Bars

Banana Brownie

Doesn’t it always seem like you have bananas around that have turned to the brown stage?  Inevitably, because you hate ingredients to go to waste, you make banana bread.  Or you venture to something new like a banana bar.  But the other day when I perused around Pinterest, I came upon the Banana Brownie.

At first I fluffed it off as a bar form of banana bread.  That was until I got to the brown butter frosting.  It sealed the deal.  Although brownie may bring chocolate to mind, there isn’t a morsel of cacao found in this brownie.  It was more the texture than anything that made it brownie-like.  Many loved the frosting and were cordial to the brownie part.  (I think they wanted the original chocolate brownie instead.)  The frosting however might need to make another appearance on other baked goods.

banana brownie

This is a good variation to the classic banana bread.  Life’s Simple Measures does a great job with the tutorial and uses 3-4 bananas you didn’t get a chance to eat.  In the end, how can you go wrong with a brownie?

Cakes

Here Comes the Sun

The Pacific Northwest doesn’t see the sun during winter.  After long months of cold and rain, we crave the feeling of warmth on our face.  It doesn’t take much to spark our excitement at the tease of spring.  With the first sign of cherry trees starting to blossom, our hearts race with the hope sun is on its way.

After celebrating a few days of beautiful weather, I’m ready for spring to stay.  In hopes of coaxing seventy degree weathered days, I give you to a yellow Ombre ruffle cake.  What is Ombre, you ask?  I say to you “Have you been living under a rock?” or “You must not be on Pinterest.”  (Same thing, really.)  Ombre is the gradation of color on anything, like hair, artwork, and cake.  The inside is a lemon cake with a lemon curd filling.

ombre cake

This cake was made for a charity auction.  It was my way to give back to my town and help them raise money for important programs to benefit my neighbors and friends.  Another way to warm my heart.

I hope this cake inspires sunshine in you too.  Maybe if we make more sunny desserts, spring will arrive and decide to stick around for a while.

Cheesecake

Which Came First?

The other day a poll taken among co-workers asked about their favorite cookie.  More than one (actually three) stated the raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake cookie from Subway ranked as #1.  Yes, you read that right.  Subway.  The terrible sandwich store.  I assumed they were kidding.  They weren’t.

I wasn’t going cookie against cookie for fear of destroying my baking confidence.  To show my appreciation for their hard work, I created the cheesecake version of their favorite cookie. I used my favorite cheesecake recipe from the Joy of Baking with some slight variations, such as raspberries and white chocolate chips.  Here is the result:

raspberry cheesecake

They liked it.  Some even said they may have liked it more than the cookie.  A couple points scored for the confidence.  But then it left me bewildered.  Which came first?  The cookie or the cheesecake?

Oven Lovin'

A Berry Delicious Dessert

The title might be simple, but so is the dessert.  This quick berry sauce will be the perfect topping for light meringues.  It doesn’t have exact measurements or precise ingredient lists..  It could probably be substituted with frozen berries.  This dessert is meant to make your life easy and enjoy time with family.

Start with any fresh berries you have in the fridge.  It’s a perfect place to use up those blueberries and raspberries which may have gotten soft.  Reserve a quarter of your berries off to the side.  Dump the rest into a sauce pan and add some water.  The amount depends on how many berries.  Just enough to make a sauce without turning it into soup.  Don’t overanalyze it.  Don’t sweat this small stuff.  Start out with a quarter to  half cup of water for your two cups of berries.  Add a bit of sugar (again to your preference) and simmer on low heat.

Once the berries have bubbled to burst and reduced the water down to a deep berry sauce, turn off the heat.  Add a little lemon zest if you want a pop of fresh.  Throw in your reserved berries and you’re done!  Really, that’s it.

I chilled mine for a bit so it didn’t melt the whipped cream in the middle of my meringue bowl.  If you go at it hot, it would make a terrific topping to some vanilla ice cream. Yum!  Either way it’s fast, easy, and your guests will love it.

berries

Oven Lovin'

Who You Callin’ A Cream Puff?

What do you get when a Frenchman passes an Irishman looking for dessert?  I’m sure a pretty funny joke.  Instead, I’ve gone with yet another Car Bomb flavor combination wrapped up in a traditional french package.

irish cream puff

It’s too hard to make cream puffs, you say?  The complete recipe will be at the end, but here are the easy steps for an overview:

Replace the normal part of water with Guinness.  Don’t worry, there is still a half a beer for you to finish off while you’re baking.  Melt the cubed butter and beer on medium heat.

Melt Stuff

Sift together the dry stuff.

Sift Stuff

Once the wet stuff is melted, dump in the dry stuff.  Take the pan off of the heat and stir with a wooden spoon.

Brought Together

Stir for a couple minutes until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides.

Keep Mixing

Put the hot mixture in your mixer bowl and let cool for a few minutes.  Begin to mix on medium speed to release some of the steam.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix until it is fully incorporated.

20130310_141127

Once it’s mixed, it’s ready to pipe.  If you don’t want to deal with the piping bag, just spoon them out in dollops or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off.  If you want to pipe, make sure to dab down the point or this can really look not very appetizing.  I forgot to take a picture of the next step.

After baking, let the puffs cool so they don’t melt the whipped cream.  Cut them in half and pipe in the cream.  Finish it off with a drizzle of whiskey ganache on top.

Guinness Cream Puffs (Adapted from Joy of Baking):

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour replacing 2 tablespoons of it with unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup Guinness
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Choux Pastry:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter or spray the pan with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar and salt.

Place the butter and Guinness in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and, with a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir until combined. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes). Transfer the dough to your electric mixer, or use a hand mixer, and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about a minute). Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste.  Spoon or pipe 12 small mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. With a wet finger or pastry brush tap down the tip from piping.

Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake for a further 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cut a small hole in side to release steam. When cooled, add whipped cream.

Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Creme
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or to taste

In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream and sugar. Whip the cream just until stiff peaks form and then add the Bailey’s for the last turns.

Ganache:
  • 8 ounces chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon Jameson’s whiskey
Heat cream and pour over chips, butter, and whiskey.  Let stand for a couple minutes before whisking together.  Let cool before drizzling so it doesn’t melt your cream.  Not too long or it will solidify.
See?  That wasn’t so hard.  If you’re tense about it, make sure you pick up a six pack of the Guinness and enjoy a couple extra.  This always helps with baking tension.  Enjoy!

Pops

A Pint Bomb

You say you aren’t intimidated by the stick?  You’ve seen the Irish Car Bomb mini cakes and the Bomb Bites and you still want another use for the leftover cake and frosting in the car bomb flavors?  You want a creative design that doesn’t require food coloring pens and special sprinkle shapes?  Here’s an idea.  Make yourself the perfect pint.

pint pop

It’s easy.  Form your cake into a triangle before you chill.  After a couple hours, melt your chocolate (remember the seizing trick–add a little butter or cream to the chocolate).  Dip the stick into the chocolate and then push it halfway into the cake pop.  Take a second for it to set before dipping.  Dip in the chocolate, tap off excess and then place flat side down on a cookie sheet.

Once it’s hardened, dip the top in some melted white chocolate and voila!  You have made yourself the perfect pint.  Enjoy!

Royal Iced Cookies

A Rose For You

Happy Valentine’s Day!  For you, a special rose.

rose

Special shout out to my friend Jamie who showed me how to draw this style rose in high school.  I’m still no artist, but at least in the end you can eat this one.

Royal Iced Cookies

So Many Hearts

Hearts

I love seeing all the heart variations on Pinterest.  I couldn’t pick just one.  I like the mismatch of the different styles.  And who doesn’t love a burst of orange to break up the pink?

Which one is your favorite?

Royal Iced Cookies

Hoo Will Be My Valentine?

owl valentine

I made these for my daughter’s 2nd grade class for Valentine’s Day.  Owls are the obvious choice because it’s her school mascot.  They are also a forgiving animal in the design department.  If you want to make them, you can do it with these easy steps.

I used the tulip cookie cutter and cut off the middle pedal and the stem.  Start with piping the outline and then flood.

owl outline

For the feathers on the chest, I brought the heart motif.  It’s really not that hard to do.  You drop a dot of icing and then pull a clean toothpick through it.  Clean the toothpick each time or it will drag the other color into the area you don’t want.  Also, work one at a time before the icing sets up.

Feathers

After it has dried, pipe on the wings and ears.

Wings

Next comes the eyes, beak, and feet.  I must have been a little tired because I forgot to take any more photos.  The end result is still the same, a pretty cute owl.  Cross your fingers my daughter’s teacher lets us bring non-store bought goodies or I will have thirty owls looking for a home.

Owl