Thursday, January 27, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza

Discalimer: I've never been to Chicago. That being said, the deep dish pizza that I made from the America's Test Kitchen Recipe Magazine (published sometime before Christmas and still on shelves) has got to be the best pizza ever. Homemade sauce, fresh mozzarella, and homemade dough with cornmeal- yum! I did change the recipe a bit on accident, but they did a pretty amazing job on this one. I'll be trying the so called Maryland crab cakes tonight to verify that they really know their stuff, but for now- check out this pizza!

Deep Dish Pizza (from America's Test Kitchen)

1 5/8c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4c yellow cornmeal
3/4t salt
1/4t sugar
1 1/8t instant or rapid-rise yeast
5/8c water, room temperature
1 1/2T butter, melted + 2 tablespoons, softened

2T butter
1/4c grated onion
1/4t oregano
1/2t salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15oz) can crushed tomatoes
2t sugar

ground black pepper
1/2lb fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4c grated Parmesan cheese

Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add water and melted butter and mix on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Using oiled spatula, transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.

While dough rises, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high, and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn off heat and season with salt and pepper.

Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 425F. Using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto dry work surface and roll into a rec-tangle. Using offset spatula, spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving 1/2-inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into another rectangle. Fold into thirds like business letter, pinch seams together to form ball. Return ball to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.

Coat 9-inch round cake pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into 13-inch disk about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pan. Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax 5 minutes before trying again. Sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over surface of dough. Spread tomato sauce over cheese and sprinkle Parmesan over sauce. Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


Better than Reeses: Peanut Butter- Filled Chocolate Macarons

It's National Chocolate Day! Nothing like a holiday recognizing the best dessert flavor ever. I recently made some chocolate macarons filled with peanut better butercream and they were delish! I thought I'd share them with you for this prestidgious occasion:

Sorry to not have been blogging much lately, I've been doing some recipe trials and they have not been going well (think lots of cupcakes in the trash and some hefty walks to the dumpster). Namely, I was super disappointed with a recipe for Sprinkles' peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes that Candice Nelson supposedly shared on a talk show. I made it according to her specifications (even went an bought natural peanut butter cause apparently it's better) and they were nothing like the beauties in the store. I guess she held something back to keep her trade secrets, well, a secret. I also have tried about 5 red velvet recipes in an attempt to achieve the consistency of a cupcake I've had recently and have not hit paydirt yet. I'll be sure to let you know when I achieve success!

Don't forget to snag yourself a chocolate today!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

OMG Amazing Cupcakes!

Ok so this post is actually all about the original: cake. Several of my friends have been getting engaged (congrats Kristine and Loi!!) and will be getting married soon that I decided to do some outrageous and amazing cakes. Here are just a few that have caught my eye:
First, this cake stack is pure insanity, or is it genius? I think I will start a collection of cakes in my freezer to recreate this beauty by Strawberry Shortcake:

This cake had to be a major undertaking with all those meringue mushrooms. What a woodlands wonderland by Rebecca Thuss:

Who says only the outside of a cake has to be pretty? Check out this rainbow masterpiece by One Charming Party:


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Butter Bars

I'm back into my 'to try' recipe pile and digging out any of the non-cupcake recipes that were neglected last month due to the 12 Days of Cupcakes. I found these Salted Caramel Butter Bars that looked relatively easy and delicious. I decided to add chocolate chips to one of the pans (I made two 8x8 pans instead of one 13x9 pan) and I think I'm in love with these chocolate chip salted caramel butter bars. I also found that I only used about 2/3 of the dough so the recipe has been altered accordingly. Here are my pics:

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Butter Bars (adapted from Cookies and Cups recipe):

2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2/3c sugar
1c powdered sugar
1T vanilla
2 2/3c flour

4 (5.5oz) bags of Werther's chewy caramels, unwrapped
1/2c milk
1t vanilla
1T Kosher salt
1/4c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat to 325F. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add vanilla and beat until combined. Sift in flour and beat on low speed until a smooth soft dough forms. Press 1/2 of the dough into a greased 13"x9" (or two 8"x8" pans) to form the crust. Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes. Chill other half of dough in refrigerator.

In a microwave safe bowl, add the milk to the caramels. Heat at 30sec intervals, stirring in between, until caramels are completely melted. Pour the caramel over crust. Sprinkle Kosher salt on top of the caramel before in cools.

Remove the remaining dough from the refrigerator and crumble on top of the caramel. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top as well. Bake until the filling is bubbly and topping is firm, about 15 minutes. Cool before cutting.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lemon Explosion Cupcakes

Lemon lovers unite! These are the lemony-ist cupcakes I have ever experienced. If you're a tart die-hard you will beyond love these. If you like lemon but you're not ready to marry it, I'd recommend doing a plain cream cheese icing instead of the lemon cream cheese icing. The cake is more of a pound cake/sponge cake situation. I've noticed that adding lemon juice lends to a stiffer cake than regular white cake. The lemon custard is amazingly delicious. I had tons of egg yolks leftover from a macaron extravaganza so this was the perfect follow-up recipe. Here are my pics:

Lemon Explosion Cupcakes (recipe from Homemade by Holman)

1 1/2c flour
1t baking powder
1/2t salt
1/4c butter, softened
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1c sugar
3 lg eggs
1/4c + 2T lemon juice
1/2c buttermilk
Zest of 1 lemon

Lemon Custard:
10 egg yolks
zest of 2 lemons
3/4c lemon juice
1 1/4c sugar
10T butter, cold, cut into Tablespoons

1/4c butter, softened
4oz cream cheese, softened
1T lemon juice
1t lemon zest
powdered sugar

Preheat to 325F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and lemon zest until fragrant. Add the butter and cream cheese. beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add lemon juice, beating until just incorporated. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely.

Combine all ingredients except the butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, whisking constantly for 8-10 minutes until custard has thickened. Remove from heat and add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until fully incorporated. Strain through fine mesh strainer and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour, covered.

Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add lemon juice and zest, mix thoroughly. Add powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.

Enjoy this little taste of summer at the start of the new year!

Friday, January 7, 2011

French Macarons!

The buzz around the Internet has been all about macarons lately, specifically how annoyingly difficult they are to make. So, naturally, I had to try them and I figured NYE would be the perfect opportunity. I settled on chocolate and decided to use the recipe from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine because it was the only one I could find that listed ingredients in volume rather than mass. Well, this is Clear Lake and gourmet isn't exactly the type of grocery stores we have, so I had to make my own almond flour, in my blender no less (a food processor is one of the very few kitchen appliances I do not own). Luckily, I had done some research prior to baking day so I already had my egg whites aging, and once the almond flour was prepared, I was ready to go. The tricks of the trade, according to the famed Tartlette's Macaron Guide are to 1)age the egg whites at least 24 hours, 2)do not over fold your meringue! 3) let the batter sit on the baking sheet for an hour before baking. Here are my little cookies:

Chocolate French Macarons (base recipe from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine)

2c almond flour
2 1/4c powdered sugar
2T sugar
5 egg whites at room temperature for at least 24 hours (I place mine in a cup and covered the top with a paper towel and sealed it with a rubber band and left it on my kitchen counter overnight)
2T cocoa
1t espresso powder

Preheat to 200F. In medium bowl, combine powdered sugar and almond flour. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form (you should be able to hold the bowl upside down and have the egg whites not move). Sift 1/3 of the almond mixture into the egg whites. Add flavoring now (I chose cocoa and espresso powder but you can add any flavoring, preferably in a dry form). Fold to combine. Sift in another 1/3 of the almond mixture. Fold until just combined. Sift in the last 1/3 of the almond mixture. Fold until just combined. Try not to over fold, 50 strokes should be enough. Put batter into a pastry bag with a plain tip or just a bag with the end snipped off at 1/2 inch. Pipe 1 inch mounds of batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Allow the batter to dry for 1 hour on the baking sheet. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 375F. Bake for an additional 7 minutes. Cool completely.

I used a cream cheese frosting filling because I had some leftover, but I think these would be delicious with a chocolate ganache as well.

Now that I've mastered the finicky macaron, time to experiment with flavors! Oh and go to France to try macarons from the master, Ladurée!

Cute Baby!

Check out this adorable baby with her Christmas present- puff blanket!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cupcakery Review: Somethin Sweet Cupcakes (in Honey Bee Ham and Deli)

Awhile back my friend Leslie told me about a friend of hers that was quitting her job and going into cupcakes full time (ahem, dream job!) and that I should check out her goodies. I have finally made it over to Somethin Sweet (located inside Honey Bee Ham and Deli) in Deer Park, TX. I must say, after the Kemah Cupcakery letdown I didn't have high expectations. However, this place totally blew me away! Her cupcakes are flavorful, have a great texture, and are outta control moist! I tried the red velvet (which was my fave), caramel apple (a verrrry close second), the chocolate chip cheesecake, and lemon. They were all great. My one comment would be that the cake of the chocolate chip cheesecake didn't have any cheesecake flavoring in it, but the cream cheese icing definitely made up for it. This place gets an A! I can't wait to see what flavors she comes up with next (she said she wanted to start experimenting with flavors soon). Here are some pictures:

Find out more on their website or head on over to 3310 Center ST, Deer Park, TX 77536 to get yourself a taste!

NYE 2010!!!

Another year has passed, oh my! I love NYE because I always love an excuse to dress up and drink champagne. This year I went to a friend's house and took part in the usual debauchery. tons of food (I made French macarons, more to come on that), tons of booze, and tons of friends (and 3 pregnant ladies too!). Here are a sampling of photos from the night:

Happy 2011!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Last of My Winter Break

And to sum up my winter vacation, here are the last of the pictures I took (note still no people in these pictures, apparently our family is incapable of taking pictures of each other):
The Washington Monument, I braved taking my hands out of my mittens for this one, enjoy:

My sea bass at Poste Moderne Brasserie:

Gracie (my parents' dog) giving me the sad eyes as I leave:

Baloo disenchanted with my return (check out the sticking out tongue, stinker):

Goodbye vacation, hello work...

Cupcakery Review: Red Velvet Cupcakery in D.C.

In addition to enjoying the American History Museum, I convinced our family to head on over to the Red Velvet Cupcakery and give their goodies a try (what is any trip without cupcakes??). Their shop on 7th street was super tiny but there was seating available at the juice shop (I think) next door. We were taking ours to go anyway after a huge delicious lunch at the Poste Moderne Brasserie. I eventually tried the red velvet, carrot cake, morning call, and gingerbread cupcakes. I also had a bite of my mom's key west cupcake. I liked the red velvet cupcake, but there was tons of frosting, delicious frosting, but a bit too much of it. The carrot cake, morning call, and gingerbread cupcakes were pretty good but nothing to get in a rage about. I have to say that the key west cupcake was a little weak on lime flavor, and key lime is a very strong flavor so they should have no problem bringing it out in a cupcake. Over all I'd have to rate this cupcakery a B, pretty much everything was good, but nothing was spectacular. Here are some pics:

I miss DC! So many cupcakeries, so little time!