Monday, October 7, 2013

Smoothies Galore

This off-colored "smoothie" is why I have not been baking (and sub-sequentially blogging) much lately. My mom and I are on a NutriBullet kick - or at least I am. Every morning for breakfast I enjoy choke down one of these yellowish-greenish drinks in an attempt to get more fruits and veggies in my diet. So you can see why, after making it through one of these, it would seem a bit counterproductive to bake.

 This particular smoothie contained a handful of baby spinach, one (peeled) blood orange, a plum (also peeled), a banana, 8 almonds, 1 tbsp goji berries and 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds. All this (along with some crushed ice and water) goes into my handy-dandy NutriBullet blender and gets blended into a frothy (and borderline chunky) drink.

Look at all that healthful goodness.

Yum? I'm kidding.. being totally dramatic. The drinks really aren't so bad. You can't taste the spinach at all - even though it is the culprit for the drink's unappetizing color - and I'm drinking more fruits and nuts than I would ever eat throughout the day. So for now, this is all I've been whipping up in the kitchen. But don't worry dear readers (ahem, dad), for pumpkin season is upon us and it is only a matter of time before I make pumpkin bread and pumpkin doughnuts and pumpkin crepes that I could use instead of regular crepes in my crepe cake. Now that's YUM.

Also, in case you're having a rough day, here's a cute picture of my sad cone-headed pup. He got his you-know-whats snipped.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fresh-picked Blueberry Almond Spongecake

This was the first cake I've ever made that was entirely devoured in the first night.

Well, almost entirely. There was a small piece left that I'm pretty sure was eaten the following morning. Basically, this cake is bomb. Not only does it taste like the happiest marriage of blueberry, almond and cream, but there is NO added fat (to the cake part.. the mascarpone blueberry filling and topping are certainly fat-full).

This is actually one 9-inch round cake, baked in a spring-form pan so it's taller than usual. Then I sliced it in half, layered it with tons of fresh-picked blueberries mixed with mascarpone and confectioners' sugar (they were actually fresh-picked, my boyfriend and I went to a pick-your-own farm earlier that day and got lots of fresh berries).

I only frosted the top because I wanted to be able to see the blueberry filling and the spongy texture of the cake. And because I was trying to make it somewhat of a healthier dessert. Though let me tell you, that is not easy. I just love chocolate and butter too much. But this cake satisfied my sweets craving enough and I didn't get the usual after-dessert-guilt.

I followed this recipe, which was fairly simple. The only thing that I wasn't used to was whipping the egg whites and yolks separately, which makes for an airier cake. As for the filling and topping, I mixed together a 17.5 oz container of mascarpone with Cool Whip and confectioners' sugar (to taste). For the filling, I mixed 1 pint of blueberries with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch in a saucepan until it was thickened. I let this cool before mixing it into the mascarpone cream, et voila. Blueberry cream filling! Delicious and sort of nutritious.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fruit and Mascarpone Tart

So this is my fourth of July post... it's only a few days late.

My main reason for posting late (besides the fact that I made this the day of and couldn't blog on the 4th) is that you can (and should!) make this tart for any occasion. Personally, I'd like it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but I wouldn't suggest doing that. Though it does have fruit, and mascarpone isn't entirely unhealthy...

Since I didn't have a chance to take a picture of the inside of the tart after it was cut into (the dessert scavengers at the party swooped in too quickly), I figured I'd create a layer-by-layer shot so you could see the inside. Just to give the tart an extra oomph, I added a thin layer of ganache to the bottom. This, paired with the creamy and lightly sweet mascarpone and the tangy fruit, was OOC (which, for my non-Rachel-Zoe-watching readers, stands for Out Of Control).

Fruit and Mascarpone Tart
1 17.5 oz container of mascarpone cheese
3/4 c. confectioners' sugar
strawberries and blueberries for decorating (I used around 7 strawberries)
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 c. heavy cream

For shortbread crust:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 tbsp (9 tbsp) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg yolk

For the shortbread crust, follow the instructions at the bottom of this recipe and bake in a greased 9 inch spring form pan. To fully bake the crust, bake in a 375 degree F oven for around 30-35 minutes. Let cool fully before adding fillings.

To make ganache, place chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl. Boil heavy cream in a medium sauce pan. Once slowly boiling, pour cream over chocolate chips and let sit for 30 seconds. Stir in slowly widening circles until chocolate and cream are incorporated.

Spoon a thin layer of chocolate over the cooled crust (can use as much or as little ganache as you want). Put the crust in the refrigerator to harden the ganache.

In a medium bowl, mix the mascarpone cheese and confectioners' sugar until fully combined. Spread cheese mixture over the ganache in the crust. Top with desired fruit and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

So healthy is used loosely here... just go with it.

As I've admitted in this blog many times, I'm a sugar addict. I'm usually only content with oatmeal cookies of any kind if they're loaded with chocolate chips and other sugary delights. These cookies were baked for my father, who has an odd affinity for oatmeal raisin cookies sans chocolate chips. I must say, however, that I enjoyed these more than I thought I would. The cookies were plump and chewy, with deliciously crispy edges. And, since the recipe calls for whole wheat flour along with regular flour, these are practically dietetic.

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
(makes around 14 medium-sized cookies)
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. butter, melted (around 5 1/3 tbsp)
2/3 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours and baking powder. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture, and stir just to combine. Mix in the oats and raisins.

Spoon dough onto baking sheet and bake for 15 to 17 minutes, rotating halfway through. Cookies are done when they look crisp around the edges and golden brown and puffy in the center.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Bars

This past weekend my boyfriend came to visit me at school for my final sorority formal (how depressing is that?!) and as with each visit, I reward his 6-hours of driving with something decadent and delicious. This weekend, it was peanut butter cup cookie dough crumble bars from Averie Cooks.

I've never met someone who loves the peanut butter-chocolate combination as much as this boy does. For Valentine's Day, I sent him a 1-pound peanut butter cup, and when the company failed to deliver it by the holiday they sent him another one for free. He hadn't even opened the second one, so we chopped it up and used it in these bars.

Just as Averie describes in her post, this recipe is super easy. The cookie dough base and the "crumble" on top are made from the same batter, and the filling is just chopped pb cups and sweetened condensed milk, which makes them melt-in-your-mouth gooey. Also, as per her instructions, make sure to let these bars sit for at least three hours after baking. While it's tempting to dig right in, the soft center needs to set before cutting.

If your significant other/friends are anything like mine, these will be gone within the day. This recipe only made around 16 bars (which seems like a lot but really isn't when they're being eaten by six people) so I would suggest doubling it and baking them in a 9x13 inch pan.

My favorite helper, trying (unsuccessfully) to talk and chew. You can find this recipe in the link at the top of the post!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Strawberry Cake

I'm really excited about this cake. Here's why:

So first of all, it's super pretty. But more importantly, it's also really good. Like moist (sorry, I hate that word too, but I don't want to say "it has a nice wet to dry ratio with a good crumb" because I think that just essentially means "moist" and why would I waste so many words?) and light with a hint of strawberry flavor. It also can be played around with to make a bunch of combinations! I could use blueberries or blackberries in place of the strawberries, and then the cake would be blue! Definitely trying that next.

I had to include a shot of the cake without any of its adornments, since it baked up so nicely. I did a single layer cake because it was approximately 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night and I didn't feel like assembling a layer cake. I was even tempted to leave it sans frosting, but the pudding/dream whip topping was too good to leave off.

I adapted this recipe from The Law Student's Wife, though only because I was without certain ingredients. Either way, I would highly recommend this recipe. She suggests making it for an anniversary (so cute!) but I'll be using this recipe for any and all warm-weather festivities.

Strawberry Cake with Vanilla Whipped Frosting
(makes two 6-inch rounds or one 9-inch round)
2/3 c. fresh or frozen whole strawberries (thawed)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. 2% milk (or whole milk)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

For the frosting:
1 packet instant whipped topping, like Dream Whip
1 package instant french vanilla pudding mix (the smaller box)
1 1/2 c. 2% milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the cake pans.

Food process or smash strawberries with a fork (I did the latter, no such luxury as a food processor in my college apartment) until they are liquidy.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine the milk, vanilla and strawberries. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (or in a medium sized bowl by hand) cream the butter until it is light in color and fluffy. Slowly add sugar and continue to beat. Slowly add the egg and egg whites, mix until just combined.

Slowly add half the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, mixing until incorporated. Add the milk mixture; mix. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix!)

Pour batter into pans and bake around 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting:
In a stand mixer (or by hand), whisk together the instant whipped topping and instant pudding mix. Add milk and mix until blended. Increase mixer speed to high and beat 4 to 6 minutes until stiff peaks form. Frost cooled cake and top with whatever your sweet tooth desires.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chocolate Babka

If I had more blogging self-control, I would just post this picture with the link to the recipe and say no more, because this picture says it all. But obviously I can't not talk about chocolate babka.

Look at those chocolatey-cinnamoney swirls. And a streusel topping! My parents call me their "dealer" (because sugar is their drug) and when I'm home they refer to my baking delights as "getting their fix."

Unfortunately I halved the recipe so this fix went reallyy quickly. Obviously I followed this recipe from The Smitten Kitchen, since who else would I trust when making a jewish/chocolate dessert?

I almost don't want to tell you this because then you may never experience the joys of making babka yourself, but it took me about four hours from when I started with heaping amounts of ingredients to when I was sitting on the couch, butter-slathered piece of warm babka in my hand (because naturally, using two and a half sticks of butter in a recipe isn't enough for me!) Though that time commitment definitely sounds daunting, there's a lot of rising time for the dough. Which means more time for you to do other important things, like watch a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon, or paint your toes.

I don't love the lighting of this pic (I'm still working on my photography skills, the Nikon is a lot different than my baby Sony Cybershot), but I had to post it because you can see all the doughy crevices and the texture of the crumbly topping. This recipe really turned out perfectly. Like if I had to change a thing I would double the recipe and freeze some of the loaves for holidays or give some of them as gifts. Because really, who wouldn't want a loaf of glorified brioche stuffed with chocolate swirls topped with buttery streusel?

P.S. I promise that the next post (or maybe the one after that, I still have one more waiting in the wings) will include a recipe that I develop, enough of this linking-to-other-peoples-blogs four times in a row.