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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Even after making jam, I had at least a quart of strawberries left yesterday. Enter Facebook, where one of my friends had recently posted a recipe for White Chocolate and Strawberry Cookies. They were reported to be pink and delicious, and while I’m no great fan of pink food, I am quite fond of all things delicious.

The dough turned out a bit thinner than most cookie dough I’ve worked with — I think it’s difficult to add strawberries to some foods without watering them down. Thus, the cookies spread out a bit during baking more than I would have liked, but they were still delicious.

They have more of a cake-like texture than your average cookie, and the white chocolate chips almost make them cloyingly sweet, but not quite. I’m tempted to make them without the chips, but I don’t think the strawberry flavor will shine on its own.

I used the shorter baking temperature for softer cookies.

White Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Cookies

1 1/2 cups strawberries, cleaned
1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Clean, trim, and slice berries.
  3. Crush strawberries with a potato masher. (You should end up with 3/4 cup of crushed strawberries.) Leave some larger chunks if desired; set berries aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars.
  5. Beat in one egg at a time.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk flour, salt and baking powder.
  7. Add dry mixture to creamed mixture, about 1/2 a cup at a time.
  8. When well mixed, slowly add berries, about 1/4 cup at a time, while mixing at the same time, ensuring berries are spread well throughout.
  9. Add the white chocolate chips and stir to combine evenly throughout batter.
  10. Drop batter in tablespoons about 1-inch apart on a greased baking sheet.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 to 12 minutes for soft cookies, or up to a maximum of about 14-15 minutes for crunchier cookies, watching the edges to ensure they are lightly browned.
  12. Cool on wire racks.

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Some people would call these Carrot Cake Balls, not Carrot Cake Truffles. These people are also desperately trying to come up with a reason to make a batch.

Once again, Serious Eats completely undermines my low-sugar eating plan.

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Obsession du jour: the Rum and Coke Cake outlined on Serious Eats. I totally needed an excuse to break out the bundt pan and open a bottle of rum.

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This post was supposed to be about the awesome strawberry cupcakes I made that reminded me of my grandmother and finally fulfilled a nearly yearlong craving. But NO, because my oven hates cupcakes and burns the bottom of each and every one.

I hinted around last year that I would love to have a strawberry cake for my birthday, only in this house there is no hinting around. In order to get a strawberry cake, I would actually have to say the words, “Will you make me a strawberry cake for my birthday?” which just seems so needy.

My grandmother was the originator of this fabulous strawberry cake. When I asked her for the recipe in college, I learned that it was what I call a “cheater cake,” since it started with a box of cake mix. It should probably be called a “double cheater cake,” since its strawberry flavor results almost entirely from a box of strawberry Jell-O. No matter. It is delicious.

My grandmother died a week after my birthday last summer.

During a small gathering at her old church after the funeral, somebody pointed out that there was strawberry cake on the dessert table. Serendipity, no?

No. It was the ultimate “cheater cake,” made from strawberry-flavored cake mix, complete with those horrid little strawberry-flavored pellets and covered in store-bought frosting.

I bought a box of white cake mix a couple of weeks later, fully intending to make the strawberry cake I deserved. But July in north Alabama is hot. So is August. I spent September recovering from the death of my cat, and by the time October and November rolled around I was neck-deep in graduate school assignments.

Last week, I decided to make the recipe into cupcakes because I needed something to bring to a bake sale. Ingenious, right? I make 24 cupcakes, keep two and sell the rest for a good cause. Only the oven had different plans.

At any rate, here’s the recipe. You should be able to make it in any pan size described on the back of the cake mix box; just evaluate your oven’s proclivities first. All 10-ounce packages of frozen strawberries seem to be sweetened, so I’m assuming that’s the right kind to buy.

Nanny’s Strawberry Cake

4 tablespoons plain flour
1 package white cake mix
1 small package strawberry Jell-O
1/2 cup cold water
4 whole eggs, beaten one at a time
2/3 cup vegetable oil
Half of a 10-ounce package frozen strawberries, thawed

Preheated oven according to the instructions on the box of cake mix. Grease pans and dust with flour.

Whisk the flour into the cake mix in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve Jell-O in cold water. Add to flour and beat well. Mix one beaten egg into batter; repeat with other eggs. Add oil and mix well. Fold in strawberries. Bake cake according the instructions on the box of cake mix.

Icing

1 box powdered sugar
1 stick butter
Half of a 10-ounce package frozen strawberries, thawed

Cream sugar and butter. Add strawberries and beat the icing until it is as thick as fudge.

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So I’m told by people who know such things that I’m actually getting the most difficult part of pecan pie right. Apparently it can be quite a feat to get the filling to set up correctly.

Who knew?

I got my recipe for the filling from Baking Illustrated, a book published by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. I don’t know what part of the recipe holds the mojo, but it’s been foolproof so far.

Here’s the recipe, complete with my notes. I would have posted it last night, but my 14-year-old, somewhat standoffish cat decided to dole out some affection, and you just don’t turn that kind of thing down.

Toast the pecans while you’re waiting for the oven to reach the baking temperature to partially bake the pie crust. This should take about seven to 10 minutes; watch the pecans carefully and stir a couple of times to prevent burning. Wait until they cool off before you chop them up or they’ll crumble. (Toasting nuts is nerve-wracking; I’ve found it’s best to undertoast rather than risk overtoasting.

You’ll want to have the pie filling mixture ready to go the minute the partially baked shell comes out of the oven. (This bit of timing might be the secret to the recipe.)

Pecan Pie

1 unbaked pie shell
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped into small pieces

Follow the directions for partially baking the pie crust until it’s light golden brown.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt with a wooden spoon. Beat in the eggs, then the corn syrup and vanilla. Return the bowl to the heat. Stir and cook until the mixture is shiny and registers about 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans.

Remove the prebaked pie shell from the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 275 degrees. Pour the pie mixture into the hot pie shell.

Bake on the middle rack for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the pie looks set but still soft, like gelatin, when gently pressed with the back of a spoon. Place the pie on a rack and let it cool completely, for about four hours.

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Editor’s note: Here’s the link to the post outlining the filling recipe for this pie.

Here’s my official contribution to Mrs Dragon’s Pi Day celebration: pecan pie.

I used a Cook’s Country recipe for the pie crust this time. It made a “pat-in-the-pan” dough that allowed me to skip trying to roll dough into a circle.

I’m not good at making pretty foods, like perfectly rolled pie crusts.

The new recipe worked out well, although I didn’t get it patted down into the pan as evenly as I would have liked, and therefore ended up with a few underbaked spots.

Still delicious, however. The husband walked in and, smelling pie, looked puzzled. I said, “It’s Pi Day. 3-14. Get it?” He noted that he loves math, yet never knows the date. So it goes.

If I really wanted to impress you, I’d wait until the pie had been refrigerated overnight to shoot this photo, but here it is in all its crumbly glory.

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I made our annual king cake today with a recipe from Southern Plate that called for frozen bread dough. It was a cinch to make compared to my traditional recipe, which calls for making the dough, letting the dough rise, punching down the dough, letting the dough rise yet again, rolling and shaping the dough, letting it rise again, baking the cake, and finally decorating the cake. If it sounds like a ton of work that takes all day, you are correct.

This recipe calls for adding lemon extract to the cream cheese filling; I associate king cakes with a light cinnamon flavor, so I substituted cinnamon for the lemon. How much cinnamon? A few shakes. This was a cooking-by-taste experiment.

If I made it again, I would skip the cream cheese filling altogether and simply coat the dough with butter and cinnamon sugar before rolling it up. Simple is better when it comes to king cakes.

Like Southern Plate’s Christy Jordan, I couldn’t find purple sugar at the grocery store, so I ended up with hot pink. I’m pretty sure the cake glows in the dark; I really need to go downstairs and check before the cat freaks out.

The ring obviously did not maintain its shape during baking, but it didn’t totally stick together in the middle.

The husband’s verdict: It’s OK, but not as good as the make-king-cake-all-day version.

My verdict: It’s definitely got a shot without the cream cheese filling.

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Mardi Gras is approaching, and I’m craving king cake. Although the king cakes at Publix are looking better than they did a couple of weeks ago, I’m tempted to make my own this year. Only the extremely complicated recipe that my mom culled from Southern Living a couple of decades ago takes the better part of a day to make. It also yields two king cakes, a bonus if everyone in the household works in an office, but about 1.5 king cakes too many if one person works at home with a finicky tabby cat.

I may have found my answer over at Southern Plate, where Christy Jordan has made a perfectly presentable king cake using a roll of frozen bread dough. I don’t know that I can abide hot pink sugar on my king cake, and I may skip the cream cheese filling in favor of my usual buttery cinnamon sugar, but other than those two elements, I think Christy may be my inspiration this year.

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Scenes from a marriage

Having a husband who happily eats your ill-conceived failure cookies and tells you that they almost taste like tea cakes: highly recommended.

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I haven’t bought Girl Scout Cookies in several years, mostly because it got really awkward in my former workplace when five co-workers were selling them at the same time. I certainly couldn’t afford to buy them from everybody.

Confession: I don’t really care about Thin Mints. I know.

My all-time favorite is the Samoa (weird, because I generally don’t like the texture of dried coconut), with the Tagalong running a close second.

Today, Serious Eats offered a recipe for Homemade Tagalongs that I might have to try. I’m thinking they might be even better using freshly ground peanut butter from Earth Fare.

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