Posts Tagged 'as seen on'

Cake Balls aka Cake Truffles aka Cake Bon Bons

Happy Friday! Sorry it took me so long to post this one!

A while back, friend of mine sent me the link to these awesome looking Hello Kitty cake pops made by Bakerella.

I was intrigued.

I kept reading…and reading…and before I knew it, I was way back in the archives of her blog and I was hooked!

Before I delve into the world of cake pops, I thought I’d try it’s precursor: the cake ball.

Well, to be honest, the concept of cake balls was really odd to me. To mush up a perfectly yummy cake seemed somewhat blasphemous, but when I read that even Martha Stewart was on board with the cupcake pops, I was sold.

Well, don’t knock it ’till you try it! I got rave reviews about these things!

First, bake a cake from a mix. Any flavor will do.

Once it’s completely cooled, crumble it up in a bowl with your hands.

Next, dump in a can of frosting. Again, any flavor will do as long as it compliments your cake flavor. I would hold back a few tablespoons. You can always add more, if neeed.

Mix it with a wooden spoon until the frosting is completely absorbed by the cake…wow, that looks like ground pork!

I used my spring-loaded disher to get uniformly sized balls. Then roll those balls between your hands so that the surface smooths out. You will yield about 50.

Put them in the freezer and chill until firm.

Melt some chocolate or white chocolate coating and contemplate the decor.

Drop the chilled balls into the melted coating.

Scoop them up with a spoon and tap it on the side of the bowl so that the excess drips off.

Place on a baking sheet. If you want to decorate them with sprinkles, now is the time to do it. The coating will set up very quickly because the cake balls are cold! If you want to drizzle chocolate or colored coating on top, you can do it later.

I decorated these with spring time in mind!

Pink!

Yellow!

Green!

Blue!

Purple!

Clear sparkling sugar!

I decorated the last batch like truffles using pink-tinted white chocolate to indicate that there was strawberry cake inside.

Fontina Scalloped Potatoes

I was heading to a pot luck dinner and was tasked with a side dish.

Everyone likes potatoes and cheese! I like this particular recipe because most of the cooking is done on the stove and it’s just finished off in the oven.

First, dice up an onion…

Melt the butter and cook the onion in it. Then throw in the thyme (I used dried), garlic (from a jar…shame on me), and S&P.

Peel & slice the potatoes. It says “thick”, but I like mine about 1/4″ thick.

In the same pot with the sauteed onion mixture, pour in the cream & broth. Then slide the potatoes into the hot tub.

Cover & simmer until potatoes are tender. Then dump all of it into a baking dish. The recipe calls for an 8-inch square dish, but I used a 9 X 13 dish. I like more surface area on the top for maximum browning and crisping…

I was kinda rough with the potatoes as I was dumping it into the dish, so you can see that a lot of the pieces are broken and it looks really ugly, but that’s nothing that the cheese can’t cover up!

Shred up some fontina cheese. If you can find it already shredded, more power to ya, but I couldn’t find any.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake at 425 degrees until golden and bubbly.

Fontina Scalloped Potatoes

Adapted from The Food Channel

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced, pressed, or from a jar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds (about 5 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)…or more…

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook for about 30 seconds.

Add potatoes, broth and cream and heat to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender (a paring knife can be slipped into and out of a potato slice with some resistence), about 10 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 X 13 baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake until the cream is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Cool slightly before serving.

Homemade Neopolitan [Coconut] Sundaes

Do you remember those Brach’s Pick-A-Mix bulk candy bins that they had at all the grocery stores? They still have them at some grocery stores, but you definitely don’t see them as often. You could eat a piece of candy and they had a little slot for nickles.

I absolutely love Brach’s Neopolitan Sundae…a chewy square of coconutty goodness!

When I saw this recipe for Neopolitan Coconut Strips on Martha Stewart, it looked so easy, I had to give it a try…

Combine the white chocolate (I used chips instead of chopped), condensed milk, butter, salt and vanilla (I used extract instead of vanilla beans) in a sauce pan and cook, while stirring, until smooth. Make sure the heat isn’t too high because you could burn the mixture…you don’t want to get little brown burnt flecks in your nice white mixture!

While that’s cooking, line a 8X8 square pan with plastic wrap. Once the mixture is smooth, take it off the heat and mix in the two types of coconut.

Divide the mixture by three. Add the chocolate to one batch and food coloring to the other, leaving the third batch plain.

The chocolate batch goes on the bottom. Smooth it out with a rubber spatula:

Then dollop the plain batch on top of that and smooth it out evenly:

Lastly, the pink coconut:

They look kinda gross up-close, huh? It yummy though, trust me.

The mixture is really sticky, so it makes it difficult to spread. If I could do it again, I would cut out 8X8 squares of wax paper to lay on top of the mixture and spread it out with my hands. You’d get more uniform layers.

Here’s what it looks like when you’re done. Chill it for at least two hours.

After it’s nice and chilly, you can grab hold of the plastic wrap and lift the whole thing out. Peel off the plastic and plop it onto the cutting board. Trim off the uneven edges. I like to use the giant cleaver I bought at Hong Kong Food Market. It is awesome. I bet you could use it as a machete…

Cut it however you like. The recipe tells you to cut it into strips, but you can cut it into cubes…

See how the layers are uneven? And do you notice the little air pockets? Try the wax paper thing and I think it would look nicer…

I know you’re thinking, “Hey, what’s up with all this coconut stuff? Butterscotch bark, toasted coconut flan, Neopolitan coconut candy…” Well, I just like it! I will leave you with this:

“I love coconut, because when you think you’re done eating coconut, 25 minutes later, a little piece of coconut comes out of the back of your mouth, and then you say, “Hey! It’s more coconut!” I think any food with that kind of determination needs a little respect.” – John Mayer

Toasted Coconut Flan

My mom LOVES flan. I wasn’t even going to make a dessert for Easter dinner, but at the last minute, while flipping through my numerous recipe print-outs, I came across this recipe.

First, toast the coconut in the oven. Try not to be a gung-ho multi-tasker and end up burning the coconut. If you can smell it, it’s probably too late and you’ve burned it.

While the coconut is toasting, boil then simmer the milk, coconut milk and coconut cream. When the coconut is nice and toasty, throw it into the milk mixture to steep.

If you’re good, you could also have been making the caramel during this time. Put the sugar, lemon juice and water into a pan and boil until it’s a nice amber color, like this:

I stirred the caramel even though the recipe said not to because I am a rebel.

Pour this caramel into six ramekins. I just used one large round pan (again, the rebel tendencies prevail). The baking time will differ, but I’ll mention it later.

WARNING: once you pour this caramel into the pan (especially a metal pan), the pan will be extremely hot. Sugar can heat to a much higher temp than water!!

Whisk the eggs and yolks together in a big bowl.

Strain the milk mixture and whisk it in as well. I did it in thirds because I was afraid of accidentally making coconut scrambled eggs…

It made me kind of sad to strain out all that yummy toasted coconut and just throw it away. I wonder how it would be if I left it in the flan? I’ll experiment with that someday…

But I digress…Pour that mixture into the pan (or ramekins) on top of the caramel. Put that pan into a roasting pan. Pour in hot water till it comes up one third of the way up the pan (hot tap water is fine, no need to boil water).

Cover the entire thing with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes, if you used ramekins, one hour if you made one big flan!

Let it cool completely. I like to take it out of the water bath and place on a kitchen towel to keep it from carry-over cooking.

The edges will pull away from the pan and you can just invert it onto a plate. Watch out for all that delicious caramel liquid…make sure the plate you are using to invert the flan has a lip, or at least enough volume capacity to contain it…no one likes caramel sauce all over the counter. If you have the time (and patience), chill it in the refrigerator. It’s yummy when chilled!

Toasted Coconut Flan from Michael Chiarello

Ingredients

2 cups milk

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup coconut cream

1 cup toasted coconut, recipe follows, or store bought toasted coconut

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoon lemon juice

6 eggs

3 egg yolks

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine milk, coconut milk, and coconut cream in a saucepan. Stir, bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add toasted coconut and infuse for 15 minutes.

To make the caramel: combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepot and cook over high heat, without stirring, until it darkens to amber. Pour the caramel evenly into 6 (4-ounce) ramekins and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and the yolks. Strain the milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine. Fill each ramekin with this mixture, then place ramekin in roasting pan. Create a water bath by filling the roasting pan 1/3 way with hot water, and cook, covered with foil, for 25 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.

To unmold the flan: take a paring knife and run it around the sides of the ramekin to loosen the flan. To help it along, you may also place the ramekin in a shallow bowl with warm water until it comes halfway up the sides for a few seconds. Invert a serving plate on top of the ramekin and flip over to unmold


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Yea, that’s right…I said Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies!! The best friend’s birthday was coming up and I wanted to bake her something so yummy that she would forget that she was turning 27.

I got the recipe from the Betty Crocker website. I have this Betty Crocker Recipe of the Day gadget on my iGoogle homepage. I LOVE it.

The recipe was so insanely easy…

Make brownie mix and cookie mix as directed on the package.

I buttered the pan and dusted with cocoa powder for anti-sticking insurance!

Drop the cookie dough onto the brownie batter and press it in a little bit. The picture below shows perfect little rows of cookie blobs, but in fact, I still had more cookie dough, so I had to plop it in more randomly…

Let it cool completely. Then put on the icing!!

Cut into squares and ENJOY!

While I was cutting the brownie squares, one of them looked too rectangular, so I was forced to cut off a piece to even it out…and then I was forced to eat it for quality assurance purposes, of course.

Honestly, this was the BEST brownie I have ever eaten. It made me so happy, I was squealing with joy…really….squealing….

Homemade Bo Bia

My mom is visiting family in Vietnam right now, so my sister got the bright idea of making some authentic Vietnamese cuisine for my dad while my mom was away.

What spurred this idea was my sister’s discovery of the Wandering Chopsticks blog. There, you can find a dizzying plethora of Vietnamese recipes and recommendations, all fully documented and photographed!

We adapted the Wandering Chopsticks recipe for Bo Bia, recalling our mom’s variations.

– Saute the julienned jicama along with julienned carrots.

– Slice the Chinese sausage crosswise and saute it with the reconstituted dried shrimp, along with a bit of green onions. (They actually make “extra lean” Chinese sausage now! Even a chicken variety too!)

– Spread a little sauce directly onto the rice paper as you wrap it. No need for dipping sauce on the side…for the ultimate street food experience!

– Omit the omelet…there’s already enough flavors going on in there…

Here are all the ingredients, ready for assembly.

It helps if you have these stackable plastic thingies for the rice paper…so you can avoid using a bunch of plates:

Everyone loves macro shots…

We added garlic chives for garnish…totally optional.

Yummm…salty, sweet, crunchy, chewy…

Homemade Oreos and Thin Mints

I saw this picture in a Food Network newsletter and I knew what I’d be doing this weekend!

The recipe was given by Trois Pommes Bakery in New York. It is definitely a keeper!

Here are some of my observations:

It calls for Dutch process cocoa powder, which isn’t sold in regular grocery stores, so I headed over to Whole Foods and picked some up for a hefty $8.99. I figured I shouldn’t try to substitute regular cocoa powder and mess up the recipe. Wondering what’s the big difference? Here’s your answer.

It doesn’t say “Dutch Process” on the box. It just says imported from Holland. Here’s a picture of what it looks like:

It says to only re-reoll the scraps once, but I did it maybe 3 or 4 times to use up all the dough…no big deal. (Especially since I spent $9 on the cocoa powder!!)

It says the recipe yields 64 cookies or 32 when sandwiched together. I got about 100, probably because of all the re-rolling I did.

I used a 2-inch round cookie cutter like the recipe suggested, but I think a smaller bite-sized one would be better.

I used my linzer cookie cutter set (just the heart) to make decorative imprints in the cookies. Since the cookies don’t rise, you can take a lot of creative liberty here. You could use rubber stamps (with not too much detail) or even just prick them with the tines of a fork.

It also says to space them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. This is totally unnecessary since they don’t spread. You can just space them 1 centimeter apart!

Here are all the cookies: plain round, imprinted round, and round with fluted edge.

Since Girl Scout cookie season ends on March 29th, I thought this would be a good time to experiment with making Thin Mints. I melted some Andes Mint chips in the microwave and dipped all the ones with a fluted edge.

I sandwiched the rest with the creme filling:

The final product!

They don’t really look like the ones in the Food Network picture, but hey, I am really proud of them!!

Retirement Party, Part 2

Not everyone eats sweets and, more importantly,  not everyone likes the combo of cupcakes and beer, so I decided to try my hand at making an edible fruit arrangement.

You’ve probably seen these before…impossibly beautiful, these are elaborate and expensive!

I honestly have no idea how they keep the fruits from being too juicy…

Here is the equipment I used:

Easter grass, a styrofoam cone, a flower pot, bamboo skewers, and small cookie cutters. If you have a crinkle-cut knife or other fruit-carving tools, by all means…go crazy. I also hear that a head of iceburg lettuce would work well instead of styrofoam and Easter grass. You would just have to carve it to fit inside your flower pot.

Cut the Styrofoam cone to size and place (upside down) in the flower pot. You might want to put some grass in the bottom first to stabilize it. Then place some more grass on top and tuck it into the sides.

I just cut cross-sections of canteloupe and honeydew and cut out flowers and circles with cookie-cutters:

A few other tips:

1. Wash the strawberries and remove the leaves, but do not cut off the tops. The less you cut them, the longer they will keep.

2. Keep the strawberries away from the pineapple. Since I used canned pineapple chunks (I got lazy!), the sweeteners might cause the berries to macerate.

3. Thread the skewers in a consistent pattern for a more uniform look.

4. If you’re making this ahead, store the kabobs in a large zippered food storage bag lined with paper towel. When you’re ready to party, just pull them out and stab into the grass-covered styrofoam.

The final product…Okay, it looks nothing like an Edible Arrangement, but hey, it is edible and it is an arrangement…

Next time…

I would try a “topiary”-style fruit arrangement, using different lengths of skewers and filling in any empty areas with lime leaves or even pandan leaves (or any other non-poisonous greenery). You might need to cover the styrofoam with plastic wrap to keep the fruit from touching the foam since it is not food-safe.

McGriddles: Unwrapped

You either hate them or love them, but I’m a part of the latter camp who loves these quirky calorie bombs called McGriddles. Nutritionally unsound, these satisfy the tooth of all those who adore the combo of sweet and salty.

I was perusing Not Martha, when something caught my eye. SplatgirlCreates…McGriddles! My heart went pitter patter as I clicked the link and read the blog. I was a little disappointed with the end appearance and the result of her attempt at making the syrup blobs. I then went on to read many other blogs and the chronicles of those who have tried to conquer this elusive fare.

I was on a mission to make these at home myself and pare down it’s uber caloric contents.

Here are my accoutrement:

The first challenge was how to make those glorious little syrup blobs. I once saw a Food Network special about the McGriddle and how they used little syrup candy-looking chips. Obviously, the home cook can’t get our greedy little hands on these, so I googled. I found these mini maple chips, but I didn’t think that they would work. They looked too creamy.

So I squirted about a tablespoon of regular syrup into a silicone baking cup (for anti-sticking insurance) and popped them into the oven at 250 degrees, just to evaporate some of the water, and hopefully, yield a “syrup candy”.

Refrigerate until chilled. Pop them out of the cups and dice (with some pancake mix to reduce stickiness) with a very sharp knife.

The result: little syrup gummies! Kind of like a mini, syrup-flavored Turkish Delight.

I went on to cook the other items…turkey breakfast sausage patties and egg (cholesterol-free, fat-free egg substitute)…using my trusty Ateco round cookie cutter as a mold.

The last step was to cook the pancake buns using the round molds (and lots of Pam) and placing the “syrup gummies” onto the batter just before turning. I poked them down into the batter to prevent them from oozing out onto the pan.

I was  delighted to see the results! They looked way better than I imagined.

Assemble (with a slice of processed cheese, of course!) and bon appetite!

Here is an up-close image. You can see the syrup pockets.

We enjoyed these for a lazy Saturday brunch. I would call it a success, although the syrup blobs did not really remain as blobs…they kind of absorbed into the surrounding pancake bun.

Next time, I’ll make thinner sausage patties (less like sausage burgers!) and not fuss with perfectly shaped eggs. I’ll just make a big thin omelet and cut into pieces. I’ll also try another technique for the syrup blobs…maybe mix in some tapioca flour or cornstarch…

Valentine’s Day 2009, Part Deux

Project 2: Box of Chocolates from design.wash.rinse.repeat

An adorable DIY Valentine gift using Hershey’s Nuggets…I used the one with toffee and almonds. Yummm.

I must say that this one was tricky. First, I couldn’t figure out how to open a .png file and then I could not figure out how to print it to get the right dimensions. After toying with it a bit, I got some decent results.

I just LOVE the color combo of the gold with pink and orange. It just makes me happy.

With a bit of customization, this would make such a cute wedding favor, but it would be way too much work…

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