Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

I just wanted to take a quick moment to wish everyone out there a Happy Memorial Day a little early and to send my thanks to all the soldiers (past, present and future) that do what they do so we can be free. Memorial Day is their holiday, never forget that.

Now, gonna leave you with this. Just a quick shot of 2 sets of cookies completed for Baking For Our Soldiers.

Military Branches

TomKat Memorial Day Cookies

Friday, May 25, 2012

Jarring Cupcakes

Okay, the holiday season is in the distant future but summer is here and you have a bit more free time on your hands. You know when the holidays come about you are going to be running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to get everything together. Now, add to that, you bake a lot during the holidays and much of your family is on the other side of the country or even world. How can you send goods to them without fear of it going bad? Simple - Can it. Or in this case, jar it. That's right, I am talking about canning/jarring your cupcakes.

Why? Oh simple.

1) You can bake them right in the jars.
2) They can be sealed, just like jams and jellies.
3) Up to a 6 month shelf life, so you can do it way in advanced!
4) Can be packaged and shipped with ease.
5) They are just too damned cute!!!

So how does one do this? It is actually much simpler than you would expect! Let's get to it!!!! Things you will need....
  • Cake Mix
  • "Canning" Jars, lids and seals
  • Large Glass Baking Dish
  • Large Pot W/Lid
  • Clean dry thick washcloth
  • Tongs
Now, what to do? Simple!
  1. Sterilize your jars, lids and seals as directed by the company.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325F.
  3. Prepare your cake batter as you normally would.
  4. Carefully spoon in batter to each jar, make sure to not get any on the rim. For quart jars fill half way, for pint 2/3rds. You don't want the cake to rise over the rim.
  5. Place the jars in the large glass baking dish, making sure they don't touch.
  6. Fill the baking dish itself with water to around 1/2 inch around the jars. 
  7. Place in oven and bake 35-55 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Time depends on oven and how large a jar you used.
  8. While the cupcakes are baking place the lids and seals in a large pot and cover with water. 
  9. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. 
  10. Cover and let sit until cupcakes are cooked.
  11. Once the cupcakes are cooked, with the tongs, carefully remove 1 jar at a time from the water.
  12. Dry off 1 lid and seal.
  13. Place seal on the top of the jar and then the lid.
  14. Carefully with a thick dry washcloth tighten down the lid fully.
  15. Set on wire rack and allow to cool.
  16. Repeat with the remaining jars.
  17. After 10 minutes check to see if they have sealed. Push down on the center of the seal, if it doesn't pop back, congrats! You have a Jarred Cupcake with a highly extended shelf life****. If the seal pops back up, well then it didn't seal and needs to be eaten within the next few days like any cake. So, win-win. LOL And that is all there is to!
So, if you got a down day this summer, why not take the time to pump out a couple dozen of these babies! Fresh cake when ever you want it, anytime the kids school calls wanting something for a bake sale or to ship out at Christmas! ^_^ And don't forget teachers! These little cakes make the perfect gift for them!

**** Make sure to run a test batch to test your own batter.  Some last longer than others. Some can better than others. Shelf life will vary. Some places say up to a year, others 6 months.   Make sure not to undercook your cake, it will cause problems with shelf life. Keep the jars you have not sealed in the oven while sealing them one at a time, this is to keep them at proper temp. Do not use frostings, icings or the like on top of the cake. If you want to pair your cake with a topping,  do it in a different jar and use a frosting with no products that would require refrigeration. The National Food Safety Database recommends keeping canned breads and cakes refrigerated or frozen if not using right away, as the seal may not be reliable. This is intended for personal use only and are not to be used for commercial purposes.  Many major jar manufacturing companies only guarantee their jars for freezing & water bath, steamer and pressure cooker canning processes, and do not warranty them for baking purposes. 

And as always - When you do eat the cake after canning it, check it first!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just a simple Red Velvet Birthday Cake for the hubby. Finally were able to cut into it.

Happy Birthday Hubby!!!

Well, even after the cake for Graduation, I still had more to do. That actually all started a couple of days ago. You see, today is my hubbies birthday! (You know, Chef Jason, the guy that writes Cynical Cuisine) So I had to make sure he was covered as well.

There was a slight problem though....

I asked him for a month what he wanted for his birthday food wise and I kept getting - I don't care, don't do anything much, what ever works, I'm not picky. Yeah....You see, that does go over well in this home...I need direction! Without it and this is what you get....


Bacon Cups with Over Medium Eggs on Toast

Fresh baked at home Sourdough Bread

Scottish Shortbread
Couple Dozen assorted sized Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
3 Layer, 6 inch round Red Velvet Cake with Tangy Cream Cheese Frosting.

And I am actually sitting here typing this and wondering if I should break out one or two more things. This is why I want direction....Because when I don't have it...This happens!!!! (All while sick and PMSing!)

Okay, now I normally put on something for confections here and put savory stuff on my other food blog but heck, I honestly don't want to post on two different blogs today, so gonna throw something your way here.

Bacon Cups

So, here we are. Quick and simple.

You will need:
Non-Stick baking Spray
Large Cupcake Pan (6 per sheet)
6 slices of white bread
12 slices of bacon
6 eggs
Large round cookie cutter or glass

What you need to do:
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Spray your cupcake pan with non-stick baking spray.
3. Cut large rounds with your cookie cutter out of the bread.
4. Line each cup with 1 slice of bread.
5. Bake 5 minutes and set aside.
6. Parcook your bacon, only about 5-6 minutes, half way.
7. Set on a wire rack and let cool until you can touch it without getting burned. Careful!!!!
8. Take 2 slices, cut each in half and crisscross it over the bread and up the sides in the pan.
9. Crack and egg into each cup.
10. Bake 20 minutes or until set. (The eggs will still look really runny but actually be cooked medium.)
11. Remove from oven, let cool 5 minutes.
12. Remove from pan and serve!

Quick, simple and a real show stopper! They taste awesome, need no forks and are great on the go! 

A Hairspray Graduation

Just finished up a cake for a young woman graduating this year out in Seattle. Very much into all things music and playing the lead for Hairspray opening this weekend, he dad wanted her to have a cake that fit. Well, here it is. Theater Stage with all things Hairspray on it, topped off with a Grad Cap. Cake is lemon cream with almond buttercream and topped with vanilla fondant. Everything is edible and it is 95% cake. (even the cap) "Poster and Score" are edible sugar sheets printed with the poster for the schools play and the score of - Momma I'm a Big Girl Now.

Congrats Hannah!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Red Velvet Love

Whether you are from the South or not, you have most likely heard of Red Velvet Cake. It is all over the place in recent years. Everyone has their own version of how it should be done and sadly...So many of them are wrong. This isn't just my opinion, this is the opinion of Southern Women and what can I say. They're right.

No one knows, as stereotypical as it may sound, what a RVC (Red Velvet Cake) should be better than an old Southern Woman fanning herself on her front porch in the middle of a hellish summer heat. If you want to know if any dish you made that has "Southern" influence is right just go down 3rd Avenue around the Lime Sink in Albany Ga, pick any of the homes on the street lined with old trees with hanging moss and let them taste your dish. They'll let you know. If you hear "Bless your heart", you got it wrong.

Now, I was not born in the South, very much the opposite. I was born in Steel Town USA - Gary, Indiana. (And if you start singing I will shoot you.) But I was raised in the South, the deep South. We had a white picket fence, picked blackberries from across the street and went swimming in the creek on the hottest of days. Granted I never did develop the southern drawl, it does sneak out from time to time, lol.

While being raised in the South, I learned a lot. One was how to cook, two was never expect anyone in the south to have the same recipe for anything. They all have their own. Passed down from generation to generation. Hell, families will feud over who has the best of this and the best of that. So and so does the best Pecan Pie but if you want Collard Greens go here. No, she has the best hush puppies
but he does the best BBQ.

So, needless to say fin
ding the best Red Velvet Cake might be difficult. Not in the way you would think. Most everyone that bakes goes - I do the best red velvet. Even me. lol (Sorry, it is what I believe I do best, ^_~) One thing you will find though, those recipes that are at the top, all have certain things in common and frankly they are the things that make a red velvet, a red velvet.

What makes Red Velvet Love? Well, here is a list of things I have found most agree on that know true Red Velvet. So, if you have a recipe and it doesn't follow these...Um, you might be doing it wrong, lol. Don't get me wrong, you're cake might taste wonderful but it just may not be Red Velvet. Remember these aren't my rules, I just happen to agree with them. :P

1. Red Velvet is NOT chocolate cake with red food coloring. It should have a minimum of cocoa powder. Too many times I have been out and about and we go out to eat. Many places these days have Red Velvet on the menu because it is the in thing, especially on Valentine's Day. I will order it and only to be broken hearted because it is nothing more than a red chocolate cake.This is not how it should be. RVC is known for a very rich flavor yes but that flavor isn't chocolate. It is Red Velvet. Yeah, I know, hard to understand if you haven't had it. It is a flavor all to itself and just cannot be put anywhere else.

2. Buttermilk is a must. Why? It helps give is that texture and a bit of tang that many Red Velvet lovers search for. Even though most RVC batters are rather runny due to the high fat content they bake up very dense and do not have that tell take sweet cake taste. Don't get me wrong, they are sweet but they have a zing to them and it ain't citrus.

3. Ain't got vinegar? Ain't RVC. The vinegar reacts with the buttermilk and baking soda and gives it that distinct flavor. Heck, it even reacts with the food coloring to help give it that red red color. Yeah, you know what I am talking about. It is called Red Velvet for a reason. It is because your cake slice should look like a piece of red velvet cloth. Deep, rich, luscious! Adding in vinegar right before you put it in the pans it what does this.
See, only 3 little things but they really do make the cake what it is. Now, there are tons of other things people say you need for a Red Velvet but those vary greatly. Do you use butter? Crisco? Vegetable Oil? White sugar? Brown sugar? Both? Thin layers, thick layers? Crushed pecans on the sides or red velvet crumbs? It is a heated debate waged many times on old front porch swings over a glass of iced tea.

Granted there is one more rule I go by personally that I get rather heated about myself...The 4th rule -

4. If it is served with anything but cream cheese frosting...Throw it at the cook. Okay, maybe not literally. But seriously, you cannot enjoy RVC without it. It compliments the flavor perfectly. Cream Cheese frosting has a similar tang to Red Velvet that helps bring it together but it provides that layer of sweetness that really finishes the dessert.

So there you have it, a few quick rules of thumb for next time you bake Red Velvet Cake. Sorry, no recipe. I hold that close to the heart. lol But I will say this. Don't reserve RVC for only Valentine's Day or even just cakes! Or Cupcakes. There is so much you can do with it. Crepes, pancakes, waffles, doughnuts, brownies and more. Things I will share how to make later on. But for now...Gonna enjoy some RVC.

More images will be posted later on this week. This cake is the hubbies for his birthday and I hope to do more to it than I already have.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spritz Pound Cake

Well, as many know I am slowly trying to move my sweet recipes from Surreal Fare over here. Only time I do that though is when I make one of the recipes. (And with everything going on trying to post new stuff, the old stuff can sometimes be left behind.)

Well not to worry! Here we go! a quickie for today!

  • 1 Pound Butter (Or margarine) – Softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups Of Sugar
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 Cups Of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 Cup of 2% Milk
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Almond Extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease 2 8 inch rounds ( or whatever you want to use.)
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add in the remaining ingredients. 
  5. Pour in pans. (Don't worry, it is a thick batter.)
  6. Bake 25-35 minutes. (Until toothpick comes out clean.)
  7. Remove from oven, let cool five minutes.
  8. Flip out onto rack and let cool fully.
  9. Top and decorate as you wish. 
  10. Serve and enjoy!
And that is all there is too it! My family adores this as Strawberry Shortcake, so just grab some frozen strawberries and cool whip and go! Perfect for summer!

The Bowling Alley

Got a call from a dear friend last night and before I knew it, I have went ahead and said - Sure, I can get you a cake by tomorrow morning. LOL Yeah, me and my inability to not only not tell anyone no but offer! LOL Oh well!

Started around 6 last night getting setting out butter to come to room temp so I could not only bake cakes from scratch but as I am looking through all my supplies I see I am about of various flours and other things I usually have on hand. So I spend a good amount of time making just the basic ingredients, LOL. (I only keep loling because I am actually in a sleep deprived giggle fit right about now.)

Thankfully the heavens smiled on me and the stars aligned. About 10 this morning, or somewhere in there I was able to finish up and then bake a crap ton of other stuff.

Granted this isn't my best work but very happy with the results and even happier to know if I get an order at "closing" time I can have a cake ready and waiting by "opening" the next day! Go me!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cinco De Mayo

Let me begin by saying - May The Forth Be With You. 

Now that that is over! Happy Cinco De Mayo! (Tomorrow that is, lol.) Now, what is this in the video above? Simple! A Maraca Cookie! Not the cleanest work but it was late and I wanted to get done fast since I had completed a lot of other cookies.

Rather simple to make actually. You just need 3 cookie cut out in the same shape, one of those hollowed out and one of those on a cookie stick. Bake, cool, cement together with royal icing as you stack them and fill with mini M&M's! Pretty cool!

Picture Guide For Maraca Cookies
Well, that was just the quick complete. I did that while I was waiting on some other cookies to dry. Now, these I wouldn't exactly call Cinco De Mayo cookies but more of a South Western Style. What is awesome about these is that they are a flavor variation on another cookie.

Lila Loa makes probably the best vanilla sugar cookie on the planet, I just adore her cookie. Not only does it taste great but it holds its shape better than any other I have tried and trust me, I have tried a lot of them. Add even more goodness and they are the perfect base for variations! So what do I do? Come up with my own!

Yuppers, here is a quick take on her cookie recipe that you can find here - Vanilla Sugar Cookie

Just take her recipe and follow it. Omit the orange/almond and add in the following:
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon to the dry ingredients
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon Extract
1 Teaspoon Butter Flavorings

What does this give you? Churro cookies!!! That's right, a rich buttery cinnamon sugar cookie that is just perfect for the holiday!

Churro Flavored South Western Themed Cookie
And finally, my favorite part of all of this. My Nacho Supreme Cookies!!!! OMG these were too fun to make!!!
Nacho Supreme Cookies
These were super easy and so fun! All you do it cut out sugar cookies in the shapes of triangles, place them on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment and has dowel rods under the parchment. This will allow the cookies to bend as they cook and give you that nacho chip look.

Nacho Chip Cookies
 After that it is just all about the garnish!

Lettuce & Cheese: Colored Flake Coconut
Ground Beef: Crushed Cookies
Tomatoes: Starburst Jelly Beans

And don't forget the "Frosting" Sour Cream, lol. All there is too it!

And there you have it!!

Our Cookie De Mayo!!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Southern Style Pecan Bars

Just a quick update while I am waiting for dishes to finish being done so I can get back to work in the kitchen on the Cinco De Mayo stuff. While in the middle of waiting for royal icing to set and another batch of cookie dough to chill I decided to make something else. Southern style pecan bars. These are just perfect for those summer days in the South or anywhere else for that matter. So here ya go! Quick and dirty.

1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Table Salt
2 1/4 Cup Unbleached All Purpose
11 Tablespoon Salt Butter, Chilled and cubed

3 Large Eggs
1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoon Salted Butter, Melted
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Nutmeg
1/2 Cup Crushed Pecans
1 1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F
2. Take a 9x13 cake pan and spray down with Pam Baking Spray.
3. In a large bowl dump in everything for the crust and with a frost cut it until it becomes like corn meal.
4. Dump it into the cake pan and press flat and firm.
5. Bake 20 minutes uncovered.
6. While that is baking toss everything but the pecans into a mixing bowl and combine until smooth.
7. Toss in the pecan and fold.
8. Soon as crust comes out, pour filling on top.
9. Set in oven and bake for 20 minutes uncovered.
10. After 20 minutes, cover and cook until set - slight giggle in the center - another 10-20 minutes depending on oven.
11. Remove and allow to cool 10 minutes before loosening with a knife from the sides of the pan. Let cool fully now in the pan before cutting into bars.
12. Serve and enjoy!

Next time I think I might try them with candied bacon. ^_~

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Surreal Delights

Surreal Delights & Milk
Okay, about a week ago I checked out a book from the library for my husband - The Bacon Cookbook - and o.m.g....The recipes in this thing are just amazing. I mean, come on, an entire book about bacon, even cookies! Cookie! You have my attention.

So, I start thinking and researching various things online about cookie dessert with bacon, cookies with bacon and even how to candy bacon. Add to this the hubby grilling all the time and my family being bacon fanatics and here we are...
Candied Bacon

A cool Tuesday in May up in Washington State. The night before the hubby grills up his infamous Bacon Meatloaf and I finish developing a new take on my bread recipe - Bacon Garlic Cheddar. I need to get to decorating cookies but I have something else on my mind and like any artist, until that is taken care of I cannot do anything else.

And here we are..Surreal Delights....As I am calling them. A Candied Bacon Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Let's get to it!

For Candied Bacon:
8 Slices Thick Cut Bacon
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar

For Cookies:
2 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter - Softened slightly (not fully room temp)
3/4 Cup Granulate Sugar
3/4 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
12 Ounces Chocolate Chips - I prefer Semi Sweet
2 Cups Chopped Walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Line cookie sheet with parchment
3. Place Bacon on parchment
4. Sprinkle with half the brown sugar
5. Bake 10 minutes
6. Flip bacon over
7. Bake another 10 minutes
8. Remove from oven
9. Up oven temp to 400
10. Sprinkle bacon with the other half cup of brown sugar
11. Return to oven
12. Bacon an additional 5-10 minutes or until crispy - brown sugar might not be fully melted, that is okay!
13. Remove from oven, remove form pan and allow to cool fully.
14. Lower oven temp to 325.
15. Mix together flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
16. In a mixing bowl combine butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.
17. Cream
18. Add in eggs and vanilla, mix well.
19. Gradually add flour until mixed together.
20. Chop the bacon into small pieces.
21. Add the bacon, chocolate chips and walnuts to the dough.
22. Fold gently until evenly distributed.
23. Roll into gold ball sized balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.
24. Bake for 13-15 minutes.
25. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool fully.
26. Enjoy!