Monday, February 28, 2011

Thunderstorms and Pound Cake

It is the last day of February and we had incredible storms last night.
Temps got up to 65 Degrees and Tornado sirens went off around 2am. Tornado warnings and now that the storm has passed..FLOODING has crept in.

I had today off work and I got a lot of cleaning done around the house.
I have wanted to try a new kind of cake for a while. A cake that is extremely easy to carve and shape into anything I want. 
Pound Cake.

So since I had the opportunity and time to make it today, I did!

Pretty delicious. I don't eat pound cake that often and I was really nervous about how dry it might be.  But this cake was great! Sturdy like pound cake should be- but still really moist and delicious!
If I would have had more time and fondant on my hands I would have loved to decorate the cake more, but it is what it is and that. is. great!  :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge- February 2011

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Panna Cotta is?:
Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert where you combine cream, milk,sugar and geletin.
I decided to make 2 flavors just for fun.

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt

1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

Pumpkin Panna Cotta:


Strawberry Panna Cotta

Both tasted great, but I preferred the Pumpkin over that Strawberry. The pumpkin actually tasted like a pumpkin egg nog (without the eggs).
Then I made the Flourentine Cookies..

I learned a lot about these cookies...After the 'batter' is cooked on the stove, let it cool of a lot until it is very thick, before starting to scoop it out onto trays.
Do not use such a huge scoop when making thsee cookies as it takes the centers FOREVER to get stiff and eventually you have to pull them out because the edges are getting burned.
If you leave these cookies in a plastic bag over night and then eat them,
they have a great caramel taste and have a nice chewy texture.

These cookies are Fantastic!! I was incredibly impressed for how simple they were but yet they still taste great!
Nestle Florentine Cookies:

 2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats oz) plain (all purpose) flour

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.
This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours.



Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta

Birthday Wishes and Caviar Dreams?

to my sister-in-law!! She is 23 today!  So in celebrating her birthday, she chose for the family to get together for a brunch at Cracker Barrel.  Great food-packed house. Glad we all got to be together on her day :) 
I asked her earlier in the month what she was thinking of for her birthday cake or what her favorite cake was.. she immediately responded with::
 Marble cake.  
 Ummm ...Marble? 
 Plain Marble? 
 No fun flavors or amazing fillings ..just marble?
  No. Next choice? haha 
  She said she loves Ice cream cake!-Great!  But am I up for the challange?  I have never made an ice cream cake before, so I did my research and I know she likes for fruity flavors, not such a heavy chocolatey sweet flavor so I came up with...

BANANA SPLIT ICE CREAM CAKE!  (ooooooh, aaaaah)

Now, how amazing does that look!?!

How did I make/ build this cake?
Here ya go::

So, she loved it, I loved it, that's all that matters right?
Happy Birthday Bri!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Long Live February

This month has been an incredible wirlwind. It being so, has led me to lose track of time and my responsibilities. I'm sorry.   So, lets start from where we left off!

Around the first week of February I had my 'Practical Interview' at Palomino Ballroom.

My Menu:

Chopped Salad w/ Green Goddess Dressing
Soft Dinner Rolls

Chicken Marsala
Fried Polenta
Glazed Baby Carrots

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake w/ Vanilla Ice Cream

Well, needless to say; it was a HIT! They loved everything about it and me and I...
Got the Job!!

So, I gave 1 1/2 weeks notice to my boss at the University and I was off to start my new adventure.
My new job title?--

Kitchen Manager/Head Chef and Pastry Chef!
Fantastic! Can life get any better than this?

So, after my last day of work it was time to celebrate my 23rd birthday!
We went out with Brad's parents and sister to McAllister's Deli--Delish! I highly recommend it!
Then on Friday night Ashley took me out to Dinner at 5guys and a burger--again, Delish!! And we went and saw the new movie 'Just Go With It'
**Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler have incredible chemistry and by the end of the movie I truely wanted them to be together forever!!
After that, we took a fun trip to BroadRipple!
I was extremely surprised by how old I felt! BRipple is filled with a TON of college kids getting wasted and by 2am we had had enough of the 'scene' and after only 2 drinks each we decided to call it a night.

So ,I started my new job- I have a desk,email,voicemail..etc.. I feel like I finally have a "Big Girl Job"!!

I haven't baked a lot recently..I've made a few chocolate chip cookies here and there, and finished my February Daring baker's challange.

My next great baking challange this month is Brianna's 23rd Birthday on the 27th.
She has requested an Ice Cream Cake but not a plain-old-same-old..
So I have come up with a Banana Split Cake!

banana cake, strawberry ice cream, fudge filling with chopped peanuts,vanilla ice cream and another banana cake layer. 

That party is in 2 days and I will post pictures of that soon after :) It should be delicious!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cake Truffles!

 I had a leftover 6" white cake..not quite sure what I wanted to do with it..
So I thought I would try a few different cake truffle flavors.

The first one is a Vanilla cake with Vanilla Icing and I added colored sprinkles into it to make a
"Birthday Cake" or "Confetti Cake"  Dipped in a White Chocolate.

Then I wanted to try something peanut buttery/chocolatey...

So I took the white cake and made a Peanut Butter Icing. But I didn't want a taste like a straight I added crushed pretzels into the balls to add a salty-ness to it.

So We have the Peanut Butter/ Pretzel Ball and Dipped them into a Chocolate Truffle. YUM!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Brioche and Cookies!

FINALLY! I got away from the cupcakes!!
Today I decided to NOT bake cupcakes..but instead to make my favorite...
                                                      Parisian Brioche!

Amazing.  Buttery/Eggy Good-ness....
Tomorrow morning is going to be DELISH French Toast!! Perfect.

Also--in getting ready for the Big Game tomorrow I wanted to make some cookies.
But, I was torn..

Make Steelers Cookies?..

Or Packers Cookies?

Personally, I'm cheering for the Packers! C'mon Aaron Rogers!!!
But in all fairness, I decided to stick with regular Football Cookies..

This is the BEST sugar cookie recipe you can find--and Icing the dries nice and shiney...

Best Sugar Cookies::

1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 cup Butter-room temp.
1  Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
2 1/2 All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cream of Tartar

Beat the powdered sugar and butter. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg.  Beat and scrape down the bowl again. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then add to the wet mixture.
Once combined,  sprinkle/dust counter with  more powdered sugar. Roll out cookie dough but keep about 1/2" thickness. Cut out in whatever shape you like.   Continue until all the dough is used.
Bake at 350 degrees for 6-10 mins (depending on your oven).

Icing recipe::
  (this only make enough to coat 5 cookies..)
1 cup Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Milk
2 tsp. Corn Syrup
1/4 tsp. Almond Extract

Combine.. add food coloring if you would like to decorate. But if you are adding colors on top of colors, make sure you let the first color dry till you can touch it.

Anyway-- I hope you all enjoy Super Bowl Sunday!! Let me know if you try the cookies! Delish!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cupcakes coming for my ears!

Ok-- So this is day 3 of snow days off of work...and cupcakes seem to be littering my kitchen...
And lucky me, I just found out we have another snow day tomorrow..

I made a white box mix cake mix...and added different ingredients to create some fun flavors :)

I had::
Banana Cake w/ Chocolate Filling and Peanut Butter Icing
Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Icing
Peanut Butter Cake w/ Chocolate Filling and Peanut Butter Icing
Peanut Butter Cake w/ Grape Jelly Filling and Peanut Butter Icing
Lemonade Cake with Strawberry Icing
Vanilla Caramel Cream Cake with Caramel Filling and Caramel Icing
White Cake wtih White Icing dunked in Chocolate Ganache (High Hat)

So, I think for my day off tomorrow, I will NOT be making cupcakes (although I do have more ideas from a chocolate base).
I'm thinking Sugar Cookies decorated with royal icing....or maybe something more savory...homemade pot pies? Or Chicago Deep Dish Pizza and breadsticks...YUM.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie a Cupcake??

That's right! Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes--how amazing does that sound?? I'm obsessed with chocolate chip cookies and now with cupcakes. So, imagine my surprise when I found a recipe for a combination of the two!

This only problem with my version of them today, is that I used all of my chocolate chips in the cookie dough,and the cupcake batter calls for more chocolate chips in it also- so I had to do without the extra amount of chocolate--which i'm sure only makes these better!

So basically I took regular white cake batter (which should have had chocolate chips stirred into it) and added a small scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough when the cupcake was 1/2 way through baking.

I topped off these delicious cupcakes with a brown sugar icing--which at first I was sceptical..but WOW.  Who would have thought that a Brown Sugar Icing could be sooo AMAZING!