Wednesday, February 21, 2007

S'Mores Bars

I had a bad week ok...?!?!? God!! Sometimes you just need 8 Hershey Bars!!!

Or you're missing the fun times in the summer of hanging out by the firepit and making s'mores with your buddies. Drinking beers and telling jokes, getting dive-bombed by june bugs and have a great time. In honor of all the fun - I made some s'mores bars. Wicked simple and devilishly decadent, this recipe will substitute even when you CAN make s'mores. They're just that good.

I just found this photocopy and it wasn't credited to anyone. Sorry mystery chef!!

The fixings:
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
18 whole graham crackers crushed, about 3 cups
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 milk chocolate bars 1.5 oz. each
3 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

The work:
Heat oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in the graham crackers, salt and flour. Reserve 2 1/2 cups of the mixture, and press the remaining mixture over the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.

Arrange the chocolate bars in a single layer over graham cracker mixture. Sprinkle the marshmallows over that.
Crumble the remaining 2 1/2 cups of graham cracker shtuff over the top of the marshmallows.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into bars and then cool completely. It makes about 2 dozen. I give it

4 out of 5

Petit Fours

This one is coming to ya courtesy of Gale Gand. For those of you who don't know, Gale Gand is an AMAZING pastry chef (I want to be her) that hosts the show "Sweet Dreams" on the food network, and is the head pastry honcho for Tru in downtown Chicago. She has a couple (4 maybe, 5?) books and they are all AWESOME. I cannot get enough of her.

For the Cake
4 egg whites
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tbl. baking powder
2/3 cup milk, at room temp

For the Fondant
2/3 cup corn syrup
2/3 cup hot water
7 cups powdered sugar
6 drops lemon extract
food coloring

you'll also need cookie cutters in whichever shapes you like (MAKE THEM SIMPLE THOUGH... not a lot of crazy edges because then they look all gloppy and weird)

What to do, what to do
Preheat your oven to 350 Degrees Farenheit.
Whip egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Slowly add the sugar, while the mixer is still running. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder 3 times (just do it or you won't have as light of a cake as you could) Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Then add 1/2 of the milk and mix again. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix. Then the remaining milk and milk - and FINALLY the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Fold in the egg whites.

Pour the batter into a parchment lined jellyroll pan and SMOOTH the top with a spatula. (Make sure it is really smooth or your cake will be all wonky and uneven and I will come to your house and point and laugh at you... no not really but seriously... you better) Bake until firm to the touch (20-25 min.) Let cool in the pan and then chill.

Making fondant -
Whisk the corn syrup into the hot water until it is dissolved. Then whisk in the powdered sugar until smooth. Stir in that lemon extract. Divide into plastic cups and add food coloring until you get the color you want. (we were having a fat tuesday party, so our stuff is a little bit BRIGHT)

Cut the cold cake into whichever shapes you like. I chose to split each piece of cake into 2 layers and put raspberry jam in between some of them, and nutella in between others. I love nutella. :)

Either dip the cakes into the fondant (she says... I think they'd fall apart) or ladel the fondant over the cakes. In either case, set the cake pieces onto a wire rack that is set over a cookie sheet so your counter doesn't look like the Paas Dynasty has exploded on you. Let the things dry. Then coat em again. You can then add lines or candies or whatever.

Chances are you are going to need some help.... Enlist the aid of family.

Who can say no to getting a bunch of little pieces of cake? There are plenty of cake scraps to eat, and jelly and the icing gets all over. It's fun. See - Marty is having a good time!

When it is all over, and the icing is out of your hair and the crying has ended. You end up with this...

It wasn't difficult - just time consuming. A lot of fun though if you have a Petit Party. AHAHA. I kill me

Petit Fours 3.5 out of 5

Sand Art Brownies

I'm not even going to post much about this.... this was from one of those "Jar Gifts" that I got at Christmas, so I don't even know what was in it. =( The sad thing is that I would LOVE to know since the brownies were delish!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Help! I think I'm having a heart attack!

Hey - I originally wanted to call this entry "heart on" so be glad I changed it to the above listing. :P

This selection was chosen of course due to Valentine's Day, and I thought maybe I'd make the cookies look like conversation hearts. =) My normal issue with conversation hearts is that they are chalky and unpalatable - which is usually what my issue is with sugar cookies. Not the case with the recipe from the Red Lion Inn Cookbook.

Ingredient List
1/2 c room temp butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks (save the whites though)
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
Sugar Cookie Frosting - to follow

1. Cream the butter, then add in the sugar, egg yolks vanilla and the milk.
2. Sift flour, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add the dry mixture into the wet ingredients and combine well. Form the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour (at least).
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use cookie sheets with a silpat sheet on them or butter a sheet of parchment.
4. Flour worksurface and roll dough to 1/4 inch thick. Flour cookie cutters and cut out the desired shapes. Place the cookies on the baking sheets and bake until golden (not brown!!) 8-10 minutes. Remove the cookies and place on racks to cool. Frost the cookies with Sugar Cookie Frosting.

Sugar Cookie Frosting - not from the same recipe.... The recipe in The Red Lion Inn Cookbook is great, don't get me wrong. It just isn't my type. So here's what I use instead.

Royal Icing with Egg Whites
2 large egg whites
2 teaspons fresh lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

In a large bowl beat the egg whites and lemon juice using your hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until smooth. The icing should be used immediately as it will harden when exposed to air.

As an expirement we added more milk to the red icing than the others pictured here. It spead a lot smoother, and neither of them is good for writing on. =(

I need to find an icing that doesn't always crack under my food markers!!! Any ideas???

Cookies - 3 out of 5
Icing - 2 out of 5

Monday, February 12, 2007

Fat @$$ Macaroni and Cheese

This artery clogging conglomeration of delectability comes from Patti LaBelle's Cookbook. She calls it "Over The Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese". This beastie has 5 different kinds of cheese, half and half, and a stick of butter. I decided to save my points (yes I'm doing weight watchers) for this meal and I would do it again in a heartbeat...If I could be sure my heart would keep beating with all the fatty goodness cutting off bloodflow to and from my heart. =)

It is creamy - it has a crunchy topping - it lives up to everything that the Blue Box lets you down on. At around the same prep time I'd say to heck with the blues - get yourself an entire rainbow from Patti and you'll find yourself wanting to hunt her down to hug her.

4.5 out of 5

I might add some breadcrumbs to the top for some extra crunch - if I did anything.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Orange Bread

Any of you out there with a copy of "The Joy of Cooking" can find this recipe lurking in there.

Orange Bread containes no yeast, so you don't have to wait for it to rise several times - a major plus if you want something tasty in a hurry. The book describes it as a tea bread, which I think means that it is sweeter than most breads, but cannot be considered a dessert. (I'm not sure on that, but if I find that I am incorrect, I'll let you know!)

I made two of these breads and baked on in a glass loaf pan and one in a metal loaf pan to see the difference. As you can see the loaf made in metal browned more, but that was to be expected as metal holds in heat and heats up faster than glass does.

This recipe calls for both orange zest and orange juice which sounds A-OK with me. The more delicious orange, the better. I also opted for the higher amount of sugar to give it a more cake-like consistency.

All in all, I think this is delicious! =) Samplings of both loaves has led me to the following conclusion;

The loaf baked in the glass pan was moist and delicious, but lacked some of the golden brown and delicious coloring of the metal loaf pan.

In the future I might sprinkle some sugar on the top of the loaves before baking to give it more of a shine - or possibly add a glaze to the top. =)

Brat gives it a 4 out of 5