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Tag 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

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!

Miscellaneous Viennese Things

I’m in Europe – on a quasi vacay. So my blogging has been put the wayside. Forgive me. Here is a smattering of Viennese things that I have been enjoying. I am too tired from a day of sightseeing to write a funny story about it, so why don’t you just pretend I’ve written something hilarious and chuckle out loud to yourself on occasion? Great. Thanks!

Mit Liebe,

Rachel

Sacher Torte: A intensely rich, dense chocolate cake, covered with a layer of chocolate ganache, and with a middle layer of apricot jam. Served with an espresso and a bit of schlagobers (whipped cream), this cake is not to be missed.

 

Austrian Gulasch: Unlike Hungarian Gulasch which is a mixture of meat and hearty vegetables, Austrian Gulasch is a thick stew of just beef. Then they add this massive bread dumpling (yum) and a fried egg (in case you hadn’t gotten enough protein from the whole cow served up in a bowl of yummy gravy). Solid, though I might prefer the Hungarian dish to the Austrian preparation. After a cold day though, this really hit the spot.

 

The gardens at Schonbrunn Palace will blow your freaking mind. Aside from being gorgeous, entrance to the gardens is free. This is where I am training for my upcoming half-marathon because the grounds are extensive, and great for running because everything is covered in tiny pebbles, not cement.

 

More of Schonbrunn gardens. That is the “little gazebo” built out behind the palace. And it’s own reflecting pond. Running here totally beats running on a treadmill (or running pretty much anywhere else in the world, for that matter).

 

Pelicans at Schonbrunn Zoo. Yep, that’s right – the oldest zoo in Europe – possibly the WORLD! This zoo is on the pricey side (15Euro) but sooooo worth it. Bring a sack lunch and spend the whole day.

That is a sealion, jumping completely out of the water to grab a fish from the zookeeper’s hand. Also at Schonbrunn Zoo. The show was incredible.

 

 

 

Well, this is embarrassing…

Posted on
Well, this is embarrassing…

I set out this summer to learn how to make yummy Austrian food. I bought an Austrian cookbook even.

First on my list to make: Linzer Torte. A sweet, nutty pastry crust, almost a shortbread, holds a layer of tangy current jam, covered by a criss-cross of more pastry, sprinkled with sliced almonds and powdered sugar. Sounds good, no?

Though I have not actually tried one, I know what sounds yummy when I hear it, so I figured that I am decent enough baker to undertake this task.

In my head, the results would look like this:Image

Being that I am subletting an apartment for the summer, I forgot about all the loops that one must jump through when learning to bake in a foreign land. Do I have the correct pots? When can I buy ground almonds? How do I say ground almonds? What is the cooking temperature in Celcius? Is the oven I am using true to temperature, or is it off a little bit? Will the fact that I am making a pastry when it’s 90 degrees in my apartment with no air conditioning affect the outcome?

I pondered these all quickly and threw caution to the wind. I mean, how hard could it be, right? It’s like a pie, and I have made about a million pies. No biggy.

Boy was I wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I couldn’t find ground almonds, so I figured I would hand chop mine until they were very fine. I got them pretty small, but never the same texture as buying ground.

I didn’t let the dough chill enough because my refrigerator here was actually pretty spotty on the day.

I swore that I had seen a 9 inch spring form pan in the apartment, but in reality, I had only seen the bottom portion of the spring form pan, but the sides were no where to be found. So I used an 11″ tart pan that had seen better days.

I converted the degrees on the Internet, but this oven is an electric convection oven that is warmer/faster than my oven at home.

I was sweating buckets (not into the dough, mind you). The dough wasn’t properly chilled. The pan was too big. The almonds were too course. This porridge is too hot! That porridge is too cold! Wait… wrong story.

Anyway, when the evening was over, this is what I had made:

NAILED IT!

At least she tasted good. I doubt she tasted how real linzer torte is supposed to taste, but still, the butter, nuts and jam, it’s hard to go wrong.

I know this picture is going to be all over Pinterest any minute now for being so lovely.

They say it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? Well, let this be a lesson to those 4 people who read my blog: sometimes even bloggers make mistakes. Shocking, I know. I still haven’t bought the correct pan, but when I do, I will try again. Maybe it will be better next time. Maybe I will redeem myself. And maybe not. I guess that’s part of life’s journey.

Yum, right?

Like how I turned this into some greater life lesson even though in reality it was me failing abysmally in the kitchen and throwing a small tantrum?

Mit Liebe,

Rachel