Friday, April 29, 2011

Oatmeal + Butter + Chocolate = ???

Oatmeal + Butter = An amazing crust.

Oatmeal + Butter + Chocolate = Delicious oatmeal fudge bars.


Plus, because these bars have oatmeal in them I can call it a breakfast food, right? So each time I take a bite of the buttery crunchy crust and rich chocolate filling, I can say I'm actually being "healthy" because it's only breakfast, right? Definitely. Unless you think of chocolate and butter as non breakfast ingredients, but who does? Okay, maybe I do occasionally, but don't worry, its all about moderation. One of these bars for breakfast and a big bowl of three grain edamame salad for lunch. Yup, those just about balanced each other out. ;)


The recipe is from America's Test Kitchen Holiday Cookie booklet. I know what you're thinking, it's kind of late to be making holiday recipes in spring, but these are definitely year round bars. Plus, using one recipe for both the bottom layer and the top crumble part makes these bars quick and easy to make.



Oatmeal Fudge Bars
From America's Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies 2010
Ingredients:
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup flour 
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar2 teaspoons instant espresso
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 large egg

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325˚F and line an 8 x 8 pan with foil. Grease foil
2. Combine oats, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, and baking soda
3. Add in melted butter and stir until combined.
4. Reserve 3/4 cup mixture for topping. Evenly spread the remaining mixture in to the prepared pan. Press into an even layer. Bake for about 12 minutes. Allow to cool, but keep oven on.
5. In a bowl combine flour, brown sugar, and espresso
6. Microwave butter and chocolate until melted. Stir in egg. Stir in flour mixture and whisk together.
7. Evenly spread chocolate mixture over crust and sprinkle with remaining oatmeal mixture.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Maple mousse and an edible container (not pictured) for Daring Bakers

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap 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 The Daring Kitchen!



So, I know the bowl in the picture doesn't look edible (it's not), but what's simpler than eating it with a spoon, or even your fingers. :) Actually, I forgot to take a picture, and the above picture is just some of the leftover maple mousse in a bowl. I used an animal crust as my edible container, and filled it with the maple mousse. It was yummy! You should really check out some of the other bloggers (most of which were a TON more creative than me-maple bacon donuts?! Yes please!).

Recipes can be found on Evelyne's site

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rich, Dark, Fudge-like Brownies. And they're VEGAN!

If you love rich, dark,  fudge-like brownies that are also vegan, these are the brownies for you. The recipe comes from Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar, and is a great recipe for vegans and non-vegans alike.

 The brownie was thinner than a typical brownie, and was quite chewy. I brought these to my Environmental Vegetarian Club (no, I'm not a vegetarian, just in the club. Strange, right? But more on that in a little bit). Some people said the brownies were too dark, but some people absolutely loved them. I found the ones who loved the brownies loved dark chocolate, while the people who disliked them loved milk chocolate, hence their aversion to these very dark brownies.
 Why did I bring vegan brownies to an environmental and vegetarian club, you ask? Well, if you think about it, pretty much all desserts are meat free, and so the club leader asked me to make vegan desserts (no animal products at all. not even honey! O.O). It was quite a challenge at first, how do you make cookies without eggs, or butter?! But not to worry, as I've found several great books and blog who have tons of great (vegan!) recipes. 

Nom, nom, nom. :)


Espresso Fudge Brownies
from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar
Ingredients:
3 oz semisweet chocolate
5 Tbs margarine, nonhydrogenated
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup soy milk
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbs cocoa powder
Pinch salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease a 8x8 pan
2. Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave
3. Whisk together soy milk, cornstarch, espresso, and vanilla until foamy.
4. Combine with chocolate mixture
5. Sift in flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder, and salt
6. Fold until moistened
7. Pour in to prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bread in five minutes a day...say what?!

Do you remember back at the beginning of the year when I said my new years resolution was to bake bread? No? Well, I didn't either, at least it was until I found this recipe. Not only is it the easiest bread recipe ever, the dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Which means hearty homemade bread every night. Or at least until we become sick of bread!


Doesn't that loaf look amazing? The recipe comes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and is the easiest, and tastiest, dough I've tried. Above, and below, is their master recipe. This recipe can be halved, doubled, tripled, etc. for as many loaves as you need. What's also great about their recipe is that the ingredients together at the same time (say the weekend) and left to rise for a couple hours, then stored in the refrigerator for later use (say the rest of the week!). Sound simple? It is! And, all you have to do when you want to eat some bread is tear of a chunk, "cloak" it, let it rest for about 45 minutes, do the cool flour-knife-slash, bake, and enjoy!

But as a side note, do remember that the bread will expand even after you put it in the fridge. I forgot this crucial piece of information, stuck the dough in a container, shoved it in the fridge, and then uh oh, a few hours later I open the fridge draw to where a "bread bomb" seemed to have gone off. Oops! If you're short on space, try using ziploc freezer bags. Just don't put all the dough in one bag! I would divide the dough in to two pieces, maybe even three.


Master Recipe: Boule
Yield: Four 1 lb loaves
Ingredients:
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
6 1/2 cups all purpose flour, (scoop and sweet method)

1. Warm water slightly
2. Add yeast and salt
3. Mix in flour (Kneading is unnecessary!)
4. Allow to rise for 2 hours, then put in the refrigerator

Note: Do not put dough in mason jars, or sealed bags/containers as the dough might cause the container to explode .... as in my case.

On baking day:
1. cloak the the bread by first shaping the dough in to a sphere and then pushing the sides around the ball, and then in to the center
2. Allow to rise for 40 minutes, doesn't need to be covered
3. Preheat oven to 450˚F.
4. Twenty minutes before baking place a boiler tray and pizza stone
5. Dust loaves with flour, then slash
6. Place loaves in the oven and pour 1 cup of water in to boiler tray bake for 30 minutes or until crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch
Note: Dough can be stored for up to two weeks!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oops, I forgot my blogs birthday.

Oops, as you can see from this post's title, I seem to have forgotten my blog's birthday. As of April 2, this blog turned one. I'm sorry blog, will you ever forgive me? What if I made you a cake? And not just any cake, but a three layer neapolitan cake with strawberry buttercream? All right, you say? Great!

This cake was spectacular, and a definite! Three layers of moist cake encased in smooth strawberry butter cream. Yum! Who would say no? Instead of sandwiching the layers with buttercream, I stacked each layer and then covered the entire cake. My family is not a frosting fan (I never said I wasn't!), so the small amount of ice was just enough for them. The recipe comes from sweetapolita's blog, and just be warned that if you make all the recipes for the cake without halving them, you'll end up with two about four inch tall cakes! I would double the frosting recipe or half the cake batter recipes if you want a good amount of frosting between the layers. Enjoy!

P.S. The Sweetest Kitchen Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge entries are up! Don't forget to vote! (Maybe for something lemony?) :)







For the recipe, check out sweetapolita's blog. Recently she made an inside out neapolitan cake!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Entry for The Sweetest Kitchen's Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge!

For my entry, I made a White Butter Cupcake with a Lemon Curd Filling and Toasted Marshmallow  Meringue Frosting.  I call it Earth's Springtime Dessert. How does it relate to this month's theme of Earth Day, you ask. Well, whenever I think of the earth I automatically think of spring, and this makes me think of bunnies, which reminds me of lemons, which reminds me of lemon curd, which was the main flavor for these cupcakes!

Also, I used as natural and organic ingredients for these cupcakes in the spirit of the Earth Day Theme. The eggs were actually given to us by a friend who has their own chickens! Amazing, I thought. Chickens in their backyard. The eggs were spectacular on their own as a fried egg or boiled egg, and especially delicious in these cupcakes.

I used a white butter cake recipe from the cake bible as the cupcake base. Once baked and cooled, I used a pearl drink straw (you know those large straws?) to core out the cupcake, and then filled them with tangy and sweet lemon curd. I then topped the cupcakes with a fluffy marshmallow frosting. (Note: I will be posting the recipe later on!)

Here's the link to the official rules!



The winner of April’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:
Thank you to all our prize sponsors!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bumble...bumble...bumbleberry!

Can you believe I've never made a pie before? I know, neither can I. So when I found out pie is one of my mom's favorite desserts, I knew I had to try make my own. Funny thing is, I found out she likes pie a couple years ago. It's just taken me several years to finally make a pie. But I finally did, and boy, am I glad I did bake one. Flaky crust + Sweet berries = The best pie EVER!

Rather than using a single fruit or berry, I chose to make a bumble berry pie. Actually, this pie tasted very similar to one I ate in Washington. I couldn't decide between the peach pie, the strawberry pie, or the bumble berry pie. We got the bumble berry pie because it had a variation of fruit, which we proceeded to devour in the car in under 10 minutes. I have to say, this pie tasted almost as good. My dad said even better, but I think he's just trying to be nice.



Bumbleberry Pie
Adapted from here and here
Ingredients:
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups crico
1 egg whisked
5 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups frozen mixed berries
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch

Directions:
1. Using a pastry cutter, gradually work the crisco in to the flour until it resembles "course meal"
2. Add in egg, cold water, vinegar, and salt. Gently (!) mix until a dough forms.
3. Divide in to three equal balls (The pie only needs two of the three balls)
4. Place each ball in a gallon ziploc bag and roll out using a rolling pin
5. Place bags in the freezer until firm or needed
6. In a bowl combine berries, white sugar, and corn starch. Place mixture in a strainer and let sit for 15 minutes to drain. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
7. Remove two pie crusts from freezer and allow to thaw for 10 minutes (It's easier to roll out when cold)
8. Roll out and place in a nine inch pie plate. Add in berries.
9. Roll out the second pie crust and place on top. Use a fork to crimp the sides and use a knife to create three small slits in the center.
 10. Bake for 25-30 minutes

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

David Lebovitz's No Fat Gingersnaps

I know what you're thinking. Gingersnaps in april?! No one eats gingersnaps in April! It's spring already, not winter!

But I do. Especially these no fat gingersnaps. They're soft and spicy, with the perfect sugary crust enveloping the gingery center.

I actually kept a container of already preshaped and sugar rolled dough in my freezer for when I had a cookie craving. The dough balls didn't hold their shape, and instead sort of oozed into a big mass with slightly proliferated edges. Although they didn't look as nice before I baked them, they still turned out great and tasted as good as they did when I first baked them!





Amazingly Soft Fat Free Gingersnaps
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Ingredients:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons ground dried ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Granulated sugar

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, applesauce, and molasses
2. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
3. After five minutes, stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, and add the egg. Beat another minute.
4. With the mixer at its lowest speed, add the dry ingredients until completely incorporated, and mix on medium for one minute more.
5. Roll tablespoons of dough in granulated sugar.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
7. Bake for 10 minutes

Monday, April 11, 2011

Daifuku

If asked what was my favorite sweet, I don't think I would be able to answer. But if asked my favorite cuisine, well, that's an easy question, definitely Japanese food. Not only is the food delightfully appealing to the eye (見た目がいい, mitamegaii), but also deliciously tasty. While I do love sushi (ikura!, nom nom), I also love Japanese sweets, or wagashi. Wagashi are traditional sweets typically served along side Japanese tea. Okashi, or Japanese snacks, are another favorite of mine.

When my cousin came to visit, our obachan (Japanese for grandmother) taught us how to make several different wagashis and okashis. Mochi was at the top of our to-do lists, and after several attempts we finally achieved that soft, supple, earlobe-like feeling mochi. Yes, I know, that last description was a little strange, but I'll explain later. Why did it take several attempts? Well, the first batch was waaaayyy too hard and lumpy, the second batch was a little better (less hard), and the third batch was perfect! :) As we were making each batch, we discovered several tips that helped us achieve that soft smooth mochi.

Tips:
1. After adding the mochiko to the water, stir vigorously to incorporate all of the flour.
2. The mixture will at first look too dry and lumpy, but just keep stirring until the mixture reaches a smooth paste
3. Add the sugar in several batches. I added mine in about 5 or 6.
4. If you see a few lumps of flour, that's okay, you can always pick it out later. If you see a lot of lumps, you may want to start over...
5. The mochi can be shaped when it has cooled, but it's easier to pinch the side closed when still warm
6. Pre-shaping the anko balls saves time and it's less messy

Hope that helped and happy mochi making!


Daifuku -Printer Friendly Version

Adapted from my obachan's recipe

(Mochi with anko or sweet red bean inside)
Ingredients:
100 grams Mochi-ko (sweet rice flour)

200 grams sugar (Can be lowered to 150 grams if too sweet)

220 mL water
koshian or tsubuan, red bean paste, rolled in to a ball
Corn starch for dusting
Sifter
Large wooden spoon
8 cupcake lined tins

1. Measure out all ingredients before hand as this will make it easier

2. Put water in frying pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat.
3. Sift in mochiko mixing well with a large wooden spoon. At first it will be very lumpy and seem too dry, but the sugar will bring out the moisture.

4. Stir for 4-5 minutes until smooth making sure to not burn the mixture. This step is crucial, so keep stirring!

5. Add the sugar in several batches.

6. Dust a plate with cornstarch and pour mochi on to the plate. Dust mochi surface with corn starch.
7. Wait five minutes, then form in to a ball the size of a golf ball, flatten, add anko, then close by pinching the edges together
8. Place on cupcake wrapper in cupcake pan so it retains its shape

Variations:
For ichigo daifuku (strawberry mochi): Wash and pat dry 8 small strawberries. Cover strawberries in a layer of anko, roll in to a ball. Proceed as if using normal anko balls


For kinako mochi: Substitute kinako (ground soy bean flour) for cornstarch

Anko rolled in to balls
Light dusting of cornstarch
Almost ready to be shaped!

Ichigo daifuku! oops, i guess I flattened that area too much!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

While editing my recipe box, I was surprised to find I had many cookie recipes, but very few cake recipes. I know my blog title has the word 'cookie' in it, but very few cake recipes?! I had to change that. And what better cake to make than a chocolate cake from Joanne Chang's new book? It promised moistness, richness, and overall chocolate-y goodness. But sadly, I may have over baked my cake a tad, and it was slightly dry. Instead of using one pan, I split the batter in to so I wouldn't have to slice the cake in half, but forgot to decrease the baking time. oops O.o  Next time I will remember, or at least write it down or something!





Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Flour
Ingredients:
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 ounce chocolate, chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temp
1/4 cup yogurt
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans
2. Combine cocoa powder, chocolate, and water, whisking until smooth. Allow to cool
3. Stir together flour, salt, baking soda, brown sugar. Beat in butter.
4.In a separate bowl whisk together eggs and yogurt. Mix in to flour mixture.
5. Stir in chocolate mixture, and divide between the two pans
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top springs bake when pressed (Be careful as to not over bake!)

Chocolate Buttercream
From Flour 
12 ounces of chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
Egg white powder and water equivalent to 3 egg whites
3 cups butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Scald heavy cream and pour over chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
2. Whisk together sugar and egg whites powder (and water) until light and meringue-like.
3. Add the butter and mix until smooth.
4. Add in chocolate and vanilla, until smooth.
5. Frost cake



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

coffee marshmallows

Ah, marshmallows. Doesn't their soft, springyness just make you want to smile when you hold one in your fingers? When I tell people I made marshmallows, they immediately say, "Huh?! You can make marshmallows?!" and give me this look like I'm crazy. So yes, to all of you who believe marshmallows come from plastic bags and always come in the shape of a cylinder, marshmallows can be made from scratch!

Are they a little sweet?
Well, yea. They're made from sugar.

Too sweet?
Hm, that's a question you're going to have to answer on your own. Why not try baking a batch? Maybe mint ones too? They're pretty delicious sandwiched between some dark chocolate and homemade graham crackers :)    (While I was looking the graham cracker pictures, I realized I forgot to poke holes in them! Oops! :o)


Coffee Marshmallows
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
2 tablespoon coffee extract


Directions:

1. Spray the bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar. Make sure to get the corners!

2. In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.
3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved.
4. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

5. With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.
6. In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and coffee extract into sugar mixture until just combined.
7. Pour mixture into baking pan.  Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.
8. Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (An oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.
Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chewy Chewy Chewy

I used to hate ginger when I was younger, but now gingersnaps are one of my favorite cookies. I remember when my mom would buy chocolate covered ginger from See's Candy, and you know how they put all of the chocolate in one bag? Well, I would always get their toffee or chocolate covered caramel marshmallows, and I would reach in to the bag, pull out a candy, pop it in my mouth, and start chomping away. Imagine my surprise when I experienced an explosion of gingery spicyness. Yuck. It was awful, at least for a ten-year-old.

These cookies pack a punch of ginger, and too bad I didn't have any chocolate covered ginger because those probably would've made these cookies out of this world!



AH! So sorry everyone, turns out I forgot sugar....let me find my notes and I will get back to you guys on the recipe!

Chewy Gingersnaps
Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1 tablespoon yogurt or non dairy milk

1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger or chocolate covered ginger (optional)

Directions:
1. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and all spice
2. In a separate bowl combine yogurt, oil, and molasses.  Mix in the flour. Add in ginger pieces.

3. Place rounded tablespoons of dough on a cookie sheet
4. Bake at 350˚F for 12 minutes