Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘pretzels’

Bread. Lots of it. I’ve always loved bread. And luckily I’ve always had the metabolism to allow me to eat a bunch of it without it really showing. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m seriously sick of bread. Seriously.

The past two weeks of culinary school have been nothing but bread. Whole wheat bread. Potato rosemary bread. Pitas. Pane pugliese. Ciabatta. Focaccia. Pain au Levain. Sourdough. Rye bread. Pane di como. Pizza. Etc. Etc. Etc. We’ve got more bread than we know what to do with. It freezes well, thank god, but we have a tiny freezer. It’s jam packed right now.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve got baguettes, bread sticks, olive rolls, whole wheat rolls, butterbraids, pretzels, bagels and other items that I just can’t remember at the moment.

The good news is that I’ve learned a whole hell of a lot about making bread. I’ve been making my own pizza dough, pitas, tortillas and sandwich bread for quite sometime, but I’ve never had anybody show me the right way to do it, and the internet is crammed full of people telling you the wrong way to do things (not that they do this on purpose, they just don’t know any better). For example, you don’t actually “punch” your dough down. You fold it; three times actually. And recipes that tell you to “rest for 20 minutes” really aren’t guiding you in the right direction because for them it might take 20 minutes, but your kitchen might be cooler so it could take 30 minutes. And technically resting is what happens after you punch down, portion and round your dough (and you only want to rest for 10 minutes). The resting that takes place once you’ve formed your bread is called proofing.

So it’s been a wonderful learning experience. It’s also been an eye opener for me, in regards to seeing just how much you can accomplish in a small amount of time. The other night I mixed, fermented, folded, portioned, rounded, rested, formed, proofed and baked two breads, formed, proofed and baked another loaf, made three different pre-ferments (yeast starters) for bread to be made the following day, scaled out ingredients and had my dishes and work bench clean all within three hours. I was really quite tired afterward. =) But it’s great to be pressed to the limit sometimes so you can see what you are capable of. But now I’d like a vacation. I very long one. Full of mai tais and sun tan lotion.

I’m not going to write out recipes for all these breads but if you’d like one of them or need info on how the process works please feel free to email me. AND… I just might get the chance to bake something at home next week, so there’s possibly another blog post in the immediate future. =)

Until then, have a great weekend! And enjoy the sun, if your city is so kind to give you any (Portland’s being a little stingy with it… still).

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

So there are a lot of pluses to husbands. They open car doors for you, take out the trash, make excellent margaritas and even do the laundry (at least mine does).  Some husbands even provide inspiration for cupcakes, albeit in the form of a cavity-causing sugar addiction. My husband happens to be quite fond of the Take 5 candy bar. He’s a big fan of chocolate and peanut butter, so things just get even better when you add more peanuts, caramel and pretzels.

So, as is usual for my baking endeavors, one night at like 2am or something I got the idea to turn the Take 5 into a cupcake. My first attempt… one big cluster. Overfilled the cupcake liners, caramel was oozing out everywhere, they looked like some sort of crappy abstract impressionist painting, only I’m guessing they tasted better.

But one cannot be defeated by her oven. When I saw that Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious were holding their annual ice cream cupcake contest, I thought it was time for round two. And round two turned out to be quite yummy. Maybe even yummier since there’s ice cream involved. And it’s vegan, which makes it better in my book. So here’s my version of the Take 5 candy bar, reinvented in cupcake form, with ice cream:

Take 6 Cupcake (vegan)

So there’s a few shortcuts you can take on this if you want, like buying pre-made ice cream, frosting, caramel and chocolate sauce, but I like to make things myself. So while it looks like a forever list of ingredients and steps, it’s really not that bad and I promise you it’s worth your time.

For the Ice Cream

  • 1 & 3/4 C coconut milk (canned, I used light)
  • 6oz extra firm silken tofu
  • 1/2 C organic sugar
  • 1/4 C agave nectar
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 shot (3 T) rum, brandy or vodka

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree. You can leave the liquor out of course, but I find it keeps the ice cream from turning into a solid block of inedible hardness in the freezer. Pour the ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions. Mine takes about 25+ minutes, plus additional freezer time. Pop it into the freezer while you’re doing everything else. In fact, it’s probably best if you make the ice cream a day in advance so it doesn’t melt all over your pretty cupcakes while your patience is getting the best of you.

 For the Caramel

I borrowed Cookies and Candids’ caramel recipe from this post.

  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 C vegan butter
  • 1/4 C almond or soy milk

Combine all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium/ medium+ heat, stirring constantly. Let it cook for about 10 minutes; it will start to thicken, reduce and resemble caramel. Set it aside for now.

For the Cupcake

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Chop or crush about 1/2 C of peanuts and set aside. Do the same to 1 cup of pretzels, and also set them aside.

  • 1 C whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 C cocoa
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • pinch of nutmeg

Sift together the dry ingredients into a small bowl and set aside.

  • 1 C ice cream (from above)
  • 1/4 C almond or soy milk
  • 1/4 C canola oil
  • 1/4 C organic sugar
  • 2 T agave
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t almond extract

In a large mixing bowl, or your stand mixer, combine a cup of the ice cream and all the other wet ingredients. If you were proactive and made your ice cream the day before, it’s probably best if you took it out of the freezer a few minutes before you started making the cupcakes. You can, of course, just use milk instead of ice cream, but I thought it would be fun to incorporate the ice cream inside the cupcake instead of just on top. If you do forgo the ice cream in the batter, be sure to up the ante on the other sugars.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until few, if any, lumps remain. Place a couple tablespoons of batter in each cupcake well, then pour in a bit of the caramel (1 – 2 T). You should have about half of the caramel left over after this (you’ll need it later). If you don’t have any caramel left, just make some more.

Fill the liners about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full with the rest of the batter. Stir the batter with a toothpick to distribute the caramel around (or just forget like I did and nobody will know the difference). Divide the chopped peanuts amongst the 12 soon-to-be cupcakes, and if you’re feeling chocolately add some chocolate chips too. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the Icing

I know, I know. You’re thinking this recipe is NEVER going to end, but I promise we’re getting close.

  • 1/4 C vegan stick butter (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/4 C peanut butter
  • 2 & 1/2 T almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • ~ 2 & 1/2 C powdered sugar

So these measurements are typically what I’d make for a half batch of cupcakes, but you aren’t using a whole lot of icing on these since you’re also putting ice cream on them. If you feel like getting all crazy with the icing go ahead and double it, but you probably won’t need it.

Cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add the vanilla and milk. Add the sugar about 1/2 cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency. If your cupcakes haven’t cooled yet you can place the icing in the fridge. If they are cool go ahead place a large star tip in your pastry bag and fill it up with the frosting. Pipe it onto the cupcakes.

Alrighty, this is where I almost screwed everything up. I get kind of excited when I bake things and I never want to wait for anything to cool completely. My ice cream cupcakes about turned into ice cream floats, but I managed to get the little guys back into the freezer before too much harm was done.

Take an ice cream scoop and put a scoop of ice cream on top of each cupcake, then sprint across the kitchen and put them straight into the freezer.

There’s probably a better way to get the pretzels on the ice cream, like putting them in while it was freezing, but I tend to do things the hard way first time around. Grab the crushed up pretzels and do your damnedest to get them on the ice cream without spewing them everywhere.

Stick the cupcakes back in the freezer once they are all pretzelified. The ice cream really needs to be frozen before the next step so wait several hours or overnight.

Once it is totally frozen, warm the caramel back up until it’s liquid again, but don’t boil it. It needs to be thin enough to drizzle but still be thick enough to not slide all over your cupcakes. You also need to get the chocolate shell together.

Chocolate Shell

I used a half batch of the chocolate shell recipe from Bakerella’s Hi Hat cupcakes, and you’ll probably still have some left over, depending how covered you decide your cupcakes should be.

  • Roughly 5oz chocolate chips
  • 1 to 1 & 1/2 T canola oil

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, or the microwave if you must. Add the oil and stir it in. Let the chocolate cool a bit before applying it to the cupcakes. Now, go grab your nicely frozen cupcakes out of the freezer. Get the bowl of caramel and the bowl of melted chocolate. Drizzle the caramel on each cupcake with a spoon. Do the same with the chocolate, starting with the first cupcake you put the caramel on as it should have hardened by now. Place the cupcakes back in the freezer, again.

You know, I knew this was a lot of work but it seems MUCH worse now that I’m typing it all out… Oh well. Honestly, if you get all the parts made first, which will really only take about an hour or so, it’s just a matter of waiting and walking to the freezer; really not that bad.

Anyway, you can call it quits at this point but I wanted a finishing touch. You should still have some icing left over so grab your pastry bag and pipe a small dab of icing on each of the cupcakes (yes this means you have to get them out of the freezer, again). Be sure to let the chocolate set before this step or you’ll make a mess out of of the top of Mount St. Cupcake. Then take 12 pretzels and dip them in the melted chocolate (not at the same time of course). Let some of the excess chocolate drip off before placing it into the dab of icing.

There. You’re done. Finally.

I’m not just saying this because I made these and I really want to win this contest, but these things taste freaking spectacular.The first time I mentioned the idea of a Take 5 cupcake to my friends they thought it would be way too sweet, but they surprisingly aren’t. The small amount of frosting combined with the extra salt in the batter and salt from the peanuts and pretzels really balances everything out. My husband and I have been eating these for about a week and neither of us are tired of them yet.

And, as an added bonus, they’re flexible. One day at school my chef instructor planted this idea in my head that my stacked version wasn’t quite what an ice cream cupcake should be. There is more than one way to stack a cupcake of course, so I tried doing a condensed version to see which one I liked better. Here’s version 2 of the Take 6 cupcake (same ingredients).

This one is good in a gooey-ice cream sundae-I got a sweet tooth that must be fixed right now-and I don’t mind getting caramel and chocolate all over my hands sort of way. Even though it’s all the same stuff, it’s just not the same. The lessened amount of cake and increased quantity of sweet ingredients throws the balance off. But it’s still an ice cream cupcake so who the hell cares. =) I think if I were selling them I’d perhaps go with the condensed version to ease transport, but my bakery has a few years before it’s gonna open (like probably 7).

Same as the previous version, just reversed the chocolate and buttercream.

I’m honestly not very competitive, so I don’t typically jump into contests or challenges, but I like baking and winning a whole bunch of dessert cook books sounds like a fantastic reason to make some cupcakes (not that I really ever need a reason). Aside from Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious, there are three food bloggers judging the contest. If you’re curious what makes them so special, hop on over to their blogs and take a look-see for yourself.

What’s your favorite cake and ice cream combination? I think it’s possible that the only time most of us see this decadent duo is during birthday celebrations, but honestly it’s far too awesome of a dessert to only have once a year. If you decide to hop into your kitchen and put your ice cream cupcake fingers to work, let me know how it goes!

Read Full Post »