Monday, November 29, 2010

Things I Thought I Could Never Make

There are some baked goods that I never really thought I could make.  Bagels are one of those things.  Although I have made a few good attempts, they never really come out like the ones you buy in a store.  I thought that Black and White cookies fell in that category.  Somehow they seem really complicated to me.  Maybe it is the double frosting thing.

However, as I recently learned, black and white cookies are not only more delicious when you make them at home, but they are a snap to make.  The cookie batter comes together easily and the frosting is very quick.  You make the vanilla first and then take some of that frosting and mix cocoa powder into it.  

These cookies taste like what you hope a black and white cookie will taste like when you buy one in a deli in New York City.  Somehow, those cookies are often disappointing.  These are not.  They are just the right combination of cake and cookie and the frosting is divine.  I got 7 cookies from the recipe, but it is so easy you could double it and put some in the freezer.  Or make minis.  These would also be great for Hanukkah -- instead of chocolate frosting, you could dye one side blue and do blue and white cookies.  The possibilities are endless.

Thanks to Anna over at cookie madness for doing a comparison and coming up with this great black and white cookie.  You can find the recipe and the comparison here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ginger(bread) Cookies

I went hiking with a friend on Sunday to enjoy the spring-like weather in mid-November. On the way back, we drove by a Dunkin' Donuts which was advertising its new line of gingerbread products. Suddenly, an idea was in my mind-- I knew I needed to make gingerbread cookies. We stopped in Barnes and Noble on the way home and I found myself drawn to the cookbooks, hunting for the perfect recipe.

However, I wasn't sure I was interested in the whole cookie cutter endeavor, although I may try that at a later date. Instead, I wanted the gingerbread flavor in a softer cookie that was slightly lower maintenance. I found these cookies here and chose them because they looked soft yet delicious. I love the consistency of these cookies, but I think I would add more ginger next time because they didn't quite have the kick I was looking for.

Also, the recipe called for the cookies to be rolled in sugar before they were baked, but I had seen a recipe for a lemon glaze for gingerbread in the book store and I found that I really liked that idea, so I went hunting again and came up with this icing recipe. I really like the lemon and ginger combination. The only issue was that the icing was pretty runny, so I think I would either add less liquid or more sugar next time. Overall, though, I definitely recommend these cookies, and this comdo.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Viriginal Cookies for a Bachelorette

Our friend Kerrith is getting married on Sunday (mazal tov Kerrith and Derek!), so last Saturday night, two of her friends threw her a belly dancing bachelorette party. (I know what you're thinking. Rachel, don't you do anything other than go to wedding-related events? The answer to that question is no, I do not do anything else.) Anyway, the party was a potluck, and the instructions were for us to make something with a Middle Eastern theme.

Being a Baking Sister, obviously I chose to make dessert. However, I have no idea what makes a dessert Middle Eastern. So I did some research through my good friend Google and came up with these ghoraibi.

As it turns out, I had hit the jackpot, because not only are these cookies Lebanese, but they are also traditionally served at weddings, apparently. That is because they are totally white, like the bride, who is meant to be clean and pure. And additionally, if you like almonds, they are also delicious.

These cookies are super easy to make, and I really liked their almond flavor. Since butter is basically the only wet ingredient, though, they are very rich, so I recommend making them pretty small. I also think they're very pretty, and overall, suited the occasion very nicely. You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sweet and Sticky Cinnamon Buns

A few weeks ago, for some reason, I was struck by a craving for cinnamon buns. I've never endeavored to make them before, but most of the ones that you can buy on the street and seem delicious aren't kosher, so I had to take matters into my own hands. I did some reading around compared reviews, and settled on these ones from the food network.

These cinnamon buns were super intense-- delicious, but also very rich. As I told somebody who asked me, it's basically butter, sugar, sugar and more butter. I enjoyed them, but I was glad that I made them on the smaller side because otherwise, I would not have been able to finish them. (As it was, I served them at two Shabbat meals, left six of them at my friend's house, and still had more to bring to school.) I also found the dough to be a little too dense and crumbly, so if I made them again, I would probably use more milk and a little less flour. Finally, I found the butter icing to be a little too sweet. I think using a cream cheese glaze would make these a delicious dessert or breakfast-- as long as you're not concerned about your cholesterol.

You can find the recipe here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

MSC November: Marshmallow Turkey Cupcakes

Double post day!  It is Martha Stewart Cupcake posting day for November and National Bundt Day, and I am posting in support of Mary the Food Librarian and her quest to make 30 bundts in 30 days.  You can see that post here.  But on to the cupcakes...

When I saw that these cupcakes were the selection for November, I groaned inwardly.  You see, these cupcakes combine many elements that I am not that interested in... coconut, gummy fish and marshmallows (which are fine, but hard to find kosher).  As readers of this blog know, coconut is up there with foods that I really do not enjoy, so when I read that these cupcakes were covered in coconut and involved coconut covered marshmallows (hard to find kosher when its not Passover), I debated not making them.

But, now I have to thank Rachel at Simple Girl, because these cupcakes were really fun to make.  I joined this club because I love cupcakes, but I also enjoy learning new decorating techniques and it was a fun activity to make the turkeys.  I'm not sure how much they actually look like a turkey, but I think they are kind of cute anyway.

I made a few changes to this recipe.  First, I made 1/4 of the One Bowl Chocolate cupcake recipe and got 4 cupcakes, which was prefect because I had no where to bring these.  Second, I could not find coconut covered marshmallows, so I just used orange ones.  I did not use sprinkles for the eyes and instead I used dots of black food coloring.  Finally, 10 minutes was way to long to toast the coconut (burned the first batch and almost burned this one too).  I think I would do a much shorter amount of time, maybe 4 minutes.

You can find the recipe here.

Happy National Bundt Day x2!

Double post day!  It is Martha Stewart Cupcake posting day for November and National Bundt Day!  The cupcake post will be up soon.

Mary, the woman behind The Food Librarian, one of the blogs I read regularly, is celebrating National Bundt Day by making 30 Bundts in 30 Days. Today is National Bundt Day and I want to help her celebrate! Mary has an exceptional dedication to the bundt. This is actually the second time she has made 30 bundts in 30 days and hers are always so beautiful. Her photography is wonderful too. We have never met, but she seems like such a sweet, kind person from the way she writes. You should check out her blog.

Instead of 30 bundts, I made 2. One is actually one that I got from Mary's blog -- The Blueberry Lemon Bundt. This cake was amazing. Other than adding a glaze of powdered sugar and lemon juice, I left it as written and it got rave reviews. I made it for my first education committee meeting this year and I think it helped the meeting run really smoothly. I always know I can turn to Mary, the queen of bundts, when I need something fantastic. The recipe can be found here.

The other bundt I made is from the always fabulous Dorie Greenspan. So glad that two fabulous women could provide me with recipes for two fantastic bundts. This cake doesn't look like much, but it is delicious! It is the Brown Sugar Bundt Cake from Baking from My Home to Yours. Inside the cake there are pears and raisins (which I skipped). I used farmer's market pears and their flavor really complimented the brown sugar and gave something special to the cake. Dorie says this cake is best the day after it is made, so I made it on Thursday night for Shabbat dinner on Friday. I also made it parve, and it was still delicious which, in my mind, is the sign of a great cake. You can find the recipe here.

Happy National Bundt Day and Congratulations to Mary!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Delicious Any Occasion Cake

The other day, I was going through my blog reader and this cake jumped out at me.  Nicole, who writes the blog Baking Bites, described this as a good any occasion cake.  Normally, I am not the biggest fan of yellow cakes. First, if I am going to eat cake, it might as well be chocolate, and second, yellow cakes often seem to be lacking in flavor, making them only a vehicle for the frosting (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

This yellow cake was amazing.  It had a lot of good flavor and was very light and moist, possibly from using cake flour and buttermilk, both of which I have found add lots of yumminess to cake.

The frosting on this cake -- chocolate cream cheese -- was also delicious.  I added more cream cheese than the recipe called for because I really like that tang in my cream cheese frosting.  I also used low fat cream cheese, since that is what I had around and it worked out fine.  

The only trouble I had with this cake is that I forgot to put parchment in the bottom of the pan (or I was just lazy -- I won't tell you which) and it stuck big time, even when the pan was buttered and floured.  I think I lost about a half an inch, which was ok, because this cake rises high.  The moral of the story -- parchment paper your pans before baking!  

I took this cake to a meeting, where it was a big hit.  I think it would also be great as the base to any kind of birthday cake.  But Nicole is right -- this is a great any occasion cake, even when you just want a slice of cake after dinner.

You can find the recipe here, on Nicole's website.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Shabbos Kallah, Part 3: Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

When I ask Miriam what she wanted for her Shabbos Kallah, the only thing that she said was "chocolate." The cake that I made was pretty much all chocolate (except the marshmallow frosting), so I wanted to do some more interesting variations. Voila, in comes Martha Stewart with these bee-youtiful cupcakes. Of course, they look nicer on her Web site - they always do - but they've still got the wow factor because of the chocolate-covered mint leaves. Said leaves appeared to be everyone's favorite part of the cupcake, or at least what pushed them over the top; no one could stop talking about the intensity of flavor or prettiness of presentation.

The leaves were kind of a pain to make but in the end they were worth it. You can either dip one side in chocolate and paint the other side (you can't really dip both sides, it ends up making the leaf too limp) or paint both sides, which means you're more likely to get the pattern of veins on the leaf but also takes a long time and leaves you exposed to unsightly green patches. Your choice.

Also, I don't know why - maybe I just didn't heat the whites hot enough or beat the meringue long enough - but this frosting absolutely did not work for me. I ended up having to shovel spoonfuls of confectioners' sugar into the mixer just to get it to achieve the correct consistency, but I think it spoiled the "fresh mint flavor" she was talking about, so then I had to add a lot more peppermint extract. Anyway, it ended up tasting good but I could have just made a simple buttercream and it would have tasted the same with a lot less effort. So let that (whatever "that" is) be a lesson to you all.

You can find the recipe here. Also, the pretty cupcake wrappers I used for both these and the maple cupcakes were bought at Zabar's, on 80th and Broadway.

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