Saturday, March 28, 2009

Honeymoon Period

I think the first time I had Crème Brûlée was on our Honeymoon Cruise, and considering it was part of a buffet line I'm a bit surprised that it made an impression that was positive.

Grand Caymen, Cozumel, and New Orleans 2002.

The cruise director admonished us not to exchange personal information with the locals, probably obvious, but when we docked the reason for the warning was blatantly apparent. A little kiosk off the side of the street rented scooters in exchange for a credit card, a drivers license, and a little cash. We walked away, of course, but surprisingly they called us back and said we could rent the scooter for just the fee, no plastic required.

It was marvelous. We were able to drive up and down the coast of the entire island, mingle with the natives, eat outside the tourist traps, and swim in beautifully clear ocean water on vacant beaches. The only down side was that I forgot sunscreen.

Having lived in the South for a little while, visiting New Orleans was like coming home; sharing it with Gabriel was magical. Café Du Monde beignets and sticky powdered sugar tables, French Quarter and eccentric painters, balloon contortionists and a romantic stroll along the Mississippi river at dusk.

I always thought that Crème Brûlée was a dessert that would never be a part of my repertoire. Not because I didn't find it heavenly, I did after all say that cream would be one of the foods I couldn't live without, but because it seemed too complicated. Of course now that just seems silly.

My first successful cream tart arrived delicately thin, silky, fluffy, pale yet sweet, and fulfilling.

Pastry: Crème Brûlée

Over medium heat bring to a boil:
3 cups cream
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla)
Dash of salt
Remove from heat and let cool slightly

1/2 white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
6 egg yolks
Slowly pour cream into yolks while whisking

Pour mixture back into pan, and stir over low heat until mixture thickens just slightly

Pour into ramekins and bake in a shallow casserole dish filled halfway with warm water, at 300°F 45-60 minutes

When done, brûlée should be set on the rim, but wobble just slightly when dish is tapped

Allow to chill for a minimum of 3 hours
Sift white or brown sugar over tops and torch, or place on top rack in oven under broiler

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tootsie Rolls

I was happily and busily at work in the kitchen, trying to come up with a new concoction for the Art Shoppe, when I accidentally made Tootsie Rolls!

Quite the accident, if I do say so myself. I love Tootsie Rolls! They are chewy and chocolate and they were named after a cute little girl, Tootsie, by her loving father. Like many wonderful things, they came out of New York City and are over 100 years old! Not to mention they are still a best selling candy!

Surely this isn't the "Tootsie Roll Industries" recipe, but it bears an uncanny resemblance:

Complete Step 1 of candy fondant recipe
Begin Step 2, but when it comes to adding flavor simply add a combination of 1/2 Chocolate Sweet Sauce, and melted chocolate
Thoroughly knead together
Shape and allow to air dry for several hours

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Golden Ticket

Tune in tonight: 7:35 pm
Cable access channel - 21
To watch the first episode of...
Fahrenheit 350°: The Temperature At Which Sweets Happen

Complete TV Schedule

Baker: Catherine Olson (that's me!)
Producer: Mike Reese

P.S. Wait for the credits to end...

Sunday, March 22, 2009


When making Gabriel's Birthday Cake, I found myself with a bit of extra batter. What to do other than make cupcakes?

The choice becomes exceptionally clear, especially when you are working with decadent Swiss Meringue Buttercream! When it tastes this good, you want to make it last... by filling those cupcakes as well as frosting them!

This is the easiest trick in the book! If your cakes are dense, take a potato peeler and poke the cupcake right in the center, and straight to the bottom - twist 360° to create a small hole. If your cakes are moist there is no need for this extra step.

Press your piping tip where you created the gap in the center, and fill the cupcake with frosting! Frost as usual.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Gabriel!

One thing about Gabriel's birthday is very predictable: dinner. We always eat at Todai; the Mother of all Seafood Buffets. He not only gets a free meal but,... he gets to eat all he can, wants, or cares to, and for Gabriel that is like landing on the mothership.

I love this man!

I admit, it's my mothership too.

Since sushi is not only a given but an absolute must for Birthday festivities, I thought it would be a fantastic idea to double the fun!

For this endeavor I enlisted the help of cake maker extraordinaire, Linda Pedersen. She's incredible; this venture was an amazing learning experience for me, she has a first rate attitude, and I just love her.

Everything on this cake is edible, from the wasabi to the chopsticks. I watched, but credit goes to Linda for everything except the part that you can't see; the cake.

Cake: Chocolate Dew Marbled
Frosting: Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(I made this blind, but I think I remember everything)

1 cup butter
1/2 cup oil
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Cream until smooth
4 egg yolks (separately, mix well after each addition)

1 1/2 cups Mountain Dew (this is also a Birthday tradition and lends a wonderful quality to the cake)
Separate the batter into 2 bowls making sure to keep equal amounts in each

In bowl one, add:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix well

In bowl two, add:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4oz. chocolate melted with 3/4 cup water (2oz. milk, 2oz. dark)
Mix well

Whip 4 egg whites to stiff peaks
Fold half into yellow batter, other half into chocolate batter

Pour into a fancy cake checkerboard cake pan, like I have, but I can't figure out how to use, or scoop integrating spoonfuls into a regular 9" round and swirl around a bit - simple.
Bake at 350°F for 25-30, or until cake springs back at the touch
Invert on wire rack, let cool
Frosting: Lemon Swiss Meringue
Recipe & Instructions

I used 2 cups sugar
8 Egg Whites
20 tablespoons butter
Enough for middle and covering two 8" cakes, and filling and frosting 12 cupcakes

*Also I will add: While mine was not curdling, I was still freaking out because it was super runny. I thought maybe my kitchen was too warm so I put it in the fridge and milled around a bit. About 15 minutes later I thought, "Maybe I stopped too soon?" So, I put in back in the mixer - and approximately one minute later... it was perfect. So, lesson learned - whip, whip, whip.

Time for fun!

Frost cake as normal
Cut out a divot in the center about 3" across for the sushi fixins
As I'm no expert, I can only simply tell you what I enjoyed watching Linda create - which will do no justice to the process or the creator

First, she covered the cake in a beautiful white satin fondant
I helped color and create the seaweed!! - that she rolled into one long piece, textured and smoothed, and affixed to the side of the cake
We used the meat grinder attachment on her kitchen aid, to create rice, it took a half hour and it was really fun

Color and mold wasabi, carrots, crab and avocado - and chopsticks
Linda created these amazing chopsticks a few days in advance and hand painted the exquisite Chinese lettering along the tops
Such detail!

This was all a secret from Gabriel, and it was well worth it. His reaction was priceless! Last year I planned a surprise party for him, (which his guests did not really keep a surprise, but only because he's so snoopy!) so when I was telling him at dinner I didn't really have anything "special" planned I loved the goofy grin he kept giving me, indicating, "Sure you don't...".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sharing is Caring

Typically, I share.

But not when it comes to Angel Food Fairy Cake. I want every piece, every sliver, every crumb - always.

So when I'm not eating Angel Food Cake with delicious fondue, or underneath a thin blanket of a sugar water glaze, I'm eating it with sliced strawberries!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dancing Irish Elves

The best thing about St. Patrick's Day is waking up the earliest of anyone else in the house to be the first to make it to the fridge to dye the milk.

Yep, green.

Although growing up it didn't really matter if you were first one up or not. Growing up with 6 kids in the house, there was always an extra gallon or two for the late riser to gleefully add a few drops into, refasten the lid, and shake to their hearts content.

Gabriel hates it, but old habits dye (ha!) hard!

The staples of any St. Patrick's tradition are likely to be:
Alcohol (we be non-drinkers so green milk is our substitution)
Wearing Green
An Irish Feast
and... Dessert
And of course, I like to focus on that last one!

Cake: Irish Shortbread
Topping: Chewy Toffee & Chocolate
Decorations: Wee little green shamrock
This treat is a favorite in Ireland, (and Disneyland(.com) where I got the recipe) plus, it is appropriate for the entire family. It's buttery bottom layer fuses with the top chewy toffee layer to create a simple yet delicious and satisfying treat.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
Mix together and press into pan
Cook at 350°F, 25-30 minutes, until edges are golden brown
Let cool

14oz. condensed milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Karo syrup
Bring to a boil over medium heat
Stiring constantly, cook for 5 minutes
Remove from heat, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour immediately over shortbread
Melt a few ounces of chocolate and drizzle over toffee

To make your own chocolate shamrocks, simply follow two easy steps:
Melt 4oz of chocolate until smooth and pour into a piping bag fitted with your smallest nozzle - I actually just use a ziplock bag
Pipe outlines of shamrocks onto waxed paper

Fill shamrocks with remaining chocolate
Spread to fill outline with toothpick and adorn with green sugar shamrock if desired
Allow to dry before delicately peeling off of paper

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fondue for Angels

A wonderful friend of mine, Chelsea, gave me a set of adorable forked fondue skewers a few years ago for my birthday... when I spotted these lovely little utensils in my kitchen drawer I knew exactly what to make for dessert!

Cake: Angel Food
Dipping: Cream Cheese and Toasted Coconut Fondue
Tom and Lucy's Art Shoppe is coming up at the end of April so here is a little teaser of one item that will be available for sale there - Toasted Coconut Sweet Sauce; an amorous concoction of silky caramel flavors intermittent with delectably crunchy flakes of toasted coconut (hence the name).

Angel Food Cake is perfect by itself, but with most things a little variation is always a welcome gift.

I think the best recipe is the simple and traditional version, at least that is what I call the recipe in my "Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook" but as there are a brazillion versions of this cookbook, and probably just as many simple and traditional versions of this cake:
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
Set aside

Whip to soft peaks, moist and glossy:
12 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar slowly, 2 tablespoons at a time until whites hold stiff peaks

Fold in sifted flour and sugar in four stages

Pour into ungreased 10" angel food cake pan
Bake 375° F, 35-40 minutes
Invert cake in pan, let cool

To fondue with Toasted Coconut Sweet Sauce you'll have to either visit the Art Shoppe (see right side bar) or visit the Fahrenheit 350° Bakery (see right side bar).
To fondue with cream cheese:
3oz. cream cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Pour into heat proof bowl and warm in oven on low until melted throughout
Cube cake slices and fondue!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Needed: Milk

I like moist cake. You've heard me say/write it as many times as I've talked about cake, I like it moist; I like it airy; I like it soft; I like it fluffy; I like it meringuesque; I like it silky; I like it springy; I like it buoyant; I like it dewy. I want its texture to feel like biting into a cloud, or a sweet muddy sponge will do just the same; enough flavor to entice but moist enough to be both entreè and beverage. The perfect cake should be a full course meal in it's entirety.

That is not this cake. This cake is thick, dense, and well... thick. It is extremely compact. It's a fabulous cake; just not moist.

Cake: Death by Chocolate
Frosting: Chocolate Fudge
It was probably named Death by Chocolate because the creator was afraid one might choke via consumption of it - do not attempt without a tall glass of milk.

I made this cake by request for our ward's Enrichment night, this past Wednesday, celebrating 167 years of Relief Society.

The cake is from, "The Cook's Encyclopedia of Chocolate", pg: 102
The frosting is from, "Chocolate Box", pg: 12
8oz. chocolate
1/2 cup salted butter
2/3 cup milk
Stir constantly till smooth, remove from heat

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Beat until smooth, let cool slightly
2 egg yolks
2/3 sour cream
Mix with chocolate mixture

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Stir to incorporate

Whisk 2 egg whites to stiff peaks; stir into batter; pour into one 9" pan
Bake at 350°F 45-55 minutes, until firm to the touch
Cool on wire rack
Between each layer of cake, I tried to sneak in an impersonation of airyness by brushing each with a concoction of lemon zest, juice and a tidge of powdered sugar. It offered a delicious hint of lemon with each bite, but did absolutely nothing for the texture.

You probably saw this coming, but if I were to make this cake again: I would add an extra 2 cups of milk.

This frosting is (can... not... stop... licking.... fingers... impossible...) amazing!
8oz. chocolate
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup butter
5 tablespoons evaporated milk (I used heavy cream)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Stir constantly over low heat until melted and smooth
Cover, let set in fridge at least 1 hour
Spread fudge frosting liberally over cake
Pour a tall glass of milk...
...and enjoy!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Best of Both Worlds

It's not enough to just know how to make a strikingly enticing and indulgent dessert... you have to be able to write about it on a blog that you designed in tandem with a website, preferably to supplement your blog.

But all that effort is for nothing, if you can't take an equally superb photo.

That's the part I need a lot of work on, emphasis on a lot.

Cookies: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (and not the other way around)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
Mix until thoroughly incorporated and a consistent texture

1 egg
Mix well, until batter changes to a lighter color

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Stir together just until flour is mixed
Traditionally these peanut butter cookies are rolled into a ball, dipped in sugar and flattened criss-cross with a fork. Alternately, you can opt out of flattening the cookie and upon removing it from the oven adorning each cookie with a Hershey kiss. Today though, I felt like simply throwing in a handful of milk chocolate chips, and a handful of dark chocolate chips.
Bake at 375°F, 7-9 minutes, or just until edges are browned

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My First Love

As I mentioned, I was having trouble choosing a new book to read until I saw one my first love: Wuthering Heights. A few months back I went through my book shelf and turned all the books I wanted to read in 2009 on their spine. When my sister Pamela posted a blog about her favorite book, Gone with the Wind, I decided immediately what to read.

Wuthering Heights is such a fantastic tale of forlorn love, deception and revenge.
Heathcliff's love for Catherine is shockingly pure, "If he (Edgar) loved with all the powers of his puny being, he couldn't love as much in eighty years as I could in a day," p 126.
Catherine's emotions are wild with livid intensity, "There she (Catherine) lay dashing her head against the arm of the sofa, and grinding her teeth, so that you might fancy she would crash them to splinters! Her hair flying over her shoulder, her eyes flashing, the muscles of her neck and arms standing out preternaturally," p 102.
And the most beautiful insults throughout that make one choke on the sheer perspicacity and betrayal of eclipsed vehemence, "[He is] an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and winstone," p 89 "He's a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man," p 90.

I've had a lot of time to read while Gabriel has been working. Working so much, in fact, that Friday night was the first night he was able to get more than 4 hours sleep; work is a blessing and a curse - mostly a blessing.

These muffins are easy to whip up when you have a tired husband that you want to surprise early in the morning, and retain a crisp cool summer element even when fresh out of the oven. Unfortunately for me, my husband woke up before I could get them out of the oven, buttered and on a plate, but we enjoyed them together none the less, even if it was more like the afternoon rather than the morning.

I first saw these muffins as most viewed on Food Gawker posted by Delicious Cook; then they seemed to pop up everywhere I went. Amy must have invigorated a whole generation of inspiration. I know that I for one was delighted at the result.

Muffins: Lemon Almond Ricotta
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
Zest from 1 medium lemon
Mix until soft and smooth

Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
Mix 2-4 minutes, until batter turns to a lighter color

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix until just incorporated

Sprinkle with sliced almonds and sugar.
Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or 25-35 for jumbo muffins.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Lovers Quarrel

A day ago Gabriel and I got into a little spat, a lovers quarrel if you will. While traditionally, and perhaps in most homes, when a husband desires to express his affection and love for his wife, perhaps even seek redemption for an act of ill will, he will bestow upon his lovely counterpart a bouquet of fresh flowers; this act, following an argument or stand alone, is thoughtful and gracious. Now, I love flowers! but in this home, Gabriel brings home bouquets of kitchen gadgets! And immediately, my white flag of surrender is raised high and blown about by shrieks of delightsome glee.

My bouquet was comprised of new dish towels, a set of three differing sized whisks, and a new hand held mixer!

He is just the sweetest, I know! As if it wasn't enough he then enticed me to make something to try out my new toys - so I attempted to create what it is I've been craving, and he loved it.

This is a gratifying dessert, but a near miss.

Orange Brown Sugar
Topping: Sweet Sauce Chocolate

This cake possesses just enough orange flavor to surprise and humor your palette; the whipped egg whites create a buoyancy that is delicate and smooth; the chocolate sauce seeps through the base of the cake like water to spring tulips, and the substitution of brown for white sugar saturates the flavor resonating in deeper and fuller savor.

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Mix until well incorporated and batter changes color

2 egg yolks, one at a time
Mix for 2-3 minutes on high

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
2 teaspoons orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix for 4-5 minutes
Your mixture will seem to have separated, but continue to mix

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
alternately with
3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

Whip 6 egg whites to soft peaks and fold into batter

Pour into round 10" Angel Food Cake Pan
Bake at 375°F for 55-65 minutes
Let cool in pan

Serve with a generous amount of Chocolate Sweet Sauce, and a dollop of freshly whipped cream!

Then, head over to Make and Takes to learn a resourceful trick for recycling those used up orange peels!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hit and Miss Cravings

I've been craving something with a deep, yet subtle and resonating flavor that immediately warms your throat and lungs as it weaves its way down through your body. I can almost taste it, but the knowledge of what it is, is just narrowly out of my grasp.

I thought it was apple crisp, but I shortly realized it was something much more intricate, with intertwining flavors of roasted pecans, toasted coconut, a hint of orange maybe, brown sugar - and then of course that missing piece which is alluding me.

I must dwell on this a bit more...

Crisp: Apple
Topping: Strudel

Apple Crisp is so simple, and so much like pie, but without the inconvenience of pie crust.

Peel and Core Apples
Add sugar (sweeter), and flour (thickener)
For 4-5 apples, add 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup flour

Layer in baking dish with a few tablespoons of butter amidst layers

Garnish with strudel topping
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/3 cup flour

Bake at 350°F, covered for 1 hour and serve straight out of the oven with straight cream, or ice cream

Monday, March 2, 2009

On the Green: 18th Hole

I had this dream about Chris Dudley a couple nights ago. I presume I had this dream because I was thinking intently the day before what type of cupcakes I would make for my sweet friend Allison Hanna-Williams, whose birthday was Sunday.

Happy Birthday!

I can't help but associate Allison with basketball, even though she is a pro golfer these days! She is the friend I played basketball with for seven years, and hers is the father that I gave the 'I Love You' balloons to so many years ago, remember?

First things first: I have immense respect and admiration for Chris Dudley. Chris Dudley was the first professional basketball player to play with Type I diabetes. He started the Chris Dudley Foundation to assist and help children with diabetes, and one of his projects with that foundation is a Basketball Camp for youth with diabetes held every summer in Vernonia, Oregon in early August. I attended this camp for 4 years straight and it was the highlight of my summers.

Even though I was diabetic, I was very fond of believing that all "other" diabetics were totally weird. My first year at camp I met Justin Spring from North Bend, Oregon. He and I formed a close friendship that lasted for many years to come and helped me recognize that, okay, only some other diabetics were weird. One memory I have in particular was at breakfast, we were goofing off, probably flirting, and somehow we each ended up with an entire cube of butter lathered in each others hair, respectively. Very good times.

I also have to give major props to the counselors at this camp. I loved every single one of them, and they changed my life. I can only hope to effect someone else's life, like they affected mine.

Now that I've revealed this - one rule: No diabetes comments, chances are you don't know what you are talking about (and I mean that in the kindest way). Really,... none,... I mean it - ever.

Chris Dudley came to camp every single day. He talked to us, played ball with us, and taught us about taking care of our diabetes, following our dreams, and living life well and responsibly. One day I remember sitting on the hill above the courts with Chris and a couple friends, chatting about back home, school, and diabetes, and in particular Chris was talking about his career and teaching us: "Do not take no for an answer." Then, in an innocent yet hilarious exchange, boy crazy 16 year old me, ended up asking Chris for his phone number.

Interestingly enough in fact, I ran into Chris downtown a few weeks back. He was kind as ever, and he even remembered me! It was fun catching up! So you can see now how having a dream about Chris Dudley isn't that all that random.

Well, like I said it was Allison's birthday, and seeing as she is a pro golfer I thought it was only apropos to make cupcakes on the green for her special day, plus she said she liked vanilla cupcakes, and she mentioned that her husband liked snickerdoodles.

cupCake: White Vanilla
Frosting: Vanilla Buttercream
Decorations: Fairway, Tee & Golf Ball
and for the hubby
cupCake: White Vanilla Cinnamon
Frosting: Vanilla Buttercream
Decorations: Mini Snickerdoodle Cookies

I could clearly see what I wanted in my mind, but I encountered two problems in the execution. The first was that I grossly underestimated the amount of time I needed for the details, and the second was that I didn't think through the requirements necessary for making the golf balls, which probably would have been easily remedied had I not grossly underestimated the time.

So, needless to say, there is much to work on for the next venture in making On the Green cupCakes. All in all, I'm a new arrival on the fancy decorating scene.

They tasted delicious though. I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's White Velvet Butter Cake recipe found on page 46-47 of "The Cake Bible", substituting the milk with half and half buttermilk, and adding a full 5 egg whites, and a simple buttercream frosting that I seem to always resort to: Butter, Cream Cheese, Powdered Sugar, Vanilla, Egg White, Vanilla Sugar - in any amount of porportions should work lovely!

I made two very similar cupCakes. For her hubby I made a vanilla cinnamon sugar cupCake by tweaking just a few things.

I started by making a batch of snickerdoodles, and crumbled 1/2 a cookie in the bottom of each cupCake liner. I then added the cake batter, and swirled throughout a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. After frosting, I decorated the tops with a miniature cookie (.2o oz.)!

I baked the golf cupCakes according to the recipe, but tinted the frosting green. Along with my underestimation of time, I only had willow green dye - hardly the right color. I used actual tees, a skewer for the golf pin, and made golf balls out of vanilla cream fondant coated in white chocolate. I attempted to make golf dimples with the tip of my potato peeler, but it was long and tedious and often resulted in cracking the chocolate, so I gave up and decided next time - I need a mold.

I was so late for the party it was an embarrassment, and so I hardly had time to worry about setting up a decent picture... not my best.

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