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Crack Cookies

30 May

Bobby’s birthday was last week and although I’m still stuck in Davis cramming immunology, renal physiology, hematology, parasitology, and all sorts of other -ologies into my brain, I needed to send him something tasty. Enter crack cookies.

These things have another name (flourless deep dark chocolate cookies), but they’re so good that they taste like there’s crack in them (assuming crack tastes good…). They also crackle on top. Instead of rolling them in powdered sugar, I used raw sugar for an extra crunch. Plus, the melted sugar gives it a molasses-like flavor. Next time, though, I’ll probably use bittersweet chocolate chips instead of semisweet, as these cookies were a bit too sweet for me.

Of course, I also forgot to take pictures of them before I mailed them off, so these pictures are courtesy of Bobby. They’re individually wrapped for portion control purposes. :D

Crack Cookies
Adapted from Epicurious

Nonstick vegetable oil spray (or that awesome non-stick aluminum foil)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raw sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees and prepare two baking sheets.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Let cool while you make the meringue.

Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add in 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until the mixture resembles melted marshmallows, about 30 seconds. Whisk the remaining powdered sugar, cocoa powder, corn starch, and salt and gradually add into the meringue. Mix until combined. Add in the melted chocolate and remaining chocolate chips. The “dough” should be stiff, almost the texture of truffle chocolates. If it’s still too soft, try waiting a bit for the melted chocolate to cool a little more.

Roll dough into spheres and roll in raw sugar. Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart–these cookies will spread! Bake for about 11 minutes, until the tops are cracked. Makes about 20 three-inch cookies.

Length of procrastination: 45 minutes

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Herb and Cheese Beer Bread (Muffins)

25 May

Oooh, I love beer bread so much. Not only is it delicious, but it’s so easy to make. It takes less than 5 minutes to mix up all the ingredients and only about 12 minutes to bake. My roommates keep convenient 12oz bottles of beer in the house, so I’ll whip up a batch whenever I get a cheese craving.

Most beer bread recipes make loaves, but I’m more a fan of the muffin or scone-sized variety. I really like the crunch around the edges, especially the slightly burnt cheese topping. Plus, the it cuts the baking time waaay down. I get between 15-20 “muffins” out of this recipe, depending how full I fill each cup.

I’ve tried this recipe with a variety of beers, including stouts, light beers, and ciders. The more bitter beers make more bitter breads, obviously, but in some cases the flavor is a bit too much. On the other hand, the beer-y flavor is pretty much lost with ciders and Corona Light. I personally prefer a lighter flavor, but it’s definitely a personal choice.

Herb and Cheese Beer Bread

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1.5 tbsp garlic salt
1 cup shredded cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top
12oz beer

Note: For the “herbs,” I tend to use whatever’s on hand. Basil, oregano, and garlic salt taste pretty good together, which is awesome ’cause it’s all I currently have in my cabinet. I tend to have a heavier hand in terms of seasoning, so adjust it to your taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease either a muffin tin or baking pan with baking spray and set aside.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in beer and mix thoroughly with a fork.

Fill muffin tins about 80% full with batter or drop 3-inch dollops of batter onto the baking sheet. Top with some sprinkled cheese and bake for 12-15 minutes, until bread is golden brown.

Length of procrastination: ~20 minutes

Creme Brulee French Toast for Mother’s Day

9 May

My sister and I have made my mom breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day every year since we were old enough to reach the microwave. Unfortunately the past few years, I’d been on the other side of the country, so I had to make up for it this year.

I halved a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and got surprisingly good results! I couldn’t find an unsliced loaf anywhere, so I substituted thick Taiwanese toast from Sogo Bakery. As you can see, they weren’t nearly as thick as the original recipe, so I had a lot of unabsorbed custard left over after soaking the bread overnight.

This was also my first time caramelizing sugar, which was terrifying and awesome at the same time. The sugar first started “sweating” a little…then turned brown really quickly! Mine burnt a little in the extra 30 seconds I took to snap a picture. When the recipe says “color of honey,” it really means color of honey. Any browner and you’ll get burnt sugar, which doesn’t actually taste that bad.

Length of procrastination: About 1 hour, not counting soaking time.

Second Try Syndrome…(Banana Cream Pie)

24 Apr

I suffer from a horrible, debilitating disease I call Second Try Syndrome. It turns my egg yolks into foam, renders my custards sugarless, and leaves pie crusts half-filled.

The first time I attempt a recipe, I read each line of directions twice. I measure out each ingredient before I begin and never forget to preheat the oven. You know…like a normal person.

The second time around, I start glancing instead of reading. I do some things from memory. I stop paying close attention to my KitchenAid and just let it run.

When I made this banana cream pie the first time, the result was a gorgeously smooth custard. The second time? Ehh…it solidified. So. Lesson learned. Don’t overbeat your eggs. Don’t forget to add the sugar. Or the cornstarch. And don’t be lazy and make your own damn crust.

Banana Cream Pie
Recipe courtesy of DK and his boss

1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean and pod, halved lengthwise and scraped (I substituted 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2-3 large bananas, sliced

In a saucepan over medium heat, scald the milk and vanilla, taking care not to let it boil over. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Temper the eggs with hot milk, then pour through a sieve back into the saucepan.

Heat over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens. Pour through sieve over butter into a separate bowl and cover with saran wrap. Make sure to poke holes in the saran wrap to let out steam, and let cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

While the custard is cooling, prepare the pie pan. A graham cracker crust works well with this pie, but my store-bought one cracked when I tried to serve it. DK makes a crust from the recipe on the Honey Graham box. In any case, line the crust with sliced bananas. I used several layers of thinly sliced bananas since this is the only source of the banana flavor.

When the custard is cool, pour it into the crust and smooth with the back of a spoon. Top with whipped cream and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

Be careful with the pie. If you’re too excited to shove it in your mouth, this might happen:

And that’s just sad. :(

Length of procrastination: 1 hour of hands-on time, if you’re not stupid like me. 12 hours of omgomgomg-can-I-eat-it-yet? time.

Connie’s Cake

18 Apr

My roommate Connie’s birthday was a few weeks ago, so my other roommate Victoria and I decided to make her an ice cream cake. We used the same recipe that I used to make Bobby’s last summer, but swapped out the vanilla cake for red velvet and the Neapolitan ice cream for strawberry. Also, Victoria is much more skilled than I am at slicing strawberries, so they actually looked like little hearts.

This cake was baked, cooled, assembled, and frosted in the two hours that Connie was out rock climbing. We had another friend try to stall her for as long as possible and actually managed to hide the cake in the freezer before she came back. Of course the first thing she did upon returning home was open the freezer door (at which time I slammed it closed and insisted that there is nothing of interest in there). Just in case the sudden appearance of a bajillion dishes drying in the dishwasher didn’t give it away.

Photo credit goes to Connie because I fail at taking pictures of anything. And at hiding cakes.

Well damn…

28 Mar

We missed our blog birthday again…sadface. Well, it’s been two years and 26 days! Thanks for sticking around. We’ll try to cook more this coming year. Promise. :)

Red Velvet Cupcakes

8 Mar

My classmates seem to really like red velvet cupcakes, so I’ve made them several times for birthdays these past few months. Personally, I’m not a fan of 3 tbsp red food coloring and the consequences to my fingers, but this recipe was actually really tasty!

Unfortunately, taste was their only redeeming quality, as I put a little too much batter in each cup and they became great ugly overflowing mounds of red. Plus, the middles sunk in! I wonder if it had something to do with oven temperature being too high and the cake rising too quickly without solidifying the batter underneath or leaving the batter out for too long and having the vinegar/baking soda reaction burn out or replacing buttermilk with yogurt or….

Oh well. Nobody can tell because the cupcakes are covered with frosting. One cupcake had sunken in all the way though, so I just ate it. Nobody has to know it ever existed.

If you’re making this frosting recipe, I’d probably 1.5x it or something. I only had enough for ten cupcakes out of the dozen, even after scraping down the sides of the bowl and abstaining from licking the spatula.

You can find the original recipe at Brown Eyed Baker. I used 2 tbsp of food coloring + 1 tbsp water instead of 3 tbsp food coloring, and as you can see the cupcakes turned out plenty red! Also, I substituted the 1/2 cup of buttermilk with the same amount of Trader Joe’s vanilla yogurt.

Length of procrastination: 45 minutes

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