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Homemade Mallobars. (East Coast… Can Ya’ll Really Feel Me?)

1 Jul

*Today’s post is going to be focused on the dessert and will contain little to no complaining on my part, just to see what being a primarily baked good-centered blog feels like.*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRhHwHHKBss

So, how do you all feel about Mallomars?

I have no idea if those of you not in the Northeast are privy to the awesome power of the Mallomar. Last I heard, it was an East Coast thang.

I am unsure of my feelings on them.

So unsure that I had to go through several boxes of the seasonal treat this past winter to determine my feelings on them.

So unsure that I attempted to store three boxes away in my freezer so that I could continue to test them during the off-season. (Note: the aforementioned boxes have since mysteriously disappeared)

So unsure that when I realized my reserve boxes had gone missing (Ed note: contents of box were later determined to have been consumed by one James Hilger. Mr. Hilger resides with the author, and will pay dearly for his mistake) I furiously hunted down a homemade recipe for the treat, and vowed to make them as a summertime treat. In your sugar-coated face, archaic Nabisco rules!

If you want the truth, I actually respect Nabisco for attempting to limit my intake of this marshmallowy, chocolate-covered delight on a graham cracker platform. It’s a pretty good marketing strategy, considering the number of salivating Mallomar-devotees lurking outside of my– let’s face it, everyone’s– local Key Food come wintertime. But I just can’t live without ’em. I… I can’t. And so I attempted to make my own. Let’s do this, friends.

Homemade Mallobars (they’re bars because I cut them into bars, because I did. These made about 40 for me)

From the James Beard Foundation

For the Graham Crackers

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (also called graham flour)

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

6 tablespoons of softened butter

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

5 teaspoons of honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Marshmallow

1/3 cup of water, plus extra for cooking

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 envelopes of plain gelatin

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

For the chocolate coating

1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate, chopped

We begin with our graham crackers. Now, if I were you, I’d start making these at least a day in advance of when you’d like to enjoy them, mostly because the graham crackers require a fair amount of chilling before being baked. Trust me, these will be well worth the wait.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined, then add in honey. Mix in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated. Combine with dry ingredients and mix just until batter forms. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least two hours.

Remove dough from bowl and place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll out into a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Transfer flattened dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate again for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF. Carefully remove parchment sheet on top of dough. From here, you can either cut rectangles/squares of dough or bake as an uncut sheet, which is what I did. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let crackers cool completely.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

So…. I decided to taste-test these before continuing on in my mission, mostly because I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a homemade graham cracker. And I am now sorry that I have spent so much of my life on the store-bought stuff. The homemade ones were soft, sweet and had a deep, almost nutty flavor to them. I hope I never again let my laziness get the better of me by going with the pre-made stuff.

And now, on to the marshmallows. We’ve made marshmallows here before, and this won’t really be any different, but I’ll take you through the steps again so you won’t have to click back and forth.

To make your marshmallows, combine water and vanilla in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a separate saucepan, mix together sugar and corn syrup. Pour in just enough water to make the mixture resemble wet sand. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Cook until the mixture reaches 260ºF (note: if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can cook until the mixture reaches “soft ball stage.” Place a tiny amount of mixture in a bowl of cold water– if it becomes a soft ball, the mixture is ready to be taken off the heat), then remove from heat. Carefully stir water/gelatin mixture in, and stir until dissolved.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and whisk on high speed, taking care that mixture doesn’t splatter. Mix until thickened as much as possible, about 7 minutes. Next, you can either fill a pastry bag with marshmallow mixture or use a rubber spatula to spread mixture directly onto graham crackers. Gently smooth the top of mixture with wet fingers. Let firm and cool completely. At this point, if you haven’t already, you may cut into squares/something that vaguely resembles squares/amoebas/anything you want.

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When cooled, melt your chocolate (either in microwave or in a double-boiler), then pour chocolate over. Let chocolate harden, and serve.

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Words of warning: you will probably not be able to wait until these things are even close to not-still-hot before reaching for them. If you are, kudos, but if not, you were warned, genius. My fingers are still medium-rare from that mistake. Seriously, let these cool…

… Because once you do you will be left with magic. To be honest, they tasted more like s’mores than Mallomars, but I didn’t really care, because they were ridiculous. Also, I discovered that they are somehow even more amazing once frozen. O.M.G. DO THIS. With Independence Day approaching, I cannot think of a better way to salute ‘Murica than this magic.

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Homemade Mallobars. (East Coast… Can Ya’ll Really Feel Me?)

1 Jul

*Today’s post is going to be focused on the dessert and will contain little to no complaining on my part, just to see what being a primarily baked good-centered blog feels like.*

So, how do you all feel about Mallomars?

I have no idea if those of you not in the Northeast are privy to the awesome power of the Mallomar. Last I heard, it was an East Coast thang.

I am unsure of my feelings on them.

So unsure that I had to go through several boxes of the seasonal treat this past winter to determine my feelings on them.

So unsure that I attempted to store three boxes away in my freezer so that I could continue to test them during the off-season. (Note: the aforementioned boxes have since mysteriously disappeared)

So unsure that when I realized my reserve boxes had gone missing (Ed note: contents of box were later determined to have been consumed by one James Hilger. Mr. Hilger resides with the author, and will pay dearly for his mistake) I furiously hunted down a homemade recipe for the treat, and vowed to make them as a summertime treat. In your sugar-coated face, archaic Nabisco rules!

If you want the truth, I actually respect Nabisco for attempting to limit my intake of this marshmallowy, chocolate-covered delight on a graham cracker platform. It’s a pretty good marketing strategy, considering the number of salivating Mallomar-devotees lurking outside of my– let’s face it, everyone’s– local Key Food come wintertime. But I just can’t live without ’em. I… I can’t. And so I attempted to make my own. Let’s do this, friends.

Homemade Mallobars (they’re bars because I cut them into bars, because I did. These made about 40 for me)

From the James Beard Foundation

For the Graham Crackers

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (also called graham flour)

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

6 tablespoons of softened butter

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

5 teaspoons of honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Marshmallow

1/3 cup of water, plus extra for cooking

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 envelopes of plain gelatin

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

For the chocolate coating

1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate, chopped

We begin with our graham crackers. Now, if I were you, I’d start making these at least a day in advance of when you’d like to enjoy them, mostly because the graham crackers require a fair amount of chilling before being baked. Trust me, these will be well worth the wait.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined, then add in honey. Mix in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated. Combine with dry ingredients and mix just until batter forms. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least two hours.

Remove dough from bowl and place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll out into a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Transfer flattened dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate again for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF. Carefully remove parchment sheet on top of dough. From here, you can either cut rectangles/squares of dough or bake as an uncut sheet, which is what I did. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let crackers cool completely.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

So…. I decided to taste-test these before continuing on in my mission, mostly because I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a homemade graham cracker. And I am now sorry that I have spent so much of my life on the store-bought stuff. The homemade ones were soft, sweet and had a deep, almost nutty flavor to them. I hope I never again let my laziness get the better of me by going with the pre-made stuff.

And now, on to the marshmallows. We’ve made marshmallows here before, and this won’t really be any different, but I’ll take you through the steps again so you won’t have to click back and forth.

To make your marshmallows, combine water and vanilla in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a separate saucepan, mix together sugar and corn syrup. Pour in just enough water to make the mixture resemble wet sand. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Cook until the mixture reaches 260ºF (note: if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can cook until the mixture reaches “soft ball stage.” Place a tiny amount of mixture in a bowl of cold water– if it becomes a soft ball, the mixture is ready to be taken off the heat), then remove from heat. Carefully stir water/gelatin mixture in, and stir until dissolved.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and whisk on high speed, taking care that mixture doesn’t splatter. Mix until thickened as much as possible, about 7 minutes. Next, you can either fill a pastry bag with marshmallow mixture or use a rubber spatula to spread mixture directly onto graham crackers. Gently smooth the top of mixture with wet fingers. Let firm and cool completely. At this point, if you haven’t already, you may cut into squares/something that vaguely resembles squares/amoebas/anything you want.

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When cooled, melt your chocolate (either in microwave or in a double-boiler), then pour chocolate over. Let chocolate harden, and serve.

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Words of warning: you will probably not be able to wait until these things are even close to not-still-hot before reaching for them. If you are, kudos, but if not, you were warned, genius. My fingers are still medium-rare from that mistake. Seriously, let these cool…

… Because once you do you will be left with magic. To be honest, they tasted more like s’mores than Mallomars, but I didn’t really care, because they were ridiculous. Also, I discovered that they are somehow even more amazing once frozen. O.M.G. DO THIS. With Independence Day approaching, I cannot think of a better way to salute ‘Murica than this magic.

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Triflin’ Away The Sad Winter Days. Like, With An Actual Trifle.

26 Mar

HOOOOO BOY am I exhausted.

I realize this is a champagne problem, but I am so damn bored with life. The perpetually gray skies, the bitter cold, the same too-loud conductor on the same too-loud F train, the same mind-numbingly awful sounds of Kenny G coming from some mysterious black hole in my office that, try as I might, I cannot seem to find or drown out with the soothing sounds of ANYTHING ELSE. I just can’t anymore.

I keep telling myself that I’m going to try to do something different and out of character every day. Some of you may remember “I Dare You Shibow,” a [very insane] blog post on a long-gone but beloved online magazine that a friend of mine ran, in which I basically dared people to dare me to do things that I’d eventually completely punk out on. I think the one dare I actually accepted required me to drink tequila nonstop for an entire day. That little experiment found me clumsily exiting my apartment, wandering into a  massive dollar store, and then suddenly finding myself smack in the middle of in said dollar store’s weirdly GIGANTIC porn section. After that day, I just pretty much straightened up, got a job, and never drank tequila again.*

*Almost all of this sentence has been exaggerated. Surprisingly, exactly none of the sentence about the dollar store has been embellished at all.

So I guess that was my long-winded way of telling you all to please not dare me to do anything creepy or crazy or dangerous or alcohol-related (mostly because I’ll probably just accept a booze-related challenge). Instead, I’d love some suggestions on how to not feel so…blah.

I’m sure the never-ending winter is a huge contributor to my blues, which is why I’ve started trying to psych myself out with spring-like desserts. Enter the trifle: an easy, delicious confection that, if done correctly, can look like the most delicious cross-section of the earth’s core that could possible exist. Basically, it’s a dessert that consists of even layers of every dessert thing you love so much. This time around, I took it easy and went with a simple lemon curd trifle, but just. you. wait. for what I’m planning.

Lemon Curd & Coconut Trifle (makes one pint)

For the lemon curd layer

1/3 cup + two tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of lemon zest

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of cold butter, cut into pieces

1 egg, beaten

For the whipped cream layer

1/2 cup of heavy cream

3 tablespoons of sugar, more if you like your whipped cream sweeter

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Plus, 1/4 cup of toasted coconut (spread shredded coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet; toast in a 350ºF oven for five minutes, stirring from time to time, until lightly browned)

Let’s start with the curd. In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk together sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir in your butter and egg, and place over medium heat. Stir the mixture frequently until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

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Immediately pour curd into an airtight container and refrigerate until cool.

For the whipped cream, pour heavy cream and sugar into a clean bowl. With mixer on high, beat cream until peaks begin to form. Add vanilla and whip until completely mixed in. Refrigerate until it’s time to build this thing.

And now…to build this thing. Guys, it’s really kind of difficult to master layering curd and cream in a pint jar. Basically, that means that I didn’t even come close to mastering it. The idea is to layer cream on top of curd, starting with your lemon curd at the bottom of the jar. In between each layer, I sprinkled toasted coconut, then topped it all off with a very, very healthy dollop of whipped cream and even more coconut.

 

My boyfriend specifically requested that the Moscow Mule mug I got him for Christmas be prominently displayed in this picture, Also...homemade pizza!

My boyfriend specifically requested that the Moscow Mule mug I got him for Christmas be featured in this picture. Also…homemade pizza!

 

So, after about a minute of trying to gracefully dip into this thing with our spoons, my boyfriend and I mutually decided to screw being dainty and mixed this monster right up. The verdict? DUDES, it’s like the best cake filling ever. It’s like the kind of cake filling you ditch the cake part for. SO. WORTH. EVERYTHING.

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Someone start a Tumblr for “Desserts that Look Like the Lead Singer of Flock of Seagulls”

 

Mango Mac[aroons]’ll Make Ya Jump Jump

19 Mar

This video brought to you by Sad Shibow, who is not in tune enough with her audience to know whether or not it will get the reference in the title of this post. Also… guys, it’s an excellent song.

This week has been a little bleh so far. The most exciting thing that’s happened is that someone made fun of my hair today and I cried over it. So basically the most exciting thing that’s happened all week is that I’ve regressed emotionally into early, early, childhood. Let me just totally not bother you with that and skip right to the dessert chat, yeah?

So a bunch of people asked me if I’d be making soda bread for this week’s post. No, because a. already owned that shiz, b. all of the drunken revelers at this year’s parade– held annually on the avenue directly in front of my place of employment– killed my vibe and c. THAT’S TOO OBVIOUS, HOMIES!

Also, d. I was making this dessert for my mom, for whom I stereotypically decided to make a mango dessert because she is Indian, and also because she genuinely loves mangoes. Anyway, I hadn’t seen her in far too long to be considered acceptable, and thought that a sweet treat was just the right form of bribery  channel through which to express my my-bad’s. Enter Mango Coconut Macaroons, an easy, delish, fancy looking (and fancy tasting) treat.

Mango Coconut Macaroons

adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe

1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into small chunks

2 tablespoons of sugar, if desired, and if you feel like your fruit isn’t sweet enough on its own

2 cups of shredded coconut

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Cook mango chunks (sprinkled with sugar, if you desire) in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until frequently, until the mixture has cooked down into soft clumps. Set aside to cool.

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In a large bowl, combine coconut and egg whites, then stir in mango chunks until batter forms. The mixture will be sticky and probably a little annoying to deal with, so it’s a good idea to use an electric mixer in this case.

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Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. With buttered hands, gather tablespoon-sized mounds of the batter and form into balls or pyramids. I tried to go for something more abstract, because I just could not get either of those other damn shapes down for the life of me.

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Bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the tops of the cookies are browned. Let cool for at least ten minutes, then enjoy.

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So, what’s the verdict on these? Given that I, like my mother, am Indian and have no interest in subverting the stereotypes of my culture, I freaking loved them. They’re MANGO COCONUT macaroons. More importantly though, my mom was enamored with them. Even my dad ate two of them. Two! I mean, one I can understand, as he’ll do anything to make my mom happy. But two? He likes ’em! He really likes ’em!

Double The Desserts. Double The Apologies. Double The Pain! Wait…No

4 Mar

I totally woke up yesterday feeling all sorts of blog-related guilt. Guys… what’s my dealio? I abandon this thing that I love, that I’ve come to enjoy doing because… because I’ve been lazy? What gives? Well,  I supposed I’ve been writing-lazy and life-preoccupied. Does that make sense? I hope it does.

What I’m trying to say is I’m sorry I’ve let this blog lay dormant for so long.  I feel like I’m making it sound as if I’m apologizing to myself in a public forum, which seems like a twisted, self-serving public flogging. Aren’t you glad you’re joining me for this?

Props to my boyfriend for this.

Props to my boyfriend for this.

Anyway, I am mad at myself for not writing nearly as much as I have in the past, which is why I’ve decided to throw myself a mini-challenge: For the next two months, I’m going to publish a new post every week, by, at the very latest, that Wednesday. I hope you’ll all either a. keep me accountable by scolding me heavily if I fail to make good on this promise or b. at least not, like, tell me I suck and should never write anything again if I do come through (oh and I do plan to come through, good sirs and madams).

Hell, this might even be the time to have all of you hear my to-do list for the first half of this year. Maybe ya’ll can keep me from lazing out on those too:

1. Go to at least one Prince concert in my life, and preferably in my life this summer

2. Go to Montreal at least once in my life, and preferably in my life this summer

3. OMG OMG OMG you guys Prince is playing a jazz festival. In Montreal. This summer. This maybe shouldn’t be numbered, but is, because…

4. Take more risks in my writing (e.g., numbering things that shouldn’t necessarily be numbered. SCANDALOUS!)

5. Spend less time around bright, flashy screens and more time with other things that haven’t almost completely ruined my eyes, like books and chocolate

6. Cut out sugar

7. Check to see if anyone was paying attention to #6 and hope you are all laughing with me over how ludicrous a resolution that is

8. RETIRE MY SNOW BOOTS FOR A LONG, LONG TIME

Yeah. That last one has hit me, and a lot of us I imagine, pretty hard. I’ve finally accepted that I have a mean case of seasonal affective disorder that nothing short of sunshine, 80-degree weather and giant bowls of ice cream (shut it, that one’s totally necessary) can cure. I think maybe that’s part of what’s been keeping me from updating this blog, or doing anything productive, really. I…hate things right now. Yup, that sounds articulate and sensible. Let’s move on to our DOUBLE DOSE OF DESSERT, shall we?

Indeed I did decide to share two sweet treats in one post, mostly because of the aforementioned guilt over my lack of posting. Let’s get to it, friends!

So dessert #1 was supposed to be one of those ooh-la-la Valentine’s day desserts that would accompany a fancy-schmancy homemade dinner, but V-day’s kinda dumb and also was on a Friday night after a long, lame week, and both of us were dead tired. So instead of presenting it as a romantic dessert, I’m presenting it as portion-controlled chocolate cakes (that you can have two of if you aren’t down with sharing).

Chocolate Lava Cake For Two (makes…uh, two)

adapted from Eva Bakes

1/4 cup of semi-sweet dark chocolate chips

2 tablespoons of softened butter

1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Strawberry ice cream, or NOTHING (or another flavor of ice cream, or berries, or whipped cream. But probably strawberry ice cream)

Preheat your oven to 400ºF and butter two 6-ounce ramekins. In a medium heat-safe bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring until chocolate is completely melted (you can also do this in a microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each session).

Stir in confectioner’s sugar, then beat in eggs and flour, whisking until the batter is smooth.

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Stir in vanilla, then divide batter between your ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking sheet, and send into the oven for 9 to 11 minutes. Make sure to watch these, as they’re done before you think they’re done– the center will still look gooey and jiggly, two very important, official baking terms. Let cool in ramekins for five minutes, then invert onto plates for serving.

Top with strawberry ice cream. I make room for no other option because there should be no other option. Strawberry. Ice. Cream.

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So, if I’m being honest, I didn’t love the way these cakes looked, which is completely on me, for using ramekins that were way too wide, making these look like overdone veggie burgers. However, once we cut into these and liquid chocolate came oozing out, I was SOLD. I didn’t even have time to get a picture of the inside because of how completely freaking sold I was.

Now, for our second dessert of the post (how lucky are YOU), we’re working on something easy, fun and oven-free. Hooray!

So, apparently for people who are not Indian people, popcorn balls are a classic sweet treat. This is what my boyfriend, who is not Indian people, tells me, at least. Can anyone chime in on this? Is it like me saying that halwah and papadam should be staples in every American household?

Anyway, I decided to surprise him by trying my hand at this “classic treat” because I am generous and also can never turn down the opportunity to combine three most excellent ingredients: butter, sugar, and popcorn. Let’s get “classic!”

Popcorn Balls (makes 6 baseball-sized balls)

adapted from CHOW

9 cups of plain popped popcorn, seeds removed, unless you hate having teeth

1 cup of turbinado sugar (you can use regular white sugar, but I love the deep flavor this imparts)

1/3 cup of light corn syrup

1/3 cup of water

1 teaspoon of white vinegar

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of salted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Grease a large glass bowl, and place popcorn in it. Set aside.

Large glass bowl. Popcorn. Creative captioning.

Large glass bowl. Popcorn. Creative captioning. World’s Finest Chocolate wrapper because I am nostalgic. Jar of peanut butter for me to snack on whilst “working.”

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, water and vinegar; stir to combine. Place pan over high heat, and cook– stirring constantly– until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until it registers at 260ºF on a candy thermometer (if you don’t have one, don’t fret, just cook the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes). Remove from heat, then stir in butter and vanilla. 

Quickly pour hot sugar mixture over popcorn, using a rubber spatula to spread the mixture evenly over the popcorn. Stir until the mixture is just cool enough to handle with bare hands, about three minutes. Seriously, these are good, but not burn-your-palms good. I don’t know what would be burn-your-palms good. I have some ideas, though. None are suitable for this blog.

With oiled hands, grab a chunk of popcorn and mash together, compressing popcorn into a ball. Let balls cool completely on parchment paper. *Giggle*

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Ok…these were good. If they really are a classic treat, I can totally understand why. They’re buttery, salty/sweet, and somehow miraculously melt almost as soon as a bite hits your tongue. This dessert’s been a repeat offender in our home, half because my boyfriend is sentimental and half because we’re sugar fiends. I actually think it’s probably 78% because we’re sugar fiends, but it’s six popcorn balls in one hand and a half-dozen in the other. Or something. See you next week!

Things That Make You Go Mmmmm, What?! and %*^(!#

10 Feb

I know I said I’d be going dark for a spell, but OMG IT FINALLY SNOWED A BAJILLION TIMES and so I have cabin fever and cabin fever makes me eat like I have seven stomachs and also I missed you guys. So hey there, friends!

I don’t think I need to elaborate on how deeply I hate this weather, since I imagine a lot of you feel the same way. I suppose it’s enough to say that peeling a frozen teardrop from your face whilst attempting to trudge a third of a mile to the subway station is not an ideal way to spend a Monday morning. Or any morning. I do hope you’ll agree.

The first three seconds of this commercial pretty much sum up my feelings on this year’s Super Bowl. BO-RIIIIIIIING! And don’t get me started on that filthy Stamos yogurt commercial. I personally was thisclose to calling the FCC just because I was offended by his face on my screen. The only saving grace of that whole night– besides the above Muppet extravaganza– was PRINCE on New Girl’s post-game episode. I’ll say it again. Prince. Prince. Prince. Loves him.

Oh, actually, there was one other extremely wonderful treat that night– the cream puffs! I’ve always wanted to try my hand at these but have been feeling lazy and untalented and generally bad about myself (maybe I’ll get into that on a different post when I’m thawed out and in better spirits. Whenever that is *chuckle*) and basically thought these were super difficult to make. Then, I happened to see an article on pâte à choux in a recent magazine–whose name I will not mention because the company has personally offended me– that went on and on about how easy the “puff” part of cream puffs are to make. And, given my combative nature (LOL!) and need for easy-but-fancy-thangs in my life, I thought these would make for an appropriate game-night dessert.

Note: I made the easiest filling possible, whipped cream, mostly because we’ve been eating like wild animals for the past few weeks and I needed to cool it on the heavy sweet treats. Seriously, it’s been bad. If you’re looking for a pastry cream filling instead, Joy of Baking will hook.you.up.

Cream Puffs (makes 2 to 4 dozen, depending on how ya pipe ’em)

For the pâte à choux 

8 tablespoons of unsalted butter

Pinch of salt

1 cup of all-purpose flour

4 eggs

For whipped cream 

1 cup of heavy cream

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat your oven to 400ºF and grease a baking sheet with butter; set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, add salt, and stir in all of your flour. Stir vigorously until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball of dough. Remove mixture from heat and stir in your eggs one at a time. You can use a hand mixer at this point if you’re not sure you can handle taking a wooden spoon to this. There’s no shame in it– I totally thought I could just stir the whole batter together like a badass and ended up having to take several hydrate-and-stretch breaks. 😦

Only slightly annoying.

Only slightly annoying.

Now, you can either fill a pasty bag with this batter or simply use two spoons to plop tablespoon-sized mounds onto your baking sheet. If you see the mixture getting a little bit lumpy, and lumpy bothers you, you can wet your finger and smooth out the imperfections. Lumpy does not bother me/I’m lazy.

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Bake puffs for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Lightly prick each puff to release steam, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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When cooled, you can either poke holes in the tops of your puffs or cut them in half and fill, then sandwich halves back together.

To fill: Beat heavy cream and sugar on high until peaks begin to form. Stir in vanilla and beat again, just until combined. Spoon as much of whipped cream as you desire into puffs.

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As you can see, I also added chocolate sprinkles to my puffs, because I am four and LOVE SPRINKLES AHHHHHH! Also I thought they looked prettier this way.

You also probably noticed that the actual puff dough contains no sugar, which I personally like. You can basically fill these babies with anything you like, or use them as a base for sweet or savory snacks, like eclairs or cheese puffs. Or cheeseclairs. What’s a cheeseclair, you ask? I don’t know, but I kind of want to use my next post to find out. Stay tuned.

So, how were they, you inevitably ask. Oh they were just terrible. So terrible that my boyfriend and I ate almost every single puff before the second quarter even started. So terrible that I am making these again tonight because they’re easy and I feel compelled to now attempt these cheeseclairs I heard about somewhere five seconds ago. Yum.

Rugelach. Pumpkin. Pie. Rugelach. And… All The Feelings.

27 Nov

First off, I’d like to put out a huge thank you/sorry/thank you to everyone who read and understood (or, hey, didn’t quite understand) my previous post. Anxiety is an embarrassing thing to admit in any realm, I think, even though it shouldn’t be, because pretty much everyone has had those momentary fits of panic at one time or another. I just happen to have them at all the time or another. As I explained to my very understanding boyfriend, I operate at a seven (out of a possible eleven. Eleven for no reason. Also for Spinal Tap). Sometimes I go below that, but that’s pretty much my baseline. And I recognize that that’s not the best but… it’s me. So like me, please, tightened jaw, shaky fists, watery eyes and all. Or don’t. It’s cool (ohmygodeighteighteightI’mataneight).
So, anyway, now, let’s move on to something great: Thanksgiving! So, yes, there’s been a lot of garbage this year. In my life. In all of our lives, I’m sure. (If you live a garbage-less life, then, well, you’re probably not having any fun here and should probably go Youtube some Yanni or something. That was pretty much the best diss I could come up with.) There is, though, likely more lovely things to be happy about and grateful for than we realize. I’m grateful to still be writing this blog and still have new people tell me they read it. I mean… I really can’t tell you all how oddly wonderful that is. I think I spend so much time thinking I’m just a nobody posting about what a messy “baker” I am that I forget people sometimes enjoy this stuff. Thanks, you. I’m also grateful for the people who motivate me to keep operating (even if it’s at a seven) daily. You know who you are and you know that I love you.

Thanksgiving-funny-hands

Thanksgiving-funny-hands

Now that we’ve gotten that squared away, let’s talk about pumpkin. Ya’ll know I’m on a kick given the month and the season, so there are no surprises there. Also, Thanksgiving this year and the first day of Hanukkah fall on the same day, and since I love eating absolutely everything always, I thought it would be a splendid idea to work with a recipe that combines both holidays, because genius.

Pumpkin Pie Rugelach

adapted from Serious Eats (I swear I’m creative and look elsewhere for recipes, but I love these folks)

For the crust

2 cups of all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of cloves

1/4 teaspoon of ginger

1/4 teaspoon of allspice

2 sticks (or 1 cup) of cold butter, cut into 1-inch chunks

8 ounces of cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks

For filling/coating

1 cup of pumpkin butter (I used Trader Joe’s brand)

4 tablespoons of chopped walnuts or pecans (I used pecans)*

1 egg, beaten

Cinnamon sugar (1 teaspoon of cinnamon + 1/4 cup of sugar)

*If you’d like to make these nut-free, you can! Chop up roasted pumpkin seeds and use instead :).

Now, you’ll want to keep the butter and cream cheese as cold as possible throughout this process to allow for the flakiest crust possible. Keep that in mind, homies.

Cold as ice. Not really. But cold.

Cold as ice. Not really. But cold.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and spices and set aside. Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese just until smooth. Pour in your dry ingredients and mix just until you start to see curds form and hold together. Take the dough out, divide it in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Now, to assemble these babies. Lightly flour a large, and I mean large, surface. Gently roll out one piece of dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Try not to do this on a surface directly above a working dishwasher, as that sh*t gets hot and will really screw with your dough. Just saying, not like that happened.

Ok. It happened.

Ok. It happened.

Anyway, form a large rectangle (9×13″ if possible), then spread dough with 1/2 cup of pumpkin butter and sprinkle with nuts of your choosing. Roll up from the short end, into a long log.

I realize that these look like the kind of monstrosity that Chipotle tries to pass of as a healthy meal. But I'm just messy.

I realize that these look like the kind of monstrosity that Chipotle tries to pass of as a healthy meal. But I’m just messy.

Cut into 1-inch wide pieces and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat this process with your other half of dough. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

Now, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Brush each piece with egg wash, then liberally sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until golden and puffy, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan, then let cool completely on wire racks.

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I should mention that at first my rugelach didn’t come out as flaky as I’d hoped. I actually needed to toast them at 400º for an additional ten minutes to achieve the consistency I was going for. This annoyed me greatly, and I started out basically hating these things.

Then I bit into one. And then I let my boyfriend bite into one. And then I brought some to work.

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Mmmm. Yeah. It took some convincing to eat one after I got pissed off and gave up on Thanksgiving (it’s this annual thing I do before I inevitably change my mind and bake nine thousand more things), but then it took convincing to stop eating them, presumably because my boyfriend cares about my health wanted them all to himself. Work people also devoured them, which is kinda really nice. If you’ve got the time and enough cold surfaces on which to make these, go for it.

Whatever you decide, have a lovely Thanksgiving. Thank you for putting up with me for all of this time. ❤

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