Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lake baking: Scones, chocolate cream pie and rhubarb upside down cake

My first baking sign of spring: rhubarb! Other great things about this season include all the good stories I've got coming up, the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale (May 14, mark your calendars!), a few weddings, some shows at Starlight... I'm not sure there's anything not great about spring/summer. Except maybe allergies. Oh, yeah, and another great thing: the lake.

As you can see, Daisy enjoys a good jaunt on the boat at high speed. Despite some chilly weather, I went to the lake last weekend to spend time with dad, Cathie and grandma. I read a book, went out on the boat, watched some movies, fed my family desserts. Not sure it gets much better than that!

For breakfast, scones. I got this recipe from the public information officer for our local sheriff's, actually. It comes up fairly regularly that I like to bake a lot, and he gave me what he said was a foolproof recipe for scones. Turns out, it is perfect. I sometimes don't like scones, because they can be so heavy with all that butter, but these were made with cream and so much better. He also recommended cinnamon chips, which I'd never used before. One field trip to Checkers took care of that. These were great and easy. Definitely making again.

So, from reading this blog, you've probably gathered I love (most) Martha Stewart recipes. When her new pie cookbook was released, I bought it immediately. Chocolate cream pie was the first recipe in the book, and it looked like a darn good place to start. Lemme tell you, even as someone who's not a huge fan of chocolate, this was divine. I can't wait to make more recipes in there!

And last, but not least, rhubarb upside down cake. You know, that cake I set on fire last year? It was almost exactly a year ago! Well, no fire this time. The rhubarb was very red, so it made a beautiful cake. The cake itself has a hint of orange, and then there's a crumble base. I think rhubarb is kind of nature's sweet tart, and it makes awesome desserts. I've got some left over, so I might make strawberry-rhubarb ice cream, or something. All in all, I'd say my family was fed pretty well this weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daring Bakers' challenge: Maple mousse in an edible container

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blogCheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

Anyone who knows me well, especially who's around me during the fall season, knows my love of all things maple. I blame my stepmom Cathie, who is Canadian and introduced me to the wonderfulness of maple candy. So, I was excited when I saw this challenge. I have to admit, it was a little bit strange, this mousse. It has gelatin in it, and I think Aunt Betty and I weren't paying enough attention to it, and it got weirdly chunky at times. We had to whisk frantically for a bit, then it was fine.

The edible container was made of walnuts, you know, for the maple-walnut flavor combo. Definitely interesting to take a bite of it. I think the mousse was definitely cute when it's piped inside. All in all, I want to try mousse again, and concentrate on it more.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Back to elementary school: Dirt 'n' worms cupcakes, plus vanilla bean pound cake and purple velvet cupcakes

I'm sure I've talked before about how I love old movies. So many of them are wonderful stories without having to blow shit up, like so many new movies do. I especially love watching them with my Grandma, for which they're just normal and not old. Last weekend, I watched "It's a Wonderful Life" for the first time. Yes, I know it's past Christmas. And no, I don't care. I think that movie sealed the deal for me too — Jimmy Stewart could very well be my favorite actor. He's so down-home and lovable in every movie, whether he's talking to a 6-foot-tall imaginary rabbit or a reporter. Seriously, if you've never seen a movie with him in it, go get one. Now. I recommend "The Philadelphia Story" or "Harvey."

I'd been itching to make this vanilla bean pound cake for weeks, and had never gotten around to it. When I visited Grandma, I decided to make it there. It's always a little interesting finding what I need there, because she doesn't really cook any more. It never fails, though, that when she sits out in the kitchen with me, she brings up her mom's mile-high angel food cake. Mmmm. This pound cake was pretty good, especially the glaze with amaretto in it.

Remember being in elementary school and for special parties you'd get dirt 'n' worms? I wanted to make that into a cupcake. The anatomy of one of these is as follows: Oreo on the bottom + my favorite chocolate cupcake + instant chocolate pudding for filling + fudge frosting + Oreo crumbles (via food processor) + a couple gummy worms = dirt 'n' worms cupcakes. They definitely weren't lacking in chocolate, but they were incredibly messy to eat. Guess that's the point of being a kid, eh?

My web editor at work, Whitney, is putting together a bridal shower for her brother's fiance. She asked me to make cupcakes, and that's what I did! The bride's colors are black and purple (I will try to not think about what state school those go with). I got my favorite baking cups from Bake It Pretty and made purple velvet cupcakes. Pretty snazzy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A cookie sort of week: Monster cookie cupcakes, thumbprint cookies and chocolate malt cookie sandwiches

I'm jonesing for lake weather. To be able to go to camp, relax, read a book and go lounge on the boat. I think calling it "camp" is a Canadian thing, or something. It's definitely a small house on a small lake, but that's what Cathie called her old place up north, so I picked it up. I want to watch movies and hang out with the super friendly neighbors. My dad wants me to go tubing, but I think he'd specifically try to knock me off. Anyway, I can't wait for it to be time to go down there. I used to HATE going to the lake. But that was just going, with no boat to go out on it. And I've really started to appreciate the downtime it provides. Now if only it were May!

I didn't want to throw away the lemon and lime curd I had left over from last week's cake, so I decided to make thumbprint cookies. The first recipe I made was weirdly crumbly, and wouldn't even form balls to be formed into cookies. So I went to the old reliable, Martha. I used this recipe, with no hazelnuts. The cookies were the perfect complements to the super tart fillings.

Next, I was in the mood for cookies. Well, actually, I guess I was in the mood for cookies all week. This was a chocolate malt sandwich cookie from, you guessed it, Martha. Kelly chose them, and they were definitely tasty. SO RICH though. She took them to the Kansan, and I guess they were approved, because she said they were gone pretty quickly.

And, even though you can't tell immediately, this is totally a cookie. In cupcake form. I used to work at this coffe shop/bakery called Capers. Yes, I was a barista, and no, I don't like coffee. At all. But Capers did introduce me to the best cookie ever — the monster cookie. It's a peanut butter oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips and M&Ms. This Paula Deen recipe is the one I use when I make the cookies, minus the raisins (YUCK). So I felt like making them into a cupcake. These were peanut butter cupcakes (Martha again!) with chocolate chips and oats mixed in at the end. On top, at Kelly's suggestion, plain ol' vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, so not to conflict with the other flavors. And the crowning achievement: M&Ms. These are one of my more favorite cupcakes I've made lately. They will return! (Also, I posted these over at Hoosier Homemade's Cupcake Tuesday!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fruit + citrus: Lemon and lime curd cake, pineapple cookies and strawberry shortcake cookies

So on Sunday, my useless ability to remember ridiculous lyrics came in handy, if only for a second or two. I played trivia for the first time in a while. I'm fully aware my use is fairly limited to Disney trivia, and I occasionally come through on some random other things. For one category on Sunday, the host asked who was on the sideline during Don McLean's "American Pie." Anyone? Anyone? Well, despite being unable to memorize geography for my Politics of Africa class or memorize works of art for art history in college, I can remember song lyrics like nobody's business.

Actually, in fourth grade, we learned our 6, 7, 8 and 9 multiplication tables to songs, and I still sing them in my head when I'm thinking about it. Grandma is always astounded when I know words to songs, ranging from Katy Perry to songs from "Singin' in the Rain." I'm glad this talent is so useful...but on Sunday, it gave me the Jester. We didn't win, but whatever. At least I got that question!

I guess the theme of this post is fruit. Because everything I made had some sort of fruit in it (and the cookies I have in the oven now are the same). I must be pining for spring and summer foods. Anyway, I used to hate pineapple, but it's grown on me as I've gotten older. I made pineapple cookies ones during Christmas, and then recently I ran across this recipe. As I'm sure you've all figured out, I'm a sucker for all things nostalgic, and the recipe obviously was for the author of the blog. So I made them at Aunt Betty's, and they were amazing. Pineapple makes a cookie so moist and awesome! Especially with a glaze.

My dad's a big fan of strawberry shortcake, so when I saw a recipe for strawberry shortcake cookies, I had to make them too. While they were tasty, they fell apart easily. I think we should have baked them longer (which would have meant following the recipe). But they were gone quick at the newsroom, so I suppose people liked them! I need to make real strawberry shortcake sometime soon.

My last fruit attempt was the cake at the top, which sliced into this. Recently, a local bakery that is closing had a sale, and I made away like a bandit with some great stuff, including a rotating cake decorating stand. I naturally wanted to make a cake, and I wanted some citrus in it, so Aunt Betty and I made my favorite three-layer white cake. Then Aunt Betty actually found a recipe for microwavable curd, which was waaaay easy. We made that lemon one, then adapted it to lime. I have to admit, the cake slid around a bit when we put it together, hence the curd coming out the middle in the picture at top. But it turned out pretty I think! I'm also fairly certain I don't have the patience to decorate cakes often. But I'm more than happy to make curd regularly. Bring on summer!
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