Monday, July 15, 2013

Fourth Baking Follies

We were planning on having a cookout at the boyfriend's parents' house for the 4th.  I would not allow us to go empty-handed, so I made a list of things to bake.  Jay and I went to the store and bought the ingredients, and then as we were bringing in the groceries, someone stole Jay's keys that we had left in the lock of the door when our arms were full.  That led to a horrible fiasco and a lot of terror, so my wonderful friend, Lauren B, came to help me bake and keep me company.

We were a little rushed after the whole key incident, so I didn't have time to photograph the processes. You'll just have to trust me on these.  They all came out pretty awesome, and the holiday was saved. Too bad the cookout was smaller than we expected and we ended up taking most of what we made home, and I was forced to eat all of it!!!  What a tragedy, right?

This is what we made:

Mini Cheesecakes Topped w/ Fresh Berries
Recipe adapted from my grandmother's recipe (that she probably stole from Kraft Foods magazine)
Yield: 18 mini cheesecakes

18 Nilla wafer cookies
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

1.  Beat cream cheese on high until fluffy.  Scrape down sides.
2.  Add in sugar until combined.
3.  Beat in eggs, one at a time until incorporated.
4.  Stir in vanilla.
5.  Line muffin trays with festive cupcake papers, then place a Nilla cookie in the center of each cup.
6.  Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes, until set.
7.  Allow to cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes, then remove cheesecakes from pans to finish cooling completely on racks.
8.  Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
9.  Before serving, place a teaspoon of jam on each cheesecake to secure the berries.  Decorate with blueberries and raspberries as desired.

Mini Strawberry Rhubarb Pies
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker and my Great Grammie Martin
Yield: 8 mini pies

Crust Ingredients:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs granulated sugar
2 tsps sea salt
1 3/4 cups vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold water
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 large egg, beaten

Crust Directions:
1. Put the first three ingredients into a large bowl and whisk them together.
2. Cut in shortening until crumbly (about the size of small peas).
3. In a small bowl mix together water, vinegar, and egg.
4. Combine the two mixtures together and stir until combined.
5. Divid the dough into 16 small portions.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
6. Unwrap dough and roll out until 1/4" thick.  Line mini pie pans.

Filling Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs fresh rhubarb, washed, dried, and cut into 1" pieces
2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, dried, and thickly sliced
2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 Tbs butter to dot

Filling Directions:
1. Mix together rhubarb, sugar, and flour until the rhubarb is well-coated.
2. Cook the mixture over medium heat, until rhubarb begins to break down (about 10-15 minutes)
3. Pour filling into pie pans (about 2/3 way full)
4. Dot the tops with butter.
5. Place second layers of crust on top of the pies.
6. Bake at 425°F for about 15 minutes (until crust turns golden brown)
7. Allow to cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove pies from pans to finish cooling completely.

Patriotic Pancakes:
*I made these for the boyfriend as a surprise on the morning of the 4th*
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens' New Baking Book
Yield: 4 large pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs granulated sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup milk (I used almond)
Twizzlers, blueberries, and powdered sugar (optional)
Butter for greasing pan

1.  Whisk together dry ingredients.
2.  Stir together wet ingredients and then quickly mix them into the dry.  Do not over-mix.
3.  Butter a hot grilling skillet (the ones with lines) until sizzling.
4.  Pour pancake batter in a rectangle.
5.  Cook until the bubbles in the batter stay open, then flip and cook another 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.
6.  Decorate with Twizzlers, blueberries, and confectioners' sugar if desired.
7.  Serve with butter and/or syrup.

Overall, these made for the the tastiest fourth of July I've had in a while.  Everything went perfectly. We even got to see the fireworks from the boat in the Boston Harbor.  The only thing that could have made the day more magical was a good sangria!

Happy Fourth Baking for next year!
Love and cookies,

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rainbow Confetti Cookies

Right now I am supposed to be writing a final paper for one of my summer classes.  Instead, I am think about how much I want a cookie, and how sad I am that my cookie tin is recently empty.  However, if I were to be an optimist, which most of the time I am, I could say that my cookie tin was also recently full (before it was emptied).  This is not something that I allow to happen very often.  Usually if I bake cookies, I try very hard to give them away, so I do not eat 7 in one day (like yesterday).  Unfortunately, when I baked these cookies for Shabbat on Friday, no one wanted to take the extras, so Jay and I were stuck eating them all by ourselves.

So instead of writing my paper, I am going to finally write the recipe for these amazing cookies that I cannot stop thinking about:

Rainbow Confetti Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Quick Cupcakes

I haven't had a ton of time to bake lately, because we finally moved!  My boyfriend, curious dog, and I have finally settled moved our boxes into our new place.  There is still a lot to be unpacked and organized, but slowly and surely, we are getting there.

Of course, I demanded that the kitchen be the first room to be unpacked, and that happened.  So when my friend, Lilly, texted me at 10pm one night last week to invite me over to her last-minute birthday dinner the following day, I was prepared.  When I saw the text I immediately thought, "Ha! Screw you Lilly!  You think I have time to bake a cake overnight?!"  But I wasn't going to let my friend have a birthday without a cake, especially not after how good her cake was last year, so I got to work.

I didn't have a lot of time, and my kitchen still is not fully stocked, so I had to improvise a little.  You know me, I cannot follow a recipe anyway, so I guess my lack of ingredients was an excuse to get creative.  I chose a really simple, one bowl cake recipe, invented a ganache, and had these babies ready in an hour.  Yep, I baked gourmet cupcakes from start to finish in an hour.  And you can too:

Spiced Orange Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Dark Chocolate and Olive Oil Ganache (vegan)
Recipe adapted from Life's a Feast
Yield: 15 cupcakes