Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easter Bake Sale and Ice Cream Woes

In February, a coworker and I had a Valentine's Day bake sale and it went really well! We decided to do another one for Easter, on Good Friday. I'm excited and am in recipe planning mode! I want to do things with spring fruits and fun colors. Here are some things that I'm thinking about making...

Lemon Macarons with Mascarpone Filling
Image from pizzazzerie.com

I love the bright color and lemon is such a lovely spring flavor. That recipe has a white chocolate ganache filling, but I am planning on using a mascarpone filling. The last time I made macarons, I made them mini size, and I think I'll go for a regular size cookie this time. The tiny ones were so fragile and some of them didn't make it in the best of shape to the bake sale. 

Mini Apricot Upside Down Cakes
Image from Half-BakedBaker

Obviously, that picture is of pineapple upside down cakes, but I couldn't find any images of what I'd like to make. I'm thinking a crushed pecan ring around the outside with sliced apricots in the middle. I've made a bigger version of this before and it was super nom. And everything is better mini, right?

Butter Crunch Cookies
Recipe and Image from Lipstick Blogspot

I stumbled across these cookies on Tastespotting and they look soooo good! I think they'd be really fun to make and super delicious to eat. I think I'm going to have to give these a try. Hopefully they make it to the sale, and don't all end up in my belly...

And finally, if I'm feeling super ambitious:
Strawberry Pie Pops

I've never made pie pops before, but they look so sweet and fun! I may or may not have time to do these as well, but if I do, I hope they turn out flaky and yum.

Now, on to my ice cream issues :(

I've been attempting to make a super creamy ice cream, and I'm failing so hard. I've tried different bases, custard, cream, milk, and nothing really gets the super creamy texture I'm looking for. It's extremely frustrating. The flavor is always perfect, but it's got a bit of iciness that is just not what I want. Any thoughts on things to try that might help with this issue? I was actually hoping to sell a strawberry gelato at the bake sale as well. I got little one cup containers to sell, which would be really rad if I can pull it off. But I don't want to sell a product that isn't up to my standard =/

Monday, March 12, 2012

Roasted Banana Ice Cream

Holy crap. I'm in love with the flavor of this ice cream. I'm going to marry it. A spring wedding with a topping buffet at the reception.


Banana has always been my favorite flavor of ice cream. So of course I decided to make my first ice cream attempt banana flavored. Since I've never made ice cream before, I looked at some other recipes, then kind of did my own thing with a few aspects, and wasn't sure how it would turn out. There are some things I will do differently next time, but I'll get into that later. Here is the recipe that I used:

3 ripe to overripe bananas
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons muscovado, thrown in the food processor to make it a bit more fine
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon madagascar vanilla paste

Chop up the bananas and toss them in the brown sugar. Roast at 350F for about 15 minutes, flip slices, roast for 15 more minutes. They should be soft and kind of gooey. 

Toss everything in a food processor and whip it, whip it good! I might have whipped it a little too much because it got more airy than it probably should have. 

Then I scooped it into the chilled ice cream bucket thingy and got it into the ice cream maker. 

30 minutes later I had roasted banana ice cream! This picture is after I already scooped some out to eat :P

My bowl full of nommy ice cream

Then, since I need/love/live for toppings, I toasted some almond slices in butter, and threw them over the ice cream, along with some chocolate chips. 

The flavor was soooooo good, but it wasn't quite as creamy as I had imagined. And as it melted, it got almost a little grainy... odd. 

I think I will try making it with a custard base. That usually makes ice cream super creamy, right? I think so.. I will also use less heavy cream, and more whole milk. I think the whipping wasn't as good for making it creamy as I thought. 

Overall, I think it was a pretty good first try. And it definitely won't go to waste :P

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

First Item Listed on Etsy!

Ok, pity party mostly over. I went ahead and got my Etsy shop together, sans actual logo, and got an actual item up for sale! The first product I'm selling is Madeleine Cookies.

You can see the listing and my shop here:


Logo and Branding

Guhhh, I need a logo! I am having the biggest mental block with this. I have a color scheme already, but cannot figure out a logo. I don't want something too cutesy or too boring. I want... sophisticated cute. Is that doable? I figured I would sketch up some ideas then hire one of my graphic design friends to make it a reality, but I can't even get anything onto paper! It's driving me nutso!! I feel so stuck because I'd like to have some kind of branding on my Etsy page, and I would like to be able to include business cards, or even use a sticker on my packaging, but I got nothin. Comin up blank. I'm not sure what font to use, let alone some sort of graphic/image that would represent what I'm trying to do. I guess some sort of mini tart... but I can't picture a sophisticated cute tart drawing.

Boo mental blocks :(

Monday, March 5, 2012

S'mores Cake

Saturday night was my Uncle Dave's retirement party and I was in charge of providing the cake. His two favorite desserts are chocolate cake (the chocolatier the better) and s'mores (he's big into camping). I decided to try and combine these two favorites into a super S'mores Cake. The results: delicious.

First I made a graham cracker and pecan crust. I just used graham cracker crumbs, pecans that I pulverized in a food processor, sugar, and some melted butter. Btw, did you know that they sell graham crackers already crumbed? How have I never known this before? It's so freakin handy!

So I pressed the crust into the bottom of the cake pans, about a quarter inch deep. Then poured in chocolate cake batter. I used a Betty Crocker recipe, slightly modified, and I tripled it for two cakes. I also had a little bit left over so I made a mini cake for my boyfriend :)

1.5 cups cake flour
1 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
6 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

I just threw everything into the kitchen aid except the chocolate chips, mixed it up, then poured it in the pans over the crust. I added the chips at the end and sort of pressed them down into the batter so that they would get melty and yummy inside the cake. I baked at 350 for about 35-40 minutes or so, checking with a toothpick to make sure it was done.

After the cakes cooled, I topped them with my homemade marshmallows. My plan was to use my new creme brulee torch to brown the mallows, but I realized at the last minute that it did not come with butane! Gah! So I turned on the broiler and moved the rack up, thinking that I'd quickly brown the marshmallows in the oven. This was not a good idea... At least, I shouldn't have put the rack so high. I opened the oven door after about 30 seconds and flames shot out at me! After a half second of panic, I turned the broiler off and whacked at my oven with my big oven mitt until the flames subsided. Heartbroken, I carefully pulled the cakes out and found this horror.

Soooooo sad :( And what a waste of all my homemade marshmallows! Double sad! Luckily (extremely luckily because I had to leave in about 10 minutes for my uncle's party), I was able to scrape off the burned mallow mess and the cake was just fine underneath it. I stopped and grabbed some mini marshmallows from the market on the way to the party and tried the boiler thing there with better success the second time. I put them on a slightly lower rack and then did not take my eyes off the cakes until they were done.

The fixed cakes were both pretty and awesomely tasty! Success!! My uncle really loved it and that was what mattered most. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the finished cakes, but I did get a picture of the finished baby cake that I had made extra for my boyfriend. AND I got butane for my torch and was able to use that to brown the marshmallows. THAT TORCH IS SO FUN! I might be a bit of a pyromaniac...

Here's the picture of his cake.

So pretty! Aside from the massive marshmallow meltdown, I'm extremely happy with how this whole thing turned out. I will definitely make it again, probably just mini versions because it's a pretty rich cake. And because mini desserts are adorable. 

I really need to learn to take more pictures. I'm a failure at process pictures.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ice Cream!

I've ordered my very first ice cream maker and since then have become a little obsessed with looking up ice cream recipes. I've never made homemade ice cream before and I'm super excited because I'm a bit of an ice cream addict. It's bad, guys. My absolute favorite flavor of ice cream is banana, so I think once I have my maker (it arrives today! squeeee!), that will be the first flavor I try. I found a recipe for roasted banana flavor and that sounds like just about the best thing I've ever heard of.

Roasted Banana Ice Cream
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

I also want to try some kind of peanut butter banana because yum. I'm sure I will be posting recipes that I concoct with my new ice cream maker. 

People get so creative with ice cream flavors now, it's really fun. I found some great stuff when wandering the internets for inspiration. Here are a couple I found extra interesting..

Popcorn Flavored Ice Cream
Recipe from Butter Sweet Melody

Corn and Three Berry Ice Cream

Recipe from Back to Her Roots

Do you have any favorite funky ice cream flavors?