Monday, December 28, 2015

Chocolate Monday: New Year's Winter Memories, Chocolate Desires

Hello Everyone Happy Chocolate Monday,
I really wanted a chocolate cake for myself this week before the year ended. I went for a more simple, classic Winter design. I miss the cleaner snow of the my hometown. This is also our 28th wedding anniversary and being snowed in is a fond memory, so It's only fitting I should gravitate to a sweet snowy frosted cake. 


So let me tell you how I fulfilled my chocolate craving. 

  • After the cake was baked I poured my hot chocolate syrup over it.
  • Once things cooled. I Frosted one layer with the Swiss butter cream that I love.
  • I put the top layer on the frosted bottom layer.Then I began to put the frosting for the crumb coating on the top of the cake and work my way down and around the sides. Smoothing as I go...not trying to design at this point, but I want it somewhat even, so I don't have to scrape huge amounts off later. It should look like the picture here>
 A light butter cream filling before placing
on the top layer..chocolate.. so dark
and mysterious















I pop it in the fridge for about 10 - 15 min. and
I began to clean it up, so textured frosting or
 After the crumb coating and a few
minutes in the fridg. Time
to clean up the edges a bit

whatever I decide to place on the cake looks level. For modeling clay, fondant or marzipan this is a big factor in getting those strait edges. Some Cake decorators use levelers. I may invest in one at some point when I'm working on larger projects. Right now I get level to the cake and eyeball it.




Next came my designs...I'd imagined a white frosted cake with rosettes or shells...
I just didn't like the empty middle space and it needed more clean up.

Blast those crumbs lol, I love making shells and
 rosettes covering the whole cake, with a larger tip, but that's just
way too much frosting for me ;P

I'd also wanted  Christmas cookies all around...but when I put it together it was a bit kiddish for my style.
This is my second look I think smaller cookies would
work better. They sure taste good...I like them warmed
a bit with cocoa!


I love anything cut on the bias, angles make everything special. In clothes designs they are very flattering to any body type. I'd thought of it originally for a cake, but I was thinking of a more complex way to achieve the look maybe next time...All I had to do was use my spatula. So I cleaned off all the other decor and spun this more simpler design.  The pink and purple mimic the lines right?
This is my final design which makes me think of snow
drifts...and romantic views ;) I imagine a miniature me skating around the whole
cake...yummy!


So there, Now I can have my Xtra Special cake and eat it too!
Tootles 

 Enjoy your Mondays...
From Here on out!







Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chocolate Mondays Christmas:More... Cookie Pix, A Sugar Cookie Recipes...



The year is almost finished! 
When I look over my pictures...I think wow wee! No wonder I'm exhausted! 
Last week alone I made the Amazing Gumball cake and worked on quite a few cookie orders. A request for Vanilla cake... Covered in Chocolate Modeling Clay. I've had the most interesting conversations with people about Vanilla and Chocolate, which spurs me on to my other ideas and experiments. I'm excited for the New Year with all the flavors of life.

I want to talk about using Sweet cream butter verses using Sweet cream salted butter. With all of my cookie dough for Christmas Eve Baking is in the freezer...the sugar cookie dough, ginger bread, snicker doodles, butter cookies, chocolate chips and Vegan peanut butter!  I used mostly sweet cream butter. I'd read this article, where the author talked about all the hype and haze over salt control by using unsalted butter. I'd always baked with it before until I discovered unsalted and other recipes that used it. I'd never really noticed before until the article the flavor difference. Although the pastries were good. There is a noticeable difference in the final product and taste when you are made aware of it. 

Recently I came across the Sister blog and Laura used salted sweet cream butter in her sugar cookies. I tried her sugar cookie recipe and it actually turned out wonderful. I posted it below and their site for more detailed instructions.  I liked the buttery flavor that comes thru in the cookie. She also used baking powder, where as I used baking soda in the recipe I've used for yrs. . So since it's so similar to mine I may just switch out the baking soda from now on. One other thing, I added drops heavy cream to Laura's recipe because the dough needed it...as she said it might but mentioned milk, but I had the cream on hand.  The end result  is a really good balanced cookie..buttery, sweet, crisp and tender.  Sweet cream salted butter is a good product to experiment with...salt does enhance sweetness if done thoughtfully, it will make all the difference in your baking.
   
Below are more of our Ginger bread and Sugar Cookie creations. If you try the recipe and want to give them as gifts click here for the Recipe card 
I posted for you.
            
    



1 c. Sweet cream Salted butter
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 c. flour

1. Cream Butter and sugar until light(fluffy)
2. Blend in vanilla and eggs well
3. Mix Flour and Baking Powder, Stir into Sugar
and eggs mixture.
4. Don't Chill. Roll out an Cut out. Bake in
350 F oven. 8 -10 min


                            











I love seeing all the families getting ready to gather together for the holiday/winter break. Family is so precious. All our efforts to express that preciousness is what the season is partially about! I am enjoying my me time too.. thinking out all that I want to do. It refreshes me! I hope you enjoy your Holiday too! 





Tuesday, December 22, 2015

This weeks cookie: Snickerdoodles!


Hi I hope every one is having a happy holiday/vacation/winter break! This week's Cookie is Snicker doodles!  Another favorite of mine from back in the day when The Great Cookie was pumping out these babies by the hundreds,  just to us ( my husband and I)! I've yet to find a recipe like it...but these come in close second!?
If you're a fan of cinnamon this recipe is for you. I found the Cookie Writer Blog on Pinterest and I loved the concept of filling Snickerdoodles! What's not to love? A bit of chocolate and caramel or toffee I can't decide... Crazy I know! A delicious dilemma.

With all my other cookies, I was getting low on ingredients and the energy to shop till you drop, just didn't appeal to me. What I decided to do was halve the recipe and most of the ingredients are easy to halve, but the flour is shown in a mixed fraction that won't divide evenly. What I did was, I measured the whole amount out on my scale switched the scale to grams and just divided the amount in half. Another change that I made since I couldn't find Caramilk, was to use Caramella...they almost have similar spelling though, besides I didn't get the result I hoped I'd get with the chocolate chips. I mean we know the story of how chocolate chip cookies came to be and they because of the the agent that keeps them solid, I produced a chocolate chip cookie and that's not what I wanted, I want melty chocolate and caramel. I still had toffee from another cookie and cake project. So I used the toffee instead.
So this is the process flatten half of the cookie balls
and leave the other halves in a ball.
then fill the flattened half. (Before I found Caramella...chocolate
chips and toffee)



The toffee made the cookies nice and moist in the middle,
But the Chocolate chip did the same thing they do in
Chocolate chips cookies...I want gooey melty chocolate!




Ingredients
1 c. butter room temp.
1 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt

Topping
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
48 individual Caramilk chocolate bar pieces.

Process
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner.
2.In a bowl cream the sugar and butter to a light fluffy mixture..about 5 min.
3.Sift flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
4. In another bowl mix up the sugar and cinnamon. 
5. Once you have the cookies mixed take a Tablespoon or Teaspoon and measure.
6. Take  the dough and break them in half, then roll them into balls. Slightly flatten half of the rounds with round side of your Tbsp. This is the side you will fill with whatever candy you imagined to suite you taste. 
7. Top each with the other round by flattening with your fingers then give the two halves a roll around in your hands. This should close up the candy inside. I only rub one side in the cinnamon
sugar. 
8. Place the dough on the cookie sheet and bake the all for 8 or so min. Bake until they are lightly brown and still light in the middles. Let them cool for about 5 min. before removing them to a cooling rack to cool and set up completely. Or eat them right then and there...to get the gooey effect I love!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cookie Page: Goals and Links to Cookie Recipes

Cookies... lil' cakes! Let me just say, cookies are my favorite pastry!
 This page from this point on will be devoted to every kind of cookie I can imagine and find. Especially if it has Chocolate.
So hold on to your cookie sheets and spatula's this could get a bit...messy...but always delightfully tasty!
Vegan peanut butter




Below is a list of cookies and bars  I love. Some are rich and others are mild...maybe even good for you. As I quickly snap a picture of them before they are swept away and gobbled up, I will post them here. In there own little separate post showcasing their wonderfulness! 

Cookie List

Cookies and Cream
almost any cookie can be used
to sandwich delicious strawberry
chocolate and vanilla cream 
My favorites are
Drop & Slice Cookies
Fancy Tea Service Cookies
  • Oatmeal Lacies
  • Chocolate Florentine
  • Linzer( jam filled type cookies)




Ginger Snaps and Ginger Bread

   Seasons Greetings to Everyone!

It's busy in the Chocolate Mondays Kitchen! Now that the last birthday cake of the yr. is finished. Cookie baking is in full swing, 110%!  Is  Ginger Bread or Ginger Snaps are the smell of Christmas for me. When I was around 11, every year my mom would take us to West View shopping center to get Shoes from Thom Mcan's. Nothing else...the women shopped like a man...In out and she got on with her life. Only one deviation during the holiday shopping season...On the way home she'd stop at the Huge pop-up tent for crafts and Christmas ornamental items. The smell there was like gingerbread, pine and hot cocoa! Not to mention sweet mother earth! Usually that's where we'd buy our Christmas tree. Even though I'm not celebrating Christmas as I was brought up to or have in the past. I still like to have those wonderful smells, especially during the winter. The smell of pine is up lifting, and cookies baking in the oven is comforting. With less daylight we all need little rays of sunshine beaming through our favorite things.

Last week I shared the recipe from Ann Reardon's site for Gingerbread cookies. It's a really good recipe that holds up really well to rolling out and cutting into shapes. Today I'm sharing ginger snap cookies from Martha Stewart's Baking Hand book. This isn't a roll type of cookie but more like a drop cookie. The main reason I love this recipe it contain two ingredients that make ginger snaps, well...ginger snaps. They have ginger and a bit of pepper in the ingredients. I lost my grandmother's recipe that she past on to me, before I committed it all to memory. So I went on a search...knowing that the recipe included pepper and ginger. What her recipe didn't include was Chocolate.  When I found the recipe below I mixed in a heaping Tablespoon of Special Dark Chocolate.  You can omit it or not...it up to you! I wanted to try chocolate in the recipe. Lastly this recipe the cookies aren't as puffy and chewy as some recipes I've found for ginger snaps. These are come out thin and crisp up to give that snap that say's mmm good :D

Ginger Snaps

Ingredients:

2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly gournd pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2  sticks of butter(3/4) unsalted butter
room temp.
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 c. unsulfured molasses
1 1/2 Tblsp. finely ground ginger, peeled
1 large egg
1/4 c. granulated sugar

Proceed...

  1. Mix the (dry ingredients)flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground cloves ground pepper and salt in a small/medium bowl.
  2. In a large bowl beat the sugar, molasses, ginger until fluffy. Then beat in the egg until it's incorporated into the mix.
  3. Gradually stir in the flour mixture.
  4. Refrigerate the cookie dough for an hour or overnight.
  5. Fill a bowl with sugar and set it aside.
  6. Scoop and roll the dough into balls, then roll the balls into the sugar and place on a prepared cookie sheet, with parchment or wax paper.
With most cookies there is a dry ingredient...see the pepper...
BE the Pepper!

and the wet ingredients
 Ginger Bread Recipe From Master chef (No beater required) This is a really good recipe, truly easy to make and work with. Most of all deliciuos!

Ingredients

430g (15.17 ounces) or 1 3/4 cup plus 3Tbsp butter roughly chopped
430g (15.17 ounces) or 2 cups caster sugar
250g (8.82 ounces) or 2/3 cup plus 2tsp glucose syrup
260g (9.17 ounces) or 3/4 cup molasses
180 millilitres (6.09 fluid ounces) or 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp milk
1195g (42.15 ounces) or 7 1/3 cups plus 2 Tbsp plain flour
12g (0.42 ounces) or 2tsp bicarb soda
20g (0.71 ounces) or 4tsp cinnamon
12g (0.42 ounces) or 2tsp ground cloves
12g (0.42 ounces) or 2tsp ground ginger
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
On the Stove...

Melt butter in a large saucepan add the glucose syrup, molasses and sugar and heat to 43 degrees to dissolve sugar.

Add the milk, stir then add flour bicarb and spices cook over low heat until mixture forms a paste.

Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool.
Roll out and cut pieces leaving border on.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Trees, teddy bears wreath and stars going
into the oven




My daughter is getting really good with pipping 

I love the idea of snowman
faces, I found on so precios Mr. & Mrs. Frosty
will make
beautiful gifts for christmas






Friday, December 11, 2015

Doubling A Chocolate Syrup Recipes


I have two recipes for this Chocolate syrup, see if you can find the similarities in formula. Since there are ten of us I'd double the recipe because it originally served 4 cups of hot cocoa. To double the hot cocoa, I measure a slight heaping half cup of cocoa and pour in a little more than 8 cups of milk.  When I wanted the syrup for drizzling or adding to cakes, I stick more to the exact measures, because once the water or coconut milk is put in you can't take it out to adjust the mixture and you don't want it too runny.  The common denominators are the key to creativity. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium sized sauce pan, then add the liquid, bring to a boil, cook on low. Turn off and add in your flavoring. In this case vanilla!

You'll have no problem coming up with uses for this syrup...but in cake you run out ... of ideas, here are a few of our favorite uses. Drizzled over warm vegan chocolate cake and let the cake set in the refrigerator, to drizzle over popcorn, on ice cream, in pancake mix, drizzled over fruit, mixed into cold milk or just saved some of the hot chocolate in the fridge... to drink later. What will you use these hot chocolate syrup for.
Chocolate Syrup anyone?  

remember to let someone else clean the pot!







Chocolate Syrup Serves 8

Ingredients

1/2 cup Cocoa
1 cup Sugar
1 dash Salt
2/3 cup Water
8 cups Milk(Optional)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla(optional)

Procedure...
Mix cocoa, salt and sugar well in a medium sauce pan.
Stir in water and stir on medium until it begins to boil.
Let the mix simmer for 2 min., even if it begins to look like it'll explode.
Let cool before pouring onto any snack. Be sure to save any left overs in a small jar or bottle. If your making hot cocoa add in the milk now and lower the heat (don't boil). Turn it off  when steamy and stir in vanilla

Chocolate syrup...( with coconut milk)
Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder pinch of salt
1/2 cup canned coconut milk, mix well before measuring
1 Tbsp vanilla


Procedure...

  1. In a small saucepan whisk together powdered suger, cocoa powder, and salt. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and slowly whisk in the coconut milk. 
  2. Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is well combined, and begins to boil. Reduce heat to low, and whisk in the vanilla. 
  3. Allow to cook for another minute, then remove from heat. 
  4. Transfer chocolate sauce to a small canning jar with a lid if you have one. If not, any heat-proof container will work. You can serve the chocolate sauce warm or cold - it's delicious either way! Keep refrigerated. -
Vegan Nook for more recipes

Monday, December 7, 2015

Chocolate Monday's: Sugar Cookies and Chocolate Chips


Today is Chocolate Monday...Holidays mixed with real life routines can be like mixing oil with water. So I have devised a short list to make Seasonal Celebrations more or less Celebratory!  


Sugar Cookies with Chocolate Glaze and Chocolate
Modeling clay
                                                                         
1. Have a Plan. (divide the cookies to decorate...Someone got a little carried away)
2. Nix the Plan for Abstract Edible Art!
3. Laugh a lot!
4. Eat your results or Share with a friend (don't forget your mail and sanitary workers)
5. When all else fails an old favorite will come to the rescue! 
6. Don't forget to get out and play...yea, it's cold...5-10 min. is refreshing just to walk, run or ride and shoot back in for a bit of tea or hot cocoa!


Mint Tea sweetened with our new product Pomegranite Sugar
are so delish with Sugar cookies!!! Just a touch of sweet balance.
Remember to Stop and Smell the Sugar Flowers
Intoxicating with Love!


Happy Chocolate Monday




Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pomegranate Sugar


The Healthy benefits of Pomegranate are well known.
This is a simple condiment, Pomegranate Molasses
mixed into Granulated or Raw Turbinado Raw Sugar.
This is a great way to enhance sweets like cookies
muffins and upside down cakes. Not to mention,
Savory Asian and Southern cuisines to name a few other uses.

I also have 8 oz. jars of pomegranate molasses available for 8$ each.
Just send a message and make a request and I'll make it fresh for all
who wish to have some of this wonderful addition to your sweet and
good for you condiments.  No preservatives or other additive like the
pomegranate molasses in the grocery stores!

Flavored Brown Sugar


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fresh Ground Ginger

Hello,
Let's make some Ginger powder...Powdered Ginger...Ground Ginger! I'll be using it quite a lot...and I'm thinking so will others this time of year. I love Sandra Lee's concept of simi-homemade, but if you have a large family and aren't a super great organizer(but improving) like me...let's just say you'll have to make it yourself. Some ingredients are easy to make yourself and some take gobs of time! When you run out of butter and notice the heavy cream, that got pushed to the back of the refrigerator...you're knowledge of knowing how butter is made saves you a run to the grocery store, extra money buying at a convenience store or nixing that dessert from you menu!

Since introducing myself to the Food Industry, I've learned how to plan more efficiently but life's little distractions happen and before you know the spices didn't get a turn over. Then low and behold there I am wanting to make a pastry and as I go thru my pantry, preparing my Mise en place...there in the back corner is a huge jar of ginger. I've forgotten all about! I'm so excited i didn't buy anymore. I open it and give it a whiff...smells like chalk! tastes even worse. Why did I buy such a large container and forget all about it? No matter I'll have to skip over to the store and buy a small jar. A jar that's been sitting in a warehouse for who knows how long? Me. So I think hmmm let's look it up on line and see who's made it and maybe it's not that hard to make...and it's not.

Ingredients
Ginger
running water
The sun, a dehydrator or a (microwave) Oven

Here's the link to How to make ground ginger, how to pick the best ginger for grinding and uses. I'm using mine in the brown sugar muffins.

       Homemade Ginger Powder Steps 

  • Take fresh ginger root in a bowl and soak it in water for 3 to 4 minutes and wash nicely under running water to remove the dirt completely. 
  • Now cut it into small pieces using a sharp knife, the smaller the pieces, the faster it will dry out. 
  • Now you can dry the ginger spread on a plate either under hot sun or in a dehydrator if you have one.  I put mine in the microwave on 60% 5 min. Then 80% 5 min.  (checking in each min.) See the video below.

  • Once completely dry, grind in grinder or bullet.

    while the pieces are still crisp from sun drying to a fine powder.
  • Sieve the powder and let the powder cool to room temperature before storing it an airtight box ... 


Pick a snappy ginger, mince, dry and grind! Easy?
                             Easy!
Happy Baking :)