Thursday, April 29, 2010

Walnut, Chocolate Chip, Spice Blondies and Masala Chai!

Last post of the day! And this one is dedicated to Sabera of One Life to Eat (on my "Sweet Blogs" list) and one of my very best friends, Kendall.

My poor sister is sick: so instead of the traditional soup or tea or whatever, I decided to do for her what I do best: bake! I asked her what she felt like and she picked these blondies! I've never made blondies before, and let me tell ya, I have no idea why. They are from Cakes and Bakes, a very thoughtful Christmas gift from Kendall. This book is awesome. The recipes are quick and easy for the most part and heartwarming, to boot.

I did make a few modifications to the recipe, though. I am not a huge fan of self-rising flour. It's more expensive than regular, all-purpose flour, and it it's not called for in very many of the recipes I use. However, I have noticed that in a lot of the new cookbooks I have gotten as gifts, many of them are calling for it. I tried a conversion where you take regular all-purpose flour and add baking soda and salt. Needless to say, whatever I made with that conversion just wasn't quite right. It always tasted salty and baking soda-ey. So for this recipe, it called for a cup of self-rising flour and I thought, why not try just adding a teaspoon of baking powder to all-purpose flour? Well, it worked! These blondies turned out fantastic! I'm still going to try a few more recipes with my own sneaky little conversion and I will definitely let you know when I'm sure it works! I also added chocolate chips and nutmeg to the blondies (they originally just called for cinnamon) and they were a hit in my house!

I have been on the quest for the perfect cup of masala chai for a few years now. I had some amazing chai in London at my aunt's house but the mix she used was a homemade gift. I tried to emulate those flavours in my own version but somehow, the chai was never perfectly satisfying. Then, Sabera came along with her recipe, which I tried out this morning and it was exactly what I was looking for: super simple, and absolutely soul-satisfying.

Please, please, please try out this masala chai recipe! You won't taste a better cup, unless you go to India to get it! I didn't have the specific tea she mentions so I just used my orange pekoe, and for every one mug of chai, because I didn't have fresh ginger, I added 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger and a splash of vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, which I rarely have kicking around! If you have all the authentic ingredients, though, use those!...I intend to go out and get them and give it another go!

That's all for now, folks!

Happy eating!

Cakes Cakes Cakes!

Hello Foodies!

Some of you may remember my venture into Cake City a long time ago and how overwhelming I found it – fondant and buttercream and decorating - oh my! Well, I think that since then, I have come very far - or shall I say we, my mother and sister included! I feel like the fondant covering on the cakes has gone leaps and bounds from before! What say you?

This is one of the cakes we made for Darbari. It is a dark chocolate cake with mint-chocolate-pieces baked right
into the batter. The cream in between is just a vanilla buttercream - the cake was pretty rich in flavour, so we thought that a simple buttercream would let the mint-chocolate really shine through. The cake was then covered with fondant and decorated with a mehndi design! It was a total hit!

This second concoction (last picture shown) was made for another Darbari. The theme the girls were going to be wearing was coral, so we did our best to try and incorporate that into the cake we made. We coloured the fondant for the flowers a sort of coral pink.

Some of your may remember the triple-layer, rectangular cake from a previous post that was covered with light pink cherry blossoms...since then, we got a bigger flower plunger so this cake has big and small flowers...I think it makes it look a bit less sparse and just a touch more dramatic.

With such a fresh, springy look to this cake, we thought it fit that the inside match the outside. The cake is an orange sponge with cranberries thrown in the mix, and in between the layers is an orange buttercream.

The cake had such a lovely, fresh smell when it came out of the oven, that we baked a half batch of cupcakes for us to try - absolutely scrumptious for those times you don't feel like something super heavy. They went perfectly with a cup of orange pekoe!

A tip regarding cranberries, if you happen to find them on sale, buy a couple of bags and freeze them - then you can just pull them out whenever you want to make a fresh addition to a cake, or anything really! They keep really well in the freezer if you remember to close the bag well when you're done! Just give the frozen berries a rinse before you use them and that'll thaw them right out!

I've got one more post in me for today, so later, gators!

Honeytops! I'm Hooome!

Hey everyone!

After an unexpected and unwelcome break from blogging....I'm finally back! I've missed blogging so much....and all of you, even more! It's been a weird few months with a lot of different things going on and unfortunately, blogging had to take a back-seat for a while but now, I'm back (and better than ever, I think!)

That being said, some of the stuff I'm posting is pretty old, but hopefully, you'll enjoy it all the same :)

First up is an apple pie! I have never tried to make an apple pie before...I know, blasphemy, right? For those of you who know me and my pie-baking ways, I'm crust-girl. I make my crust from scratch - it's my thing...I'm crusty. However, fillings scare the pie-eating daylights out of me! We've all had those pies (usually fruit, and even more specifically, apple) that are watery on the inside, which makes the crust soggy and then the whole pie is just ruined. Blech. So that's my fear concerning apple pie: that the apples will let all their water out...which the pie crust will absorb and then the reputation of my perfectly flaky pie crust will be forever marred.

I thought that I might be able to fix this problem by sauteeing the apples first with the sugar, butter and spices (like the apples for my apple crisp) and then putting them into the crust and baking the whole lot....there was a distinct flaw in that...overcooked it ended up a little bit more like an apple-sauce pie. It tasted heavenly with the cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar and there wasn't a high water content, but the texture of the apples was definitely lost. Must figure out this conundrum....any ideas?

This next, less-than-perfect concoction was made for one of my very best friends, Christy. It's a chocolate cake with my nani's famous dark chocolate fudge poured over the top! I know it looks like it's been through a lot (like maybe a bumpy ride in a Honda Civic...) But I assure you, it tasted very good!

For the writing, I got to use a new gadget, the icing pen, which was super exciting! Very handy if you need to do a lot of writing like on this cake -- thanks to my mother's coworker, Sharon, for this thoughtful gift :)

That's all for this post! But don't think that's all for today, I've got a couple more things to show you all! Till very soon!