Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Comfort baking: Butterfinger cupcakes, homemade Oreos, red velvet cheesecake cake, stuffed bread and stuffed pretzels
Does anyone watch the show "American Pickers" on the History Channel? I think I'm hooked. Dad turned it on one day when we were visiting my grandma in the hospital after her vertigo spell during the holidays. My dad loves the History Channel, but I'd always seen him watching shows about the war and that sort of thing. This seems a slightly different take on history. What they "pick" is historical items found all over the country, mostly in those places you see on the side of road that have stuff just piled in the lots. They find some crazy stuff...in the episode I just watched, they bought a motorcycle motor from "Hobo Jack" that ended up being more than 100 years old. In case you haven't noticed, I'm fascinated by this sort of history and Americana, as evidenced by all I write about my family history on here. Also by the stories I like writing best, most recently about a local man who restores pinball machines. So cool!. I know what show is going to fill up my DVR for the next few months!
After all the stress of my holiday season, I needed some serious baking with Aunt Betty. I'm still not completely on my A-game, but I'm getting closer. This stuff helped. Like these Butterfinger cupcakes from my Food Network magazine. Unfortunately, there's no recipe online, and it's from my year-old magazine...I've been wanting to make them for a while. That being said, I'm going to make some serious changes next time I try them. The chocolate cake was good, but too light a crumb for a cupcake. The frosting was actually a ganache, and waaaay too thick for piping like I wanted to. Next time: a light peanut butter frosting. The killer was the brittle on top, which was just sugar, peanut butter and butterscotch chips and tasted exactly like the inside of a Butterfinger. I'm going to make just that sometime soon, dip it in chocolate and make homemade candy. All those went with my Uncle David for his retirement party.
Next on our list was something that reminded me of one of my favorite places to get dessert, the Cheesecake Factory (mainly because there are so many options). Who doesn't love red velvet cake? Who doesn't love cheesecake (besides Kelly)? Put them together, and you get red velvet cheesecake cake. Pretty tasty, although once again, I'd prefer a cake with heavier crumb. It's modeled on the coolest cake spatula thingy my stepmom Cathie got me. It's a high heel with a magnetic heel! Neato. I brought this cake to work and I'd say it was a hit. A few minutes after I brought it in, I told someone upstairs it was there. He said he already knew it was there because he saw a Twitpic. Ah, the joys of journalism and technology.
Our last project for the day was to make a bread I've been wanting to make for a while from Flour Girl. It's a stuffed braided bread, and actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. The dough was basic pizza dough made in the food processor and didn't even need to rise. The recipe called for bacon, but anyone who knows my eating habits knows that I don't eat any pork products, including bacon, and no, I'm not Jewish. I just don't eat it. So we used turkey bacon. Also inside was spinach we cooked down with some olive oil, provolone cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Dip it in marinara and it made a pretty tasty dinner.
When my newest Food Network Magazine magazine came, on the front it talked about pretzels, which is one of my favorite things to make. What caught my eye especially was pesto-stuffed pretzels. I loooove pesto, especially when it's extra garlicy and cheesy. I think I'm going to need some more practice stuffing pretzels, because you can't taste the flavor of the pesto and the cream cheese that's inside them too much. But the dip I made with the extra pesto and cream cheese is excellent. I will definitely make that again. Also, this was the christening voyage for my new food processor. Verdict: amazing.
Last, I wanted to make some sort of sweet for the night, and Kelly suggested homemade Oreos. I had all the stuff to make them, so I did it. The cookie dough looked like dirt, and was a really strange consistency. The middle is supposed to be white chocolate ganache, which I edited a bit to be more frosting-like. All-in-all, very tasty, especially when dipped in milk. Mmmmm. Next up? Tiramisu cake for a girls' dinner. I get to try out my new cake stand on that one!