Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween! Oh, what can you do with a can of pumpkin?

 The Answer: lots of things, but some taste better than others.

Sorry for all those that looked at this post and found no answer at all. How frustrating of me!

So, with this one large can of pumpkin, I made three recipes and had extra pumpkin (which, I still don't know what to do with). I decided to be adventurous this time around while also doing a great job of avoiding all my impending responsibilities. It was a great night!
For those of you who are not obsessed with the cooking/baking blogosphere, it is pumpkin season. I didn't know pumpkin could go into so much, and I have collected quite a few recipes over the past several weeks that are waiting to be made into reality. I fulfilled the dreams of some of those recipes.

Bagels bubbling away in their boil bath before being baked.
First, I made pumpkin bagels. This was a new experience for me and I am pretty sure I need more skills here, but I am willing to give it another go. Bagel-making isn't as scary as you would think. Yes, there are some unusual steps, like boiling the bagels for three minutes before baking them, but the product was decent enough. With most recipes I make, I usually blame the recipe if it is no good. Call me cocky, but I figure I have enough baking skills that the cookies should turn out pretty good if the recipe is up to par. However, I did come down from my pride tower with these bagels. I believe I could get some more advice on the proper way to boil them. (Any bagel aficionados out there?) I felt like the texture of the inside was a nice bagel-ly thickness, but the outsides were a bit too chewy and tough. Maybe I will try to boil them less next time. With this specific recipe, I felt like there wasn't quite enough spice in the dough. I could smell the lovely fall scents coming off the dough as it rose, and thought this was going to be a lovely bread to eat, but it was kind of bland for my taste. You can the recipe here at Itsy Bitsy Foodies.

Pumpkin bagels with pumpkin cream cheese!
I apologize for the horrendous picture. Some day I will learn how to be better at photography. For now, this is about as good as it gets. :)

With some of the leftover pumpkin, I made pumpkin cream cheese. Guys, this stuff is delicious. I am really in love with it. I wish I had made more bagels to have an excuse to eat it. It was such a perfect blend of spices and the sweet, tanginess of cream cheese. I got that recipe from Ezra Pound Cake. Go there and make this stuff. So, so good!  Unfortunately, the only picture I took was that one above with the horrible lighting, but trust me, it is like a gift from the god of Fall. Enjoy!

The last thing I did with the can of pumpkin was make pumpkin frozen yogurt. It was disgusting. I don't have an ice cream machine, so that may be why and I also may have measured incorrectly the amount of spice. So, yeah, probably my fault on this one. However, I'm not planning on making that one again, so I won't share the link and I didn't bother taking a picture.

Enjoy the season of Fall and eat pumpkin!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Caramel Delight Cupcakes

So, for those of you into baking blogs, you've most definitely noticed that trends spread quickly across the blogs: whoopie pies, macarons, cake balls, cupcakes. The current baking blog fad is homemade Girls Scout cookies. I have already have shared with you my attempt at homemade Thin Mints. I have also made homemade Caramel DeLights, but, unfortunately, I didn't take pictures. Along with the current fascination with Girls Scout cookies, there is a baking love affair taking place with everything Girls Scout cookies related. Thus,  I give you today's post: Caramel Delight Cupcakes (for those in the majority of the country, that would be Samoa Cupcakes). 
  This is a chocolate cupcake, iced with caramel frosting, covered in toasted coconut, and topped with a little semi-sweet chocolate. The flavors are fairly good on this one, and I have decided that toasted coconut is one of the most luscious things ever created. The crunch is so fantastic.
    However, I have a problem I'd like to present to all the cupcake lovers in the world. Do you know how to make cupcakes taste good? Frosting is delicious and can make almost everything tast good, but I don't know how to make the cupcake part itself tast fantastic. I have bought cupcakes at cupcake bakeries that taste good, but I must not know how to make them taste good and fluffy and moist. Any suggestions?
  One final note before getting to the recipe. I had some wonderful pictures of my cupcakes and the process of making them, but I lost them in a very sad bit of techinical error. However, I took some more pictures of the three cupcakes I had left. So they will have to do.

Caramel Delight Cupcakes
(adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen)

For the Cupcakes:

2 cups flour
3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk

For the Caramel Frosting:

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, and vanilla until fluffy and light, at least 3-4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the milk beating just until combined.

4.  Fill the cupcake papers 1/2 full, making sure that the batter is divided evenly. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Tilt each cupcake in the muffin pan so it sits at an angle. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan at this angle for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

5.  To toast the coconut, spread the coconut onto a rimmed sheet pan. Toast in a 350°F oven, stirring frequently, until the coconut is an even brown color, about 10 minutes.

6.  To make the frosting, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the salt and brown sugar and heat the mixture to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the milk and return to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm, about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7.  Once the caramel frosting mixture is lukewarm, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the powdered sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Adjust consistency with a little more milk or powdered sugar, if necessary.

8.  Heat chocolate chips in microwave for about 30 seconds or until drizzling consistency.

9.  Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe a spiral of frosting, beginning at the outer edge and working inward. Drizzle the frosted cupcakes with melted chocolate and garnish with toasted coconut.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Homemade Thin Mints

So, on to another homemade version of a delicious cookie. Along with the longer days and the sunny, warm weather, the girl scouts have arrived, packing boxes of deliciousness. My two favorite Girl Scout cookies are thin mints and Carmel DeLites (Samoas). I have made them both from scratch. Today's post: thin mints. 
Let me tell you, I was surprised to find that these lovely cookies are super healthy. Ok, so that is super healthy for being a cookie. I love that they are made from whole wheat flower and have less butter than most cookies. All that being said, they taste exactly the same as the one's the teal-vested girls sell--and with less preservatives.

So, here goes--thin mints! Enjoy!

Thin Mints
(The recipe came from c'est la vie.)

for the cookie:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 T. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
2 T. cocoa powder
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour 

Cream butter and sugar together, then add egg. Stir in vanilla and cocoa powder. 

Add baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Mix until well blended. Put mixture in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

After chilling roll cookie dough out thin (about 1/4 inch). Cut out cookies into 2-inch rounds. I just used a narrow-mouthed cup. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. 

for the coating: 

2 cups Andes chips {or 1 bag of Andes mints if you can't find the chips}
1 cup chocolate chips

Melt chocolate in a double boiler--or a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan. Stir until melted. Using a fork, coat each cookie and place on parchment (or foil) to set. The coating will need to set for a few hours before they are ready to eat (or you can just stick them in the fridge--or freezer--if you just can't wait).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Homemade Oreos

I have recently gotten into homemade everything. I have been surprised how often these delicious goodies have turned out to be better than the original. Some of them definitely would make it into my bakery. For my next few posts, I will be showcasing these homemade versions.
  Now whether this homemade version is better than the original it depends on your opinion of the original. Personally, I am not a huge fan of oreos. I find the icing kind of gross--too sweet for me I guess. I also find it somewhat unnerving that the cream is that thick. I haven't found any cream I have made from scratch that solid, so it makes me think that whatever I am eating isn't natural. (That may be a little too much of whole foods mentality coming out. Sorry if I overthough one of your favorite cookies.) So, for me this homemade version is much better because the icing is better.
  I have made homemade oreos before using cake mixes, but I think those are called homemade oreo because they are a chocolate sandwich cookie but not really more like the cookies. This recipe tastes a lot more like the store-bought version. The cookie tastes almost exactly the same, but it is thicker. It has the same crunch. The icing is a nice thick (but not too thick) icing. 
Bakery worthy? No, they are a delicious homemade treat, but they are not worthy of being in my bakery. They aren't tasty enough to ask money for, but they are good enough to bring to friends and feed to family with plenty of compliments returned. Enjoy!

The recipe came from who got the recipe from the Flour Bakery Cookbook by Joanne Chang


1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg
1 ½ cups (210 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup (90 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

Vanilla Cream Filling:

½ cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 ⅔ cups (230 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch of kosher salt

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.

2. In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda until well mixed. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough will start to seem too floury, and you will find it easiest to switch to mixing it with your hands until it comes together. It will have the consistency of Play-Doh. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour to firm up.

3. Transfer the dough to a 15-inch square sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough log about 10 inches long and 2 ½ inches in diameter. Place the log at the edge of the sheet of parchment paper, and roll the parchment around the log. With the log fully encased in parchment, roll it into a smoother log, keeping it at 2 ½ inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm. The log may settle and sink a bit in the fridge, so reroll it every 15 minutes or so to maintain a nice round log. (At this point, the dough log can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If the dough is frozen, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.)

4. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

5. Cut the dough log into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Check them frequentl after to 16 to 17 minutes, poking them in the middle. As soon as they feel firm to the touch, remove them from the oven. You can’t judge by color because they start out black. Let cool on the baking sheet to warm or room temperature. They don’t have to cool completely before you fill them, but you can’t fill them while they are hot.

7. To make the filling: While the cookies are cooling, using stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer,) beat the butter on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until completely smooth and soft. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Add the milk and salt and again beat until smooth. It will look like white spackle and feel about the same–like putty. You can also mix this filling by hand. Make sure the butter is very soft, and use your hands to mix and knead the sugar into the butter. You should have about 1 cup. (The filling can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.)

8. Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom of one cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom-side down, then press the cookies together to spread the filling toward the edges. Repeat until all the cookies are filled.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge: Pumpkin Donuts


So, I am a little late with posting this challenge, but I have been sick as well as a very busy. This was my first encounter with donuts. It may be my last. I really don't like cooking with that much oil. It just makes me feel sick. However, the donuts did taste good. I just needed to learn how to do it. The pumpkin donuts I made were cake donuts, so I didn't need to wait for the yeast to rise or anything. The pumpkin made them seasonal, but I couldn't taste it very much. However, I brought them to a party and everyone raved about how good they were.These wouldn't make it into my bakery, but I am glad I have now made donuts.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up.
The pumpkin doughnuts are from Bon App├ętit:
Pumpkin Doughnuts:

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 15 minutes
Chilling time - 3 hours
Cooking time - 10 minutes
Yield: About 24 doughnuts & 24 doughnut holes
All Purpose Flour 3.5 cup / 840 ml / 490 gm / 17 ¼ oz
Baking Powder 4 teaspoon / 20 ml / 24 gm / .85 oz
Table Salt 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Cinnamon, ground 1 teaspoon / 5 ml / 6 gm / .2 oz
Ginger, ground ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Baking Soda ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml / 3 gm / .1 oz
Nutmeg, ground ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml / 1.5 gm / .05 oz
Cloves, ground 1/8 teaspoon / .6 ml / ¾ gm / .025 oz
White Granulated Sugar 1 cup / 240 ml / 225 gm / 8 oz
Butter, Unsalted 3 Tablespoon / 45 ml / 42 gm / 1.5 oz
Egg, Large 1
Egg Yolk, Large 2
Pure Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon / 5 ml
Buttermilk ½ cup + 1 Tablespoon / 135 ml /
Pumpkin 1 cup / 240 ml / 285 gm / 10 oz (Canned pure pumpkin or fresh cooked and pureed pumpkin – DON’T use pumpkin pie mix!)
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

Powdered Sugar Glaze:

Powdered (Icing) Sugar 2 cup / 480 ml / 250 gm / 9 oz
Whipping Cream (About 32% butter fat) 4 Tablespoon + more if needed / 60 ml

Whisk together the first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (the mixture will be grainy and not smooth). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.

Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour. Press out 1/3 of dough on floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch (12 mm to 15 mm) thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) -diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.

Using 1-inch (25 mm) diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.

Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches (40 mm). Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F (185°C to 188°C). Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

Glaze Directions:

  1. Whisk powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons whipping cream to blend. Whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to form medium thick glaze.
  2. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead.
  3. Add doughnut holes to bowl of spiced sugar and toss to coat.
  4. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with powdered sugar glaze.
  5. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Daring Baker Challenge: Decorating Cookies

So, I recently joined the Daring Bakers, which is a blogging group that does a monthly secret recipe. The goal is to get you to try new things. This month's secret recipe was decorating sugar cookies, fancy-style. While I did like seeing how easy it is to make cool designs with frosting (and with a little more time, a lot prettier, better cookies), I am not a huge fan of sugar cookies. If I am going to eat and make something sweet, I better enjoy it! But, this recipe was a success. It got me to make a frosting that contains egg whites, which for anyone that knows me and my raw-egg phobia (that is, besides cookie dough) is a really big deal. Also, I am not the craftsy sort. I get really impatient with trying to make things look perfect, so I am not all that interested in spending a bunch of time making something look cutesy, especially when I know it will go in my stomach shortly. So, again this challenge stretched me to try something that I know I wouldn't do otherwise. I could see me making these for Christmas or something festive like that.

Now for the recipes:
My roommate kept raving about how delicious the cookies were, so there is one big fan. However, I don't really love the icing. It was too sugary--and lacked the whole reason for frosting, which I think is the fluff.  Below is the information of who hosted the challenge. The links for the recipes are below the title of the recipes and the information on how to decorate the cookies I believe comes from Mandy, whose information is below.
The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.
That being said, here are the recipes:

Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid
flour flying everywhere.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.

Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing:
315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ - 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Nasty Egg Whites

• Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
grease free.

• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
• Beat on low until combined and smooth.
• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Decorating Your Cookies: Royal Icing
The most important thing when it comes to decorating with Royal Icing is the consistency.
There are two ways of flooding your cookies. Some like to do the outline with a thicker icing and then flood with a thinner icing. Some like to use the same icing to do both which saves time and you don’t have to have two different piping bags for each colour you’re using.
The Same Consistency Method
• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions
• Drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10
• If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency
Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, do the 10 second test, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test
Two Different Consistencies Method
• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.
• Separate into 2 different bowls, one lot of icing for outlining, the other for flooding.
• For the outlining icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.
• If the surface becomes smooth at around 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 10 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.
• For the flooding/filling icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.
• If the surface becomes smooth at around 3-4 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 3-4 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 3-4 second test.

• Separate Royal Icing into separate bowls for each colour you plan on using.
Tip: Make sure to cover the bowls with cling film or a damp cloth to prevent the top from setting and then making lumps
• Using a toothpick, add gel or paste colouring to each bowl and mix thoroughly until desired colour is reached
Tip: You can use liquid food colouring but you might not be able to get the desired strength of colour, liquid colouring will also thin out the icing so you’ll need to add more icing sugar to thicken it again.
Making Purple from Scratch

Prepping and Filling Your Bag
• Attach your icing tips to the piping bags using couplers
Tip: You don’t need to use a coupler but it makes it easier if you want to change tip sizes
Tip: A size 1 tip is best for doing intricate details. A size 2 tip is good for some details and outlining. Fill or flood with sizes 2 – 5.
Tip: You don’t need a piping bag, you can use a parchment cone or ziplock bag with a tiny bit snipped off the corner. I would however recommend getting a piping set if you don’t have one as it will be much easier and more precise.
• Stand the piping bags in glasses with the tops of the bags folded over the top of the glass.
• Fill your icing bags with each coloured icing.
• Tie the ends of the piping bags with elastic bands.

Decorating: Outlining
• Fit the piping bag with a size 2 or 3 tip.
Tip: Or snip a very small bit of the corner off of a parchment cone or Ziploc bag
• Hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle above the cookie where you want to start the outline.
• Gently squeeze the piping bag and start moving in the direction you want to outline the cookie.
• Start lifting the piping bag away from the cookie so that the flow of icing falls onto the cookie, making it an even and neater outline.
• As you start to reach the beginning of the outline, bring the piping tip closer to the surface of the cookie to meet the start of the icing outline.
Tip: If you’re doing an intricate cookie, like a snow flake, you won’t be able to lift the tip as far away from the cookie.
• If you’re doing a different colour border, eg a black border, let the outline dry before flooding. If using the same colour for the outline as you’re flooding with, begin flooding after doing the outline.
Decorating: Flooding
• Fit the piping bag with a size 2-5 tip, the bigger the area being filled, the bigger the tip.
Tip: Or cut slightly more off the corner of a Ziploc bag to create a slightly larger opening.
• Quickly zigzag back and forth over the area you want to fill.
Tip: You need to be quick when flooding the cookie so don’t worry too much if it’s not filled in neatly.
• Using a toothpick or clean paintbrush, push the icing around into the gaps that are still remaining.
• Either pick up the cookie and tip it from side to side to even out the filling, or lightly bang the cookie down on your kitchen counter.

Decorating: Melding Colours
• If you would like to add lines or dots to the base colour that you flooded the cookie with so that they meld and dry as a smooth surface, you need to add the lines/dots/patterns as quickly as possible after flooding and smoothing the surface of the cookie.
Tip: Make sure to have all the colours you’re planning on using ready and close by so that you can switch between colours quickly
• Simply pipe other colours onto the flooded surface in patterns or lines which you can either leave as that or then drag a toothpick through to make marbling patterns.

Decorating: On top of flooding
• If you’d like to do other patterns/outlines or writing on top of the flooded surface so that they are raised above the flooded background, simply allow the icing to dry, preferably over night.
• Fit the piping bag with tip sizes 1-3.
• Pipe patterns or write on top of the dry icing
Tip: For writing, the consistency of your icing should be thicker rather than thinner, drag a knife through your icing and when the surface smoothes around 12-15 seconds, the consistency is correct.
I got bored after three cookies, and they were all slightly misshapen and the icing ran off so I stopped making them.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Graham Crackers

So, summer means hiking, and hiking means good hiking snacks. Luckily, I have just discovered the smorgasbord of food blogs, sharing with me delicious treats to make. (My favorite waste of time It is a collection of the Web's best food pictures, updated constantly.) There are tons of recipes that you can make from scratch.
   One I just discovered is graham crackers, which are also a great hiking food. I am headed out on a trip where I will be doing a lot of hiking. Thus, it is time for graham crackers. These crackers surprisingly taste like, well, graham crackers. I love them because of the sea salt that you add. It gives this kick of saltiness that I always love combined with sweet flavors. The key thing with these crackers is to make them thin. They aren't as crunchy and crumbly if they aren't thin. Enjoy!

Graham Crackers

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour (can swap 1/2 cup for whole wheat flour, or 1 cup for whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup (176 grams) dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt (4 grams)
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup (114 grams) mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons (77 grams) milk, full-fat is best
2 tablespoons (27 grams) pure vanilla extract

1. Pulse the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a food processor to incorporate. If you don't have a processor, like me, you can whisk it together. Add the butter and pulse on and off, on and off until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. At this point, I used a hand mixer. It took some work, but I got it done.

 2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the soft, sticky dough barely comes together.

3.  Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

4.  Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator.
5.  Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick (thinner is better). The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut the dough into 2″ squares using a fluted cookie cutter or rolling cutter.

6.  Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Gather any scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll.
8.  Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the crackers with a fork or wooden skewer, then bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through. The cracker will not seem completely firm, but will harden as it cools. You might want to test out a few crackers to see what time works best for you.


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