Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD: Creme Brulee


This week's TWD reminded me of the o-so-familar feeling I get on many occasions when I have an assignment due soon and I still haven't started. I almost wanted to skip creme brulee and with no ramekins or a torch, it was as if all the excuses were going my way. Then I realized that blogging is all about trying new things and this was definitely something I've always wanted to try. The best part about this recipe was how quickly it all came together and the easy clean up after. It's nice when you're not faced with a sinkload of dishes waiting to be done and all you want to do is dig into your dessert so that you can make even more dirty dishes.

Since I don't have ramekins, I used a mini oven safe pyrex bowl, which was perfect for my 1/5 version of the original. Rather than turn the oven on for a mini serving, I used the toaster oven. I know.. we have a difficult enough time with figuring out if our regular ovens are accurate and here I am using the toaster oven! With no blow torch, I just sprinkled some brown sugar on top and turned the broiler on. I'm sure this dessert tastes wonderful. I guess I'll find out tomorrow when it's chilled since I started making this 8:00 pm on Mon while watching Gossip Girl (I can't help it, I'm addicted to that show!)

Thanks to Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake for choosing this recipe, which can be found on her blog and in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours. Don't forget to checkout the TWD Blogroll!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Raspberry-Lime Muffins


Every time I bake a batch of muffins, I always say that it will be my final batch. It's not because they are just too delicious that I can't stop eating one after another, but instead it is the other way around. I would like to believe that I'm just not a muffin person, but I think it has more to do with my folding technique. The weird part is that my quick breads turn out fine and they use essentially the same 'dump the wet into dry and fold until combined' method. My problem is everytime I make actual muffins vs quick breads I get so overly cautious with overmixing that I end up undermixing. With almost every batch I bake, there is always one unlucky person who ends up biting into a flour pocket and trust me.. that is embarassing!

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After seeing Kevin from Closet Cooking post on raspberry lime muffins, I just had to make them even though I only had frozen berries. Using the base of CI's best blueberry muffin recipe, I swapped the raspberries for the blueberries and added lime zest only. I didn't use lime juice in case the added acidity might throw the balance off and I end up with an overly large crumb. For the first time ever, I used oil instead of butter in my muffins to see if it would make a difference on the texture. I enjoyed the extra moisture the oil provided and suprisingly I didn't really miss the butter flavour. The best part was that they weren't as crumbly or dry the next day, but it's nothing 15 seconds in the microwave can't fix.

Lately, my non stick pans havn't been as good and I actually had to grease my muffin tin. A good tip I learned from Nigella is to save the butter wrappers in the fridge and use them to grease the pan before throwing them out. I find this cleaner, faster, easier and it saves you butter! The only thing is it tends to leave a thinner film of butter than using your fingers so you need to make sure it is greased well enough.

Best Blueberry Muffin Recipe
I substituted:
* oil for the butter
* raspberries for the blueberries
* added the zest of one lime (this was not enough and will add more next time)

Monday, September 22, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum (Peach) Cake


This week's TWD was actually perfect, just in time for my mom's birthday! Like me, she isn't too into frostings unless of course it's whipped cream. I actually loved making this cake because of how satiny smooth the whipped butter, sugar, egg and oil mixture came together. It was so pretty I almost didn't want to add the flour. Instead of plums, I decided to use peaches since last time the pluots were a little sour for my liking. Before adding the peaches, I followed CI's advice to cook them in a pan first to release some of the juices and ensure that the fruit is properly cooked through. Even though I overbaked this by mistake, I enjoyed this version better than CI's flavourwise and texturally. The rustic plum cake was more cookie like whereas this was more coffee cake like.

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I couldn't believe the difference orange zest can make in a baked good and I think I'm going to start adding more of it whenever I bake. This was so delicious, I kind of wish I didn't halve the recipe. My mom and I could have eaten the entire loaf ourselves, but it was late so I put it away before we could devour the entire thing. Plus, I always like to leave some for the next day because I'm curious to see how the texture changes. Sorry for the weird colour of my cake, but we just couldn't wait until the morning to slice into it. Stupid yellow light bulbs and no natural lighting!

Thanks to Michelle of Bake-En for choosing this recipe, which can be found on her blog and in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours. Don't forget to checkout the TWD Blogroll!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Rustic Plum Cake

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I've been dying to bake an unside down pineapple cake or an upside down any-fruit cake for the longest time because they look so pretty on their own undecorated. With an always growing list of things to bake, I never got to it and eventually pineapples were out of season. Now that plums are everywhere, I was not going to let a chance like this pass again so I decided to bake Cook's Illustrated rustic plum cake. Unlike the pineapple version, this type of cake isn't exactly baked upside down. Great... I was really hoping to get a suprise from unmoulding the springform. Regardless, I baked this cake because we had a lot of pluots (not that that would be a problem since fruits are like candy to me!) If you're wondering, I did say pluots. I had no idea what they were except that they looked like plums with a light patchy coloured skin. After a quick google search, I found out they're actually a cross between a PLUm and an apricOT. Don't you just love it when they cross different fruits.. it makes everything so much more interesting.


The batter came together in no time especially since it was all done in the food processor and boy was it thick! I loved the use of almonds because it added a nice nutty flavour to the cake and provided extra structure for the plums or pluots. The best part about this cake is you don't have to worry about overbaking because of all the moisture coming from the fruit. Suprisingly there wasn't any sogginess either and thank god because I have a huge problem with all things soggy. That's why I can't eat cooked oatmeal, cereal with milk or bread pudding even when it looks totally irrestible.. at least not the bottom part. If you've never made a plum cake before, definitely make this one because it has the perfect balance of moisture and flavour. Plus, the food processor makes it really easy and quick. So anyway, I made this way before I knew Dorie's dimply plum cake would be part of September's TWD baking list. I guess this is a great opportunity for comparison, since they use 2 totally different mixing methods.. how exciting!

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Is it me or does my plum cake look more like a tomato cake?

Rustic Plum Cake Recipe

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chunkers


I wasn't too excited about this week's chocolate chunkers especially after last week's experience with a chocolate based cookie recipe. Oh, what am I saying.. I'm always excited when it comes to baking (just not the cleanup)! The best part about making these cookies was watching the sugar and eggs whip up to double the volume and transform from a yellowish mixture into something pale and fluffy. Even though these were supposed to be chunkers, mine looked more like chocolate crinkles. I ended up omitting the nuts, semi-sweet chocolate chips and added craisins instead of raisins. I know.. these are supposed to be chunkers, but I'm just not too crazy about a higher add-in to cookie ratio. The cookie is the best part, at least to me.. no one ever fights with me for the cookie with the fewest chips! I preferred these cookies better than last week's even though the texture was similar because the wet or soggy quality was gone. Luckily I had a birthday party to go to this weekend or I probably would have had to quarter this week's recipe if that was even possible! Plus I was able to get a lot of valuble feedback from all my taste testers. I always get really nervous with what people have to say, but it's the best way to improve my baking skills. In general, it was agreed that the cookies were moist, but not wet and chewy, but not underdone or gummy = a yummy cookie!

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So it doesn't really look like there's anything but cookie, but trust me.. 1 cup of white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of craisins went into the batter.

Thanks to Claudia of Fool for Food for choosing this recipe, which can be found on her blog and in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours. Don't forget to checkout the TWD Blogroll!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Raisin Scones


I will never forget the raisin scones at Harrod's high tea with their subtly sweet flavour and very fluffy texture. Since then, I've been dying for another one smothered with none other than clotted cream and jam! After hearing such rave reviews about Cook's Illustrated best blueberry scones, I decided to give them a try. These were definitely more labour intensive than Dorie's apple cheddar scones, from grating the frozen butter to rolling the dough out and folding it back up again, but it was well worth it. Although I wasn't able to get quite the fluffiness I wanted, these were pretty close. Luckily, my dollar store grater held up for the job, but it's definitely time for an upgrade to a large microplane.

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These were supposed to be the best and they did not disappoint. Even my brother had a whole one and he usually doesn't eat a full-anything that I bake other than chocolate chip cookies. Maybe it was the un-dessert like nature of these scones that caught his attention because when it comes to desserts or anything sweet (other than candy) you literally have to offer it to him and sometimes force feed. Weird.. I know.. but on the bright side, there's never a fight for chocolate! It would be nice if I were like that for the sake of my never growing waistline since starting a blog, but then I would be missing out on all the wonderful desserts.

These are definitely on the 'make again' list and if you like your scones soft and fluffy, you have to try them out. They are portioned really big though so you might want to make them a little smaller. Now.. I must get some clotted cream!

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Best Blueberry Scones Recipe
* I substituted 1/2 cup raisins for the blueberries
* Before adding the raisins in the dough, I plumped them up using CI's trick by microwaving them for 30 seconds with 1 tsp of water and then drying them on a paper towel
* I reduced the sugar to 1/4 cup since raisins are prety sweet in general

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops

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First day of school.. I only had a 1 hour physics (yuck!) class today and as much as I didn't want to commute all the way down to campus and back up again, I just couldn't skip a class... never have and never will. Even in high school when some declared the day before the Christmas holidays 'national skip day'.. nope, not for me. I and maybe a handful of other kids would go to class as if we were actually learning and spend time just talking about what we'd be doing for the holidays and stuff like that. Maybe I'm like this because my mom would never let us miss school unless we were deadly ill and that was determined according to her standards. Now let's steer away from school and focus on something more relaxing, fun to to make, eat and snap a million photos at.

Chocolate whopper malted drops, it sounds like something I would enjoy and I did if it were a brownie, but from cookie standards.. not so much. Maybe I screwed up the recipe when I decided to quarter it, but I ended up with a cakey brownie
type cookie... thick, soft and gooey. Now that may sound appealing to a lot of people, but I'm just not too into that when it comes to a cookie. The flavour was awesome though! I added brown sugar to boost the butterscotchy flavour and for extra moisture. I also had no idea I enjoyed malt so much, since the last time (a long time ago!) my grandmother made Ovaltine for me it was almost comparable to my pasty and soggy oatmeal experience... hopefully one day I'll get over it, but until then I can only eat my oatmeal and cereal dry.


I'm so glad I had these on my first day of school.. even though they weren't exactly my favourite cookie because it's always nice to bite into something sweet and chocolatey to help relieve stress and anger. If there's one thing about going to school that totally annoys me, it is having to deal with the daily traffic jam. The worst are the ones that aren't caused by volume, but when people decide to drive 100-120km/hr on the passing lane with an open road in front of them and a whole lot of cars behind them. Honestly, I don't care if people drive fast or slow as long as they don't get in the way of others. When our family was driving down to Michigan, Pensylvannia or Florida, drivers seemed more courteous than here. Maybe we just lucked out in those states, but we certainly didn't have to deal with as many unnecessary traffic jams. Now that I'm done with my mini rant, off to a happier note.

Thanks to Pamela and Carla for giving me the I Love You This Much award! It definitely put a smile on my face, especially since school started today.

A little off topic (yet again), but my cell phone plan will be due and I'm probably renewing and getting a new phone this Friday. Should I get the iPhone? It's just so pretty and the screen is huge! Does anyone know what it's like for web browsing.. ie. google reader?

Thanks to Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart for choosing this recipe, which can be found on her blog and in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours. Don't forget to checkout the TWD Blogroll!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Marshmallowy Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars


I've probably baked a million chocolate chip cookies, going through bags of brown sugar and chocolate chips on the way, but never a cookie bar recipe. The reason? No recipe or should I say, no set recipe because you can pretty much throw in whatever you want. I know.. it's sad I actually need someone to tell me what flavour of chips, types of nuts and if shredded coconut belongs. Ever since seeing Erin of Prudence Pennywise's version of Dorie's Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters in a bar form, I just couldn't resist taking out a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough from the freezer to make some. I pressed as much dough to fill a 4x7 pan up to 1/2 an inch high and baked at 350 for 20 minutes. I was a little afraid that the bars would overbake and I think they did, but I followed Erin's instructions to spread peanut butter over the bars after they came out of the oven and I think that must have remoistened them. Since I didn't have mini marshmallows, I just piled a couple of large ones and set it back into the oven to broil. In a matter of seconds, they browned up really nicely and then came the hard part... waiting for them to cool.

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Slicing without ripping the entire layer of marshmallows off was really difficult, but it was nothing a pair of scissors couldn't handle. As the hugest peanut butter lover, I actually had to give this away so I wouldn't finish the entire pan. The bars were really thick and chewy without being underdone even though they look a little wet from the peanut butter. The overall flavour combination was delicious and the gooey marshmallows on top made it extra special. Thanks Erin for such a great bar idea! I will definitely have to make these again and try it out with another cookie recipe!

Marshmallowy Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars
Adapted from Erin of Prudence Pennywise

Cook`s Illustrated thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie dough recipe (I used about 1/3rd of the dough)
peanut butter
7 large marshmallows cut in pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 8.5x4.5 loaf pan with parchment
2. Press cookie dough with fingers until 1/2 inch thick
3. Bake 20 minutes or until the center looks just set. An inserted toothpick should have a few crumbs attached.
4. Immediately spread peanut butter over the bars
5. Layer with marshmallows
6. Return to oven and broil until marshmallows are nicely browned (it literally takes seconds so don't look away or it may burn)
7. Cool completely in pan

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters


When it comes to cookies, I can get a little crazy and by a little, I actually mean a lot. I obsess over whether or not to flatten the dough in case my cookies actually spread... although 90% of the time they rise; how long to cool the cookies on the sheet before moving them over to the rack and baking times. With all these variables, I usually end up sampling a few more than I should. Then again, it's not like it's difficult to eat endless amounts of cookies.. that is until the after-effects of too much butter and sugar starts to hit.

I was super excited over this recipe because it has everything I love all in one cookie, espeically peanut butter. The best part was that they tasted amazing cold and had the perfect balance of crunch and chew. They were so delicious I had 6! I reduced the butter to only one stick so I didn't chill the dough and flattened them down. Luckily they still ended up baking properly and didn't taste like a healthier low fat version either. Between the 1/2 cup of butter and 1 cup of peanut butter, it was probably enough to hold 1 cup of flour and 3 cups of oatmeal. For a little more brown sugar flavour, I added 1.5 cups of brown sugar only and no white sugar. At first I was a little hesitant about the cinnamon, but I just threw in 1 tsp instead of 2 tsp before I had a chance to think twice about it. I'm so glad I did because the cinnamon enhanced the flavour of peanut butter without overpowering.

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Unlike most new cookie recipes I try, I will definitely make these again!
Thanks to Stefany of Proceed with Caution for choosing this recipe, which can be found on her blog and in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours. Don't forget to checkout the TWD Blogroll!


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