Sunday, December 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Gingerbread House

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

So maybe I went a little overboard making a gingerbread farm (upwards of 15 hours over the last four days :p ), but I couldn't help it. I'm not really a decorator, I'm a baker. Flavors, ingredients, recipes, that's what I can do. Artistry? Not really. But I thought if there was anything I could pull off, it would be a project that's more architecture and engineering that happens to look like art.

And everyone around my house appreciated that I spent four days baking something that wouldn't expand their waistlines in the end (cause ain't nobody eatin' this baby).

I used Anna's recipe, but was cautious about adding all the flour since so many people noted the dough gets very dry. I ended up about one cup of flour short of what the recipe called for. I used a box inside the farm house to hold it up (I know, I know, but the green house is holding itself up!), and I use a lollipop recipe for the glue. I used cake crumbs for the dirt, and the "glass" (more lollipop syrup) is lightly colored greed, but it's hard to tell against the board. The herbs are actually herbs: lavender, mint, sage, rosemary, chamomile. And if you look closely on the porch, there's a tea pot on the table, made by my sister!

Great challenge! Watch for it, this'll be my farm for real in a couple years!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gingerbread Cakebites

For the neighborhood Christmas party everyone is supposed to bring candy for the dessert. That means no cake, no cookies, no brownies! I love candy, granted. But not just candy. So I used Bakerella for inspiration, and will bring candy looking gingerbread cakebites, and shortbread.


1/4 c butter
1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c molasses
1 1/2 c flour
1 t powdered ginger
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t allspice
1 t baking powder
1/2 c milk

Cream butter with the brown sugar. Add the molasses and eggs. Combine the dry ingredients. Alternate adding in the dry ingredients and milk in thirds until all combined. Bake at 350 F for 30 min.

To make cake balls, see Bakerella.

1 c butter
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c corn starch

Cream the butter until very light, about 2 min. Add the sugar, cream for another 2 min. Stir in the flours and salt until combined. Roll the dough into balls, and bake at 300 F for 20 min.

Look what finally bloomed! And it's only been two years...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oatmeal Cookies and Gingerbread Custard

I've been wanting to make a simple oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recently. You probably haven't noticed, but I tend toward more "complicated" desserts. Complicated for you, maybe. But let me tell you, I've made more bad batches of chocolate chip and sugar cookies that I really like to admit. There's just so much leeway. In any case, they just don't come out the way I want them. (I'm still on the hunt for a sugar cookie like from Schmidt's and chocolate chip cookies like from Paradise.) But today I found the perfect oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. Warning, it has molasses in it. But I'm here to promise that it's a really interesting/good addition.

Aran made an inspiring bisque the other day, and I just had to have some pudding with the cookies. I thought I might try a gingerbread flavor, just to add to my mild autumn obsession.

Aran's pictures reminded me of these little bowls I bought a few years ago at Ten Thousand Villages. TTV is a non-profit fair trade organization that sells handicrafts from poor artisans all around the world. I volunteered at one of their stores in high school and college; someday when I retire, (yeah, right) I think I'll spend almost all my time there (the rest here); they'll get sick of me, but too bad, this place is awesome.

They're from Nepal. One step closer to actually going to Nepal.

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(adapted from Memories in the Baking)
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup molasses
1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line sheet pans with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
Using a mixer, cream the butter and both sugars, until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and the molasses. Beat until blended.
With mixer on low, add the flour mixture, and beat just until blended. Stir in the oats, chocolate chunks, and pecans until evenly distributed.
Drop the dough by tablespoons onto prepared sheet pans, about 2" apart. Bake about 10 to 12 minutes. Yield: 5 dozen cookies.

Gingerbread Custard
(adapted from Cannelle et Vanille)

500 g heavy cream
200 g whole milk
100 g sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 T cloves
1/2 t shredded ginger
6 egg yolk
1/4 c molasses (or to taste)
30 g chocolate

In a medium saucepan heat the cream, milk, sugar, and spices until the flavor has steeped through the milk (maybe 20 min.).
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and molasses in a medium bowl. After the cream mixture has steeped, temper the milk mixture into them while whisking. Return this mixture to the sauce pan and cook for a couple of minutes while constantly stirring until lightly thickens.
Place the finely chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Place a fine sieve over the bowl and pour the custard over the chocolate. Mix until all the chocolate is melted and you have a smooth cream.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Botanical Gardens (part 3)

I just can't get enough of how beautiful it is this time of year. Hope you don't mind one last set of Red Butte pictures!

Scary spider! At least it's not a rattler.

I love all of the next three - which do you like best?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Macarons

After all this time, the DBers is finally doing macarons! And after all those times I've made them before, I still managed to mess up three batches before getting these right. Sorry, you don't get to see the insides (they never really cooked up right, I blame the oven temperature, I think it was off. It certainly couldn't be something I did...)

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
More fun texturizing in PS

Cafe Mocha

Pumpkin Cream

Saffron with Pomegranate Jelly

Yes, I'm pretending I'm as fancy as Pierre Herme.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Botanical Gardens (part 2)

These are from Red Butte Botanical Gardens. It's incredibly beautiful up there this time of year, on the benches of the Rockies. I didn't used to think Salt Lake was beautiful, just a bunch of grass and trees that didn't belong. But Red Butte exposes and accentuates the natural beauty of the local horticulture.

Oh yeah, and I did some baking sometime in the past couple weeks!

Chocolate spice souffles with Lena. Congrats on being done with chemo!

Original above, some crazy PS-ing below!

Herb garden.