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Saturday
Oct252014

Latest Drawing / Art Posts on Craftsy

Woo! I've done a bunch of awesome art/painting/design tutorials on Craftsy recently. Care to develop your illustrative prowess? Well, you'll find plenty of info and awesomeness in these posts:

Transfer paper how-to

First, how to use transfer paper. You know how awesome parchment paper is in baking? This is just as awesome in art, though its use is quite different. You'll find that you can draw things you never thought you could when you get a little tracing help from this easy to use medium. Here's my primer on how to use the stuff.

Urban Sketching

What is urban sketching and how do you do it? You'll find a fun article I wrote about finding artistic inspiration in the big city, including ways to express the energy and buzz of the city in fun drawing and sketching exercises. Check out the urban sketching tutorial here

Saturday
Oct252014

How to Make a Classic Sandwich Bread Loaf

This is the bread that kicked off my recent bread-making obsession. It's so simple you might start making fresh bread weekly, like I have been!! Once you master this one, you'll also want to try my honey-wheat variation.

Full recipe and photo tutorial here. 

Friday
Oct242014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Image: BitrebelsI'm amused and horrified by this Sta-Puft figure. (BitRebels)

Not sweet per se, but still a baked treat. The history of the Cornish pasty! (History.com)

How to make fake cupcakes. A valuable life skill! (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Oatmeal banana bread pancakes. YES! (Whipped)

Master recipe for biscuits and scones. Yes! (NY Times)

No blurred lines here: a guide to different types of lines in drawing. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Who knew? Unexpected uses for honey. (Philly.com)

You knead to know: how to test yeast. (Taste of Home)

DIY Nutella. It's such a good idea. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Incredible white chocolate brownies. (The Perfect Brownie)

Caramel apple pie scones. Just absorb all of those things together. Add clotted cream. YUM! (United Cakedom)

Say hello to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (!) (Food World News)

I'm sorry, but did you miss these white chocolate candy cups filled with sugar cookie dough? Too much joy! (Crazy for Crust via CakeSpy)

It's early in the season, yes,, but I'm so into pannetone French toast. (Colavita)

The art of the conversation: how to draw people talking (CakeSpy for Craftsy)

Book of the week: Southern Biscuits by Nathalie Dupree. Because the south does biscuits best (no offense, rest of the world) and this is the bible of how to do biscuits right! Om nom nom.

Thursday
Oct232014

Sweet Tip: You can Bake Extra Pie Filling in Ramekins

Let me say first of all that this is a public service announcement, because as a bona fide crust lover, I would never-ever suggest that you avoid crust (or carbs in general).

But, I understand that there might be times to go crust-less. For instance:

  • You need to abide by a gluten-free diet.
  • You don't like crust (I don't understand you, but I can appreciate that you exist).
  • You made too much pie filling. It's not enough to fill a second crust, but enough that you don't just want to toss it. 

OK, so now I'll tell you the little factoid I discovered that you can keep in your back pocket for the next time you need it:

You can bake your pie filling in ramekins and it will turn out just fine.

I've done this several times in the past, with pumpkin, sweet potato, and Bob Andy pie. And each time, it's turned out just fine. It occurs to me that you could make a conscious effort to do this, too, mixing up a batch of filling and baking it all in separate ramekins for a sort of sweet souffle-like dessert.

Should you want to do this, all you need to do is the following:

  1. Grab a few oven-safe ramekins.
  2. Fill them with the pie filling of your choice. Mostly, but not quite, full.
  3. Put them on a baking sheet and into the oven, heated to the same temperature called for in the pie recipe.
  4. Bake, but for significantly less time than a pie would take. For instance, if a full pie takes 45 minutes to bake, check the ramekins at 10-15 minutes or so. Look for the same signals of doneness as you would in a pie: mostly set with a slight jiggle in the center, slight pulling away from the sides, et cetera.
  5. Remove and let cool in the ramekins. Serve right in them once cooled. I like mine slightly warmed with cookies or ice cream, but it's nice plain, too.

What do you do with extra pie filling?

Thursday
Oct232014

Butter Me Up: Three Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits

Three. That is the sum total of ingredients required to make delicious buttermilk biscuits from scratch. Want to learn more? Lucky you. The entire recipe (as well as an explanation of how it all works) can be found on Craftsy

Thursday
Oct232014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chewy Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Drizzle

Who says that ginger cookies have to be snappy? These ones are soft, and in the best way possible. It makes them all the better to cuddle up with on a cold night with a cup of cocoa!

This yummy recipe is courtesy of Michele Kusma of Columbus, Ohio. Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Chewy Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Drizzle 

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Total Time: 1 Hr 45 Min
  • Makes: 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 container Pillsbury Gluten Free refrigerated pie and pastry dough
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 cup white vanilla baking chips

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Let dough stand at room temperature 10 minutes to soften.
  2. In large bowl, break up dough. Add remaining ingredients except baking chips. Mix with electric mixer on medium-low speed about 2 minutes or until well blended.
  3. Shape dough into 30 (1 1/2-inch) balls. Place 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets (dark cookie sheets not recommended); flatten with fingers into 2-inch rounds.
  4. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are set. Cool 4 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips uncovered on High 45 to 60 seconds, stirring once, until chips can be stirred smooth.
  6. Place in small resealable food-storage plastic bag. Cut off tiny corner of bag; squeeze bag to drizzle melted baking chips over cooled cookies. Store covered.

About this post: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off events, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

Wednesday
Oct222014

Sugar Cookie Dough Cups from Dessert Mash-Ups

I felt a shiver of excitement upon receiving a review copy of the new book Dessert Mashups by Dorothy Kern of Crazy For Crust (a site well worth checking out if you ask me). Before I even opened the book, I already loved the concept. Upon opening it, I just got more excited: s'mores cakes, cheesecake cookie dough truffles, carrot cake-coffee cake...the tasty mashups prove that if some is good, more is amazing (something I have long suspected).

Basically, I'm going to tell you that if you liked my first book, CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life, then you absolutely need to buy Dessert Mashups

In case I haven't made myself clear enough, I'll bring the point home with an excerpt from the book, for sugar cookie dough cups. This excerpt, including headnote and photo, is reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. Thanks dudes!

Sugar Cookie Dough Cups

My father-in-law was a sugar-cookie fanatic. Every Christmas I’d make our family sugar cookies and I’d have to make him his own extra batch so he wouldn’t eat all of ours (and he would have!). Over the years I started making lots of other sugar-cookie treats, from bars to candy, to give him for every holiday and birthday. I made these in his memory, and I know that he would have loved them (and eaten them all without gaining an ounce).

  • Yield 12
  • Prep Time 45 minutes
  • Chill Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1⁄4 cup (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons whole milk
  • 1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 to 16 ounces vanilla-flavored melting chocolate
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Procedure

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the vanilla, milk, and flour.
  2. Form the dough into a disk. Place between two sheets of waxed paper on a cutting board. Roll out to 1⁄4 inch thick. I like to peel the waxed paper off the top, then flip the dough over and peel it off the bottom after every few rolls so that it doesn’t stick. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut 24 circles of dough, rerolling as necessary. Place half the dough rounds on top of the other half, for a total of 12. Refrigerate until ready to assemble cups.
  4. Melt the melting chocolate according to the package directions. (See Candy Dipping Tips.)
  5. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of melting chocolate into the bottom of each liner, enough to coat the bottom. Tap the pan to settle the candy and release any air bubbles.
  6. Place one cookie dough round in each muffin liner. Top with
1 to 2 tablespoons more melting chocolate, spreading as necessary to make sure that the two edges of chocolate meet. Tap the pan again to release air bubbles. Top with sprinkles. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. These can also be frozen.
  7. Tip: These are a big dose of sweet! To make them more bite-size, use a mini muffin pan, with mini muffin liners and a 1-inch round cookie cutter. You can also make these with your favorite flavor of cookie dough. Just substitute 1 tablespoon of milk for each egg called for in the recipe to make an eggless cookie dough, and you can omit any leavening that is called for. Use vanilla or chocolate candy melts, depending on your cookie dough flavor.

Someone come over my house, because I feel like I could eat the whole batch!

Wednesday
Oct222014

Making Fake Cupcakes: A Tutorial

Making fake cupcakes: you might be surprised at how useful these sweet (but not to eat) treats can be. Should you need to invest your time in this valuable life skill, this helpful tutorial is waiting for you.

Sunday
Oct192014

Better than Canadian Bacon: Breakfast Nanaimo Bars Recipe

Let's play a game. I'm going to list a few ingredients, and you guess what meal I'm making.

Here goes: 

  • Oatmeal
  • Granola
  • Maple syrup
  • Butter
  • Coconut

Do you think I'm talking about breakfast? Good, because that means I have sufficiently breakfast-ified these Nanaimo bars, and therefore, they are officially OK for A.M. eating. Why would I want to do such a thing? 

I have a lot of trouble understanding why doughnuts, scones, and danish are OK for breakfast, yet cookies and cake are not.

My logic is this: if you are what you eat, why not start out the day by eating (and being) amazing? These breakfast-friendly Nanaimo bars are the perfect way to start your day right, and an ideal indulgent holiday breakfast treat. They've got enough of the classic makings to be recognizable as the famed Canadian treat, but enough breakfast stylings, such as oats in the crust (which is baked, not simply mixed and no-baked; it is loosely based on the crust used in King Arthur Flour's "President's Day Cherry Squares" recipe) and a tasty crunchy granola on top, that they become an exciting and new thing.

Nanaimo bars for breakfast? Believe it.

I'm especially excited to share these as a recipe featuring King Arthur Flour (whole wheat no less--another point for these being health food!). Ever since my awesome Bake For Good experience with the esteemed flour-maker, I've maintained a good relationship with them, and when they recently asked if I'd come up with a breakfast recipe using their flour, I was more than happy to do so!

Oh, and I should tell you, these bars freeze beautifully. You can freeze up to 2 months; let them come to room temperature before serving. 

Breakfast Nanaimo bars

Makes up to 36 tiny bars, or 9 massive breakfast bars

For the crust

  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar

For the middle layer

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Birds Custard powder
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the top layer

  • 4 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the granola garnish

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Procedure

  1. Start by making the crust. Grease a 9x9-inch square baking pan; add a strip of parchment with the ends poking up two sides of the pan so you have "handles" to make removal easy later. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, coconut, nuts, and salt. 
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the cocoa and brown sugar. Once melted, stir into the dry mixture. Mix everything until combined, and press into your prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes, or until it has a dull finish on top. Remove from oven and let cool completely. You can hasten the process by putting the slightly cooled pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Make the filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix all of the filling ingredients on low speed until fluffy--3 to 5 minutes. Gently spread on top of the bottom layer. Take pains to smooth this layer as much as possible (I like to use the end of a metal spatula to smooth it) as the topping will only lay as smooth as this layer. 
  5. Place the pan in the refrigerator and let cool for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. This will make the filling firm enough for the next layer to be put on top without ripping or damaging it in any way.
  6. Meantime, make the granola garnish. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, and scatter on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes; remove from the oven and stir right on the sheet. Return to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes, or until toasty and firm. Let cool completely, and break up by hand into small pieces.
  7. Ready to put it all together? OK. Now, we'll make the topping. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until, well, melted. Spread on top of the middle layer, working quickly because it will set rapidly as it is applied to the cool surface, and too much working of the hot mixture can tear up the delicate middle layer. 
  8. Scatter the broken-up granola on top while the chocolate layer is still slightly wet on top to ensure it adheres. Score the bars (this is imporant!) before the chocolate has fully set as it will make life so much easier when you want to serve these sweet treats. Place in the fridge and let them set for 20 minutes.
  9. Although typically I would suggest continued storage of these in the fridge, I find that they're actually quite nicer when left at room temperature. It's up to you, but I found that the topping got kind of hard when left in the fridge. If you do prefer to store in the fridge, let them come to room temperature before serving. Likewise, these bars can be made ahead and frozen for up to 2 months. Once again, let 'em come to room temp before serving.

What's your favorite sweet to eat in the morning?

Sunday
Oct192014

Pillsbury Bake-Off Countdown: Chai-Glazed Cinnamon Waffles

Note: the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming in November! Check out my coverage of the 45th and 46th Bake-Off, and follow the recipes posted so far by clicking the bakeoff tag below.

I'm super excited about this entry from Mimi Chang from Middletown, New Jersey. First and foremost, because who doesn't like waffles? I even have a waffle wallet--not kidding.

Second, Mimi is from my neck of the woods in New Jersey! Good luck at the Bake-Off!

Chai-Glazed Cinnamon Waffles

  • Prep Time: 30 Min
  • Total Time: 30 Min
  • Makes: 5 waffles

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter extract
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tea bags chai tea
  • 1 can Pillsbury Grands! refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (5 rolls)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. In small bowl; mix walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon of the butter extract and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt. Spread in ungreased 15x10x1-inch pan. Bake 6 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until light brown. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, toss banana slices and remaining 1/4 teaspoon butter extract. Place in single layer on cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until softened.
  3. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave whipping cream uncovered on High 40 to 50 seconds or until steaming. Add tea bags to whipping cream. Let steep 5 minutes. Squeeze tea bags into cream; discard tea bags.
  4. Meanwhile, heat waffle maker. (Waffle makers without a nonstick coating may need to be sprayed with nonstick spray before cinnamon roll is added.)
  5. Separate dough into 5 rolls; reserve icing. Place 1 roll in center of each waffle section. Close lid of waffle maker. Bake 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  6. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix chai whipping cream, powdered sugar, reserved icing and 2 tablespoons water until smooth. To serve, top waffles with bananas and walnut mixture. Drizzle with chai icing.
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