Thursday, September 30, 2010

Can I save my cake truffles?

That is the question I will be answering this evening. Last night I started making my cake truffles for the church festival. I made a vanilla cake with peanut butter frosting and formed them into balls and placed them in the freezer to harden up before dipping in chocolate. Easy as pie...

For those of you who are unfamiliar with cake truffles, here is a brief introduction. First you bake a cake. I prefer to use a 9x13" pan so there is only one pan to clean rather than two 9 inch pans and it is all going to one place anyway! Let the cake cool until just barely warm and then break it into large pieces into a very large bowl. Add in one recipe of desired frosting, anything at all will work. Just make sure the recipe is amount that would be used to frost one 9x13 or 9" round double layer cake. Stir like crazy and refrigerate until the mixture is cold enough to form into balls. I use a melon baller/small cookie scoop and combine two scoops into one ball, about the size of a golf ball. Place these in the freezer to harden then dip into the desired melted chocolate. Let the chocolate set up and they are ready to eat!

Then on to the second cake. I opted for an apple spice cake that I adapted from my grandmother's recipe. The cake turned out moist and fluffy and made my kitchen smell great!!! I was torn between a caramel frosting and a vanilla buttercream. I wasn't sure if the caramel would be too over powering since I had not made that one before, so I went with the vanilla buttercream. The recipe I had made quite a bit. Without thinking, I dumped all the frosting into the cake crumbs and starting stirring. Right away I knew it wasn't going to work. There was just waaaaaaaay too much frosting in there, it was all super liquidy. There was no way I would be able to pack this into a ball. I was extremely annoyed that I wasn't paying as close attention as I should be. I know better!!! I ran out of apple sauce, so I will have to make another cake tonight and keep adding cake crumbs a little at a time until I get a reasonable consistency. I hope I can get it just right, my fingers are crossed!!!!!

Let just hope the third cake goes as smoothly as the first so I can start dipping in chocolate tonight and tomorrow. The chocolate needs some time to set up before I package them and I would prefer not to place the cake truffles in the freezer. Freezing chocolate can cause a white bloom to occur and I want these to look just right!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Church Bake Sale and Fall Festival

The St Stephen the Martyr Catholic Church will be having their Fall Festival this weekend. There will be games and food and an auction. There is a bake sale as well as a frozen food sale (a very interesting concept that I haven't seen before). I wasn't sure what to expect for the frozen meal part of things, so I decided to stick with what I know...sweets!

I volunteered to make some things for the bake sale...some chocolate covered pretzels (simple, yet very yummy and well liked) and various cake truffles. I haven't decided just how many cake truffles to make, we'll see just how much time I have, especially with my parents arriving for a visit this Friday! I may even get motivated to make more, but I don't want to commit myself to too much!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yummy in my Tummy Cinnamon Rolls

I forgot one other thing I made this past weekend...cinnamon rolls! They have been on my mental list for a few months now and I finally got around to trying them out.

I started with a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website ( The directions were easy to follow, though I always seem to need a lot more flour than is called for in the yeast breads. I am not sure why that is, but I know my doughs are too sticky if I use just the recommended 19 1/2 ounces. Once I got the dough to the appropriate consistency, all I had to do was wait.

After church, I rolled out the dough to the suggested 16"x21". I brushed on my softened butter and poured on the generous amount of cinnamon sugar. I thought it would be way too much, especially when it went all over the place when I rolled up the dough! But it seemed to work out just the way it should. I rolled my dough from the long end, rather than the short one, hoping to get more, smaller cinnamon rolls. Well, some of them were small, but most were just huge!!! So I need to work on my portioning skills somewhat to make them more consistent. In to the oven they went. All the while I was hoping the smaller ones wouldn't burn before the larger ones were cooked through.

Now on to the frosting. I didn't want to use the cream cheese icing, so I consulted my Whole Grain Baking Book from King Arthur and found a powdered sugar/cream icing I preferred. But oh no! I didn't have enough powdered sugar! So I had to wait until the buns were finished cooking before heading to the store to resupply. Later that night, I made the frosting and iced the cooled cinnamon buns and put them in the fridge overnight.

I knew I couldn't handle having those in the house...sweet, bread, cinnamon, frosting...a very dangerous combination for me. So I took one of the large ones and brought the rest to work to share. I put out a small jar to collect some money for ingredients and utensil and all, per the suggestion of several people around here. I hadn't thought of it. I just like to try making new things and I want to share them because it can be too rich to have every bit of it at my house. By the end of the day, the total was $0.42 and both pans of cinnamon rolls were practically licked clean. I actually felt fairly insulted. I would rather someone not leave anything at all rather than a few pennies and dimes. It makes me rethink whether I will bring more in the future. It makes me wish I had a kitchen to work from so I could really get started with selling. It makes me wish I could get a small truck so that I can share my creations with people all over the city and surrounding areas. Maybe it will just make me work that much harder to get where I want to be.

Pancakes/Mac and Cheese/Crab Cakes...not all at once, but I should have thought of that!

I was excited to spend more time experimenting in the kitchen this weekend.

I made buttermilk pancakes with the buttermilk I had leftover from the chocolate and vanilla cake. Nothing too exciting or difficult there. I put half directly in the freezer and the other half into the fridge. I have been using them to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast. I bought some strawberry and amaretto preserves at the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain two weekends ago, which I thought might be a little strange with peanut butter, but I am really enjoying it!

Using my Professional Cooking textbook, I made mac and cheese. I started with a bechamel sauce, which is a white roux with milk, then added a whole bunch of shredded cheddar cheese. I stirred in ground mustard, salt and Worcestershire sauce before adding the cooked macaroni. The whole thing went in the oven at 350F for about 30 minutes. We didn't bother with the bread crumbs on top since my husband doesn't think they add anything. The end result was fairly tasty, though I think I will need to kick up the flavor just a little bit next time. Personally, I would love some broccoli or some other veggie in there, but I know my husband would protest. But it looks like a keeper recipe to me.

I had a bunch of crab meat leftover, so I went for a traditional crab cake. Just some bread crumbs, a little mayo, eggs, parsley, baking powder, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Oh and of course, Old Bay seasoning! I opted to broil my crab cakes, rather than saute them. They taste great on their own, there really isn't any need for the added butter to saute them. My husband sprinkled some lemon juice over his and I opted for a very strong cocktail sauce consisting of horseradish and had quite a bite to it, just the way I like it. Most restaurants serve such mild cocktail sauce that I am very glad to make my own.

Crab cakes and creamy mac and cheese made for a great dinner!!!

Crab Turnover Update


Everyone loved the turnovers. I was worried that rewarming them in the microwave would lose a lot of the flavor and texture, but they were still very good. Everyone had great things to say about them, even people who had no idea that the recipe had won me $500 and a place in the Kraft Real Women of Philadelphia cookbook.

The biggest husband went right for the few that were leftover. I asked him if he wanted me to see if some of our friends that live nearby wanted some since I try to spread out my culinary creations amongst people, but he quickly said NO!

My parents are coming to visit in less than two weeks and this has already been requested by my dad. I am excited to make them for my family. I will have to wait and see what else I'll make for them while they are here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Birthday List

The previous post got me to thinking about my birthday wish list, that maybe I should write all this down. So here goes:

- 'On baking', or 'baking and pastry: mastering the art and craft'...either textbook would be great, I just want a professional baking text like my professional cooking book.
- 10x10 tent (for the farmers market I hope to join next year)
- two 6' tables (for the farmers market)
- cash box of some sort (farmers market)
- a small fryer, nothing huge since I don't fry things often and you need to replace the oil all the time anyway. Something for small batches for 2-3 people
- a meat pounder
- 3" biscuit cutter
- small kitchen torch
- two high quality knives: 8" chef's knife and a paring knife
- pepper grinder: I keep going through those McCormick disposable ones, I think its time for a reusable one I can refill
- My K-cup: so I can use my own coffee in me Keurig brewer
- cute apron
- a small piggy bank: this was actually a suggestion from a coworker, so that I can set that out when I bring things in to share. It wasn't my idea, but if people go for it, I will certainly not object
- cheese making book
- some sort of book(s) on getting started in a farmers market or small restaurant
- a kitchen where I can get a license
- small food truck, about the size of an ice cream truck

Ok, so maybe the last two are a bit of a stretch, but it can't hurt to ask!! You can't get what you want without putting it out there, can you? You never know who might be listening or what might happen!

Crab Turnovers

So as I mentioned before, I had a request for my crab turnovers for the baby shower today. To be honest, I was more than a little worried about making them and bringing them in. I felt like there was this huge burden of proof that I needed to achieve. Everyone's expectations are high (including my own).

I had this nightmare the other night that all of a sudden the recipe would fall apart and nothing would work right! The dough would be a gooey mess, the filling would be over seasoned, the oven would burn every last one, it would taste awful and everyone would come down on me for creating such a terrible recipe. It was actually really stressing me out. I want everything to be just right so I can be proud of all the hard work I have put into this and all the other recipes I submitted to the Real Women of Philadelphia.

I actually made the dough on Wednesday night and let it rest in the fridge overnight, rather than just 30 minutes. I knew time would be tight last night and needed any advantage I could get. After work, I walked the dogs and finished up the icing on the cake and cut the fudge into small squares, made dinner, made the crab filling, made my lunch for today, fed the dogs and put away dishes.

I let the dough come to room temperature for about 10 or 15 minutes before rolling it out. I only rolled out so much at a time to prevent over working the dough. Surprisingly, I do not own a 3" cookie cutter so I just use a glass. It doesn't cut quite as well as a cutter would, but it works well enough. I think I will have to add the cookie/biscuit cutter to my birthday wish list (which is actually quite long this year, and its all somehow baking/cooking related...I guess I am making up for all those years when I couldn't come up with any good ideas!).

I used my cookie scoop to add the same amount of filling to each round and gently spread it over half the dough. I brought the other side of the dough up and over the filling and sealed the edges with a fork. Each turnover then went onto an ungreased baking sheet and then into a hot oven. The really nice thing about these is that you can fit so many on one baking sheet, which means a lot fewer pans that go into the oven. While one batch cooked, I rolled out the next set, which worked out well.

I got a little distracted and the first set came out a tiny bit darker than I would have liked. My perfectionist self was mad...I know to watch closer! Since I knew I would need to refrigerate these overnight and rewarm them the next day, I did not add the cheese on top at this point. Rather, I put all the cooled turnovers in a container and shredded a bunch of cheese into another.

I made sure to taste one last night (with added cheese) and was very happy with the results. There was no huge disaster that terrible dough, no over seasoned crab. The dough is very flaky and the warm crab definitely transported me back to my childhood. My husband laughed so hard when he saw just how relieved I was once I tasted this batch. We all have fears that everything will go wrong, but I am very glad to say that my fears were unfounded.

The party will be in an hour, I will let you know just how the reheating and addition of the cheese works. And how everyone reacts. Until then, I will just have to hold my breath!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Office Baby Shower

One of my coworkers and his wife are expecting a little one very soon so we are having a get together tomorrow. I am excited to spend some more time in my kitchen, it feels like I haven't been making as much recently.

I got requests for my 'award-winning' crab turnovers and I think I will have enough time to make those tonight. To be honest, I am a bit scared that people won't like them. I am like that with all my creations, that they won't live up to everyone's (including my own) expectations. I will be sure to let you know how it goes and post pictures as well.

I also decided to make a chocolate and vanilla swirl cake from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It is a cake I have made before and liked it in the past. I figure it was something tasty, yet uncomplicated and not overly decadent and rich. The cake turned out well and I will make a chocolate glaze for it tonight so it will be all ready for tomorrow.

I had 50 minutes while the cake was in the oven, so I figured I would make something else, as well. For some reason, peanut butter fudge stood out in my mind. I went to the traditional method on the stove, using the candy thermometer and all rather than the short cut methods out there. It actually ended up taking longer than I expected, but that was quite alright. I didn't want to heat the sugar so fast that I burned it. The consistency looked really good when I poured it into the mold, so hopefully it tastes good, too!! I think I like making things like cakes a bit more than the fudge, but that may change once I taste the fudge! I like being able to get all the ingredients together, mix them and walk away while it bakes. You have to be a bit more careful with the fudge, you can't just walk away for 15-20 minutes. I will let you know if the extra time was worth the extra effort!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

OMG!!!!!! I WON!!!!!! I am still in shock!!!!

Our First "Make To Impress" Appetizer Winner!
Posted by Caryn Ross on Sep 13, 2010

Hey Kitty Cats!

Yep, it's Caryn again, and I'm here to announce your Appetizer "Make To Impress" recipe winners!

I'm really impressed by our first winner of the Loren Myers, give yourself a giant round of applause! You're $500 richer, baby! Your Crab Turnovers wowed the heck out of the Kraft judges, and as for me, I'm crazy in love with adding a whole brick of Philly Cream Cheese to your pastry dough - I bet that baby is tender, tangy, and flaky beyond compare!

Crab is always a special treat no matter what, but it's always fun to see new ways to use these classic ingredients, right??

Big fat congrats, Loren. Everyone come right back here tomorrow for our next Appetizer winner.

Rock On!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

My brother recently got engaged (YAYAY!!!!!) and I wanted to send them a little something in celebration. After looking around at various house related items online, as well as gourmet coffees/fruits/gift baskets I decided that I would rather make them something and send it to them. It actually took me a lot longer to come to that conclusion than it really should have! I decided to make my peanut butter and honey sandwich cookies and some chocolate covered pretzels to send up there.

The pretzels were super easy to make and turned out quite pretty. I dipped pretzels rods into dark chocolate and sprinkled them with white chocolate. I placed them on wax paper lined sheets to dry. One 14 ounce bag of dark chocolate was enough to almost finish the entire bag of pretzels. And since I was just sprinkling the white chocolate, I really didn't need a whole lot of that. I did, however, add a little bit of canola oil to the white chocolate to make sure it was thin enough to sprinkle the way that I wanted. It didn't take much to get the ideal consistency.

I bagged up 6 pretzels per large bag and tried each with a white bow. For not a lot of work, the results were visually stunning. I think I will keep this in mind for part of my Christmas gifts this year, they will make a great addition to whatever else I choose to make.

Tonight I will make my cookies and hopefully get the box in the mail tomorrow morning. I hope they enjoy it all!!

Yummy vanilla, chocolate and almond cake!

My husband and I visited some friends last week for dinner and even though it was a last second decision, I still wanted to make sure I brought something. I still had some of the chocolate buttercream in the fridge from the last set of cookies I made, so I decided to build a cake around that.

I figure a good old fashioned vanilla butter cake would be a good complement. What is better with chocolate than vanilla? Using all the little techniques I have learned throughout my readings, I am now very confident in my cake making skills. My cakes have consistently turned out light and fluffy and baked just right.

Since the buttercream was not a full recipe, I needed some sort of a filling to make sure the cake tasted smooth and creamy. After conferring with my husband, we decided on a chocolate almond whipped cream center. A simple, yet extremely tasty and effective filling. So I made the cakes and filling late one night, then assembled everything just before leaving the next day.

I initially thought I would just use the buttercream on top of the cake so that it would be a thicker layer, but I quickly realized that all the whipped cream would squirt out the edges if I didn't keep them contained somehow! So that resulted in a thin frosting layer all the way around. The cake didn't look quite as perfect as I would like, considering that I started assembling everything 10 minutes after we should have left the house! But it actually looked nice and I am curious how my next cake will look. Pictures will be uploaded as soon as I get a chance.

It may be a few weeks before my next cake, but I am thinking through what kind of birthday cake I would like to make for myself. Both mine and my husband's birthdays are two days apart so I am not sure if we will have one cake or separate ones so that we can have different things. I still have a few weeks left to think.