30 August 2010

Sugar Coma Extraordinaire Part One

I have mentioned that I make a lot of cake. So this year for my birthday, after having let my 30th slip by hopefully unnoticed, I decided that I was not only going to throw myself a great party, but an all dessert party. All desserts and no cakes.

I started preparing the weekend before my party; the things that I knew would last like cookies, brownie balls, and sorbets. Then a huge project at work hit so I was up late every night working and fitting in a little baking and decorating wherever I could. For the entire week my kitchen looked like a war zone.

A baking war zone that is. I went through roughly 2 1/2 lbs of butter, about 8 lbs of flour, 10 of sugar, two dozen eggs, 3 1/2 lbs cream cheese, I don't even know how much chocolate...and a lot of alcohol.

I also made it completely through seasons 2 and 3 of Alias. And remembered how I annoyed I was that Bradley Cooper left the show after season 2.

Bradley Cooper...


Sorry, I'm back.

Usually when I blog about food I try to include the recipe here, but because we're talking about a lot of recipes and I'm lazy, I'm just going to link to all of them here. It's not like anything is ever my own recipe anyway.

I made three kinds of cookies. Because this was a dessert only party I wanted to at least provide a couple savory desserts and that's where some of the cookies came in.

Oatcakes are not oatmeal cookies. Do not confuse them. The description sounds kind of unpleasant but they go really well with red wine:
2 1/4 cups of rolled oats
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lard
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 423. Mix the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Melt the butter and lard then add it, and enough boiling water to the oat mixture to make a dough. Turn it out on a surface sprinkled with yet more oats, roll, then cut in rounds. Should make roughly 24. Bake un an ungreased cookie sheet for minimum 15 minutes. I'm convinced that my oven hates me because everything always takes longer to bake than instructions say they should.

I don't have a round stamp so I used a glass.

Mine didn't turn out as pretty as the ones in my cookbook so there's not a finished picture. I used the Cookie and Biscuit Bible for a few of these recipes and was very amused by it. It handily gives ingredient measurements for every recipe three ways: grams, ounces, and cups. The authors have to be British but what's so funny is that they include American translations for words. For example, a recipe might tell you to press dough into a tin (pan), or wrap dough in clear film (plastic wrap), or use a paper piping (pastry) bag for something.

My second savory dessert were blue cheese walnut cookies. I'd made them before and knew that when looking for a savory dessert these were a big hit. Contrary to the oatcakes I rather think that these go better with a nice crisp white wine.
3 1/2 ounces blue cheese
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup walnuts

Pulse cheese and butter in a food processor until blended then puls mix the next four ingredients until a course meal forms. Once that's all mixed, pulse belnd in the walnuts until a moist dough forms. Form dough into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll out dough and stamp out cookies (I used stars) and bake about 15 minutes.

Because I recently bought the book Cookie Craft I decided that I also had to make some sugar cookies and try my hand at decorating them. It's a really good book that gives good explanations on how to do the decorating.

Ummm...my cookies looked nothing like the ones in the book. Even the shapes were lopsided.

Eventually I gave up on the sanding sugar and the gold and silver pearl dust and just flooded the dratted cookied and went to town with my new food markers. And that was pretty fun in and of itself.

And have I ever mentioned what a miracle the Kitchen Aid mixer is?! There is no way I'd bake nearly as much as I do if we didn't have that. Thank you Lauren's mom for buying it for her!

Brownie balls are one of my new favorite things. I've made them before but this time, instead of dipping them in the sticky mess goo of chocolate and sweet and condensed milk I just dipped them in melted milk chocolate. Perhaps they weren't quite as rich but they were certainly easier to handle and stored better.

To mix in with all the fancy and sophistocated type desserts, I also made a few childhood favorites: Rice Krispy treats, pan s'mores, and scotcheroos. I remembered while making them, how much I do not actually like to make Rice Krispy treats. They are a massive pain in the neck because the cereal really just does not like to mix with the melted marshmallows. In fact sometimes it outright refuses to do so. I do have a fondness for them though as they were one of the only 'remind me of home' treats I could make when I lived in Taiwan. I was able to get my hands on very expensive boxes of cereal and the marshmallows at an import store and made them once. I had such a hard time stirring them I had to get my kung fu master roommate to do it for me.

Pan s'mores are similarly kind of a pain but not nearly as stubborn as are the Rice Krispies.
9 cups Golden Grahams
3/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter
11.5 pkg chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups mini marshmallows

Butter a 9x13 pan. Then, in a sauce pan, combine the syrup, chocolate, and butter and stir occaisionaly over low to medium heat until melted and stir in vanilla. Pour the mixture over the ceral and mix as best you can until coated, then press into the greased pan. And voila!

 Of these three, scotcheroos have always been my favorite.
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
6+ oz chocolate chips
6+ oz butterscotch chips

Mix the syrup and sugar in a sauce pan over low to medium heat just until it starts to boil. Remove from heat and mix in peanut butter until totally incorporated. Then dump in all the creal and stir like your life depends on it. These, even more than the Rice Krispy treats, like to seize up and refuse to mix together. Once you have defeated the cereal mixture, pry it out of the pan into a 9x13 and gingerly press into the pan. Gingerly...syrup + sugar + peanut butter = really really super hot. Then melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips together and pour over the cereal. I saw 6+ ounces because you need at least 6 ounces of each...but to me the more the better.

I discovered with these three desserts that instead of getting your hands gooky to press them into the pans (and you do want to grease your hands for that) spraying a little cookie spray on my hands was as effective and much cleaner than using butter.

Somehow I forgot to take pictures of those. Sad face.

I also tried (read tried) to make pudding cups a la one of my favorite bloggers Bakerella. The chocolate peanut butter pudding turned out pretty well (check her blog for the recipe!), but my cups were a disaster. The concept is pretty simple, partially blow up some ballons, she suggests water ballons, spray them with cooking spray, dip in chocolate, and let set. Simple. But I decided to use chocolate chips because I had a limited amount of real chocolate. That was a mistake. When I popped the balloon to reveal a bowl, the whole thing caved in. I had fun painting the balloons with the chocolate though.

Check out the next entry (hopefully later this week!) with the rest of the desserts and the pictures of the finished products.

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