Sunday, September 2, 2012

More Adventurous Baking

In my previous post I mentioned that I hosted a bonfire/campout in celebration (not a very appropriate word considering we aren't very happy about it) of the last weekend of summer. It was very fun though. There was   roasting of marshmallows, mini hot dogs, and tons of smores were made. Along with the various chips, dips, and veggies for snacking, I had to bake something! A chocolate chip cookie seemed to be the best way to please everyone, because who doesn't love a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie!?

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp melted and cooled until warm unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar 
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 325, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and set aside. In an electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients. Beat at low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.


Using your hands, grab about a teaspoon of batter and roughly form a ball. (You don't want to roll it into a perfect ball). Leave about 2-inches between each cookie. Bake for 11- 14 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden and the middle is still soft. 

Cool and transfer to cooling rack. 




Along with Chocolate Chip Cookies, I also made Gluten-Free Brownies because my best friend is a celiac. They were surprisingly really good. I didn't tell others that they were gluten-free, and even they enjoyed them! I think someone even tried to roast one over the fire... I'm not too sure how that went haha.


Vegan Baking!

It saddens me to say that this is my last weekend of summer. I start school on Tuesday and it's a little bittersweet. As much as I love summer and being able to do nothing all day, I am excited to go back and see all my friends that I didn't get to see over the summer. Anyway, in celebration of the last weekend of summer, my cross country team had it's annual team sleepover and the following night I hosted my own bonfire/campout. Obviously I had to make something for the both of them! 

Vegan Berry Crumble Bars
I made these delicious mixed berry crumble bars, and yes I did bake vegan! These were a lot of fun to make, and so easy too! One of my good friends on my team is a vegan and I always feel so bad because she can never have any of the desserts that others bring to our team parties. So i decided I would take on the challenge of baking vegan, and well she (and many others) loved these! 

Vegan Berry Crumble Bars
adapted from Smitten Kitten

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 a banana, mashed 
1/4 tsp salt 
zest and juice of lemon
4 cups berries (fresh or frozen) 
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp cornstarch 

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a 9X13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, baking soda, flour, lemon zest and salt. Using a fork or pastry cutting, blend in butter and mashed banana (the dough will be crumbly). Pat half of the dough into the pan.

In another bowl, mix 4 tsp cornstarch, sugar and the lemon juice. Mix in berries gently. For mine, I ending up kinda of 'mashing' the frozen berries so they were less chunky, but you don't have to. Sprinkle over crust and crumble the remaining dough over the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is slightly golden. Allow to cool before cutting. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Bit of a Cookie Faliure

Today I decided to try out this Honey Chocolate and Pistachio Bark. Lately I've been liking obsessed with anything pistachio, cookies, muffins, ice cream, and just pistachios by themselves! So anyway, this was something that I had never heard of and I honestly didn't really know what to expect them to be like... I mean it says 'bark' so I my thinking was a very crisp cookie. And I'm sure that's how they are supposed to turn out, but my didn't.
Don't get me wrong this is a great tasting cookie! It may be my new favorite pistachio flavor combination! But I think I would enjoy the cookie (can I call it a cookie?) a lot more if I made them a bit thinner. The edges of them got very golden brown and crispy, but the middles of the bark were a bit chewy... They aren't terrible when they are chewy, but they are a heck of a lot better when they're crispy.
In conclusion, I will definitely be trying this recipe again and making them much thinner. Try it out and let me know how yours come out (:





Honey Chocolate and Pistachio Bark

Ingredients
100g softened salted butter
2/3 cup caster sugar 
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup flour
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips 
1/2 cup crushed pistachios


Preheat the oven to 180 C (about 356 F). Line 3 baking trays with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine butter, sugar, honey, flour, egg whites, vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Using a flat spatula spread the batter on the parchment paper lined trays (about the thickness of a coin). Sprinkle with chocolate chips and crushed pistachios. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked through.
(I substituted caster sugar for granulated sugar and it seemed to work fine... Next time I'm going to use caster sugar and see if it makes a difference. And also I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate cus I'm not a fan of dark chocolate! You could try out all different combinations of toppings! If you try something different let me know! ) 
Also if you spread the batter thinner, keep on eye on them because the baking time will be less. 








One last thing... Please bear with me as I try to figure out this whole blogging thing. I'm still trying to figure out how to take good pictures and where to put them in my posts or if I should even bother taking pictures of the whole process and not just the finished product... If you have any tips on blogging and such I would really appreciate the help! Thanks (:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My First Post and a Birthday Celebration!

Hi everyone! I'm really excited to say that this is my first official post! It was recently my friends birthday and naturally I had to make her something. Her favorite things are chocolate and peanut butter, so after scouring through Pinterest and cookbooks I have laying around my house I finally came across this. It is Annie Eats Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte. I love her blog and have been following it for a while now (you should check it out).

This torte is perfection. It combines all things delicious into one dessert. Now I made a personal sized one for my friend, I believe it was a 6-inch spring form pan that I ended up using. But still completely delicious. Well at least I hope it was seeing that I didn't get to have any of it because my friend devoured it haha.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte 
From http://annies-eats.com/ 
(To make it a 6-inch torte I cut the recipe in half)

Ingredients

Crust:
32 Oreos, processed into fine crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. melted and cooled unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
Crunch:
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips 
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. espresso powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
12 oz. softened cream cheese 
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter 
2 tbsp. whole milk
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
Ganache Topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts



Preheat the oven to 350' F. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan (in my case a 6-inch). Place Oreos in a food processor and grind into fine crumbs. Combine Oreo crumbs with butter and toss with a fork until all the crumbs of moistened. Press into spring form pan to cover the bottom and sides. Freeze crust for ten minutes. Remove from freezer and bake for ten minutes. Let the crust completely cool on a wire rack.


To make the crunch, combine the chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl.


To make the filling, beat heavy cream in a stand mixer with whisk attachment until it can hold medium peaks. Add 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and continue whisking until it hold medium-high peaks. Place in a bowl in refrigerator until needed.
In the same bowl used to make the whipped cream (you can wipe it out, but I didn't) beat cream cheese and remaining 1 cup of confectioners' sugar with the paddle attachment until smooth. Beat in peanut butter, milk and peanuts until well blended.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold in 1/4 of the whipped cream to lighten the mousse. Still using the spatula, stir in the crunch mixture until well combined. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream mixture. Spoon the filling into the crust, mounding and smoothing off. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap.

(I kind of failed at taking picture for these steps for I'm still getting used to having to photograph when baking! [ I also apologize for my poor photography skills] I'll do better next time!)


Impatiently waiting! 

Place chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Allow chocolate to soften and start to melt; remove bowl from saucepan. Bring heavy cream to a boil in a separate saucepan. Pour cream over chocolate and stir gently with a rubber spatula until the ganache is blended and smooth.

To finish the torte, pour the ganache over the top and smooth with a metal spatula. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and allow it to chill for at least twenty minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove from spring form pan, and viola! Refrigerate until ready to serve.




Since I was making this for my friend's birthday I naturally had to add rainbow sprinkles! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm new to this....

Hi, my name's Trista and I have decided to start a foodblog. I've been baking pretty much since i could walk (not really) but its been a long time! Growing up I would go to my grandma's house after preschool and kindergarden (since they were half days of school) and we would bake together. I still to this day help her cook for holiday dinners for our rather large family. I've learned so much from her and I have developed a love for baking as well. So on my blog, I plan on sharing recipes that I have tried. The recipes will be from my grandmas recipe box, as well as all of those delicious looking recipes on Pinterest (I'm a Pinterest addict! You can check out my 'recipe box' on Pinterest here http://pinterest.com/tristaleo/keep-calm-and-bake-on/ ). I'm also going to experiment with making some of my favorite dessert recipes more healthy. Oh and I may do some vegan baking/cooking as well! I hope you all enjoy my blog! I hope to be posting my first recipe rather soon! (: