Saturday, March 23, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Chocolate Sauce

For this weeks snack, the goal was gluten-free! We have a few people who are gluten-free in the house, and I never accomodate for them, so this week I wanted to make sure I made something they could also enjoy. As per request, I made flourless chocolate cake. It was interesting how it all came together, but it worked!

Lately, I have been figuring out ways to make snack easier on me. I've found (from being late twice) that the hours between dinner and snack just sometimes aren't enough to get everything ready and baking. This week I decided to document some of the things I do to make snack on time. I pick the steps that can be done ahead of time and well, do them. This week that involved separating 24 egg yolks from egg whites and scooping out 6 cups of chocolate chips. I stored them in yogurt containers until I started bringing the cake together after dinner. It was a great help.

Egg whites, chocolate chips, and egg yolks beat with sugar.

I tried my hand in whipping egg whites this week. It was weird, and I probably should have used the whisk attachment, but after a very long time, egg liquid turned into a light, foamy consistency.

Egg whites magic

While the cakes were in the oven I decided to get a little creative. There was leftover chocolate in the pan I melted the chocolate chips in, so I decided to not be wasteful and throw some frozen raspberries and a little bit of water into the pan to make a sauce. I often forget how much I love the berry chocolate combination, but I love it A LOT. It is the perfect combo of sweet, tart and chocolatey. Yummmm. This sauce was insanely easy and brought so much to the cake. I wish I made more of it so that I had leftovers for my oatmeal the next morning. Next time!

Raspberry chocolate sauce in the making

The cakes rose a lot, but then fell as soon as I took them out of the oven. I had thoughts of failed souffles in the back of my mind as I watched them shrivel. There were also had a loooot of air bubbles which made them look a little funny. But they tasted great. It was kind of like eating chocolate air, which I really enjoyed. It was the right amount of cake, without feeling over indulgent, and I loved the raspberry addition. That really made it.

Trying to hide the weird-ness with powdered sugar

I also finished early! Yeah, what? That never happens. So I whipped up some toffee because its that easy and I wanted some. 'Twas a great snack.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pink Lemonade Bars

I've been on a lemon kick recently. I made this awhile ago but never posted it. They were good, but I didn't like them as much as the second set of lemon bars I made. Probably had something to do with not using fresh lemons or fresh raspberries. Ingredients make a difference! They were very tart and a different consistency. More dense, less light and creamy.

We conveniently had a bunch of frozen raspberries already that I thawed then pressed through this cheesecloth to get the flavor of the juice without the crunch of the seeds. It was so weird squeezing it out. I can't even describe the texture the seeds and the cloth made. It was funky but fun.

Raspberries after they have been in the food processor 

Something weird happened with the lemon layer. When I whisked in the flour it stayed in little tiny flour clumps that you can see in the next picture. I didn't know why it happened or how to get rid of them. If this has happened to you can you share your tips on how to fix it or how to prevent it from ever happening? It would be much appreciated. I've also had it happen before when I've made pancake batter. Once the lemon bars were cooked you couldn't taste it, but it looked a lil weird.

Flour clumps?

Sprinkling powdered sugar is half the fun when you don't have a sifter to sprinkle with.

I will definitely be trying these again when fresh raspberries are in their peak season! Too bad raspberries and lemons aren't in season together...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Orange and Cranberry Scones

Every time I make scones I remember how much I like them and how much more I like them when they are fresh out of the oven. I don't like to give myself too much praise. But these, oh these. These were little clouds of citrus-y tangy zesty perfection. They were everything I wanted plus a little bit of what I didn't even know I needed. I was so very pleased with how they turned out.

I made the dough the night before to save time on Tuesday. I multiplied the recipe by 6 so there was a lot of dough to work with. It was sooooooooooooooooo so so sticky, and it was very difficult to mix. I thought we didn't have heavy cream, but Meg found it for me at the last second and I think it made all the difference.

There are many variations to scones. There are the dense crumbly ones that you usually find in various cafes. There are scones that are more closely related to biscuits. There are sweet scones, or savory scones. And then there are scones like these, that are light, super fluffy and full of citrus flavor. I think I prefer the light fluffier ones to the dense and crumbly scones.

I cut them into triangular shapes for simplicity, rather than circles which require more effort from cutting and re patting the dough. I was surprised at how easy to work with they became after adding just a little bit of flour. They quickly went from a sticky scary mess to an easily formed disc. I was also very surprised by how much they increased in size! I would say they definitely almost doubled in size after baking.

I chose to disregard Deb's suggestion to use fresh cranberries (mostly because cranberries are not in season and we don't have any) and used dried cranberries instead. Our dried cranberries are pretty sweet, but also very tangy. They definitely brought a nice, chewy zing into the picture. As per Meg's suggestion, I used orange zest rather than lemon zest. I think I like the orange/ cran combo more than the lemon/ cran combo, but they both work very well. I was afraid with multiplying the recipe that the orange flavor wouldn't shine through, but it sure did. It shined right through all of that butter and flour. Well done.


Possibly the best part was waking up the next morning, heating up a left over scone in the oven, and enjoying it with a cup of earl grey. If every day started this way, every day would be slightly better. It was a great morning. 

Recipe loosely based on: Citrus and Cranberry Scones

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Carrot Soup with Miso

Last saturday was a cold saturday, so Irene and I made carrot soup with miso. I love soups. I also love thick, creamy soups that involve no cream or dairy. This one was so great. We just got a brand spanking new immersion blender for the house, which was a very large part of why Irene and I made a soup that required blending everything together. Immersion blenders are fun. They feel like magic. One moment you have a whole bunch of chunky things and the next moment they are all perfectly blended into the creamiest of creamy magic. Love it.

We get huge shipments of carrots. We almost always have carrots, which makes me real happy because they are one of my favorite snacks. I often grab one just as I am heading out the door and eat it on the way to class. They come in giant boxes and sometime they throw some GIANT carrots in just for fun. The recipe called for 2 pounds of carrot and one of the carrots was so big that it was 2 pounds all by itself. Ridiculousness and so hard to chop! It was bigger than the knife.

Carrot monstrosity

The onions, garlic, ginger and carrots were thrown into a pot to boil for half an hour while Irene and I watched the new episode of Modern Family. I love that show. It never fails to make me laugh hysterically.


Magic how the above picture turns into the below picture. Am I right?

I really love the taste of miso, and it wasn't entirely overpowering in this soup. The carrots brought a nice creamy fluffiness that I wasn't expecting, and they went super well with the miso flavor. The recipe calls for a sprinkling of sesame oil at the end, but we forgot about it until we were half way done with our soup. Honestly, I liked it better without the oil, but that may be because sesame oil and rice was the last thing I ate before I got the flu last semester. Unfortunately for me the taste of sesame oil is a little tainted right now...


And just for kicks, look at this 2 pound monstrosity! It was entertaining through out the week, because people kept walking into the kitchen with it. Their reactions were priceless. Just look at this thing though, it really is ridiculous. People were sad I used it for the soup, but it had to be used for something.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Very Very Chewy Granola Bars

Tuesday this week was busy busy busy. So for snack I had to make something quick and easy. Quick and easy turned into thick, chewy, chocolatey granola bars. They were so so so chewy.

The dry ingredients. This is what 13 cups of oats looks like.

The fun part was mixing the sticky ingredients into the oats. Melted butter, maple syrup, and honey kept the oats, chocolate chips and cranberries as a sticky amalgamation of delicious.

I made two different kinds. One with just the ingredients listed above, and another one with additional almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla. I liked this one better. It was less chewy and more flavorful. But it also took longer to cook and longer to set.

They were hard to cut

They took waaaaaaay longer to bake than they were supposed to. Which makes sense because they were in a much larger pan than an 8x8. I'm beginning to grasp the concept that larger pan means larger baking time. Good thing I put these in at 7:30 or snack would have been late, again!

All lined up and ready to go!

The ones without the almond butter were super ultra chewy. Like a chewy bar from the grocery store times 30. I kinda liked it, but my jaw was a little tired after eating just one of them. I think I might have over baked them slightly. Its exciting to know these things for when I make them again for less people.

Stacks on stacks on stacks

This recipe was great for this week. Mix dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, put in pan, bake, cut. Easy!

Recipe: Thick, Chewy Granola Bars

Also, Just for kicks. This guy has been hanging around in our house this past semester. He has been scaring the living daylights out of me! He moves around a lot and is put in places where I catch a glance out of the corner of my eye. Every time, I gasp and my heart skips a beat. I've started to imagine him everywhere. He is haunting my dreams. He is just so scarily good looking.

Get outta here.

Happy Friday!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Lemon Bars for 64 vs Lemon Bars for 15

Baking for so many people was an issue this week. Apparently there are other things you need to think about when you multiply a recipe by 8. This is when knowing the science of cooking would be incredibly helpful. I challenged cooking science and it won. It won a lot.

This week I attempted lemon bars and they turned out to be an epic disaster. Snack was unacceptably late and it was nothing like it was suppose to be. It took way too long to cook and it never set in the freezer even though I tried to hurry it up and put it in a tray of ice in the freezer. They turned out to be less lemon bar and more shortbread cookie base with lemon curd pudding jiggly mess on top. I was thinking about not posting this one but I'm going to because even though it was a failure it's a testament to how difficult cooking for this many people is.

Lemons are pretty

When you bake for so many people its scary how much butter is used.

The shortbread cookie base was delicious. I want to use this base for more bar type cookies. Also the recipe was pretty simple. If I had to wash my own dishes it would be great because I only used the food processor and measuring cups. Recipes with few dishes are the best. However, never having to wash my own dishes is better.

Maxed out the food processors capcity

Before I knew it would be a disaster

This recipe is also fun because it's not wasteful. It uses every last bit of the lemon. You just slice the lemon into thin slices, make sure there aren't any seeds, and throw the whole slice into the food processor with some sugar. Magic!

Don't be fooled. It looks pretty. But its a jiggly mess under that powdered sugar.

However, I was really craving lemon bars, and the failed attempt did not appease my desire. So, on Thursday, I tried again! Except this time I made one, in and 8x8, rather than two in 13x20's. These turned out impecable. Exactly how a lemon bar is supposed to be. My taste buds were definitely appeased. 

Take two!

So much better

I'm not very good at cutting straight...

When I make it again I think I might make the shortbread cookie base thicker, because it was that good, and I would of liked a closer lemon to cookie ratio.

Lemon bar perfection

Writing this post makes me want to make more. Relatively simple. Not very time consuming (when not making them for 64). And incredibly delicious.

Recipe (similar to this): Lemon Bars
    Differences from her book: For crust- 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt 8 tbsp butter
                                                For filling- 1 medium lemon, 1and 1/3 cups sugar, 8 tbsp butter (in 
                                                                  chunks), 4 large eggs, 2 tbsp cornstarch, 1/4 tsp salt
                                  The directions are similar. Except, for the crust use the food processor. For the 
                                  filling also use the food processor and begin with tossing the lemon rounds into
                                  the food processor with the sugar and running it until it is pureed. Then add the
                                  butter, then the eggs, cornstarch and salt. The rest is the same. Enjoy!!

Another similar and fun recipe I would like to try (and probably will very soon): Pink Lemonade Bars