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Sunday, July 26, 2009

King Arthur Fudge Brownies & Coffee Slushy

I've noticed something interesting. At work the other day, a customer came to my window (I'm a drive-up teller). He showed me a pre-printed deposit slip that said, "For ID Only" on it. Having never seen this done before, I was a bit confused. He just handed this deposit slip and a check for me to cash, and repeated, "This is for ID only." Not really understanding his point, I innocently asked him if he had his ID on him. To which he replied, "No, I don't, that's why I've put this deposit slip in here." Now, I don't know if you've ever been a bank teller, but this is not generally an accepted form of identification. I took in his check and deposit slip, and asked the people around me, "Does anyone know Mr. So & So?" To which, a co-worker replied, Oh yes! He's a very good customer, he has a lot of accounts with us. He walked over and said hello to the customer, with a little bit of butt-kissing. The customer told my co-worker THREE TIMES in the following conversation, "Do me a favor, tell that bank teller who I am." Apparently, because he has money, I was supposed to know his identity and break the rules for him. It just kind of made me think, I don't really care if you have a gajillion dollars, or negative gajillion dollars... please don't treat me like that. I was standing righttttt thereeeee.

For some reason, this event reminded me of my two most recent dessert-making experiences. Take these photos for example:

You'd probably think the brownies were much much better, right? Well, it wasn't the case! The brownies were so-so, and the edges were down-right trash-worthy. But the Coffee Slushy... the gloppy, melty, ugly, spotty Coffee Slushy... was Too Die Forrr. I don't care how pretty ya look, as long as you taste good. In a weird way, it reminded me of my encounter with Mr. So & So. I don't care how much money you have or don't have, as long as you're not a doodie-head to me. Sound like a stretch? Maybe. Maybe it's all the frozen coffee deliciousnesssss talking.
*** V.I.P.U. (Very Important Post Update :) -- We retasted the interior slices (not-edge pieces) of brownie later on that night and even the next day... Okay, they tasted much better. Very good and very fudgy! They improved greatly with time! ***

Anyway, on to the recipes. Unfortunately, there will be no SMS this Sunday. But I have two other things to share with you!
First, the delectable Coffee Slush.

I found these instructions for making a nice frozen coffee treat. And since Daniel had just picked up some freshly roasted Snickerdoodle flavored coffee (gasp!) I thought... I'm soooooo there. I only made a few alterations. Here is what I did....

Slightly less than 2 tablespoons coffee grinds in your favorite flavor
1/2 C sugar
1 1/2 C Low Fat Milk
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Whisk the cornstarch into a half cup of cold low fat milk, beating until lumps are gone. Set aside for a couple of minutes.
Add to the rest of the milk (1 cup). Add sugar and simmer on low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Take 2 - 3 tablespoons of the warm sweetened milk and add to the coffee powder in a cup and beat vigorously with a handmixer until it becomes creamy.
Add this to the heating milk and stir till the custard thickens and is able to coat the back of a spoon without dripping off.
Take it off the heat and cool in an ice-bath for 10-15 minutes.
Put in the frig for about an hour. When thoroughly chilled, put in your ice cream maker for the amount of time your ice cream maker recommends.
Serve in a tall glass topped with whipped cream. DELICIOUS


I saw amazing reviews of the King Arthur Flour Fudge Brownies. So, I decided to give this recipe a go for our Sunday family night dinner. When they came out of the oven, I threw a few chocolate chips on top and the warmth of the fresh baked brownies was enough to melt them enough to be spread into a smooth topping with an offset spatula. So, they looked pretty darn pretty! But to be honest, I was a little disappointed. The edges were SO CHEWY that we had to throw them away. But the inside slices were pretty good... Nice and fudgy. I might have preferred the brownies to be a little bit MORE cakey. It was SO fudgy and creamy that it was almost like biting into a slice of fudge.
But judging from the 120+ Positive reviews on King Arthur's website, perhaps something went wrong for me. I might give it a try again and see if it comes out any better. Don't get me wrong, they weren't bad! In fact, I'm sure the family will have no problem gobbling them all up! But I'm just sayin'... I've had better. I followed along with the pictures and instructions from the KA Baker's Banter Blog. The only thing I did differently was to do the butter-sugar heating in the top of a double boiler, rather than the microwave. I DID notice that my chocolate-egg mixture was considerably thicker than theirs looked. Perhaps I'll try again next time with the microwave method.
*** Post Update!! After a re-taste later, these brownies turned out to be quite yummy. Sorry I was so quick to judge you, little chocolately fudgy brownies! ***

Please see King Arthur Flour's website for the Fudge Brownie Recipe, since I didn't really make any changes to it.

PS - Please make sure to check out my super-cool apron if you haven't yet. :) [shameless promotionnnnnn]
PPS - Just wanted to make a shout-out to Karen who purchased one. Hope you're enjoying it, Karen!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Whole Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze

Yummm, I love lemon flavored things. Especially this time of year. When it's super hot out, sometimes the idea of a lemony dessert is much more appealing than a deep, dark, chocolatey one. Ok, even when it's hot I can eat chocolate, but every now and then lemon is a nice change. And this week for Sweet Melissa Sundays, Melissa of Lulu the Baker chose the Whole Orange Poppy Seed Cake, which Melissa Murphy nicely provided a lemon substitution for in her book. Perfect!

I had read on the P&Q section of SMS that perhaps the cake was a little too tart when you use the full amount of lemons. Well I like it tart and lemony! But since I'm bringing this to a family dinner, I thought I'd tone it down a litttttttle bit (but not too much). So, rather than use one and a half lemons she recommended, I use one whole lemon, and half of another lemon - minus the juice part. So I threw one whole lemon in the food processor (cut up of course :) and then cut another one in half, juiced it, and then threw the peel in the food processor. I also left out the poppy seeds simply because I didn't feel like going out to find any. :)

The result? A perfectly lemony cake. Not too tart at all. I made one loaf and one little cupcake, so that we'd be able to taste it before bringing it over for others to try. I always feel a little weird about bringing a new recipe over to share with people when: A.) I've never made it before and B.) I haven't tried it. So after we prepared the glaze, we brushed it on the tester cupcake, let it sit for a minute and then gave it a try. OOOH, the glaze was super tart! Since I haven't tried it again yet when the glaze has had time to set, I'm not sure if it was only super-duper tart because it was just made or not. But either way, Daniel loved loved loved it. He sat there for about a minute just licking the glaze off his cupcake. And this morning, the first thing he said when he woke up was, "I kinda wanna lick the loaf". So I think this recipe is a winner, no? Can't wait to try it again later and see how the flavor has changed.

Ok, and now the GRAND REVEAL. Me and Daniel have spent months in research and development coming up with this item (and by research and development, I mean in the kitchen eating desserts). I don't know about any of you other bakers out there, but I scale my recipes a lot. I halve recipes, I quarter big recipes when I only want a little, I double recipes when I want more, and sometimes I'm even super complicated and a 1.5 a recipe when I want more than the original recipe but not quite double. Whew! This calls for some complicated math. I sometimes have to double measurements like 1 1/3 C. So how many ounces are in 2/3 of a cup? ORRRR when I'm reducing a recipe, sometimes I'll need to halve 1/8 of a cup. 1/16 of a cup? That's nearly impossible to measure in a measuring cup! So, how many tablespoons are in 1/16 of a cup? I have a chart in my kitchen with ALLL this information that I refer to constantly.

With this in mind, we've developed That's Smart! Measurements Apron! Yes that's right! We've put it on Etsy, go check it out. I'd really love your feedback, too - what you think about our new product.

The conversion chart helps you quickly convert cups to ounces to tablespoons to teaspoons as well as common baking pan substitutions. All you have to do is look down! The charts are upside down, so it can be easily read by the baker who is wearing it. It comes monogrammed with the first initial of you or your favorite baker and its fancy straps are adjustable to go as high up on your chest as you like, and can fit any size baker.

Let me know what you think about our apron!!! We're selling it for an introductory price to my blog readers and their friends. :)
And make sure you check out the other Sweet Melissa Sundays bakers' posts on Whole Orange/Lemon Cake!

Monday, July 13, 2009

SMS: Lemon Cheesecake with Cornmeal Crumble Crust

What do cupcakes and puppies have in common? Itty bitty! Mini-sized. Wouldn't most of us agree that small versions of things are just cuter? Most of the desserts I make for SMS tend to be small. There are only two of us here, so to have an entire cheesecake would be a little silly. This time around, I quartered the recipe for Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake with Cornmeal Crumble Crust that Eliana of a Chica Bakes selected. The only other change I made was to omit the blueberry topping (Dan's not a big blueberry fan) and to UP the amount of lemon juice and lemon zest in the recipe -- I find that most lemon recipes tend to have too subtle a lemon flavor. So I just about doubled the amount of lemon that should have been in there.

Just how small was my lil cheesecake? Use the spoon for scale:

Eep! So cute! It is about 3 inches across.

This came out quite delicious. Though I didn't totally love the cornmeal crust so much, we really really enjoyed the cheesecake filling part. In the end, I was glad I upped the amount of lemon - it had a perfect lemony flavor.

Thanks to Eliana for picking this one! Make sure you visit everyone else's blogs to see how they did!

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Belated Excuse

Wellllll, It's Monday... and there was no SMS Post yesterday. I'm sorry! The holiday weekend was jam packed, and there was no time for dessert-makin'! (Though don't get me wrong - seeing this week's recipe BROWN SUGAR VANILLA ICE CREAM!!! - I was very sad I didn't have a chance to participate. This will definitely be one that I have to do a rewind and make in the near future!) So, I apologize for not post posting, and not posting that I was not going to post... I think that makes sense.

But there will be some exciting posts soon! I recently won the Foodie Blogroll Licorice Candy Goodie Bag Weekly Giveaway from the wonderful Foodie Blogroll! YEY! If you aren't signed up for the Foodie Blogroll yet -- YOU SHOULD BE! It is a great site, and they do super fun giveaways all the time! I also won the Martha Stewart Cupcake Book from the adorable Stacy of Playing with Sugar! DOUBLE YEYYY!!!! Go check out her blog, it's fantastic.

Whew, I've never had such luck!!!!!! Thanks to the Foodie Blogroll and Stacy of Playing with Sugar! Hopefully I'll get to do good things with these prizes and make some fun posts. And hopefully I'll get with the program for next week's SMS (Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake sounds like a winner to me!)


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