Baking

I’m In Love With My Muffin Top Pan

Along with my doughnut pan, I also recently got a muffin top pan. I’ve been seeing these two specialty pans everywhere online, and I really wanted to jump on the bandwagon. How can you not want to when you see so many delicious things that you can’t replicate without specific types of bakeware? I have to say that baked doughnuts and “muffin tops” are two trends that I am more than happy to follow.

I have to admit that I did not use my muffin top pan for muffin tops. . . . Instead I made DEEP DISH COOKIES! I have also been seeing these everywhere, and, while I know they can be semi-replicated with a regular baking pan, I wanted the full effect, and boy did I get it.

I used Picky Palate’s XXL M&M Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I had made a conscious effort to save my Christmas candy for baking purposes, and I’m glad I did. The cookies had a bit of a late Christmas theme because my M&M’s were from the Christmas candy cane containers. I didn’t have quite as many as I wanted, but I made up the difference by adding some extra chocolate chips.

Overall the recipe was good, but definitely NOT like my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe. I hate to say that, while these cookies certainly made a statement with their sheer size and appearance, they were lacking in the taste department. I think they could have used a little bit more sugar, and certainly some more salt.

I still thoroughly enjoyed them, though. This pan makes for the perfect size “giant cookies.” They are not so overwhelmingly large that they can’t be consumed by one person.

I think my next venture with the pan will be with my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe. My mouth is watering already, and I’m just thinking about it.

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Baking

The Hurricane That Wasn’t . . . At Least in NYC

In preparation for what was supposed to be a natural disaster of epic proportions in New York, I froze many many ice cubes, poured many pitchers of water, bought a couple snack-y foods, and baked. With the limited amount of ingredients I had, I managed to make dough balls from Peas and Thank You and blueberry muffins from All Recipes. I figured these treats would last me the duration of the storm, and they certainly did.

The dough balls turned out more like cookies, and probably for a couple of reasons now that I’m looking back at it. While the recipe and  the blog are vegan, I used butter because I didn’t have any Earth Balance. That might have had an effect on the dough and the finished product. I also may or may not have over-baked them–not even close to the point of burning, but just enough that they didn’t retain their doughy consistency. However, I’m blaming this part on the new stove that I’m still getting used to. Gotta love changing dorm rooms and kitchens as often as I do.

Overall the dough balls were still a hit and I would love to try them again, this time with Earth Balance and a hawk-like eye on oven. If I take them out too soon, so be it. I didn’t mind eating the dough straight out of the bowl, so I doubt I’d mind an undercooked dough ball.

My blueberry muffins came together quickly and baked with no issue. Yay! They also came out of the pan without even one sticking. Amazing! I’ve been waiting forever for that to happen with anything coming out of a muffin man. There always seems to be one muffin/cupcake that doesn’t want to leave the safety of its little baking cup.

I know, I know. Why don’t I just use liners? I love the texture of the muffin/cake that it baked against the pan. The combination of the two textures is wonderful. Besides, why spend money on something that is taking away from how much you can eat? I only use them when absolutely necessary, and that’s usually only when I’m not making something for myself. Not everyone is as in love with muffin/cupcake outsides as I am. Just ask my brownie-loving friend who willingly gives me the brownie “crusts” from when she makes them because that’s the one part she doesn’t  like. The same principle applies here.

Anyway, I love these muffins. They definitely got me through those few days without real groceries. I’ll probably be making them for breakfasts during the week once classes start, but I might sub in some whole wheat flour to make them more filling. We’ll see how that goes.

Baking

Attack of the Chocolate Chip!

Recently I was absolutely craving a sweet but salty chocolate chip cookie. I couldn’t get this treat out of my mind, partially since it had been forever since I made a good batch of them. I tried to replicate the ones I made in April, hoping for that same “best batch EVER” thought as I devoured them. I don’t know what exactly made those cookies so much better than whenever I usually make them, and I still don’t know. It was probably how I combined the sugar and eggs and “whipped” them a bit more than usual, but I did the same thing with these and I just wasn’t feeling it after they were done.

I would love to take a baking science class to learn all about these different reactions and what causes what, but I suppose I could learn the very same things through trial and error and reading up on it online. I just think it would be a fun class to take, knowing me and my love for details.

Before I put anything in the oven I thought the dough itself was really good–just what I was looking for to appease my craving. However, once they came out of the oven they just tasted . . . off. In the moment it tasted like a brown sugar issue, but I wasn’t postitive. This whole not knowing thing did not mesh very well with my usual need to know every tiny detail, so needless to say I was slightly miffed.

You wouldn’t really know by looking at them that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with these cookies, but that’s the truth. They seemed promising in the dough phase, but the final product just did not meet expectations. This dud will also teach me to deviate from my usual Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips. My chocolate chip cookies will never have Trader Joe’s chips in them again. I don’t mind these chocolate chips for other things, but after years of a good thing, why change the combination? While I love Trader Joe’s from the bottom of my heart, I’m just not as huge a fan of their chocolate chips in my tried and true cookies.

However, this chip ban had not quite come into effect before I made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from Two Peas and Their Pod. I really enjoyed these bars, and I’m going to keep them in mind if I want chocolate chip cookies but just don’t want to do all the batches. Another win for me!

They may have taken forever in the oven, but it was well worth it. The edges and outsides were crispy and crunchy while the insides remained chewy and delicious.

The recipe yielded SO MANY BARS. The 24 bars were a bit of an overkill, which I should have thought about before I made the entire recipe. I was still trying to finish off strawberry lemon bars from the week before, and in fact I had to take the fruity bars out of the pan so I could use it for these cookie bars. That should have clued me into the fact that I really didn’t need another 9×13 pan of baked goods. Oh well. What’s done is done and everything eventually disappeared, whether it was by my eating it or pushing it on my friends whenever I could.

Aren’t I the greatest friend? 😛

Oh yeah, GAELIC FOOTBALL WAS GREAT last Sunday! Unfortunately we found out when we got to the field that we had to pay $10 to get in, a fact that was NO WHERE on the website. It’s still a good deal, though, because $10 gets you a hurling game and two football games, if you’re willing to stay there from 2:00 to 6:30ish. We were originally only going to go to the 5:00 game, but we got there so early that we went to the 3:30 game and stayed through the 5:00 game as well. The games weren’t nearly as brutal as I was hoping, but the second game made up for it, being better than the first one.

(Cavan, pronounced “Cah-vahn”)

On another note, one of the men near us (as well as a good chunk of the crowd) was rooting for Cork to win in the second game and even went so far as to say (in his wonderful Irish accent) that “There’ll be Kerry blood tonight!” I was certainly laughing by the end of the game when in fact Cork did NOT win. GO KERRY! It was such a close game at points, and it was absolutely a nail-biter at the end.

(Armagh, pronounced “Ar-mahh”)

Cavan won the first game and Kerry won the second game. The results were rather surprising because both of these teams had slow starts and it seemed like the other teams would win during most of the games.

I’m definitely going back another afternoon, but I’m just not sure when yet. If I don’t go back in August I’m DEFINITELY going back for the games the Sunday after classes start. That’ll be a fantastic afternoon with the teams that are playing. I just hope if I bring one of my friends that I can get her to leave, what with all the young Irish men and their accents surrounding us. I know I was quite pleased with the afternoon based on that fact alone.

Baking

My First Night Back

I made it back Saturday mid-afternoon, and for once my parents were able to find a parking spot near my dorm. We unloaded, unpacked, and parted ways, leaving me to my own devices in my empty suite. That empty suite could only mean one thing–BAKING! My baking cabinet was suitably stocked, and I got to it very quickly. I combed through my bookmarked recipes and settled upon a Dorie Greenspan recipe I found as a Tuesdays with Dorie entry on Amy Ruth Bakes: the Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake. I had been eying this cake for some time, but I didn’t have a proper loaf pan to bake it in, before now. A couple of weeks ago I went and bought some glass mixing bowls, a loaf pan, a muffin tin, and a round cake pan. When I got back, I realized that as my bake-ware collection is slowly being completed, my kitchen is quickly running out of storage space. It’s like a puzzle–this can go here, that can go there, but that can’t go there, so where will it go? My only answer is I don’t know. Thank goodness I’m so tall, because I’ve been able to use the space on top of the cabinets because no one else can reach or has shown the desire to stand on a chair to reach up there.

Generally I am skeptical of recipes that only call for cocoa powder, because it doesn’t give me as satisfying a chocolate taste as it would if I used melted chocolate. I usually add additional chocolate to those recipes, but for some reason I didn’t want to this time. Search me for as to why; I have plenty of chocolate chips I could have used.

I’m not sure what the actual consistency of the cake batter is supposed to be, but mine was as light and airy as a mousse. Granted I had to make a last second substitution because, silly me, I forgot I didn’t have any eggs. Instead, for each egg I needed, I mixed together 2 Tablespoons of water, 1 Tablespoon of oil, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. I really need to start checking for every single ingredient before I even think about beginning anything. I wonder if the substitution had any effect on the batter. I’ll have to find out by making this again sometime, but after everything is mixed as the recipe states, I’m going to add some melted chocolate.

The cake baked up beautifully in my new pan. A couple of corners were darker than the rest, but what can you do. I think I took the cake out at the perfect time, because when I cut it it was super moist.

It was a painfully long wait for it to cool down to semi-room temperature, and I probably should have waited longer, but it was getting late, I was exhausted, and I wanted a piece of cake gosh darn it. I miraculously had just enough raspberry jam for the filling. Next time I might try it with strawberry and add a little more because the flavor wasn’t as noticeable as I would have liked.

I also had just enough sour cream left to make the frosting. I had never before used only melted chocolate and sour cream as a frosting, and I thought it was an odd combination at first. It’s actually surprisingly good. I like the tang the sour cream adds.

The next thing I need to add to my kitchen collection is a long, flat plate for cakes. I know the cake sunk a bit from my poking a hole in it during the baking process to check it, but the plate just exacerbates that and does nothing to add to its levelness. I know that’s a nit-picky thing to notice, but when I think of loaf cakes, I think of long, flat, level cakes, and this attempt does not quite fit that profile in my opinion.

It’s not my best frosting job ever, and it doesn’t exactly match the “dressy” in the title, but the frosting was a bit tough to deal with because it was so warm and melty. I could have waited for it to cool a bit, but again, it was late and I wanted cake.

Doesn’t it look super yummy?

You can just barely see the raspberry jam between the three layers.

Upon taking my first bite, I was surprised that it actually tasted good. I was fearing that the lack of eggs was going to result in disaster in terms of taste, but I was pleasantly surprised. The cake was moist and rich, even without the additional chocolate in the batter. It’s okay in terms of chocolate taste, but not quite as satisfying as other recipes I’ve made. I’m still not a fan of the color of the cake, but once again, I’m becoming extremely nit-picky.

One final note about this cake. It’s definitely NOT a one-bowl cake. Thank goodness for my new mixing bowls, because I ended up using 1 bowl for the wet ingredients, 1 bowl for the dry ingredients, 1 bowl to make the filling, 1 bowl and one pot of simmering water to make the frosting, my 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup measuring cups, measuring spoons, the loaf pan, a hand mixer, a spoonula, a fork, a knife, two plates, and a spatula to make it. That’s a lot of dishes, and I finally got them all washed.

Overall this cake was a success, and I’m definitely going to make it again, albeit with a few alterations to suit my palate and aesthetics.

Baking

Baking Go Leor

It seems I’ve been remiss in posting about what I bake. Classes, exams, and utter exhaustion haven’t completely kept me from baking, but for some reason it’s kept me from posting.

Let’s see if I can remember everything. . . .

I made something called a “French Breakfast Puff”, which is basically a baked doughnut hole. I didn’t follow the recipe and presentation suggestions exactly, but I thought they were still very yummy. They must have been, since they were all gone within a couple of days.

There have also been brownies. LOTS AND LOTS of brownies. But somehow I only managed to take a photo of one of the batches. These ones were good. They could have been better if I had taken them out of the oven a couple minutes sooner, but I made the glaze that the recipe suggested, and it really helped to moisten them up.

The second batch of brownies I made were AMAZING. They got the approval of a friend who very much prefers boxed brownie mixes. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of them. I had kept meaning to, but they just kind of disappeared before I got the chance.

I also tried my hand at a baked mac and cheese recently. It was a good start, but for future mac and cheese endeavors, I need MORE CHEESE. You would think that cheddar, Parmesan, cottage, and  mozzarella cheese would be enough, but I think I need to up the cheddar cheese because it wasn’t quite gooey enough. I’ll try again sooner rather than later, seeing as how I still have cheese left and I don’t want it to spoil. Note to self: buy ricotta cheese, too.

The other day while I was procrastinating in my mid-term studying, I made “granola bars”. I put them in quotes because they’re not really granola bars, but more like a granola cake of sorts. They still taste really good, but I need to have something to drink with them because, while they’re not dry, they make me really thirsty. I added chopped up chocolate chunks, raisins, and peanut butter to them, even though the recipe only called for mini chocolate chips. I had been craving a raisin-y something, so I figured why not, and hey, peanut butter goes GREAT with both of those things. I only have a few left, so I really should get on that whole picture-taking thing soon.

 

Baking, Celtic Thunder

New Home!! . . . And an Increasingly Depressing Post. . . .

I finally had enough with not being able to post pictures on LiveJournal, so I decided to change it up a bit and join WordPress. With this site, I was able to import all of my old LJ posts, so nothing is lost and forgotten. I don’t even know where to begin in posting about everything I’ve been unable to post about, so I guess I’ll start with the most recent. I made my second batch of chocolate chip cookies of the semester, and I must say, they are better by leaps and bounds than my first batch. I think I finally have the correct timing for keeping them in the oven, as all three trays were perfect, and the remaining cookies are still super soft and wonderful.

Edit: Soon after posting, I found Keith’s new Twitter photo, and boy was I not expecting THAT. I knew he got a haircut and it looked really different, but I wasn’t fully prepared for the reality of seeing it, even though I was actively searching for an elusive picture of him but a few hours ago. I just keep looking at it and thinking “This isn’t Keith, at least not MY Keith.” And I also can’t help but think he got his teeth fixed, because he doesn’t seem to have that adorable crooked front tooth anymore. . . . 😦 So many things are changing that I’m starting to lose count.

Edit #2: Dear God this night keeps getting worse and worse. My sound won’t play on my Celtic Thunder: The Show file, I remembered Neil shaved his goatee, AND I missed Sephira performing like EIGHT times in Grand Central Station over the past few days *goes to a corner to sob*. And here I thought September was my GOOD month. What’s happening to it? Ever since yesterday it’s been going down, down, down hill VERY quickly. Okay, I’m ready for October to start, like, NOW, please.

Baking

A Long Time Coming

Last week I went home for the first time since January, and I must say, I was FREEZING in my house. I’m just not used to being in air-conditioned places for long periods of time, so I spent a lot of time under a blanket. One good thing about the cooler indoor temperatures was that I was able to bake without personally baking. I started off slowly, with just a double batch of my chocolate chip cookies to bring to a reunion lunch the next day.

Then, on the morning of the lunch I made some cinnamon rolls with a cream cheese icing, but they didn’t last for very long, hence the lack of a picture. However, they didn’t look very different from the ones I made for Midnight Breakfast, so that picture will work just fine.

The next night I wanted to make a cake, but I changed my mind and settled on cupcakes and a vanilla buttercream frosting.

I do wonder what my parents have done with all the treats I left at home. Have they eaten them all? Let them go stale?