Friday, February 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Fudge

My husband's been having a horrible week at work, so to try and cheer him up, I decided to make him one of his favorite confections:  peanut butter fudge. I've never tried to make any variation of fudge before so I knew beforehand it may have less than satisfactory results, but I decided to give it a try nonetheless. After all, you've got to start somewhere, right?

Easy recipe to follow, takes only minutes - I had my fudge in the fridge to set within fifteen minutes of beginning the whole process. According to the recipe, it only needed an hour (at least) to set, but after four hours, mine was still too soft. Not liquidy by any means, but soft to the point that I had to dig it out of the pan and almost needed a fork to eat it with. I moved it to the freezer and left it there overnight, and that seemed to help.

I think my problem was that I didn't let it come to a complete boil. I was a little paranoid about it burning on the bottom so as soon as it started to boil I pulled it off the heat.

After sitting in the freezer, it's just about the perfect consistency, though the heat from your fingers begins to soften it pretty quickly. That's hardly an issue though since it tastes so good that it's gone before it can start to thaw!

Seriously, this stuff is GOOD. My husband ate some and then proclaimed that it tasted better than his mother's. I can't lie - that made me feel pretty good.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Artisan Bread

Today, I have something a little different I'll be talking about. Since I am the possessor of a HUGE sweet tooth, everything I bake is always very sweet. But there's something I've always wanted to try, and that is baking bread.

This is very much out of my comfort zone, so I wasn't expecting spectacular results. I decided to go for simple white bread, figuring once I had the technique down, I could experiment with different flavors (two varieties on my agenda:  cheddar and cinnamon swirl!).

I used a no-knead recipe from The Italian Dish. The recipe is only slightly labor-intensive (I hesitate to say even that) and very easy to follow. I halved the recipe since this is my first time attempting bread and if it turned out disastrous, I didn't want as much carnage lying around to depress me.

My dough before letting it rise, covered.
My dough after letting it rise, uncovered - shortly before going into the oven.

My dough rose two hours in a bowl covered with plastic wrap before being placed in the fridge for two more hours. It rose for forty minutes uncovered while the pans preheated in the oven. Finally, I slashed it across the top and put it in the oven, fingers crossed.

That's what it looked like going into the oven. Nice, right? I was tempted to feel impressed with myself, but then I remembered how pretty my cherry danishes were before going into the oven, and I was humbled. I sat waiting anxiously as my bread baked, hoping it wouldn't be a catastrophe.

It baked for only twenty-five minutes. The color looked right ("a dark golden brown") and I didn't want to burn it.

It turned out GORGEOUS!

And not only that, but it tasted awesome. Especially with a thin layer of butter spread over its surface. Mmmm.

My family loved it and we almost ate the entire thing, since everyone had seconds and most of us went back for thirds, too. I know, we're indulgent. But it's that good. And such an easy recipe!

It's dense bread, not light fluffy sandwich bread - though I suspect a sandwich on it would be delicious. It's thick, chewy, and the flavor is phenomenal.

I can't wait to try this recipe again, but this time, with new flavors. I'm getting excited thinking about all the different things I can do with this new skill! Definitely give this one a try, if you can. You won't be disappointed!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chocolate-Covered Brownie Hearts

Valentine's Day is over, and it's a good thing, too - I was just about sick of seeing pictures of roses and cards and boxes of candy on Facebook. Does that make me sound like a killjoy? Oh well.

I did contribute one photo to the mania that was Facebook yesterday, and that was of my V-Day present to my family - I made them these heart-shaped chocolate-covered brownies. It's an easy recipe, and it turned out looking so fancy!

I made no changes to the ingredients, but I did add a handful of mini chocolate chips, which added three minutes to my cooking time. Oh, and I forgot to spray my foil-lined pan with non-stick spray but luckily my brownies didn't stick.

Didn't they turn out looking nice? Some of my white chocolate didn't go on smoothly but the chocolate drizzles remedied that.

To serve, I followed Kara's suggestion and put them in pretty pink cupcake liners. Everyone said they looked store-bought!

It  may be too late to use this recipe for Valentine's Day, but it could easily be adapted to fit any holiday, or any day in general! The heart-shaped cutter could easily be switched with a star or even just a plain round cutter. For Christmas shapes, the chocolate drizzle could be red or green.

The brownie recipe is great, especially with chocolate chips added. They tasted better than any brownie mix you'd buy at the store!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Cake Pops and Strawberries

I'm not Valentine's Day's biggest fan, but I do have to say I love the goodies that come along with it! It's just about the only time of year I like the color pink, too. I'm not very girly at all - I don't think I even own a pink shirt - but when this time of year comes around, who can resist making everything in pretty shades of pink and red?

Maybe it's just the mass amounts of chocolate consumed that make me feel this way, but enough rambling. Let's get this post started. This is one of two Valentine's Day posts I'm going to be posting. This half of the festivity was made for a Valentine's Day party at my father's work. He requested cake pops and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Both of these pictures were taken from a phone, so sorry if they're not top notch. As you can see, half of the cake pops were white and half were pink. Instead of using melted white chocolate this time, I gave vanilla-flavored almond bark a try. I much preferred it to chocolate. The taste is equally delicious and it's thinner (thus, not as heavy), so it was easier to apply. To decorate I used edible pearls and alternate-colored drizzles.

I used a cake mix to make these, so sue me. You may notice that when it comes to things I intend to spend a significant amount of time on decorating, I opt for mixes. Maybe that's lazy, but I'm sorry if I don't want to spend hours upon hours standing in my kitchen while my one-year-old roams the house screaming. I'm 37 weeks pregnant, also - so cut me some slack.

And here are my berries. Again, I used melted almond bark and melted milk chocolate to dip these, with alternate-colored drizzles. I think the white ones with the pink drizzles look pretty cool.

Everyone loved them, my dad said. Who doesn't love fruit dipped in chocolate and bits of cake on a stick?

Yes, so speaking of me being pregnant - about that. Like I said, I'm 37 weeks along so any time now my little girl will be making her arrival into this world. I'll keep baking and blogging until she gets here, but once she's here, it may be a short while before I can establish a new routine and get back in the groove enough to start blogging again! I'm not talking months and months, just a few weeks maybe. I'm giving you fair warning so you don't get tired of waiting and give up on me.

Anyway, so keep an eye out for Valentine's Day post number two, which I'll have up sometime within the next two days. Until next time!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


This is yet another post dedicated to something I baked for one of my husband's coworkers. I really ought to start charging. I say that jokingly, but one day when my business is up and booming (fingers crossed!), I really WILL have to.

So today we're talking snickerdoodles. I had never made snickerdoodles before, so I made sure to read all the comments on the recipe post before I did anything else. I'm glad I did, because a few of the suggestions found there were good to know.

I followed this recipe exactly, except regarding one ingredient:  cinnamon. A few comments complained that these cookies lacked the strong cinnamon-y taste associated with snickerdoodles. To ensure that this wouldn't be a problem, I added a few extra shakes of cinnamon to both the dough and the rolling mixture.

The comments also led me to leave my dough rolled in balls on the pan, rather than flattening them as the recipe advises. I had let my dough sit in the fridge for an hour and a half while I ran some errands, so it was nice and easy to handle.

One last change I made was the size of the balls of dough. The recipe suggests each ball consist of about two and a half tablespoons of dough. I made mine smaller. My balls of dough measured about an inch to an inch and a half.

Each pan (one had 12 and the other 15) took fourteen minutes to bake, and I found that to be the perfect amount of time.

These are DELICIOUS. Very soft, without being cake-like, with just a slight crunch around the edges. My one-year-old couldn't get enough. Every bite he took was followed with the most enthusiastic "Mmmmm!" I've ever heard in my life. I was very pleased with the amount of cinnamon, as well. I don't know how it would have been if I hadn't added any extra, but mine were perfect.

The size of my cookies were fairly small, as well - about two inches across - so I can eat more and not feel as guilty about it. Right?