Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Red Velvet NOT Cupcakes

In addition to white chocolate, my boys are IN LOVE with red velvet. I... don’t understand what the obsession is all about but I’m happy to oblige haha So cupcakes with frosting aren’t exactly the ideal dessert of choice when making the 6 hour drive down to LA... I don’t want to be worrying about the state of my cupcakes the entire ride because well... then I’m not concentrating on the road haha I decided to make these red velvet cheesecake bars instead... sorta like a compressed cupcake. They’re easy to make, easy to transport, and taste just as good :)

For the cake:
-1 box Betty Crockers Devil’s Food cake mix
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 egg
-2 tbsp red food coloring

For the cream cheese layer
-16 oz (2 boxes) cream cheese
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together the cake mix, butter, egg, and food coloring
Spread the mixture into a 9x13 greased glass pan... set aside

Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth
Add eggs and vanilla
Spread the mixture on top of the cake

Bake at 350 for 40-45 min until edges pull away from the pan
Cool COMPLETELY before attempting to cut it

*you can store these in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks so its okay that the recipe makes such a huge amount haha

White Chocolate... Again

I’m going to see my socal friends this weekend which means there’s a need to make something with white chocolate... those boys haha I ran out of macadamia nuts and I didn’t have time to run to the store this week so I settled on making these white chocolate chip cookies. Again, hating things that are too sweet, I purposely made the batter less sweet knowing I was going to be using white chocolate which is uber sweet. We’ll see if them boys like these in replacement to their usual white chocolate macadamia nut cookies lol

recipe adapted from allrecipes... I halved the recipe which makes about 30

-1/2 cup butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 cup flour
-1/3 cup cocoa powder
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-3/4 cup white chocolate chips or chunks

sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt), set aside
cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
add egg and vanilla
add the dry ingredients a couple spoonfuls at a time
fold in the white chocolate
refrigerate the cookie dough for at least an hour before using it
drop by spoonfuls (or use a melon baller) onto baking sheets
bake at 350 for 8-10 min
let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about 2 min (finish baking)  before transferring them to cooling racks

Monday, April 25, 2011

Asian Dessert Time

Pies weren’t really part of my childhood... pies only became popular in my family when I started making them for the holidays. Growing up, I was surrounded by Asian desserts like tongyuan (glutinous rice balls filled with black seasame, peanut, or red bean), mochi, egg tarts, custard buns, etc. My mom is a huge fan of mochi so she started learning how to make her own. This recipe is by far my favorite and was a huge hit with my friends in college. If you don’t like coconut, you can make the recipe without it... my friends who don’t like coconut claim its just as good but I beg to differ haha Try it and let me know what you think!

Coconut Sweet Rice Cake (Coconut Mochi)

1/3 cup butter
3 cups sugar
3 cups milk
3 eggs
1 lb sweet rice flour (you can buy it at Chinese supermarkets)
coconut flakes

-melt butter
-add sugar and eggs, mix well
-add milk and flour, mix until there are no more clumps
-add coconut (however much you want)
-pour into a 9 x 13 inch pan
-bake at 350 for an hour or until golden brown on top

-try to use a glass pan, it comes out better
-this recipe makes a lot so if you’re not going to a party or going to see a lot of friends within the week, make half the recipe because the mochi tends to harden in about 5 days and it gets nasty

Easy as Pie

Pie really isn't all that easy.  It's more an art than a science.  My perception could be skewed, because all of my favorite pie recipes are old family secrets, with all the details hazed over in repetition.  I remember going to visit my grandmother in Michigan and sitting on a stool next to the kitchen, watching her bake pies.  They're big on pies in Michigan. 

She didn't use any sort of measuring devices; it was all soup spoons, pinches and dashes.  Because she was used to being the best pie-maker in the family, she held some of the secrets closely.  She'd point across the room and go "Look over there!"  When I turned back around, I'd find her putting down the cinnamon or hastily shoving some honey behind a spice rack. 

She also left little land-mines in her recipes.  For instance, I learned only after great disappointment that when she said "tablespoon" she actually meant, "huge serving spoon for casseroles."  There are many recipes that say "cook until done."  Due to my penchant for cooking until half-done, that was a wonderfully helpful suggestion.

Now that I've spent the better part of 20 years parsing through her recipes (the first 8 or so, I just ate food...I didn't care about the recipes) I've gotten the hang of most of them.  I know when she really means to cook for less time and how much a "gob" is. 

For all that, Grandma had some pretty simple recipes.  Pie ought to be that way--it's a showcase for the filling.  My absolute favorite spring pie is rhubarb.  No strawberry.  I hate strawberries in pie...especially when they muck up a perfectly good rhubarb.

Pie crust (per crust...double up if you have a top and bottom crust):
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp shortening (yeah, I use shortening...people also rave about my pie crust, so deal with it)
3-4 tbsp ice water (to the final ball-consistency)

Slice a bunch of rhubarb...enough to fill your pie shell, probably a couple of cups or about 6-8 stalks.
3/4 cup of sugar
drizzle of honey
You might want to add thickening of some sort.  A couple tablespoons of flour will do, or a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with ice water.  

Mix the filling all up and dump it into the bottom pie crust.  Drape the top crust over it and cut vent holes.  Brush the crust with some more honey.  Bake at 375 for an hour. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Totoro Cookies

When I saw my sister over spring break, she showed me her newly painted totoro nails and I thought it was the cutest thing ever.

f you don’t know who Totoro is, he’s this furry cartoon character from a Studio Ghibli (Japanese) movie called well... My Neighbor Totoro haha So I got this idea to make totoro cookies since my nail painting skills are terrible. The base is a simple sugar cookie recipe but making the colors for the icing and painting the cookies was the hard part. Luckily, my cousin was here visiting this past weekend so I had some help.

Sugar Cookie Recipe adapted from allrecipes... I basically just halved the recipe since I thought 60 would be way too many

-3/4 cup (6 tbsp) butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-2.5 cups flour
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside
Cream together the butter and sugar
Add eggs and vanilla extract
Slowly add in the dry mixture, mix well
Refrigerate dough for at least an hour or overnight (I recommend overnight to its easier to roll out later)

When the dough is ready to use, roll it out to between ½ and ¼ inch thick. Now came the hard part of trying to cut it to look like Totoro since I don’t think they make cookie cutters shaped like Japanese cartoon characters haha Good thing my cousin is a pretty good artist so she was the one that did the cutting/shaping.

Once the cookies are cut, bake at 400 for about 8 min
Cool the cookies completely before icing them

Icing recipe also adapted from allrecipes... I doubled the recipe to make sure I had enough

-2 cups powdered sugar
-2 tbsp milk
-1 tbsp light corn syrup
-1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix all the ingredients together until you have the desired consistency.... if its too thick, add more milk and if its too thin, add more powdered sugar.

To make Totoro, you need 3 colors, white, black, and grey/light blue. White you already have, black food coloring you can buy at the store so the only color you actually have to make is the grey/light blue. There’s no exact recipe when making a color... its usually trial and error, this time, I used one drop of black and 2 drops of blue and it came out perfectly.

I used small spatulas to paint the larger parts... white for the body and grey/light blue for the head. For the eyes and black lines on the stomach, I put the icing into ziploc bags and cut a whole at the corner (ghetto piping haha) but it works! 

These cookies were definitely a lot of work... not sure if I’ll be making them again anytime soon haha