Monday, March 31, 2008

Charleston Recap

I made a special point of making the girls swing by the Cupcake bakery in Charleston so that I could try them out and return with yummy pictures. Unfortunately, they had signs asking that no pictures be taken in the store, so I had to settle for a picture from their website.

I chose a chocolate peanut butter cupcake. There was no way I could even sample more than one after all the sweets we had already eaten. Hot pralines are irresistible! The cupcake was good, but not amazing. The icing looked lovely piled high on the cupcake, but I think presentation has to come after taste. The icing was wonderful (better than the fairly plain cake), but there was way too much of it. The cupcake was smaller even than normal (not filling the liner), so there really was more icing than cake. Boo! Still, I loved the peanut butter icing; with 1/4 as much, it would have been better.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My absense

I realize that I've been incredibly silent, but I did have to put off procrastinating for a bit and start working on my paper that is due entirely too soon. I'm also off to Charleston for the weekend, so I've really been trying to get as much done as possible before I take off tomorrow at noon.

I'm headed to Charleston with a few girls for a bachelorette party/3L escape from Lex, and I'm incredibly excited! I plan on spending too much (loan) money, having too good of a time, and coming away from it with outlet-priced clothing, a few extra pounds, and embarrassing pictures. It seems like a recipe for a great weekend. We have foam tiaras!!!

I promise to return to baking (that's not from a box) when I'm back from Charleston and have turned in this paper.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Giant Cupcake!!!

I have very little willpower. Some of you may have noticed that as a theme. I just bought the most amazing/rarely used baking implement ever! The giant cupcake pan. Of course, this means that I need to use it in order to justify the purchase. I have no idea what kind of giant cupcake to make, but I think it'll be something nice and girly. Perhaps a giant cosmo cupcake?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Master Baker March Challenge - Part IV

This was the second banana bar attempt. I tried something that is more cakey and solid. I like the way it turned out.

Frosted Banana Reese's Bars

1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. softened shortening
2 eggs
3 ripe mashed bananas
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in bowl. Beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Layer Reese's Eggs on top. They will sink to the botom on their own in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

2 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ripe mashed banana
2 c. powdered sugar

Cream together first 4 ingredients then gradually add sugar until smooth. Frost bars when they are cool.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

I promise to update with the results of the last banana bar recipe soon, but for now, enjoy the holiday!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Master Baker March Challenge Part III

I did try the first recipe for banana bars with Reese's eggs. The flavor combination was delicious, and the oatmeal made it simultaneously lighter and heartier, which was yummy. However, it was more crumbly than I really wanted, and even doubling the bananas of the recipe that I based it on, I was looking for a stronger banana flavor. Although it wasn't what I imagined, it was definitely a yummy end result. (Sorry, but I didn't take more pictures. :( )

Reese's Egg and Banana Bars

2 large ripe bananas
2/3 cup butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups quick oatmeal (uncooked)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark)
8 Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs

Finely chop bananas.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then stir in vanilla.
Add oatmeal and brown sugar. Heat and stir 5 minutes.
Press 1/2 of oatmeal mixture into the bottom of a greased 9" square pan.
Layer bananas over crust.
Layer Reese's Eggs over bananas.
Cover with remaining oatmeal mixture, and press down lightly.
Refrigerate a couple hours before cutting.

Then, I worked on another combination that I've wanted to try - coconut cookies with a mini Cadbury creme egg on top. I imagined this looking a bit like a bird's nest with an egg in it, but the cookies flattened out as they cooked. I suppose I could reduce the butter in the recipe to try to make it keep more of the shape, but I'm too afraid of losing the amazing taste that it currently has. I think I'm content with the recipe as it is, even if it's more flat than I expected. Within a few minutes of taking them out of the oven, I had already eaten five of them! I'm really pleased.

Nestegg Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 + 2 cups flaked coconut
4 dozen mini Cadbury Creme Eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream butter until fluffy.
Add sugars gradually, beating well after each addition.
Add egg and mix.
Combine flour, soda and salt; then add to butter mixture, 1/4 at a time.
Add vanilla and 1 1/2 cups coconut.
Roll dough into teaspoon-sized balls and then roll in reserved 2 cups coconut.
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Just a couple of things I want to try out:

-coffee cupcakes with the Bailey's icing from the St. Patty's Day cupcakes - basically, an Irish Coffee cupcake. (I love that icing!)
-banana bars with a layer of Reese's eggs (the big, flat ones). (I tried the first version of this tonight, and while I like it, I want something with more banana flavor. I'll post later with the results of test #1)
-coconut nest cookies with a mini Cadbury Creme Egg nestled on top. (I'm most excited about this one).

...But first I should really write this paper.

I have a problem...

I spend a majority of my time in class on the internet, but that's not the problem. The problem is the sites I look at. I can't get away from cupcake sites! They all look so good and make me want to bake and eat (when I should probably be working on law school stuff)! Cupcakes Take the Cake has once again given me something to obsess over. Look at them!!! The cupcakes are beautiful, but I'm really obsessed with the packaging. It's wonderful! It is creative, and cute and keeps the cupcakes nice and safe (and I suspect that the shoebox packaging actually isn't too pricey)!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Master Baker March Challenge - Part II

I felt the need to use more of the reese's eggs. I find peanut butter and chocolate quite inspiring! This time, it was Easter Rice Krispy treats. I used the box recipe as a base, just adding in the eggs and substituting peeps for the marshmallows. I opted for yellow, since it is the closest color to plain white marshmallows, but I imagine that pink, purple or green would be more festive.

Easter Rice Krispy Treats

6 cups rice krispy cereal
3 tbs butter
3 packages of peeps (I used 2 of bunnies and 1 of chicks)
20 reese's eggs

Spray a large casserole pan with cooking spray.

Melt butter in saucepan over low-ish heat.

Add the peeps and stir over heat until all melted. (This part is fun, because you get to watch them dissolve, and they keep their eyes much longer than you'd expect!)

Stir in reese's eggs until melted (this should be much faster).

Remove from heat and stir in rice krispies.

Press into the greased pan using a sheet of parchment paper.

Let cool and serve.

I'm very pleased with the way this turned out! I think it's just the right amount of peanut butter and chocolate - not overpowering, but enough that you notice. I'm incredibly tempted to just eat them all myself. That can't be good.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Master Baker March Challenge Part I

Master Baker hosts a baking contest each month, and each month there is a different theme ingredient. This month's ingredient is Easter Candy. I am definitely inspired! I started with a list of about 15 different ideas and variations thereof. My favorite was a cupcake with a Cadbury mini creme egg in the middle, but a quick search turned up evidence that someone else has already tested and come up with a good recipe for it, which they are already entering, so I went back to the drawing board.

Another immediate thought was that peeps belong in some sort of s'mores-inspired dessert (which could be triggered by seeing s'mores cupcakes recently) I opted for more of a pie/bar sort of dessert. It has a gram cracker crust, a layer of peep bunnies, and then a layer of chocolate ganache. Heated, up for about 30 seconds in the microwave, the idea is that it's just like a

s'more, all melty and gooey. I just have to try this one out and make sure that it actually is good.

Then, I wandered the Easter candy aisle in the grocery store, and found true inspiration! I had no idea that there were Reese's easter eggs that are peanut butter filled chocolate. I had to make a cheesecake with them!

Reese's Egg Cheesecake

1 bag of reese's eggs
6 oz cream cheese
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 oreo crust (I use a deep dish or extra capacity pre-made. If you use a regular size pre-made, you'll have extra batter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unwrap and layer reese's eggs on the bottom of the pie crust. (I didn't use all of them, but somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 of a big bag).
Beat softened cream cheese until fluffy.
Add milk slowly, and beat until smooth.
Add vanilla and egg, and beat until combined.
Pour cream cheese mixture over eggs.
Bake at 350 for 35-40 min.

I think next I'll try this recipe with a layer of mini Cadbury creme eggs. I just have to decide what to submit for the contest. I have a few more ideas, but I think I'm most excited about the Reese's cheesecake.

EDIT: After taste-testing the reese's cheesecake, I think that I want to try again with an actual sprinform pan. While the ready-made crusts are easier, I just don't feel like the ratio is right that way. I think if I could pile the cheesecake higher, it might compensate better for the sugary richness of the layer of peanut butter chocolate on the bottom. I'll try take 2 when I recover from the sugar coma I'm in. Perhaps it'll do better as mini cheesecakes with just one egg each? This requires more thought and a lot of veggies to flush out my system. It also requires that someone eat all the food coming out of my kitchen!
EDIT again: Everyone else seems quite happy with the richness. It's possible that I was biased from eating too many sweets before getting to this taste-testing.

St. Patty's Day

I did indeed make the Guinness cupcakes. They were AMAZING! Of course, I probably didn't need to make 4 dozen of them. Maybe I should have checked to see how many it made before stating in on it. The icing was perfect, and the whole thing was quite rich and satisfying. Now, I just have to find a way to get rid of all of them.

On another note, I have managed to break 3 cameras this year, so I was quite digicam-less. I gave in and bought another camera, but I couldn't get the one I wanted in town, so I will have to wait until I receive it from Amazon. In the meantime, I went up to Wal-Mart and picked up a super-cheap ($20) digicam, just so that I can at least get some images of my baking up, while I'm so inspired. The quality will be awful for a while, but I figured that bad pictures are better than none. So, I apologize.

Mmmmm... St. Patty's Day!

I just found this blog through another blog, and I'm drooling! A delicious cupcake recipe a week sounds like wonderful inspiration! The Five Star Irish Stout: Chocolate Guinness Stout Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache and Bailey's Buttercream Swirl looks AMAZING! I wish that I hadn't had so much work to do for class yesterday, because I would have loved to recreate this one for today!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm back from Hawaii! (and somewhat recovered)

I had an amazing time! There were snorkeling, and helicopter-riding, and hiking, and amazing food, and waterfalls, and beaches, and all-in-all, it was paradise. I think that I really ought to take the bar out there instead of here. Really, it's just so perfect. I highly commend the trip - if I had unlimited time and money, I never would have left.

As the purpose of the trip was a birthday of one of the people we were visiting, I felt I couldn't show up empty-handed. So I baked! I was rushed, so I went with a recipe that I've done before, but modified it a bit. I made the brown sugar pound cake, but tried adding dark chocolate chips, and splitting it to make 2 bundt cakes. That solved my earlier problem of overflowing, and actually made two perfectly-sized cakes. It makes me a little angry to think that the original recipe didn't just say that! I finished it up right before we left so that it would be as fresh as possible when we arrived, and I let it cool in the car on the way to meet Chris. At Chris's place, I wrapped it up and tucked it in my luggage. Surprisingly, it came out largely intact (with one edge only slightly squished) more than 24 hours later, when we actually arrived at our first Hawaiian destination - an amazing B&B on the big island.