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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes, Food & Wine, May 2008

Friday, August 28, 2009

Just Plain Good Cupcakes

After dinner tonight, Gary asked what he could have for dessert. Uh. Uh. Uh. We rarely have dessert after dinner. And we never have dessert on Friday night. However, at any given time, I do have a stash of sweets in the freezer. Except that, uh, uh, uh, at the moment they're all spoken for. I have plans for them.

Small Batch Baking to the rescue. "Just Plain Good Cupcakes" uses one yolk (ha! hey Sheri, I added yet another white to my collection!), two tablespoons of butter, half a cup of flour and a few other things, to make four cupcakes. As it just so happens, I had a ridiculously small amount of chocolate cream glaze left over from Valentine's Day (where does the time go?) that I couldn't bear to throw out then, but never found a reason to use either. I sprinkled on some cute little hearts and there you go: dessert.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sourdough Country Loaves

No oven-spring. Did I overproof them?

I know, I know... no matter what, they will be better than store-bought. But still :(

Sourdough Country Loaves, Breads from the La Brea Bakery

Edit to show interior, in case you are interested:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fresh Herb Tart

Dinner. Probably tomorrow's breakfast and lunch as well.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Oh Toni... good call, girl.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Peach Jam

I grew up in Georgia, where summertime meant homemade peach ice cream on the patio. For eating out of hand, I'd have to say that nothing beats a fresh warm peach from Twinland. Now I live in Texas, a fine peach growing state too, but with a mostly disappointing crop this year. Nevertheless, I now have some right good homemade jam.

Small Batch Peach Jam
2 1/2 pounds peaches - pitted, cut into wedges, peeled, and then cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a 3 qt. saucepan, toss the peaches with the sugar. Let them stand for about an hour, until they're juicy and the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and cinnamon.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, and let simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently the thicker it becomes. Eventually it will be thick enough that you can see the bottom of your pan when you drag your spatula across it to stir. If by that time the peaches haven't fallen apart enough to satisfy you, feel free to give them a little help with a potato masher.

Spoon the hot jam into 3 half-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top. Put the lids on the jars and let them cool at room temperature. Then refrigerate one jar to eat straight away and give the others to friends freeze the rest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

4 oz (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 (6.5 ounce) jar macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Be sure that the baking soda and salt are evenly distributed, because once you add this mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, you're only going to stir until it becomes a cohesive dough. If the baking soda and salt aren't evenly distributed first, you're going to end up with areas of dough that don't have any.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour, and mix on low speed only until it's barely combined. Stir in the white chocolate and nuts by hand.

Drop heaping spoonfuls of the dough onto baking sheet(s), and leave room for it to spread as the cookies bake.
Bake until lightly browned, which might be 8 minutes or might be 12, depending on the size of your "heaping spoonfuls" and the accuracy of your oven temperature.

Let the cookies firm up for a minute before removing them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bran Muffins

These muffins are a Nancy Silverton recipe, by way of David Lebovitz's blog. He says that they are "...quite different than other muffins. For one thing, they're much, much lighter in texture. And for another, they're not very sweet." He's right. [of course he's right! he's David Lebovitz!]

Based on Jess's suggestion, I upped the orange zest. I was just about to say that I think these'd be great with marmalade, but then who am I kidding? I think almost everything would be great with marmalade.

Nancy Silverton's Bran Muffins

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Raspberry Jam Thumbprints

Ever found yourself desperate for an afternoon snack, staring vacantly at a vending machine and somehow ending up with these in your hand?

Today's cookies remind me of those, only a million times better. In case you want to do a taste test, here's the recipe, adapted from an adaptation. Or you could skip the taste test and trust me on this one.

Jam Thumbprints
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Put the jam in a pastry bag, or in a heavy duty ziplock if you don't have a pastry bag. Ok, you don't even have to do that if you don't want to. But if you're going to fill trays and trays of cookies with jam, it's going to be quicker and neater if you use the pastry bag or ziplock, instead of a spoon. Don't say I didn't warn you.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese, egg & vanilla, and mix well. Be sure to scrape down the bowl occasionally.

Add the flour mixture and mix on "low" only until it forms a cohesive dough. Don't over-mix or you won't end up with tender cookies.

Roll the dough into little balls and make an indentation in the center of each one with your thumb, the end of a wooden spoon, or the bottom of a small (I used 1/2 tsp) measuring spoon.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until they are just beginning to set and are lightly browned around the edges, maybe 8 minutes. Take the cookie sheet from the oven and gently reshape the indentations.

Fill each indentation with a little squirt of jam and be grateful that you listened to me and didn't use a spoon to do it. Put the cookies back in the oven and continue baking until lightly golden -- oh, I don't know, probably 10 or 11 minutes, maybe 12? This is not a cookie to underbake.

Leave them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to firm up before you try to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Then enjoy them with your afternoon cherry blossoms.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mexican Wedding Cookies

A busy day of baking. A key lime pie. Then, to use the whites that were left from the yolks in the pie, an italian meringue buttercream, which I put on top of a small batch of cupcakes and sprinkled with chopped up Skor. Finally, Mexican Wedding Cookies. Except that they turned out flat, and I have never seen a flat Mexican Wedding Cookie. Huh.

As I said, a busy day of baking. One thing I learned last season is that my legs and feet are not happy standing on a tile-on-concrete-slab kitchen floor for hours at a time, after 60 miles a week of running. Today I wore a new [clean] pair of running shoes, and that seems to have made a big difference.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Lemon Layer Cake

Happy Birthday, dear Monica! Happy Birthday to you...

Four layers of white cake, filled with lemon curd, finished with fluffy white frosting.