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lazybird has gone vegan.

lazybird vegan cheesecake

ok, well…we haven’t become vegans (dang you delicious cheese!) but we are equal opportunity and can now confidently bake for vegans.

this challenge started with the offer to try tackling some vegan baked goods for a friend’s recent baby shower. i hit the internets right away and ordered two popular and highly recommended cookbooks: “flying apron’s gluten-free & vegan baking book,” by jennifer katzinger and “the joy of vegan baking,” by colleen patrick-goudreau. i read and read, and was inspired to order more books on veganism, nutrition, organics, factory farms etc, etc…and made a pretty significant life change….i gave up pop (or soda, or coke, or whatever you want to call it) i also feel a lot worse about milk, butter, eggs and meat….but….well…i gave up pop….lets take it one step at a time.

long story short, this challenge…was not so challenging (after i was able to track down egg replacer, that is). if you have a whole foods or sprouts or a specialty market nearby…you’re one step closer to whipping up a “cheese”cake of your own.

ingredients:
crust:
4 cups pretzels
1/2 cup melted non-dairy butter (i used earth balance)
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar

“cheese”cake (adapted from “the joy of vegan baking,” by colleen patrick-goudreau):
6 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
1/2 cup water
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
24 ounces non-dairy cream cheese, room temperature (i used the highly recommended tofutti)
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

chocolate ganache:
1/2 cup soy creamer
12 oz dairy free chocolate chips

preheat your oven to 350º.

for your crust… combine pretzels, melted butter, peanut butter and sugar together in your food processor till finely chopped.

prepare your springform pan….generously butter the bottoms and side of a 9in springform pan. place a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, on the bottom of the pan and butter paper as well. coat the bottom of the pan with pretzel crumb mixture. coat sides of your pan as well, about an inch up. set aside.

in a medium size bowl whip together the egg replacer and water till you’ve achieved a thick cream mixture. your mixture will have doubled in size and become white and almost frothy. set aside.

in a heat safe bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt your chocolate chips. remove from heat and let cool to room temperature – still give it a stir here and there so it won’t harden back up.

in a large bowl, or your stand mixer beat together “egg” mixture, “cream cheese” and sugar (hah, like all the quotations?!) till smooth. pour in melted chocolate and vanilla and mix till thoroughly blended. (note: if your cream cheese mixture is colder than your chocolate, mixing the two might result in a chocolate chip cheesecake instead of a smooth, blended chocolate….i mean….it could be considered a happy accident, but if you disagree…you’ve been warned)

pour mixture into prepared crust/springform pan.

bake at 350º for 50 minutes. at this point your cheesecake should be set along the edges, but jiggle slightly in the middle. once the timer rings, turn your oven off and let your cheesecake stay put for another 50 minutes. do not open up the oven door during this whole process…lest you risk cheesecake cracks…dum dum dummm. remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to let cool to room temperature. at this point, run a knife around the edge of your springform pan to separate the pan from the cake – this also helps ward off cracks. once your cake has cooled, wrap up tightly and store in fridge overnight.

next morning, or at least a couple hours prior to serving the cheesecake, make your ganache. pour chocolate chips into a medium-sized heat safe bowl and set aside. in a small saucepan heat soy creamer over medium heat till bubbles start forming around the edges of the pan. remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. let sit for five minutes. slowly begin to stir your mixture, being careful not to incorporate too much air. once your chocolate has melted and you have a creamy texture, set aside and let cool till your ganache has thickened enough to pour out and spread over cheesecake – your ganache shouldn’t be runny, you should need to use either gravity (in tilting your cake back and forth) or a knife to spread out over cake.

add a garnish if you like.…i liked raspberries.

return to fridge till ready to serve.

as a non-vegan, i was nervous about the results. ESPECIALLY because, you can’t really take a sneak taste of a cheesecake….unless you go all cliff huxtable and cover up the bite with the ganache….shoot! why didn’t i think of that?!

i was relieved when the guest of honor took a bite and confirmed success…and even happier when all the non-vegans took to it with pleasure as well. the biggest success, however, was later that evening when i tricked a vegan-dessert-DETESTER into eating a slice (didn’t tell him it was vegan) and got a high-five for its deliciousness. after he demolished it and i told him of my trickery, i received another high-five for making the first vegan dessert he had tried and enjoyed.

if you’ve made it this far…i’m assuming you are vegan, or are at least toying with the idea. i promise, if you’re a cheesecake fan, this one is worth trying…and even tricking your friends into eating.

enjoy!

-L

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and….we’re back. well, we’re trying to be anyways.

i know it’s been a while, but life got a little hectic. a resolution of mine in the new year is to get back to my hobbies that have all been left on a back burner for the past few months. i realize our last post made it seem as though we were done blogging….but that’s not true. we’re still here and we may be separated but by no means does that mean we’re done baking and blogging.

birthday seasons always seem to bring me back to my senses. thanks to ricky….i got back into the kitchen to combine two of my favorite flavors….chocolate and mint. maybe it’s cause i haven’t baked in so long…..or maybe these little buddies were truly inspiring…but these brownies quickly moved into the top 5 ranking as far as lazy bird treats go. i say they are worth your time…..i say they were so good i had to set aside weight watchers points (6 points, btw) to eat one every day until they were gone….but that’s just me.

(adapted from the adorable, love and olive oil)
ingredients:

yields 32 brownies
(brownie)
3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder
5 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(buttercream)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons creme de menthe
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon milk

(chocolate glaze)
6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes

preheat your oven to 325º

very generously butter the bottoms and sides of a 9 x 13 inch glass pan. line the bottom with parchment paper (allowing excess paper on either side to use as leverage when removing the brownies), and butter the parchment paper as well. set aside

whisk together flour, salt and cocoa powder in a medium sized bowl. set aside.

using a double boiler (or something resembling one, in my case) melt your chocolate and butter until smooth and glossy. turn off your heat source but leave your boiler in place and add in your sugars (white and brown). whisk until sugars are completely combined. remove from heat and let mixture come to room temperature.

add in eggs and whisk until just combined. add in vanilla and mix till combined. (overbeating at this stage will cause a cakey brownie)

fold in your flour/cocoa/salt mixture until the wet ingredients have absorbed the dry.

pour your batter into the glass pan you’ve already prepared. bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. try your hardest not to overbake these little buddies. test your brownies about a minute or two before your bake time is complete and if your toothpick comes out with a few more flecks of brownie than you’re comfortable with…don’t fret. fight your instincts and take them out a smidge early. they will continue to bake through on your counter as they cool down and taking them out early ensures a yummy gooey brownie. mmmmmm.

while your brownies are cooling lets get the buttercream going.

in your stand mixer beat your butter and powdered sugar on a medium-ish speed till it’s nice and fluffy. add in creme de menthe, peppermint extract, and milk and continue beating till mixed in. if you need to add in more sugar for consistency sake…feel free.

spread the buttercream over the brownies – smoothing with a rubber spatula and transfer to fridge for some chillin time. 45 minutes should do the trick.

time for the glaze. double broiler time again. combine your chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heat safe bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. whisk it up until your chocolate is silky smooth. remove from heat and whisk like crazy for about a minute so release excess heat.

pour melted chocolate over your chilled brownies and butter cream. spread the glaze, with an offset spatula to create an even layer from edge to edge of your brownies. transfer back to fridge for about an hour or until the glaze hardens.

remove pan from fridge and wait about 15 minutes for your glaze to soften slightly. remove the brownies from their pan by gently pulling up on the excess parchment paper. (this is why you went a little nuts with the butter in the first place) cut brownies into squares using a warm knife. for nice clean cuts, run your knife under hot water – dry off, make the cut, and repeat.

serve immediately. brownies are best cold…mmmm…memories.

enjoy and thanks for waiting so patiently :)

– L

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one year ago: corndogs y’all

oh, it’s been a while. this i know. it’s been a pretty hectic month. between the two of us, there have been trips, house huntings, happy news and dumb news. i’m also still a “cupcake explorer” testing out vanilla cupcakes on a lip-sealed-till-it’s-discovered mission. so while my coworkers have been enjoying the cakes of my labor, y’all have been kept in the dark (till the day the recipe is cracked). so with the month of august…came a whole lot of crazy…but at the end of the day, the baking keeps me sane….so it’s high time we get back on track here.

it’s birthday season here at work, so i have lots of excuses to bake away. this week’s request: anything lemon.

i found this cookie on pinterest months ago and have been dying to make it….so thanks to tracy’s 39th birthday and his love for anything lemon, i had the perfect excuse.

lemon crinkle cookies
(adapted from Lauren Brennan’s award winning recipe)

ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

preheat your oven to 350º. line three cookie sheets with parchment paper OR lightly grease pans and set aside.

in your mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium-high till fluffy. mix in vanilla, zest, lemon juice and egg. scrape down your bowl and add in salt, baking powder, baking soda and flour. mix till all ingredients are combined.

measure out powdered sugar onto a plate. roll your dough into small (tablespoon sized) balls and roll in powdered sugar, covering the whole surface.

place on your prepared cookie sheet about two inches apart. bake at 350º for about 9 minutes or until the tops of your cookies begin to show small cracks.

remove from oven and let your cookies cool on the pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to cool to room temp. or just eat them all right away, your call. you can also dust with more powdered sugar if you like.

and the result…..holy. moly. these cookies were delish. so light and fresh, with the perfect amount of zest to sweet. if you’re a fan of citrus…i would highly recommend these cookies. come to think of it….they would probably be just as tasty with some orange or lime as a substitute to the lemon.

you should absolutely squeeze in a batch or two of these cookies as the summer comes to a close.

enjoy!

-L

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“these are stupid good”

since july is coming to an end, i’m considering this post to be a little christmas in july. but, the only thing that would even qualify this as a christmas recipe is the fact that there are dried cranberries in these cookies and as i was making them last night i thought that these would make a great addition to my thanksgiving/christmas holiday dessert playlist! so, thank you ryan, our newest team member at work, for the suggestion of this brilliant little cookie. who knew i’d be into such a zesty morsel. but, i guess you never really know until you try!

ingredients

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 T grated orange zest

1 teaspoon orange extract

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup dried cranberries

11.5 oz. bag of white chocolate chips

preheat your oven to 350 degrees. baking time is 10-12 minutes or until golden.

let’s get this zesty party started! in your mixer’s bowl blend together softened butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. add your eggs one at a time mixing well in between. follow that up with the extracts and the zest mixing until well blended. add your flour and baking soda, again blending together well. follow that up with the oats and the chocolate chips. i really just threw in the entire bag of chips, because let’s be honest what’s the fun in not doing that.

place dough in dollops (hehe) on your cookie sheets, well spaced out and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden @ 350 degrees. once baked, set them out for two minutes to cool before carefully placing them on wire cooling racks. and that’s it. quick, simple and quite possibly life changing. i’m just saying!

happy friday

-b

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one year ago: B’s VERY famous gooey butter cake

i’m not gonna lie…as far as i know, i have no french roots….and i really can’t give you a detailed account of what Bastille Day actually is (just a general one that usually ends with a question mark inflection). BUT…what i do know…is that it’s NEVER bad to have an excuse to eat french pastries….so Happy Bastille Day it is!

i decided to merge a couple existing recipes together to whip up these napoleons. if you’re a follower…you remember the toil and trouble that came with learning how to make puff pastry. it’s not difficult….it’s just specific….and takes patience, time and cold temperatures. (the latter being laughable considering the current dallas heat wave we’re in the middle of….but i went for it anyways)

someday i promise i’ll document the puff pastry process in photos…cause it’s a little hard to imagine without diagrams. (diagrams?! oh man….i’m sure i have lost half of you by now) but all of the trouble aside, one batch of puff pasty goes a long way…and you can freeze it for up to a year. it can make a sweet treat, or a savory side dish

puff pastry
5 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
2 cups butter

whisk together your flour and salt. add in water. stir until dough has formed. dough will be a tiny bit on the lumpy side. set aside and let her rest for about 20 minutes.

roll out into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick.

cut up (chilled) butter into squares and put them ALL over the top of the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch butter-free around the edges of the rectangle. (the butter needs to be chilled….but it’s a fine line…too warm and your dough will absorb it…too cold and it will break through your dough. my handy-dandy pie and pastry bible noted that 60 degrees F is the perfect temperature for your butter…if you want to be that technical….i just guessed it, myself)

after the top of your dough is covered in butter squares, fold it in thirds (like you would a business letter) and roll out again to about 1/2″ thickness. be careful to not let the butter break through the dough or out the sides.

(first fold) turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out again into a rectangle and fold again into thirds. (second fold) it’s important to keep your dough chilled, so between every two folds refrigerate for 30 minutes, covered.

you will repeat this process of rolling out and folding two more times…refrigerating between every two folds until you have folded the dough 6 times. once finished, wrap and refrigerate.

stabilized whipped cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cup heavy whipping cream (divided)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

(note: i ended up making two batches of this cream, when i probably only needed one…maaaaybeee one and a half?!….however, there’s nothing wrong with left over homemade whipped cream. i’m sure your coffee will agree)

begin by putting your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

in a small sauce pan, over low heat, combine powdered sugar, cornstarch and 1 /2 cup whipping cream. whisk together till well blended. bump your heat up to medium and continue whisking till ingredients begin to thicken up and come to a rolling boil. immediately remove from heat and transfer to glass bowl to cool to room temperature – i usually just transfer it back to my liquid measuring cup as you will have to pour it out later on. once mixture is cooled, stir in vanilla and set aside. (if you’re making all parts of your napoleon at once, you might want to start with this step, since it will take a while to cool down. it wont take too long for your whipping cream to whip up, so keep in mind that this mixture needs to be cooled before you start with the next step.)

using your chilled mixer bowl and beaters or whisk attachment, beat the remaining 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream at a high speed till you begin to see distinct lines forming in the cream. with the beaters still going at high speed, pour in your cooled, sugar/cream/vanilla mixture. the next part happens pretty quickly, so pay attention. continue beating this mixture till it forms stiff peaks, being careful not to over-beat.

to make napoleons:

preheat your oven to 425°.

remove dough from fridge and cut off a fourth. roll out your dough into a rectangle – about 6″ x 16″ and 1/8 of an inch thick, focusing more on the thickness than the length. once rolled out, prick all over with a fork. sprinkle a cookie sheet with water, shaking off the excess and transfer your dough to the cookie sheet. bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes – dough will be puffed up and golden. transfer to cooling rack. i actually put mine in the fridge to cool which helped when it came time to cut the pastry.

once cooled, gingerly cut your puffed rectangle into three long strips. (it helps to use a wet serrated knife) then cut each strip through the middle leaving you with six strips – three tops, three bottoms. i went ahead and cut mine down to napoleon single serving sizes from there. on the bottom layer slap on some cream and berries (i picked strawberries) or chocolate shavings/sauce?! – whatever you love the most. add the top layer and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. go ahead and add another dollop of whipped cream for good measure, and some more berries while you’re at it. serve immediately – or chill until ready.

it might seem like quite the ordeal from start to finish….but the good news is….once you make a batch of puff pastry….you will have plenty to experiment with. be it cream horns, croissants, or napoleons….there will be enough to go around. AND you will feel oh so accomplished and fancy making anything french!

enjoy!

-L

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when it’s the first night of little birds baking club…what else would you make?! chocolate chip cookies are a classic. everyone needs a solid chocolate chip cookie recipe up their sleeve. we asked the girls how many of them had made chocolate chip cookies and a number of hands went up in the air. when we asked how many had made cookies from scratch, and not out of a plastic tube…all the hands went down. needless to say, the girls were pretty pumped to make AND eat these little guys. they all herded around me and took turns adding ingredients. oh, and hands down – being the one who gets to crack the egg….is the most coveted responsibility.

with little bird recipes, i’ll point out some tips that will be helpful for a new baker…and obvious to an experienced baker. bare with me on some of these….or enjoy them, depending on where you stand.

adapted from Baking Basics, by Betty Crocker

ingredients:
(wet ingredients)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) *unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 large eggs
(dry ingredients)
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 12oz bag** semisweet chocolate chips

equipment:
stand mixer w/paddle attachment
OR large bowl w/wooden spoon
cookie sheets
cooling racks

* instead of using all butter, i used half butter half shortening. my butter vs shortening experience is: butter makes a better tasting cookie, but also makes a flat cookie while shortening helps the cookie keep a good shape…..so using both = best of both worlds (taste and shape).

** can you believe this recipe actually called for a 24oz bag of chocolate chips?!?! i mean, my dad’s famous cookies only call for 6oz…so i had a hard time even using a whole 12oz bag. i cut it off at about 10oz….i mean, come on? you want some cookie with your chocolate chips?!

preheat your oven to 375º

prep – since your butter and eggs need to be room temperature, start by prepping all your ingredients. remove butter and eggs from the fridge and let sit on your counter while you measure out the rest of your ingredients. the time it takes to measure out all your ingredients into separate bowls….should be just enough time for your butter to soften up enough to beat easily.

tips & tricks:
“packed” brown sugar
: means to pack it into the measuring cup – pressing it in firmly. if the brown sugar has been packed firmly, it will keep the measuring cup’s shape when removed – if it crumbles apart, you have not packed it well.

flour: when you measure your flour, don’t scoop you’re measuring cup into the flour and shake or tap on the counter to get in as much flour as you can. you want your baked goods to be light and fluffy, not dense, so the way you measure your flour makes a big difference. instead of using your cup to scoop up flour, spoon your flour into the measuring cup, and level it off with the back of a knife. also, take the time to sift your flour. this just helps to get air into your flour. if you don’t have a sifter, just use a fork to stir up your flour.

eggs: if you want to avoid egg shells in your dough, crack your eggs into a separate bowl and make sure any accidental shells are removed before mixing them in. also, crack your egg on the side of the bowl….not the side of the counter – the less raw egg spills you have to worry about cleaning up, the better.

mix – using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment OR by hand in a large bowl with a wooden spoon, beat your butter, both sugars, vanilla and eggs at a medium speed till light and fluffy.

we call these our “wet ingredients” (mix first)

at a low speed, slowly stir in your flour, baking soda and salt. add in your chocolate chips. (by all means, go crazy with the 24oz if you want to….but, i’m just sayin, my 10oz was plenty)

these are our “dry ingredients” (mix into your wet ingredients)

bake – using a ice cream scoop or two spoons, transfer your cookie dough to cookie sheets. bake at 375º for 12-15 minutes. mine only took 8 minutes…so be on the lookout. once the edges have turned golden brown, remove and place the pan on top of a cooling rack for about five minutes. then carefully (once the cookies aren’t ooey-gooey anymore) transfer just the cookies from the pan to the cooling rack. cool to room temperature, if you can wait that long.

tips & tricks:
baking time really varies from oven to oven. always check on your treat earlier than the recipe calls for. with cookies, what you’re really looking for, are the edges to begin to turn golden brown. the cookie will also start to form cracks on the top. once your edges are brown, remove your cookies and place the pan on top of a cooling rack for about five minutes, or until the cookies can be removed from the pan without falling apart in a gooey mess. as the cookies cool….the insides of them keep baking so what seems like underdone when you first remove them from the oven, becomes the perfect, soft, break-apart without hearing a crunch, cookie once it has cooled.

that’s it. once your cookies have cooled, bust out the milk and enjoy.

for the record dad, the recipe was named “the best” chocolate chip cookies. in no way do they trump your famous cookies, so don’t feel threatened. love you! :)

-L

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“what’s the frosting? cream cheese and magic?!”

spring has sprung and i think it sprang us directly into summer. with highs already hitting the high 90’s we were in need of something light, sweet and juicy. sugar cookies, cream cheese frosting and strawberries? count me in. i love pizza, so why wouldn’t i love a dessert counterpart? to make this as delicious as possible i knew i could count on my old friend Martha Stewart for a superb foundation. here is what you will need for this simple and delightful treat.

sugar cookie crust

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

cream cheese frosting

8oz. cream cheese

8oz. cool whip

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 cup powdered sugar

fruit topping

strawberries

grapes

blueberries

and really whatever fruit you desire

– – – – –

equipment

electric mixer

mixing bowls

parchment paper

rolling pin

biscuit/cookie cutters

first things first, the crust. in a large bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. in your electric mixer’s bowl, go ahead and whip your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. i usually do this on medium speed for about a minute. but make sure the butter and sugar are well blended and aren’t in crumbles. once fluffy, add your egg and vanilla. slowly begin adding your flour mixture, next. once this is all combined it should resemble cookie dough. split in half and, on plastic wrap, smash the dough into a disc shape, wrap up and put in the freezer for about 20 minutes. do the same to your other half of dough. (preheat oven to 325 degrees) after 20 minutes take out and leave on the counter for 5-10 minutes. on a flat surface lay down parchment paper and dust with flour. dust your rolling pin and roll out your first disc of dough to desired thickness. i rolled mine out to about an 1/8 of an inch and got about 2 dozen 3.25″ in diameter, cookies. using a round biscuit cutter cut out your crusts. pickup scraps, roll into a ball and roll out again, cutout and repeat this until no more dough is left. place crusts onto cookie sheets and bake for 5 minutes @ 325, turn cookie sheets around and bake for 5 more minutes, turn again and bake for 2.5 or until golden around the edges. once finished baking, remove from oven and set out for about 5 minutes before transferring cookies onto cooling racks.

in the meantime, while your crusts are baking get your frosting started. in a large mixing bowl, add all cream cheese and cool whip and mix together. add lemon juice and powdered sugar and mix together well. cover and place in fridge until cookies are completely cooled. once cooled, using a spatula, spread frosting onto your crusts. chop up some fruit and decorate as you see fit! enjoy your self…this is the fun part. i suggest adding fruit close to when you will be serving. the fruit juices tend to discolor your frosting. if you need to make them ahead of time, place in fridge once decorated, just know that your frosting may get a little tie-died.

please enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

b

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