fat bottom

fat bottom

Sunday, February 27, 2011

smooth, boozy, crunchy and sweet... february's daring bakers treat...

well... it's that time of month again... the day in which the daring bakers secret is revealed... and what sweet treats i have in store for ya'll... this month's challenge was hosted by ms. mallory from the deliciously inspiring blog "
a sofa in the kitchen"... her sweet challenge was a creamy panna cotta and to contrast the smoothness of this treat she also challenged us with some crunchy, crispy oatmeal florentines...

i've never made a panna cotta before, but a few months ago i had bookmarked one that i came across while i was blog stalking... it was a play on the delicious cocktail, the white russian... and i knew i had to make it... for two reasons... #1. the hubs is a huge fan of the dude's signature cocktail (you do know who the dude is right... the duder... el dudarino... you better get the reference)... and #2. i thought it to be sort of a sophisticated dessert to make for a dinner party... but i had to also wanted to make a non-boozy version, so i went with pineapple and blueberry... something to make me dream of summer...

as for the florentines, i kept them simple... nice and buttery, crunchy and complimented with a rich dark chocolate ganache... they went deliciously with my morning coffee... and oh man, were they simple to make... and just as easy to devour...

florentine's (adapted from nestle)

2/3 cup butter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with silicon mat
2. melt butter in medium saucepan then remove from heat... then stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract and salt... mix well
3. drop by teaspoon full, about 3 inches apart, onto lined baking sheets
4. bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown, cool on baking sheets on wire racks, peel gently from the mats
5. drizzle or sandwich the cookies with ganache
6. enjoy the sweet crunchiness...

panna cotta (giada's vanilla panna cotta)
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet)unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt

1. pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta)... let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin
2. pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove... heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes (whisk it a few times at this stage)
3. next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt... making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes
4. remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly... then pour into the glass or ramekin
5. refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight

for the kahlua gelee (from my
baking obsession):
1 ounce vodka
3 ounces kahlua
1/2 tsp. gelatin
1. pour the vodka into a small bowl or a cup and sprinkle the gelatin over, let soften for a couple of minutes
2. heat in a microwave oven for about 10 seconds on high until the gelatin is dissolved (or dissolve it by placing the cup with the gelatin into a hot water bath)
3. add the Kahlua, whisk to combine
4. divide the mixture equally between glasses or ramekins (which ever you are using), and place into the fridge until set before topping the gelée with the panna cotta, for at least 1 hour

here is a small vanilla panna cotta with some pineapple gelee... you can't really see it but the very top of it has a slice of pineapple... it kind of blended in... i guess if you look closely you'll see the three layers... it was truly light and refreshing...
and here it is topped with a strawberry puree... mmm.... sinfully sweet...
thanks for the challenge mallory... and as always... happy baking :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

fudgy peanutbutter brownies

hey people! sorry i haven't posted in a few days... i was taking a bit of a breather after busting out about 300 cupcakes in over 3 days time... but it's about time to get back to business and get my butt back to baking... but what goodies to bake...
i was kind of over cupcakes for the moment after being surrounded by them... and cookies are great, but i wanted something a little more sinful... a little more indulgent... and something that wouldn't take a long time to prep... so... after thinking about it i settled on some fudgy, and rich cocoa brownies... but i wanted to jazz it up a bit... how about brownies topped with buttercream... naaa... how about brownies topped with ganache or salt caramel... naaa... oooh! i got it! i just had an epiphany... brownies topped with the baked peanut butter cream (you know, that deliciously creamy peanutbutter topping for their banana cream pie... it's heaven!!!)
so off i was... on a mission to bake a fabulous brownie... and oh man!! it was... the combination of a fudgy chewy brownies with a creamy light peanut butter cream... AHHH-MAZING!
quick one bowl fudge brownies:
1 & 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

1. preheat oven to 350, and line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, letting the excess hang over the edges, lightly butter the foil
2. melt butter and chocolate on low heat on the stove top in a saucepan or in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl, remove from heat or microwave and cool slightly
3. one at a time, whisk in cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and flour and then pour into prepared pan
4. smooth the top of the batter
5. bake for 30-35 minutes, until edges are set and center is a bit soft, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a little batter coating it
6. cool at room temperature for an hour
7. top generously with the peanut butter cream (recipe below)

peanut butter cream:
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2/3 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

1. using mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar in medium bowl until smooth
2. beat in vanilla, then peanut butter
3. beat heavy cream in a separate bowl until firm peaks form, then first fold a large spoonful of whipped cream into peanut mixture to loosen, then fold in remaining cream in 2 additions
4. spread peanut butter layer evenly over brownies
5. chill in the fridge until ready to devour :)

enjoy your weekend and happy baking everyone!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

dark chocolate and salt caramel eclairs...

so the sunday sweets craving hit me pretty hard this past weekend... and i was in the mood for something fancy... i was first thinking some kind of cake, but i am going to be surrounded by dozens of cupcakes this weekend, so i decided to pass on that... then i was thinking some kind of custard or pudding, like creme brulee or a caramely flan... then i was thinking if i was going to make a pastry-like cream, why not add it to some puff pastry and make some napoleons... but i always make napoleons, so why not change it up a bit...
do i sound like i'm rambling... i'm on severe mommy overload right now, so trying to type up something creative is making my head spin... so i'm just going to get to it... i decided to go with eclairs... yummy vanilla pastry cream wrapped up in a deliciously crispy pate a choux shell, and slathered with a ribbon on dark chocolate... delicious... really deliciously delicious...
Pierre Hermé’s cream puff dough (half recipe)
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water

4 T unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/8 tsp. sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 c all-purpose flour

3 large eggs, at room temperature
(you see the full recipe calls for 5 eggs, so to half this i used two whole eggs, and for the third egg i beat it a bit, then added it by the tablespoon)

1. in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
2. once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon, the dough comes together very
quickly... continue stirring for about 2-3 minutes more to dry the dough, and after this time the dough will be very soft and smooth
3. transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough, you will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry... as you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again... beat the third egg & add it a tablespoon at a time until the dough is thick and shiny and when lifted falls back into the bowl in a ribbon
4. the dough should be still warm, it is now ready to be used for the eclairs
5. preheat oven to 425 with two racks in it dividing the oven into thirds, place on a baking sheet covered with a silicone pad
6. place a pan with about a cup of water in it on the bottom rack on the oven, put the baking sheet with the dough on the top rack and bake for 10 minutes
7. turn the oven down to 350 and rotate the baking sheet, bake another 10 minutes the dough should be puffed up & brown
8. turn off the oven remove the pan with the water, use the tip of a knife to poke a small hole in each puff, and leave the tray of cooked puffs in the oven with the door ajar until cool

now i filled them with a classic vanilla pastry cream and topped them with a bittersweet chocolate ganache and a drizzle of salt caramel...

and here are some little cream puffs, topped with a deep chocolate ganache, some salt caramel and a touch of sea salt... mmmm...

hope you enjoyed this sweet installment... and happy baking everyone :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

cupcakes for my cuties

i'll tell you something... there's nothing better then watching the happiness on my boys faces as they dig into something i baked... and since there is never a shortage of sweets in my house, my boys are always all smiles... well... they're all smiles no matter what... i was blessed with two happy little dudes...
and lately i've been spoiling my boys more than usual... you see, my hubby has been away at coast guard medical school for the past 6 weeks, and won't be back for another two months... so... keeping my boys happy keeps me sane :)
so here's a few pictures of my little guys enjoying some yummy chocolate cupcakes... they sure do make me smile

be happy... and as always, happy baking everyone :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

s'more bars and sticky fingers

here's a sweet treat to brighten your monday... a yummy take on the old time classic campfire treat... and it's got everything you'd expect in a s'more ... its sticky, ooey-gooey, melty, chocolaty... and messy... i mean, that's what you want in a s'more isn't it... if your fingers, chin and cheeks aren't covered in melted chocolate and strands of stringy marshmallow then your certainly doing something wrong... but i guess you could use a fork or spoon with these, but you'd be a wuss in my book :)
smore's bars, recipe adapted
1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, or you can use to king sized chocolate bars
2 cups mini marshmallows or 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff

1. preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8-inch square baking pan
2. in a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in egg and vanilla
3. in a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt... then add it to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined
4. divide dough in half... press one half of the dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan
5. generously sprinkle the dough with the chocolate chips, and pat down slightly
6. then top the chocolate with marshmallows or spread with fluff
7. with the remaining dough , sprinkle atop in a single layer, pressing down slightly
8. bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned, cool almost completely before digging in
9. grab a wet-wipe, roll up your sleeves and prepare to get sticky

so let out your inner child, and get sticky... and as always...

happy baking everyone :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

happy birthday my blue eyed baby boy :)

two years ago a little dimpled blonde blue eyed man came into my life... our baby... benjamin scout perkins... i'm truly blessed to have you and your big brother jack as my children... thank you for making my heart smile everyday... i love you my baby blue...

I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your london bridge, you are my falling down
I am your carrot sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favourite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you

happy birthday ben... you are my i love you...

and here is a touching and beautiful birthday tribute made by my sister meghan.. thank you for this amazing gift meggie... i love you so... :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

chocolate and vanilla bean mousse... simple and sweet

hey there everyone :) hows your weekend going so far... it's a bit gloomy here, so to brighten up our afternoon i whipped up a sweet treat for me and my two little men... some light and airy mousse... and since Ben is a chocolate fan, and jack a vanilla guy i made a little of both, i have to keep my men happy you know :)

i love mousse by the way... i love that i don't feel like such a moo after licking the bowl clean...
chocolate mousse (adapted from julia child via david lebovitz)
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup dark-brewed coffee
4 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon water
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. heat a saucepan one-third full with hot water, and in a bowl set on top, melt together the chocolate, butter and coffee, stirring over the barely simmering water, until smooth,remove from heat
2. fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside
3. in a bowl large enough to nest securely on the saucepan of simmering water, whisk the yolks of the eggs with the 2/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise, (you can also use a handheld electric mixer)
3. remove from heat and place the bowl of whipped egg yolks within the bowl of ice water and beat until cool and thick, as shown in the photo above, then fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks
4. in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until frothy. Continue to beat until they start to hold their shape... whip in the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff, then the vanilla
5. fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporated, but don’t overdo it or the mousse will lose volume
6. transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm

vanilla mousse:
3 eggs, separated
2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean split
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup of sugar

1. separate the egg yolk and whites... whisk the egg yolks, sugar & the melted butter, then add vanilla extract, or vanilla bean, and combine thoroughly
2. whisk the heavy whipping cream and 2 tbsp of the sugar till soft peaks form, set aside
3. in a clean grease free bowl, whip the egg whites and the remaining sugar until medium soft peaks form, put aside
4. now gently fold the whipped cream to the egg mixture
5. finally, fold the beaten egg whites to the above mixture, pour into serving dishes and refrigerate until ready

here's jack demolishing his... this kid is a beast when it comes to desserts :)
happy baking everyone :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

new york state of mind...

here's a little slice of love for all my new yorkers who are being bullied by jack frost... with weather like this it's no good just to warm up your body, you need to get down and warm up that soul... it's miserable out there, so lets put a smile on...

so go grab yourself a cup of new yorks best deli coffee (you know, the type that comes in those greek cups), and grab yourself a big hunk of coffee cake... but not just any coffee cake... THIS COFFEE CAKE... well, i guess if you were to grab yourself a slice you're going to have to roll up those sleeves, preheat your oven to 325 and crack some eggs... but hey... it's worth it... trust me... (thank you for this recipe mr. christopher kimball, i could grab you by your bowtie)

and not only will it warm up your house with the sweet smells of cinnamon and nutmeg, maybe even a little cardamon if you like... but it will certainly satisfy... with huge chunks of buttery, caramely spicy crumbs, and a moist slightly vanilla cake... mmmm...
New York-Style Crumb Cake (adapted)

for the crumb topping:
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (i used way more, like 3 tbsp, and added some nutmeg)
1/4 tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted and still warm
3 1/2 cups cake flour

for the cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. table salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
and some confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. for the crumb topping, mix together sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine
2. add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature
3. for the cake, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat to 325, line a 13x9 pan with a parchment paper sling (spray the pan with cooking spray, lay in a sheet of parchment, pushing it into corners and up sides, allowing excess to overhang edges of dish, creating a sling for easy removal
4. in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine
5. with mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles small moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, for about 2 minutes
3. add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary
4. transfer batter to prepared baking pan using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer
5. form crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in even layer over batter, beginning with outer edges and then working toward center
6. bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes
7. cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes, then remove cake from pan by lifting parchment
8. generously dust with confectioners sugar just before serving

oh by the way... being miserable and treating others like dirt is every new yorkers god given right... and on that note... happy baking everyone :)