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Archive for July, 2011

No, I’m not talking about burnt muffins or sunken in cupcakes. I’m talking about my fingers. My arms. My knees. Even my toes. I never thought about baking being hard work, but damn! One week at my new job made everything on my body sore. Work was of course compounded by 6 hours of class every day, but baking is not something to be taken lightly nonetheless. All those hot full sheet pans and 24 count muffin pans get heavy, especially when you’re lifting 20 or 30 of them multiple times a day. And mixing large quantities of ingredients by hand wears your arms out. And lifting 50lb bags of flour (you get my point). I told my husband he was going to have to start working out more to keep up with my baking muscles. Plus you’re on your feet the entire time. I was practically limping by the time I got a day off. And my knees felt like I had just run a marathon. I won’t even talk about my accumulating collection of burn marks…

It’s fun though. I really like the atmosphere of the bakery and it’s nice to finally do something I actually want to do for a change. And I honestly like the 4 – 11am work schedule (if only a 4 – 10pm school schedule didn’t follow).

So, as you can tell by all this bemoaning, I recently got a job at a bakery here in Portland. I wasn’t necessarily planning on working during my time at culinary school, but it was a great opportunity and I couldn’t pass on it. There is a downside though, and that is the fact that I barely have enough time to say hello to my husband everyday, so finding time to bake something and blog about it is a wee bit impossible at the moment. I’m sure once I get into the groove of things I’ll find more time to piddle around in my own kitchen, but I’m afraid that my blog will stay a bit devoid of anything in the way of new posts for a short while. 😦

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with my sweet tooth from yesterday. Ice cream’s pretty quick to make, and I had some left over vegan cream cheese in the fridge so I thought I’d throw it all together.

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (vegan)

  • 1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 T cornstarch *
  • 1 T sugar
  • Splash of lemon juice

Roughly chop up about of the blueberries. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together to avoid any lumps. Combine everything, except the lemon juice, in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the blueberries breakdown slightly and the mixture thickens. Add a few splashes of lemon juice and remove from the heat. The berries need to be completely cooled (refrigerated) prior to making the ice cream, so do this part in advance.

I added a couple tablespoons of water and a few tablespoons of the ice cream mixture to the berries to thin it out a little bit, but feel free to leave it thick if you’d like.

  • 6oz extra firm silken tofu
  • 4oz vegan cream cheese
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1/4 C soy milk
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C agave
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 shot (3 T) vanilla vodka

Combine everything in a blender and puree until smooth. Transfer mixture to your ice cream maker and follow its directions. Once frozen, transfer the ice cream to a dish that will allow you to swirl in the blueberries. I used a bread pan and lined it with plastic wrap because I was afraid of liquid sitting in it for too long (I managed to rust out my old bread pan). Plop in the blueberries and use a spoon, knife, bamboo skewer, what have you to swirl the blueberry mixture around. Return it to the freezer for several hours so that it can freeze all the way.

In all honesty I think the full 8oz tub of cream cheese would be best to really bring out the cheesecake flavor. I would also add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the ice cream mixture. Regardless, this ice cream is rich and creamy, and has just the right amount of berries in it (not too sweet or overly fruity). If you have the time, or just happen to have a box of graham crackers lying around your house, I’d crush some up and toss them in to make it extra yummy and provide some crunchy texture.

* 7/22/11 So after making a blueberry pie in school the other day I became privy to the fact that blueberries have a whole lot of pectin in them and therefore tend to thick once heat is applied all by their lonesome. I’m guessing that you don’t need the cornstarch for this ice cream, especially since cornstarch breaks down when frozen (though it’s not enough of an amount to make a difference in this recipe – my ice cream still looks and tastes fine). Try omitting the starch and see what happens, I think it’ll be fine.

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So last week I had this little peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough extravaganza. And as promised, here’s the cake ball piece of it.

I don’t pretend to be an expert in the art of making cake balls. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever managed to do it correctly. Bakerella makes it look so damn easy, but every time I make them I end up cussing at my cake balls as they slide off the sticks and go kerplunk into a chocolately abyss and make a mess all over everything. The likely culprit I think is that I ALWAYS use too much frosting. I try every time to be sparing but I continually over do it. I still managed to take a couple of decent photos however so here you go.

Just a quick word on the dipping chocolate. The chocolate shell I use is what people normally dip Hi Hat cupcakes in. It appears that most people use these Candy Melts from Wilton when making cake balls (that’s how they get all those vibrant colors). I refuse to use those however because they contain partially hydrogenated oil – meaning they have that nasty trans fat in them (among all the other bad for you ingredients). If that doesn’t bother you go ahead and try them, it might make the dipping easier (I don’t know). The baking chocolate bark stuff might work well too, I’ve not tried it yet so I can’t attest to its functionality – nor do I know if it’s vegan.

Cookie Dough Stuffed Cake Balls (vegan)

Cookie Dough

Alright, so the quantity of everything depends on how many cake balls you want to end up with. When I made the cookie dough I also used it for cookies and ice cream, so I’m guessing I only used 1/4 or less of the total dough for the cake balls. Whatever amount you decide to have, roll nickle-sized balls of dough with your hands (about 2 chocolate chips per ball is a good size reference) and place them in the freezer for about an hour or so. If you decide to use popsicle or lollipop sticks, I’d stick them into the cookie dough before freezing (I think this will actually keep the stinkin things on the sticks during dipping). You obviously don’t have to put the cake balls on sticks, but I don’t know how people manage to dip them in chocolate otherwise.

Chocolate Cake

I made a 1/2 batch of the chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. You can find the recipe by clicking on the link above. Though I made 6 cupcakes, I piped a bunch of buttercream on one of them and gave it to my husband, so I only used 5 cupcakes worth of cake for my cake balls. Obviously I don’t expect you to make 5/12ths of a batch of cupcakes, so you just might end up having more balls than me.

Bake the cake or cupcakes and let them cool completely. Once cool, mash them up in a mixing bowl and add the frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 C vegan stick butter
  • 2+ C powdered sugar
  • 2 T soy or almond milk
  • 3/4 t vanilla extract

Cream the butter in a mixing bowl. Add the milk and extract. Add some of the sugar of whip. Keep adding sugar and whipping until you reach a good, thick consistency. A hand blender or stand mixer will save you time here, unless you want a good arm workout of course.

This is way more frosting than you’ll need for the cake balls by the way, unless you’re making a large batch of them. You honestly need less than half of what this makes so just use your best judgement (whatever that means).

Plop a dollop of frosting into the bowl with the smashed up cake and mix it in. Start small or you’ll end up with slippery balls like me. It needs to be gooey enough to stick together, but not so greasy that it clings to your hands when rolling.

Once you’ve got it where you want it grab the dough balls out of the freezer and roll the cake around them. If you didn’t already put sticks them this part is pretty easy. If you did put sticks in them you’ll have to get a little creative to get the cake sufficiently around the cookie dough. The 5 cupcakes I made were the perfect amount to cover 12 balls of cookie dough (just fyi). Stick them back in the freezer once they’re all rolled for at least 30 minutes (longer would be better).

Chocolate Shell

  • 5 – 6oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 & 1/2 T canola oil

If you’re making more than 12 cake balls, you’ll need more chocolate. Error on the side of too much chocolate as it will stay good quite awhile in the fridge.

In a double boiler (or the microwave if necessary), melt the chocolate. Mix in the oil and transfer to a deep but narrow container (I used a plastic take-out container common at Thai restaurants). Let it cool a minute or two before dipping the cake balls.

Dipping and Rolling

Crush up about 1/4 cup of peanuts and spread them out on a plate.

Gather the tub of chocolate, a spoon and the cake balls. If they’re on sticks, dip them carefully into the chocolate while simultaneously holding your breath and hoping they don’t slide off. Use the spoon to help spread the chocolate all around the cake ball. Allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Roll the cake ball in the crushed up peanuts, or use your hand to sprinkle them on top, let it dry a few seconds and then place it on a plate or tray of some sort. Stick them back in the freezer for a few minutes once you’re finished dipping and rolling so that they harden all the way.

Retrieve from freezer. Bite. Enjoy.

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Can you call this multi-tasking? Making 4 desserts out of 1? Or maybe it’s just plain craziness. Or creative boredom put to work. Whatever it is it tastes good, and now I have a whole bunch of sweets begging to be eaten.

I wasn’t out of school more than 2 days before I started thinking of something I could bake. We’ve been on a cupcake spree the last few weeks in my house so I thought it was time for some cookies. Peanut butter chocolate chippers happen to be one of my husband’s favorites. But I thought as long as I’m making cookie dough I might as well make cookie dough ice cream. During my run on Tuesday I thought I could also make cookie dough stuffed cake balls (of course!). Then when I was making the ice cream it occurred to me that ice cream sandwiches would be a great idea (it is summer after all). I thought about putting icing in the ice cream sandwiches as well, and then maybe dipping the whole thing in chocolate, but something told me to stop while I was ahead. =)

I’m actually going to save the cake ball part for another post, otherwise this sucker will be forever long and nobody will read it all. But ice cream and cookies are simple enough.

The cookie dough needs to be frozen before you can make the ice cream, but the ice cream for the sandwiches needs to be really frozen before they can be made so perhaps it’s best to start with the ice cream.

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Ice Cream (vegan)

  • 6oz extra firm silk tofu (Mori-Nu)
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 C organic sugar
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 shot (3 T) light rum
  • Cookie dough (below)

Toss everything except the cookie dough in your blender and puree until super smooth. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze accordingly.

Once frozen, put about 2/3rds of the ice cream in one container and the other 1/3rd in another. Place both containers in the freezer. We’ll add the cookie dough later.

Typically I use a mixture of soy and coconut milk when making ice cream, but I wanted to see how coconut would do on its own. And it did way better than the combination has ever done. Even though I used light coconut this ice cream is very creamy, especially compared to my typical soy milk based ice creams. Plus it simplifies everything as I always end up freezing a portion of the coconut milk, which I forget is in the freezer the next time I need it and open up another can, which also ends up in the freezer (you see where I’m going with this).

Enough babble, onto the cookies!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (vegan)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

  • 1/2 C vegan butter (stick or tub will work)
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C organic sugar
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 3 T hot water

Whisk the flax seed and hot water in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars together in a large bowl, then mix in the flax mixture.

Blend the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together then add them to the wet ingredients and mix briefly. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Go ahead and make the cookie dough balls or the ice cream. You want about 3/4 C worth of balls, or enough to about cover the surface area in one of those square plastic containers that sandwiches fit in. You want to keep the dough balls small so my way of doing this was to only use enough dough to enclose 1 chocolate chip per ball. Roll them up in your hands and stick them in the freezer.

Now, line two 1/2 sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpat mats. Scoop the dough into 1 or so inch mounds and plop them on the pans about an inch apart. These cookies don’t spread much during baking so if you want a flatter, crisper cookie smash it down a bit before baking. And you can always make them much larger than an inch of course.

Bake for about 11 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let them rest about 5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.

The cookie dough should freeze up enough within an hour, so once that time has passed take them and the larger portion of ice cream out of the freezer. Chop about half of the dough balls up to make them smaller and allow more opportunity for cookie dough in every bite! Mix them into the ice cream, distributing as thoroughly as possible and put it back in the freezer.

There. You’re done.

Oh but wait, there’s more! Those ice cream sandwiches won’t make themselves!

Ice Cream Sandwiches (vegan)

  • Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate for dipping (optional)
  • Plastic wrap

Grab as many cookies as you’d like for sandwiches. Retrieve the plain vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Tear off roughly 12 square inch sheets of plastic wrap – one for each sandwich – and lay them on a table or work surface. You can get about 5 – 6 sandwiches out of the ice cream, but that depends on how much ice cream you put in each sandwich…

Take a scoop of ice cream and plop it on top of a cookie. Place another cookie on top and press it down so that the ice cream reaches the edges of the cookies; use the back of a spoon to help guide and smooth it. Now, place the sandwich on the plastic wrap so that the ice cream is touching the plastic. Roll the plastic wrap up with the sandwich and then twist the ends of the plastic. This is kind of what you’re going for, just not so long, and obviously not butter. Place them in the freezer to set.

Once they are set, you can roll them in crushed up chocolate, peanuts, coconut, what have you. I decided to dip mine in chocolate, which turned out to be problematic as the chocolate did not want to stick to the ice cream. It turned out alright in the end though, just a tad bumpy. If you decide to dip them in chocolate you’ll need about half of what Bakerella has in this recipe.

Well, I guess that does it. The cake balls will be appearing at some point in the near future (promise). And on a side note, you can make all this gluten-free simply by using a gluten-free flour mixture. Bob’s Red Mill sells one but the following will also do the job.

Gluten-free flour mixture (equal to 1 cup of normal flour)

  • 1/3 C quinoa or millet flour
  • 1/4 C almond meal
  • 1/3 C brown or white rice flour
  • 3 T potato or tapioca starch
  • 1 T ground flaxseed

Do keep in mind that GF flours tend to have a grainy texture before being baked, so this could affect your cookie dough ice cream slightly.

Well I didn’t intend for this post to be 4th of July centric but my backdrop in the photos is somewhat patriotic. That was an accident honestly, even though Independence Day is around the corner. It’s actually one of my grandmother’s old shirts. Yes, I use clothing for backdrops. And sometimes even covers from my couch pillows. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

But never mind that, what kind of shenanigans are you baking up this 4th of July weekend?

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