Friday, July 25, 2014

Malted Milk Blondies with Chocolate and Butterscotch Chips

The opera finally opened here in Pittsburgh and it's a success! We had a day off on Monday and guess what else was a success? These blondies that I brought to the cast/crew party.
Malted milk WITH chocolate chips AND butterscotch chips? This is definitely one of those desserts that is full of flavor, has a soft texture, and is altogether scrumptious. They were enjoyed and gobbled up within 30 minutes of arriving at the party.
There's one more performance of the opera left and one more opportunity for me to bake. That opportunity will be the end of season party this weekend. (Theater people like to have a lot of parties.)

Malted Milk Blondies with Chocolate and Butterscotch Chips
recipe found at Mountain Mama Cooks <~ click there for recipe
Bake well and prosper!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Crepe Cake with Almond Whip Cream and Cherries

Due to a busy and crazy rehearsal schedule this week, I have 10 minutes to write this post. Let's go!
I wanted to make a dessert for the July 4th cast party. I also wanted to try my hand at another crepe cake since the first one was so delicious.

I decided to take part of the amazing black forest trifle recipe and make it into the filling for this crepe cake.

It was a HUGE hit at cast party. The mixture of almond whip cream and cherries amidst buttery crepes was scrumptious!

And as I said in my last crepe cake post, I wanted to make a smaller version. So I did that, too.
Isn't it cute?! Ok, I'm off to sing!
Crepe Cake with Almond Whip Cream and Cherries
Ingredients for crepes:
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter
3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (75 grams) sugar
Pinch of salt
Ingredients for filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup cherries (cut and without pits)
To make the crepes:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Continue to cook, while stirring occasionally, until browned. Set aside and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, heat the milk in another saucepan until steaming and small bubbles appear at the edges. Set aside and let cool slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand-held mixer, mix the eggs, flour, sugar, and salt until combined. While mixing on low speed, add the butter and milk slowly until incorporated. Heat a 9-inch skillet over medium heat and grease with a small amount of butter. Add approximately 1/3 cup of batter to the skillet and swirl to coat the pan evenly. Cook for a few minutes until edges begin to brown. Flip and cook for an additional minute. (Erika's Extras: I found it easiest to shake the pan a little and then flip in air, but feel free to use a spatula to turn it.) Repeat until the batter is gone, stacking crepes and letting them cool to room temperature.
To make the filling:
In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, and almond extract with an electric mixer. Beat until smooth. Add in heavy cream, incorporating a little at a time to prevent splattering. When all the cream has been added, turn the mixer to high, and beat until soft peaks form.
To make the cake:
Spread whip cream in between each crepe. In between every other layer of crepes, add cut cherries. Sprinkle powdered sugar and some whole cherries on top of the stack when complete.
Bake well and prosper!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Are you like me? Do you get excited when it is cherry season and grab a huge bag  of them? Then you realize that it actually takes awhile to get through that bag? And then you start to worry about how you'll finish them before they go bad?
If you aren't like me, well, I guess I applaud you. If you ARE like me, then put your worries aside. Cherries go great in desserts. This is a universal truth. Like ketchup makes everything taste better. Except Ketchup.
Well, here in Pittsburgh I finally got into a kitchen with an oven. (THREE ovens actually!) It was so nice to be back in a kitchen and creating delicious creations like these cookies. I found a recipe and added some things and took out others and the results were magic. Using cherries in their raw form (not dried) brings a pop of freshness and juice when you bite into these. The mixture of coconut, chocolate, and oatmeal makes for a wonderful base to deliver the tart/sweetness of the cherry. All the folks in my Summerfest program here in Pittsburgh agreed that these were amazing.
So, if you have cherries that need to be used, try this great recipe!
Chocolate Cherry Coconut Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from What's Gaby Cooking)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cups old-fashioned oats
2 Tablespoons chocolate powder (hot chocolate mix works)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup diced cherries

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars via stirring or electric mixer.. Mix together for 2 minutes until the sugars are incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Add the flour, baking soda, sea salt and baking powder and slowly combine, making sure not to over-mix the batter. Add the coconut, oats, chocolate powder, chocolate chips, and cherries. Gently fold them into the dough. Refrigerate batter while oven is heating.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place small scoops of dough spread out 12 times onto each parchment lined baking sheet. Transfer sheets into over and bake for 14-16 minutes until the cookies slightly turn golden brown on the edges but are still soft and chewy in the middle. Remove from oven, transfer to cooling rack. Repeat process for remaining dough. Cool for a little bit and then enjoy!
Bake well and prosper

Monday, June 30, 2014

Constantly on the Move

Well hello there! My poor little blog has been left alone for over a month due to me travelling around the world. (Well, America and Europe.)

First, I went to Florida to visit my 97 year old grandfather. Yes! 97!
Then I was back in NYC for a couple of days before I headed to Europe. First stop in Europe was London where I ran a 10K and goofed around with my best friend from college.
Next stop was Durham, UK, to see where my bestie was getting educated for the past nine months.
So, she's been going to Hogwarts. Cool.

Then we headed up to Edinburgh, Scotland, where I had some proper tea at Edinburgh Castle.
After many fun filled days, I said good bye to her and went to Trondheim, Norway, where the sun never set! It was beautiful and I had tons of fun with my Viking-tall friend and his pals.
No. No photoshop on the above photo. Norway is just that beautiful. And check out what one coffee shop called a blueberry muffin! 
Mmmm. It was delicious.
After floating down the river in Trondheim a couple of days, I bade farewell to my friend and went to Brussels, Belgium, to visit another good friend of mine.
He actually just became owner of La Reserve in Brussels, so if you're over there, check it out! Seeing he's in the restaurant business, he knew where to take me to eat and be merry. SO MUCH GOOD FOOD IN BELGIUM! I can't wait to go back. 
Brussels really enjoys comics which is great seeing I do, too! They paint many different sides of buildings with cute murals. Super cute, right? 
Something else that was super was the breakfast my amazing Belgian friend brought one morning. I think the photo speaks for itself:
After much fun in Belgium I boarded a train headed for Paris. Yes! Paris. The only place in Europe I've ever wanted to visit and I was finally there!
You can find many a blogpost on Paris food and tourist sites, so I will leave you with two things you can't find much of.
Me, singing again at Dîner en Blanc, but this time in PARIS!!!! (Here's my outfit followed by a little snippet of Que sera sera.)
And then, my wonderful vegan friend from Toulouse came up to Paris to take part in the diner and she made an amazing vegan dessert.
It was a cherry almond tartlet/cake and it made a really good meal into a really great meal.
After another fun and ethereal Dîner en Blanc, I headed back to NYC and ran a 10K the next day. (I have a problem and should seek help. I know.)
Then, 34 hours after landing in NYC, I was off to Pittsburgh which is where I've been for 2 weeks. And guess what! Today I baked. Check out the next post to see what I made. (It was yummy!!!!)
Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lavender Lemonade Cocktail

Hello faithful readers and those who have stumbled across my site by chance! Let's lift a glass together and help me celebrate my next journey in life: after seven years at a desk job, I'm off to pursue singing opera! I'm finally taking that next step and throwing myself out there. But first I'll be doing some travelling. Yay!
So look forward to blogs from abroad and blogs from Pittsburgh this summer. They might be sporadic, but they should be interesting!
Lavender Lemonade Cocktail (my own recipe)
Bring 2 cups of water to a simmer and stir in 2 Tablespoons of honey. When honey is mixed into the water, turn off the burner. Add 2+ Tablespoons of lavender and steep for at least 15 minutes (longer for a stronger lavender flavor.) Strain the lavender through a fine mesh and pour the liquid into pre-made lemonade (1/2 gallon or less.) Stir in and cool in refrigerator. Add Jack Daniels or some vodka to the drink or enjoy by itself.
Bake well and prosper!