Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I absolutely love biting into an enormous cream puff and the filling literally bursts out of the puff (for lack of better words) and you have to use your free hand to catch all of the goodness that is coming out the other sides so that none of it is wasted falling on a napkin or heaven forbid the floor.

  • pâte à choux, crème chantilly, crème patisserie, and lots of chocolate.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

where oh where has my little grace gone..

You know that feeling when you walk away from something you love for what's supposed to only be a couple of weeks and the next thing you know months have passed and you haven't gone back? It's a terrible little nagging and guilting feeling, isn't it? Well, that's how I've been feeling. It seems like just yesterday I was happily updating my page with tasty recipes accompanied by badly lit photographs when in reality it's been about.. three months. THREE MONTHS! That's a lot more than "a couple of weeks". Shame on you Grace, shame. I do have a good excuse though...I started culinary school! Finally! After all this time of telling myself that I was going to pursue what I love, I am! I started the Patissiere and Baking AOS program at Le Cordon Bleu on Septermber 27th and I could not be more satisfied!  I've been in culinary as well as pastry classes these past twelve weeks and It's been beyond fantastic, but I really truly do not know where the time has gone. If you know, please tell me!

Currently I'm in academics which gives me a little bit of a break and more time to be in the kitchen at my house. I decided to get back on the "at home baking horse" this weekend and I went with small baby steps. I fingered through my recipe book and this buttermilk chocolate chip crumb cake was the winner. I've always been a fan of baking cakes with buttermilk. It helps bring out the flavors and the perfect moisture and richness to the texture. The crumb cake is super tasty and also sort of interesing, almost donught-y. By the way, does everyone agree that the top and sides of these kinds of cakes are always the best? The crispy baked brown sugar gets me goof each and every time.
I might have put a little too much powdered sugar.. to each his own :)

Buttermilk-Chocolate Chip Crump Cake
Butter Crumb topping:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup cake flour
1 stick butter
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk
1½ eggs
1½ tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup mini bitter-sweet chocolate chips, for sprinkling on top of the cake
Powdered sugar, for sifting on top of the cake

1) Preheat oven to 375°F.
2) Lightly grease a 9×4 inch loaf pan, and line the inside of the pan with parchment paper or foil, and then great it as well.

To make the topping:
3) Thoroughly mix the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Drop in chunks of butter, using a table knife, cut the butter into the flour until it reduces to the size of large pearls. Sprinkle vanilla extract over, working with fingertips, knead the mixture together until moist, clumpy lumps are formed. DO NOT overmix.
Mix the batter:
4) Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and baking soda. Then toss the chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of the sifted mixture in a small bowl.
5) Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 3 minutes.
6) Add in the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added.
7) Add in egg and beat.
Mix in the vanilla extract.
9) Alternately add in the sifted mixture in 3 additions with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure even mixing.
10) Stir in chocolate chips.
11) Spoon the batter into the baking pan, and spread evenly, smooth the top with rubber spatula.
12) Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly on the cake batter, make sure that the whole surface is covered.
13) Bake the cake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake turns out clean. The baked cake should pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.
14) Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly on top of the baked cake immediately. Let the cake cool completely. Use the parchment or foil to lift the cake out of the pan, then sift some powered sugar on top of the cake. Serve!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

baking at night and cookies

Raise your hand if you like to bake at night! This is the part where my right arm would shoot up and my hand would wave around from side to side eagerly. There's something about whisking together ingredients, greasing a cookie sheet, or flouring a cake pan once the sun has gone down that really relaxes me. Since I work five days a week morning to evening, it's always made sense to just break the eggs at night ;) Not to mention that it's been over 90 degrees in SoCal this whole week, so it definitley makes it more comfortable to be around the oven at night.

Now lets talk about chocolate covered raisins. SO ADDICTIVE. You can't just have one chocolate covered raisin! I learned this the hard way after buying them in bulk from Costco. Those little candies have found their way into my heart and stomach in the best way.  I threw some into my cookie batter last night and *oy vey* am I glad that I did! These cookies were out of this world fantastic! Top of the list tasty.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed + 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate covered raisins

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.

2.Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture. Stir in the oats, chocolate covered raisins and walnuts.

3. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing the cookies two inches apart. Place baking sheets in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Bake cookies in preheated oven for 15 , or until the edges are golden brown and the tops look a little undercooked. Allow cookies to sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Yields: 24 delicious cookies

Monday, September 13, 2010

You are welcome

My jeans are usually tight on Monday mornings. I  throw caution to the wind on weekends and don't follow any type of healthy diet or exercise regimen like I would  normally on a weekday, so come Monday morning I always expect my jeans to be a little tighter and I dress to accommodate my temporary pot belly. Today was a little different. I almost called out of work today. Eventually, after an hour in front of the mirror I ended up wearing the jeans but I did pair them with high heels to give my legs that sleek  "I didn't eat cake all weekend" skinny appearance. Eye tricks, ladies. But even after all of that hell, I think that making this cake was, hands down, the best decision that I made all weekend. There is a reason that I ate so much of it. Every bite was a bursting fork full of chocolate flavors and delight. Not only from the cake, but from the gooey chocolate glaze and mini chocolate chips. I love getting a bite with a little chocolate chip hidden away in the mix! This cake is super easy to put together , but it's even easier to scarf it down without realizing. You've been warned.

1 18.25-oz package chocolate cake mix (I used a cake mix with the words "fudge" and "super moist" on the box)
1 3.9-oz package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil, eggs, hot water, sour cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into bundt pan.
3. Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto wire rack and let cool completely.

4 oz semi-sweet dark chocolate
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla

In small, heavy saucepan or microwave oven on medium, melt broken chocolate with butter. Stir frequently until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in milk, syrup and vanilla. When glaze is cool, pour onto cake. Let glaze run down sides. Chill about 10 minutes to set glaze.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Heavenly Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other night I couldn't think of what I wanted to bake. Part of me wanted to bake a lovely, rich, chocolate cake..but the other reasonable part that hates the treadmill realized that maybe a whole cake to myself wasn't the best way to go. So my two parts agreed that a cookie would be safe. Sike! I fooled myself. Sure, if I had just baked the cookie neatly and only had one or two before shutting down the kitchen for the night, I wouldn't be in my gym clothes right now lacing up my tennis shoes.  Self control baking isn't my style. From licking the beaters and eating raw dough (I know, I know!) to taste testing the first batch out of the oven and being curled up on the couch at 10pm with cookies and ice cream watching television. You could say that I thew caution to the wind. I should also point out that I  munched on these cookies after lunch on Saturday and again after dinner. I may have had one for breakfast. I'm going to justify my actions by saying that these cookies are so freaking delicious! I've baked (and eaten) plenty of chocolate chip cookies in my day and these ones are up at the tippity top on my list. I think I knew what I was getting myself in to from the beginning. As soon as I read the desciption of the recipe on A Southern Grace, I had a feeling that this was going to be a success. She descibes the cookie as"drool worthy" and "heavenly" and I have to say that if I'm going to take someone's word for a delicious description.. it's going to be hers. Maybe it's because everything on her site seems taste bud successful or maybe because our names are so similar.. or both ;)

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from A Southern Grace

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups miscellaneous morsels (I used semi-sweet and white chocolate)

1. In a large bowl, beat the butter with the shortening; gradually beat in the sugars until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and beat into the wet mixture. Stir in the morsels and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes (hardest part!).
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto appropriate baking sheets. For best results, flatten to 1/2-inch thickness with a fork. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until the edges are golden and centers are still slightly underbaked. Let the little pieces of Heaven cool on the pans for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to let cool completely.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peach Crumb

Every Sunday my mom, dad, sister, and I wake up and drive over to the little church in town. It's a great church, but when I say that it's little I mean just that: it is little. After service, the people gather in the back and eat packaged cookies and jumbo wheat thins with their coffee. Even though I'm a big fan of the wheat thin cracker, I couldn't help but feel a little bad about the refreshment selection. So I set my alarm a little early yesterday and starting peeling and slicing juicy peaches to make this magnificent peach crumb. The original recipe was for Peach Crumb Bars but I sort of winged it and layed the dough in a quiche dish. It wasn't so much of a bar as it was a crumbly pie with peach filling. Call it what you will because either way it was incredibly flavorful and delightful. I only had a small piece because I figured that there would be some left over and I could pig out in the privacy of my own house. Boy was I wrong. The plate was returned to me wiped clean, literally. I took this as a compliment and figured that next time I better bake two :)

Peach Crumb Bars
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

For the Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling:
5 cups diced peaches (7 peaches, peeled)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
2. For the Dough: In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter, and then the egg. The dough will be crumbly. Pat half of the dough into the prepared pan. Place the pan and the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
3. For the Filling: Place the diced  peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently.
4. Spread the peach mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the peach layer.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Frisco and Nutella

I just got back from San Francisco last week where all I did was eat, eat, EAT. I had the best time on my trip and not just because of the food.. although that was a big part of it (lets not lie). It's good to be back home though and on the computer catching up on all the wonderful recipes from the blogs I follow. I feel very out of the loop if I don't check my Reading List, so I'm glad to be back "in" :)! Now lets get to what I had a hankering for all week: Nutella! Actually it started out as a little craving for Ferrero Rocher candies and then this led to a just plain chocolate craving and then that led back to a Nutella kick. At first I decided to take the easy "eat it from the jar with a spoon" way out, but concluded that I should take advantage of the extra jar that I bought and use it as an ingredient. The result? Self Frosting Nutella Cupcakes. You would think that this would be enough. I mean its cupcakes that frost themselves with Nutella! I took it a little further though and add some Nutella frosting. I had also wanted to add a Ferrero Rocher on each cupcake but I didn't remember this until I was walking out of the grocery store. So please image a beautiful fine hazelnut chocolate candy sitting on top of that Nutella frosting in all of it's glory. After eating Nutella out of the jar, baking with it, frosting with it AND eating these cupcakes I learned a very valuable lesson: there is such a thing as too much Nutella. I mean this in a "I have to lay down and rub my tummy" sort of way. I was FULL of it. I'm surprised I didn't sprout hazelnuts overnight! The cupcakes were pretty good but they were lacking something. If I make them again, I would add more Nutella and maybe a little buttermilk to the batter because the plain cupcake had almost no flavor and was a little dry. They weren't bad though by any means and I'm glad that I had frosting to put them over the tasty edge.This recipe makes 12 and there are only 6 left. So .. take that how you will :)
Self Frosting Nutella Cupcakes
10 tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
Nutella, approx. 1/3 cup

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Cream together butter and sugar until light, 2 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Don’t worry if the batter doesn’t look smooth. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and baking powder until batter is uniform and no flour remains.
3. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin liner with batter. They should be 3/4 full, if you’re not using a scoop. Top each cake with 1 1/2 tsp Nutella. Swirl Nutella in with a toothpick, making sure to fold a bit of batter up over the nutella. Bake for 20 minutes. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Nutella Frosting
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup nutella
2 - 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. In a medium bowl combine butter, nutella, sugar, and vanilla until mixed together. Add milk to meet desired spreading consistency. Frost, frost, frost! :)