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Caring Care Packages

11 Feb

My brother has been living in Tokyo since last summer and I wasn’t going to be able to celebrate his birthday with his so I wanted to send him a care package full of cookies.  My question to him was, “what’s your favorite cookie and cake?”  He replied with, “chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake.”  I had my work cut out for me.

I love my brother and I love cheesecake, but cheesecake os definitely process that requires patience…and I’m not a very patient person.  In addition to my lack of patience, I don’t know how I was going to send over a whole cheesecake to Japan?!?!   I decided to send him travel safe cheesecake balls.  I got the cheesecake recipe from Bakerella and used my new Babycakes Chocolatier that I got for my birthday!

I couldn’t decide if I should bake the cheesecake with a crust or not but concluded that it would be safer to bake it with a crust so the bottom doesn’t burn and to keep the batter from leaking out of the springform pan.  I ended up having enough cheesecake for almost 4 dozen balls, and I used two whole bags of candy melts.

Boy oh boy, I messed up big-time on this cheesecake.  Remember how I mentioned I don’t have much patience, and cheesecake is a process that requires a lot of patience….well, I baked it just like Bakerella told me to but when I took the cake out it looked runny in the center so I decided to bake it for 30 more minutes.  I checked on it after 30 minutes had passed and it was STILL runny looking, so I baked it for 15 more minutes.  It didn’t occur to me until Hunny Buns said “doesn’t cheesecake need to be refrigerated to set?”  I ended up overcooking the cake and it didn’t come out as smooth and creamy as I would have liked it to.  : (   BOOOOOOO

In addition to all this, my mom said that cheesecake probably won’t last too long out of the fridge and that it would probably go bad before it gets to my brother.  So instead, I let Normalicious take half to work.

As for the chocolate chip cookie, Norm’s been wanting me to bake these humongo stuffed chocolate chip s’mores cookies.  I got all of the ingredients and was about to bake them, and then realized, one recipe yields 4 cookies since they’re so big!  My brother wanted cookies to share with friends and co-workers and I couldn’t justify making these giant’ole cookies for people to break apart and share!  And, I wasn’t about to make 4 batches of these big babies.

So instead, I made these chocolate chip marshmallow cookies and baked ’em right on top of graham crackers.  It’s technically a chocolate chip cookie, and the chocolate chips, marshmallow and graham crackers make it a s’more.  Next time I bake this, though, I would omit the cocoa powder.  It’s not really necessary since you have chocolate chips.  And, I would fold in the marshmallows with a spatula instead of mixing it in with a mixer.  The mixer tore up the marshmallows.

Last but not least, my co-worker told me about these awesome oatmeal toffee cookies.  They came out really good!  Seriously, these are absolutely buttery and fantabulous!  One recipe made about 6 batches of these!  I didn’t include chocolate chips since I used two 8 oz. bags of Heath Bar bits.  I also omitted the pecans since I wasn’t in the mood for them, but these precious chewy goddesses still came out great.

P.S. They reminded me of Lacey’s wafer cookies, nom nom nom nom nom…..

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Plushy Plums

23 Jul

My coworker has a plum tree that produced more plums than she could possibly eat.  She was so kind and  gave me a bag full but told me to eat them quickly because they were extremely ripe (and super sweet for plums).  I told her I can try to make plum pudding or something.  But, she said, “if you’re going to cook with it, make me a German plum-cake.”  I never had a German plum-cake before so she explained the texture, etc to me.  Apparently, the cake is denser and not very cake-like, but rather, almost like a scone.  Then there is a layer of plums, topped with a strudel like crumble.  So I went and googled away to see if I can find something remotely close.  I found the recipe below, and needless to say, she loved it.  Oh, and the plum-cake went really well with this wine.  I guess the bitter/sour flavors of the plum’s skins paired well with the tannins in the wine!  mui delicioso.

German Plum Cake

(aka Zwetschgendatschi, its Bavarian name)

Ingredients:
1/4 lb butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon rinds (but I didn’t have lemons on hand so didn’t use them, I think it’s better without since plum skins are sour and bitter already)
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups of plums, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
For the Crumble Topping:
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
 
Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add vanilla, egg, lemon rind, sour cream, and salt.
Mix the flour and baking powder and add that into the creamed wet ingredients mixture.
Grease a round baking pan and spread the dough over the pan.  The dough is a bit dense so you kind of have to press it out to spread it throughout the pan.
Drop the plums over the dough and spread them out.
Make the topping by creaming the butter and sugar and adding the flour and cinnamon to it.
Sprinkle the topping over the plums.
Bake for 30-45 minutes, when the crumble starts to look golden.

You can serve it with whipped cream, or with a sprinkle of run, or cinnamon.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

18 Jun

My friend’s birthday was last weekend and I asked her what she would like me to bake for her.  She requested peach cobbler!  I’ve never made cobbler before and was pretty nervous about it, so all week, I scoured the internet looking for a delicious but simple recipe.  I found tons of simple recipes but I was surprised that none of them called for spices.  Sure, I wanted simple, but I wanted it to be tasty as well.  I finally found  a simple recipe that included spices.  Behold the Southern Style Spiced Peach Cobbler!  I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of a few extra pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg.

The cobbler filling came out tasty, although I had trouble getting a smooth consistency with the cornstarch.  I mixed and mixed and mixed, but it just came out  a little globby.  I would say this recipe is a success except for one major thing: the batter.  It was thick and had the consistency of biscuits.  I was hoping for something more like pie crust or similar.  You know, crispy but moist and gooey where it meets the filling.  I was pretty disappointed in the cobbler because of this.  My friend said she really liked it, but I know she was being really nice.  Even I didn’t like it.  The biscuity batter ruined it.  She explained to me that her mom makes the  batter runny and pours it over the filing, then bakes it.  It’s supposed to fill any nooks and crannies between the peaches.  I decide I was going to make another cobbler attempt for Father’s Day.

I kept the same filling recipe and added more nutmeg and cinnamon again, but with a slight modification.  My father is a diabetic, so I substituted sugar in the original recipe with Splenda.  Below, you can see the original filling recipe in black and the mods and notes for the nearly-sugar-free filling in blue.

My friend found this recipe that had that runny batter she was talking about.  I used the batter from this recipe, and the filling from the previous recipe to make my father his sugar-free cobbler.  See below for my notes and mods for the sugar-free batter.

We went out to brunch and bowling for Father’s Day, which was uber fun and my dad had a blast!  We didn’t get to cut into the cobbler until 7 hours later so it didn’t have that just-out-of-the-oven-warm-goodness, but my dad still loved the cobbler.  He had 3 helpings!  I reheated it slightly in the microwave before serving it and topped it with whipped cream.

Still, the batter wasn’t quite like pie crust consistency, but it was fluffy and light, and went well with the filling!  I’m still on a hunt to make a good cobbler batter!  If you have any cobbler batter recipes send them my way!

Nearly-Sugar-Free Peach Cobbler Filling
1 large can (29 ounces) sliced peaches in light syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar (use Splenda instead.  I used 1/4 cup but it came out pretty sweet.  I think half of that would be best.)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (plus a few extra pinches)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (plus a few extra pinches)
pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cornstarch
 
Nearly-Sugar-Free Cobbler Batter
¾ cup flour
¾ cup sugar (use Splenda instead)
¾ cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
NOTE: Don’t use self-rising flour, it’ll rise too much if mixed with baking powder.
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