Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kahlua Coffee Ice Cream!

Hello my lovely readers!

I know this post is long overdue. So what I have I been up to this year?

Well to start off I've left the foggy city of San Francisco and moved to a much sunnier city that is very much closer home. I packed up my bags a little while ago and with the help of my awesome family, I was able to transport everything down all the way to San Diego!

I don't know why it took me so long to figure out that San Diego was a great fit for me personally speaking, and I already feel right at home. Although it does help that the beach is just a couple blocks away. I am truly living the dream. Sometimes I forget how blessed and lucky I am. For the first time in my life I get a brand new kitchen to play and host parties in (well not parties but lets just say host great dinners with close friends). Huzzah I say!


Lets fast forward to last week where I watched a video on how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker. I was fascinated, seriously I never knew such a method existed! My only fear was that something this easy couldn't taste like real ice cream...right? Oh prove me wrong Nigella. Prove me wrong.

No Churn- Kahlua Coffee Ice Cream (yields 3-4 servings)
Recipe from Nigella Lawson

1 1/4 cup of Heaving Whipping Cream
2/3 cup of sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons of Instant Espresso Powder
2 Tablespoons of Kahlua

Directions: Using your stand mixer and the whisk attachment, combine all of the ingredients until you get a delicious and light soft peak. Do not over beat. Then freeze the mixture in a freezer safe container for at least six hours or overnight.

The combinations here are endless but you need the alcohol (no substitutes).

Pros: This recipe is super easy and fast. Also it only requires just a few ingredients. I mean what could be better? Nigella says that this recipe is "embarrassingly easy". But the true test of all, does it taste like real ice cream? Absolutely yes, a bit more creamier but still delicious enough to fill anybody's craving.

Cons: Waiting 6 hours. I know I'm not the most patient person when it comes to waiting for dessert or food for that matter. I also apologize for what I say when I'm hungry. I can't help it that I'm always hungry. But as a matter of fact, I waited overnight for this ice cream. Will power my friends. If I can wait so can you.

And was it worth it? Heck yes. I would have had more than 3 scoops but I don't want to stay up too late, yup I'm getting soft in my old age.


Looks so real doesn't it? Haha

Thank you Nigella, you truly are an amazing & beautiful chef!

Enjoy the weekend my lovelies!

All the best,

T

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies...Ever!

Now that I got your attention, I first must apologize in the absence or non-existence of my blogging. Whenever I bake, I tend to always make a mental note to come here and share with you some amazing recipe but that was several weeks ago and well now... its November! Better late than never, am I right?

You know how impatient people can be when waiting for freshly baked Chocolate Chip Cookies to cool? Namely my sister. But for me the problem lies when most of the recipes out there involve "softened room temperature butter". I mean who has time to wait for that? Especially since the climate here in foggy, San Francisco is chilly and so, waiting for the butter to soften up can drive me a little mad. And don't get me started on cookie dough that needs to chill for a day. I was born to be an impatient little baker.

Now what you're probably thinking is that I'm going to use melted butter, but that's not fun and way to overdone. This recipe calls for melted, brown butter! Oh my freaking god, this is so good and it will make your apartment/house smell so nutty and delicious. I have also used this recipe numerous times, because it serves as a great base cookie. I've added Snickers, English Toffee, Reese's Pieces, Chocolate Chunks with Walnuts, Holiday M&M's and they turn out just as amazing as the originals. Please give it a try and let me know what you think.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Toffee Pieces)

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated + BethT + Eat, Live, Run

Yields 15 Large Cookies (I'm talking about the size of my hand!)

Ingredients:
  • 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14 tbsp unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar (recipe suggests dark brown, but light brown is also acceptable)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 c chocolate chips
  • 1/2 a box of Trader Joe's English Toffee (crushed)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 and line two large baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Sift or whisk together the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using a food processor crush half the box of toffee pieces til a coarse grain appears (You can also make this with chunkier pieces of toffee, it is really up to you) and set aside. 
Put 10 tbsp of the butter in a medium skillet set over medium high heat. Allow the butter to melt for 2 minutes and begin to swirl it around the pan, allowing it to brown. Keep the butter moving so it doesn’t burn. Browning should take about 3 minutes and you’ll know it’s done when it smells nutty and it has a dark golden brown color. Remove the pan from the heat and use a heatsafe spatula to transfer the butter to a large, heatsafe mixing bowl. Add the remaining 4 tbsp of cold butter to the melted butter, and stir gently until it is melted.
Add the white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt to the butter and whisk the ingredients together. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk again until mixture is smooth, 30 seconds. Allow the batter to rest for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds more. Do this two more times; the end result should be thick and shiny.
Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined, about 1 minute. Gently stir in chocolate chips and toffee pieces, if using. 
Form each cookie with a regular sized ice cream scoop, roll and pat down on your silicone mat or baking sheet, spread them about 2 inches apart (for a half sheet pan, I made 5 very large cookies). Baking time will vary for obvious reasons, but for large cookies, bake for 13-15 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, if possible.








I will be posting more asap, before my favorite holiday Thanksgiving arrives! Have a lovely week everyone!

Best,
T

Friday, July 19, 2013

Banana Bread Brownies with Browned Butter Frosting!

Happy Friday everyone!

To celebrate the best day of the week, I'm going to make all of you banana lovers so happy! Trust me on this.

I know its been a while since I've blogged, but I really have a good excuse this time. Ready?

Ok. So 3 weeks ago I drove back home to LA, and it really was such a long, exhausting drive! Marin to Stockton took about 3 hours, plus the horrendous heat wave didn't help one bit. I finally got home at 12:01 am, parked my car and just as I was emerging out of my car my right hand, specifically my right thumb got slammed in the driver door. It was only 12:03am. Damn, 2 minutes into my awesome, much needed vacation. Unfortunately, the pain got worse. About half of my hand was swollen. Oh super! Now it wouldn't have been so bad, but I practically use my right hand exclusively. So learning how to do things with my left hand was frustrating, I mean do you know how hard it is to put on a bra with one hand? Or let alone use chopsticks? Anyway to conclude, I'm finally getting back to normal. Although my thumb looks really disgusting. Just thought I'd share.

Thanks for reading, if you did.

So, last week my office mate Brenda, shared a wonderful recipe she found on facebook. I couldn't help but feel inspired! I decided to make and share them with my co-workers, I really don't know how fast the brownies disappeared (I slightly feared that nobody would like them, but I guess that's my perfectionist syndrome kicking in) but I did get many e-mail compliments and personal thank you's! And yes on the corny side, it really does make me happy when people enjoy what I bake, that is really why I do it all.

Banana Bread Brownies with Browned Butter Frosting

Ingredients


Banana Bread Bars:

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup sour cream, room temperature (you can also substitute with buttermilk)
½ cup of unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Browned Butter Frosting:
½ cup unsalted butter
1-2 cups powdered sugar (sift to get a smooth frosting)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons milk or half and half

Instructions

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 10x15 jelly roll pan or line with parchment paper (for thicker bars use a 9x13 pan). Beat first four ingredients until creamy. Blend in bananas and vanilla for one minute. Add dry ingredients and blend for one minute. Stir in nuts and spread in pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown (For a 9x13 pan, 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean--- I used this pan and it comes out thick and cake like) Cool slighty until warm but not hot and frost with Browned Butter Frosting (recipe below).
For the Browned Butter Frosting: Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat past the melting point until it is boiling and a delicate brown. Remove from the heat and immediately add the remaining ingredients. This should be thicker than a glaze and thinner than frosting. Using a spatula smooth over the top of the brownies immediately. The frosting will be easier to spread once it's on the warm bread.

Source:

The Girl Who Ate Everything


Also, here's a great tip. If you need ripe bananas, because I never seem to have any on hand you can use this trick to get a ripe banana perfect for baking! Remember that the banana is the main ingredient in bread and in these delicious brownies, so a ripe banana and a unripe banana can make quite a difference.

To make this simple, preheat your oven to 300 Degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out your bananas on a shallow baking pan. Make sure your bananas are not green, you need to have somewhat yellow bananas for this to work (this trick saves you about a few days in the ripening process). It took me about 20-30 minutes in the oven to get my bananas to ripen. The time varies. And they will come out of the oven looking freakishly black. Don't worry, this means you did it right. For more specific instructions with pictures, please check out this blog! Thanks to Jessica, from clean, green, and simple!

Banana Bread Brownie with Browned Butter Frosting Review:

Pros: This is such an easy recipe, anyone can do it! My sister could, if she wanted to : ). It is super moist and the reduction of sugar in the frosting makes it pure deliciousness! You can eat this as a dessert or for the daredevils at breakfast with coffee or tea. It tastes great warm or cold. And you don't need too many special ingredients, if you have bananas use the tip I listed above. And seriously, banana bread and brownies combined to one fabulous dessert = pure magic!

Cons: ..... If I must put something down here, walnuts. I've never been a fan, but its optional. But as a baker enthusiast, people seem to like the crunch of the walnuts with the soft, pillowy brownie.

Now go ahead, happy baking and let the compliments start rolling in! ; )

Have a wonderful weekend!

All the best,

T





Monday, June 24, 2013

Alcoholic Cupcakes!

"That was the best cupcake I've ever had"--- a comment left by Jason (it was his birthday and I didn't even know, what luck was that I had brought cupcakes!) More likely it was the alcohol talking, but I'll take that compliment any day of the week! : )

About a week ago, my brother wanted me to bake some cupcakes with a taste of alcohol. I was super excited, experimenting with cake and alcohol is pretty fun. I had many ideas from Champagne Cupcakes, to Blue Moon Cupcakes, the classic Mojito Cupcake, a White Russian and of course I couldn't forget the Irish Car Bomb. Oh the ideas were bursting at the seam. After endless hours of researching and planning, I found 2 classic Alcoholic Cupcake Recipes that fit the bill.

I went shopping and bought some Rum and how could I forget some lovely Kahlua? Also I still get a kick out of buying alcohol and getting those "You're how old" from someone who is really younger than me. Anyway, I decided to do a pairing of Red Velvet and Rum Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate-Espresso-Kahlua Cupcakes with Kahlua Cream Cheese Frosting!

Now onto the Recipes...

Cupcake #1

Red Velvet Cupcakes by The Art of Dessert
makes about 30 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature*
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
1 ounce red food coloring (liquid or gel)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract*
3 1/4 cups flour
3 Tbs. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans or line three muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Combine yogurt, red food coloring and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl. Alternate adding the yogurt mixture and flour mixture into the large bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans or lined muffin pans. Bake for 16-18 minutes for regular sized cupcakes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.


Rum Cream Cheese Frosting 

16 oz. (two 8 oz. bars) cream cheese, cold
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups of sifted powdered sugar*
2 tsp of Rum, more depending on your preference


With the mixer on a low speed, beat the cream cheese and butter till blended. Mix in vanilla and rum. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time. Once all the powdered sugar is added, increase to a higher speed to whip up the frosting till light and fluffy.

*I never liked using so much powdered sugar, I usually just sift about 3-5 cups of sugar and add about 1/2 a cup of sugar in slowly. And of course tasting along the way, because some may like it really sweet and others like my family members love the not so sweet, but tanginess of the cream cheese to come out. So find what suits you best and go for it! --- T


My Comments: This is a beautiful, vibrant red cupcake, using vanilla yogurt was new for me but the cupcake turned out really tender and delicious. I love that you can you also use sour cream or maybe try other alternatives in terms of yogurt, how about greek? Oh the possibilities! The rum wasn't that prominent in the frosting, I would suggest that you poke holes in the cooled cupcakes and maybe try drizzling some more Rum!


Cupcake #2

Chocolate Espresso Cupcake with Kahlua Cream Cheese Frosting, by Art of Dessert
Makes about 24-26 normal sized cupcakes

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup whole milk with 1 Tbs. lemon juice*
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled*
2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 muffin pans with cupcake liners. Beat together butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs one at a time. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the buttermilk and coffee together. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture. Lastly, mix in the vanilla extract. Pour into the prepared pans. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean. Let cool for at least 10 minutes then poke holes on top of each cupcake. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of Kahlua over each cupcake.

*If you don't know this already, combining milk and lemon juice or white distilled vinegar is a great substitute if you do not have buttermilk on hand. Its so much cheaper too since I don't use buttermilk ever besides baking! But I think everybody has either lemon or vinegar on hand. If you do decide to do this option, combine the milk and lemon juice/vinegar in a cup and wait a few minutes! Its magic : )

*For the coffee, it can be really up to you. Since I don't drink coffee, I used the Pike's Roast from Starbucks.



Kahlua Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. bar cream cheese, cold
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbs. Kahlua coffee liqueur*
3 cups powdered sugar*
topping:
1/2 to 3/4 cup Kahlua coffee liqeuer*
1 cup chocolate covered espresso beans (optional---this is found at Trader Joe's!)

With the mixer on a low speed, beat the cream cheese and butter till blended. Mix in vanilla and Kahlua. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time. Once all the powdered sugar is added, increase to a higher speed to whip up the frosting till light and fluffy. Transfer frosting into a piping bag.

*Again the amount of Kahlua is up to your liking, and the same goes with the powdered sugar.



My Comments: Super delicious and moist, doesn't come out as pretty in the oven so don't overfill your cupcakes! You really can't go wrong with the chocolate and coffee combo since its a elite pairing of food items like PB & J. If you wait for your cupcakes to cool, and I mean really wait...the drizzling of the Kahlua is what makes this cake so moist and yummy! Just don't drown the poor cupcake with Kahlua, you alcoholics! And the frosting is tangy and quite a pairing with the cupcake. Enjoy it my friends, this is a really good one for adults! : )

If you decide to make this at home, let me know how it goes! I'll be back soon updating you with more great recipe finds. Thanks to Art of Dessert for sharing, please check out her blog because it is really fabulous!


Happy Summer everyone! Thank goodness its Tuesday tomorrow....


All the best,

T

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Los Angeles > Concord > San Francisco


Hello my lovely readers!

If you've been wondering where I've been well this post should explain it all...hopefully.

A few months ago, I packed up my things and headed across the Bay Bridge and found myself living in a beautiful, yet foggy, and sometimes very chilly city, called San Francisco (it really does get that cold, or maybe I'm just a LA girl at heart).

Don't worry it doesn't mean I stopped baking or scheming of wonderful other delicious desserts to make. In fact, that is why I am back here blogging, because I want to continue to share great recipes, review recipes, suggest tips or inspire those closet bakers who really love baking just as much as I do.

So to continue my story, I traded my school books, pens, paper (yes I still prefer writing by hand) for a job opportunity that was given to me ironically 2 days after my 24th birthday. The only problem with this job was that it was in Marin County. And for those who don't how crazy that kind of commute was, I took an average of 5 freeways everyday plus a bridge. It might not seem that daunting to the naked eye, but I guess you'll never know til you've endured a hell of commute such as myself. But now my poor car who never gets a wash unless it rains, is thanking me. I now drive about 200 miles a week in no traffic compared to 500 miles a week with traffic. Now that just almost makes up for my cost of rent which has practically doubled.

My roommate? My sister and best friend. We haven't lived together since I want to say high school? And now we're all grownup. Still with the occasional arguments, but what relationship doesn't? The amazing thing here is that I get the kitchen practically all to myself! Okay, not literally but its pretty damn close.

I am also psyched because my parents brought up my mixer a few weeks ago and I've been on a baking frenzy ever since. Ask my office mate Brenda, I think I've been feeding her way too much. I feel so guilty...most of the time. I really need to start making friends HERE so I can start feeding them since I never really eat anything I make myself. Anyone out there have any suggestions?

I still have so much to share but I won't bore you all in one post. But what I will share is a lovely, super delicious Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookie recipe.

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies, yields 2-3 dozen

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt 3⁄4 cup butter, melted (11⁄2 sticks)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1⁄2 cup lavender white sugar (You can substitute this with just white granulated sugar, my brother bought me some fancy sugar so of course I couldn't resist adding this into the mix)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg at room temperature
1 egg yolk at room temperature
1 1⁄2 cups old-fashioned oats - no quick oats
1 heaping cup of dried cranberries or other dried fruit (blueberries would be really nice!)


Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with a silicone mat. This is really the best way to go if you bake cookies, pastries, etc a lot! If you shop around you might be able to get a really good deal. I got a 3 package deal at Costco for about $20 and I've never had to line my pans again.
2. Melt butter and let cool slightly.
3. Mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and lavender sugar until well
blended. Beat in the cinnamon, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy. Mix in the flour mixture until just blended. Add the oats, nuts, and raisins. Mix until just blended.
5. Place 1/4 cup balls of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15-16 minutes and rotate pans halfway. Do not overbake. Let the cookies rest on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Notes

Source: The Girl Who Ate Everything ---Thank you very much for sharing! Please check out her blog below:
http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2010/05/chewy-oatmeal-raisin-cookies.html



Pros: You use melted butter, which means if you're lazy like me and you hate to wait for your butter to come to room temperature (or if you want to make cookies on the fly). It's somewhat healthy because you have some oatmeal and delicious fruit inside, am I right? : ) Also, you can use a mixer or make these cookies by hand! And these cookies are easy to form with your hands without getting sticky cookie batter hands all over. Can I say breakfast cookie anyone?

Cons: Honestly if you tend to make them too big (like I do) it will spend a bit a more bonding time with your oven and I have no patience for that by no means. Also if you don't make these cookies right away, the dough tends to dry out just a bit.


Alrightie, time to get back to cleaning/working/paying bills/attempting to exercise/making dinner/laundry-ing and all before the last of my weekend is over. Oh being grown up and working sounds much more fun than it really is.

Have a great week everyone & Happy June!

All the best,

T