Archive for July, 2008

24
Jul
08

strawberry frozen yogurt

I’ve always liked frozen yogurt, but recently I’ve almost been craving it. Maybe it’s the warm weather or the fact that I recently read an article about how frozen yogurt compares with ice cream in nutrition. Don’t get me wrong; I love (full fat) ice cream, but with how often I’ve been wanting frozen treats lately, frozen yogurt is a lot easier on my conscience. With leftover strawberries, leftover yogurt, and an ice cream machine collecting dust under the counter, I decided that it was time that I attempted to make it myself.

The frozen yogurt turned out really good. It has a somewhat icy texture because I used nonfat yogurt, but it has a nice fresh taste and satisfies my cold cravings. And I can’t forget to mention – it’s also guilt-free!

21
Jul
08

breakfast…

…is my favorite meal of the day. I *try* to make pancakes, waffles, or french toast every Saturday morning. I usually make them from scratch unless I don’t have time. On this particular Saturday, I decided to make some blueberry pancakes. I made Alton Brown’s Instant Pancake Mix so I would have my own homemade dry mix on hand.

These were the best pancakes I’ve ever made. They were delicious, especially with the maple syrup drizzled all over. I can’t wait to make them again this Saturday.

19
Jul
08

the chocolate chip cookie experiment

I recently read an article in the New York Times about the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I’ve been on a quest myself to try to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe that I could stick with. I’ve tried several different recipes and although they usually turn out good, there hasn’t been one that I’ve loved and wanted to make every time I crave a chocolate chip cookie – until now.

The article describes how allowing the cookie dough to rest in the refrigerator for 12, 24, and 36 hour intervals produces a significantly different cookie each time. I just HAD to try it, especially because the recipe they provided was from Jacques Torres, but adapted to include the insight of different bakers. How could it go wrong?

I made the dough on a Thursday night so I wasn’t able to try the 12 hour interval since I was at work. I baked the cookies at 24, 36, and 48 hour intervals instead.

All of these huge cookies were baked for 20 minutes. As you can see, there wasn’t too much difference in their overall appearance:

There was, however, a difference in taste. Here are my results:

The 24 hour cookies were the palest and slightly underdone in the center. They had a nice flavor, buttery and not too sweet. I was happy with this cookie until I tried it alongside a 36 hour cookie. In comparison, the flavors of the 24 hour cookie were very subtle, almost bland compared to the 36 hour cookie. It definitely had a more buttery flavor when compared to the 36 hour cookie.

The center of the 36 hour cookie was more cooked through after 20 minutes. The brown sugar flavor was significantly more pronounced and it almost had a nutty flavor, according to H. It was softer and more evenly chewy compared to the 48 hour cookie.

The 48 hour cookie had the deepest flavor, with more of a burnt sugar aftertaste. It was denser and drier than the 36 hour cookie. Most of the cookies browned on the edges a lot more than the 36 hour cookie.

Although I would love to make these my go-to cookies for when I have a craving, I’m not sure if I can wait this long for a chocolate chip cookie. These cookies are delicious, but don’t provide instant gratification. I think these will be an extra special treat, saved for special occasions, times of good planning, and thinking ahead. In the meantime, I’ll continue on my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie – the one I can eat now!

12
Jul
08

cupcake adventures

I have recently been on a mission to check out cupcake shops in every city I visit. I live in a small town that doesn’t have any cupcake shops, so visiting them is quite an experience for me – it’s as exciting as it must be for a kid to walk into a candy store. I love looking at all the different cupcakes, but am usually torn about which flavors I want to try.

I was lucky enough to visit 4 different shops this past month. The first was Yummy Cupcakes in Burbank, CA. I wouldn’t normally buy this many cupcakes, but H and I were on vacation with my family for the weekend so it gave me an excuse to buy a few more. We were a little disappointed because the cupcakes were somewhat dry, but on a high note, the cocoa cream cheese frosting on the red velvet cupcake was yummy.

yummy Cupcakes
Yummy Cupcakes

Two weeks ago, H and I drove to Colorado. Of course, I mapped out which cupcake shops I wanted to visit on the way there and in Colorado. I had planned to go to one in Las Vegas, but we were crunched for time and I surprisingly wasn’t in the mood for cupcakes – probably because it was 112 degrees out and all I wanted was a big glass of ice water.

We made it a point to visit the 3 cupcake shops I had mapped out in Denver. The first we went to was Lovely Confections. They only had vanilla and chocolate cupcakes left when we got there so the decision was easy.

chocolate cupcake w/ chocolate frosting
Chocolate Cupcake w/ Chocolate Frosting
vanilla cupcake w/ vanilla frosting
Vanilla Cupcake w/ Vanilla Frosting

These cupcakes were good! They were both dense, but still moist. I loved the vanilla frosting. I couldn’t figure out what flavor in the frosting made it different from other vanilla frostings I’ve tried, but whatever it was made it delicious. It was thick and creamy and the pink sugar on top added a nice crunch. The chocolate frosting was also good. It was rich, but not overly sweet. I think it may have been a whipped dark chocolate ganache. I loved the addition of the chocolate tiles on top.

After Lovely Confections, we drove around the corner (literally) and went to The Shoppe. The atmosphere of this place was pretty cool; it was very artsy and looked like a place to hang out. I had a hard time deciding because there were so many different flavors; luckily, they had mini cupcakes so I didn’t feel like I was overindulging too much. πŸ™‚

german chocolate
German Chocolate
mint chocolate
Mint Chocolate
mini chocolate and mini vanilla
Mini Chocolate and Mini Vanilla

I liked the frosting on these cupcakes. They had a light texture and weren’t too sweet. I think they may have been some type of meringue frosting. I realized during our taste test that I shouldn’t have gotten 3 chocolate ones. Don’t get me wrong; I love chocolate, but it would have been nice to try another flavor.

Our last cupcake stop on our last day in Colorado was Happy Cakes. I was most excited to go to this one because one of their cupcakes was featured on marthastewart.com. The outside of the shop itself makes you want to go in.

happy cakes bakeshop
Happy Cakes Bakeshop

The shop was even cuter on the inside. They had so many different cupcakes, displayed on different cake stands. I just loved looking at them all and was definitely in a dilemma. In the end, we ended up getting 4 different flavors (2 of them being minis of course).

s’mores
S'mores
mini snowball and mini raspberry lemonade
Mini Snowball and Mini Raspberry Lemonade
the cosmo
The Cosmo

The Happy Cakes cupcakes were, by far, my favorite cupcakes from all the ones we tried. All four were delicious – moist cupcakes with frosting that complimented each one very well. I will definitely visit Happy Cakes again next time I’m in Denver.

Visiting 3 different cupcake shops in a week was exciting, but I have to admit that by the time I finished off my last cupcake, I felt a little cupcaked out. I love cupcakes, but I’ve never eaten that many in such a short span of time. Regardless, I will savor the experience – It’s going to be awhile before I go cupcake hopping again. πŸ™‚

04
Jul
08

strawberry birthday cupcakes

My brother and sister celebrated their birthdays 2 weeks ago (they’re 10 years and 353 days apart). I would have loved to make them each their own cake, but seeing as how we were going to be out of town for the weekend and the fact that my family doesn’t really eat all that much, I figured 2 cakes would be a little much. I decided to make fresh strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting instead. Maybe next year I’ll finally be able to make them their own birthday cakes.

03
Jul
08

cars birthday cake

A few weeks ago I made a birthday cake for a 5th birthday. This was my 4th birthday cake and only the 2nd with a fondant topper. (The first can be seen in my first post; it’s the one with a pink/light pink bear and cupcake on top.)

It was my first time baking such a large cake (14″ round X 3″ high) and I was pretty happy with how it came out.

My husband is the sculptor. I have to say that he is more creative and artistic when it comes to sculpting and shaping. He was also responsible for the pink bear topper on the 1st cake.

This duo has worked pretty well; I bake and decorate the actual cake and he creates the topper. He did a pretty good job, huh?

I’m glad we can work together, but I would love to do a cake with flowers or maybe more piping. πŸ˜€