Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Busy Evening in the Kitchen

I was busy busy busy last night, slaving away in the kitchen to get the stuff made for the gift basket and for the staff.
I say slaving away but I'm actually more relaxed when I'm in the kitchen mixing up batters and rolling out puff pastry.
Poor John is absolutely exhausted these days. He gets up before the sun (and me) and leaves to be picked up for work anywhere between 6:30 and 7:00 am. When he kissed me goodbye at 6:30 this morning I thought, 'thank goodness I have another hour and 15 minutes before my alarm'. Then I rose, hit the treadmill and ran - are you ready for this? - 8.5 miles!
That's the furtherst I've ever run in one go.
That half marathon is only a month away so this progress makes me happy.
Anyway, while John was sailing away in a wooden shoe to fish for the herring fish with his nets of silver and gold last night on the couch, I was being the busy baker bee.
I rolled out half of the puff pastry for the straws.
Parmesan and Black Pepper Puff Pastry Straws
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle.
2. Brush the puff pastry with a lightly beaten egg. Sprinkle with black pepper and grated parmesan cheese.
3. Fold the puff pastry in half, sealing tightly. Roll out the puff pastry again, as close as possible to the same size rectangle as before. Cut vertically into thin strips then twist.
4. Place straws on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, pressing ends onto the parchment to prevent them from untwisting. Sprinkle the straws with more black pepper and parmesan. Bake for 12-14 minutes, making sure to rotate the pans halfway through.
The straws are so easy and they're really good.
Next up:
Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookie Bars

For these I used Martha's basic recipe for her chocolate chip cookie bars but substituted white, dark, and milk chocolate coated espresso beans for the chocolate chips. I also didn't have brown sugar so I used granulated only.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a loaf pan (a cookie sheet isn't deep enough to give you that nice bar shape).
2. In a large bowl, cream 1 1/2 cups of butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. Beat in 2 eggs and 1 tbsp vanilla and mix until combined.
3. Mix in 4 cups flour, 2 tsp baking soda and a pinch of salt. Mix in chocolate chips (as much or as little as you want - I used half of what was called for in this recipe and I used about 1 cup of chocolate beans so you might want to aim for about 2 cups here),
4. Put dough into the loaf pan and press down to make sure it's packed in. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool before removing from pan. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container or eat!

Lastly, I baked the cupcakes for the shark cupcakes I'm going to finish decorating tonight.
I couldn't find malted milk powder and since a 500 mL bag of milk powder was almost $9 I experimented with my own malted chocolate cupcake mix.
I used Martha's recipe for a basic chocolate cupcake and added 1 1/2 cups of crushed chocolate malt balls. To crush them I placed them in a ziplock bag, took them out on the balcony and took a hammer to them. It's really fun.
Especially if you can do it in your PJs, crouched on the ground, pounding those malt balls ever so quietly directly in front of the window into the bedroom where your boyfriend is fast asleep.
If you're going to add your own chocolate malt balls like I did, I'd recommend adding maybe a bit more oil than the recipe calls for. I think I dried it out a bit.
Malted Chocolate Cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin cups into muffin tins - you'll need about 18.
2. In a bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tso baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt.
3. Add in 2 large eggs, 3/4 cup warm water, 3/4 cup buttermilk, 3 tbsp vegetable oil (maybe use 5 tbsp), and 1 tbsp vanilla extract. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of crushed chocolate malt balls like whoppers or malteasers.
4. Pour the cupcake mixture into the muffin cups, filling to about 3/4 of the way up. Bake for 20 minutes and then let cool.

Just an update before I get ready for work -
Algonquin trip has been set!
The weekend of September 17-19 I'll be heading out in a canoe with a paddle, a tent, some warm clothes, and a bag of wine to enjoy the beauty of nature.

...and hopefully to see a moose.

1 comment:

  1. mmm those cookie bars look SO good!
    and, the image of you pounding the maltesers on the balcony made me laugh out loud. for real.