Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fail: Cake Pop (★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆)

Ah, the wonder that is cake pops.

How can you not love them?  At the very least, if you don't like cake you have to find little spheres of Cookie Monster's head with a mini chocolate chip in his mouth absolutely adorable.
Sadly, this story does not actually involve the sugared king.  No, this story is more akin to a tragedy.  A tragedy on so many levels.  Read on with me...

Once there was a baketress.  
She liked creating tasty treats, especially if they were chocolate.  
And she was also not afraid of a challenge.  

There was a spreading trend throughout the land.
One where mini cake bites were served on sticks.
And often reminiscent of childhood characters or of Han Solo in Carbonite. 

This baketress found herself called to the little treats.
Not wanting to miss this cultural phenomenon, 
she scoured high and low for a worthy recipe.

She followed the details to a tee.
For a dutiful baketress she certainly was.

Painstakingly dipping each stick into various forms of chocolate...
Insuring that each pop would would remain intact against the evil forces of gravity.

Carefully molding each morsel...
                        And chilling to the proper temperature...
                          to prevent crumbling.

Our heroine assembled the sweets,
one by one.

But alas, when her enticing neon green became a shade of infant food,
She should have taken this as an awful foreshadowing.
...A baking curse, if you will...

The pops she had so carefully fashioned suddenly turned to mush.
The blobs became too heavy and fell off the sicks.

She tried to make the best of the situation by changing tactics.
Maybe rounded cake bites would fare better?

But these turned out no more worthy than the rest.

As the last remnants lay wasted on the perfectly placed parchment paper, 
our unrelenting baketress had to admit that she was no match for the angered forces at hand.

Yellow beaded sugar crystals slid to the ground like defeated tears. 


But this story doesn't end there...

Flash forward to Christmas one year later, the little baketress was bestowed a cake pop making kit.  
She was apprehensive at first - the sheer thought stirred up old resentments,
But with the help of her benefactor, together they perfected the confectionary treat. 

It appeared as if the spell had been broken! 

And cake pops were enjoyed by all. 

The End.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pumpkin Bread Pudding Muffins (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)

I love the Fall.  I love the leaves.  The slight nip in the air.  The clothes, colors, and most of all Thanksgiving.  When it was my duty to bring muffins to our cafe again, I wanted to conjure up these comforting fall memories.

I go to Starbucks a lot.  Too much, especially since they make a mediocre latte.  But they're convenient, therefore, I love them.  And that's half the battle.  Starbucks offers a pumpkin muffin with a cream cheese top that looks fabulous.  Mind you, I've never actually tried it.  Starbucks isn't where I go if I want a baked good, but the idea of it was all I needed.

Pumpkin it was.

There were a ton of pumpkin cream cheese muffin recipes.  But most had a cream cheese filling, which is not what I was going for.

And wouldn't you know it, the recipe I ended up deciding on was a homage to the Starbucks version:
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins Like Starbucks

Because I used such a large muffin pan, I had to cook them longer than normal and the tops got a little dark.  They didn't taste burned though.  So I decided to rectify this by dusting them with a little powdered sugar. Viola!

Instead of using the prescribed amount of canned pumpkin, I just plopped the entire thing in there.  It ended up working really well.  They were so moist!  Almost like a pumpkin bread pudding.

I also opted out on the pumpkin pie spice.  Honestly, it saved this recipe.  I like pumpkin pie, but I didn't want these muffins to have the same "tang."  I wanted them to be reminiscent of fall, but also to be able to stand alone.

These were delicious.  The cream cheese top was the perfect off-set to the pumpkin flavor of the bottoms.  I would definitely make these again.

Linking up here Oct 2012.  Because these were so good they should be revisited.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Brown Butter Brownies (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)

I'm not really sure how much explanation these require.  




                                     Almost too delicious.  

I follow this blog--Ice Cream Before Dinner.  And one amazing day, these showed up: Brown Butter Brownies

I just knew I had to try them.  They looked incredible!  

As sacrilegious as this might sound, I've never liked homemade brownies.   

Wait.    Stop.     Hear me out...

All of the ones I've been given have been either too dry or too cake-like.  I want fudgy, slightly gooey brownies...the likes of which I've only ever found in a box.  But when I saw the words: "brown butter"...I thought, maybe this is it, the from-scratch recipe that will finally meet my lofty expectations. 

And you know what?  ...These were pretty good!  Probably the most intense brownie I've ever had, but they had the moist chewy goodness that I require.

Problem though.  These suckers are not just unhealthy...they should be banned.  

Five sticks of butter...  Five!!  

I felt bad just doing it. With every new stick added to the saucepan, my arteries closed a little more.  Who invents recipes like this?!?!

My advice: Let these pictures be enough for you.  I couldn't, in good conscience, make these again.  They were delicious, I'll give them that.  But for now, I'll just stick with the box.  

The search for the ever elusive brownie recipe continues.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blueberry Banana Bran Muffins (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)


It was my turn to bake for the cafe again.  I decided to take a slightly different approach this time because, whelp, my french toast muffins hadn't gone over as well as I'd hoped. WHA??!  How could they not, right? But you can't argue with the facts and the facts of our church cafe are these:

      1) Quiche sells.  You don't have the quiche and you brace yourself for the  
          repercussions. Must have quiche.
      2) We have a lot of healthy eaters.  Whether they really are or not, the title "french 
          toast" alone is enough to keep away even the most easily swayed of healthy 
      3) Most people have already eaten breakfast so they are looking for either a snack 
         (not a large muffin) or something more akin to lunch (once again...not a large 

Since I am a baker and not a quiche maker, I went with...what I thought was...a very reasonable compromise: Blueberry Banana Bran Muffins

Banana and Blueberries = Fruit
Bran = Fiber
Fruit + Fiber = Healthy

Right?  Just go with me, k?

I went with a recipe very similar to this one: Best Banana Bran Muffins

Can't go wrong with a crumb topping. Yum!

Instead of wheat bran, I used crushed up fiber cereal.  All Bran is my favorite.  

These turned out really well.  The tops were especially delicious.  The bottoms could have used more oil for increased moistness, but then we'd be creeping into "fattening" territory. It's a catch-22 really.  

I ate one.  That's all that matters.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

French Toast Muffins (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)

Before I get to the good stuff in this post, I have to rave about this awesome apron my brother and sister got me for Christmas!  Isn't it the cutest thing ever!  I never wear an apron, but now that I have this I can't help but wear one.  If feel like a 1950's, perfectly coiffed housewife.  Sigh.

Okay now on to your regularly scheduled baking entry.  Let the drooling commence.  Although, if you already felt the need to drool over my cupcake apron, I totally understand.

I love french toast!  Especially when it's actually a "Frenched" croissant or covered in apples and whipped cream.  I got the idea for these when our church cafe was trying to get a baking team together.  I knew that if I was going to bring something that it had to be irresistible.  And what's more enticing than french toast?      

I found a recipe that had sort of bread pudding/french toast topping that I just couldn't resist: French Toast Muffins

It called for a loaf of cinnamon bread, so I bought, what I thought was the mother of all cinnamon loaves...Cinnabon.  If we are going by fat and sugar content, it definitely takes the cake.  But if we are going by blissful deliciousness...it fails miserably.  It was just like plain toast with a cinnamon swirl, AND it was dry.  It actually needed butter!  Goodbye calories.  It was worth the try, but I would have done just as well with a generic cinnamon bread and would've been $4 richer.  

Cinnabon Loaf.  Teeny tiny slices.

Thankfully it didn't really matter how wonderful the loaf was since I had to soak the cut up pieces in a bath of eggs and milk.  

The "french toast" topping.  Yummy!

I spooned a little bit of the french toast mix on to the top of each muffin.  Then when they were finished cooking I brushed the tops with a maple syrup and cinnamon glaze.  Sooooo goooood.

I've always loved the size and shape of Starbucks muffins.  So I went to Michael's Craft Store and purchased a large "cone" shaped muffin pan.  It only cooks eight at a time so I had to make several batches, but it was worth it.  I also didn't want to pay for specialized muffin liners so I fashioned these out of parchment paper.  Not my favorite part of the night, but it was doable.  The problem is if you don't spoon the batter perfectly, the little remnants burn and leave ugly marks while the batter is cooking in the oven.  

The tops of these were amazing!  Since the muffins were pretty "long" the bottoms were more dry than I would have liked.  I would suggest adding some pudding or vanilla yogurt to the batter...even using half and half instead of milk if you are feeding these to your friends, but don't plan on eating them yourself...jk, jk.  

Besides adding some vanilla yogurt, next time I would make twice the amount of french toast topping and just shove more down into the middle.  Because if you're eating a french toast muffin for breakfast you obviously aren't too concerned about nutrition so make it count! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Oatmeal Apple Crisp (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)

After I made that "Simple Apple Tart," I was left with quite a few apples. So I 'obviously' needed to bake something with them. This time though, I wanted to aim for something a little sweeter...more on the "comfort" food side of the spectrum.

I found this recipe for an apple crisp on the Southern Food section of about.com that fit the bill: Apple Crisp

First you cut the butter into the flour mixture.

Add in the oatmeal and your nut of choice (I recommend pecans).

It's not gorgeous, but that's not the point of this type of dessert.
Sloppy and delicious is the way to go.

I would definitely make an Apple Crisp again. It's super easy and uses minimal ingredients. Topping it off with ice cream makes it infinitely better. A al mode is always best. I can't say that I'm attached to this recipe though. I know there is better out there...one that will blow my socks off. Although, that probably means more work, more ingredients, and more calories.

But I'm up for the challenge.