe’s is notorious for discontinuing items, and I don’t want to lose my heaven unexpectedly.

After tasting I started looking for all the recipes involving Biscoff that I saw and bookmarked for making once I got my hands on a jar. Unfortunately I didn’t have all the ingredients called for in a lot of them, but I finally found the perfect first recipe. It required no baking at all, but it let the Biscoff flavor SHINE. What could it be, you ask?

BISCOFF FUDGE!

I found the recipe on Sugarcrafter, and it actually wasn’t one the first recipes I had in mind. But it was perfect.

I was slightly skeptical about it at first, because it didn’t call for the normal fudge ingredients, or at least it didn’t call for what I normally think of as being in a fudge recipe. But come on, it had Biscoff, butter, and powdered sugar, so even if it didn’t turn out like fudge it would still be amazing.

The final product didn’t even come close to disappointing. It was amazing. So amazing that my roommate demolished it all by early the next afternoon. I didn’t even get a chance to take pictures. My fault for only making half a batch, though.

Some comments: eyes popping out of heads, silence, “OMG, it’s better than SEX!”, “You’re making more. What do you need for it?!?!”, and frequent trips to the fridge for “breakfast”. I’d say it was a success.

After the fudge, I made another Biscoff recipe. Biscoff Swirl Brownies from Bake at 350. No words.  Except that they definitely get better after sitting for the night. The brownie was slightly undercooked, so it’s a deep dark chocolate batter with Biscoff swirled in. I know I’m comparing this spread to heaven with a bit too much frequency, but that’s really the only way to describe it.

Two of my suitemates just tried them a few minutes ago, and I wish I could have taken a picture of one of their reactions. One is the same one that made the mountain comment about my birthday cake, and she always has the most priceless reactions to my creations. I love her, haha.

I kindly requested that the 9″x13″ pan of brownies last AT LEAST the night so I can take some to my friends in class tomorrow, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it actually happens, especially with three sugar/chocolate/biscoff addicts in the same room.

I’m not counting on it, though. I might have to make more fudge in order to preserve the brownies from their Biscoff-covered fingers. It’s so addicting, so I don’t blame them. Instead, I blame myself for introducing it to them in the first place. I’m SUCH a bad influence.

Baking

Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Whenever I run low on groceries (ie real food with actual nutrients), I always manage to have just enough supplies left to bake something that goes against everything healthy I *should* eat. It might take a bit of searching and tweaking of recipes, but I always come up with something.

However, I’m now starting to run low on baking supplies.  Unbelievable right? I’m down to my last bit of flour, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. And I have absolutely NO MILK or chocolate. The current state of my cabinets really puts a kink in any baking desires I might have. But you know what doesn’t require much flour or any chocolate? Brownies!

I can never go wrong with my alterations to Best Cocoa Brownies from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. And who would say no to a cheesecake mixture swirled into them? Not me, that’s for sure. While the original recipe for the Cheesecake Brownies from Buns in my Oven was still amazing when I made them a couple months ago, this combination is truly a winner.

These brownies became infinitely fudgier overnight. When I first cut into them a couple hours after they came out of the oven, they seemed cakier than I wanted. However, after sitting for the night they transformed into brownie bliss. I wouldn’t say no to more of the cream cheese mixture (perhaps I’ll swirl less next time), but other wise I’m in love, and I think my friends will be too.

While I would love if I could survive on these, it might be a good idea to drag myself away from the pan long enough to go up to Trader Joe’s so I can get some real food.

Baking

The Post of Chocolate DEATH!

During my time away from the blog I made a couple of things that, if made repeatedly, could result in a death by chocolate. They were too delicious and absolutely to die for!

These Cheesecake Brownies from Buns in my Oven were fantastic. I made them for dessert for dinner at a friend’s apartment. We each made something, and it was all really good. We gorged ourselves on pulled brisket, mashed potatoes, potato rolls, and my brownies–a good old homemade, stick to your ribs dinner that we were all seriously craving by the end of the semester.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of them before we dug in, but that just means I’ll have to make them again sometime.

My next dessert of death consisted of my go-to brownies with homemade ice cream.

The brownies were so moist and gooey that I hope I can replicate this same effect in the future. Rather than use semi-sweet chocolate chips like I usually use, I had a giant bar of dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s that I chopped up and melted into the batter, and then I added more chunks before baking.

YUM!

For the ice cream, I found this super easy recipe on kevinandamanda.com. It didn’t even require an ice cream maker, rock salt, or any of that stuff! Color me a happy camper. I’m definitely going to be making this over and over and adding in tons of mix-ins. I should start thinking of combinations right now.

Doesn’t it look like pure FUDGE? Delicious death in a bowl, that’s all I have to say.

Baking, Celtic Thunder

Hello blog, I’m Emerald Thunder! It’s nice to meet you.

Wow, now didn’t I fall of the face of the earth? It’s been SO long. It’s now the END of March, spring break has been over for a long time, the CT promo trips are over, and I’m gearing up for the end of the semester and all of my final papers. I’ve also made a few yummy things and just haven’t gotten around to/had time to blog about them.

Another thing, my baking bonanzas are failing miserably. I’ve only blogged about ONE of them so far. . . . Yeah. . . . I’ve done the pomegranate white chocolate chip cookies, the Oreo Cupcakes, and the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, but their photos are still waiting impatiently on my memory card. I really need to post them. Soon.

Here’s what else I’ve been up to in the past month:

MACARONI AND CHEESE!!!

It was so super cheesy before I baked it. I think I kept it in the oven a bit too long, and so it dried out. I added some extra milk to my bowl and it turned out okay. I made this again last week and decided against baking it (also because I was just so hungry, haha). Much better that way. Maybe next time I’ll put it in the oven for like 5 minutes. I don’t need a crispy crust on it, so 5 minutes should be sufficient.

This is what happens when you’re making mac and cheese and not paying attention to which way you’re flailing your arms.

Burnt to a black crisp pasta has such a wonderful and fragrant smell. From now on, the box will ALWAYS be closed unless I am pouring the pasta into the pot of water. But it’s okay, this story had a happy ending.

BROWNIES!!!

I absolutely love the Best Cocoa Brownies recipe on Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. It’s been my go-to recipes for a few months now, granted with a few alterations in the form of an extra egg and a bunch of chocolate chips melted into the batter. This time, however, I forgot to add the chips to the batter, and so I just sprinkled some on top. I think I might just stick with doing that, as they were still super amazing without the added chocolate.

And some yogurt-covered pretzels that worked okay, but I don’t think I’ll try to make them again. This version didn’t even come CLOSE to the terrible-for-you store-bought ones. I wanted that, but I failed in creating it. Oh well.

And a sneak peek for the Irish Car Bomb Cupcake Bonanza

I didn’t make all of the batter into cupcakes (there was SO MUCH BATTER), so I poured the leftover into a 9×13 pan and baked it into a cake. Then I topped it with green buttercream for St. Patrick’s Day.

I planned on using my shamrock cookie cutter on this cake, but it just didn’t work out well. The cookie cutter was just too small and the cake was just too thick. So I cut it into small squares instead.

And finally, POPCORN.

I admit, I had no part in making the popcorn besides watching and laughing at my jumpy friend’s expense.

 

Baking, Celtic Thunder

A Very, Very Happy “Chocolate Overdose Cake” Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my 21st birthday, and I celebrated by going to class all day, coming home and napping, doing homework, and watching the first disc of The Tenth Kingdom. I fell asleep before 1am and didn’t even consume my first legal drink. I know, I’m SUCH a party animal. My birthday wasn’t all boring though, because the night before I went to the Hellogoodbye concert with one of my friends, and it was AMAZING.

Yes, we were on the side, but it was still great, nonetheless.

Because my week has been so hectic and short on free-time, and because I knew back in January that it would be like that, when I first went back to work I told my teacher that I would not be coming in on this date. I chose to designate this day as my “Epic 21st Birthday Cake Baking Extravaganza” day (I just named it that today). This way I could relax and actually enjoy the process, even though I didn’t know what I would be making at the time.

Enter the Chocolate Overdose Cake I found on Beantown Baker’s blog.

This cake has been by no means inexpensive for me to bake. I would not have been so bad if I already had a springform pan, but at least I have one now (although I would have liked for it to be deeper, oh well). I think I’ve spent nearly $30 on supplies for this, but I already know it will be worth every single penny.

I started this process by taping all of my ingredients/instructions/timings to the cabinet doors to keep them in sight, but out of the way. Then I cleared off the counter and moved everything to the tables. There’s so little counter space here that it just wouldn’t have been possible to make the cake with everything still out.

With my iPod playing my Damian and Keith playlist, the extravaganza began.

I started with the brownie layer, so I put some water on to simmer and sifted together the dry ingredients while waiting.

Note the green highlighter I’m using to cross out ingredients and steps on my printed out recipe. I’m so prepared.

Then I chopped up the unsweetened chocolate until it was rather fine. When they say unsweetened, they really mean unsweetened, because I got some on my fingers and tried it. No thank you. I won’t be doing that again.

Then I put the butter and chocolate into a bowl to put over the simmering water in order to melt it down and make it super smooth.

Then I added the sugar and mixed it all together. Then I prepared the springform pan to let the chocolate cool for a bit before I added the eggs.

Next came the dry ingredients.

Bit by bit I mixed it all together.

Until it looked like this and was ready for the pan.

Then it went into the oven for about 30 minutes and I commenced washing my bowls and utensils so I’d be ready to make the cake part. When I stuck a fork in them to see if they were done, I did as any normal person would do, and ate the moist brownie crumbs that came out with the fork. Oh My God. It was absolutely HEAVENLY. I cannot wait to dig into that layer of my cake. I’ll probably have to make these brownies just by themselves sometime.

I started prepping ingredients for the next part while the brownies were still in the oven.

I chopped more unsweetened chocolate.

This time into large-ish chunks.

I didn’t actually chop on top of the simmering water. This position just had better lighting and was less blurry.

Then there was more dry ingredient sifting.

Now the chocolate, cocoa and water melting/mixing could begin.

Once I added the sugar it looked much better and mixed much easier.

Then I mixed the buttermilk and vanilla and set it aside.

Out came the hand mixer so I could mix the eggs and sugar until it was all nice and fluffy.

I was amazed when I took a couple of pictures with the flash on as I was mixing because I swear the mixer is on in both of them. It doesn’t even look like the beaters are moving in the second picture. Aren’t I easily amused.

For some reason I failed to take pictures of mixing everything together, but it really just wasn’t that interesting. I added the chocolate to the eggs and sugar and alternated adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk/vanilla mixture.

Then everything went into the prepared cake pan to bake for nearly 40 minutes. The recipe said 30 minutes, but I guess my oven is colder so it took longer than expected.

After the cake was out and the dishes were washed again, it was time for a break to let everything completely cool before I started on the mousse. At this time I also put a bowl, my whisk, and the beaters in the freezer because they’re supposed to be “well-chilled.” I figured about 2 hours would be enough time in the freezer.

I had a slight mishap while making the mousse. I didn’t look at the recipe and so I poured both pints of heavy cream into my bowl. As I was whipping it, I kept thinking “This is so much mousse for the middle of the cake.” And then I remembered that I only needed ONE pint of it. *sigh*. At least I remembered before it got completely whipped and the chocolate was added. I just took out half and put it in a bowl so I could use it for the ganache later. I also failed to photograph the mousse-making process, but it was just melting chocolate, whipping cream and adding them together.

The I assembled the cake in the springform pan, covered it in plastic wrap, and let it chill in the fridge for an hour.

The ganache came together very nicely, even given the slightly whipped consistency of the cream. Most of the air came out of it after it was brought to a boil and then taken off the heat, so thank goodness my lack of attention to detail did not have any ill effects.

I have never used to much chocolate in one day. Let’s tally it all up: 5 1-ounce Baker’s unsweetened chocolate squares, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and 6 4-ounce bars of Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate. That’s about 30 ounces of chocolate, which is nearly 2 POUNDS! Paired with the sugar in this cake, it’s sure to be a rich chocolate coma and sweet sugar rush to remember.

Doesn’t that look SO good already? I wanted to eat it then and there, even without the ganache.

Dripping and oozing down.

Boy did I make a big mess.

I let it chill in the fridge for about an hour and a half to set up and for the ganache to harden a bit.

STRAWBERRY TIME!

I am happy with my ganache-ing skills and especially pleased that the cake is nice and flat and as straight as I could ask for. I’ll be sure to make another post detailing the demolition of this delicious-looking (and hopefully wonderful tasting) cake.

Now it’s all wrapped up to chill in the fridge until tomorrow afternoon when I can finally dig in with some friends. It’s going to be a long, long night. . . .

At this point–and before having even tasted the final product–I think I can honestly say that this is one of the creations I’m most proud of making. It may have taken me from 10am to 7:30pm, but I would happily make this again and again, as long as I do not have to rush the process. This was the best birthday-cake-making day I could have asked for.