Baking

Thanksgiving Baking

So basically I dropped off the face of the blogging earth for a while. I’ve been completely overwhelmed with school work, work, and thinking about all my final assignments these past couple of weeks that I just haven’t had the energy or will to post anything. Here’s a recap of my Thanksgiving creations.

Originally I wanted to make something really elaborate over break, but unfortunately my parents shot me down about that, and what would have been the point in making something wonderful if no one was going to eat/appreciate it. Instead they just wanted plain old boring chocolate chip cookies and a yellow cake–from a BOX . . . I guess they didn’t get the memo about my new-found hatred of boxed, chemical-laden, artificial box mixes. Now I know they work for those who don’t have the time/patience/ability/ingredients/whatever to make a cake from scratch–and I don’t think any less of those people for using this option–but now that I’ve been exploring the baking world more thoroughly, I never want to have to resort to boxes again because I’ve found such delicious and simple from-scratch recipes. I love trying out new ones, adding different flavors/more chocolate to them, and seeing how they turn out. Not all of them are rave successes, but it’s those slight flops that help me to learn what I want out of a recipe.

In any event, I–with the excuse of not having enough vegetable oil for both cookies AND a cake–managed to make a simple batch of yellow cupcakes for my father’s birthday. This attempt falls under the slight flop category, because I didn’t have the cake flour the recipe called for, and as a result, it was a very crumby cupcake (I know, bad pun). I think that if I had used the cake flour, the crumbs would have been much smaller and the cupcakes would not have fallen apart so easily (and I think having liners for the tin would have helped in that department as well, because they stuck like CRAZY and were difficult to get out).

Unfortunately, I also didn’t have nearly enough powdered sugar to make a fluffy buttercream frosting, so I had to used a tub of dense chocolate frosting instead *shudders at the memory*. It was such a light cupcake, and the heavy frosting just overwhelmed the poor dears, not to mention the chemical/artificial taste from it that I could not get out of my mouth. Again, no disrespect to those who use store-bought frosting, but I just don’t like the stuff anymore now that I try to do things from scratch as often as possible.

Overall they were good cupcakes, but I just need to institute a couple of changes, and they’ll be GREAT cupcakes. (My mother also shot down putting sprinkles on top because she hates them *sigh*.)

Before the cupcakes, I attempted a version of peanut butter/caramel/chocolate/shortbread bars (yes, like the candy bar, but with peanut butter). Again, a good attempt, but rather flawed in execution. The shortbread crust was nice and golden brown, but it wouldn’t come out of the pan; the caramel was slightly overcooked; and I destroyed the ganache topping by accident. I just don’t think I was meant to make these at this time. I ended up just taking everything else out of the pan and leaving the crust behind, resulting in hunks of thick chocolate and oozy caramel, with a thin layer of peanut butter on top.

Yeah, not exactly the prettiest thing I’ve ever attempted.

Finally, came my cookies. Finally, something turned out well. Thank goodness. I must say, this was probably the best-looking batch I’ve made in a while. They were soft and chewy, but not too much so. The perfect combination of soft and crunchy in all the right places.

A post about my creations from today will be coming up next. I’m sure I’ll need to procrastinate again really soon.

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Celtic Thunder

Lots of New Music

Last week I finally received my copy of the Celtic Thunder Christmas CD. One word: ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY-BEYOND-AMAZING! There are no words to describe my love for these songs. I can’t wait to see and hear this show in person in December. I’m counting down the days (well, not quite yet, but the idea is in the back of my mind).

I’m also insanely excited for the release of the Christmas DVD on November 22nd–just in time for Thanksgiving so I can watch it with a friend when I’m home that week. She’s in agreement with that plan, so it’s happening. It’s also perfect because now I can just have it shipped to my house and I don’t have to pay sales tax; anything to save a buck. At least I’ll have something to keep me happy during break, since reading Moby-Dick isn’t exactly number one on my list of fun things to do.

I can’t wait to see Damo singing “Winter Wonderland” and “Our First Christmas Together”. Nor can I wait to see Keith sing “Last Christmas” and “All I Want for Christmas”, and in that white suit of his *insane squees*. I think my favorite song on the CD is EASILY “Last Christmas”, and with his white suit, I think–no I KNOW– I’m going to be a puddle as soon as I see the DVD and then at the show. I need a big poster of him in that outfit.

Thank you to whoever took these screen shots from the preview video before Amazon took it down.

In other CD release news, Ryan released his solo CD the other day. It was sold out within MINUTES on CDbaby.com. Supposedly they only received 100 copies of his CD in the first shipment. Um, WHAT? Oh Ryan, you should have arranged for MORE in that first batch. He said more were on their way today, but that probably won’t even be enough to satisfy all of the back orders. For the sakes of all the Ryan fans, thank goodness they had MP3 downloads on the site as well. I however, in my poor state, wasn’t going to pay $18.95 for 11 MP3s when the hard copy was only $19.95 plus tax/shipping. I opted to download his CD from iTunes for the time-being for $9.99, and will ask for the hard copy for Christmas. I have this thing about wanting hard copies of CDs/DVDs/books. There’s just something about holding the product in your hands.I think I can also safely say that some of his merchandise will be on my wish-list. It’s gonna be a very Celtic Thunder Christmas, I think, what with all the solo merch being released and thought up.

All I can say about his CD is WOW! He wrote 10 of the 11 songs himself, and all of these songs are phenomenal. So far, I think my favorite is “Go If You Want To”.

All of this new music being released so close together is making it hard to decide what to listen to. Do I want Christmas? Or do I want RYAN? It’s just not a fair choice to have to make.