No bite brownies

So these happened and they don’t taste good. What’s annoying is they smell like chocolate pudding and they ought to taste good, but they’re foul. This was my first time baking with Carbquik and protein powder. Learning curve!

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I’m trying to make a low-fat, low-carb treat that’s acceptable to people on phase 1 of the Dr. Poon Metabolic lifestyle and I’m going back to the drawing board. When a brownie tastes bad fresh out of the oven you’re doomed.

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Not so pretty now

How does boiling sugar reform into rock while the stove is still on? Even if the liquid boils away, you shouldn’t get something that looks like meth.

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Do not understand. Is this alchemy? Have I discovered a new property of granulated sugar and created something new? What have I wrought? It is impervious to heat!!!

Faux Louis

After I wound up with very malleable chocolate buttercream, I wondered if I could make a homemade Jos Louis. For the uninitiated, a Jos Louis is a Canadian pastry sold by Vachon; two layers of red velvet cake, filled with vanilla cream, covered in a milk chocolate coating. I’m not sure why they are so good, but: they are.

(Spoiler alert: yes, I can make them.)

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I didn’t realize until I was writing this up that they’re made with red velvet, so I made another batch of devil’s food cupcakes. Oh well.

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Was careful to avoid overfilling this time. ^^

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After slicing horizontally, a thin layer of chocolate buttercream was applied. A real Jos Louis uses vanilla creme but I had no plans for this icing and the consistency was right so I went for it.

I melted more Callebaut Belgian chocolate and dropped one in. Whee!

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Used dipping prongs to turn it around and set it on parchment paper for an hour.

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I was lazy and didn’t temper the chocolate, so just stuck them in the fridge. And voila!

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Verdict:

Definitely good. Not exactly a Jos Louis but not bad. Until reading up on Vachon’s website, I didn’t actually realize it was red velvet with a milk chocolate coating, I just knew I liked them. Now I’m curious how close I can get to a real Jos Louis.

After I get over this chocolate fatigue I’ll try this again and see what I can do. But not for awhile, I’m so over chocolate for August.

Playlist:

Nelly – Shake Ya Tail Feathers

Devil’s food cupcakes with chocolate buttercream

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So these were delicious, if not quite as expected. I’ve made these before and went for the double chocolate experience this time. I skipped most of the pictures for this one since I’ve done it previously.

The cake and frosting recipe are included in Good Housekeeping Chocolate!: Favorite Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Puddings & Other Sublime Desserts which is available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca and one day I swear I’m going to test every frosting recipe inside.

As usual, go big or go home. I used Callebaut Belgian chocolate for this.

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Time required: 2 hours

Yields: hopefully 24 cupcakes

Cost per cupcake: $2.16

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $42-$52 depending on the quality of vanilla extract and the chocolate

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • incorrectly sized-muffin tin! (don’t do this)

Cake ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa
  • 1½ TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ½ C unsalted butter (one stick), room temp
  • 1 C golden brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1½ TSP vanilla extract
  • 1½ C buttermilk  (or add 1 TBSP of vinegar to regular milk, stir and let sit)

Frosting ingredients:

  • 2 C icing sugar
  • 1 C butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 3 TBSP milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet Belgian chocolate, chopped

Cake instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 177°C / 350°F. Place cupcake liners in trays.

2. In a medium bowl combine: flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a mixing bowl at low speed, beat: butter, brown sugar, and white sugar, until blended. Increase speed to high: beat 5 min until it’s light and fluffy.

4. Reduce speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time.

5. Beat in vanilla.

6. Add the dry mixture and buttermilk alternating like so: half of the flour, all the buttermilk, and the rest of the flour. After each addition beat until just combined. Scrape the sides a few times and make sure the batter is smooth.

7. Bake about 18 minutes for full-size cupcakes or 14-15 min for minis. A toothpick inserted should come out clean.

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UGH WHY!! Not again. What the hell is this? This is what happens when you use a small muffin tin instead of the right size pan. Ugh.

8. Let cupcakes cool in pan one minute before removing from pan and placing on rack.  Cool before frosting. Judiciously select which ones to use in final photo.

Frosting instructions:

1. On low heat melt the chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally, then set aside to cool 5 min.

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2. Beat together until smooth: icing sugar, butter, milk, vanilla.

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3. Add chocolate and keep beating until well-combined. Beat on High about 2 min.

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Scrape down the bowl every 30 seconds.

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It lightens up quite a bit.

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Verdict:

I love this devil’s food recipe, it’s delicious. There are lots of ways to frost it and this is my first go at chocolate buttercream. It tasted great. I was surprised how soft this frosting was, it’s not runny, but it’s not suitable for piping. It is delicious however.

I’m not sure what happened to my cupcake pans, must have misplaced them in the move. This muffin tin is too shallow. I was conscious of not over-filling them and they still went kaboom.

I’ve been toying with the idea of reverse-engineering a Joe Louis for awhile and this frosting consistency has convinced me I can do it. Stay tuned.

Playlist:

Type O Negative – Love You to Death

 

Washington Pie

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I made Washington Pie for my mother’s birthday, which is a frosted yellow cake with a jam filling (shares traits with Boston cream pie). My Nanny used to make it and it’s been a long time since we’ve had it. I figured nostalgia would gloss over any technical errors on my part. This was served partially raw and uh, note the ratio of frosting to cake in the centre is not same on the outside edge? More on that later.

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This recipe comes the red and white Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, but I’m not sure which edition, ours doesn’t have it but Mom’s did.

Working in a different kitchen is always weird. I got to use the Onyx Black KitchenAid, which is just as reliable as my precious Nemo (if not quite as beautiful). I’m not used to this oven and that may have contributed to one of the problems with this cake.

Time required: 2 hours

Yields: 12 slices

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $45

Cost per slice: $3.75

Kitchen implements I used:

  • KitchenAid mixer
  • two 9″ round pans

Ingredients:

  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ C white sugar
  • 2¼ C cake flour
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ⅓ C vegetable oil
  • 1 C milk
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5 TBSP pure strawberry or raspberry jam

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 176°C / 350°F. Grease and flour two 9″ rounds.

2. Separate the eggs, put the whites into the mixing bowl and put the yolks into a small bowl for later.

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Beat the whites until soft peaks form (when you remove the beater they’ll sink down).

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3. Gradually add ½ C sugar, beating until very stiff peaks form (you remove the beater and see little mountains of foam that stay upright).

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4. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Having a second mixing bowl saves you a lot of time.

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5. Add: vegetable oil, vanilla, and half the milk to the dry ingredients. Beat 1 min on Medium, scrap sides 3 times. (If I had a DeLorean, I’d have used the bowl with higher sides, since this led to a face full of wet cake and that is as vile as it sounds.)

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6. Add remaining milk and yolks. Beat 1 min, scrape sides 3 times.

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I always enjoy watching one of these in action. I realize they all do exactly the same thing but I will just happily observe for awhile.

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7. Unless you made a colossal error you should have two bowls like so:

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Gently fold the egg white mixture into 2nd bowl, turn the bowl and use a down, up, over motion

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You don’t want to stir it like crazy.

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You want it to look like this.

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8. Divide batter into pans, bake 25 min.

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9. Ask Spousal Unit to remove the cake from the oven and test. Believe that toothpick test was successful. Cool in pan 10 min before removing from pan and transferring to wire rack. Well damn. That’s not supposed to happen.

“Did you test the middle?”

“Yup, it came out clean.”

“Why is the middle raw then?”

“I don’t know.”

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Throw back in for another 5 min and pray.

10. Cool one hour.

11. Speed to birthday party. Position one cake so that the rounded side is facing down and you have a flat surface. That was the plan anyway. This cake has no true flat surface.

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12. Place a few tablespoons of jam in a glass bowl and microwave 40 seconds, spread warm jam over the flat cake surface.

13. Place the second cake on top (again round side down) so you have a flat surface to frost. What the hell went wrong here??

14. Cram frost with vanilla buttercream. I didn’t get a picture of the completed cake but the frosting hid the majority of the gaps. This picture is not the most appetizing but it was good. The centre of the cake was… not ideal, but the outer edge was bang on. See how much frosting is in the centre as opposed to the edge? Oh well. Good thing I love buttercream frosting.

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Verdict:

Never trust someone else to take your cake out of the oven. That’s what I learned from this experience. At least Mom was happy and that’s what counts. Next time I’ll try lining the pans with parchment paper.

Playlist:

Buckethead – White Wash

Pumpkin muffins – round 2

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After being slightly underwhelmed by my first attempt at making pumpkin muffins, I went back to the drawing board.  I made some changes to the ingredient proportions and baking time:

  • 2½ C of flour (instead of 1½ C)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (didn’t have this last time)
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C packed golden brown sugar (instead of dark brown sugar)
  • pods from half of a vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 C of pure pumpkin (instead of 2 C)
  • a sprinkle of turbinado sugar

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The batter was really dry. I was a bit worried they wouldn’t settle into the muffin cups but I think they look cute.

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These were baked 18 minutes (the original ones were in for 25). In retrospect 18 minutes was not quite enough, I’ll try 20 next time.

They were cooled in the pan 1 minute before being transferred to the rack.

Now this is the fun part. Use a cupcake corer (thank you M!) and stuff them with cream cheese frosting.

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Woah this thing works way better than a knife.

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And voila!

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Verdict: Hmm. I liked this much more than round 1. Boyfriend-Unit loved them. I think there is still room for improvement however, so next time I’ll up the pumpkin ratio a bit, and decrease the cardamom.

Playlist: Katatonia – Into the White

Patty’s pumpkin cream cheese muffins – round 1

I decided to reverse-engineer a pumpkin cream cheese muffin after the underwhelming experience of buying one from StarBucks. This is my first attempt at making pumpkin muffins, and I made them the morning after seeing Nine Inch Nails live, which really has nothing to do with making muffins, but there you go. The muffins were edible, but have room for improvement. Trent Reznor, I am happy to report, does not require any improvement.

(Update Oct 19: round 2 is much better)

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I was surprised to see that the ingredient cost of this made this the most expensive thing I have ever baked, even steeper than the the Bailey’s chocolate cheesecake. Yikes.

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Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 14

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $79 if iced, $54 if plain

Cost per muffin: $5.64 if iced, $3.85 if plain

Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • muffin tin + large liners

Muffin ingredients:

  • 1½ C flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp all spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • pods from half of a vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 2 C of pure pumpkin
  • a sprinkle of turbinado sugar

Frosting ingredients:

  • 1 block of cream cheese, softened
  • 4 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 C icing sugar

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F / 176°C and put muffin liners into pan.

2. Combine in a bowl: flour and spices.

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3. In mixer; cream the eggs and sugar until smooth.

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4. Mix in canned pumpkin, vegetable oil, and vanilla bean pods. (Reserve the shell for something else).

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5. Gradually add flour mixture to wet, and don’t overbeat.

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6. Spoon into tray, and dust with turbinado sugar.

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7. Bake 25 min. (Checked at 20 and but still too springy.)

8. Cool in pan 5 min before transferring to rack.

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9. Make the icing by combining everything in one bowl. This is precise science, people.

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10. Use a knife to score a circle around the muffin tops and press the knife down, then lift up, and pry out the top. You will have a little muffin cone lid. Slice off the bottom part until you have a thin top remaining. Now stuff that bad boy with cream cheese and replace the top.

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Verdict: They were good, but the muffin texture really changed overnight, they seem overly moist today. I tried one without icing, and the pumpkin was a bit too strong. Then again cream cheese icing is also a very strong flavour, so… hard to say. I sent my friend home with one but forgot to ice it. Oops. Overall I was pleased with how it turned out, and I think for round 2 I’ll add a few more spices, and cut back on the pumpkin and see how that goes.

Playlist: Nine Inch Nails – Terrible Lie