Wednesday, March 30, 2011

BAKED: Seth's Caramel Apple Birthday Cake

For my husband Seth's birthday, I decided to make the Caramel Apple Cake from BAKED. I was so excited to make it, and even made my own homemade applesauce to use in the apple cake!

The homemade applesauce was surprisingly EASY, and it was so delicious. I wasn't sure how many apples I'd need, so I went overboard and used 12, which was about double what I really needed, so we had lots of leftover! I used a variety--gala, pink lady, tart green, red delicious, etc. because in apple pie a variety is the most delicious, so I figured it would be the same for applesauce. Boy, that was a great assumption, because it was DE-licious! I don't think I'll ever want store-bought applesauce again.

The buttercream came together really well, too! I haven't ever made a cooked-with-flour-buttercream before, and I was really pleased with the consistency and taste.

The cake was definitely hearty, and someone called out when eating it that it tasted like a gingerbread cake...which might be kind of accurate. It would be a great fall cake, it's pretty...fallish. Seth liked it a lot, and that's what really matters, since he's not a cake guy!

*Thanks to Holly Badurek for the pictures!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday Cookies

I was so excited to find this post from Sisters Cafe on Secrets to the perfect Chocolate Chip cookie. Lets face it, we've had some good cookies and some bad cookies, sometimes from the same recipe! Their tips are excellent, and with a recipe to accompany their tips, how could I resist making some for Fat Tuesday?

It helped that my amazing baking friend Emily encouraged me after I shared the post on google Buzz. She is a gourmet, and we decided to get together and bake them so that we could see if they were really perfect, and Emily surprised me and baked some of her favorite recipe too so we'd have a comparison!

Photo credit goes to David Goodberg, who not only is a great photographer, but also has a book out on the market that is hitting B&N bookstores across the country! Keep an eye out for it, it's a good one!

I have to shamefully admit that I didn't have enough bread flour to add in the recipe, so I substituted some whole wheat pastry flour, which I think made them flatter than they would have been. The first taste I felt a little "Meh" about, but after coming home and eating half of a cooled cookie, I was hooked! Great texture, perfect chocolate disk addition, and some good vanilla flavor that shines through! The salt sprinkled on the top really hits the spot, too!

Emily's cookies are the perfect chewy cookie! They used all bread flour, so they had the perfect rise and fluff to them, and the texture shone through with might! (Forgot to have D take pictures of hers, oops!) If you're interested, I'll see if I can post her recipe, too!

On a side-note, I am going to be observing Lent this year by sacrificing Sugar. This might make my BAKED posts a little hard, as the temptation to eat BAKED creations is strong! I am going to be experimenting with Sugar Subsitutes (Powdered Honey, Xylitol, Agave, Honey, Stevia...) so I'll either post some subsitute reviews or we might take a break for a few weeks! (Fair warning!)

Monday, February 28, 2011

UN-BAKED: 5 Layer Greek Dip

A few weeks ago when I made these cupcakes for the baby shower, I also made this little greek hummus dip. Since my friend Holly took some beautiful shots of it, I thought I'd share!

I love this because it is SO easy, it incorporates some fresh veggies, and it has hummus--how could you go wrong, really??


Layer one on top of the other

-Hothouse Cucumbers
-De-seeded Chopped Tomatoes
-Chopped Kalamata Olives
-Feta Cheese (Optional. I prefer it without!)

Serve with Warmed Pita Bread, Pita Chips, or (my favorite!) TJs Baked Lentil Chips.

BAKED: Sunday Afternoon Cake

I was planning on making the Salt and Pepper cookies a few weeks early since I'll be out of town that weekend, but I found at the last minute that I didn't have all the required ingredients. We were having dinner at our friend's house, though, so I checked out BAKED to see what else they might have! Since it WAS Sunday Afternoon, we decided this was the perfect fit.

I followed the recipe as written, using all organic and/or Trader Joes ingredients.

The frosting was a first for me, and I L.O.V.E.D. it! It was nice and pudding-ee, and still light and fluffy. The, I've had better! It was a little dense for me, and possibly too...hearty for my taste. BUT, our guests loved it, and it was very moist, which is always a positive!

Credit goes to Holly Badurek, who took the LOVELY photos of the cake. Thanks so much Holly!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Devil's Food Cupcakes with Angel Frosting

I've been dying for a chance to use these pretty cupcake wrappers, and was excited with the black and white theme of the cupcakes to make extra good use of the b&w damask!
For this recipe, I used TJ's Cocoa Powder and Chocolate disks, and subsituted TJs hot cocoa for the coffee (I'm not a coffee drinker!) in the recipe. It was exciting using my candy thermometer for this project, and I felt a little fancy bringing the syrup to "soft ball" stage and cooking the eggs as I whipped the frosting. I also broke out my birthday present from some of my girlfriends--a complete cake decorating kit! Despite a few desperate phone calls for instruction, it was virtually snag-free!
These little devils brought out my evil side, because the "angel" frosting was not my favorite party of this treat. I think I'd rather stick to buttercream with some almond extract, and I would go so far as to say these couldn't have been too chocolaty with a chocolate buttercream, either. Don't get me wrong, the devil's food had a deep, rich, and intense chocolate flavor, I just REALLY like Chocolate. The way they were felt a little too...hostess cupcake with twinkie filling for me.

Our neighbors had some last minute guests that stopped by, and since I had 24 cupcakes with very few eaters, we tossed some their way and the cute little girls giggled and oo-ed over the pink pearl toppers. It turned out that we had some spur-of-the-moment special guests, and the sister in attendance had her 12th birthday last weekend so we busted out the candles and made it a special birthday celebration just for her! We served the cupcakes with TJs Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, which was a perfect compliment to the moist cake.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BAKED Makeup Recipe: Sweet n' Salty Brownies

Since I started BAKED explorations later than the blogging group, I have wanted to have a few "Makeup" sessions, and what a better weekend to do it than Valentines day, where I could try out my new brownie cutter on BAKED's famous Sweet N' Salty Brownies!

I was SUPER impressed with how easy it was to make these. It was the first time I've ever made homemade brownies (and the second time I've ever made brownies, period!). For how much I love a good brownie, I have always been nervous about them for some reason. Well, worry no more, because they're surprisingly simple, and De-Licious!

I followed the recipe exactly, and was ecstatic about the results. The fleur de sol caramel is baked into the brownies, and then I drizzled some over the finished product as well. The fleur de sol sprinkled on the top was just enough, and we found ourselves devouring them on valentines day!
Since I have restrictions on my sugar intake during the week, we shared our good fortune with some friends and neighbors. I usually feel the need to add a caveat to any dish I make, but these came with my whole-hearted recommendation and no-reserves stamp of approval!

Happy Lover's day!

Monday, February 14, 2011

BAKED Sunday Mornings: "Red" Velvet Whoopie Pies

To be honest, I haven't ever been a fan of Red Velvet anything. Why? Because I kind of hate Red 40. And by kind of, I mean, I avoid eating Red M&Ms, Skittles, and ANY sort of Red drink. In fact, the only thing I consciously eat that contains Red 40 are Swedish Fishies, and every time I'm eating them, I think to myself about how I am going to contact the company and see if I can buy an entire batch that does not contain Red 40. (Do you think they'd do it?) But I digress.

So, when the Whoopie Pie came up, I cringed at the thought. All week I was planning on buying India Tree Natural Red food dye, but didn't order from Amazon in time, and the local stores didn't have any. So...I almost just passed on this one. But then, as I was reading the description of Red Velvet in the recipe book, I learned that the original Red Velvet didn't have obscene amounts of Red food dye, but rather was named for the reaction of the Cocoa to the acidic or alkaline ingredients in the cake, casting a reddish hue on the cake. It was only after it was named that people decided to "Boost" the red with artificial color. Ahhhh, at last, a solution!!

I made the pies, sans Red 40, and added some freeze dried strawberry powder (Freeze Dried Strawberries that I threw in the food processor) to the Cream Cheese Frosting for a little "Valentines-ey" feel. Seth and I ate them last night for the end of our "Valentines Day-Before party" and they were delicious! I liked the cake texture of the pies, and appreciated a healthy dose of frosting between the layers--because we all know the cake-to-frosting ratio should get as close to 1:1 as possible, right? Right.

As an added touch after I took the pictures, I placed diced strawberries all around the edges in the frosting for a festive and tasty touch! I wish I would have taken pictures of that, they were adorable!

Recipe Link