Tag-Archive for ◊ butter ◊

29 Jan 2011 Cream Cheese Frosting

I have been in a funk all week.  I made two more cakes from that book I was all aglow about last weekend.  I’m no longer glowing.

First off, I wanted to make the Red Velvet cake; the picture looked so great, and it was front and center on the cover, so I had high hopes.  The recipe was a bit odd though.  Red Velvet cake is supposed to have three things: 1) a very, very light chocolate taste 2) a very bright red color and 3) a pronounced tang from the addition of buttermilk and vinegar.  This cake was good on point one.  The recipe called for ¼ cup of cocoa powder, which is good.  I have seen some recipes for as little as 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder.  I wanted some chocolate taste in the cake!  The recipe also hit a high note on the red color.  The color in the picture looked good, and recipe only called for one tablespoon of red food coloring.  I have seen some recipes call for as much as three tablespoonsful!  My first hint of trouble was with point three, no buttermilk and no vinegar!  The recipe called for sour cream, but I was still going to go with it, thinking the sour cream would have enough tang.

Once I started making the cake, the trouble began.  First, the directions called for “a food processor”.  Um no.  The directions then said, ” Cream the butter in a mixer on medium speed”.  Not a food processor, a mixer.  Bad mistake. THEN, the directions called for two 8 or 9 inch cake pans, but the pictures of the cake-both on the cover, and next to the recipe-were of a three layer cake.  Uh-oh.  Having only two matching 8-inch cake pans, and two matching 9-inch cake pans, not three matching of either size, I decided to bake the cake in the  9-inch layer pans thinking the recipe probably meant to three 8-inch pans or two 9-inch pans.  I thought wrong.  I had too much batter for two 9-inch pans.  The pans were this close to overflowing.  The cakes baked up huge, and domed.  I am pretty sure the cake needed to be baked in three 9-inch pans.  Not sure how many 8-inch pans.  How could there be two such glaring mistakes on one recipe, especially in a book based on recipes that had been tested and that explicitly stated (and the specific reason I bought this book) that recipes with problems had been “rebaked” until they were right?

BUT, after baking, the cake looked good, but a bit crisp on the outside (probably due to over-baking because each pan held too much batter) and seriously domed.  Never mind, I thought.  I can fix it.  I trimmed off the over-browned sides of the cakes, and cut off the domed tops.  The cakes stacked nicely together.  Firm enough for a stable two layer cake, I thought.  I wasn’t overwhelmed when I tasted the discarded domed top, but I thought that was because the cake was still a bit warm from the oven, and didn’t have frosting on yet.

I mixed up the frosting for the cake.  It went on lovely and I spread it on thickly, but I definitely had enough left over for a third layer! Nevertheless, I though the cake was beautiful.  Look at the picture! I was all excited to kick off my Valentine’s Day marathon chocolate posts with this cake…, until I tasted it.  The frosting was to die for, but the cake was No Big Whoop, in fact, it was a Bad Whoop.   The light chocolate taste was good, and there was a bit of a tang, but it wasn’t a good tang.  The cake just wasn’t good. The color was red, but with a bad tasting cake, it made things worse.  I tested the cake on twelve of my favorite testers, my Dining For Women group. Most said the cake was OK, but nobody wanted me to make it again.  Everyone would prefer a chocolate cake, or a yellow cake, or a lemon cake or a carrot cake or a coconut cake.  No one wanted any more Red Velvet cake. The next morning I tasted the cake again, and I knew it was all over.  It just was not a good tasting cake.  Remember the red velvet armadillo groom’s cake in “Steel  Magnolias”?  Did you want a piece? This cake tasted as bad as that cake looked!  It was a tragedy.

I did get three requests for the Cream Cheese Frosting though. The frosting I will make again.  So the frosting recipe I will share.  I hope you have a good cake recipe to use it on!

Cream Cheese Frosting

From “All Cakes Considered” by Melissa Gray

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar (about 7 ½ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter and cream cheese together at medium speed.  Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).  Add in the vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Makes enough frosting to decorate a three layer cake.

I served the Red Velvet cake, with another one made from the same book .  More problems with the recipe but well worth a rebake.  Version Two of the Drunken Monkey cake is sitting on my counter right now.  A definite improvement over Version One in looks. Taste testing tomorrow.  I sure hope it is good enough to post. Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

21 Dec 2010 Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Tomorrow we’re making Christmas sugar cookies then heading out to see the Christmas lights.  It’s finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here–after two weeks of relentless pounding.  First external with a broken pipe and the yucky clean up mess under the house, then internal with some sort of stomach ailment and tomorrow I have to deal with some expensive car issues… But it’s nothing that decorating a few Christmas cookies and then going out to look at some wonderful Christmas lights won’t cure!

I’ve only been using this recipe for sugar cookies for one year, but my “Gild-the-lily” friend Louise has been using it for a many years.  It’s quite a gift she is giving us, sharing this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Click here for the source recipe http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/sugar-cookies-recipe The cookies are supposed to have “crisp edges and soft middles” and they do! Last year my daughter and I decorated these cookies with royal icing (see picture above), but we actually preferred to eat the cookies undecorated!  How shocking is that! I suppose a  light sprinkling of colored sugar would fancy these up, but I wouldn’t over do it. This cookie is very good “as is”; chewy, buttery and sweet!

We used an intricate snowflake cookie cutter last year, and the dough handled it well. No problems cutting out the shape, and the dough kept the shape and proportions when baked.  Not all sugar cookie doughs do you know!  I rolled the cookies out in a mixture of powdered sugar and flour and then baked them on parchment paper (I found out the hard way that cookies rolled out in powdered sugar stick to the cookie sheets).

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

3 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract (I used additional vanilla because I don’t care for almond flavor, and I am sure lemon, orange and rum would all work)
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375ºF. In medium bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. With mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until light and fluffy, usually about 5 minutes. Beat in extracts and egg. Add flour mixture. Mix until moistened. Form dough into discs, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour before rolling and cutting into shapes. Bake 8 minutes until just golden at edges.

Thanks so much for stopping by my kitchen today! Sing with me now… “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” La, la, laaaa!

05 Dec 2010 Eggnog Spritz Cookies

I feel asleep. In my chair. In front of the TV. I think it had something to do with watching my 2 year old grandson from 9 AM to midnight.  Nevertheless, I missed posting cookie number four of my “Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies” special, oooops! That just means that I’ll have to play catch up and post two Christmas Cookie recipes today!

The recipe I meant to post yesterday was this Eggnog Spritz recipe.  I’ve been making these spritz cookies for so long, two cookie presses ago,  that I have no memory of where I got the original recipe.  My friend Anne had received some of these cookies in her Christmas Cookie box in 1999, and last year she tried to make them for herself  (when I give people cookies, I always include the recipe)…  Unfortunately, she wasn’t happy with them.  She said they weren’t as strongly flavored as she remembered them.  Well, that wasn’t good.  So this year, I upped the nutmeg and the rum flavoring.   We don’t want the memory of an eggnog flavor in these cookies, we want eggnog flavor! Anne came over for a little taste test last night, and was quite happy with this version.  Me, too!  There’s no cookie in the world that won’t benefit from a bit more nutmeg!

Eggnog Spritz Cookies

  • 3 ½ cups all purpose flour (I always use unbleached all purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (make sure it is fresh, a bottle from a few years ago won’t have much flavor)
  • 1 ½ cups butter (3 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoons rum extract
  • Nutmeg Sugar (mix 1 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 400º.
  2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
  3. In the bowl of electric mixer cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir in egg yolks, vanilla, and rum extracts.  Beat until well combined.
  4. With mixer running, gradually add flour mixture to butter-sugar mixture.  Dough should be very soft.
  5. Force dough through a cookie press and onto ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheets.  I usually make the small star shaped spritz cookie, but the manual cookie press I borrowed (my second cookie press-one battery operated, one electric-just burned out) didn’t have a star disk, I just made long logs, baked them, and then broke into pieces.  This works, but it’s not as attractive as individual star shaped cookies 🙂
  6. Sprinkle cookies with nutmeg sugar. If desired, add an extra grating of freshly grated whole nutmeg over the cookies.
  7. Bake in preheated 400º oven for 6-7 minutes.
  8. Cool cookies on tray for a minute, and them remove to a rack to cool completely.  Makes approximately 5 dozen small spritz cookies.

Sorry I was sleeping when you stopped by my kitchen yesterday, but I’m you came back today though!  I’ll post another recipe just as soon as I return from a little Christmas shopping!  I have to find a Bundt cake pan for my daughter.  Next year she and I are tempted to join in the month of  “I Like Big Bundts” bake-a-thon! It sounds like so much fun!!

02 Dec 2010 Jam Pinwheels

I firmly believe every cookie tray needs an old fashioned jam cookie.  Those coconut, chocolate, peanut butter, peppermint, gingerbread, sugared pecan concoctions have their place but, in the midst of such chaos, a straightforward old fashioned cookie is just the thing.   So, for day two of my 2010 “Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies” special, I offer you, a delicious Jam Pinwheel.

I won’t lie to you. This recipe is a bit of a bother to make–but the end result is a delicious jam cookie.  First, make the dough and then refrigerate it for an hour or so.  Then, roll out the dough (always a mess), spread it with jam (not too thick, not too thin, not too close to the edges), and roll back up (messy) and then refrigerate for another many hours.  THEN, unroll, slice and bake.  THEN, take the cookies off the cookie sheet after they firm up but before they begin to stick.  It’s one of those cookie recipes you have to make in bits and pieces (with plenty time for washing the dishes and addressing Christmas cards in between steps)!

This recipe is from the 2010 Better Homes and Gardens “Christmas Cookies” Special Interest Publication (page 59).

Jam Pinwheels

1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups seedless raspberry preserves

  1. With an electric mixer beat the butter for about 30 seconds.  Add sugar, making powder, and salt and beat until well combined.
  2. Beat in eggs, one at a time and then lemon peel.
  3. Beat in flour.
  4. Divide dough in half, cover and refrigerate for an hour or so or until dough is firm enough to roll out.
  5. Roll each half of dough into a square approximately 10 x 10 inches.
  6. Spread each rolled dough square with 1/3 of a cup of raspberry preserves.
  7. Roll up dough.  Refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours, or until firm enough to slice.
  8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  9. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Cut rolls into 1/4 inch thick slices (discard end slices), place on parchment lined cookie sheet,  and bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned.
  11. Cool cookies on tray for a minute or so then transfer to a rack to cool. (Don’t dilly-dally on this step)
  12. Makes about 60 cookies.
  13. Store in refrigerator for 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. It’s always nice to talk to you!

19 Oct 2010 Hasselback Potatoes

Have you heard of these potatoes?  Have you ever had one?   Seen one?  Me neither.  I made, and tasted, my first Hasselback potatoes over the weekend, photographic proof above!   A Hasselback Potato is a  Swedish version of a baked potato.  It’s named after the restaurant where it was first served, Hasselbacken, in Stockholm…, in the 1700s (!).  LOL! There are pictures and recipes all over the Internet.  See the great photos here!  Was I truly the last person on the planet to learn of these?!   How on earth did I miss these for the  first 50 years of my life?  The Hasselback potatoes were fun and easy to make, looked intriguing on the plate and tasted very good.

Use the recipe below as a guide.   Change it up a bit to match your tastes, and what you have on hand.  Some recipes call for peeling the potatoes, I left the skins on.  Some recipes use Russet potatoes, I used small Yukon Golds.  Some recipes call for sprinkling the potatoes with bread crumbs, I used Parmesan Cheese.  Some recipes called for paprika and salt, I used black pepper and salt. The quantities below are just a guide, increase or decrease depending on how many potatoes you are cooking.

Hasselback Potatoes

2-4 small Russet potatoes, or 6-12 small Yukon Gold potatoes (as many as you need for the number of people you are serving)
1 tablespoon olive oil
approx. 4 tablespoons melted butter
1-2 teaspoons finely minced garlic (to taste)
salt (table, Kosher, or sea), to taste
freshly grated black pepper, to taste
approx 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400º.

The first step is the trick to these potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices, but DO NOT cut all the way through the bottom of the potato. How to do this?  Put a pencil, a skewer or a chopstick on either side of the potato.  Slice an 1/4 intervals.  The knife will stop when it hits the pencil, skewer or chopstick and you won’t slice all the way through the potato! Brilliant!

Melt the butter with the garlic and the olive oil.

Drizzle the butter mixture over the potatoes.  Then use a pastry brush, or your fingers, to make sure the butter and the garlic drizzles down between each potato slice. (I put the potatoes in a bowl, poured the melted butter-oil-garlic mixture over them, then made sure the oil and garlic slid down each cut. )  Place potatoes on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place potatoes in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake until done.  I baked small Yukon Golds for 25 minutes.  Bake a russet almost as long as you would bake a regular baked potato, 50 to 60 minutes.  Wait, you are not done yet.

Remove potatoes from oven, brush with any remaining butter-oil-garlic mixture and then sprinkle with cheese.  Return to oven to melt cheese, another 5 minutes or so.  Now you are done 🙂

Some people serve these with horseradish and herbed sour cream.  Why?  I didn’t think they needed any topping at all.

BTW, my daughter  zapped the leftovers for her breakfast the following morning.  I stole a bite.  Yummy.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  It’s always a pleasure.  Leave me a comment so I know you stopped by!

30 Sep 2010 Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

In our recent taste tests, these were definitely the winners!   I think these won because they tasted the most like traditional  Rice Krispie Treats, but they were cranked up a notch, a big notch. The browned butter and the sea salt makes such a DIVINE difference. You’ll know when you taste them. Look at all that was left to photograph! My older daughter wants me to throw out the original recipe for Rice Krispie Treats and just use this one from now on.

I didn’t want to up this recipe to use a 9 x 13 pan, because there is quite a bit of butter in this recipe–and it has to be browned, which can be a tricky step.  I’d suggest making two batches, rather than one larger batch, if you are trying to feed a crowd.

I did put my batch in a 7×11 pan, rather than the specified 8×8 pan.

I found this recipe at Smitten Kitchen.

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

4 ounces (¼ pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter
10 ounces mini marshmallows
Heaping ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt, I used Maldon Sea Salt (plus extra for sprinkling)
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (6 ounces)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute. As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows. The residual heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them, but if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth. Remove the pot from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal together. Quickly spread into prepared pan, pressing firmly and evenly into the edges and corners (butter a spatula or use the paper from the butter for this job). Let cool and then cut into squares.