Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summer Gooey Butter Cakes

About a year ago, I found a pink lemonade cake mix on sale and thought I'd pick it up for fun.  Well, I decided that pink lemonade gooey butter cakes would be a perfect summer treat to take the ER last month.  K wanted to, we got things together, pulled up her stool, and made gooey butter cakes all decked out in our cupcake 'jammas!  ;-) 
They ended up not being quite as lemonade-y as I thought they'd be but were still good.  Though, I can't wait for fall so I can make pumpkin gooey butter cakes.  THOSE are divine!

Pink Lemonade Gooey butter cakes
1 pink lemonade cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg

2 eggs
8 oz cream cheese
16 oz powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  In a mixer bowl, mix cake mix, butter, and egg.  Spread into a 13 X 9 pan.  Then mix the 2 eggs, cream cheese and sugar.  Pour over cake portion.  Place pan in oven and bake for 40 - 50 minutes.  You want it done "enough" but not too that it will be "gooey!"  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mawa and Bolinhas

David is not the most adventurous eater, so when I was able to get him to try Indian (and me...I had never had it!) in London while we were on our honeymoon I was excited!  I was even more thrilled when he said he liked it.  He then commented that I should bake something Indian since I like to bake.  However, there aren't really any "classic" Indian desserts that are common knowledge.  So, when the challenge this month for the Daring Bakers was to make two Indian desserts I was excited.  Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!


I decided to make the Mawa cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies.  The cake was really good.  David liked it...without the decorative almonds!  I took it to work as well.  They enjoyed it a lot.  Someone even made the comment "you can really taste the milk."  I hadn't thought about it but you could.  It just tasted creamy! 
Making the mawa took a little longer than I thought but I may have had the temperature a little too low. 

I had a bit of trouble with the Bolinhas cookies as I couldn't find semonlina.  Semolina flour yes,  So, I used grits. 
They are a bit too tough.  I guess I should have used cream of wheat (farina) or corn meal.  Anyway, the taste was really good but the texture is just crunchy.  Alas, fun concept.
All in all a fun and different challenge.  I had never heard of mawa cake but am so glad I got to try it!  Thanks, Aparna!

Mawa Cake
For the Mawa:
1 litre (4 cups) full fat milk
For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed crumbled mawa
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (10 oz) (280 gm) castor sugar
3 large eggs
5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
2 cups (500ml) (9 oz) (260 gm) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract (optional)
Cashewnuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)

1. First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.
2. The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.
3. Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.
4. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.
You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 litre (4 cups) of full-fat milk.
5. Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy. 
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.
7. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed and well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.
8. Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top. Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look.
9. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time.
10. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.

Bolinhas de Coco
2 cups (500 ml) (5-1/3 oz) (150 gm) fresh grated coconut, packed
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) semolina
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (8-3/4 oz) (250 gm) granulated sugar
3/4 cup water (180ml) (6 oz) (175 gm) water
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz) (30 gm) ghee (clarified butter) or melted unsalted butter
2 large eggs
8 to 10 pods cardamom, powdered (about 1-1/2 teaspoon)

1. Run the grated coconut in your processor or the small jar of your blender a couple of times so that the flakes are smaller and uniform in texture. Do not grind into a paste. Keep aside.
2. Put the semolina in a pan and toast/ roast it, over low to medium heat, until it starts giving off an aroma, and looks like it’s about to start changing colour. This should take a couple of minutes. Do not brown. Transfer the semolina into a bowl and keep aside.
3. In the same pan, pour the water and add the sugar to it. Place it on medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Once the sugar has dissolved, keep stirring the solution and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. The sugar solution should just begin to start forming a syrup but is still watery. Do not cook until it forms a thick syrup.
4. Add the toasted/ roasted semolina and mix well. Then add the coconut, salt and ghee (or melted butter) and mix well. Put the pan back on the stove, and over medium heat stir the coconut mixture until it is really hot and easily forms a thick clump. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Take the pan off the heat and let the semolina coconut mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer this into a bowl or container, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, ideally overnight. For really fluffy biscuits/ cookies, the overnight rest is recommended.
6. The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Separate the yolks from the egg whites. Lightly beat the yolks with a fork to break them and add to the dough. Also add the powdered cardamom and mix well with a wooden spoon or fork.
7. Whisk the egg whites by hand until frothy and add to the dough. Mix well till incorporated.
8. You will now have a slightly moist and sticky dough. Refrigerate this dough for about half an hour so it firms up a bit.
9. Pre-heat your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line your baking trays with parchment or grease them well with some ghee or melted butter.
10. Take the dough out and pinch off walnut sized bits of dough. The dough should be firm enough to handle without difficulty. If the dough is sticking to your palms, lightly dust your palms with flour before shaping the dough. Roll the bits of dough into balls and then flatten them very slightly.
11. Decorate the top by marking criss-crosses (3 equidistant lines one way and another 3 crossing them at right angles), with a table knife. Press down a bit but not too deep or right through the biscuit/ cookie. Use up all the dough this way.
12. Place the shaped dough on the baking trays leaving a little space between them. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until they’re a golden brown and done. Let them cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to racks to cool completely.
13. Store the biscuits/ cookies in airtight containers. This recipe makes about 4 dozen Bolinhas de Coco.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Just to Keep it Real...Something that Didn't Work

I get really upset if what I make doesn't fly.  I mean, I know that I won't make things that everyone likes all the time; but when I pick out a recipe specifically because I think K is going to like it and/or I'm super excited about a recipe, then I get bummed when it doesn't work.  That is what happened July 4th.  I found a yummy sounding fresh corn summer chowder that I thought looked good.  K LOVES corn!  She keeps eating on the cob when all the corn is gone, convinced there's more. 
So, I just KNEW she'd like this.  Well, after a fun birthday party, I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking this soup for our July 4th dinner.  I was excited...until we all ate it.  It was more not what I thought it was going to be than not good.  But none of us were fans.  K didn't finish (which definitely means David didn't)...although later in the week she asked for corn soup for supper...thankfully, I had saved it (at David's request) just in case.  I was expecting something thicker and this was definitely more soup like and, as David put it, "tastes like corn" in broth basically.  So, there you go...and "failed" recipe...just to be transparent with my kitchen reality around here!  :-)

Summer Corn Chowder from Fine Cooking
  • 5 ears fresh corn
  • 7 oz. scallions (about 20 medium)
  • 3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeño, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 large potato (8 to 9 oz.), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. heavy cream
Husk the corn and cut off the kernels. Reserve two of the corn cobs and discard the others. Trim and thinly slice the scallions, keeping the dark-green parts separate from the white and light-green parts.
Cook the bacon in a 3- or 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off and discard all but about 1 Tbs. of the bacon fat. Return the pan to medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is melted, add the white and light-green scallions and the jalapeño, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring, until the scallions are very soft, about 3 min.
Add the broth, corn, corn cobs, potatoes, and thyme and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the potatoes are completely tender, about 15 min. Discard the corn cobs.
Transfer 1 cup of the broth and vegetables to a blender and puree. Return the puree to the pot and stir in the cream and all but 1/3 cup of the scallion greens. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes to wilt the scallions and blend the flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve sprinkled with the bacon and reserved scallions.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mexican in a Minute

Well, maybe a few minutes but still quickly!  David and K both LOVE Mexican.  I like it, too but usually not the same form as they do.  The thing about Mexican is that is can be super quick if you need it to be...which is helpful on the days when I have clinic all day.  This day, I decided to make quesadillas on our Le Cruest grill pan. 

We've done this before but I decided to change things up a little by adding refried beans.  The good thing about this that you can tailor it for each person's taste.  On David's and K's I put beans, chicken (Tyson grilled strips - nice occasionally for convenience sake), cooked peppers and onions, and cheese.
  On mine, I put MORE refried beans, peppers and onions, and cheese.  Enjoyed with some salsa for dipping it was a great quick dinner.
Minute Quesadillas
grilled chicken strips/chunks
grilled peppers/onions
refried beans

Preheat grill pan so that it is HOT.  Spray with cooking oil.  Put tortilla on pan then top with the fillings you want.  Fold tortilla over and place grill top on to keep the tortilla folded.  Cook until cheese is melted and tortilla "marked."  Enjoy with salsa and sour cream.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Birtday (Oreo) Blondies

One week my grocery store had those birthday cake oreos on sale and I wanted to try them, but I also didn't want them sitting around the house. 
So, I found a recipe that K and I could use them in.  These cream cheese blondies were great...and eaten quickly by the folks at work.
 K had a BLAST breaking the oreos into pieces.  She giggled the whole time. 

Birthday Cake Oreo Cream Cheese Blondies adapted from Teenage Taste who:
Adapted from That’s So Yummy and LemonPi; originally from Dam Good Sweet by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel
Inspired by Sally’s Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature (I used reduced fat.)
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.2 teaspoon salt
  • 2.5 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 24 Oreo cookies, broken into about quarters
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 13 x 9-inch square baking pan with foil, grease with nonstick spray, and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, wisk the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.  Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 15 seconds.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the egg.  Blend on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the dry ingredients and combine on low-speed until just a few dry streaks remain.  Add the chopped Oreos and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Press the batter into a smooth and even layer in the pan and bake until lightly golden and puffy around the edges (the center should still feel quite soft), about 18–22 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes and then run a paring knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake.  Cool for at least 4 hours before turning the cake out of the pan and onto a large plate.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Flowers and Other "Stuff"

When we started planning our wedding, I wanted pretty flowers but didn't really mind if it wasn't extravagant.  Talk about sticker shock...when you combine flowers, reception, food, flowers...YIKES!  However, we found a GREAT caterer/florist who will do everything if you want her to.  To add to it all, Wendy has such a confidence about what she plans that you just can't help but trust her. 
In our first meeting, I showed her some of my "pinned" ideas.  She would point to some, "! Love!"  Then would say "I mean, you can do whatever you want, but we will not be doing that.  Never!"  Which I absolutely LOVED!  I had no clue what I was doing and needed guidance.  When I went in to that first meeting, I knew I wanted tulips for my bouquet but that was about it.
I thought I wanted white flowers for the bridesmaids, but as you will see, that is SO not what we did.  And I am SO glad!
I found this hot pink anemone that I loved and Wendy pulled everything around that flower to make some AWESOME floral arrangements. 
We'll talk about the food later...but this is a sampling along with one of the floral arrangements at the reception! 
She also did K's pomander and flower crown. :-)

The other thing we had to do was programs.  I pinned several things I liked and my mom showed them to one of her friends who is a graphic designer.  Hannah then gave us several options and we picked what we liked.  They were GREAT! 
I had just what I wanted for invitations, programs, and thank you notes.  So, now we have everyone invited and ready for a wedding.....

Thursday, August 08, 2013

David's Birthday Cookies

So, a couple of posts ago I mentioned a cookie that I made for David to take to work in honor of his birthday.  Here it is. 
My guy is a big fan of, not as much.  I like it but prefer non-chocolate desserts.  However, I found a recipe, of course from Picky Palate (SO many good recipes here!), for a browned butter chocolate chunk cookie on Pinterest (actually, it is the first pin in my "Sweets" board)...and I figured this was a good time to try it out.
 I love browned butter in a cookie.  It just adds such depth to the cookie.  This recipe called for chocolate chunks, but I didn't have any. 
As an afterthought, I added 3 Hershey's chocolate bars to it.  This was a fun change in flavor.  David really enjoyed these, as did everyone else...from the empty container he brought home.  I thought it was pretty good, too...for a chocolate cookie.  ;-)  Test it out for yourself.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Picky Palate
(I doubled this recipe with no problems!)
  • 1 stick/1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter into a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt and swirl pan until butter is browned with brown bits stuck to the bottomo of the pan. Takes generally 5-8 minutes.

Place sugars into stand mixer and add browned butter mixing to combine. Add egg, vanilla, mixing to combine then add flour, salt, baking soda, cocoa powder and chocolate chunks. Mix until combined then scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet, pressing cookies evenly, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cookies cool on rack for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.


Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Two in One

Last month we had a Sunday School swimming party.  Unfortunately, I had to be back at church for a choir thing about two hours after it started, so I didn't get to swim. 
K, however, loved it!  This was before her swimming lessons and she is even more a fish now.  :-) 
So thankful that David is willing to swim around with her...even when she uses his head as a ladder!
 I had seen this recipe awhile back and thought it looked perfectly delicious and Southern.  For the brownie base, I used David's grandmother's brownie recipe. 
The only change I made was to use cocoa and oil instead of baker's chocolate.  The brownie was SO good!  I loved the praline topping and several of the Sunday School folks did, too.  I was afraid of how thin the topping was, so I added more sugar. 
Unfortunately, I think I should have trusted the recipe as it came out too grainy; I think it would have been fine if I had not done that.  Try it out!

Grandma's Brownies
2 sticks margarine
3 squares unsweetened chocolate (the back of the cocoa container has a conversion to cocoa)
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Melt margarine and chocolate together (or stir in cocoa and oil after).  Beat eggs in a separate bowl; add sugar gradually while beating.  Pour in chocolate/butter mixture.  Beat for one minute.  Add flour, baking powder, salt.  Mix well.  Pour into greased 13 x 9 pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Bayou Brownies from Menu Musings
Your favorite brownie PLUS:
Praline Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a small-medium sized saucepan, mix whipping cream, butter and brown sugar.  Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Boil and stir 1 - 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, then stir in toasted pecans, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Remove from heat, then stir in toasted pecans, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Cool 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour over completely cooled brownies.  Allow to cool about 30-45 minutes.  Tip - Cut into bars about 45 minutes after spreading frosting over the brownies. This will allow you to cut the brownies while the frosting is still just slightly warm and will minimize any cracks in the frosting.  If you let the frosting cool completely, the praline will break up.