Sunday, January 31, 2010

Apron Strings and more...

On Tuesday, January 19, 2010, I met our granddaughter, Madison for the first time in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Our daughter, Erin is holding her in the lobby of the Grand Hotel.) In just two short weeks, she has brought so much joy to our lives and as you can see, she is taking after her Auntie Kelly when it comes to talking on the telephone. In fact, I tell everyone, it's a good thing Kelly was only 3 pounds 13 ounces because it would have been a hard delivery with that telephone attached to her ear!

We returned home on Friday, January 29th and while going through my mail, I came across the new Williams-Sonoma catalogue. Well, right there was a new cake pan that I had to have...a Giant Doughnut! I've had a love of doughnuts (as I suspect most people do) since 1962. I remember the year because my grandmother passed away and a new tradition was started in our family. My Dad would pick my grandfather up every Tuesday to bring him to our home for dinner; my grandfather brought a box of a dozen doughnuts! They were assorted and we all had our favorite. Mine was the cake doughnut; if it had chocolate glaze and sprinkles, that was even better, but for me simple was satisfying. I couldn't help but think...what better way to indoctrinate Maddie into our family than making her a giant cake doughnut for her belated first birthday (which was November 29th). I made the recipe that came on the back of the box for the unique pans, but I'm already thinking of trying my own versions. Maddie had her first slice of cake and if you could see the look on her was priceless! She kept saying, over and over again, "Yummmmmmmm." Well worth the $19.95 for the cake pan when you get that kind of response. 

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bringing Baby Home Celebration!

Tomorrow night, our daughter, Erin, her husband, Michael, and I will travel to Taiwan to bring home their daughter, Madison. She's now 14 months old and the anticipation of finally getting to hold our new granddaughter is almost too much to imagine. So, for this ocassion, I Baked A Cake!
Vanilla Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream was chosen from a special "Holiday Baking Issue" of fine Cooking magazine, called Sweet Cakes. If you're not scared off my the calories, this is a wonderful celebration cake to make for those special events in your life.

Begin by preheating oven to 350F-degrees.  Lightly coat two 9x2-inch cake pans with a nonstick spray (I used Bak Klene) and line the bottoms with parchement paper. I also used Magic Cake Baking Strips.  You simply soak the strips in cold water and wrap them around your cake pans to keep your cakes rising level (no more "mountains in the middle.")

In your KitchenAid, using the paddle attachement, mix the following dry ingredients:
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
Mix completely then add:
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, one tablespoon at a time.
The mixture will look a little lumpy.  Next add:
3/4 cup whole or low-fat milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Mix on medium speed for 1 minute to thoroughly blend the ingredients.
Add:  4 large eggs, at room temperature, one at a time, mixing well between additions.
Divide the batter equally between the two cake pans. (I used a kitchen scale to ensure the batter was equal). Tap pans on the counter before baking.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes.  The cakes are golden brown and the tops feel firm, but spring back a little when tapped lightely with a finger.  Use a toothpick to check the center for doneness.
Set the pans on a rack, run a table knife around the outer edge and let cool for 30 minutes.  Invert cakes onto the rack. 
This recipe called for  slicing the layers in half to create 4 layers.  I used by handy cake slicer that gives me an uniform cut through the center.

For the underneath of the layer(s) Mix: 3/4 cup Raspberry Jam with 3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier (you could use orange juice)

Melt 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave.  Set aside.
Beat 4 egg whites, on high speed until foamy.
Sprinkle 6 Tablespoons of sugar, one at a time, into the egg whites and whisk at high speed until the whites are smooth, full, and shiny. 
Combine:  3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar with 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons of light corn syrup in a medium pan.  Stir briefly while heating over medium-high heat.  Continue to cook just until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. 
Immediately remove the syrup from the heat and with the mixer running, add the syrup in a steady stream, being careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk.
Reduce the speed to medium and continue whisking until the whites are barely warm, 5 to 7 minutes. (Feel the underneath of the bowl).
Add 2 1/2 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, one tablespoon at a time.
Add melted bittersweet chocolate and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.
To put the cake together:  Set a split layer on serving plate.Spread chocolate buttercream on the top of the layer.  Next, spread one-third of the raspberry mixture on the underneath side of the next layer and place on top of the buttercream layer.  Continue spreading butter cream to the top of each layer and raspberry mixture to the underneath side of the next layer.  Frost the tops and sides with remaining buttercream.  Enjoy!

Posted by PicasaThis will probably be my last post for January, but more baking will return in February with a new Give-Away...don't forget to comment on the blog before January 31st to be eligible for the drawing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sugar Waffles for your Sugar Pie...

I love crispy cookies and I'm especially fond of Pizzelles. So, when I came across this recipe for Sugar Waffles from King Arthur Flour, I thought these were worth a try. I used my heart-shaped waffle iron, as was called for, but you can use a regular waffle iron, just not Belgium-style. Someone on the their blog asked if you could use a Pizzelle iron, and even though I also own one of those, I opted for the "deeper" affect that a waffle iron would give. These cookies incorporate a couple of unique ingredients: malted milk powder and Vanilla Butternut flavoring. I used both so I would know how they were meant to taste before I started inventing other flavors. Here's the King Arthur Flour's version:
These really turned out quite delicious; the perfect crunch, the perfect sweetness, and the perfect size.  However, since I'm such a chocoholic, no doubt I'll try a chocolate version, either flavored or dipped, especially with Valentine's Day just around the corner.  Enjoy!
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Sunday, January 10, 2010


Originating from Denmark, these light, puffy, sphere-shaped pancakes are the perfect treat for breakfast, snacking or as an accompaniment to your dinner entree. They require just a few ingredients, that you probably have on-hand; flour, eggs, butter, milk, a little sugar and baking powder, however deciding on the filling is half the fun. This morning I had a little raspberry jam left (from a previous baking experience) and opened a jar of my blueberry jam to fill these little delicacies. My daughter, Kelly, gave me my ebelskiver pan a few years ago for Mother's Day, but recently I came across...yes, you guessed it, a book devoted to Ebelskivers by Kevin Crafts. The author not only serves up a delightful array of sweet pancakes, but adds a chapter on savory: ebelskivers, crab cake style, smoked salmon & dill ebelskivers, etc. Truly an inspiration to make for your family and the perfect kid-friendly breakfast, as well as a show-stopping hors d'oeuvre or entree accompaniment. As the author says..."the possibilities are endless! View recipe, courtesy of Williams-Sonoma, where you can also purchase the pan.
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Friday, January 8, 2010

More Whoopie!

While browsing at Williams-Sonoma, I came across a new pan, just in time for my theme this week, Whoopie Pie Pan. It sells for $24.95 and, as my daughters would say, "do you really need it?" Well, I have to say "Yes" for two reasons; I liked the size of the "whoopies" and I liked the uniformity. When I it came to filling the "Better Off Red" Whoopie Pies, I had to try and match up like-size pies so they fit together. Takes a little time and you still get those odd ones that are good enough to eat, but maybe, not give as gifts. A recipe comes with the pan (it's on the backside of the package), but I adjusted a few things, so I'm going to give you my version of these chocolate treats.
Preheat oven to 325F-degrees. I sprayed the pan with a "Professional Bak-Klene" that I purchased at Williams-Sonoma. It doesn't gunk up your baking sheets like Pam will. If you don't use it, grease and flour the pan.
In the bowl of the KitchenAid and using the paddle, beat:
12 Tablespoons of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 1/3 cups of light brown sugar
1Tablespoon of vanilla
1 tsp. Espresso powder
2 eggs
Beat until fluffly, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.
In another bowl, combine:
2 cups of flour
1 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Add the flour mixture, in three additions, alternating with:
2 cups of buttermilk
Start and stop with the flour mixture. Also, when it came time to add the third addition of flour mixture, I stirred it in with a spatula. If your batter looks thick, you can add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of additional buttermilk.
I used a two-tablespoon scoop to put batter into the wells, then, tap the pan on the countertop to evenly distribute the batter and release air bubbles. Bake for 8-10 minutes in preheated oven.

I wiped the pan with a paper towel between batches and resprayed. This recipe made 2 1/2 dozen Whoopie Pies.
For the filling, I made my own Buttercream: In the KitchenAid, beat:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, until fluffly
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 Tablespoons of Vanilla Crush  (or a good vanilla)
3-4 Tablespoons of heavy cream.
Beat again, whipping it to a fluffly consistency.
Spread or pipe approximately 2 Tablespoons of filling on the flat side of one half, then, top with another half. Press down carefully (I put the cakes in the palm of my hand to press so I don't split them). I experimented with rolling the edges in different toppings: crushed peppermint, candy-coated chips, and chocolate sprinkles. What kid wouldn't love one of these with a cold glass of milk to do their homework by. I bet you could even get them to clean their room for one of these.

Now, I thought you'd like a little history of Whoopie Pies since I seem to be obsessed this week with making them. Actually, the origin of them is in dispute between food historians. Some believe they are a Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish creation, while others, think their roots are in New England. However, there isn't an Amish bakery (or even cookbook) that doesn't have Whoopie Pies on their list. And, it was the Amish who experimented with a variety of other flavors, including pumpkin (Kelly's favorite), peanut butter, and spice. Finally, it's said they got their name from Amish children shouting "Whoopie" if they found one in their lunch pail. Whatever the history, they are certainly one of my favorites and I'm sure they will be yours. Enjoy!
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Better Off Red Whoopie Pies

What better way to think ahead to Valentine's Day than a recipe that would bring a big smile to your sweetheart? I came across "Better Off Red" Whoopie Pies in the January/February edition of Food Network Magazine and thought they'd go spendidly with my "Give-Away" project. (I talk about that later, but let's get to the recipe).
Preheat oven to 375F-degrees. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
Combine: 1 ounce of semisweet chocolate 
1/2 ounce of milk chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt at 50% power for 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, on top of the stove, melt:
12 Tablespoons of unsalted butter.
In a mixing bowl, combine:
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. apple cider vingegar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tablespoon of red food coloring
1/2 sour cream.
Whisk well. Then, add the melted butter and whisk again.
In another bowl, combine:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Whisk well, then add to egg/butter mixture in four additions, stirring completely before adding the next batch. Finally, stir in the melted chocolate.
Use a Two-Tablespoon scoop to heap the batter onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake untile the cookies spring back when lightly pressed, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool.
Meanwhile, prepare filling:
Place 8 ounces of cream cheese and 3 Tablespoons of butter at room temperature into your Kitchenaid bowl with paddle attachment. Cream together thoroughly. Add 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Cream again until fluffly. Sandwich a heaping tablespoon onto one of the cookies and top with another. Repeat until all halves are used. Makes 18 (approximately) Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.

Now, for the addition to my love for baking, I am a paper-artist and create flowers, using craft-punches and other supplies. Here is my idea for stepping out on Valentine's Day with a unique shoe (Click here for the template) that makes even Carrie (from Sex & The City) jealous! . So, all you have to do is comment on the blog and your name will be entered to win this one-of-a-kind shoe, all done in paper & signed by the artist :) ! I will draw a name from everyone registered at the end of the month and send it to the lucky recipient, boxed up in a keepsake clear box. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cold Mornings...warm treats

I know (from watching the Weather Channel) that a lot of the country is enthralled with cold, bitter temperatures and of course, snow. Happily, and I say that with a big sigh of relief, we're not in Seattle, but I remember all too well last winter when we were experiencing the same thing. This morning's post is from a new cookbook I added to my collection: The new best of BETTER by Marcy Goldman. I have several of her books and I love her website ( The first recipe I tried is called, "Perfect Grilled Cheese Bread". I made it to make paninis the other night and go along with a bowl of my Vegetable Soup. What a great texture and very easy to make in the Kitchenaid with the dough hook. The author suggests for the grilled cheese sandwiches, using a combination of Monterey Jack, sharp cheddar and a hint of raclette cheese, but I opted for good old American and it was yummy. It makes two loaves and unless you can eat that much bread, you can freeze one, since there are no preservatives, for another time. This morning, I toasted up a slice and spread my homemade Raspberry Jam on it for my breakfast. I had, along with it, a cup of "Best-Ever Hot Cocoa" which I found a recipe for at Cook' to make up a mix that will easily do 20 servings. (A lot of cocoa for those cold mornings and nights!) I can share the recipe for the mix and I will tell you, it's delish!

Best-Ever Hot Cocoa Mix: 3 cups nonfat dry milk; 2 cups confectioners' sugar; 1 1/2 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder; 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips; 1/4 tsp. salt. Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Working in two batches, pulse ingredients in a food processor until the white chocolate is finely ground. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To make hot cocoa, stir 1/3 cup of this mix into 1 cup of hot milk. Top with whipped cream or marshmallows (try making homemade...even better).

Lastly, from the same cookbook, I came across these bars. They're called "European Apple-Blueberry Squares" and they're also very good and comforting on these cold days. The recipe incorporates grated apple with frozen blueberries for the filling. I froze several bags of blueberries when they were in season just for recipes like this.

The bars have a "sugar cookie-like" dough for the base and as a twist, you freeze half of the dough so you can easily grate it for the top. A little sprinkle of confectioners' sugar and you have a wonderful dessert that will keep your cabin-fever loved ones happy until the Spring thaw.Enjoy!

For more delicious drinks to starve off the cold, go to Kelly and Kandyce's blog: http://notions&