Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls, NOT from a can!

I have really wonderful memories of waking up on the weekends to the smell of warm cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven. Living with a single mother who worked very hard to make ends meet, it's safe to say that these cinnamon rolls most often always came from a can but were still delicious non-the-less!

I have been looking to try my hand at baking something from the dough up and something that would bring about the same good memories that I once had. Cinnamon rolls from scratch were the obvious choice :) October also represents my favorite baking month with its overabundance of canned pumpkin on the shelves. I LOVE pumpkin treats and because of the season, I decided to whip up a quick and easy maple pumpkin glaze too go on the top of these warm and delicious treats.

The recipe for the glaze was most definitely the easiest part of this new baking venture, including:

1 cup of canned pumpkin
3/4 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of milk (any brand of kind of your choice, I used vanilla soy)
1 cup of powdered sugar

Just combine the ingredients, whisk until smooth and set aside for later glazing! Soo easy

Next, I would like to preface this second step by mentioning that this is most likely a two day process, so start early!

First, in a saucepan, combine half a cup of whole milk with half a cup of water and bring to 100 degrees F over medium heat. When the mixture is up to temperature, take off the burner and sprinkle over one 1/4 packet of yeast with a pinch of sugar. Set aside for 5 minutes to let the little yeasties do their thing.

After five minutes, whisk in 1/4 cup unsalted, melted and cooled butter, 1 large egg yolk and a dash of vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and 1 Tbsp of pumpkin pie spice. Combine and then make a well in the center of the dry mixture to pour in your yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon preferably, combine all ingredients until dough is sticky and together into a cohesive mixture.

Throw some flour onto a flat surface and place the dough onto the floured surface so you can knead it until it's elastic and soft. This will probably take you about 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball and place the ball into a buttered bowl, coating the ball with butter as well. Cover the bowl with plastic rap or a warm, damp towel and set aside to rise. It should take a little over an hour for the dough to double in size. At this point, take it back out of the bowl and punch it down to get rid of excess air. After you knead the air out, place BACK into your buttered bowl and lay a buttered piece of plastic wrap on top of the dough. Tightly cover the bowl and place into the fridge overnight.

When dough is done rising, it is time to make the filling. This step is also quite simple in comparison to the dough. Just roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 11 by 17 inches. spread softened butter all over the dough. I find it easiest to get messy and use clean hands for this step. After butter is on, I sprinkle on 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and a little less then 1/4 cup pumpkin pie spice. This step is the one that invites creativity in a baker. You can easily make the filling with pumpkin puree or creamed cheese, maybe even some kind of nut like Pecans?? The sky is the limit! However, after you spread on your desired filling, roll the dough into a log and cut 1 1/2 to 2 inch slices depending on how large you would like the cinnamon rolls to be. I placed my cut rolls into a buttered, round ceramic dish and brushed the top of each roll with egg white to make glisten. When all steps are complete, place these rolls into a 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes or until slightly golden brown.

When the rolls are done and smelling delicious, pull them out and spread on your pumpkin glaze so that it gets all melty and wonderful :)

After all of your hard work, you deserve to sit down and devour one or two of these tasty treats.

ENJOY and as always Happy Baking!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yummy Yam Experiment

Hello foodie friends!

As some of you might have already figured out for yourselves, pumpkin, at least in my area of the world, is pretty scarce these days! This is terrible terrible news seeing as October is right around the corner and thus marks the perfect time to bring out all of my favorite pumpkin recipes. The issue of missing pumpkin products was brought to my attention one morning in my Yoga class. Yes that's right! I take a class, for actual credit, where I get to relax with Yoga for a whole hour :) I love Drury! It just so happens that this wonderful class is also taught by a wonderfully sweet woman whom I would love to adopt as a surrogate grandmother and who also loves to bake goodies just about as much as I do. One day, she brought it to our attention, that while shopping for ingredients to make us her infamous pumpkin spice cookies, she was distraught to find that pumpkin was indeed no where to be found. At first, this had me pretty bummed, but then I had one of those lightbulb moments! I decided that I would make it a project to experiment and find something that could be substituted for pumpkin and still taste pretty similar. Then of course blog about my findings for my wonderful followers :)

At first, I thought about butternut squash as being a proper substitute and when walking into the store I had it in my mind that I was going to try that first. However, while perusing the baking isle of my local market, I ran across canned yams. I know I know, CANNED YAMS?? Sounds kind of quirky at first, but when you stop to really examine this ingredient, it kinda makes sense. Yams are much like sweet potatoes, but also provide that earthy vegetable taste you get with pumpkin. Another selling point for the yams was the fact that they were canned, and I wouldn't have to go through the whole cooking down of the squash, then putting it through some kind of food mill or food pro to mash it into a wonderfully silky consistency. So I took the leap and purchased one 15 oz. can of yams. Let the baking begin!

Parked in front of my standing mixer and kitchen gadget love of my life, I first mixed two cups of white sugar with one stick of soft, room temperature butter until it was light and fluffy. You could also use one cup of white sugar and one cup of brown sugar and it would probably make these cookies even better. Into this mixture, I added about 3/4's of the canned yams and mixed until they were broken up and the batter was smooth, about two minutes. Next, I added two eggs and a pretty good splash of vanilla, continuing to mix until creamy. In a smaller bowl on the side, I combine the dry ingredients including:
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

After giving the dry a good mix, it was time to incorporate them into the wet. I always do this on the lowest setting of my mixer and little batches of dry at a time so that it isn't creating huge flour clouds in the kitchen. When all ingredients are mixed and the batter looks good enough to eat right out of the bowl, I mixed in a handful of dried cranberries, and a cup of chocolate chips, giving the batter yet another go around in my mixing bowl. These ingredients are optional but I think they give these cookies just another layer of texture.

Finally, in a 350 degree F oven, I baked my cookies for 18 minutes exactly. The batter was measured out using a Tbps measuring spoon. 18 minutes was perfect for the size, but if you choose to make your cookies smaller, than I would obviously recommend cutting the bake time down a bit.

The very best thing about this experiment is that I took them to school with me the next day for a little field testing. I told a tiny white lie, telling the consumers of my cookies that they were indeed pumpkin cookies and not yam cookies. The cookies were extremely popular and were gone pretty quickly, which of course made me happy. It was when they were already gone that I let my classmates know that they had just eaten yam cookies and not pumpkin cookies. They really had no idea and I am just happy that they were pleasantly surprised instead of the other way around :) I wouldn't recommend this again however, because of how common food allergies are these days, you wouldn't want to send someone to the hospital just for a little baking experiment.

If you are like me and love baking with pumpkin, I would seriously recommend trying this recipe out! It might even turn you into a yam fan if you weren't one before.

Good luck and as always, Happy Baking!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Reinventing A Classic

This morning I woke up feeling a little blue and overwhelmed by the normal stressors of everyday life. In my world, there is really only one remedy for days like this and that is baking. After receiving some suggestions from friends of things that I should bake, I decided to take a classic cobbler recipe that has been in my family for years, and add the twist of using plums. A good friend passed on a hint that plums are the new "it thing" to use in baked goods, so why not give it a shot?! And so it began, Sarah's Saturday baking Extravaganza.

At the store I purchased two different types of plums to use in my cobbler, black and classic red. After washing a total of seven fairly good sized plums, I sliced them thin and placed them into a large mixing bowl. With the plums, I incorporated:
- the zest and juice of two lemons
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 Tbsp cinnamon
-dash of salt

Next, I got out my best cobbler baking dish (circular with pretty high sides) and melted one stick of unsalted butter straight into the dish. While the butter was melting in the microwave, and the oven was pre heating to 375 degrees F, I combine:
-1 cup of sugar
-1 cup of all purpose flour
-1 Tbsp baking powder
-1 cup milk
-A cap full of Amaretto (optional)
*Stir ingredients well, but leave some lumps in this batter.

I then poured the wet mix into the cobbler dish featuring the melted butter and simply threw the marinated plums right on top of the wet mixture. After topping the whole thing with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, I baked for about 40 minutes until the crust had come up around the fruit and was a golden brown color.

This cobbler came out better than I could have ever hoped for. The lemon is a perfect combination with the sweet and juicy plums. I can't wait to share this new creation with my friends and family and I hope that anyone adventurous enough will try this wonderful recipe out for themselves :)

As always, Happy Baking!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Four Layer German Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. My time in California has come to an end, and I wanted to soak up the last couple of weeks with many wonderful adventures :)

However, while I was away, my boyfriends brother had a birthday and of course there needed to be something spectacular made in his honor. I asked for a few different options to choose from, concerning his favorite dessert, and the winner was a German Chocolate Cake! I have to admit this was my first time making a german chocolate cake, but that's no reason not to do it big right?? So, I made it my own, and came up with a four layer chocolate cake with traditional coconut, pecan icing, as well as a chocolate ganache to go inside each separate layer. I had help from my boyfriends sister, and together, we created a gigantic, gooey and delicious mess of cake.

Here is the recipe:
For the Chocolate Cake
  • Butter two round cake pans
  • Mix 1 and 3/4 cups of all purpose flour, 2 cups of sugar, 3/4 cups good cocoa, 2 tsps baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a big mixing bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine 1 cup of shaken buttermilk, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 2 large eggs (at room temp), and 1 tsp vanilla.
  • Slowly add wet ingredients to dry and mix until completely combine.
  • When all ingredients are well incorporated, mix in 1 cup of fresh coffee, any flavor that you would like, but I would suggest using something that doesn't have too strong of a flavor.
  • At the end of mixing any cake batter, I always like to add about a cup of pudding or low fat yogurt. I find that this makes the cakes extra moist.
Pour the batter into prepared cake pans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. When the cakes are done, let them cool completely and then cut each cake in half, giving you four separate cake layers.

While the cakes are baking, you can start on the frosting.
For the coconut pecan frosting:
  • Whisk 1 cup of evaporated milk, 1 cup of sugar, 3 egg yolks, and 1 stick of cubed butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until thick and creamy, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tsp vanilla, 1 3/4 cup toasted coconut, and 1 cup chopped pecans.
  • Set aside, stirring every once and a while until completely cool.
While the frosting is cooling, you can make the chocolate ganache
For the ganache:
  • 8 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz good chocolate, chopped or in chip form
Heat the whipping cream over medium high heat, until just at a boil. Take the cream off of the stove and stir in the chocolate until completely melted. There are tons of different variations of ganache, but this one has never done me wrong and always seems to be an easy crowd pleaser :)

FINLLY, you assemble!

Find a pretty plater to place the bottom layer of cake on, topping that layer with 1/4 of the frosting then topping the frosting with a ladle full of the chocolate ganache. Continue these steps with each layer of the chocolate cake, using the remaining frosting and ganache to top the whole thing. This cake should have frosting and ganache running all down the sides, don't be afraid to dive in!

I suggest a big glass of milk and great friends as accompaniments to this cake:)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Birthday Baking Extravaganza!

This last weekend was not only the mark of the 22nd year in my life, but also happened to be the birthdays of several important people in my life. Because so many wonderful people are born in the great month of July, the opportunity to combine our special days together and have one big birthday weekend presented itself and could not be passed by! Emails were sent, texts messaged and phone calls made. Everyone and anyone was invited to our Rough and Ready homestead to help us bring in another year of living. What better reason does a girl need to break out all of her best dessert recipes and get to baking!?

Here are the desserts I decided upon and made:
Pumpkin Brownies
Banana Bread Cobbler
Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes
Lemon Cream Cheese Squares
Tres Leches Cupcakes with a Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting
Carrot Cake Cupcakes

This may seem like a very lofty task to take on all by myself, and that's because it is. For this reason, I begged my good friend Becca to lend a hand. Becca was glad to help, and took on the Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes as well as the Pumpkin Brownies, both of which turned out absolutely delicious and were popular among guests.

I started my project on Friday night after work, beginning with the Lemon Cream Cheese Squares. I picked up the base of this recipe through my years of searching blogs and websites for dessert recipes I could make my own. After a little changing, this is the recipe I end up with:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powder sugar
8 tbsp unsalted butter @ room temperature
1 egg white
10 oz cream cheese @ room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus one tbsp for topping
2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup sour cream
6 tbsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
2.)Process flour and powder sugar in food processor, add butter and process until the dough come together. I like to add about half the juice of one lemon to this mixture as well, but it's optional. Pulse together for about 20-30 seconds and then pat dough over the bottom of a prepared 8" X 8" pan. Glaze the top with egg white and pour off excess. Bake for 25 minutes and place in fridge to cool completely.
3.) Cream the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest on medium until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add sour cream and lemon juice, then beat again making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl continuously. Add eggs and vanilla then spread the mixture over the completely cooled base. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 1 hour.

Also optional: Mix about a cup of powder sugar with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to make a glaze to top these lemon bars with. If the mixture still needs to be thinned out, you can also add a splash of milk, or even more lemon juice for extra tartness.

This turned out to be a great summer time treat, and was refreshing for such a hot California weekend, unfortunately however, with all of the chaos of getting ready for the party, I did not manage to get pictures of any of my wonderful desserts before they were all gone! I apologize and will work on never letting such a thing happen again.

Next we have the Banana Bread Cobbler, which turned out to be a great breakfast dish the morning after our big bash. Here is that recipe:

3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup uncooked regular oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional, I did not use them)

Stir together the brown sugar, flour and butter until crumbly. I used my hands for this, it seems easier. Stir in the oats and pecans then set aside.

1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 medium bananas, cut into slices

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly grease an 11" X 7" dish.
Whisk flour, sugar, and milk, just until blended. Whisk in melted butter and pour into pan, topping with the sliced bananas and streusel topping. Bake at 40-45 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.

This was my personal favorite recipe and I would highly suggest giving this one a try :)

One of the special individuals who had a birthday to celebrate happened to be my wonderful boyfriend, also turning 22. He loves Carrot Cake, and has mentioned several times, how much he would love for me to make him a carrot cake. How could I not take this opportunity to make him the dessert of his dreams?? This was the first time I have ever tried homemade carrot cake without using a boxed mix, so needless to say I was a little nervous. However! These turned out wonderful, and I had a very happy boyfriend :)

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 15 oz can of cooked carrots, or 1 jar of carrot baby food (I used the can of cooked carrots)
2 beaten eggs
1 1/4 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup golden raisins (also optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Combine flour and the next five ingredients in a food processor. Pulse six to seven times and place into a large bowl.
Combine sugar, oil, and carrots (smashed), and eggs, then stir with a whisk.
Add to flour mixture and stir, then stir in carrots and raisins.
Put in prepared cupcake tins and bake for about 40 minutes.

For Cream Cheese Icing
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup powder sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredient together and mix until one cohesive mixture on med-high speed.
You can also toast coconut and top each cupcake with it, but I did not do this due to the fact that my boyfriend does not like coconut.
If you want to toast, I suggest putting the coconut onto a baking sheet and putting under to broiler, watching the entire time, until just golden brown.

Next, if you are ever looking for a really easy to make, fast dessert, try these Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes

2 lbs cream cheese
42 Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.
Line muffin pans with liners and place one whole cookie in the bottom of each cup.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed, gradually adding sugar and beating until combined. Then, beat in vanilla. Drizzle in the beaten eggs, a bit at a time, and beat in sour cream and salt. Finally, stir in chopped cookies and bake for 22 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely on wire racks and refrigerate overnight.

This recipe makes 30

The other recipe that my good friend made, turned out more like a cake then brownies, so I would like to do a little more tweeking to this recipe and try for myself to try and get a more dense chocolaty brownie. However, here is the recipe if anyone would like to give it a try for themselves!

2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

2 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup fat free milk
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 to 1 cup raisins or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Mix ingredients, the dry first and then add the combine pumpkin, applesauce, beaten eggs and milk. Mix until this is well blended then stir in raisins or chocolate, followed by spreading into a prepared cake pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until well set.

Last but not least, are the Tres Leches Cupcakes. We had a few guests at the party who discovered, could not eat gluten. I have never tried baking gluten free desserts, but thought that now would be a perfect time to give it a shot! Therefor, I made these little tasty treats gluten free, but because I am not a professional at this yet, they turned out a bit dense...they all disappeared, but I would like to spend a little more time perfecting this recipe as well.

1/4 cup shortening ( I used extra sour cream and one plain vanilla yogurt here)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup gluten free flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large mixing bowl, cream sour cream, yogurt cup, butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed. Add yolks, one at a time and beat until yellow disappears. Add vanilla.
Mix in flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture, alternately with the buttermilk to the wet mixture.
Beat the white until they have stiff peaks and fold into the batter.
Pour batter into prepared cupcake tins, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let cool on a wire rack, poking a whole in the middle of each while cooling. I used a chopstick for this, but you can use whatever is handy!
When cook, pour sweetened condensed milk onto the top of the cupcakes, making sure to fill each hole, then top with buttercream icing.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 3/4 cups powder sugar
2 tbsp milk

Combine all ingredients together, mixing with a hand mixer on med-high speed until mixed well and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes. When cupcakes are cook, pipe icing on top of each.

I must once again, apologize for the lack of pictures! I promise that all of these desserts turned out quite beautifully and are definitely worth giving a shot :)

I hope you enjoy this post, and as always, let me know what you think of the recipes I have provided!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookie Time!

Sorry it has been a while since my last post. Working in an internship has unfortunately not been the best for my wallet, making it hard to buy baking ingredients :) However, while going through one of my recipe collections last night, I found a cookie recipe that called for minimal ingredients and featured my very favorite food, PEANUT BUTTER! It couldn't have been more perfect and gave me the opportunity to get back into my favorite place, the kitchen. While searching for my ingredients, I realized that I was still going to have to do some major ingredient swapping, but this gave me the opportunity to make this particular recipe my own and also made it a challenge, which I love.

The original cookies call for 1 cup of almond butter, which for those of you who have never heard of this ingredient, is just like peanut butter, but a bit more healthy with less sugar than everyday creamy peanut butter. I however, did not have almond butter in the pantry, so I used reduced sugar creamy peanut butter instead, heating it into the microwave for one minute to soften. I did find some sesame covered almonds, which I chopped up and mixed into the softened peanut butter, in order to get some of that almond flavor, not to mention add a nice crunch to the cookies.

Next, the original recipe called for 1 cup of sucanat. This is a sugar cane natural, and looks much like dark brown sugar because of the presence of molasses. Unfortunately I did not have this ingredient either, so instead of sucanat, I improvised and used about a cup of real Maple syrup, followed by the incorporation of 1 large egg, 1 tbsp of baking soda, and half a bag of Hershey chocolate chips. After mixing these ingredients together, the batter looked a little runny still, so I decided to mix in about a cup of quick cooking oats. This was just what the batter needed, but if you are not a fan of oats, than I would suggest trying about a cup or so of flour.

Finally, it was time to get the cookies in the oven to bake. The first batch I put in, I used a tablespoon to measure out a ball of batter and then flattened it out on the cookie sheet, baking at 430 degrees F for 10 minutes. These came out cooked perfectly, but for the next batch, I left the cookies in balls, and again cooked them for 10 minutes. These also came out wonderful, making this recipe wonderful for people who like their cookies flat or more round!

I would be interested in trying the original recipe when I get the chance to purchase more baking ingredients, but I am pretty satisfied with how my improvised recipe turned out, and better yet, my boyfriend, who doesn't even like nuts or oatmeal in cookies, seemed to like these cookies pretty well. Of course he tried to pretend that he didn't like them once he found out what was actually in them, but I saw him munching away when I wasn't looking :)

If you are looking for something sweet, and have limited time, money, or ingredients, give these a shot, I don't think you will be disappointed!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Brownie Ball Bliss

It has been a tradition with my mother and I to get together a week or so before Christmas and make delectable treats to package up for our friends and family. Last year, we bought these cute little christmas themed, chinese takeout boxes and packed them full of our most loved sweets. One of the items included were these Oreo, cream cheese balls, dipped in chocolate. They were the perfect little bite of decadence and a favorite among our gift receivers, not to mention irresistible to our own taste buds. It was this memory that gave me inspiration for next treat making challenge, White Chocolate Covered Brownie Balls!

I must admit, for my first shot at this recipe, I bought and used boxed brownie mix, baking them to the specifications on the back of the package. The one change that I did make however, was a substitute of milk instead of water. When the brownies were done baking, I let them rest for around 10 minutes or so, taking a block of regular cream cheese out of the fridge and leaving it on the counter to soften. Then, with a fork, I crumbled up the finished product and combine it with the soft cream cheese. Doing this while the brownies are still a little warm helps to melt the cream cheese and make the incorporation of the two easier. Next, I added about half a cup of creamy peanut butter to the mixture and mixed everything together until you could only see traces of the peanut butter left.

The next step was to form the batter into balls, about a tablespoon full, and tra
nsfer them to a freezer to harden a bit. It is much easier, especially with the hot weather, to cover these brownie balls with chocolate when they are not melting all over the place. While cooling, I took a regular bag of white chocolate chips and melted them. I would suggest doing this part in a double boiler is possible, but it is also perfectly acceptable to melt the chips in a microwave, which I did for this certain project, taking out the chocolate every minute to stir until melted to perfection.

When the chocolate was melted and left to cool for about 5 minutes, I took the brownie balls out of the freezer and started the dipping process. I must warn you know that this is quite time consuming, so make sure you don't have anywhere to be for about 30 minutes or so. It is best to do this part with a fork so that the excess chocolate can drip off through the prongs back into your bowl. After dipping each ball, I simply transfered them back to a baking sheet and placed them into the freezer once again. It only takes about 10 minutes for these finished balls to be ready for devouring, but I must warn you, it is upon my recommendation to do your devouring with a glass of
milk close by :)

Making these was very time consuming, I must admit, but it was a lot of fun to think back to the times I get to share with my mom while we make our Christmas goodies. Love you mom!

Happy baking!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Inspiring Breakfast

One morning last week, I got up at 7 am, like I usually do every day, got ready for work and had some time to spare. I figured with this extra time, I would do something nice and make my boyfriend some french toast for breakfast instead of sending him out the door with the usual Mountain Dew and cold slice of pizza. While whisking my eggs and milk together I had and idea pop into my head about incorporating my french toast recipe into cupcake form and adding some dried figs recently purchased at an Organic food co-op that I love to visit in Grass Valley. Of course it would have been ideal to use fresh juicy figs in this cupcake creation, however, it just isn't the season for figs and finding them fresh has become quite the task.

After work that day I practically ran through the door, situating myself right in front of some mixing bowls. Because I have never seen a recipe for french toast cupcakes, I was baking completely from scratch on this one, adding more flour when I thought needed, or an extra splash of milk if the flour made the batter too thick :) It is for this reason that I am afraid I can not share a totally accurate recipe for this cupcake, but I will try and get as close to the original as possible.

All in all, this has potential to be a really great cupcake recipe. I topped these treats with a homemade maple, cream cheese frosting and turbinado sugar sprinkles for sparkle. I also added chopped chocolate pieces which I would suggest leaving out of the recipe in the future. Another lesson I learned while baking these cupcakes was to always write the date of when you buy your baking sodas and powders onto the box the day you buy them. What most people don't realize is how quickly these two things go bad and ultimately become useless to your baked goods. Unfortunately, the baking soda I had used in these cupcakes was dead and left my Figgy French Toast creations pretty dense. Better luck next time I suppose!

For the Cakes:

Preheat oven to 375 F

~ 2 Cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
~ 1 1/2 Cups sugar
2 eggs
~ 3/4 Cup milk
~ 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
Bar of Hershey Baking Chocolate
~ Cup of chopped figs
~ 2 tsp cinnamon
~ a drizzle of clover honey
pinch of salt

First, I melt the butter in the microwave and then slowly added half of the Hershey bar in the hot butter to make a buttery chocolate mixture. Next, I combine all of the dry ingredients into one bowl and set aside. I then combine the wet ingredients into another bowl, slowlyyyy adding the butter mixture to the eggs, whisking quickly while doing so in order to keep the eggs from scrambling. Right before combining the wet and the dry, I chopped up the figs and the other half of the chocolate bar, incorporating them into the dry mixture.

Next, I combine the wet and the dry to create a cohesive batter and filled prepared cupcake tins 3/4s of the way full. I let them bake for about 25 minutes before pulling them out and letting cool on the counter.

For the icing, I mixed together 1 brick of soft cream cheese with approx 1/2 cup of real maple syrup and 3/4 cup powder sugar. You may just have to add and subtract where you feel it is necessary, like I said before, there was not much measuring being done here. When the icing was mixed smooth, I placed it in a makeshift icing bag (zip lock with the corner cut out), and make a pretty swirl design on top of the cakes. Finishing the cupcakes with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar.

I had to place my cupcakes in the fridge to keep the icing from melting, but heating them in the morning for breakfast was a real success!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Experimenting With the Classics

While I am working in this internship here in beautiful North Cali, I am staying with my boyfriend and his family. His brother, recently received a free ice cream maker from work and needless to say, we got pretty enthusiastic about making homemade ice cream. Without proper research, we ventured to the store and bought all of the ingredients usually found in ice cream, including what seemed to be a pallet of sweetened condensed milk. Come to find out, only one of our ice cream creations called for the ingredient, meaning that we were left with a lot of unused cans. I took it upon myself to take full advantage of this little purchasing error, and started brainstorming.

After a bit of thinking it occurred to me that the summertime classic, Key Lime Pie, uses sweetened condensed milk in most recipes and that was all the inspiration I needed. I decided that instead of the normal pie, I would instead make a torte with a pecan, graham cracker, sea salt and turbinado sugar crust. Of course I combined these ingredients with butter and a little bit of honey to form the crust, baking at 375 for a little over 10 minutes.

Next, I combine one 14oz can sweetened condensed milk, 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 3 large egg yolks beaten, the grated peel of one key lime, 1/2 a cup of caramel and a pinch of salt, mixing until smooth. I then baked the torte for 20 minutes, transferring straight to the refrigerator when done and cooling for close to 3 hours. You can decorate this torte with anything, whether some kind of whipped topping or even a caramel sauce drizzle, but I went for simplicity, cutting a lime into wedges and placing into a pretty pattern on top :)

This torte seemed to be a real crowd pleaser and was gone within a mere 48 hours. I must admit, this was my first time experimenting with key lime anything, but I will certainly keep this one in the books for a go to summer time treat!

Ps. My picture taking skills are not quite as good as my baking skills. Apologies for the bad picture :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Welcome to PeaceLove&Cake!

So for those of you who read through my profile already, much of this will be a repeat of information and for that I apologize!

My name is Sarah Goble and I LOVE to bake! I am currently working in an internship with an all Organic farm and garden supply company called, Peaceful Valley, located in Grass Valley, California. In the fall I will be starting my last year of college, working towards a degree in public relations. Although I do love communication and this field of study, my true passion lies with baking. Nothing helps me unwind more than standing in front of my stand mixer and working on my next creation.

I didn't discover my love for baking until about my senior year in high school when my grandmother passed away. My grandma was the matriarch of the family and was known for her delicious dessert contributions made around holiday gatherings. After she passed, I took it upon myself to continue in her footsteps and bake the family favorites from then on. After I began baking on holidays, I couldn't get enough. I wanted to bake more than just occasionally, and I wanted to start experimenting with recipes of my own. It was this path that led me to where I am now.

My plan until I finish school is to begin with this blog and hopefully get my name out there. I will continue to post photos of my delicious and beautiful creations as well as recipes and fun stories about my baking experiences. The next step is to start my website where I can actually begin selling my baked goods and eventually discover the perfect location for my bakery, PeaceLove&Cake!

So now, the only thing left to do is for me to ask one simple question! What can I make for you today?!