Saturday, February 20, 2010

What to say....what to say......

Ok. I'm just going to come right out with it. I'm really tired right now. My wit is waning and I want to whimper and whine about why I am wielding to waves of weariness. (That's right! Read 'em and weep! I used 9 "w" words in one sentence. ... Maybe I'm the only one amused by this since I'm exhausted and even a game of curling could impress me and keep me giddy right now.) (Extra points for mentioning an Olympic sport during the Winter Olympics. Go me!)

Back to desserts.

I just had someone mention that I should post a recipe that involved peanut butter and my brain said, slowly, "Wait a minute....I made something on Valentine's Day with peanut butter. Time to post it!"

(Oh, and by the way, not all my messes are ugly. Look how pretty the V-day colored wrappers are!)

(But they DID make a MOUND of a wrapper MESS.)

So, to all those people out there obsessed with PB and chocolate, this one's for you. Oh, and this one: National Pie Day

(Peanut butter .... nom nom nom)

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars (I totally found this recipe on the back of a margarine package and had to try it. Thanks Land O'Lakes!)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter/margarine, softened
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mini real semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons sugar
48 milk chocolate candy kisses

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pat dough into ungreased 15x10x1-inch jelly-roll pan. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately press evenly spaced chocolate candies into warm bars. Cool completely. Cut into bars, cutting between candies.

Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

If you REALLY love someone....

It's Valentine's Day. A day that most people agree is a Hallmark holiday, and yet, people still "observe" it. There's something nice about being all mushy and lovey-dovey. But, if you REALLY love someone, consider making this recipe.

First, a small background. I don't remember exactly how or why I decided to make Monkey Bread at my office, but I did one day. And that day paved the path for the most requests I've ever seen for a recipe.

I've made it about four times within the past 6 months for my fellow workers. Here's the deal though....I only make it on a Friday before a long holiday weekend. In order to make it at the office, I have to come in early. No problem.

I wake up early and prepare the first steps at my place. I pack a bag with the first part and second part and go to work. I place the bag on this shelf, which belongs to this fridge, which belongs to this side kitchen, which is a part of this main kitchen. I know. It's pretty amazing. I'll wait a second.......

Done admiring and wishing your kitchen was like that? Ok. Moving on.

So, I go to the gym and work out. Then, at the end of my work out, I prepare step two, add to step one, and put the Monkey Bread in the oven. Yeah...that one. So, I go shower and get ready. Then I take the sugary goodness out of the oven and serve to my Monkey Bread fanatics in the office (aka coworkers.)

And that, my friends, is how to "make it work" in NYC. ("It" being Monkey Bread in the office.) Oh, and it is also how to create a loyal following for your baked goods. LOL

So, if you REALLY love someone, make this.

Monkey Bread (aka Pull Apart Rolls) (from Mom's Best Recipes cookbook)
2 cans of biscuits (I prefer the extra buttery and fluffy ones)
1 C sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/2 C+ chopped pecans (optional)
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 C brown sugar
1 t cinnamon

Generously grease tube pan with Crisco. In paper bag, put sugar and 2 t cinnamon. Using 1 can at a time, cut biscuits into quarters. Place in paper bag and shake to coat.
(Oh, I see I can't fool you. Yeah, that's not spinach. I actually prefer using a light plastic container because paper bags are messy. I know...I know...I'm opting out of a mess for this one.)
Place in tube pan, sprinkling nuts over each layer except last one.
(Second Part)
Boil together butter, brown sugar, and 1 t cinnamon. Pour mixture over biscuits. Bake 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before inverting. Let guests pull apart.
(You can stop licking the screen now.)

Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I'm a Sell Out

Um, remember in my first blog post ever where I wrote "Well, for one, I don't have a fancy schmancy camera, so you won't be seeing overly artistic pictures." (See: Well, here we are) Uh, yeah. Well, um, I um.... *gulp* I TOTALLY GOT ONE!

Oh. Huh. What do you know? Y'all are still reading. Well aren't y'all troopers. I guess you're used to people lying to meanies, losers, and politicians. Well, I bought a fancy schmancy camera so now you guys can TRULY see what kind of a mess I make. :)

In other news, I bought a new mixer! OK, no, I'm not tossing dough around on ALL fancy shmancy and new items (get it...dough...baking blog...???) I found a vintage ten-speed mixer on craigslist. Ain't she pretty?
Hear her roar! She's ferocious, I tell ya!

Well, to make amends for breaking down and buying a new camera, I decided to bake a new and somewhat time consuming recipe. And more than just that....I used yeast for the first time!

I also used my mixer for the first time and it didn't disappoint me. I turned it on and BAM! Instant mess.A geyser of sugar burst out from the side of the bowl and onto my counter. Sweet! I knew this mixer was a match made in heaven.

Now, I'm not all about messes of course. I also have some helpful tips to make the baking process go faster. Like this: Forgot to put the butter out to warm up to room temperature? Got a radiator? Problem fixed. Warm butter in no time! So, back to this whole yeast thing. It's true. I've never used the stuff before. I don't know why it took me so long to use it because it can create a GREAT mess. A STICKY mess. An ALIVE mess.
(Cue Jaws music)

Dun duh.

Dun duh. Dun duh dun duh dun duh dun duh DAAAH!

Sticky Buns from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Sticky Buns
6 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 Tbsp shortening or unsalted butter or margarine
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp lemon zest, grated
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour
2 tsp yeast
1 1/8-1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk , at room temperature
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 Tbsp sugar plus 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
walnuts or pecans or other nuts (optional)
raisins (optional)

Caramel Glaze
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb (2 sticks/15 Tbsp) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp lemon, orange or vanilla extract

1. Make the buns: cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand). Whip in the egg and lemon extract/zest until smooth. Add the flour, yeast, and milk.
2. Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.
3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin, into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log (starting at the long end), creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.
4. Make the glaze: in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar, brown sugar, salt, and butter, at room temperature. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add the cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container. (Erika's Extra: This will NOT look like a glaze. It will look like taffy. Don't be fooled! Becomes a glaze in oven.)5. In your glazed pan, sprinkle on the nuts and raisins. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spiral side up, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Let rise for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and nearly doubled. Preheat the oven to 350 F with a rack on the lowest shelf.
6. Bake the sticky buns for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remember that they are really upside down (regular cinnamon buns without the glaze are baked right side up), so the heat has to penetrate through the pan and into the glaze to caramelize it. The tops will become the bottoms, so they may appear dark and done, but the real key is whether the underside is fully baked. 7. Cool the buns in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove them by flipping them over into another pan. Carefully scoop any run-off glaze back over the buns with a spatula. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.
Bake well and prosper!