Iron Chef Mommy

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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Cinna-who?

Posted by ironchefmommy on February 4, 2010

So, last week I attempted to make a coffee cake. It was delicious, although not very aesthetically pleasing. It looked really funny. I put the crumb topping on before I put it into the oven. When I took the cake out, it had disappeared! It sank into the cake. Now don’t get me wrong, it was really yummy. The crumbs were scattered throughout the cake so when you took a bite, it was a pleasant surprise. Next time (and after next time I’ll post the recipe) I’d probably let it bake and put the topping 10 minutes or so before it was done. Live and learn. Anyway, I got to thinking about things I’d like to try and make. Everytime I go to the mall, I walk past Cinnabon and my mouth waters. But- 4 bucks for a cinnamon roll? Come on. So I thought, I could do these. I found a recipe and went to work. I was surprised at how easy it was to do, considering I am not super experienced with working with yeast.

Now, a few things first. I halved the recipe. This is for the FULL recipe. I didn’t need that many because, well, I didn’t know how they were going to turn out, but mostly, I didn’t have that much flour left in the house. I am running VERY low. If you’re going to half the recipe, make sure you use a baking calculator like this one. Anyway, here’s the original recipe:

You will need:

2 cups of warm water
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons dry yeast (or two packages of dry yeast)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Canola oil (I use Canola, but you can use any kind of cooking oil) (you can also use shortening, if you prefer)
6 to 7 cups of flour

Then you:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let sit for a minute or two. Add the sugar and salt. Mix. Add the cooking oil (or shortening), 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth.
Stir in 3 more cups of flour. Begin kneading the dough, adding the final cup of flour. If the dough seems too sticky, knead in more flour, a quarter to a half cup at a time.
Let the dough “rest” for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll the dough into a rectangle that’s 24 to 30 inches long by about 16 inches wide. Spread with soft butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Starting at the wide end, roll into a log.
Cut the cinnamon rolls into equal sized slices (approximately one inch wide each or slightly more) and place into two greased 9×13 pans. Put in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown).
Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out of the pans.
This recipes makes two dozen cinnamon rolls. If you want REALLY BIG cinnamon rolls, cut into 12 equal pieces 2 inches wide.
Total amount of time needed from start to finish (including time to bake) is about 2 hours.

Okay, now my edits. These were good, but a few things. Nowhere does it say how much butter you should use. I melted 1/2 stick and painted the dough with it. Eh. I would probably use more, and just let it get soft and spread it to get a thicker coat. I would say 3/4 stick for a 1/2 recipe to give you an idea of how much. Now, the consistency of these were great. They looked good, they were a great size. My only issue was the dough wasn’t really sweet. It needed something else – icing. Now, I was running late to bring these to a playdate so I did the only thing I know how to do – improvise. I grabbed the other half of the stick of butter, threw it in a small saucepan to melt. I added maybe a capful or so of vanilla and some confectioner’s sugar (roughly 1/2 cup or so) and whisked it together. It tasted pretty good… a little thick so I just put a few drops of milk in to loosen it up and poured it over the rolls. PERFECT. They were delicious. I’ve been picking at them for the last couple of days here and there.. throwing them in the microwave and then eating them. Faboosh!

Normally, this is where I would post a picture of these delicious creatures. However, my daughter has managed to break pieces off of each one and it’s now one big cinnamon cakey-thing in the tupperware. I should have snapped a pic before I dashed out of the house, but, live and learn. Next time, I promise. If it’s any consolation to any of you, they looked amazing.

This is a recipe that even the most novice can do. The most important part is to be patient and let the yeast rise as needed or they will come out tasting like bricks. Good luck!!

Posted in Baking, Breakfast, Dessert, Sweet | Leave a Comment »

Two years ago a princess was born

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 14, 2010

Well, my first order of business….

Happy Birthday Madeline!
Yup, my precious little girl is 2 today! I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I’m the mommy of a 2 year old – more so, I can’t believe I’m so lucky that she’s mine. She’s still (I think) too young to understand her birthday, but we had fun today none the less. It started at 3am when she ventured into our bed… so she did get a happy birthday from Brett before he left for work around 6. We got up and headed out this morning – we had a nice day together. We headed to get her 2 year pictures taken… much easier said than done. We did get some nice ones, but it was tiring! We did a bit of shopping, had some lunch, and I took her to Build A Bear where we built a dog for her birthday (against my better judgment because we have MORE than enough stuffed animals here), but she’s the birthday girl!

So what to make the birthday girl for dinner? Well, I had a request from a friend (Thanks Allison!) to please try to duplicate Panera’s $8 a bowl mac and cheese. I love it, so I thought that would be something great that I could try to make. I know that their mac and cheese is a mix of Vermont White Cheddar with a “hint of American” as noted on their menu, but that’s about all I knew. So I figured I had my work cut out for me. I tried to think of what went into my own mac and cheese, and here’s what I came up with:

First you need:

12oz pasta shells
4 tablespoons of butter
8 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk*
8-10 oz grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
2-3 oz grated American Cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Then you should:

Cook pasta about 2-3 minutes shorter than package directions and drain. They should still be a little harder than al dente.

In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over med low heat. Slowly whisk in the flour, then slowly add milk a little at a time, whisking all the way. Bring to a boil for a minute or so, then turn heat down and add grated cheese, whisking in as the cheese melts. Add salt and pepper.

Pour pasta and cheese into oven safe pot or 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

**Now, for my edits. This was a really good first attempt, at least in my book, for not having any recipe to go off of, other than what cheeses were in it. I used 1% milk, but I bet whole milk would be better. You might want to either add another 1/2 cup of milk, or maybe beat an egg into the mixture to make it a little creamier.

The taste of it was pretty much there, but it wasn’t as creamy as I’d hoped. This could be either because of too little milk/butter, or the fact that when I pulled it out of the oven, I kept it covered and on the table for roughly 15 minutes to cool a bit before I started scooping it out. I wonder if I had dug into it right away if that would have made a difference. Well, I tried! If anyone makes this, feel free to add any edits/suggestions, because I plan on making this again soon. It was yummy!

Then came dessert for my baby girl. I had cupcakes from yesterday, but thought I should make fresh ones. It turns out it didn’t really matter, because she was so tired, she blew out the candle on a funfetti cupcake from yesterday and ate the frosting, then decided she was ready for bed. But since I didn’t know that was going to happen, I decided it was time for me to tackle something I’ve been dying to try to make – Red Velvet Cupcakes.

A note to all of you out there – be sure to read the WHOLE recipe when deciding to tackle it. I had the dry ingredients sifted before reading that I needed buttermilk. Shit. Shit. Luckily, I remembered someone on the food network saying you could actually whisk your own if you really really had to.

So who’s recipe did I make? One of my favorite chef’s – and yours – Bobby Flay!

Bobby Flay’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

* 15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
* 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 1 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
* 13 ounces granulated sugar
* 1 1/4 cups buttermilk***
* 3 eggs
*2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red food coloring
* 1 1/4 teaspoons vinegar (white or apple cider can both work)
* 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1/8 cup water

For the cream cheese frosting:

* 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
* 1 pound butter, room temperature
* 2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the cupcakes:

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix on low, scraping down sides occasionally, and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix, or the batter will come out tough.

Line a 16-cup cupcake pan with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.
For the cream cheese frosting:

Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

The frosting can be used right away, or stored in the refrigerator up to a week.

Frost cooled cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting.

***okay. So, a few things. I had no buttermilk. So I took 1 cup of milk and whisked about 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar into it. I think it worked well enough. I’ve also read that you could use milk and then substitute baking powder for baking soda. Good luck.
Also, you need a shitload of food coloring. I used all that I had and they weren’t quite dark red enough. But I have to say, they tasted awesome. And they look pretty good too, don’t you think?

Now that the birthday is over, kitchen is cleaned, I’m sitting down with yet another cupcake and watching Project Runway, while my poor husband, exhausted from a long day, is passed out on the couch. We’re having a family party for Madeline on Saturday so he’ll get that whole day with his baby girl.

Posted in Baking, Birthday, Cheese, Cooking, Cupcakes, Dessert, Dinner, Meal, Miscellaneous, Musings, Pasta, Savory, Stove-top | 1 Comment »

cupcakes and more…cupcakes

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 13, 2010

Well I can’t believe it! My little girl, my princess, my angel is turning 2 tomorrow! How fast these last two years have flown by. I wish I could stop time, or slow it down. I love the little girl she is turning into, but I miss her as a little baby. She is smart, fun, and makes every day worth living. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful daughter. I sit and reflect how I felt two years ago today… LARGE…uncomfortable, but savoring what I knew to be my last few hours carrying my daughter, feeling her first flutters, then later kicks that I swore bruised me from the inside they were so strong. She’s awesome, and she’s ours. I’m sure I’ll be doing more reflecting tomorrow as we celebrate her special day… but for now, a bit of fun!

So, we did a semi-party last year for her first birthday (since that’s really about the parents anyway). We had some of her close friends from Tri-County Tots, our playgroup that we’re in and some close family just have a cake for her. This year, we did a small cake/party at my mom’s last week when I was visiting on LI. Saturday we’ll do a cake at my in-laws for Madeline, my dad will be visiting and joining in the fun as well. Nothing over the top. She’s only 2. So, I thought it would be fun to have some of her friends come over for a playdate and cupcakes today. Needless to say, take 5 toddlers and cram them full of sugar at noon and watch the craziness ensue. You would have thought these kids never had treats before. It was so much fun to watch them and enjoy the cupcakes. I was up at 6am and had the first batch of cupcakes in the oven by 7:30, ran out at 9 for more milk and butter and by the time her friends got here, we had two different batches of cupcakes, each with their own icing and my coffee pot was brewing its second pot of the day. It was all worth it though to see Madeline’s face as her friends sang happy birthday and she blew out her purple candle shaped like a star.

Now, cupcakes. What kind? Where else would I go to find a yummy cupcake? Cupcake Rehab, of course. Marilla has some faboosh recipes up on there that I have always wanted to try. She posted a recipe for chocolate chip cupcakes a while back and I’ve been dying to make them. I figured this was my perfect excuse to!

Here’s her recipe:

First you take:

* 1 ½ cups + 2 tablespoons cake flour
* 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 7 tablespoons butter
* 7/8 cup sugar (or 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons)
* ½ cup milk
* 1 tablespoon milk
* 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
* 3 large egg whites
* 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Then you:

1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Mix milk and vanilla in a separate small bowl.
2. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Scrape sides of bowl.
3. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks, and fold into batter. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.
5. Bake cupcakes about 22 minutes or until testers inserted into centers come out clean. Let cool in tins on wire racks. Cupcakes will keep, covered, for up to 3 days, unless otherwise noted.

Now, the icing. Chocolate chip buttercream. Can we say yum? It’s beyond delicious. Here’s her recipe, word for word.

Ingredients:

* 12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
* 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
* ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
2. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth.
3. Fold chocolate chips into buttercream. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

The icing was delicious, and like her, I ate a little bit out of the bowl.

Now, a few things. The recipe is halved, so you get 12 cupcakes (at least I did). She had an issue with them not rising enough to clear her cups, I did not. I filled them about 3/4 and they rose enough to clear the tops a little bit, so if you’re using regular muffin tins, 2/3 to 3/4 of the way is probably fine. I love a recipe for 12 cupcakes. That way they all get eaten. When there’s 24, I end up eating the last 9 or so and feeling like a big fat cow. So kudos there. Yay!

Then, I thought I’d make a funfetti cupcake. Two of Madeline’s friends (who, ironically both could not make it, for different reasons – one is now a big brother and the other is sick) have peanut allergies. So, Nestle chips that are made in a plant with peanuts were out. I thought I’d do funfetti, because it’s basically a plain cake mix with a little fun. I’m not a boxed cake mix person. I keep one in the cabinet for “holy shit” reasons but that’s as an absolute LAST resort. Since we weren’t snowed in, I stole another one of Marilla’s recipes. She made her own, which she found at iheartcuppycakes and I had to try them out. I mean, who doesn’t like funfetti? Come on now.

So, if you want to try your hand at them, here’s what you need:

* 1 ¼ cups flour
* 1 ½ tsp baking powder
* ¼ tsp salt
* ¾ cup sugar
* 6 tbsp butter, room temperature
* 1 large egg + 1 egg white, room temperature
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* ½ cup milk
* 2 tbsp rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
3. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer, fitted with flat beater, beat the sugar and butter until well combined, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating on low. Then add vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture.
5. Fold in rainbow sprinkles.Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full.
6. Bake for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.

Now, they were just fantastic. Amazeballs, faboosh, beyond delicious. First of all, the batter was amazing before it was baked (yeah, I licked the spatula after they were in the oven. So what?) They were fluffy and moist and delicious.

Also, yes, I know. My pastry bag skills need some work. Don’t judge. How well would you frost 2 dozen cupcakes at 10am with a toddler underfoot trying to stick her fingers in the cupcakes? That’s what I thought. Besides, they tasted awesome. I should know. I ate 3 of them while watching the Biggest Loser. I know, I know. But, it was all worth it. I mean, look how happy she was!

Posted in Baking, Birthday, Cupcakes, Dessert, Musings, Sweet | 1 Comment »

Happy 2010!

Posted by ironchefmommy on January 2, 2010

Happy New Year (and new decade, for that matter!). It’s been a whirlwind of a week here and I have so much to do, but I did want to share a few things to start the new year in a great (tasting) way!

A little back story on the first dish, well, dessert. As some of you know, my husband has an amazing palate. He can taste such minuscule differences in dishes and is very picky about flavors. I knew that when I wanted to get better at cooking and baking, he would be my biggest supporter – and toughest critic. I knew impressing him would be hard…call it part of the challenge I guess.

Brett’s favorite cake in the whole world is angel food cake. I got the idea back in September when deciding what to do for his birthday. He decided he wanted to go out to a favorite restaurant of ours, Gregory’s, for a yummy dinner and then come home for cake and presents. Brett declared that he wanted angel food cake. I could have just searched online, but my dear friend Marilla from Cupcake Rehab has always posted delicious recipes so I figured I’d ask her first. Sure thing, she got back to me immediately with one. This cake is AMAZEBALLS. It’s light, airy, with that small hint of almond-y taste that the best angel food cakes have. It’s also surprisingly easy to make. It’s become my go-to recipe anytime Brett requests one (which is usually once a month). He was stuck on a roof all day on Wednesday in 45 mph winds and freezing weather so I thought this would be a nice thing for him to come home to. It came out the best it has so far… absolutely delicious!

Ingredients

1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
12 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Note: For those not use to making angel food cakes Don’t get any yoke in the whites, if you do throw out and start over. Separate the egg in a glass first. Then if no yoke pour into measuring container.
DO NOT GREASE PAN.
Heat oven to 375°.
Sift the cake flour and 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar; set aside.
Combine the extracts in a small bowl; set aside.
Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until it forms peaks.
Add the other 3/4 cup of sugar slowly, then beat on high until stiff peaks form.
(If you have a mixing guard for your mixer bowl now would be a good time to attach it.)
Beating on LOW, add flour mixture and extracts slowly.
Make sure you fold in the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl.
Spoon into an angel food cake pan.
Move a knife through batter to remove air pockets.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly with finger. It will feel more dry than sticky.
Invert pan onto a tin funnel to cool completely.
To remove the cake from your pan run a knife around the rim of the cake pan just to get the ‘crust’ away from the pan. Then firmly spank the sides of your pan. You could use a knife but this sometime tears the sides of the cake. Invert onto your serve plate then take the knife to the now top which was the bottom of your pan and gently cut cake away from the pan insert. No need to cut around the center tube as you just give the cake a gently but firm tap or downward shake on to the plate. Or you can pick up plate while holding onto the pan insert with your thumbs and firmly strike the bottom of the plate onto a folded towel. (Just give it a slam down on the towel/table).

*Another Note – use at least the middle rack of the oven, if not one higher. This will prevent the top of the cake (which bakes as the bottom) from becoming too browned.

On we go to New Years Eve… we had planned a night in since Brett was on call until midnight, and we’re not really big New Years people. I made one of our favorites – buffalo chicken dip. Be warned – it’s delicious and you will have NO problem eating the whole plate of it yourself with a bag of Tostitos. It’s nothing fancy, but utterly delicious.
Use a 9 or 10″ pie plate
Preheat oven to 350.
Layer the following in order:
1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 can 12 oz chunk white meat chicken breast (or fresh cooked chicken breasts if you prefer)
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
1/2 cup hot sauce (Red Hot)
Shredded cheddar cheese to cover dish
Bake it for 25 minutes. (I find putting it on the top oven rack for 35 minutes is better. It’s cooked all the way through to the middle)

Hope you enjoy these recipes! I have one for the double chocolate chocolate chip cookies I baked for New Years that came out amazing as well. Stay tuned!

Posted in Appetizer, Baking, Cheese, Chicken, Cooking, Dessert, Holiday | 6 Comments »