Monday, January 31, 2011
I'm dying to add a picture so you can fully understand my love for this place (*I finally got them uploaded, yay!), but of course, blogger won't upload pics from my phone. I am on the tail end of a quick 24 hour trip to Charleston to network. I'll be back this week with another yummy recipe! Til then I'll let you be a little jealous of my mini-trip :-)
Hope you had a great Monday!!
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I figured at some point I should do a post on those little lovelies in the background. Oh. EM. Gee! They are sooo good! P.S. Sorry for you facebook peeps who thought I was doing a photography post… I changed my mind. But that is coming later this week or this weekend, I promise!
I am going to go ahead and apologize for the lack of pictures in this post. These were made in the days before my blog, which means I wasn’t as concerned about taking pictures of the process. Sad story, I know.
This recipe is from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn. I mentioned this cookbook in my second post. As far as beginners baking goes, this is the cookbook to buy. The recipes ease you into the homemade baking process without having to do every single step. As the title suggests, she starts with a box of cake mix in almost all her recipes and gives lots of great tips.
I guess you need a little background on why I made these. Ironically, considering my last post, it was another work friends birthday! One thing you have to understand about our office is that I work in a small (10 staff) office. We work for a large company in a satellite location. Within our office there are eight women and two poor men. And the second man was only added to our office a year ago. So poor Jackie, who was the first and lone guy for about 3 years, has to be the most tolerant man I know. I mean you have EIGHT women you have to listen to and put up with all week long, every. single. week. Don’t get me wrong, he loves us (come on Jackie, you know you do), but I thought he deserved something nice for his birthday. So I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and told him that I would literally bake him anything he wanted. He told me he either wanted yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting or chocolate chip cookies. Now I tried to reason with him… I mean come on, could you get any more boring? But he said that those were his favorite baked goods, so I agreed. Well of course, the gears in my mind started to turn and I realized that the Cake Mix Doctor MUST have a solution to my problem. Sure enough what did I find… chocolate chip cookie dough inside yellow cupcakes WITH chocolate frosting. I mean could it be any more perfect?! I think not.
I bought all the ingredients and went to work. These really weren’t too bad to make. Granted, I’ve been making a lot of things from scratch lately. You start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Then, line 24 cupcake cups (it may not make all 24, mine made 21) with paper liners. I had some cute Christmas-y liners so I used those. Set the pan aside and get out a large mixing bowl. (You don’t have to have a stand mixer for this recipe.) Place the cake mix, pudding mix, milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl and beat with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) on low until everything is incorporated, maybe half a minute. Scrape the sides as needed. Now mix at a medium speed for about 2 minutes longer or until it looks well mixed.
Set aside 1 cup of the cupcake batter. Take the rest of the batter and pour a heaping 1/4 cup of batter into each cupcake cup. It should fill about two thirds of the cup. Take the refrigerated cookie dough (I just bought a package with 20 or 24 cookies – whatever the regular size cookies are, not the giant ones. I prefer the “natural” ones without any of that high fructose corn
While they are cooling, make the chocolate frosting… Cream the butter and cocoa powder (not the kind I used in the chocolate crack cookies – this should just be the regular unsweetened kind) in a medium sized bowl on low until its combined, about 30 seconds. Next, stop the mixer and add the confectioners sugar, 1/3 cup of milk, and vanilla. Mix on low until it is fluffy, about 2 1/2 minutes. Add 1 tbsp at a time of additional milk if the frosting is too thick or more confectioners sugar if the frosting is too thin. My experience was that the frosting was very thin. You want it a little thicker than you think in order to make the cupcakes pretty when you frost them. For frosting, use a piping bag or, since most of us don’t have fancy shmancy stuff like that, take a baggie (sandwich size at a minimum, or larger) and cut a small hole in one of the bottom corners. Fill the bag with frosting to frost the cupcake. Start applying pressure in the middle of the cupcake and make a circle around the cupcake, then meet back in the middle and push down then up and release on the up. Err on the side of too small for the hole if you aren’t sure. You can always cut it larger but you can’t cut it smaller Frosting cupcakes is an art and it takes practice. Don’t fret if they don’t look perfect the first time you try, you’ll get better!
Then, if you want, decorate the tops with regular and white chocolate chips! Yummmmy!
(See, the frosting looks kinda runny. It tasted REALLY good though!)
So there you go! Oh gosh you are going to love them. The best part is when you make it to the middle where the cookie dough is… gahhhhh it’s so good.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
24 cupcake liners
1 package of plain yellow cake mix
1 package of vanilla instant pudding mix (3.4 oz)
1 cup milk (I used skim and it worked fine)
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (20-24 pk)
Fluffy Chocolate Frosting
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted (you may need a little more)
1/3 cup milk (you may need a little more)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Does anyone know how to attach a document to a post using windows live writer for blogger?
2. OMG… does anyone watch Dexter? We are officially addicted and have watched the first two seasons in a week and a half! Seriously, it is so good. I realize we are wayyy late to the game but whoa it’s such a good show!
3. I’m an idiot and deleted all the comments on any blog posts so far I was so sad/mad at myself. But I guess I learned that lesson the hard way. Wha Whaa! Oh well, won’t ever do that again!
Sunday, January 23, 2011
You are in for a serious treat. I had 3 different people tell me that, out of all of my baking that they have tasted, these are by far the best thing I have made so far. And actually, I have to agree. Who would think that cookies would be the best thing I have made?
And the lucky recipient of half of the cookies was one of my favorite work bff’s. Realenn is such a great person and a hard worker. She is just so sweet. Any time I need a favor at work, even if it will not benefit her in the least, she is always there to help out. This past Thursday was her birthday and I wanted to make her something special.
So, since Realenn wouldn’t give me any direction in what to make, I decided to bake the most recent thing on Bakerella’s website. She calls them Chocolate Crackles. After consulting with the hubby and several other people, we decided to call them Chocolate Crack because it really is the only name that’s appropriate. This is adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, which is the one Bakerella used.
On to the recipe. First you will melt the mini bittersweet chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave. When melting chocolate in the microwave be sure to watch closely. I usually do 1 minute first, then stir, then 30 seconds at a time (stirring in between) until melted. Set chocolate aside to cool. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, you will use your paddle attachment to beat the butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Next, add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined, scraping the sides as needed. Then, add melted chocolate. With the mixer on a low speed, alternate adding the cocoa/flour mixture and milk until combined. This is where I went a different direction from the recipe. I decided to leave all the batter in the bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. I put it in the freezer for 45 minutes, but you could also put it in the fridge for 2 hours. I think the freezer makes them a little easier to work with. (I actually only made half the cookies the first day, so to keep the batter good, I put it in the fridge for two days with plastic wrap over it and then put it in the freezer 30 minutes before preparing for the second time.)
After chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Get a large cookie sheet and line with parchment paper or a Silpat (I still don’t understand the point of spending $20+ on a Silpat, but more power to ya if you have one). I skipped the log rolling portion also since I had not separated the batter. If you don’t have a cookie scoop, I would suggest following Bakerella’s directions rather than Martha Stewart’s. It seems Bakerella’s would work the best. Go ahead and get two medium sized bowls for the granulated sugar and confectioners sugar. Just pour generous amounts of each in a bowl.
Next, take the batter out and get your cookie scoop. This part is M-E-S-S-Y! For each cookie, get a not too full scoop of batter and roll into a ball with your hands. Next, roll the dough into the granulated sugar first, and the confectioners sugar next, and then place on the cookie sheet. Place the cookies about 1 to 2 inches apart. I could only roll about 3 cookies before I would have to wash off my hands with water. That batter is crazy sticky! Once you have all your cookies all rolled and coated, bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies have flattened and the sugar splits.
Transfer from cookie sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Go ahead and thank me if you must ;-) Be careful though, these are seriously addictive! Hubby said they are his new favorite thing!
Chocolate Crack Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen.
8 ounces mini bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder (the only thing I could find was a Dutch cocoa/natural cocoa mix and that worked fine)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
Follow directions from Martha’s recipe and my post above!
Thanks and enjoy!
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Yeah, I know, it looks freakishly good, right? Well believe me when I say it definitely was.
I found this recipe while surfing the web. It is from thenest.com.
Like the marshmallows this recipe requires a good bit of waiting. And while I told you I’m usually a very impatient baker, I was getting so bored being cooped up that I was willing to wait for this masterpiece.
First I made the dough. Normally I would show you pictures of the dough making, but there really weren’t any pictures to take… yeast in water actually looks kind of gross. Plus, you are constantly adding flour into the mixture to make sure the dough forms correctly.
After preparing the dough you will wait for it to rise for 1 hour. While the dough is rising, prepare the coating. Place the butter in one small bowl and light brown sugar and cinnamon in another, medium bowl. The recipe called for 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon. I found that this was not enough to coat all the balls of dough. So I would do 1 1/2 times this amount, or 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tbsp of cinnamon. Once the rising is finished, you break the dough into balls and coat it, which in my opinion, is the fun part (other than eating it, of course)!
The recipe said to take the dough and cut it into 1/2 inch pieces. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t figure where to even start with cutting a huge round piece of dough into 1/2 inch pieces. Very confusing. So, with Hubby’s input (he had finally returned home from work!), we decided to just pull off pieces and eyeball it. We did balls the size of a golf ball. Next time I would actually even do them a little bit smaller. I had totally forgotten that we had to let them rise again. Once they had risen the second time they were a little too big to eat in one or two bites… more like three. Which, I think, for a finger food is too big.
Now you let them rise for one more hour. I know, I know, it’s painful having to wait that long to bake those tasty little brown sugary, cinnamony, doughy things! In case you are dying at this point, the sugar mixture tastes pretty good too ;-)
Preheat your oven to 350F. After the hour of rising, bake them for 30-35 minutes. While it’s baking, make the icing. All it is is sugar and milk. The recipe called for whole milk, but I used 2% and it was just fine. *Tip: When a recipe calls for whole milk, usually you can use any fat content except skim. It just needs some fat to make it work.
And you want to hear something even more crazy (about me)… I’m lactose intolerant. I also have other digestive problems that don’t allow me to eat fried foods and a few other random things. Yup, it totally sucks! And I’m not talking just a little bit, I have a very severe form of it. Like so severe I can’t have any: cheese other than a little parmesan or lactose free swiss (there is only one kind made by Boars Head), milk/cream/half and half other than a small amount of lactose free milk in baked items, any cream sauces at all. If I do eat any of those forbidden items I get very very sick. So sick that I can’t leave my house. And even when I eat the items that I can have a small amounts of I still have symptoms, just not so bad that I can’t function. I know, I know you’re probably wondering why I bake and how the hell I manage with this. I’ve just managed to work around it and have found that it’s really not that big of a deal as long as I’m careful. I also have a few different medications that can help if I do get sick. So, now you know, in all of my recipes that call for milk I use lactaid milk (except cornbread, in which case I use rice milk because it sweetens it up… so much so that the Hubby prefers that cornbread to any other kind). Power to the lactose intolerant! hahaha. I know I’m not the only one, so I hope this helps others who have dietary restrictions. You can almost always work around it!
Anywho… back to the monkey bread: Two minutes after removing from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack. Don’t be intimidated by this step. All you have to do is put the rack on top of the open side of the pan and, with pot holders, flip it over. That’s it! Easy peasy. After cooling for 15 minutes on the cooling rack, transfer to a serving plate. Then, take the icing you made with a spoon and drizzle that tasty stuff all over the monkey! I prefer to do this while it’s still warm because it drips prettier, but you could probably do it once it’s cool too.
Now EAT IT UP! I wanted some so bad that I took a bite before I even took a picture. Bad Jenny! It was SO. FREAKIN. GOOD!
Monkey Bread (adapted from thenest.com)
It said it serves 6-8. I think that totally depends on how much you want. It could definitely feed more.
1 envelope active dry yeast 1 egg
1/4 cup warm water 1 cup warm 2% milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, divided
1 tsp salt 4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup 2% milk
1. Prepare dough: In stand mixer bowl, stir together yeast, water, and a pinch of sugar. Let stand 5 minutes. Add sugar, salt, egg, milk, and 3 tbsp of butter. Attach the flat beater, and mix on the “stir” speed. Then mix in 2 cups of flour in 1/2 cup increments, until a dough forms.
2. Remove flat beater and attach dough hook. Set to speed 2 and mix in remaining flour, in 1/2 cup increments. Continue beating/kneading about 1 minute on speed 2. Using hands, form dough into a ball and then rub with remaining 1 tbsp of butter. Place back into the mixer bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for one hour.
3. While rising, prepare coating: Place butter in a small bowl and melt in microwave. In another medium sized bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon. After coating is ready, prepare the pan. Grease a bundt or tube pan well. (I used smart balance butter from tub, but you can use any kind of butter.
4. When the dough is finished rising, remove from bowl and place on cutting board. Pinch off dough and roll into balls a little bit smaller than a golf ball. Just use your best judgment… you won’t mess it up. Coat balls in melted butter then roll in sugar mixture. Place in prepared pan as you go, with balls touching in layers (you will have 2-3 layers). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour.
5. While rising, prepare icing. In small bowl, stir together confectioner’s sugar and milk until smooth. Then, preheat the oven to 350F. Once ready, bake for 30-35 minutes. After two minutes of cooling in pan, transfer to cooling rack. Let cool on rack for 15 minutes then transfer to serving platter. Immediately take icing on a spoon (you may need to give it a little stir) and drizzle all over the monkey bread.
Friday, January 14, 2011
I saw this recipe on Joy The Baker a little over a month ago and kept marking it unread over. and over. and over. I thought to myself, ok, these are messy, very messy. Plus they take a good bit of time from beginning to end. Lots of waiting. I don't know about you, but I don't really like to wait for the end result. That's right, I'm an impatient baker. When it got closer to this past weekend I realized I didn't have any plans and Hubby had to work an overnight shift Friday night. 30 hours of alone-ness = perfect time to make messy and time consuming marshmallows. Then the weekend turned into a 5 day "vacation" from the "Snowpocalypse 2011". We got 6 inches of snow plus about an inch of ice here in Atlanta and it literally shut down NE Georgia for 3 days, and things still aren't really back to normal. Every night Hubby and I had hot chocolate and s'mores with our yummy marshmallows.
So anyways, after I decided I was going to make these sticky creatures, I went to the grocery store to buy the three ingredients I didn't have. I needed some more honey because Hubs uses it for his bread (he makes a loaf of homemade bread once a week) and we were running low, some cornstarch, and some vanilla bean. Now I have never bought a vanilla bean but I thought I would get more than one in a package. Those things are expensive! One vanilla bean for $8! Highway robbery. But I have to say that in the end it was totally worth it. Not only do you get to say that you seeded a vanilla bean (you use the seeds of half of one for the recipe), but you also get the deliciousness that is honey vanilla bean marshmallows. Trust me, it's worth it. Oh, and do yourself a favor while you're at the grocery store and grab the rest of the "ingredients" for S'mores... and maybe some dark chocolate hot chocolate packets too.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Now there is something you have to know before moving forward... I come from a mostly no cooking household. As in, my mom baked once a year... and it was from a box (as the audience gasps with horror). And she cooked the same 7 or so meals on rotation and 90% of each meal was either from a can, pre-made, or frozen. My dad also didn't do much cooking. He could do one meal, and that was breakfast. When I was around 9 years old my sister had pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. My mom stayed with my sister in the hospital while I stayed at home with my dad, and we would visit the hospital once a day for the four days she was there. I have never become so tired of breakfast food in my life. We had breakfast for breakfast, breakfast for lunch, and breakfast for dinner every single day... or at least that's how I remember it. Scrambled eggs or an omelet, orange juice, toast, bananas, cereal on repeat! So we know for sure this hobby of mine did NOT come from my parents. Sorry mom and dad.
Back to the story, about two years ago I attended a work event that featured cookbook author, Anne Byrn. Because I worked at the event I received two of her cookbooks, Cake Mix Doctor Returns and What Can I Bring. This was just the fire under my bum I needed to start trying some recipes! So for Christmas 2009, I decided to make the Cake Mix Doctor Returns Apple Cider Bundt Cake with a lemon and apple cider glaze. At the time I didn't really own any baking supplies, so I went to the store and bought myself a nice Anolon bundt pan, some mixing bowls, and rummaged through my cabinets to find a hand mixer (that, of course, had never been used) that my mom bought me when I moved into my first apartment after college. I also realized I didn't have a stand or a carrier of any sort so I bought a disposable pizza pan at the grocery store and decided I would tote it to Christmas on the pizza pan wrapped in cling wrap. I had to go to Hubby's apartment (we were engaged at the time) to bake the cake because my crapo basement apartment didn't even have an oven! Making the cake was surprisingly simple and quite relaxing... the only hard part was greasing and flouring the pan (I obviously had not found out about the genius of Bakers Joy yet!). So I brought the cake to Hub's family Christmas and everyone LOVED it! So much so that Cuz now requests it!
Ever since that night the Hubs has been cooking up a storm (and boy is his cooking good) and I have been baking like nobodies business!
Honorable mention in the progression of my baking and Hubs cooking: Definitely Hubby's mom, my MIL. She is very encouraging of me and anytime I have a question I call her. She has been cooking and baking for most of her life. Actually I think the Hubs must have gotten his cooking skills from her.
It also doesn't hurt that many of my friends like cooking and/or baking too.
So that is the road I took to becoming a baker. Who changed the course of your life hobbies for the better?
On this blog I will focus mostly on baking and photography (hence "Bakography"... let's get real, I'm not clever enough to think of a better name), but I might sprinkle a little bit of life into my blogging too (I'll get into how I started baking and taking pictures in an upcoming post). My husband loves to cook so you may see some of his masterpieces featured here also. 9 times out of 10, if I'm showing you something that has been cooked, he made it (I know, I'm a lucky wifee).
Oh and one more thing to note is that I'm not the best at punctuation... so please excuse any mistakes!