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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Coconut Custard Pie

I'm afraid I won't be baking this week with Sweet Melissa Sundays. :( But be sure to visit the rest of the SMS bakers by visiting the blogroll (HERE) to see how their Coconut Custard Pies came out! It sure does sound refreshing and summery! You can find the recipe on Ruby's blog, I Dream of Baking!

I will be back baking with SMS next week when we make Pistachio Linzer Thumbprints... And I have another really yummy recipe coming within the next few days, too! :)
Hint: Chocolate + Peanut Butter + Ganache + Brownies + Cookie Dough.

For now, I leave you with this:

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ice Cream Cookie Cups


Have you ever prepared a chocolate chip cookie recipe that came out as flat as a pancake? I'm talking so thin, when you hold it up you can see patches of light coming through. I have recently and I was quite disappointed because I thought they were going to be nice and soft and chewy. Instead, they came out wafer thin. I didn't even bother taking pictures of them. We ate about 3 or 4 of them before throwing away the whole lot of them. The problem was, when I prepared the recipe, I only baked half of it. The rest I stuffed into a freezer bag and popped in the freezer for another night when we had the craving for fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies. Since the cookies weren't that great, the bag just sat there in the freezer taking up room for a few weeks. Until I had an idea...

What if I baked them in a cupcake tin? Maybe the shape of the cupcake tin would stop them from spreading out all over the cookie sheet. It would retain its shape and stay a little thicker. Right?

Right. It turned out to be quite a nice little dessert creation.

As they cooled, they sank a little in the middle - making a perfect cookie cup for a scoop of ice cream!




For the cookie recipe, I used Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Toronto Star (via The Canadian Baker). The reviews of the recipe were great, so I was expecting a really good cookie. Maybe I did something wrong, because mine were not so. I'll have to give this recipe another shot, but I have another Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe using Vanilla Pudding that I want to try too!

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Canadian Baker
1 cup unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
102 g box instant vanilla pudding mix (or if you have a larger box, weigh it out on a scale)
2 tbsp cold
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp each: baking powder, baking soda
2 cups milk chocolate chips (I went crazy with my Chips and used Chocolate Rocks, Hershey's Special Dark Chips & Toffee Bits)

Preheat to 350. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Stir in pudding mix and milk. Add eggs and vanilla. Next, add the flour, baking powder and soda. Stir until batter is smooth. Stir in your choice of chips.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on non-stick cookie sheets. Bake about 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Butterscotch Pralines


Me and boiling sugar have never really gotten along. I've wound up with burns, horribly sticky burnt sugar messes, and hardened sugar concoctions on my stove top. So for this week's SMS recipe, Butterscotch Pralines chosen by Tess of Cookin Chemist, I followed the instructions to a T. Not only does it involve a candy thermometer (::shiver::) and boiling sugar, but I have never made or even eaten a Praline before so I had NO idea what to expect. But I couldn't miss out on this week's recipe because of the rave reviews it seemed to get on the SMS site! So I gave it a shot. And VOILA! I was surprised how SUPER easy this was. Most everything was done in one bowl, and the whole thing from start to finish was probably around 20 minutes. And within 10 minutes of shaping the pralines, they're ready to eat. That's my kind of recipe.

And how did they taste? Amazing. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but these are much better than I anticipated. Daniel said, "they taste like candy corn!" and I couldn't agree more! The pecans add a really nice texture and these will probably sooo good later crumbled on top of vanilla ice cream. :)




Thanks for hosting Tessa! I probably never would have made these if you hadn't chosen it as our recipe, and we LOVED it!!! Be sure to visit Tessa's blog, Cooking Chemist for the recipe, and see all the other SMS bakers' takes on the recipe on the blogroll.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kiwi Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Cupcakes


Summer is right around the corner. Actually, here in Florida is seems like it began a few weeks ago. So, Ice Cream Cupcakes are the perfect thing to cool you down on these hot days... while satisfying your sweet tooth, too! And what better way to welcome summer with a delicious fruity flavor combination. For my second attempt at making Ice Cream Cupcakes, me and the fiance came up with an AMAZINGLY fresh and fruity concoction: Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream on top of Strawberries-and-Cream Cake, topped with Kiwi Sauce and Vanilla Whipped Cream It tasted like the frozen ice creamy version of Strawberry Shortcake, with a little extra something from the homemade Kiwi Sauce. This recipe was a total winner. Absolutely FULL of flavor, refreshing, and decadent all at the same time. And this is my entry for CupcakeProject's 2010 Ice Cream Cupcake Roundup! Please see details for this contest here at Cupcake Project and here at Scoopalicious



Strawberries and Cream Cake, adapted from The Hungry Mouse
3/8 cup sugar
2 Tbls butter, soft
1/2 an egg (whisk entire egg, discard half of it)
3/8 cup heavy cream
1 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
heaping 1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 cups strawberries, sliced

Put 12 - 16 foil cupcake liners (depending on how much cake you want per ice cream cupcake) on a cookie sheet. Preheat to 375. Beat the sugar, egg and butter together to combine. When slightly cream, pour in the cream and mix to combine.
In a separate small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the wet mixture. Beat on low to combine and then turn it up to high for a short while to make the consistency thick and creamy - but do not overbeat.
Add in the strawberries and stir by hand with a spatula to incorporate. Divide between the liners and spread slightly with a spoon. Liners will only be about 1/2 as full as if you were making full sized cupcakes.
Bake for 16-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, move to the freezer to freeze the cakes. Then, make your ice cream...


Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream adapted from
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
Strips of lemon zest, from about 1/2 a lemon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 lb strawberries (by weight), hulled and halved
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine heavy cream, zest, and sea salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
Whisk the eggs with 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. Put a strainer on top of this bowl, and slowly pour the cream/zest mixture through the strainer/sieve. Discard the zest. Pour back into the saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F (do not let boil).
Immediately pour custard through a sieve into a metal bowl, then cool to room temperature by putting this metal bowl into a larger bowl full of ice water, stirring occasionally to quickly cool. Chill, covered, at least until cold, about 2 hours, and up to 1 day.
While custard is chilling, purée strawberries with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice in a blender until smooth, then force through fine sieve (to remove seeds) into chilled custard. Stir purée into custard.
Freeze in ice-cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer a bit more, so it is soft enough to pipe through a piping bag. Pipe on to frozen cupcakes and freeze to harden.



Kiwi Sauce:
4 kiwis
1/8 C sugar + additional, if desired

Peel the brown skin off of the kiwis. Place kiwis in a food processor and blend until completely pureed. Add to a saucepan set on medium to high heat with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir over the heat until it thickens slightly. Remove to a small metal bowl and, set the small bowl within a larger one filled with ice water. Stir the kiwi sauce constantly to quickly cool the sauce. Add sugar until the sauce reaches your desired sweetness. Force through a strainer to remove (most of) the seeds. Serve, cold, on top of ice cream cupcakes.


Vanilla Whipped Cream:
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
2 tsp mexican vanilla
1/8 C granulated sugar + additional, if desired

Beat all ingredients together, on high, until mixture reaches light and fluffy consistency. Add more sugar if desired to reach desired sweetness. Serve on top of ice cream cupcakes.



Thursday, May 13, 2010

Crumb Cake Brownies


I have really been enjoying this small break between classes. There's only a few weeks from the time Spring semester ends and Summer A semester begins, but I have tried to get the most out of this short time. I've been reading (leisure reading, not required class reading-imagine that!), lots of wedding planning, laying in the Florida sun, kayaking, wave runnering, and baking... Sadly, Summer A begins on Monday (already????? ARG) but I just keep telling myself - its only 8 weeks long! And then I'll be DONE WITH CLASSES for my masters degree. All I will have left after that is a full-time, one semester long internship and I will graduate fully certified to teach art. :)

So during this brief break from school work, I've actually been able to bake more often than just once a week which is something that is nearly impossible during the semester. Any break time I get during the semester, I either get a head start on upcoming assignments, or I take a moment to relax. But since I've been able to bake more, I keep getting Baker's Block. Is that a thing, baker's block? It's when I want to bake, but can't think of what to make! I find that I often fall back on a few different desserts. Blondies and Brownies are near the top of that list. Sure, I'll try out new recipes, but its usually a new recipe for a brownie or blondie. I think this is for a few reasons. 1.) Everyone loves them 2.) They pair oh-so-well with ice cream and 3.) They're adaptable - use a different recipe, change up the mix-ins, and you can have a new take on a familiar, old-favorite. But while searching the other day through my oodles and oodles of Bookmarked "Make This!" links, I found something that sounded a little different than just using peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips. Imagine what would happen if a Fudgy Brownie (so fudgy its on the border of being fudge and not a brownie at all) and Crumb Cake. What do you get? A crazy delicious hybrid: Crumb Cake Brownies. I got the idea from Donna of My Tasty Treasures, who got the recipe from Womans Day Magazine Holiday Cookies Jan 2009. Thanks for sharing another great recipe, Donna! I took the idea for this recipe - a bottom brownie layer topped with Crumb Cake or Coffee Cake topping. In the original from Womans Day, it was a Brownie Cake, but I subbed in a regular ol' brownie base to make it even fudgier and indulgent-er. YU-UMS.

For my brownie base, I chose Max Brenner's Brownie recipe, via Anna at Cookie Madness (who did all the work for me and scaled it down!) For the topping, I chose my favorite Crumb Cake topping from Epicurious. For me, it yielded 16 super rich Crumb Cake Brownies.


Small Batch of Max Brenner Brownies, adapted from Cookie Madness
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream
10 ½ ounces dark chocolate (approx. 70%), roughly chopped
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 generous teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 batch of Crumb Topping

Preheat to 350° and line a 8" square pan with parchment. Put the chopped chocolate in a medium glass mixing bowl.
Set the butter and cream over medium heat and bring to a boil. When it has reached a boil, pour on to the chocolate and let it sit to allow the chocolate to soften and melt. After a minute or two, stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes (now is a good time to prepare your crumb topping!).
Add vanilla to the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Whisk in sugar and salt.
Add the flour to the chocolate mixture. Stir gently until just combined, don't overmix! Crumble the crumb topping evenly over the brownie batter.

Crumb Topping, adapted from Epicurious's Jam Crumb Cake recipe
6 TBL unsalted butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Whisk together melted butter, both sugars, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Stir in flour, then blend and poke with a fork until it becomes crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs over top of brownie batter. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack. Remove from pan before cutting.



These came out really, really good. The brownie base is SUPER rich, and SO fudgy that it is on the verge of being called fudge. It is very soft - one of the comments I got from tasters was that it has a consistency totally different from a regular brownie. In fact, I think the crumbliness of the Crumb Cake Topping was a necessary addition to balance out the texture of the brownies. A definite would-make-again!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Sweet Chai Muffins


I don't normally drastically alter a recipe, especially not the first time I'm using it. Sometimes I'll make fairly minor substitutions or combine parts from different recipes, but I don't generally change a recipe all that much the first time around. This weekend for Sweet Melissa Sundays, however, I seem to have changed that a little bit.. partially on purpose and partially by accident. Chaya of Sweet & Savory, our host this week, chose Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble from the Sweet Melissa book. While I am an enormous blueberry fan (there was a long period of time where I literally ate them every single day), the fiance is not, and on top of that, I didn't have enough time to go get blueberries. Plus, neither of us are really in to Orange in our sweets. But I really wanted to make more of Melissa's muffins! We loveddd the Pear Cranberry Muffins with Gingersnap Crumble, and unfortunately I didn't have a chance to make either the Fresh Peach Muffins or the Carmalized Onion, Sage, and Chedder Muffin when they came up (both of which I had really wanted to make!).

Rather than forgo SMS this week, I changed up the recipe a bit so that it was something I already had all the ingredients for and that the fiance would enjoy. I started with Melissa's Sweet Muffin base recipe (p.5-6). After reading everyone's notes on the SMS site, I heeded their advice and cut back on the dry ingredients and upped the liquid a wee bit. I halved the recipe, so I used 1 1/4 C Flour and 1/4 C heavy cream and 1/4 C milk. Also, I added 3 Tablespoons of Big Train Vanilla Chai:

I had planned on making the Pecan Crumble (everyone on the boards raved about them!). But it turns out I had used all of my pecans up and had none left. So, I just went with a cinnamon+brown sugar+granulated sugar topping.


The end result was great. A nice light breakfast muffin. The chai flavor was subtle but there - the spice was not overpowering at all. Cinnamon-sugar sprinkled on top added a nice crunch. And I think the more liquid, less flour change to the recipe was necessary. These muffins came out a little crumbly, but not too heavy or dry. This recipe is definitely a keeper.


Check out Chaya's blog for the recipe for Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble! And see the SMS blogroll to see how the recipe came out for everyone else (maybe theirs actually had orange, blueberry, and pecan like it was supposed to!).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ice Cream Cupcakes: Banana Pound Cake with Mango-Lemon Ice Cream & Blood Orange-Orange Syrup


Ice Cream Cake is one of those simple treats that are an absolute favorite in this house. In all honesty, if Dan had his choice, our wedding cake would be a giant Fudgie The Whale cake from Carvel. I'm not gonna lie, I wouldn't be opposed to it either... And no, I'm not getting paid to promote Fudgie the Whale... though I would gladly accept a cake as payment.
If we love ice cream cake so much, and I so often make cake and ice cream, why oh why have I never tried to make my own ice cream cake before?? More importantly, why have I never tried to make my own ICE CREAM CUPCAKES before?? Ice Cream Cupcakes are just like Ice Cream cakes except better because they're tiny, adorable, and you get to eat the whole thing. When I saw that Cupcake Project is now doing her annual Ice Cream Cupcake Contest, I vowed to make a new ice cream cupcake every week for the month of May, to select the best one to use as my entry into the contest.

So, how does you make ice cream cupcakes? I took pictures of the process...

1. Make cupcakes, but put half as much batter in as you normally would. You need room for ice cream! Bake, let cool completely, then throw in the freezer.
2. Make homemade ice cream.
3. After churning and before chilling said ice cream, so it is still a little soft, put a dollop on to the half-full, frozen cupcakes.
4. Spread smooth with an offset spatula. Dip the spatula in warm water before smoothing if necessary.
5. Freeze cupcakes until firm.
6. Peel and enjoy your very own Ice Cream Cupcake!

For my first attempt at making Ice Cream Cupcakes, we came up with... Banana Pound Cake with Mango-Lemon Ice Cream and Blood Orange-Orange Syrup. Yu-u-um.

Banana Pound Cake Recipe adapted from The Dutch Baker's Daughter
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 C mashed ripe banana (around 1 - 1 1/2 medium bananas)
1 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel, lightly packed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with 19-21 standard size cupcake liners, or if using foil liners, place on a cookie sheet.
Cream butter with an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar, beating on low, then increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat several minutes on high until the mixture is smooth. Mix in the bananas.
With a whisk, mix flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. In a separate bowl, combine milk and vanilla. Beating on low, add dry ingredients, alternating with milk-vanilla mixture. Stir in the orange peel.
Divide the batter between the cupcake liners, filling each liner up about half as full as you normally would to make regular cupcakes. Bake for 14 - 18 minutes. Let cool completely and then pop them in the freezer and begin making the ice cream.

Mango-Lemon Ice Cream with Blood Orange-Orange Syrup adapted from Dianasaur Dishes
1-2 mangoes, depending on your desired mangoiness.
Most of the zest from one lemon (the rest from about 3/4 of a lemon)
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
4 egg whites
4 tablespoons sugar

Peel mango and cut into cubes (click here for mango cutting 411 if you've never cut a mango before!). Using a food processor, blend the mango well to a smooth consistency. Add lemon zest and pulse until incorporated. While blade is running, pour in the cream and beat until mixed.
In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, and then add in the sugar gradually. Fold in the mango-cream mixture. Churn according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

And just so you know...

If you can BARELY get a knife into your mango because it is too hard, your mango isn't ready for use. Your mango should be darker in color, moist, and relatively easy to cut in to.

When your ice cream maker is done churning your ice cream, spread the still-soft ice cream on to the tops of your frozen cupcakes. Spread smooth with an offset spatula, dipping the spatula into warm water occasionally if necessary. Then, return the cupcakes to the freezer while you prepare your syrup.


Blood Orange-Orange Syrup also adapted from Dianasaur Dishes
1 blood orange
1 naval orange
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
1/2 tsp blood orange zest, packed

Zest and juice the blood orange. Mine didn't yield much juice (maybe a half a tablespoon!) so I juiced a naval orange as well. Add juice from both oranges, sugar and zest to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer for 4-8 minutes until thick, about the consistency of maple syrup. Refrigerate and serve over ice cream. This syrup is POTENT, and though the recipe didn't make so much, it was enough for all of the cupcakes. You really only need about 1 teaspoon at the most per cupcake.

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This recipe was a total success. It was enjoyed by everyone who tried it! The banana pound cake and the mango-lemon ice cream was delicious and refreshing, and the syrup complimented all of the flavors, tying them all together nicely. I can't wait to try another Ice Cream Cupcake recipe!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Peanut Butter Truffles


Our host for this week's Sweet Melissa Sundays was Mara of Love Your Mother Earth. Mara chose Peanut Butter Truffles as our recipe, which has the classic combination of Chocolate and Peanut Butter. If you ask ME, sweet is almost always made better by the addition of Salty, and these truffles do just that. The truffle base is made with heavy cream, chocolate, butter, and peanut butter, and it is rolled in a coating of chopped, salted nuts. Yu-um.

Based on everyone else's reactions in the SMS forum, this was a.) light on the peanut butteriness and b.) a very messy procedure. Knowing this ahead of time, I upped the amount of peanut butter in the recipe and decreased the butter a tiny bit. I made a half batch of these bad boys, and halved all of the ingredients. But instead of halving the Peanut Butter, I actually increased it from 1/4 C to 1/3 C. I'm glad I upped the PB because, even with my more than doubled ratio of PB to chocolate, the chocolate flavor was still more prominent (though you could taste the PB). I decreased the butter to 2 TBL, used high quality belgium dark chocolate (its 71% was the closest I could find at the grocery store to the 64-68% Melissa calls for in the recipe), and used sea salted, dry roasted, chopped peanuts. Also, from the kind warning of the other SMS-ers about how MESSY this was, I was prepared and took off my rings before starting. :) And just how messy did I get? Well...
UUUHH, very.

Overall these were very good. Definitely needed to up the Peanut Butter in order to call these "Peanut Butter Truffles". I'm glad I read and learned from the other SMS'ers before preparing these, because the more-than-doubled amount of peanut butter was totally necessary.



Thanks for hosting, Mara! For the recipe, visit Mara's blog, Love Your Mother Earth. How did this work out for all of the other members of Sweet Melissa Sundays? Visit the SMS Blogroll to see for yourself!


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