Sunday, 29 May 2011

Skor Toffee Cookies

I love Skor. It is my favorite chocolate bar.  It’s so thin, but so good!  Something about the crunchy toffee sets it apart from all other chocolate bars.  So, why not incorporate it into a cookie (obviously)?!  I got this idea when I found Skor toffee bits in my local supermarket’s bulk section.  It was such a novel (and awesome) ingredient that I had to use it in my baking.  The result was a veeeery tasty (tast-e) cookie that got rave reviews from my friends (and their husbands!) who could not stop eating them. Yup, they’re that good.

Left: Skor toffee bits; Right: Chocolate
Skor cookies
Base recipe adapted from here.
Makes about 22 cookies

1 1/8 cup all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup room temperature butter
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt (take it down to ¼ tsp if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup Skor toffee bits
½ cup roughly chopped chocolate, or chocolate chips*

*Alternatively, I have made these cookies with all Skor toffee bits and it is delicious.  Just replace the chocolate with more toffee to extenuate the flavor.

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.       Whisk flour and baking soda in a small bowl.
3.       In a bigger bowl, mix butter and both sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
4.       At salt, vanilla, and egg, and beat until well mixed.
5.       Add flour mixture and beat until combined.
6.       Stir in Skor toffee bits and chocolate.
7.       Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  They should be 2 inches apart.
8.       Bake until they are golden around the edges – about 9 minutes.  After removing from the oven, let them sit on the baking sheet for 1 minute before moving them to the cooling rack.

Cookies before baking

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Damask Red Velvet Cake – 2 Recipes

I set out to make a red velvet cake this weekend. The plan was to try Buddy Valastro’s (Cake Boss on TLC) red velvet cake recipe and a new decorating technique.  But why just do 1 recipe when I can do 2?  So, I also made a red velvet cake by Alton Brown (Good Eats).  The final cake was composed of a Buddy bottom and Alton top.  Which layer will people prefer?

Red Velvet Cake 1 – Buddy Valastro
Recipe from here.

Red Velvet Cake 2Alton Brown
Recipe from here.

Left: Alton Brown's recipe; Right: Buddy Valastro's recipe
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 block of cream cheese
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups icing sugar

1. Cream the cream cheese and butter.
2. Add the vanilla and sugar and whip until fluffy.

Cream cheese frosting on the first layer.
Buddy's cake on the bottom, Alton's cake on top.
Crumb coat.
Decorating – Damask
I melted candy melts and used a piping bag to trace the damask pattern on parchment paper over the print.  After putting the candy pattern in the refrigerator to firm up, I carefully peeled back the pattern and placed it on the cake.

Verdict: Hands down, everyone at the potluck I bought the cake to, preferred...Alton Brown’s recipe!  Better texture and flavour.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Strawberry and Mango Mochi Cake

My friends and I loooove mochi, especially on frozen yogurt! So, I wanted to make a cake that incorporates that sticky mochi texture that we love – because,
mochi + cake = awesomeness! 
But I also wanted to take it up a notch. So, here is,
mochi + cake + strawberries + mangos = awesomeness to the next level!

Strawberry and Mango Mochi Cake
Adapted from here.

½ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup evaporated milk (1/2 can)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz sweet rice flour (1/2 box of Mochiko rice four)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 cups of cubed strawberries and mangos

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.       Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl
3.       Add evaporated milk and mix
4.       Add eggs and vanilla and mix
5.       Add rice flour and baking powder and mix
6.       Fold in fruit
7.       Pour into a parchment paper lined baking pan
8.       Bake for about 1 hour

Before being baked

After being baked

So chewy and tasty!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Wedding Cake Tasting

My friend Joanne is getting married in the September.  I offered to make her wedding cake, because, hey, she’s a special lady and… I would use any excuse to bake! She took me up on my offer and I have been strategizing the project ever since.  We have decided to do cupcakes for the guests and a small cake for the bride and groom to cut into.  We have already picked the chocolate cake recipe, but have yet to decide on a vanilla cake recipe.

Let the research begin!

I have been checking out vanilla recipes for months and have narrowed it down to 2.  One is a Classic Vanilla Butter cake and the other is a Snow White cake.  They are very different but both veeeery good!

To give Joanne and her fiancĂ© an interesting experience during the tasting, I baked a sample cake with one recipe on the bottom tier and the other recipe on the top tier. 

Which one will they choose?!

Classic Vanilla Butter cake from Sweetapolita
I quartered the recipe since it was for a tasting.
I whipped the egg whites to stiff peaks first thing, so it was ready to be folded in when I needed it.

Snow White cake from Sweetapolita
I quartered the recipe since it was for a tasting.

This is what the Classic Vanilla Butter cake looked like right out of the oven.

This is the Snow White cake right out of the oven. 

Classic Vanilla Butter on the left, Snow White cake on the right.

Buttercream icing recipe:
1 cup butter – room temperature
4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs milk

1.       Soften butter in a large bowl
2.       Add all other ingredients
3.       Mix together with a spoon at first to bring all ingredients together
4.       Whip using a hand held blender until smooth

Buttercream icing
Cake decorating Instruction:
Freeze cakes before icing. This will reduce the amount of crumbs that will get mixed in with your icing, while not affecting the flavor or texture of the cake!

Separate icing and add food colouring. I created a greeny-yellow by combining green and yellow gel food colouring.

Apply buttercream on top of the first layer of the cake, in this case, the Classic Vanilla layer.

Place the second layer of cake on top.  Apply a think crumb coat and smooth out with a stiff spatula dipped in warm water.  The crumb coat will seal in the crumbs.

Put in freezer for a few minutes to set crumb coat.

Fill bag with 2 colours. 

I piped flowers using Tip# 2D.  I used Tip #12 for the bottom border.

Verdict: They chose to go with the Classic Vanilla Butter cake!

I attempted to do lines up the side of the cake using Tip #104.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

First post: Strawberry Pavlovas

Hello and welcome!

The long anticipated blog (at least by my friends) is finally here! So, what to post first?  I went with a simple strawberry pavlova.

Strawberry Pavlovas
Serves 6.
Adapted from here.

Meringue Ingredients
½ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon cornstarch
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees
2. In a small bowl, stir together sugar and cornstarch
3. In a large bowl, combine egg white, cream of tartar, and salt.  Beat at low speed for 2-   3 minutes.
4. Gradually add the sugar/cornstarch mixture while beating at an increased speed.
5. Add vanilla, and continue to beat until you get stiff peaks (4-5 minutes).
6. Lay parchment paper or silicone mat onto a cookie sheet.
7. Spoon meringue onto lined cookie sheet to make six, 3.5 inch diameter circles
8. With a spoon, make an indentation in the middle of each meringue
9. Bake at 275 on middle rack for 50 minutes.
10. After 50 minutes, turn off heat and let the meringues sit in the oven for 30-45 minutes. 

Note: Check on them from time to time – the final product should have an outside shell that is a little stiff but gives the impression of a softer middle when pushed. A very slight tan is acceptable, but not any darker, in which case, lower your oven temperature to 250.

Sugar and cornstarch
After inital beating of 2-3 minutes

Stiff peaks

Meringue shells before baking

Baked meringue shells

Strawberry Compote Ingredients
About  1 cup chopped strawberries
½ cup fruit juice

1. To make compote, combine strawberries and juice into small saucepan and bring to a boil.
2. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until desired consistency

To combine, spoon compote on top of meringue.  Add sliced strawberries.