What Cat Ate

where the good eats are

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Chewy Buttercrunch Squares

OK, so I tried two recipes from Baking by Flavor this week. This bar cookie is a chewy blondie that has been richly flavored with toasted almonds, sweetened coconut, almond extract, and my candy bar downfall, chocolate covered toffee bars, a.k.a. Heath bars. Actually, in this case, I used D'aim bars, which I just happened to pick up at a recent trip to Ikea. Yum. Ms. Yockelson's book is a must for anyone who enjoys baking. She's divided the chapters by flavor such as lemon, spice, vanilla and buttercrunch, depending on the type of sweets you're in the mood for, and every recipe I've tried so far has been fabulous.

Oatmeal, dried fruit, and coconut spice cookies

This week's experiment was a cookie from Lisa Yockelson's Baking by Flavor. With a combination of cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, and ground cloves, plus almost two cups of dried cranberries, apricots, and cherries, sweetened coconut, and walnuts, I couldn't have asked for anymore good things in one cookie. The cookie was densely chewy from the fruit and coconut with the walnuts contributing a nice toasty crunch. For a girl who loves her sweets to be fruity and spicy, this cookie was a real treat.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Quaker Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I have a couple of oatmeal cookie recipes that have been my standby forever. One in a dense button cookie that you can pop in your mouth by the handful. The other is a chewy jumbo cookie that is no fewer than 5 inches across and contains a laundry list of ingredients like two types of brown sugar, two types of raisins, two types of oats, and coconut. I've talked about both cookies in earlier blog entries.

So, today, when I was in the market for a new oatmeal raisin cookie, I wasn't sure where to look. And wouldn't you know that I found one right on the top of the Quaker Oatmeal Box. Quaker calls them "Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies," and they weren't kidding. The final product is like a combination of all the things that I love about both standby cookies. It is a thin cookie, about 2 1/2 inches across, slightly crisp on the outside with a caramelized chewiness at the center, and just a hint of cinnamon.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Long time no blog

It has been a while since I last blogged and I have missed it! Even without the blogging, I have still done a bunch of baking in the meantime that I want to write about. I took a class this semester and baked something for my classmates once a week. This amounted to a bunch of successful and not so successful experiments, but I will only write about the highlights:

1) Top on the list were Paula Deen's pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting. The consistency was somewhere between a bar cookie and a dense, moist cake and the flavor was spicy and pumpkiny (is that a real word?) with the salty sweet cream cheese frosting as the perfect topper. yum. (this recipe can be found at foodtv.com)

2) Chocolate caramel brownies came in just behind the pumpkin bars only because it is a recipe that I have baked up often. It comes from my granny (and recently I found a similar recipe on the jumbo bag of nestle choc. chips). If you love caramel, and I do, this is the BEST recipe and super easy. All it takes is a box of german chocolate cake mix, evaporated milk, a bag of caramel squares, some melted butter, and some choc. chips. The bar is half brownie, half caramel bar, and completely delicious.

3) The last two recipes come from my new favorite baking book, Chocolate, Chocolate, by Lisa Yockelson. One was a chocolate chunk cookie, which was soft and and buttery and full of bittersweet chocolate chunks. As you chop up the block of bittersweet chocolate into chunks, you also get a lot of chocolate shavings which create a beautiful marbelized effect in the cookie dough when it's baked. The other recipe was the chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. Because of the addition of the oatmeal, this was a much more of a chewy, stick to your ribs type of cookie. Both cookies would definitely satisfy any chocolate sweet tooth.

You can download my PDF version of the Caramel Chocolate Brownie recipe here.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

date walnut cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting

When I came across this recipe in Eleanor Klivan's book Cupcakes, I had to try it. The combination of dates, walnuts, and orange cream cheese seemed the perfect flavor for fall baking. The cupcake was dark and spicy as a result of the dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and molasses, and also extremely moist from the addition of the dates and buttermilk. The only thing I would change in the future, however, would be to not add the orange zest to the frosting and do a plain cream cheese frosting instead. Overall, the cupcake is a keeper.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ginger Bread Pudding

My supper club met again last night and this time the theme was Nigella Lawson's recipes. My recipe was a ginger bread pudding that was spicy and sweet. The ginger flavor came from ginger preserves which were spread on and sandwiched between slices of whole wheat bread and from a mixture of ginger and granulated brown sugar which was sprinkled on top. Nigella uses a majority of heavy cream in the custard as opposed to milk and this gave the pudding a super moist and tender consistency. We ate the pudding with ice cream, but it would be even better with some warm vanilla custard poured over top.

the best oatmeal cookies

This is not a new recipe to me, but it is one of my favorites so I wanted to post it. If you're looking for a chewy oatmeal cookie with a taste of brown sugar and vanilla, and loaded with raisins, this is it. The recipe takes about 30 minutes, cooking time included. The key to the chewiness is to undercook the cookies. So, while the top of the cookies may look underdone, if the bottom has a golden color to it, its finished.

You can download my PDF version of the recipe here.

Friday, September 02, 2005

oatmeal baby cakes with penuche frosting

This tasty cake has earned a place in my repertoire of spicy sweets. I originally baked the cake in an 8-inch round cake pan but was unhappy with the thought of a single layer cake. I decided, then to use a biscuit cutter to make layered baby cakes, with a much better result. The cake is moist and spicy and is frosted with a super sweet brown sugar frosting. If one wanted to make a regular sized layer cake, I think this recipe could easily be doubled.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

pizza rustica

I am in love with fresh ricotta. I can't believe that I have never tried cooking with it before now. I found this recipe in Baking with Julia. It is essentially a savory deep-dish pie with a shortbread lattice crust and a ricotta-prosciutto filling. I was nervous that the ricotta would be overwhelmingly rich, but it was lightened nicely by the addition of a few eggs. The filling puffs up as it cooks and cools to a dense custard. The crust is slightly sweet from the addition of 1/3 cup sugar and is the perfect compliment to the salty creaminess of the filling. This recipe would be perfect for dinner with a nice salad, or for brunch. By the way, although this dish looks complicated, it is SUPER easy and really only takes about an hour from start to finish (not including cooling).

jumbo homemade cows tails

I have discovered the BEST candy recipe ever. Anyone who has tried Goetze's cows tails or caramel creams, will love this recipe. It is as simple as melting some caramels with butter and 10x sugar, spreading the mixture out on parchment, laying down marshmallows, rolling it up into a 16 inch log, cooling the log for a couple of hours, and slicing into bite size pieces. yum yum.

You can download my PDF version of the recipe here.

This is a test

I am doing a test to see if I can create a link to my recipes. Let's see if this works!

Recipe Downloads:

the (almost) perfect pink cupcake

So I made these cupcakes. They were going to be the quintessential cupcake: a moist, golden buttery cake with a fluffy hurt your teeth sweet pink buttercream. The cake part was an absolute success. It was as yummy and buttery as one of those Duncan Hines boxed butter cakes that I grew up on with none of the chemical aftertaste. The success of the buttercream depends on where you come down on the dessert debate. For those who claim they don't have too much of a sweet tooth, this buttercream was perfect. It was light, voluminous, and on the lighter side of the sweet meter. But, for those of us, myself definitely included, who like desserts to have a knock-your-socks off sweetness, this was not it. My sweet tooth and I have come to realize that we need to find a buttercream that pretty much mimics the dense, overly sweet, vegetable shortening buttercreams that can be found on grocery store sheetcakes. If anyone has any recipes they care to share, let me know!

You can download my PDF version of the recipe here.

Monday, August 22, 2005

almond pound cake

My tendency with baking is to try recipes that are to the extreme either in size or in sweetness or in ingredients. Today I decided to try a classic, simple pound cake. I found this particular cake in Sweet Maria's Bakery cookbook. The recipe calls for one stick of almond paste that is mixed in with the batter. I decided to save a little of the paste, roll it out, and layer it in with the batter. The cake was moist and almondy, and the extra layer of almond paste was just the thing to give the cake a little extra flavor punch. If I make this cake again, I think I will definitely layer more almond paste and maybe even sprinkle a little on top.

You can download my PDF version of the recipe here.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

canning and pickling

My mom and I made a trip to the farmers market this weekend and picked up 30 pounds of beautiful roma tomatoes. We spent all day Sunday chopping, sauteing, simmering, and canning to turn them into a DELICIOUS tomato sauce. On the side, we put up a pickle of spicy dilled okra and dilly wax beans. Now, all we have to do is wait for two long weeks until the pickles have reached their full potency. Hooray for the summer harvest:)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

bigger is better

My newest obsession is jumbo-size cookies. These two cookies, a sugar cookie from a recent Martha Stewart Living and a "cowboy cookie" from the El Paso Chile Company cookbook are my first attempts. The recipe for the sugar cookie actually called for lemon juice and zest, but I chose to use vanilla and cinnamon sugar instead. Not only were they wonderfully ENORMOUS, measuring six inches across, but they had satisfying buttery sweetness with a chewy texture that was nicely offset by the slight crunch of the cinnamon sugar coating. The cowboy cookies contained a mountain of ingredients: shredded coconut, golden raisins, chocolate chips, granola, and chopped pecans. The texture of the cookie was good, as was the cookie itself. I found however, that having so many add-ins in one cookie meant that my taste buds didn't know what to focus on. I think that in the case of add-ins, simpler may be the way to go.

You can download my PDF version of the recipes here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

pear brioche bread pudding

This is one of the most elegant looking desserts I have ever seen. Unfortunately, the taste is utter disappointment. Ideally, bread pudding should be rich, eggy and tender; a magical process through which stale bread is transformed into one of the most comforting of desserts. This bread pudding, however, failed on all counts. It may have been the technique: the recipe called for putting the bread and pears into the muffin papers and then pouring the custard over. This meant that the bread did not get the good soaking that it should have. It could have also have been the composition of the dessert itself. While the bread and pears look striking stacked up against one another, this stacking prevented them from melding together as a good bread pudding should. Eating this pudding was like taking bites of two separate desserts: baked pears, and crusty/semi-soft brioche, neither of which was very good. FYI- this recipe comes from Little Cafe Cakes by Julie LeClerc.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

ginger pumpkin cupcakes

It rained all day today and I needed to cook up some comfort food. The warm, spicy smell of the baking cupcake was just the thing to chase the chill away. Topped with a light cream cheese frosting, the cupcake tasted as good as it smelled! FYI: this recipe can be found in Cupcakes by Elinor Klivan. I am going to try and set up links to the recipes of all the treats I have baked so far, but until then...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

basic white bread

It has been a long time since I last made bread and I am hooked again. This recipe came from Baking with Julia, based on Julia Child's PBS series. It was a rather quick process, only about 2.5 to 3 hours from start to finish including kneading, both rises, and baking. The only difficult part was that because I used straight high-gluten bread flour (instead of a combo of bread and all-purpose), the bread was extremely difficult to knead by hand. The recipe allows the option of doing all the kneading with the dough hook, but I feel that kneading by hand adds a certain uniformity to the crumb and it allows you to more closely monitor how well the gluten is developing. The finished product was a dense, golden loaf, rising to over 4.5 inches and smelling of warm, toasted butter. Perfect for sandwiches or toast with jam and butter.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

lemon birthday cake

I made this lemon cake from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook for my mom's birthday. The cake is tender and moist with a light lemon flavor which comes from both lemon juice and lemon zest. My favorite part, though, was the lemon buttercream. Until now, I have not been able to find a homemade buttercream that actually tasted like a frosting instead of just butter with some sugar mixed in. I think the secret is that this buttercream uses MUCH more confectioner's sugar than other recipes I've tried; eight cups for 2 sticks of butter. This cake would also be good if you used lemon curd in the layers and the buttercream to frost the outside.

You can download my PDF version of the recipe here.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

oreo cheesecake

I found this recipe in the Betterbaking.com cookbook. It is the ultimate in rich, and creamy. It has an oreo crust, layers of cheesecake and chopped oreos, and is topped with a semisweet chocolate ganache. When the ganache cools, it looks like a chocolate mirror. This is an easy make ahead dessert and would be perfect when you want a sweet that has serious wow factor.