baking beast

a suspicious creature has been lurking around the streets, leaving behind delights that dreams are made of. what's to become of this baking beast?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

IMBB 13: my little cupcake (or muffin)

"frost yourself!"

lovin their new coats

no longer cute and cuddly, my army of cupcakes are ready for action..

not to worry, they still have a softer side that loves accessories like sprinkles

yay! my first IMBB event! and of course, it is a sweet one. i was very excited about this theme.. i love cake, so what is better than lots of mini, individual sized cakes?? i wasn't sure what to make though until earlier this morning.. one theme is hard enough to decide with.. but this was cupcake OR muffin.. twice the thinking to do! but i finally settled on cupcake and made marcel desaulnier's cupcake recipe from death by chocolate. i've owned this book and his chocolate cake book for a while but i hadn't yet made anything from them.. only admired the photos and drooled. but i decided that this event would be special and i would make one of his deadly recipes!! i didn't use his icing though, instead i made a whipped ganache frosting from 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 ounce butter microwaved until melted, stirred, cooled to room temperature, refrigerated for about 10 minutes, and whipped until fluffy and creamy!

if you make these, make sure to brush the tops several times (i did so when they were still hot from the oven) with some sort of liquid! mine came out pretty dry and hard. i used coffee liqeuer, but any liqeuer will do, or simple syrup. nothing worse than a hard crust disrupting the fluffy lightness of a cupcake! i didn't do it liberally enough but it still helped things overall and next time i know that this is a great step to take if the tops come out somewhat dry.
then i iced with the ganache frosting and put sprinkles on a few and fleur de sel (a newly acquired ingredient that i'm excited to have fun with!)

these were the most chocolatey cupcakes i've ever had!! even though the tops came out dry (which wasn't a problem after soaking anyway), the insides were nice and moist and verryy chocolatey. i loved how there were chocolate chips interspersed in the batter that created little melty gobs of chocolate throughout the cakes. and the whipped ganache was fantastic with the cupcakes. creamy, chocolatey, and piled high on top, just how i like my frsoting. for little cakes, they packed a LOT of chocolate punch. make sure you eat these with a nice cold glass of milk. these definitely deserved their place in the death by chocolate book. :) can't wait to try more from his books!

this was a great first IMBB, and i'm looking forward to more events in the future. thanks, maki!

Granny Twichell's Secret Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
Recipe courtesy of Marcel Desaulniers from "Death by Chocolate"
Makes 18 cupcakes

10 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
1 cup heavy cream
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
5 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, 1 cup heavy cream and 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. tightly cover with plastic wrap. Allow to heat for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Set aside until needed.

Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on medium until lemon-colored and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat on medium for 15 to 20 seconds more. Add the cake flour, baking soda and chocolate chips, and beat on low for 10 seconds. Increase to medium and beat for an additional 10 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Use a rubber spatula and thoroughly combine the batter.

Evenly divide the mixture into 18 bake cups that have already been positioned into muffin tins, filling the cups to within 1/4 below the rim. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

1/2 cup heavy cream
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces

Heat 1/2 cup heavy cream in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Place 6 ounces semisweet chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth.
One at a time, dip the top of each of Granny's cupcakes into the chocolate icing. Sprinkle the grated white chocolate over the icing on each cupcake, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the icing.

Allow the cupcakes to come to room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

i've missed the blogging world!!

so i've been taking quite the break from blogging lately! so very busy.. but thankfully things have calmed down.. and just in time for the shf, too!! now i shall take time to recap on what kinds of things i baked while gone from the blogging world... :) even through all the chaos going on, i always make time to bake lots of goodies.. i'm sure everybody can relate!! it makes everything seem like it's going great and in the end you have a delicious treat to comfort you.

nigella's fabulous chocolate cake

for valentine's day, i baked nigella's ubiquitous chocolate fudge cake from nigella bites that has been showing up on a lot of blogs lately! it was delicious, indeed. actually, before this one i also baked her old-fashioned chocolate cake from her new book feast to test out which one i actually wanted to make for valentines day as this was for a certain someone and i wanted to make sure it would be delicious :) anyhow, both cakes were good but i do like the chocolate fudge cake better. do make this cake! it's delicious. but just don't do what i did, which was forget to add the flour until you're about to put it into the pans!! the flour didn't blend into the very liquidy batter very well at that point so i had bits of white flour in the resulting cake.. :( but it was still delicious and moist!

more cookies more cookies!

mmm.. these are cook's illustrated thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies. i LOVVVEED these cookies!! the best ones i've made thus far in my baking beastliness... moist, chewy, large, yum yum and yum. i made these for a party and everybody had the same feelings towards these cookies. these were also the best looking cookies i've made.. i used an ice-cream scoop, chilled the dough thoroughly, and switched parchment paper in between each batch so the resultant oil from the previous batch didn't allow the next batch to spread out more. a good success.

other things i've been making include oreo congo bars from which i brought to school today...very easy to make, and made gorgeous, thick, gooey bars. everybody loved them as well. absolutely delicious! unfortunately, i don't have any pictures to present.. i had no bars left by the time i got back home! so you'll have to take my word that they were delicious. :) mouthfuls of chocolatey cookie delight.

Chocolate Fudge Cake
From Nigella Bites

I have a bad Amazon habit. You know the ‘when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping’ line? Well, the not-so-tough get their retail therapy online. Or I do: when I can’t sleep I start ordering books. And I comfort myself twice over by telling myself how useful they are, how they really help my work. I offer this recipe, adapted from a book that in itself soothes, Tish Boyle’s Diner Desserts, bought at 3am one unravellingly wakeful night, as proof.

This is the sort of cake you’d want to eat the whole of when you’d been chucked. But even the sight of it, proud and tall and thickly iced on its stand, comforts.

Serves 10. Or 1 with a broken heart

For the cake:
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated or superfine sugar
1/3 cup light muscovado or light brown sugar
1/4 cup best quality cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup corn oil
1 1/3 cups chilled water

For the Fudge Icing:
3/4 cup (6 ounces) dark bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Butter and line the bottom of two 8 inch cake pans.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. In another bowl or wide-necked measuring jug whisk together the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended.

Using a freestanding or handheld electric mixer, beat together the melted butter and corn oil until just blended (you’ll need another large bowl for this if using the hand whisk; the freestanding mixer comes with its own bowl), then beat in the water. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix together on a slow speed.

Add the egg mixture, and mix again until everything is blended and then pour into the prepared tins. And actually, you could easily do this manually; I just like my toys and find the KitchenAid a comforting presence in itself.

Bake the cakes for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 15 minutes, and then turn the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, melt the chocolate in the microwave – 2-3 minutes on medium should do it – or in a bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, and let cool slightly.

In another bowl, beat the butter until it's soft and creamy (again, I use the KitchenAid here) and then add the sieved icing sugar and beat again until everything's light and fluffy. I know sieving is a pain, the one job in the kitchen I really hate, but you have to do it or the icing will be unsoothingly lumpy. Then gently add the vanilla and chocolate and mix together until everything is glossy and smooth.

Sandwich the middle of the cake with about a quarter of the icing, and then ice the top and sides, too, spreading and smoothing with a rubber spatula.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Cook's Illustrated
Makes about 18 large cookies

These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the cookie sheet. Oversized cookie sheets allow you to get all the dough into the oven at one time. If you’re using smaller cookie sheets, put fewer cookies on each sheet and bake them in batches. See the illustrations below for tips on shaping these cookies.

2 cups plus 2 tablesthingys all-purpose flour
1/2 teasthingy baking soda
1/2 teasthingy salt
12 tablesthingys (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter,
melted and cooled until warm
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teasthingys vanilla extract
1–11/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
3. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips to taste.
4. Roll scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth dough’s uneven surface. Place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving 2 1/2 inches between each ball.
5. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets. When cooled, peel cookies from parchment.

Oreo Congo Bars

Knock-out bars of brown sugar batter, stuffed with chocolate chips and thick chunks of Oreos. Get the milk.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup Oreo cookie chunks
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Melted white and dark chocolate for drizzling, optional garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spray an 9 by 13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a mixing bowl, blend butter, and sugar. Then add in eggs and vanilla and blend well. Fold in remaining ingredients. Spoon into the prepared pan, using wet fingertips to spread, if necessary. Pat batter down. Place the pan on the baking sheet.

Reduce heat to 325 F immediately and bake 35 minutes until set but still seems a bit soft. Cool 20 minutes and then drizzle on melted chocolate. Then freeze 1-2 hours. Cut into bars and wrap each in cello paper.

Makes 12 large bars, or 24 smaller ones

Friday, March 18, 2005

SHF #6: stuck on you

coconut caramel candy bars

for this SHF caramel edition, i made the coconut caramel candy bars from the king arthur flour cookie book. the recipe is available on their website here, but in the book they used 3 cups (9 ounces) of coconut, reserving 1/2 cup for the topping (which i definitely enjoyed.. no problems here in that amount of coconut :) ). the bars were really VERY easy to make. and i sort of cheated by using this caramel sauce i had from starbucks. shhh!!! but it worked beautifully and i didn't have time to make my own caramel this week..and i didn't feel like going out and buying those caramel candies the recipe calls for. the recipe claims to taste like those samoa girl scout cookies (which are my favorite, by the way)... and they DO!!! they taste even better, if that is possible. :) the texture is very sticky and chewy and delicious... yummmmm!!!! the picture doesn't really do the bars justice.. i take awful pictures. :P i brought these for all of my friends to enjoy today.. and all of them absolutely loved them. one of my friends said that her last food she would eat if she were put on the death penalty were these bars. and another guy alone ate like 5 pieces of these. please, make them! they're fantastic. :) and amazingly easy to make, on top of that. now i won't have to wait until girl scout cookie time to enjoy the awesome taste of those samoas.

i just looked at our great host debbie's blog, and found out she made samoa-type cookies as well... those things just capture the hearts of so many.. :)
i had a lot of fun though making these.. and of course i enjoyed eating them even more. thanks for hosting the shf, debbie!! caramel is amaaaaazing!! great shf theme.