If you’re getting back on the horse, do it with chocolate.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
I’ve done more baking in the last month than I’ve done in a year. Blame the baby. But now that I’m catching up again, here’s another from a recent spate of cookery…the GIANT cookie made as a birthday cake for my husband.
So so easy, and so much fun. Use the standard Tollhouse cookie recipe, but instead of butter, use butter-flavored shortening. I like the Crisco ones that come in bricks because one brick equals the 1 cup of butter you need. Using shortening means the cookie is more prone to rise rather than spread. And you want this cookie to rise!
Other tweaks: I used both dark and milk chocolate chips for a little texture variety in the chips and scaled back a bit on the walnuts for fear of it tasting too dry (wasn’t an issue). I also added a shot of bourbon, and was heavy handed with the vanilla. It gave the cake a more adult dimension, for lack of a better word.
To eat? Grab a pizza cutter and a big glass of milk.
I’m making a wedding cake for a dear family friend and her fiance. I was feeling unimpressed with the chocolate cake recipes of the past, so I Googled “dark chocolate cake.” Turns out this one from All Recipes has been tried by some 22,000 people. It’s a 4 1/2-star cake with 850+ reviews. Who am I to turn my nose up?
Glad I didn’t. This is one yummy chocolate cake and, as many comments note, even better after a night in the fridge. Meaning it’s perfect for a wedding cake that must be baked a day or so in advance.
Here’s the raw data from a test run:
I’ve been going through old photos (in a digital sense, which means I’m clicking on folders), and I came across this photo from my trip to Ireland of the Husband’s and my 3rd anniversary:
This is a pile of meringues — strawberry, I think — from a bake shop in Galway called Gourmet Tart Company. I didn’t get to try them. It was too late in the day when we got there and the shop girl told me that they sell out of these amazing confections by noon. And regardless, they wouldn’t consider selling them past noon anyway because the consistency would have been shot (too chewy).
I’m feeling inspired. I want to recreate these meringues I never tasted. My dear friend Lisa is coming into town next week…the same one with which I made those scones eons ago. Perhaps she’ll join me in the challenge? I’ll keep you updated. In the mean time…aren’t these just divine?
***Ooh! Edited to add this link to Travel Sweet. Apparently I’m not the only one to have been denied a meringue on a quality contingency!
You knew a baby-related post was bound to sneak in here. But since I do more food-prep with bottles these days than I do with my Kitchen Aid, I thought you might give me a free pass and consdier this entry at least partially in the baking category.
Long story short: For the first three months of Baby E’s life, she was not enthused about taking the bottle. Daddy C and some stalwart friends could get her to take the Dr. Brown’s every once in a while, but she would mostly just chew on the nipple and dribble the rest of the bottle out on her onsie. And as a result, Mama Me was freaked–freaked that I’d go back to work and my wee-one would starve and scream herself to death because I’d failed to introduce her to the bottle early enough in my selfish desire to nurse and cuddle her.
So, like I’ve done with piping tips and fondant and baking pans, I proceeded to purchase just about every model on the shelf. A particular draw? Anything that sported the assurance: “best of breastfed babies.” Picture me going through the store and sweeping an entire shelf of “desperate mother” bottles into the cart and you’d have it about right. Below you see the collection I amassed.
I had a breakfast in Burlington, Vt., a few years back that I’ve wanted to recreate but never got around to it. Now that I’m a busy mom of a 3-month-old and going back to work, I’m inspired to finally give it a whirl.
The original was a steel-cut oatmeal cake topped with whipped cream, fresh berries and maple syrup. The oatmeal is prepared, poured into a baking pan, cooled in the fridge and then individual, square servings are cut out and placed under the broiler to get all the edges browned and crisp. It was oatmeal the way your mother never made it and I could have eaten by the brick. The way the berries and cream and syrup ran down into the cracks of the oatmeal cake, like water over stones…oh…so tasty.
My version adds some portability, though it admittedly lacks the same flair. Instead of a cake, I’ve turned it into a muffin and baked the fruit and syrup into it. I’ve omitted the cream, too (though in the picture, I’ve added a little half-and-half and maple syrup for kicks). I eat these hot or cold, and they can be frozen and reheated at work for an oaty pick-me-up.
4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 diced apple
1/2 cup dried dates
1 cup crushed walnuts
3 Tbs. maple syrup (Grade B from Morse Farm)
Liberal dash of cinnamon
Brown sugar for topping (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bring water and salt to a boil. Add oatmeal. Lower heat to medium and cook oats for approx. 5 minutes. Oatmeal mixture should be thick. Remove from heat and add apples, dates and walnuts (and feel free to vary the fruit and nuts to your liking). Stir in and then add maple syrup and cinnamon. Spoon heaping helpings into a greased 12-count muffin tin (approx. 1/3 cup in each hole). Sprinkle tops with brown sugar if you like. Omit if you’re counting calories. Place in oven for 25 minutes so tops can get browned and a bit crisp. Remove and let cool. Serve as you see fit.
Savage Chickens is one of my favorite comics that I check out online every Monday – Friday. Today’s had a vague baking theme and therefore I share it with you.
I often get asked by people why I enjoy baking more than cooking. Here is why…