Cookieducken

Cookie! Cookie! baking hot
In the oven of my lot
With spatula in hand do I
Dare craft thy fearful deliciousness

My sister sent me a link called “love in pan”; a triple-threat of chocolate chip cookie dough, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and brownies. I am fundamentally opposed to using pre-made cookie dough but making everything from scratch would sort of the defeat the purpose of this near-instant cookie-thing, so I gave it a whirl.

Everybody in the grocery store was judging me as I filled my basket. It was awful.

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 176°C / 350°F.

2. Make brownie batter and set aside.

3. Slice chilled cookie dough and place into muffin tin (or if you’re like me and don’t own a muffin tin, use a cupcake tin).

4. Add the peanut butter cups upsidedown.

5. Cover with brownie batter.

6. Bake at least 18 min. (Mine were still raw at 18, baked another 5, then cooled 5 min in pan.)

Yikes. Are they supposed to look like inverted mushrooms? I pried them out of the pan and ate one.

Verdict: They were good, but eating more than one is probably hazardous to one’s health. I think you are supposed to either use a bigger pan, or less dough and batter.  Boyfriend assures me they are delicious. These were gigantic.

Playlist: 80’s

 

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Patty’s raspberry cheesecake bites

What’s tart and rich, and filled with raspberry goodness? The other day my sister told me about raspberry cheesecake, and I could think of nothing else until I had some too. “It’s delicious,” she assured me, and I was eager to see for myself.

Good to know before you start:

I intended to add cream to this but forgot about it, and in the end I’m glad I didn’t, it would have been too much liquid combined with the juice from the berries. Recommend you don’t use frozen berries for the same reason.

I was also going to crush the graham crackers but after I took this picture discovered I had just enough graham cracker crumbs in the pantry to use instead. Huzzah!

Time required: 2 days (overnight chilling)

Yields: 64 pieces

Cost per slice: $0.50

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $32.00

Kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • baking pans: 9″ x 13″ nestled inside 14.5″ by 10.5″
  • heavy tin foil & plastic wrap

Crust ingredients:

  • 5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 1¾ C honey graham cracker crumbs

Filling ingredients:

  • 1¼ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 4 blocks of cream cheese, softened (32 oz or 1,000 g)
  • 5 large eggs, room temp
  • 3 containers of raspberries

Topping ingredients:

  • 1½ C sour cream
  • 3 TBSP granulated white sugar

1. Using centre rack, preheat oven to 176°C / 350°F.  Fill kettle and boil. After water boils, leave on Low for use later.

2. Line 9″ x 13″ baking pan with foil, and grease.

3. Melt butter in sauce pan on Low. Remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs.

4. Pat crumbs into prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes and cool on wire rack.

5. Rise and dry berries. Sample! Set aside.

6. In a small bowl whisk sugar and cornstarch together, set aside.

7. In mixer, on Medium speed, beat cream cheese for 5 minutes.  Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl every 60 seconds.

8. Gradually beat in sugar mixture, then add eggs one at a time. Mix until thoroughly blended, but don’t overbeat and remember to scrape down the sides.

9. Add about half of the berries and beat on High until you see swirls of red. Dodge that stuff like The Matrix as you remember why putting a KitchenAid on the highest speed can be a bad idea.

10. Pour half of the filling onto the crust. Sprinkle with remaining berries, then remaining filling.

Get annoyed when your berries, which may or may not have been meticulously spaced, are displaced by the weigh of the rest of the filling as it is poured. Frown repeatedly.

11. Create the hot water bath. Bake 50 minutes until just centre jiggles, then remove from oven and place on rack (turn off oven). Flip out when you remember you forgot to add the heavy cream, and obsessively wonder what will happen when it’s time to slice it.

12. While the cake was baking I made up the topping, see small bowl to the right? It’s just sour cream and white sugar mixed together. Chill it until the cake is removed from the oven, then spoon mixture onto hot cake, use soft spatula to spread it evenly, and return cake to oven for 5 minutes (oven is off).

14. Remove from oven and carefully remove the smaller pan (which holds the cake) from the large pan. Cool cheesecake for at least 2 hours.

15. Cover in plastic wrap and chill overnight. Is this your first time making a cheesecake? Read my notes on how to slice a cheesecake correctly.

Verdict: Be still my stomach. This is delicious, but cheesecake for breakfast has to stop. I am dying. I plan to donate some of this to my partying neighbours across the hall.

Ah, raspberry cheesecake is sumptuous. Thanks Chocoholic!

Playlist: Tchaikovsky – Sleeping Beauty

Apple pie

Last night the stars aligned, and Boyfriend and I both had the same day off. It’s a provincial holiday, so  we stayed indoors, playing video games and cooking. He made dinner and I made dessert. This is my first pie where dreaded Frankencrust did not appear. Tah-dah!

It looks much better than all my previous pies. Am so happy!

I love pie. I don’t post pie recipes, because mine are very often disappointing. It seems like I’m not the best person to give advice on how to make a pie, if my own are not up to the exacting standards I want (basically, to make a pie like my older sister makes).

This ends now. As I told Boyfriend, while we enjoyed our pie:

“Prepare to be fattened. This is the year I master pie. I’m going to do it. You’re going to eat it.”

“Okay then!”

Whoa, that is a lot of liquid. Not sure what happened there. C’est la vie. I haven’t been baking very much this month. Too busy immersed in Skyrim and the glorious side quests. Overall I’m having a very lazy extended weekend and if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to read!

Patty’s peppermint bark

I’ve been making peppermint bark for a few years. It’s my Christmas specialty. I’ve experimented with different brands of chocolate, candy canes, and peppermint extract vs. peppermint oil, and when I make my annual trip to buy mass quantities of Belgian chocolate, inevitably the shop keeper and other patrons ask me what I’m making. This sparks interesting discussions in the line-up about the best way to achieve a perfect bark, like so:

I send it to my family and Boyfriend’s family. This year, I wanted to make bark, plus a surprise that Boyfriend and I collaborated on. The surprise will not be unveiled for a few days, but I’ll teach you how to make bark today.

One popular bark flavour is using all-white chocolate with red canes, but I prefer a bark that is 2 parts white chocolate to 1 part semi-sweet, using the traditional red, green, and white candy canes per batch.

Good to know before you start:

The chocolate must be tempered, so review my how-to guide before trying this.

Buying candy canes after Christmas is an exercise in futility, lots of places sell out. I buy the canes in Nov, and pick up the Callebaut chocolate in Dec. Whether or not to use peppermint extract or peppermint oil depends on your taste preference, I prefer the oil which I order online from Golda’s Kitchen.

Working with chocolate, you must make sure EVERY dish and implement is completely dry. A drop of water will cause the chocolate to seize.

Wear latex gloves while handling chocolate to prevent the natural oils in your skin from blemishing it. The heat of your hands will also melt it, wearing gloves helps reduce the heat a bit.

this is a lot of chocolate

(By the way, that picture is all the chocolate I purchased this year, not just the portion I used for my bark. I just like looking at all of it together.)

Time required: 5 hours

Yields: enough for 7 households

Total cost: depends on the quality of chocolate, and since it’s a gift I’m not going to say

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • chocolate thermometer
  • 2 cookie trays: 18″ x 12″ and 14″ x 10″
  • wax paper
  • hammer
  • large freezer bag
  • gloves/tongs

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 16 oz white chocolate
  • a few drops of peppermint oil (I use LorAnn oils)
  • 6 jumbo Allan peppermint candy canes

Instructions:

1. Line baking trays with wax paper.

2. Use a serrated blade to chop the semi-sweet chocolate. Weigh out 8 oz, and divide it between two bowls: two thirds in one, one third in the other. Temper the chocolate and stir in one drop of peppermint oil.

3. Pour the chocolate into the trays, spreading evenly with a spatula. Chill in fridge for at least 10 minutes.

Take a break to wash and dry your bowls and chocolate thermometer, they must be bone dry.

4. Unwrap the candy canes, place into freezer bag, and HULK SMASH!! Hammer away until you’ve got a bag of itty-bitty pieces, and set them aside.

5. Chop the white chocolate, and temper it too! Stir in 2-3 drops of peppermint oil.

6. Stir crushed canes into white chocolate.

7. Immediately pour onto first layer and spread evenly with spatula.

Let the trays sit on the counter for 15 min, this gives the white chocolate time to bond to the semi-sweet. Once I forgot to do that, and the white never really adhered to the bottom layer. :[

8. Chill in fridge for at least 3 hours.

9. When you are ready to cut it into pieces, remove the wax paper from the bottom and let it sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes. Use a heavy blade to cut into strips.

10.  Place into tins, separate each layer with a piece of waxed paper.

11. Keep in the fridge. Allow the pieces to sit at room temp for 10 minutes before eating.

12. See all that bark dust on the cutting board? Save it as a garnish for hot chocolate with steamed milk, or pancakes!!

Verdict: When I started out making bark, I used to make it with equal parts of each chocolate. My sister Chocoholic suggested decreasing the semi-sweet. I followed her advice and was really pleased with the result. Bark has a strong flavour so a thin piece is fine, using the 2:1 ratio results in perfect, delicious bark. Merry Christmas!

Playlist: Type O Negative – Hey Pete

Sea salt penuche taffy

Apparently 3 is not the magic number, or this would be a picture of penuche fudge instead of penuche taffy.

Until this failed to set, I had high hopes that I had finally achieved penuche fudge, which as I mentioned yesterday, is a childhood dream of mine. Alas I did not achieve fudge, but I did achieve something, and it has the faint taste of penuche, like a dream gone past recall. I am so close!

I wonder if this is how my sister Chocoholic used to feel.  For years when she made fudge it never set, it just slowly slid to one end of the pan. We ate it anyway, and it was delicious, but there is something annoying and humbling about being unable to make fudge.

I followed the traditional penuche recipe from Old Tyme Fudge. I’m going to try it again today.

I read a lot of online candy recipes, and often find comments that say, “This recipe sucks, I followed it exactly and it didn’t work”.  That’s a pretty conceited way to look at it. If it doesn’t work, the problem must be the recipe? It can’t be your ingredients? Or your equipment? Or your lack of technique?

I used to do tech support, I’m okay with admitting the recipe is fine and the problem is the user. If you try 3 different recipes of the same thing and it doesn’t work, the only common denominator is you.

Notice how it’s still pretty glossy? I suspect that is the problem. It’s stretchy, and when you take a bite it retains a perfect imprint of your teeth, so I think the problem is that I didn’t beat it enough after it cooled. (I was conservative during beating because I didn’t want another rock-hard lump of penuche.)

And yet…

… it wasn’t a total loss. Look at that gorgeous colour!  It mostly held its shape. Boyfriend carefully sliced each piece for me. (Okay, I couldn’t slice this, I tried. After jumping up and down leaning on the knife and not getting anywhere, he rescued me.)

I tasted one, and it was good. I added a little sea salt and wow. Even though this isn’t the final result that I wanted, I liked this a lot, but I’m not sure I could make this again even if I tried.

I’ve read that beating fudge by hand takes around 10 minutes and I had no interest in making my arms sore, so I used my KitchenAid and beat it for 1 minute (20 seconds on Low, 40 seconds on Med-High.) It was so thick I stopped. If you are interested in recreating this penuche pseudo-taffy, instead of making actual fudge, follow the recipe above and under-beat. I have no idea if you’ll get the same results so good luck!

Patty vs. Penuche

Oh fudge, indeed. What the hell is this?

Or this?

It’s certainly not penuche fudge, which I tried to make twice in 24 hours, and met with disaster both times.

Have you ever eaten penuche fudge? It is, hands down, the most delicious fudge of them all. It’s a sweet brown sugar fudge and while you are eating it all things seem possible: eternal harmony and world peace are within grasp. It is that good. I adore penuche.

It’s got to be the right type: golden brown colour, no nuts, firm consistency.

I used to have a best friend in elementary school. Her mother was an amazing baker, and she introduced me to penuche fudge and carrot cake. Her baked goods were so good, that to this day when I eat penuche or carrot cake, I take a bite and compare. Inevitably I think to myself, “This is good, but it’s not as good as hers.”

Sadly, I lost my best friend around grade 5 or 6, due to a small misunderstanding involving nun chucks, Mario Kart, and punching her brother in the face. Losing my friend was sad enough for an anti-social kid with just 2 friends, but to realize I would never again enjoy the best penuche on the planet was devastating.

"No more penuche", self-portrait, pencil

I have successfully made a simple chocolate fudge, and cookies ‘n cream fudge, and this my was first try to create the holy grail of fudge: my beloved penuche.

Right now I am following a Better Homes & Gardens recipe. It’s pretty straight forward, it says to add the white sugar, brown sugar, and cream to the sauce pot, and boil on low for about 10 minutes until you reach the soft ball stage. Once you get there, remove from heat, add vanilla and butter but do not stir, and leave it for 40 minutes to cool, then stir for 10 min before transferring to the pan to set.

On my first attempt, the candy thermometer was slowing inching up to 113°C, and then it just shot up an extra 10 degrees. In an instant the hot sugary syrup changed into something else, something bad. I decided to wait and see what would happen after leaving it for 40 min, when I came back it had hardened to this brittle mess.

I reheated it slowly, and once all the sugar had melted again I poured it into the pan. It set, but it looks like a giant brick of brown sugar, in fact it is sugar, not fudge. I scraped some off to add to my cereal this morning since there is nothing else I can do with it, aside from using it as a weapon.

On the second attempt, I thought I had it. I had double checked the temperature range for soft ball, I stirred as directed and watched the thermometer like a hawk, and removed from heat at the correct time. But when I came back after 40 minutes, it had cooled and turned into a weird shellac. You couldn’t stir it at all. I tried reheating a bit to get some fluidity back, then it scorched and mutated into this.

I attempted to scoop it out into the pan to set, but it set on the spoon.

The horror, the horror.

The worst part is, it smells like penuche! My entire apartment has been perfumed with two days of penuche-making, yet I have none to eat and THIS IS TORTURE.

Do you have a favourite recipe that eludes your grasp?

Pride goeth before the cake

The dessert I made last night kind of imploded.  You’ll see what I mean by the end of this post. This morning as I stood in the kitchen, surveying the aftermath, and wondering “What the hell is that?”, three irritating platitudes sprang to mind:

  • you learn more from your mistakes than your successes
  • cooks can eat their mistakes
  • too many cooks spoil the broth

The über-annoying thing about platitudes (aside from how often one hears them) is when they turn out to be true. Measure twice, cut once. Ugh, spare me.

Last night I made three separate disasters.  It would probably have been a good idea to stop after the first failure, but I went for the hat trick anyway. Because I am committed. Since the post I was planning for today isn’t coming,  you’ll have to make do with my latest failures.

#1: Let them eat cake!

the incredible collapsing birthday cake ™

This beauty was Boyfriend’s birthday cake.  He loves oatmeal cake, and I had never made one before. He gave me the recipe used by his family and it seemed easy enough. Where did it all go wrong?

Probably my selection of a bundt pan for a cake with a heavy batter. Never doing that again. Ripped apart by its own weight when I removed it from the pan.  This resulted in a panicked call to Older Sister # 3, who suggested “Turn it upside down and frost like a motherfucker, he’ll never notice!” — it’s true, he didn’t.

#2: Oh fudge!

stirring…stirring…. WTF?

Hmm that certainly isn’t normal.  Never seen that before.

Tyler Durden called: “Where’d the fat go??”

I was melting chocolate on low heat to make fudge, and suddenly, this strange oily substance rose to the surface.  “Okay,” I remember thinking, “what’s up with that?  Did it seize?”

Treating it like seized chocolate failed miserably. I think the result speaks for itself. I turned off the stove and came back to observe later.  All of the fat had risen to the surface and congealed. This was a nightmare to clean.

#3: Rage on the marble slab

“Burnt cream” indeed!

This was particularly upsetting, my beautiful crème brûlée, ruined!!

Normally this lovely custard is topped with a thin layer of sugar, like a pane of rich brown glass. But this is what happens when using cane sugar that hasn’t been thoroughly dried, and too much of it.  The glass-like quality turns into a lump of burnt rock.

#4: The invisible mint sauce

mint….sauce??

On a whim I decided one night we just had to eat lamb with freshly made mint sauce, despite the fact that neither of us had ever cooked lamb before, or made mint sauce.  But that was okay, we had a bag of fresh mint picked from a friend’s garden.

I’m still not sure where I went wrong, but all the liquid evaporated, leaving soggy mint leaves (and no sauce) behind.  This was served on undercooked lamb and raw potatoes, attempts to broil Parmesan potatoes… did not work out.

#5: Pillars of the cake

coming soon to a restaurant near you, Torn Bottom Cake! ™

This was a double layer chocolate cake for my friend M. Both layers were mysteriously missing large chunks of their batter, which was stuck to the pan. That seam along the bottom right is where half of the cake ripped entirely off and got smashed back on.

Now, before baking this cake, I made sure the pans were well greased and dusted with cocoa.  I used my ninja frosting skills and filled all of the holes with buttercream frosting. Birthday Boy didn’t notice. BUT I KNEW. >.<

#6: A square of two gingerbreads

1st attempt: gingerbread top loaf!

As you can see, I did not actually use a square pan, oops. And half the loaf remained in the pan. After a few days I tried again, confident that if I used the correct pan things would go my way.

Certainly not “just like Mom’s.”

2nd attempt: it’s all over but the crumbs now

My first two gingerbreads were disasters.  Dare I try a third?

#7:  The cookies are (not) rising

peanut butter flat breads ™

molasses spice flats ™

What we have here is a failure to rise. The cookies are expanding out but not up. Despite making dough that included two leavening agents, my cookies never rose.

Boyfriend would disagree that these are disasters because they tasted good.  I believe that if it doesn’t look proper, into the disaster pile it goes.

#8: Bread on a wire

Save time on slicing, make “cracked loaf” ™

For the busy household, cracked bread saves precious minutes of the day, who has time to slice a loaf of bread anymore??

#9: So easy a child could make it

1st attempt: never do this on the stove

Confession: I’ve never made Rice Kripsy squares. Awhile ago (okay a long while ago), I picked up some marshmallows, planning to make them. And completely forgot about them until the other day.

I looked up the official Rice Kripsy square recipe, which says to use a stove top. It seemed so easy. Unaware that stale marshmallows do not react like fresh ones, I got to work.  I called up Mom to chat and tell her what I’m making.  She suggests using the microwave instead.

Too late now!!

I glance at the clock, and the sauce pan, wondering why over 25 minutes have passed but the marshmallows have not melted. At all.

Boyfriend walked in the door. “What is the amazing smell?”

I am feeling proud of myself, still unsure if the weird brown mass in the pan is normal.

He walked over to the stove.  “What the hell is that?”

I calmly explain it’s my first batch of Rice Kripsy squares, obviously!

He looked at me, puzzled.  “Why aren’t you using the microwave?”

I explain that the Kellogg’s website said to use the stove.

So he calls up his mother.  We have now consulted two mothers plus the official recipe. It’s a group effort now. There is no way this can fail.

He helps me pry the strange buttery marshmallow mass from the pan, and get started on a new batch, using a glass bowl in the microwave.  Boyfriend was kind enough to microwave and stir, microwave and stir.

I wait, wondering when the marshmallows will finally melt. Then I turn around, and see him pouring the cereal into the unmelted marshmallows.

“What are you doing!?!”

“They’re not melting, they’re just shrinking!”

“And you thought it was a good idea to add the cereal anyway?!”

2nd attempt: “There is only one Lord of the Squares, and he does not share power!”

Now I am confused, sad, and downtrodden, complaining that everything I bake turns to hell.

Boyfriend hugs me and says, “No, no, you can make stuff I can’t even pronounce and it’s delicious, we’ll get fresh marshmallows and try again.”

I am reminded why I care for Boyfriend so much after this pep talk.  Every cook needs a cheering squad.

#10: If a cake implodes in the oven, does it make a sound?

the cheesecake that wasn’t

And finally, here is the result of last night’s poll. After two failed batches of Rice Krispy squares, I was determined to make something, anything, and plus I had just asked my readers to vote in a poll and felt commited at this point.

Because I had a vision. I wanted to make an apple cheesecake, on a bed of honey graham crackers, with a layer of homemade caramel sauce and minced apple, and a cream cheese filling mixed with apple sauce and honey.

Oh, how beautiful it seemed in my head! And you know, it does taste pretty good. But from the moment I took it out of the fridge and began slicing it, two great cracks appeared, and it slid apart. In fact, it seemed liquid.

I consulted Older Sister # 2, who determined it was probably a combination of too much liquid, not enough cream cheese, and not enough cooking time. This makes sense.

This morning I showed the fallen cake to Boyfriend who (if you can believe it) laughed in my face.  He says he didn’t laugh and he doesn’t remember laughing – possibly because he hadn’t drank any coffee yet? Whatever!

I’m going to try again, and it’s going to work, and maybe, if you are really nice to me when you get home, you can have some.

Keeping those silly platitudes in mind, I have realized three important truths:

1. Eating your mistakes when they are raw is foolish.

2. When attempting to make something new that everybody in the world knows how to make but you, do it before anybody else gets home.

3. If you don’t remember when you bought the marshmallows, maybe get fresh ones.