Archive

Archive for November, 2010

Peanut Caramel Topped Brownies

November 30, 2010 9 comments

Bakers who have been baking along Tuesdays with Dorie should be able to identify this cake straight away. This cake/ brownie just looks so strikingly different with bold whole caramel peanuts strewn over the top as topping. Quite frankly, i don’t think i have come across any other cake that looked like this.

Well, maybe my re-creation of this cake is not 100% accurate. You see, the caramel was supposed to flow down the sides of the cake as it was drizzled over the top in its semi molten state.

But i knew i was bringing this to work, and really, i would do much better if i didn’t have to deal with all the gooey, sticky caramel-ey mess no matter how delicious it promised to be. So i cooked the caramel a lil further, and  let it cool a bit to set before i spooned the peanuts onto the cake.

Now, that looks pretty neat and orderly. I was actually quite glad i was able to coax the peanut/caramel combo into staying on top of the cake instead of having them slide down the sides.

Now, lets get a closer look at that complying topping. This topping is part crunchy from the peanuts, and part chewy from the caramel and ALL awesome.

Peanuts (apart from peanut butter) are probably the least used nuts in the baking world. I’ve seen recipes calling for walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, etc, but  only a couple that call for peanuts. But despite being underrated, the peanuts really showed the world a thing or two here.

Now lets get on to the brownie part shall we?

This brownie was cake like, soft and moist. It was lighter than most brownies, which complemented the topping rather well. A dense fudgy brownie would probably have made this dessert too cloyingly rich. The brownie was also very easily put together involving just a few simple whisking. There is no need to pull out your heavy machineries here. Pheww!

The brownie rose pretty well too, almost reaching to the brim of my springform. That’s quite an achievement for a cake batter that didnt require any beating.  I also liked the spongy texture of the brownie that probably resulted from all that rising.

On a lil side note though, while the caramel didn’t leave its trails in a sticky mess this time, i would probably want that the next time if i were to bake it again. While this semi hardened caramel was good. I think the original chewy, sticky, gooey would be better. Just saying. 🙂

While i have a copy of Baking From My Home to Yours on my bedstand, i couldnt resist but hit the print button for the recipe from The Curvy Carrot who happened to have baked this recently. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to lugging the book to my kitchen have even more undesirable stains on the poor book! So here goes!

Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake (Recipe taken from The Curvy Carrot) thanks so much for sharingg!

Servings: 10

Ingredients

For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped **(I just used Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips….oh Ghiradelli…..sigh….)

3 large eggs

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 and 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup salted peanuts

Instructions

1.  For the cake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Butter an 8-inch round springform pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper.

3.  Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

4.  Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

5. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

6.  Add the butter and chocolate to the bowl and heat, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are just melted.

7.  Remove the bowl from the heat.

8. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended.

9. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla.

10.  Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate.

11. Still working with a whisk, gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

12.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread until even.

13.  Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean.

14.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the cake for 15 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the pan and remove the sides of the pan.  Cool the cake to room temperature.

15.  When the cake is completely cool, invert it, remove the base of the pan and peel off the paper.  Wash and dry the springform pan, and return the cake to it right-side up.  Refasten the sides.

16. For the topping: Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients, and put the pan over medium-high heat on the stove.

17.  Heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns deep amber (mine was the color of light beer….test it on a white plate if you are unsure), about 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your stove and pan).  As the sugar is caramelizing, wipe down any splatters on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.

18.  Lower the heat a bit, and standing back from the saucepan, add the cream and butter.  (BE CAREFUL…IT IS HOT AND WILL BUBBLE AGGRESSIVELY.)

19.  When the caramel calms down a bit, stir to dissolve any lumps.

20.  Add the peanuts and stir.  Transfer the hot mixture to a 1-quart Pyrex measuring cup or a heat-proof bowl.

21.  Spoon the peanuts over the top of the cake, and then pour enough caramel to cover the peanuts and top of cake completely.  You may have leftover caramel.

22.  Allow the topping to set at room temperature about 20 minutes or so.

23.  When ready to serve, run a blunt knife around the edge of the springform pan and remove the sides.

Source:  Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Blueberry Muffins on a Blue Monday

November 29, 2010 4 comments

It’s Monday, and i am a severe case of the blues. And ironically i baked up some BLUEberry muffins  this morning. Geez, BLUEberry muffins on a BLUE monday. That’s a negative all right .

But in my defense, these aren’t your average muffins. These are the Baking Bites VERY Blueberry Muffins. We’ve got twice as much of the Blue stuff in there. And since double negative cancels out each other, These are positively a worthy candidate to offset your Monday blues. LOL. Okay, not making much sense here.

So why are they called the very Blueberry Muffins again? Cause they call for fresh blueberries, dried blueberries AND blueberry juice in the recipe.

The blueberry juice kinda gives u a weird murky blue brown colour. But seriously, no one cared. And i havent even gotten to the best part of these muffins. They contain NO butter.

Hold up, did someone say butter?

okays, so now they do contain butter, but it’s just for this one. I promise. The others were left untainted. LOL.

But seriously, these muffins didn’t really need all that butter, or jam. Beside all that wonderful berryworks, these muffins were sprinkled with sugar over their tops before they went into the oven. They tasted very good on their own, and that’s how the others were eaten when i brought them to work to help ease the others’ with their Monday blues.

Just my lil’ contribution to make the world a berry happy place.

Very Blueberry Muffins (Adapted from Baking Bites) Thanks Nicole for sharing!

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp oil
zest of one lemon
1 egg
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup blueberry juice or milk
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
¼ cup dried blueberries

1 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, lemon zest and egg for 1 minute or until smooth. Stir in sour cream and blueberry juice. Gently stir in dry ingredients until almost fully combined. Add the blueberries and continue mixing until just combined.

Spoon mixture into muffin tins, filling each one 2/3 full. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 20-23 minutes at 350F, until tester comes out clean and the muffin springs back when lightly pressed.

Makes 12.

Categories: muffins Tags: , , ,

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies, Week #9- Vanilla Fudge Christmas Packages

November 25, 2010 17 comments

Christmas is not as widely celebrated here in Indonesia. In fact, i consider myself very fortunate if i were to receive even one gift! The truth is, gift exchange is not practiced here. Not with my family anyways.

I can’t force people to exchange Christmas gifts with me. But i can definitely make these make-believe Christmas packages. Call it my own way of having fun with the gift giving spirit.

Having said that, i would refrain from giving these to my dentist, or doctor. These are so incredibly rich they would make millionaires look homeless. They are basically just cream and sugar simmered together to reduce and form a consistency thats thick, dense and so very luscious.

And i am not kidding when i say that they are only cream and sugar simmered together, because those two are the only ingredients required for these. Oh, of course, not forgetting the mandatory vanilla essence of course.

So what are u waiting for?

Let’s get the fudge going!

Recipe (Adapted from PeriPlus’ Brownies, Fudges and Toppings)

2 Cups Caster Sugar

1 Cup Cream

1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

1. Lightly brush a 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf tin with melted butter or oil. Line the base with baking paper, extending over 2 sides. Place the caster sugar, cream and a pinch of salt in a medium heavy based pan. Stir to combine and continue to stir over low heat, without boiling, until all the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat slightly, until the mixture is just simmering. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.

2. Remove the lid and clean the sugar from the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Do not stir the mixture. Continue to boil the mixture for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches the softball stage (240 F on sugar thermometer ).

3.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly and then stir in the vanilla essence. Beat with electric beaters for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture loses its gloss and begins to thicken. Quickly pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Cover and allow to set. Cut into small squares, or use a biscuit cutter to cut into desired shapes.

Shown here are sprinkled with some decorative christmas sugar and yellow cookie frosting as the “bow” 🙂

On a side note, i would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Categories: Cookies Tags: , ,

Tartine’s Brownies

November 24, 2010 6 comments

I was itching to try another recipe from the Tartine’s cookbook after that Banana Cream Pie with the Caramel and Chocolate. And when i came across Amanda of Fake Ginger‘s beautiful picture on her version of the Tartine’s Brownies, i was sold.

This brownie is probably the epitome of a dense, fudgy brownie. And when it comes to brownie points, this would have scored a perfect 10.

I am not exactly sure how these brownies should turn out. I have heard of an altogether different result from the same recipe. But as far as mine was concerned, this brownie is not much of a looker. It has the surface of a dry, caked up mud, a piece of barren land, unfitting for any form of life.

And it handled very badly too. I mean with that scandalous amount of chocolate (a whole pound, no less!) one wouldn’t have expected anything less. There was even a disclaimer which goes “NOTE: The brownies are ready even when tester comes out wet.on Divine Baking, another blog which also featured this recipe. Anyways, as predicted, these brownies baked up very soft and delicate, and you have to be painstakingly careful when handling them to make sure it stays intact and not fall apart. Oh, and really, a nerves of steel would come in handy.

But once all that pan to plate transfer is out of the way, do yourself a favour and cut  yourself a slice after all that anxiety. You deserve it.

See what i mean? With that amount of flour, the brownies just wont bake up to something structually sound. Of course, it could have been me, being too impatient to let this brownies bake further, or cool some more. The brownie came out pretty much like a chocolate molten cake. No complaints there though. 🙂

And as for the appearance department, nothing a lil sprinkle of powdered sugar cant solve, especially if you put a lil’ heart to it!

Recipe from Fake Ginger and Divine Baking (Thanks so much for sharing, girls!!)

Brownies
from Tartine
Printable Recipe

3/4 cup butter
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups nuts, optional for topping

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. If the heat from the butter does not fully melt the chocolate, put the pan back over the heat for 10 seconds and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.

Sift the flour into a small mixing bowl. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture thickens and becomes pale in color and falls from the beater in a wide ribbon that folds back on itself and slowly dissolves on the surface, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture. Add the flour and fold it in quickly but gently with the rubber spatula so that you don’t deflate the air that’s been incorporated into the eggs.

Pour the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the top with a spatula. If you are using nuts, evenly distribute them across the batter. Bake until the top looks slightly cracked and feels soft to the touch, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 squares, or size desired. The brownies will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.

Categories: Brownies Tags: , , ,

Blueberry Chiffon Cakes

November 21, 2010 14 comments

I am kind of having mixed feelings about chiffon cakes. Though most of the time, i enjoy the light, cottony soft texture, of the chiffon, sometimes though, i feel like i needed something more substantial. Something with more oomph, or something richer (think dense fudgy brownies).

So i tried spicing things up with my blueberry chiffons two ways. One to have it studded with blueberries, and another decorated with fresh blueberries, whipped cream and some icing.

The studded:

Fresh blueberries were folded into the batter before it was poured into the pan.

I for one absolutely adore how the blueberries peeked out of the cake, adding some colours to the otherwise plain brown cake.

A common problem with adding fresh fruits to a chiffon batter, is to have all the fruits sinking down south. Unfortunately, mine sank too. But not entirely, some lucky one managed to stay afloat, but most of them crowd within the bottom half of the chiffon.

Besides sinking, the blueberries also seemed to form mini caves around themselves. I am not entirely sure why this happens. It doesnt seem to apply only to fruits for i have seen cheese forming the same holes within breads. Anyone shed some light ?

Taste wise, the berries provide an unexpected burst of tartness, which go pretty well against the sweetness from the cake. It also added a bit of moistness. I also liked how the colours from the blueberries bled, creating splotches of purplish blue.

Next,

The Decorated:

As the chiffon is incredibly soft, i was not left with much choices when it comes to frosting this cake.

I settled on decorating half the cake with freshly whipped cream and fresh blueberries, and the other half with white sugar icing drizzled over fresh blueberries. Both were light enough for the chiffon to handle. Fortunately.

I also left the batter plain this time. I feel like i shouldnt crowd the cake with too many things and overshadow the chiffon.

So after all that, which is my fave way of eating the chiffon?

I would say i liked my chiffon with the whipped cream. It added an extra moistness to the cake, without overpowering it. 🙂

For the recipe, i have used Kokken69‘s (Thanks so much for sharing!). She has the most beautiful pictures in her blog.

Recipe : Adapted from Kokken69

Meringue
Egg White 110g
Sugar 55g
Corn Starch 5g
Egg Yolk Base
Egg Yolk 40g
Water 12g
Grapeseed Oil 36g (or any other neutral oil e.g. canola oil)
Blueberry puree 50g
Lemon juice 6g
All purpose flour55g
Sugar 10g
Blueberry 30g (blueberry should be cut into very small pieces and dried with a kitchen towel. Best option would be dried Blueberry)
Method :
1. Heat oven using convection mode to 160C.
2. In a mixing bowl place egg yolk, blueberry puree, water, oil, lemon juice and sugar. Beat the mixture under well mixed and sugar is completely dissolved. (I do this by using a hand whip)
3. Sift flour into egg yolk mixture and mix well.
4. In a separate clean dry mixing bowl, whip egg white until foamy. Add sugar/corn starch mixture in 3 additions during whipping. Whip egg white until meringue is firm peaks.
5. Add 1/3 portion of the meringue into the egg yolk base. Use a spatula to blend egg white with egg yolk.
6.Add another 1/3 portion of the remaining meringue and blueberries into (5). Use spatula to fold egg white evenly with (5).
7. Add the remaining meringue into (6). Fold the egg white evenly with (6).
8. Pour (7) into a 17cm chiffon pan (do not oil the pan otherwise the batter will not rise).
9. Bake the cake at 160C for 30mins.
I will also be submitting this to Aspiring Baker#1: Chiffon Cakes
This is an event that is hosted by Small Small Baker and for the month of November, she has chosen Chiffon Cakes as the first task. I am really really excited about this event. I have seen other bloggers’ post for this event and am really impressed with what some of them came up with. Thanks Small Small Baker for organizing!
Categories: Cakes Tags: , , , ,

12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies Week #8 – Angel Cookies

November 18, 2010 20 comments

I cant believe we are at week 8 of 12 WOCC.

4 more short weeks before all the fun ends. I am starting to miss it already. Geez.

Anyway, for week 8, i send forth these Christmas Angels.

And while these angels will not carol your homes with melodious Christmas songs, they will at least fill your stomachs.

These angels have Pretzel Wings,

U know what kind of pretzels i am talking about right?

Yup, THAT kind of pretzels. While these are so very easy to find in the States, these are a rare breed in Indonesia. I had to rummage through the shelves of  a couple of supermarkets before i found a bag of these. They are not cheap either, being imported and all. But i must say, they are pretty worth it. I really love how they  gave these angels wings to fly.

Well, not literally fly of course. That would be freaky.

That’s my messy workspace btw, there are lots of unrelated items, but i just placed them there and created a mess. A cute mess with happy colours.

LOL, anyways, as you can see, these angels are pretty easy to put together, involving with just the usual suspects of butter cookies, coloured cookie frostings and some decorative sugars.

I got the idea from Betty Crocker. I think the creative juices behind the Betty Crocker team is simply wonderful. *love*.

Okay, i am done writing this post,let’s get angelic already!

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Betty Crocker® yellow sugar
2 tablespoons Betty Crocker® blue sugar
96 small pretzel twists
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tube (4.25 oz) Betty Crocker® yellow decorating icing
1 tube (4.25 oz) Betty Crocker® pink decorating icing
  1. In large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar; beat until creamy, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in milk, vanilla, almond extract and salt. Stir in flour until well mixed.
  2. Measure 1/2 cup of dough into resealable food-storage plastic bag; refrigerate. Divide remaining dough in half; roll each into a 6-inch log. Roll 1 log in yellow sugar; roll other log in blue sugar. Wrap logs separately in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
  3. Heat oven to 350°F. For each cookie, place 2 pretzels with flat sides touching on ungreased large cookie sheets, 3 inches apart. Cut dough into 48 (1/4-inch) slices. (If dough cracks, allow to sit at room temperature a few minutes.) To make angel body, fold in opposite sides at top of each slice to make triangular-shaped body; place each slice on top of 2 pretzels, so double rounds of pretzels form angel wings at each side. Press lightly into pretzels. Using reserved dough from plastic bag, roll 1/2 teaspoon dough into ball; place on top for head of each angel. Press 2 sliced almonds into dough to make song book. Repeat to make 48 cookies.
  4. Bake 11 to 14 minutes or until edges are firm and just begin to brown. Cool 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  5. Pipe yellow icing on cooled cookies to make eyes and hair. Use pink decorating icing to draw mouths. Let stand until frosting is set.
Categories: Cookies Tags: , ,

Strawberry Shortcake Birthday Cake

November 16, 2010 16 comments

The cake is frosted with lightly sweetened whipped cream, topped with fresh strawberries and slapped with graham cracker crumbs on the sides. It is made up of 4 layers of chiffon cake sandwiches alternating layers of freshly whipped cream and strawberry jam.

I sent it along to the birthday girl without tasting this.

Geez, i hope it tastes fine.

Categories: Uncategorized