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Category Archives: Dessert

Mini-Cakes!

Mini-Cakes!

I made mini-cakes! They are adorable and mini.
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Here’s what I did – it was pretty easy and a fun way to make personalized desserts.

I made one recipe of my fave carrot cake (https://suitsandaprons.wordpress.com/?s=carrot+cake), and baked it in a 9×13 pan. Once baked and cooled, I wrapped the cake tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour or so.

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Then I used a biscuit cutter to make little cake rounds. I cut all the cake rounds into two pieces. Each cake was then made with 3 layers – 1.5 times the thickness of the cake as baked originally. It is easier to cut each round in half individually than to try and cut the whole cake in half (into two layers) at once. Trust me.

I frosted these with lots of cream cheese frosting, chilling as I went so that the outer layer would harden. I added some marmalade to the middle for yummy filling.

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I also rolled some in party sprinkles.

These were so yummy and pretty. Very easy, and very fun. I served them in cupcake wrappers, for ease of eating and mobility.

One note: While cream cheese frosting is clearly the most delicious frosting ever, it does not harden like a true buttercream, which can pose decorating challenges. For example, it is difficult to pipe designs with cream cheese frosting because the shapes begin to melt, while piped buttercream designs tend to hard and hold better. You may consider just using cream cheese frosting for the middle filling, and using buttercream for your decorations.

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Another note: You may be wondering why I made mini-cakes instead of making cupcakes. You may think cupcakes and mini-cakes are the same. You would be wrong. The frosting-to-cake ratio in a cupcake is way off, in a way that really bothers me. Also, cupcakes tend to be drier, in my experience, since they are basically all corners. By making mini-cakes, you reduce the amount of heat exposed edges, which makes for more delicious moister cakes. Finally, I think fully frosted mini-cakes are more adorable than cupcakes, plain and simple.

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Now go make some delicious and adorable mini-cakes.

Love,

Rachel

 

 

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Valentine’s Cookie: Super Yummy Butter Cookie

Valentine’s Cookie: Super Yummy Butter Cookie

I have talked before about my love of Alice Waters and her lovely cookcook, The Art of Simple Food. No recipe in it has yet let me down. So why, oh why, did I wait so long to try her butter cookie recipe? What is wrong with me?

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This simple recipe will knock your socks off with its perfect buttery saltiness. And then you can change it up and add some raspberry jam, or a light powdered sugar glaze to decorate them. They will make your Valentine’s Day extra yummy.

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PS. This realization that everything in this cookbook is amazing means that I am now going to start cooking almost exclusively from this book, because YUM.


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Butter Cookie Recipe: Adapted from Alice Waters,’ The Art of Simple Food.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, at room temperature

2 tsps milk

2.5 cups unbleached flour

Preheat over to 350F. Cream together butter and sugar. Then add vanilla, salt and egg.  Gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined. Divide into thirds, and shape into logs. Wrap in saran wrap, and chill until firm. Then slice into 1/4 inch slices, and place two inches apart on baking sheet.  (Even though the dough has no levening agent, the cookies do spread).  Or, instead of logs, divide the dough in half, and form round disks, wrap in saran warp and put in fridge until firm. Roll dough out to 1/4 thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place spaced out on cookie sheet.  Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Let cool on sheet for a bit. Feel free to frost or make jam-filled cookie sandwiches (my favorite).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Rachel

 

 

A few recipes that you might like for thanksgiving!

A few recipes that you might like for thanksgiving!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I FREAKING love Turkey Day! Oh whatta day! A day devoted entirely to cooking, setting pretty tables, drinking wine and hanging with good friends. Good golly, Ms. Molly!

Here are three things that I have already made on the blog that you might want to consider adding to your Thanksgiving table:

Rustic Pear Tart. Make this. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT. My boyfriend’s favorite dessert, and probably one of mine (choosing a favorite dessert is like choosing your favorite child – or at least what I imagine choosing a child would be like, if, you know, I had kids).

 

Pumpkin Streusel Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake.

This thing was WAY more than a pound. It was probably closer to 4 lbs of delicious cake.

 This thing is so amazingly yummy. Fairly easy to make and very impressive.

 

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Nom nom nom nom!

Rachel

How to Slow Roast a Turkey (Part I)

It’s that time of year again! THANKSGIVING!!! What a freaking awesome holiday, right? I mean, it involves food, booze, dessert, more food and more booze. Plus like family and friends and stuff. Did I mention dessert?

Last year I slow roasted a turkey and it freaking rocked my world. So I am going to repost the majority of that post below, including last year’s menu.

Happy Early Turkey Day!!!

Love,

Rachel

Last Year’s Thanksgiving Post Follows

The menu:

Nosching plate of cheese, prosciutto and dried figs.

Slow roasted Turkey

Mashed Potatoes

Moose sausage stuffing (OMG soooo good!) (cornbread stuffing with sauted onions/celery, garlic, fresh herbs, dried cranberries soaked in chicken broth, pecans, and moose sausage flown in all the way from Alaska. This stuff was crazy good.)

Roasted brussel sprouts and carrots

Gravy

Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish (fresh cranberries, whole orange, ground ginger and sugar blended in food processor, then add chopped pecans and pomegranate seeds. Let sit over night if possible).

Canned Cranberry (of course)

Dessert: Classic pumpkin pie, triple chocolate pumpkin pie, apple-cran pie with streusel topping and super gingery gingerbread. Yes, I realize there are as many desserts as people for dinner, but that was planned. How else would you do it? A post on desserts will happen in the future (hopefully).

Amelia and I spent the day in the kitchen on Thursday (after staying up late on Wednesday making multiple pies). Here is a photo journal of what we did that day:

1. Remove turkey from basting bag. Turkey had been sitting in brine with pepper corns, tons of salt, fresh herbs (sage, rosemary and thyme), onions and bay leaves. Rub turkey down with butter/salt/pepper mixture, stick 1 quartered onion into cavity, insert fresh herbs into turkey breast (make incision into breast and insert herbs), also insert herbs under the skin, directly onto the meat. Put into 220F degree oven breast-side down. Baste every hour or so. When bird is about 140F or 145F, flip right-side up. Remove once breast temperature reaches 155F – you may want to cook for last hour at 300F to get the skin a little darker, because the skin doesn’t crisp up at 220F. Let sit for 20 minutes before carving.

Slow roasting the turkey. A 16 pound bird took about 6.5 hours.

2. Take dog for a run. Dog chases and barks at squirrels.

Chloe, dreaming big.

3. Maturely talk about our Thanksgiving dish preferences.

Debate about whether stuffing gets roasted inside the bird or outside. Outside the bird won.

4. Indulge a little while cooking.

Simple math: Case of wine + friends + cheese = wonderful Turkey day.

5. Indulge a little more. Four types of cheese (a triple cream, cambozola, something soaked in wine whose name escapes me right now, and a mushroom brie) served with prosciutto and dried figs.

To nosch while cooking.

6. Maturely discuss whether we like our mashed potatoes lumpy or smooth.

Settling another debate…with brussel sprout stalk.

6. Baste the turkey a few times.

You want me to do what with this?

7. Check the turkey for doneness. Bird should be 155F. You can also make the gravy once the bird is out (which is what is happening in the background of the picture below). Most people check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Amelia chose to use the old-fashioned way, the face thermometer.

Wait, Amelia! Can’t eat the turkey until there’s gravy!

7. Torment the dog.

Chloe wants dark meat!

8. Admire your handiwork. You can see the slit in the breast where I stuffed the bird with rosemary, thyme and sage.

Turkey!

9. Carve the turkey.

Light or dark meat?

10. Admire your spread.

Dinner time!

11. Do whatever dorky/endearing traditions that your family requires. We all had to have first bites that included a little bit of everything, and we went around the table and said what we were thankful for. I am thankful for cranberry sauce! And you know… friends, family… etc…

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Gobble gobble,

Rachel

Quest for Perfect Cookie Recipes Part I – Dulce de Leche

Quest for Perfect Cookie Recipes Part I – Dulce de Leche

Well, after my disappointment with NYC cookies, I decided to test out a bunch of cookie recipes until I find the best ones. This fits in well with procrastinating. So here is Part I.

Pass the cookies!

I made some oatmeal crispies. I got the recipe from a blogger that I super-respect. While these cookies were good, they were not awesome.  Until I tweak the recipe a little, I will not post it, because obviously I only want to be associated with cookies that will blow your freaking mind.

Mmmmm…. dulce de leche! That’s thick awesome caramel for those gringos who don’t speak Spanish.

Regardless, they are very pretty little cookies. Especially when made into little cookie sandwiches stuffed with homemade dulce de leche.

Nom nom nom!

I plan to tweak the oatmeal crispies recipe just a bit until I get something perfect. In the meantime, I will share my recipe (which I found on Pinterest) for homemade dulce de leche. Super easy. Yummy yummy yummy!

Oatmeal crispies with homemade dulce de leche!

(Obviously I couldn’t decide whether to use the flash or not.)

Dulce de Leche (Caramel)

Take a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Put can into slow cooker on low heat. Make sure the can is COMPLETELY submerged. Cook for 8 hours.

Then rinse under cool water and put into the fridge while still warm. The can needs to refrigerate for at least two hours to finalize the deliciousness-process (read: I don’t know what the importance of refrigerating the can is, but apparently it’s important).

Enjoy! Eat it with pretzels, with cookies, with apples… on a spoon…

With love,

Rachel

 

For Butter’s Sake! A lament for the lack of good pastries in NYC.

For Butter’s Sake! A lament for the lack of good pastries in NYC.

ARGH! Just freakin’ ARGH!!!

I have had it up to here (*holds hand above head*) with New York bakeries. Seriously. Fed. Up.

Have New Yorkers never tasted a good pastry? Is this because no one in NYC grows up with parents who bake cookies on the weekend or make real cakes from scratch? You’ve never eaten a pastry or frosting made with real butter? You want me to pay $3 for a cookie or $3.50 for a cupcake that barely can be called mediocre and thank you for it?!!? It’s a bakery that only makes cupcakes, so why did I think the cupcakes would actually be good?! Your cookies look gorgeous, so I buy one only to be sorely disappointed by the taste?!

I am ranting, I know and it’s because I am so OVER the New York thing where someone opens a shop that specializes in some darling trendy dessert, where the desserts look lovely, cost a small fortune and are NOT YUMMY! Either they don’t know that pastries can taste better, or they have no pride, or they think all NYC consumers are idiots. Whatever the reason, I am NOT PLEASED.

Ok, so this annoyance has been a long time brewing. I had been struggling to find a good cookie (my go-to when I have a sweet tooth). This cookie plight was recently elevated because cookies in Europe are nothing like American cookies, so after all summer in Europe, a chocolate chip cookie was all I could thing about.

Yes, I can and do make the world’s best chocolate chip peanut butter cookie at home, but if I can do it and it’s not that hard, why can’t a store that specializes in cookies do it?

Back to the story: I was in NYC and jonesing. I figured Magnolia Bakery, of cupcake fame, might have decent cookies, so I stop in. (Magnolia did have a very respectable oatmeal cookie, but their brown sugar cookie was lacking, possibly from too much baking soda.) While I was in there getting cookies, there were samples of a red velvet cupcake with “cream cheese” frosting.

Looks good right? Don’t be fooled.

I tried one and get this:
The frosting was made with shortening!!!

They were charging $3.50 for a tiny little cupcake made with shortening! Maybe there was a tiny bit of cream cheese in there with the frosting, but I know my frostings and I know that it was not made with real butter!! Are you kidding me, Magnolia? You pride yourself on deliciousness and you cannot use real butter? I should have said something to the guy working the counter about my disappointment, but I was too upset to talk rationally with the man.

How does Monica feel about low fat mayonnaise? “It’s NOT mayonnaise!” That’s how I feel about shortening: It’s NOT butter!

I have ranted about the need for making frosting with real butter before, but it obviously bares repeating: butter makes the best frosting. Butter has the same calories and fat content as shortening and tastes a million times better. Butter costs a little more than shortening but who cares? If you are charging $3.50 for a cupcake, you can afford to make it with real butter!!!!!!! If I am going to splurge some calories on a yummy dessert, it had better be yummy. Magnolia, have you no shame?!

This supreme annoyance at Magnolia Bakery has been smoldering for a while. This dessert-related angst resurfaced today when I went into Rocco’s bakery in the West Village to get a cookie. They have this display window laden with all sorts of heavenly-looking cookies that lure you in, thinking that anything that looks that lovely has got to taste good.

Another sneaky bakery that cannot be trusted.

I went in for the praline pecan cookie, but while I was waiting in line I was tempted to go for the trick-or-treat, a “caramel” cookie with bits of Twix in it. I asked the girl at the counter what she thought, and without hesitation she said the trick-or-treat.

I rue my decision to follow her advice. The cookie was subpar. Like Magnolia’s brown sugar cookie, it suffered from too much levening agent. The dough does not taste like caramel in the least, and the texture is meh.  It’s a little bland too, and while I cannot be certain, I don’t think it was made with real butter either because the darn cookie tastes fake. I know I made a last minute switch, but I doubt the pecan praline would have been good either.

And so, I am officially done with New York. How can it possibly call itself the best city in the world if far too many over-priced specialty stores cannot fathom the importance of cooking with real butter? If I overpay for one more mediocre pastry in the stupid city I am going to lose it! Like even more than writing-a-seven-page-rant-about-pastries losing it. It’s insulting to my intelligence, to my taste buds, to Julia Child, and to cookies all over the world.

Butter has been around for thousands of years (no joke). There is a reason: it is delicious. Do not accept substitutes! Gosh, New York!

For shame, New York specialty bakeries. For shame.

So, my dear readers, if you pass by Magnolia or Rocco, I suggest you skip it. And if you happen to know a place that makes awesome pastries, let me know. (But if you like Magnolia’s cupcakes, then we have different standards for pastries, so maybe keep your suggestion to yourself. Sorry for the snark, but I seriously am doubting the New Yorker’s ability to discriminate between what is good and what is expensive). Thanks for tolerating my rant. Or maybe you stopped reading 7 minutes ago.

Teetering on the edge,
Rachel

Munich is for Eaters. And Drinkers.

Munich is for Eaters. And Drinkers.

Munich is only a four-hour drive from Vienna. So, when a dear college friend of mine was coming to Vienna, I thought, Munich would be a lovely weekend trip (especially because its only another 90 minutes from Salzburg, where they filmed the Sound of Music – more on that later).

Munich is pretty small. The architecture is lovely. There are one or two interesting museums. But where Munich really shines for me: the victuals and beverages. Upon immediately getting of the subway in downtown music we saw the awesome Cathedral above. And then I spotted the Haribo Gummy Candy Cart!!! I am such a sucker for anything gummy.

Haribo Gummy Candy Cart! Are you freaking kidding me?!?

I managed to walk away from the gummy cart without buying anything, only to turn around and find myself in front Rischart – a truly phenomenal bakery.

Oh, yeah, they had some cakes too.

Chocolate and cherries and apples, oh my!

After a little snack-y-poo at the bakery (with fresh plums!), we went to a modern art museum, and then felt it was time for lunch. So we walked for what felt like ages until we arrived at a beer garden located within Munich’s ginormous and lovely English Garden.

Being famished and thirsty, we had some Weissbier.

Weissbier in the Biergarten.

Molly got the first round. I got the second round.

I am not much of a beer drinker. I usually prefer wine. But this Weissbier is AWESOME. It’s all the flavors and things I like about beer, but none of the things I don’t. It’s not filtered, so it’s super flavorful, but it’s not bitter at all. Not too hoppy. Super cold. Doesn’t leave you feeling bloated, only refreshed. I may have drank a whole liter of Weissbier at this meal, which is quite a lot of beer for someone who doesn’t consider herself a beer drinker. (Probably didn’t hurt that I was very thirsty and quite hot).

Of course, at the Biergarten, we had some brat with kraut and mustard, a side of french fries and some awesome country-style kartoffelen (potatoes). Yum yum yum. So simple, yet so unbelievably good.

After lunch, we did a little shopping at an European clothing store you have probably never heard of, H & M, because who shops in stores that are available in America when they are in Europe? Oh wait….

Saw some more buildings and things…

This building is HUGE. And only part of its hugeness is captured by my picture.

It was about time for another meal here (are you noticing a pattern?), so we went to Lonely Planet’s top pick for beer halls in Munich, Augustiner Bräustuben. We were not disappointed.

Locals and tourists alike gathered around large rustic wooden tables, drinking tankards of beer and eating a variety of meat straight off the bone. Waiters wore Lederhosen and waitresses wore Dirndl (think Saint Paulie’s girls…). In fact, some guests were wearing their traditional bavarian attire, as well, because there is a great deal of Bavarian pride. And rightfully so. The food and beer were great. It was the kind of food where there are no fancy bells and whistles; it’s basic stuff done just perfectly. It’s the type of food that one might expect a soldier to eat before going to battle to pillage some villages. And the beer is what you would expect that soldier to drink upon return to celebrate his victory.

Molly had the pork knuckle. It was awesome.

I ordered the Bavarian mixed plate. It did not disappoint.

With a meatball, some pork saddle, a dumpling and mushrooms in a delightful gravy.

Later that evening, we waddled back to our hotel to dream about gummy candies, incredible bakeries, pork products and beer. Two days later, I decided to sign up for a half-marathon to undo some of the damage. But man, do the Bavarians know how to feed their people!