February 2009 Issue
Baking by Heart
Triple Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies
Worth every calorie. Comfort food of another ilk.
For the complete new Baker's Stash recipes, including this month's free recipes, please visit www.BetterBaking.com
Dear Fellow Bakers, Baking Friends, and anyone who likes great food,
It’s one of my favourite of all baking months. It's cold and cozy and carby (it's a new adjective from the root word carbohydrates). And it’s not just about the baking – it’s about hearts (as if you didn't already suspect the BB Test Kitchen fondness for hearts) . I am partial to hearts in any rendition and all year round but come February, hearts are fine form and you see them everywhere, reminding you love is in the air.
What is it about hearts that are so cheering? Like doves of peace, baby smiles, and catchy tunes, hearts are universally appealing and universally welcome. But if hearts don’t do it for you, then this issue of BetterBaking.com, packed with decadent goodies to bake and share, should. It's mostly in a chocolate theme but I’ve added the Simple Irresistible Caramel Cream Puffs for some amber relief and a free Hungarian Bean Soup and (free) luscious Clementine and (also free) Lime Currant Scones for the baker’s version of vitamin C. It’s all in the new Baker's Batch at www.betterbaking.com. To me, it is Valentine's Day all through February, if not each day of the year. When you bake, you're eternally Cupid (albeit with apron strings and a floury face).
As for the home fires, I've been writing and baking - making my home office more appealing. Call it a sign of the times or the economy, but I've been dipping into a self care zone (mending, ironing, paring down, buying less, investing in quality time) which seems also about reassessing all I do and how I do it. It's a mood or mode that made me add a little in-door fountain to my office (actually it was a Hanukkah gift from my sons), install a stalk of lucky bamboo and add a few dollar store fragrance oil burners. I also framed the art I have (just pretty posters but still...) rather than things on the wall. I have candles and a little jar of caramels and one of peppermint sticks - I don't indulge in either but just the hospitality of a candy dish is warming. I also have tea-time in the office with varying tea pots and teas (herbal or black, spiced or calm chamomile, replete with apple slice floating on top and a shard of cinnamon). The ole' home office is now writer's Shangri-la. I always liked my office but now I am totally smitten. Lesson learned: treat your home office like an afterthought and you won't want to linger after hours; pretty it up just a bit and you are inspired to do overtime.
I am also on Twitter (why, I have no idea) and created my first Itunes Playlist (which is far more fun), the Romance from BetterBaking.com (aka Whistle While You Bake) song list. To find it try Romance Music Mix from BetterBaking.com or you can go to the Itunes Store; search in Imixes, Romance from BetterBaking.com. It should turn up. It has 37 of especially hand-picked songs that should warm your heart or get you dancing. You'll note some songs you know but in different spins and covers.
Wishing you a month of sweets for your sweeties, and as always, happy baking.
Host and Chef
Romance Music Mix from BetterBaking.com
Some songs in a pop, rock, jazz mode to keep you company while you bake.
Super Bowl Snacks
In case you missed, one of my best snacky food round-ups.
Ground Hog Day Buttermilk Vanilla Pancakes
A comfort food classic that is so good you'll want these both weekend days, causing you to wonder if like Bill Murray of Ground Hog Day movie fame, you're living the same breakfast twice. Worst things can happen. Pancakes or waffles are just the thing for a brunch or a lazy morning. Saco Cultured Buttermilk Blend (or soured milk, or diluted yogurt can replace the buttermilk). For a sweeter milk pancake, use regular milk and forget the baking soda. I add a touch of corn flour and malt to this recipe but if you don't have either - they're still delicious.
Simply Irresistible Caramel Eclairs
These are as the name implies, simply irresistible. Inspired by the romantic comedy about a chef in love and cream puffs under the influence, Simply Irresistible is a DVD any foodie should rent.
Classic Buttery Vanilla Cupcakes
Finally, a light, moist golden batter that makes perfect cupcakes. No need to turn to a mix.This is also suitable for sheet cakes and birthday. The icing is the classic butter-confectioners’ sugar one made with pantry ingredients. However, for the better, best, real icing pastry chefs use, find, borrow or steal white fondant (it is soft and comes in pails or bags and decorating places or bakery supply places have it).
Coca Cola Chocolate Cupcakes
These terrific dark chocolate cupcakes, based on a vintage chocolate cake recipe, are perfect for any occasion. No creaming. Easily made by hand. Can be doubled and tripled with perfect results. Cola is the secret ingredient; it's the cupcake in the left foreground of the photo, featured with a giant chocolate cherry on top.
Red and White Giant Valentine’s Day Cookies !! Free!!
Like New York Black and White Cookies, these are big, crisp and gorgeous butter sugar cookies. One side is white fondant and the other side is red – very Cupid does Yin Yang. These are, fondant and love notwithstanding, the best sugar cookies on the planet.
Valentine's Day Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake
Wickedly dark and decadent, this cake sports a touch of bourbon inside (but you can substitute brandy or espresso), and a halo of white chocolate ganache. The texture of this cake is quite unbelievable – it is moist but light, dense, but lofty – frankly, I’ve never created a chocolate cake quite this texture. It stays fresh for days too. This cake is just…divine. It requires a slow bake to keep its wonderful character intact.
White Chocolate Truffle Raspberry Cheesecake
This cake is over the top - in look and in taste. Don't let the components intimidate you.There is no need to do it all in one day. You can freeze the baked cheesecake and garnish with the white chocolate topping and raspberries an hour or so before serving. Work with melted chocolate at room temperature for best results. This is a sublime concoction of all your favorite flavors. Isn't it romantic? Sure, in an over the top, pure seduction sort of way.
Sweetheart Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake
Bake this in a heart-shaped cheesecake pan if you have one. A silky, creamy cheesecake is fused to a topping of chocolate covered cherries (you know, the ones you have leftover from the holidays?). The result is a fondant, chocolate 'n cherry molten goo atop of creamy cheesecake. Is this candy, cheesecake, or heaven? This is just another one of my over-the-top cheesecakes.
A 9 cup food processor can handle this recipe but if yours is smaller, switch to your stand mixer for this adult and kid-charming recipe. The Oreo cookie bottom bakes right into the batter making a sweet solid base and nice change of texture as you bit through these gems. Use any type of Oreos you like (Double Stuff or Chocolate or special editions). These are a delicate, black and white cupcake, studded with chopped Oreos on top and a drizzle of chocolate glaze. Great summer food or party fare for kids.
Valentine's Day Truffle Raspberry Cake
A silky, dark chocolate wonder – somewhere between a cake and a torte, this deep, moist cake features fresh raspberries, raspberry eau de vie (if you have it; otherwise use a bit of raspberry extract) and is topped with ganache and dusted with cocoa for a truffle effect. Scharffen Berger semi-sweet chocolate or perfect or any similar high quality chocolate such as Callebaut or Lindt. Garnish with a fresh raspberry or two. For some people, raspberries and chocolate is their fatal attraction. What a way to go......
Swiss Chocolate Strawberry Scone Cake
Berries and a coating of Swiss chocolate on a buttery scone, aka rich, buttery shortcake base. This recipe is the bomb which explains why it is downloaded constantly.
Cream Puff Cake
This assembly of choux paste layers makes a giant éclair. Looks like a cake but goes together like pastry. A filling of whipped cream and pudding is a shortcut for “crème légère” (usually made with homemade pastry cream or custard). You may forego the white icing glaze and simply use the melted chocolate.