Archive for June, 2011

A CCC link

June 30, 2011

Lisa at Sweet as Sugar Cookies went on a baking quest to find her favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Being the baking geek that I am, I love her comparison tables and admire her for all the work she put into baking the cookies and blogging about the results. I know that most of you will also want to know how some pretty famous recipes fared. Check out Lisa’s post where she talks about her top four favorite recipes, shares the comparison table, and provides links to the recipes.

Sweet as Sugar Cookies CCC winner and comparisons.

Hamburger Buns

June 25, 2011

Homemade Hamburger BunsThere are some things that cannot be explained. Why a woman who wasn’t planning on burgers for dinner would feel the need to make hamburger buns is  unexplainable. I made them anyway and have no regrets. They’re wonderful and I can’t wait to have them with burgers!

The recipe is from King Arthur Flour. I made the buns according to the recipe but used my bread maker on the dough cycle. One problem I had is that I used too much water. That’s not a problem with the recipe. I just over did it with the water and my dough was quite sticky and difficult to work with.  I wanted twelve buns but only managed to get eleven because I wasn’t willing to fuss with the dough any more than necessary due to the stickiness. They could have been prettier too if not for the sticky dough. Live and learn. Next time I’ll start with the lesser amount of water.

We love, love, love sesame seeds so I opted for the egg white wash and sprinkle of sesame seeds. They would also be great without them and just a brush of butter when they come out of the oven.

If you want to make these you’ll find the recipe here. Your friends and family will thank you!

Midwest macaron

June 24, 2011

Katrina from Baking and Boys suggested I do a google search for Parisian bakeries in my area. I live in Central Minnesota. There are no Parisian Bakeries here. Period. There is the ever popular Cold Spring Bakery 20 or so miles from here. If you’re looking for donuts, and sweet rolls, Cold Spring Bakery can’t be beat. The last time I was there I even saw some macaron but they didn’t look the least bit appetizing so I passed in hopes that I would find ‘the real deal’ sometime in the future.

Fortunately I make regular trips to Minneapolis and if a Central Minnesotan really wants a foodie item, almost anything can be found in the Twin Cities metro area. Following Katrina’s advice I googled ‘Parisian Bakeries Minneapolis’ and Chez Arnaud in Maple Grove is not only the closest to me, but pretty conveniently located not far off of I-494. It’s over an hour from where I live but since I was on my way to Minneapolis yesterday I decided to allow some extra time and hunt down my first ever macaron. It was an educational experience.

I’ve read about macaron everywhere, on the web, in cookbooks and in magazines. I’ve watched countless videos about how to make them, and I’ve read countless blog posts about them. I was insanely interested in this mysterious to me little cookie. My interest is now satiated. I had one. Okay I had more than one. I had to try each flavor that Chez Arnaud had to offer yesterday. No offense to Chez Arnaud but I’m underwhelmed. They’re beautiful to look at little cookies. They have a fascinating texture. Crisp or crackly on the outside. Soft and moist on the inside. The flavors didn’t grab me. The sales clerk told me the  yellow one is lemon, the pink is strawberry, and the orange is pineapple mango. I couldn’t detect any pineapple in the orange cookie. I think it’s mango. The lemon had the most flavor and was my favorite even though I’m not sure it was lemon. The strawberry was good, not great. Perhaps macaron are an acquired taste? Perhaps the flavor profile would have been better earlier in the day? I think I made my purchase a little after four in the afternoon so maybe they are better fresher?

If I have the opportunity to try macaron again I will definitely give them another try. I won’t hunt them down, and definitely won’t be trying to make them at home.

All of that said. I picked up a Pain au Chocolat and had it with tea this morning for breakfast. I would definitely return to Chez Arnaud to try their croissant, breads, and pick up another Pain au Chocolat. The Pain au Chocolate was absolutely excellent, even a day old.

Chocolate Cake for Father’s Day

June 21, 2011

Perfectly Moist Chocolate Cake

My husband got to pick whatever he wanted for dessert on Father’s Day. The top two choices were rhubarb pie, and chocolate cake. The rhubarb in our back yard is thriving so I was a little surprised that he chose cake over pie, but I wasn’t disappointed. We haven’t had chocolate cake in a while and it sounded good to me too.

It was just the two of us so I didn’t want a big cake. I wanted to try a new recipe but I wasn’t looking for something over the top. I knew my husband would be happiest with something simple, tasty and homemade. I found the perfect recipe at Cookie Madness. Anna frequently makes small batch desserts and has great lists of favorites so I often turn to her blog to find recipes instead of opening up one of my many cookbooks.

This cake is baked in an eight inch square pan. A really nice size for a small family. It’s made with mayonnaise which makes the cake very moist. The depth of the chocolate was just right, and it’s super easy to make. You can stir it up with a spoon which is a real plus! We chose vanilla frosting for the cake since we can’t remember the last time we had vanilla frosting on chocolate cake. We were both happy with the frosting too. It is super smooth and isn’t too sweet with the cake.

I don’t know if it made a difference in taste or not because I’d have to do a tasting side by side, but for the first time ever I bought Ghiradelli natural cocoa powder to use in the cake. Hershey’s is the natural cocoa you’ll usually find in my cupboard, but the Ghiradelli seems really good. The thing that was particularly noticeable about the Ghiradelli cocoa is how perfectly smooth it is. There wasn’t a lump to be found!

If you’re looking for a quick, easy to make, moist chocolate cake, I highly recommend that you give this recipe a try.

Be sure to check out the original post where Anna talked about the cake, and made a scrumptious looking chocolate sour cream frosting instead of vanilla.

Troy Chocolate Cake (Adapted with permission from Cookie Madness)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups lukewarm water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray an 8×8 inch pan with cooking spray. Use a spoon to combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients and the water to the mayonnaise mixture. Beat until well blended. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting

Easy Vanilla Frosting

5 T softened butter
1 1/4 c. (5 oz.) powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 T cream
1 t vanilla

Using a hand held mixer, beat the softened butter until very smooth. Add the powdered sugar and mix until moistened with the butter. Beat in the cream and vanilla and continue beating until light and fluffy. Spread on all sides of cooled cake.