Tag Archives: Baking

Becky’s Brownies

A few months ago, I tackled the Maniac Fire Bread from Sweet & Vicious. It was pretty great, and one of my taste-testers was so in love that she HAD to have the recipe. Unfortunately, after reading the directions, she decided that the whole process was more than she cared to tackle with her limited baking skills. So I had a thought: what if I came up with something that combined the same flavors, but was much less complicated to complete? Say, something utilizing that most amazing of baking cheats, the box mix? Challenge accepted!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Betty Crocker Supreme Triple Chunk Brownies
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup veggie oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp minced serrano chile

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and spray brownie pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Combine mix, cinnamon, milk, oil and eggs in a bowl and mix thoroughly
  3. Mince the serrano and then fold into batter and pour into prepared tin.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
  5. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • Obviously, this isn’t quite the same thing, you know, being brownies instead of a quick bread, but the flavor is there and you still have the dense texture that is dotted with chocolate chunks. Plus, it’s easier to cut and consume.
  • I know a lot of bakers gasp at the idea of using mixes instead of baking from scratch, but let’s be honest – life is busy, and you don’t always have time to make everything from scratch. Besides if most people were given the choice between box mix brownies or no brownies, I’m pretty confident in asserting that they’ll happily take/settle for the box mix bakes. Sometimes it’s just better to work smart instead of hard.

Sweet & Vicious: Serious Oatmeal Cookies

My traditional holiday plans have been a bit wonky this year, but one of the things I knew I wanted to do while my mom was visiting was make cookies. I also figured it would be a perfect opportunity to knock another recipe or two off of the 12 I wanted to try from my Sweet & Vicious cookbook. Since I wanted to make something I knew she liked, I made a supreme culinary sacrifice and offered up the book’s take on my least favorite cookie, oatmeal raisin. Shudder.

Notes:

  • These cookies turned out thick, chewy, and lightly sweet. There was a hint of kick from the ginger and the tang of the dried cranberries made them almost bearable for me. Almost. Andy and my mom, however, gleefully consumed cookie after cookie and then packed them up for Andy to take into work since they couldn’t stop eating them.
  • Despite a few quirks, this recipe was pretty straight forward and easy to follow. The only issue I had was the cook time. It may have been my oven, but I needed an additional 4 minutes of bake time per batch. Just keep an eye on yours and make sure to let them sit for a couple of minutes before trying to scrape them off the cookie tray.

Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake

And I am chipping right away at #3 on my 31 before 32, this time with Upside-Down Skillet Corn Cake. While seemingly simple, I had a tough time with the recipe. Was it an off day? Was it the humidity? Am I not as good at this baking thing as I thought I was? Who knows, but this recipe was delicious and, after a bit of reflection, well worth the trouble.

Notes:

  • Boy howdy did I have a rough time with this recipe. First, I could not get the brown sugar to melt into the butter. I stirred and stirred, up-ed the heat, turned it back down, and in a desperate attempt – added more butter. Alas, it was all for naught, and I eventually just had to give it a “good enough” and cross my fingers. It 90% worked out. Most of the texture issues worked themselves out as the cake baked, but there was one small grainy patch left that I gently scrapped off before serving.
  • I also could not get the fruit to cooperate, I used nectarines instead of peaches because that fuzz on the outside makes me shudder. As I tried to pit the fruit, it refused to release the pit, and two of my nectarines turned to mush in the process. Even afterwards all I could do was squeeze fruit pieces off of the pit and use them for something else. So I guess I should go for slightly under ripe fruit next time?
  • The cook time was WAY off on this. I baked it for the recommended time plus some and finally took it out when it seemed like the sugar mixture on the edges was starting to burn. The middle was still not fully cooked. Next time I am going to bake it lower for longer. Maybe 325 for 50 minutes to an hour.
  • It is important to note, I do not have a cast iron skillet that is the right size for this recipe so I used a cake tin. Which might have contributed to the bake time issues. I’d still use it again, but I’d also be interested in a do-over with the recommended equipment.

 

 


Baking Adventures: Rosemary Cupcakes

After a very intense week, I was looking forward to this past weekend quite a bit. I was ready to disconnect for a bit and indulge in something creative. I decided to work on an idea I had a while back, which is coming up with interesting ways to spruce up gluten free cake mixes (there are some really good ones out there these days), sort of like the Cake Mix Doctor recipes, but a bit more pretentious sounding.  I also wanted to include fresh rosemary because I’ve tried in a few sweet applications, and I think it brings something unexpected to the flavor party.

 Just for funsies, I came up with two variations: a Rosemary Olive Oil Cupcake with Blackberry Frosting and a Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cupcake with Whipped Ganache Frosting. I used the King Arthurs Yellow and Chocolate Cake Mixes as my bases, respectively. The Results:

Rosemary Olive Oil Cupcake with Blackberry Frosting – Pretty good. I was a little worried when I tried the cake without the frosting that it was going to be to herbaceous, but the sweet and fruity from the blackberry frosting went a long way to even things out. I think it needed a tart element to really give things some depth. I’d made a blackberry filling for these, but I forgot to fill the cupcakes before I frosted them (Oops). I think it would have done the trick, though.

Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cupcake with Whipped Ganache Frosting – A bit disappointing. The cake alone was almost perfect, but when paired with the whipped ganache, the subtle flavors of orange and rosemary were very much overshadowed by CHOCOLATE. I am still rolling this one around in my head; keep the cake and change the frosting? Or Keep the frosting and change up the cake? The frosting was a new 2 ingredient recipe I found online: equal parts chocolate and butter, melt together, allow to set up in the fridge and whip until light and airy. Rich, light and a little prone to melting, but as long as the weather is cool, I will be using it again.

Progress made, but no finished recipes quite yet. I’ll have to get back into the kitchen and give things another go. Although, considering how long it took to clean up the kitchen when I was done, it might be later rather than sooner 🙂

 


A Modern Twist on a Classic Favorite

As a kid, you quickly learn that most things are better with sprinkles: cookies, ice cream, and, of course, cupcakes. In the last year I’ve been paying more and more attention to how my bakes look as well as taste, and while I am still unwilling to compromise taste for style, I am very big on getting the most bang for your buck. To be honest, I hadn’t given sprinkles a fair shake. I assumed that the only things available were the same things I had grown up with. Imagine my surprise when I discovered Fancy Sprinkles for the Modern Baker . What the what? Turns out all those crazy shape and color combos I’ve been impressed with on Instagram are available in easy color coordinate containers and bento boxes.

I am also a fan of the names of their combos; “Call Me Maybe” and “Purple Pony Party” are two of my favorites. I must admit I’m not quite to the place where I would subscribe to their monthly bento box, but there are a few projects that I have planned that would benefit greatly from some sprinkled embellishments.