26 August 2010

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Fudge

This is, by far, the fastest recipe I have ever posted on here. I get out of class at 3:30 pm. There is a 10 minute walk from Irvin to my apartment. This fudge was chilling in the fridge by 4:00 pm, on the dot. The only bad thing about this is that when I go to deliver this fudge to boys, they will know that I did not slave for hours over it. Oh well. They'll get over it. They have homemade fudge, after all.

Oh, speaking of my apartment, I AM BACK IN OXFORD! I am also living in an amazing apartment which has been christened The WeinDen (don't ask... it's not funny to anyone but us), with one of the loveliest girls I have ever met, Maggie. There is so much roomie love going on over here that it's almost nauseating. Almost.

Given my sah-weet digs, I would just like to reiterate my policy on visitors to The WeinDen: Yes, please. If you live in Oxford, you are nearly always welcome, so long as we are home and not napping. If you live outside the greater Ox Vegas area, I have a futon, a couch, and a comfy queen-sized bed. Take your pick. Also, I will make you the baked good of your choosing. So get on it!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Fudge

  • 10 oz peanut butter chips
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
To Make:
  1. Line 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper (Thank you to Julie for buying me my first roll as a going away present!)
  2. Melt in a saucepan over medium heat the peanut butter chips, 1 c sweetened condensed milk, and 2 tbsp butter until smooth. Pour into baking pan and spread evenly.
  3. Melt in another saucepan the remaining sweetened condensed milk, butter, and chocolate chips until smooth. Spread over peanut butter mixture. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Turn out of parchment paper and cut.
Some Notes:
  • Next time, I am going to vary it up by subbing some real peanut butter for a portion of the chips (and probably taking out the butter as well).

14 August 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes (For Jazz Musicians)

Holly on the left, Bray on the right, yours truly in the middle.

Tibbs chowing down.

So, I'm back in the A-k-rowdy, at least for the moment. I've been here a week now, but there has been utter pandemonium with my dad moving into his new house, and trying to figure out where I'm stashing all my stuff, as well as catching up with just about everyone I ever knew in high school, and making some new friends along the way.

I've been restless lately, and everyone can see it. I cut and dyed my hair, got a new piercing (or two) and have been making some pretty poor decision-making as of late. I needed some centering, so when Brandy issued her cupcakes-at-Northside ultimatum, I jumped to comply.

Oh, and if you're unfamiliar with what Northside is, please allow me to enlighten you. The Northside, technically, is an almost-hole-in-the-wall bar in downtown Akron. On Wednesday nights, The Northside hosts an open-mic jazz workshop for the University students from 9 pm until midnight. If you're in the Akron area, GO! It's a great time. Afterwards, many of the musicians (with whom I've become friends because of my frequent attendance) go eat at Luigi's, next door.

They work hard, and hard work should be rewarded. Hence, cupcakes.

The actual text message conversation that begat the inception of these cupcakes (yep, big words... get over it):

Bray: Cupcakes, as promised, at Northside tonight?
Auds: Oh, damn. I forgot.
Bray: You have three hours. Make it happen.
Auds: Yes, ma'am.

In Brandy's defense, she did come over and help frost the cupcakes, as well as keep my company as I dyed my hair a color similar to red velvet. Holly Jane and Zoe were there too, ready and willing to steal half-made frosting, incubate my eggs to room temperature, and tell me that my hair looked fabulous. It's really why I keep them around... Kidding, of course.

Oh, and the cupcakes got rave reviews. :)

Red Velvet Cupcakes w/ Vanilla Icing
Adapted from More from Magnolia

For cupcakes-
  • 3 1/2 c cake flour
  • 1 1/2 stick butter (softened)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp red food coloring
  • 3 1/2 tbsp water (at room temperature)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

For icing-
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 2 c milk
  • 2 c butter (softened)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners. Sift cake flour and set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar for cupcakes on medium speed until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together food coloring, water, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Add to the batter.
  4. Stir salt into buttermilk. Add in 3 parts, alternating with the cake flour, to the batter. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda. Add to batter, and mix well. Divide batter between cupcake tins.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  6. In a medium saucepan, whisk together flour and milk for icing. Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture becomes very thick (about 10 minutes). Cover with waxed paper placed directly on mixture and cool to room temperature (can be refrigerated to speed up the process).
  7. Beat the butter for the icing until it becomes smooth, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Beat again (it's a theme!)
  8. Add cooled milk mixture to butter mixture and beat for 5 minutes. Frost cupcakes immediately.
Some Notes:
  • As with most of the cupcakes I make, the frosting-cupcake ratio should be at LEAST 1-1. If you're going to eat a Pastry Flower dessert, expect to go into a sugar comatose directly after. But really, more is better when it comes to icing on these cupcakes.
  • And don't be deterred by the complexity of the icing. It was better than ANY store-bought.

03 August 2010

"Everything Nice" Muffins

... nom...

When I started baking, it was out of necessity. It was the winter of 2005, just after Christmas, and I was battling terrible insomnia and slight depression. It was awful. I would spend hours sitting, staring at my computer, updating Facebook, lying on my carpet wishing that I could sleep. One night, I wandered down to the still-set-up Christmas tree and started sifting through the gifts that I'd received. One of those gifts was Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe, still one of my favorite cookbooks today. After everyone else was asleep, I would sneak downstairs and, as quietly as possible, bake the easiest things from the cookbook with whatever happened to be around in the kitchen. Invariably, after each recipe was finished, I would crash immediately upon my bed, or the couch, or the rug in our kitchen... whatever happened to be easiest. A love of baking was born, alongside a coping mechanism.

To this day, I can tell when I'm verging upon emotional instability when I start itching to break out my pans. It's not only something to do to pass the time; it's also one of the few times when I don't let the opinions of others dictate my actions, when I have overwhelming self-confidence and a can-do attitude, and when, even in the midst of emotional quicksand, I can dance around the kitchen, singing into a whisk and everything is right in my life. The process takes as long as it takes; I can't speed it up or slow it down, even if I wanted to. And, best of all, my friends love me for it. When these muffins came out of the oven, my roommate Beth came into the kitchen and said, point blank, "I could kiss you right now. But I think you'd be weirded out."

Sugar and Spice ("Everything Nice") Muffins
Adapted from Gourmet

  • 1 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 6 muffin cups with liners.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. In another bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients to wet ones and beat until combined. Add milk and stir until just combined.
  3. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.
  4. Spoon batter into cups half full. Sprinkle some of the brown sugar and cinnamon on top of batter. Spoon more batter into cups (until 5/6 full) and top with remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Some Notes:
  • Next time, I will sub brown sugar for the white sugar in the batter.
  • Also, next time, I'm going to make extra sugar/cinnamon mixture and put more inside the muffins.
  • These muffins are not overwhelmingly sweet, but I like them that way.

01 August 2010

Kevin and Susan's Joint Birthday Cake!

Oh, how I wish I had my pastry bags...

In honor of the days-of-birth of my super Canadian roommate and my friend Kevin, I decided to make a cake. And yes, I'm aware that this cake is pink. To Kevin, I apologize, but it tastes delicious so I'm pretty sure he didn't mind much. Anyway, a very, very happy birthday to two of my good friends down here!

The birfday boy and girl, respectively.

A short sidenote: I leave DC in 6 days, and all the friends that I have made here will be scattered across the continent. I want to thank you all for making this summer amazing. I will honestly miss you. All of you. Even the ones I complain about. Really. Truf.

So, this cake is the very first undertaking of a significantly difficult recipe since being in DC, mostly because I was getting sick of making cookies. It involved buying several kitchen utensils to add to my arsenal back home, and making up a significant part of this recipe. For being a brand new recipe, mostly made-up using techniques from other recipes I've tried in the past, this cake turned out FABULOUSLY. I felt almost like a real pastry chef... hahahaha... right. I definitely lamented not having my pastry bags and decorating tips down here with me though... The finished product was pretty, no doubt, but being the perfectionist I am, I wish I hadn't just had to use ziplocs. Sigh.

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cream Frosting and Chocolate Sauce

(For cake)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c fresh-brewed coffee
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
(For frosting)
  • 6 oz fresh raspberries
  • 2 tbsp light brown suga
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 c whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
(For chocolate sauce)
  • 1/4 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 4.5 in x 8.5 in loaf pan with nonstick spray and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the first 6 ingredients for the cake. In another bowl, combine coffee, milk, oil, eggs and vanilla, and beat to blend. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ones, and stir until just combined. Pour into floured pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto cake tray and cool completely before frosting.
  3. In a small saucepan, mash together brown sugar, raspberries, and lemon juice. Cook on low heat, stirring for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and push raspberry mixture through a sieve to remove seeds (what is left should be raspberry juice, basically). Add cornstarch to the juice, and cook on medium heat in saucepan for 5-7 minutes. Remove and refrigerate until very chilled.
  4. In a refrigerated bowl, combine whipping cream for frosting, powdered sugar, and about 1/3 of the raspberry sauce. Whip until stiffer than you would want whipped cream to be. Fold in another 1/3 of the raspberry sauce.
  5. In a double boiler, combine the whipping cream for chocolate sauce and chocolate chips until melted. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then spoon into a pastry bag.
  6. Okay, now it's time to assemble the cake! Frost the completely cooled cake with the raspberry cream frosting, and chill for 10 minutes more. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce and the rest of the raspberry sauce. Chill until ready to serve.
I put the 'mess' in 'domestic'.