Posts Tagged 'Recipe'

I. Hate. Buttercream. Frosting.

Twirling Birthday Candles.

May 25, 2010; Chesterfield, NH: Swirly twirly birthday candles.

“Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.” ~ Julia Child.

Some people are true bakers.  They get up at the crack of dawn, relish being covered in flour, and the smell of cakes in the oven is euphoria.  Other people are consumers.  They love the smell, but not so much the mess.  They are more than willing to aid with the consumption of cakes, pastries, and bread.  I am a consumer.

Every May 25th is Cake Baking Day.  I make one cake a year; for my boyfriend’s birthday (which is May 26th).  I despise baking.  I hate the way the greasy feel of butter sticks to my fingers hours after the cake has been finished, and I hate that my baked goods are often devoured as quickly as they are made.  Therefore, I make it a point only to bake when I must, or when I genuinely have nothing else to do.

Today, you may note, is May the 25th.  That means I rose at eight in the morning (because I cannot handle five am wakeups, and my family

Candy Bar Cake Batter - Yum!

Wow, the cake batter looks good enough to eat right now!

usually controls the kitchen until nine or noon, depending on the day of the week) and began my misadventure.  The first error I made was dressing up in my favorite gypsy skirt and putting on a white tank top.  I realized, as I was dressing, that this was an error, so I put my unfortunate Midsummer Night’s Dream cast shirt over the tank top to protect it from the inevitable mess.  So far, so good.

Usually I make Bryan a yellow cake.  He likes yellow cakes best, for whatever reason.  This year, determined to have a piece of the cake (because I like neither the cake type or frosting he prefers) I decided to create a chocolate-based cake that I still think he would like.  I figured, it’s only fair, this is the fourth birthday I will have baked a cake for him, and I have never had a piece of the cake.  So, my morning started with opening three bags worth of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate and Raspberry candy squares.  It wasn’t too bad- I even found a coupon in one of the bags (which I will almost certainly never use, as I rarely buy Ghirardelli).  It certainly smelled good!  For anyone who’s interested, the recipe came from Cooks.com, and was intended for Milky Way candy bars (yuck) but the Milky Ways can easily be replaced with any kind of candy bar at all.  It wasn’t too hard to translate the recipe to Ghirardelli bars for me, and I only bake cakes once a year.

8 Milky Way Candy Bars
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups cake flour

Cakes, successful!  Hurrah!

So far so good, the cakes came nice and easy out of the pan.

You want to preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  The recipe I found called for a 9” x 13” pan, but I used two regular sized cake pans and it turned out just fine.  Just make sure to crazy-grease the pans; I used both parchment paper and a lot of butter-flavoured Crisco.  If you don’t have cake flour, you can substitute 7/8 cup flour and 2 tablespoons cornstarch for every cup.  You want to melt and mix the butter and candy either in a double boiler, or if you’re like me and you don’t have that, a pot on the stove and constant stirring works just as well.  Mix the sugar, eggs, and vanilla together, then add the chocolate mix, and then add everything else in increments until it’s about the thickness of chocolate mousse.  Cook for an hour (or as long as it takes).

I had a surprisingly easy time with the cake.  Really, you have no idea how easy.  The cake is usually the part I mess up.  My yellow cake recipe that I normally use is a moist cake, and usually falls apart.  Though, I guess I shouldn’t speak too soon:  the cake is only as intact as it is after it is frosted, and frosting, that’s the real adventure.

Buttercream frosting.  On the outside, it sounds like a tiny yellow and cream-coloured faerie that skips across lily pads and grants wishes to all the well-behaved amphibians.  She probably lives in a grove of buttercups.  Ah yes.  On

Yikes, the frosting is melting already!

So, I didn't realise it even when I took this picture that in about 3 minutes that dribbling frosting would be a huge yellow puddle.

the outside she sounds so innocent and wonderful.  But that image is not the real buttercream frosting.  The real buttercream frosting comes from a desolate land and runs one step ahead of the tooth faerie, stealing the teeth and leaving loaded mousetraps instead of nickels and dimes.  It is an evil faerie.

Okay, a little overdramatic, but I get my point across.  I really dislike buttercream frosting.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a pain in the butt.  It doesn’t taste good (to me), it’s a pain to mix (for me), and it’s so thick that it’s difficult to spread on a cake without destroying the cake (for me).  Something new that I can recently learned about buttercream frosting is that when it’s over 70 degrees in your house, even if the two halves of the cake have been sitting in the refrigerator for half an hour, it melts when you put it on the cake and if you try to ninja-spread it in the ‘tween layer and plop the second layer of cake on top, it melts.  No.  Not just melts.  It exploded in a greasy messy all over your kitchen table, moistening the cake beneath it so when you try to clean up the mess, the cake begins to crumble.

It’s not my recipe, I swear to God.  I have been using the same buttercream frosting recipe for four years and have never had this much trouble with it.  It’s always been a thorn in my side, granted, but I’ve always gotten very nice compliments about the flavour.  It was worthwhile (but only one a year!).  This year, it has made the decision to be a javelin in my eye.  But, then again, this May 25th is one of the warmest days we’ve had yet this year.  Maybe someone else, at a higher altitude, will have more luck with this combination (and I will get it to work, everything just needs to be significantly colder.  We don’t have an air conditioner in my house:  those with air conditioning would have no worries).

4 sticks butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream

Mix the butter first until softened, then add the sugar, then vanilla and heavy cream.  The recipe is painfully simple.  Dare I say, deceitfully simple.  Because the lack of complicated ingredients paves way for all the trouble previously mentioned.

The second attempt to frost the cake.

So after the frosting started to melt again, the cake was put in the fridge.

So.  The first time I attempted to frost the cake, it was just the middle.  I seemed relatively alright, so I plopped the second layer of cake on top and exited the room for a moment because I can’t focus and felt the need to pace my house.  Naturally, when I came back, there was a huge, goopy, greasy, slimy yellow puddle all around the cake.  Almost as though the cake had peed.  But it hadn’t.  Instead, the buttercream frosting had decided to take a swim.  In a panic, I attempted to clean up the mess, and the moment I thought I had it, it began to ooze more.  Knowing that I couldn’t keep up, I scooped up my quickly failing cake and ushered into the nice, cool basement.  The frosting was relocated into the fridge and I waited an hour, hoping and praying that my cake would not be ruined and all that butter wasted (it was a lotof butter).

An hour later, I fetch the cake.  The mess seemed to have dealt with itself as things were nice and solid.  Still a little messy, but it could be cleaned up later.  I went along my way of frosting the cake one more.  I was able to get a thin layer of frosting on the top and about half of the sides done when I noticed the frosting was spreading too easily and sticking very poorly.  Alas!  Signs of melting had reappeared!  I rushed the half-frosted cake into the basement and hid the frosting once again in the fridge.

It is one o’clock by now.  Keep in mind I started this misadventure at 8 in the morning.  Five hours of torment that, according to the recipe,

Finally frosted cake.

By about 3pm, 7 hours after the beginning of the project, the cake is finally frosted.

should have only been two, tops.  The cake still smells fabulous, but my fingers are greasy and there’s cake flour on my beautiful skirt and I’m running out of frosting with a half frosted cake and may need to make more.  I’m beginning to wonder… is this worthwhile?  It’s near ninety degrees outside.  Even with all the fans running, the cake looks more like discoloured mashed potatoes than it does a birthday cake (I’m overdramatic).

An hour later, the cake was checked in the basement.  Not melting… but not in a state to be furtherly frosted, either.  So another couple hours, it sits.  By 3:30pm, it is retrieved, and having improved not at all, I give up, stick it in the fridge, take the rest of the frosting out of the fridge so it softens, and once the frosting softens, I frost the rest of the cake.  The frosting is thin, and messy.  But it is over ninety degrees out there – what else is there to do?  The cake must be finished.  And so it is.

The final count for the day?  This cake was a seven hour project.  In that time period, I washed my hands about thirty-six times, I used a good quarter of a roll of paper towels cleaning up the melted buttery mess, I successfully watched Toy Story 2 for the first time since I saw it in theatres forever ago (it made me want to dig my Jessie doll out from the basement; stayed tuned in the future for a Disney-related post!), I used a total of 5 sticks of butter (ew), learned that there is an amazing Pixar Zoetrope in Disneyland California (not Orlando, le sadness).  My final feelings about it?  Well first, I am forever grateful that this is strictly a once a year project.  Secondly, I am incredibly frustrated that it was so messy (more the mess than the time-consumption).  Third?  I hope Bryan realises I love him.

Bryan's completed 22nd birthday cake.

Seven hours later, the cake is completed. I sure hope it tastes good, after all that!

Muchies are Win: Mexican Wedding Cookies

Eddie organising his Pokemon cards.

May 20, 2010; Chesterfield, NH: My brother organising his Pokemon cards. Upped brightness and contrast and added a spotlight affect in CS3.

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” ~ Robert Fulghum.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people are talking about the oil spill. I thought about talking about it, but I don’t feel like I’m accredited to talk about such things: I’m not a reporter and I don’t live there. My sources would be secondhand sources that anyone could find by Googling the words “oil spill in the Gulf”. So I decided to give up my chance at fame and fortune and being featured and instead I am going to write about my afternoon. There’s no point in me pretending to be or know about things I don’t.

Cookie Dough from the first batch!

So this is what I did today. I made cookies. Lots of cookies, and it was an adventure. See, first, I had to go to the grocery store, at noontime in Brattleboro. Brattleboro is one of those towns that doesn’t slow down for no one, or nothing. So that was an interesting drive, but I ended up leaving unscathed, ingredients and all.

I had decided to make two kinds of cookies: Jam Thumbprints and Mexican Wedding Cookies. I’m not a huge fan of the Thumbprints, but I really enjoy the Wedding Cookies. The Thumbprints were for my Mom.

Om nom! Dough from the third batch!

So. It took four hours altogether, but we ended up with two batches of cookies! They’ll probably be all gone in a couple days. Why? Because they’re Mexican Wedding Cookies. Mexican Wedding cookies are kind of like normal chocolate chip cookies in flavour and design, save for two major differences. 1.) When they come out of the oven, you coat them in powdered sugar; and 2.) they melt in your mouth. I’m not saying “they’re so good it feels like they melt in your mouth. I’m saying that they literally fall apart in your mouth as you eat them. They’re delightful and delicious.

There’s only five ingredients in Mexican Wedding cookies: flour, butter, powdered sugar, mini chocolate chips, and vanilla. Lots and lots of powdered sugar- both in and outside of the cookies. They’re one of the easiest cookies I know how to make, and definitely a family favourite. For people who don’t like chocolate, the mini chocolate chips are easily replaced with chopped walnuts (actually, I think my family altered the recipe to put in chocolate chips and its supposed to be made with chopped walnuts). So here it is, because I know it by heart, the recipe.

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2 cups butter or margarine.
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups flour
1 cup miniature chocolate chips.

You preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the butter first, then add powdered sugar and vanilla, then flour, then chocolate chips. You roll the cookie dough into 1″-balls about 1” apart. It’s one of those nice recipes where the dough doesn’t expand much. Use an ungreased baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. When you take them out, let them cool for about ten minutes and then roll them in powdered sugar. Delish!

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The finished product! Someone's already stolen one....

Mine came out a little crumblier than usual, but that’s because I messed up at the grocery store and bought a bag of normal-sized chocolate chips (this is the part where I curse people who put similar looking things in the wrong spot). Nonetheless, they were still good, and I learned that it’s possible (if unwise) to use normal-sized chocolate chips in this recipe.

As for the Jam Thumbprints? Something was wrong with the recipe; I’m pretty sure I needed another couple egg yolks. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t produce yummy cookies! I just wasn’t able to but the thumbprints in them for holding the jelly (otherwise they’d crumble). I compromised and smeared jelly on the top of the cookies instead, and the one I tried was still rather good! Those are exclusively for my mom (I call it bribery, but it didn’t work, I still had to do all the dishes of the day besides the ones I had already done).

Fluff-a-nutter

Buds on the bush outside my house.

“Happy is what happens when all your dreams come true.” ~ Galinda in the musical Wicked.

This morning is lovely.  The sun is out bright, it’s my official last day of classes, and I found a dollar on the floor this morning.  Granted, I broke my watch getting to said-dollar, but I have the warranty, so JC Penney will give me a new band, I think.  I’m going to go there on Saturday and get it dealt with.  It didn’t upset me, though.  It was one of those “psh, well that figures” things.  I have just enough money left in my student account to get a Fluff-a-nutter for lunch, too, and that makes me ecstatic.

For those unfamiliar with the wonderful world of the Fluff-a-nutter, I feel the need to explain it’s magnificence.  You see, every young American child who isn’t allergic to peanutbutter should have the opportunity to delve into the wonderful world of the Fluff-a-nutter.  Actually, I’m of the opinion that every child everywhere should have the opportunity, but if you’re from the United States and you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients, you really have no excuse.  Okay.  You take white bread, generally.  Thick white bread, if you have it, I think that’s the best.  You spread a good layer of marshmallow fluff on one slice and peanutbutter (chunky, if possible!) on the other.  Smoosh the two pieces together, stick it in a toaster oven for about three minutes, and alakazambalooza!  You’ve got a Fluff-a-nutter.  But there is more to a Fluff-a-nutter than the amazing unhealthiness of it.

Like Kraft Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Gushers, Fluff-a-nutters are one of the staple foods of childhood.  Every time I have marshmallow fluff (it doesn’t have much use outside Fluff-a-nutters and hot chocolate) I’m brought back to my childhood and days of simplicity.  Every bite is a trip back to sitting in the woods behind my house with a Tamora Pierce novel in hand, listening to the rustle of the leaves and feeling the cold stone wall beneath my Indian-crossed legs.  Chasing butterflies, playing with Eddie on the front steps, dipping my feet in the stream.  My old house was a nature wonderland for a child, and I think I’d appreciate it more now than I did then.  Yeah- I’d still sit on boulders and stone walls and read outside instead of being active, but that’s just the way I rock and roll.

I’m going to start doing this thing with different daily subjects (see below).  Probably won’t do all of them every day, but today I’m going to.  Just to see what I can do.  And if I update more than once a day, I probably won’t do most, if any of them the second time, but we’ll see.  This is an experiment.  The pictures aren’t mine.  I photoshopped them, but they’re all Google’d.  I love how Google is a verb.  But yes, the below part today is going to be helluva lot longer than any time in the future.  Tags are also not going to apply to the part below.  Part below also makes me wish there were cuts, like there are on LiveJournal.  Oh well.  Can’t have everything.

Don’t love how a bunch of fem-jocks took over my sitting area.  May need to vacate for sanity’s sake.  I’m a terrible person.

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News Today
In The News Today: I just read an article on MSNBC that complained that the United States isn’t doing enough to enforce religious freedom all over the world.  My question?  Why do Americans think that the religious practices and beliefs of the rest of the world are any of our business?  Isn’t bad enough that we’re enforcing our government-type all over the world without telling people that their religion is wrong as well?  The article says that the United States passed an act in 1998 that stated we’d do more to improve the religious state of the world to be more open-minded.  Psh.  Doesn’t anybody read history?  Number One:  the Puritans (and others) didn’t come to the United States to give religious freedom to anyone but themselves.  I mean in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, back in the day, John Winthrop told people that they had to become Puritan or die.  Massachusetts was to be a “city on a hill”, a place of glorious, rigorous religion.  When the law to separate church and state came about, it was to protect the church against the state, not vice versa.  And here we go again, overriding all our laws.  Elitist much?

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Weather ReportWeather Channel: Looks like today’s going to be sunny, but cold!  Not a lot of wind, though, which is a nice change.  Had to pull my winter jacket out of its stow-away closet again this morning.  Can’t wait until the day I can leave it there for good!  None of yesterday’s snow stuck, by the way… thank goodness!  I might have cried!  The weather report for this weekend is supposed to be gorgeous:  between 70 and 80 degrees tomorrow and Saturday.  Too bad I’m working….  But it’ll be good for the dinner party, I think.  Nice weather puts people in better moods- including me!

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Health ReportHealth Report: That Fluff-a-nutter I’m anticipating today is going to be crazy unhealthy.  It’s the fluff, mostly.  I have this thing for sugar, and yes, I understand, sugar is really bad for me.  But it tastes so good.  Also, I’m been working through the Lindor Truffles I got at the mall a couple weeks ago, and I’m concerned.  I’m 50% certain that I have a cavity.  Maybe two.  Definitely don’t want to go to the dentist, and also can’t afford to go to the dentist.  I’m thinking procrastinate.  Also unhealthy.  Today is going to be an inside day- maybe I’ll vacuum just so there’s some small semblance of exercise.

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Words Worth Getting AtWords Worth Getting At: I haven’t written a thing today.  In fact, most of my writing has just been this blog, which I don’t consider proper writing.  I’ll probably push out a flash fiction of two during my Age of Enlightenment class this afternoon, depending on if he keeps us the whole time.  I also pulled out my half-edited chapter four of Fate last night and put it on my desk.  It’s on my to-do list.  Going to try to keep away from Green-Eyed for now.  I still don’t like my titles, by the by.  I’m burnt out on writing from my Fiction Workshop class this semester, but I plan to finish editing this summer, work willing.

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Financi-SmashFinanci-smash: So I check my bank account and I definitely only have $30 in it.  Granted, I have more money in my savings account, but I’m really, really not supposed to dip into that.  Just got $19 for trading in books (blergh, of course) which brings the cash in my wallet up to $23, which with any luck will cover the last of the groceries I will be getting today.  Need to double check the recipes again, but I think I only need Sweetened Condensed Milk, Cinnamon Graham Crackers, a bag of frozen strawberries, pretzels, and soda (Dr. Pepper, Orangina, Mountain Dew).  *breathes*  That’s probably not going to be more than $23, right?  I get paid tomorrow, hurrah!  If I’d just stop buying things on eBay, the money-thing would be better.  I’ll be working crazy-full-time soon, though, so that will help quite a bit.

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Social LifeSocial Life: I spent time with Sammy yesterday, which was awesome, even though I still have no idea why she agreed to come to class with  me.  Silly chili.  Hanging around her makes me really happy, even when she’s in a foul mood.  She’s such a beautiful person!  Bryan and I also had a really good day yesterday.  I gave Justin a ride to-and-from somewhere yesterday, which I count as an addition to social life, and I was a big person and asked Sean via Facebook if he wanted to hang out sometime.  Brownie points for me!  Maybe for a change this summer I won’t exile myself to my room in solitude.  Now I just need to work on more of the see-people-in-real-life thing, instead of you-are-online-speak-to-me-on-Facebook.  Also need to work on the trust thing, still, and get the courage to share this with other people.

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Random SqueeRandom Squee: Outside the window, I just looked, and the wind was blowing all the petals off the blossoms on the trees down the walkway.  It’s was wicked pretty.  A swirl of these white petals under the perfect blue sky, contrasted with the fiery green.  It looked like a fairytale scene and made me ueber happy.


tweet-a-twitter-twoo?

something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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