Monday, March 29, 2010

Oats-Cranberry-Pecans Cookies

Things are getting a bit boring around here, no? I'm puzzled why I don't make more than a simple bar or cookie these days. Well for one, I have been feeling under the weather these past two weeks. Also, it gets really hot in the kitchen because of the summer heat.

But what are you gonna do with all the ingredients in the pantry that need to be used asap? Make cookies! So oatmeal cookies are the order of the day.

I noticed that kids these days are not too fond of raisins. Why? I love them in anything...cereals, cookies, arroz a la cubana. Well my mom hated them too and so did my brothers. I guess I'm just different.

I used my go-to oatmeal raisin cookie recipe and just replaced the lowly raisins in the recipe with dried cranberries. They made the cookies a bit more sophisticated IMHO. The color of dried cranberries is great and the taste lends a mild tartness to the cookies. I also replaced the walnuts with toasted pecans. It offers a pleasant crunch to these chewy cookies. Try it for a change.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tour de France jersey cake

I recently did a 30th birthday cake for a gentleman who loves cycling. His loving wife ordered it as a surprise. I decided to make a cake shaped like a cycling jersey in yellow.

She sent me a picture of the Tour de France logo. She wanted me to copy the logo onto the jersey but instead replace 'France' with his name. Cool idea.

I saw a similar cake with the inscription that says, "It's all downhill from here" so I put that too.

He was totally pleased so I guess it's well worth the effort.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Slightly Used Pastry Gadgets: To Sell or Not To Sell Online

I've been making sugar art for 16 years. Over time, I was able to accumulate a ton of pans, tools and gadgets. Some used very often, others once or twice.

Recently, my family underwent a major household overhaul; vowing to unload a lot of our stuff rarely used or those that have seen their prime. It's been discovered that of all 9 of us, I have the most amount of stuff housed in our storage.

So my dilemma now is whether to let go of about 50% of my stuff or hold on to them. What to do, what to do? A part of me wants to hold on to them for sentimental reasons. Most of these tools in question were bought with my hard-earned money. Others were gifts from my dearly departed Mom.

The other part of me wants to just deal with it and throw them all out. For the life of me I can't think of anyone I know who'd appreciate getting these second-hand items. A thought came to me to sell them on eBay. Great idea! Just that I don't know the first thing to do about selling secondhand items online. Getting a paypal account's hard enough!

Do you think that is a good idea? Any tips will certainly help this clueless soul.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache Topping

Don't you ever get one of those days when only deep dark chocolate will do? When you try every bit of remedy like eating sweets all day but the craving just won't go away?

I was recently hit with one of those cravings so I made a half batch of moist chocolate cupcakes which I decided to top with dark chocolate ganache. I wanted to sink my teeth into this cupcake even before I got the chance to photograph it. I was almost tempted to forego the gumpaste flower decor so I could indulge right away. Well good thing I was able to restrain myself.

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups refined sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup very cold water

Preheat oven to 350F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Stir in cocoa powder and coffee into cold water. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar at medium speed for 10 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time.
Add vanilla extract.
Add flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture.
Divide batter into paper-lined muffin tins.
Bake at 350F for 18 to 20 minutes.
Cool completely before frosting.

Makes about 20 3-oz. cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

For the ganache topping, simply heat 1/2 cup cream to simmering then pour over 2 cups chopped dark chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. You can use it warm to top your cupcake or let it cool before whipping to use as a frosting. Your choice.