Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Elvis Lives! ... in Chocolate Bark Form

You know what happens when you combine two awesome things? You get something even more awesome. (For example, my parents made me!) So, I've combined a holiday favorite (chocolate bark) with one of Elvis's favorite foods.

Chocolate bark (you can find a Halloween version that I threw together here) is gaining popularity as a go to dessert for the holidays; it's easy to make and you can get really creative with it. Basically, you just melt any type of chocolate you want, spread it on some wax paper and throw a bunch of good-tastin' stuff on it.

Are you familiar with an Elvis sandwich? You should be. It's peanut butter and banana (and often bacon) on thick (usually toasted on the griddle) white bread. Amazing.

As Elvis would say, "A little less conversation, a little more bacon." So, let's get to the good stuff.

If chocolate bark and the Elvis sandwich had a baby (a tasty, tasty baby), it would probably look a little something like this...

(Shout out to Kyle for the awesome light box he made for me. My images should suck significantly less now.)

Elvis Bark


Ingredients
  • Bread = 12 oz. white chocolate chips
  • Peanut Butter = 1/2c each Reese's Pieces (halved) and Peanut Butter Chips
  • Banana = 1/2c dried banana chips (I broke them into smaller bits)
  • Bacon = Duh! BACON! (About 8 to 10 slices, crisped and crumbled)
Directions
  1. Cover cookie sheet with wax paper.
  2. Combine halved Reese's Pieces, banana chips and bacon in a bowl until they are "All Shook Up".
  3. Melt white chocolate chips and spread evenly on wax paper.
  4. Sprinkle pieces/banana/bacon mixture over white chocolate and press into chocolate.
  5. Chill in fridge.
  6. Melt Peanut Butter Chips and drizzle over chilled bark.
  7. Break apart and tear into it like you were Elvis and it was a bottle of your favorite barbiturate.
This turned out to be a hunka-hunka burning awesome. That being said, I actually made a chunk of it sans bacon, and I preferred that version (blasphemy, I know).

Two marriage proposals were issued in relation to the Elvis bark tonight: one was to me, the other was to the bark itself. Should I be jealous?

Easy Breakfast Pastries...Three Ways

Daddy always says, "An ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure." (Quick digression: whenever I'm watching a feelings-heavy movie on TV, Kyle asks me, "Is this Steel Magnolias or regular magnolias?")

Any-Julie-Roberts-dies-in-the-middle, these pastries are another in the list of goodies that I made for the workshops at the beginning of the month. I'm hesitant to even say I made them because I basically just bought ingredients and layered them. There are three (hence the name) fillings: white choc. cream cheese mix, raspberry jam drizzled with white chocolate and lemon curd dusted with powdered sugar.



Breakfast Pastries

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Filling (This recipe is for a full batch, but I only made half)
  • 8oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3-oz white chocolate, melted
  • 3T sugar
  • 1t vanilla extract
Other Stuff
  • already made puff pastry cups
  • more white chocolate, for drizzling
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
  • lemon curd
  • raspberry jam
Directions
  1. Cream together ingredients for cream cheese mix. And find a big, strong man to help you open up those jars of curd and jam.
  2. Bust out the pastry cups and fill with 1/2 tablespoon of desired filling (lemon, raspberry, or cream cheese).
  3. Bake according to directions on back off puff pastry box.
  4. Let cool completely.
  5. Dust lemon curd with p. sugar and drizzle white chocolate over raspberry.
The addition of the white chocolate to the cream cheese gave it a rich and smooth texture. Make sure to let the lemon curd cool completely or else the p. sugar will just melt right in. Oh and be careful when drizzling the white chocolate. I wanted it to be thin and random over the raspberry jam, so I did a bit of flinging. My kitchen walls and I were covered in flecks of white chocolate by the end.

The cream cheese pastries were the first to go, followed by the raspberry. If you just want to use only one filling, go with the cream cheese. You could even top it with a jam if you feel so inclined.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bacon Pumpkin Pie

What makes everything better? All together now... BACON! Pumpkin pie....meh. BACON Pumpkin Pie? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaamazing! And easy to make, too. Just whip out your favorite pumpkin pie recipe and throw in some crispy, crumbled bacon.

Having never made a pumpkin pie before, I lacked a favorite recipe, so I was totally cool with following the recipe I got from
Bacon Unwrapped. As suggested, I used the pie recipe on the back of a can of Libby's pumpkin puree, not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling.

(You can see bits of bacon here, here, here and here.)

Bacon Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1t cinnamon
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1/2t ground ginger
  • 1/4t ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin (if you don't use Libby's, I won't tell.)
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
  • Whipped cream (Libby's says "optional." I heartily disagree.)
  • 10 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Directions
  1. Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl.
  2. Beat eggs in large bowl.
  3. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture.
  4. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
  5. Mix in crumbled bacon.
  6. Pour into pie shell.
  7. Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
  8. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
  9. Top with whipped cream before serving. Again, NOT OPTIONAL!
I'm only now getting more into pumpkin, and I mainly put bacon in things because other people seem to love it so much but MAN-I-SCHEWITZ this was a faboosh combo. As I ate the sweet pumpkin, with the salty bacon and the completely necessary whipped cream I could hear the Police song "Synchronicity I" playing in my head...

December Dessert - Buckeye Balls

My dessert-for-a-year winner tried these peanut butter-y treats at a friend's house and just had to have some of her own. Although I've never made Buckeye Balls before, there were on my to-do list, so I was quite pleased that she requested them.

Buckeye Balls are named as such because they resemble a buckeye nut. A buckeye nut kind of looks like an eyeball: the ball of the eye being darker (the chocolate coating) and the iris being the lighter part of the nut (the peanut butter peeking through). My Buckeyes? Not so much buckeye looking as completely covered in chocolate. Meh, I'm totally okay with that.

OH MY GOSH GUESS WHAT!!! This recipe contains cereal!!! I was going to have to change my blog to thebaconbaker (ooo, that actually has potential) if I didn't make something with cereal in it soon.

I got the recipe from my coworker, Jillian, who makes Buckeye Balls for Christmas pretty much every year. So away we go...


Buckeye Balls

Ingredients
  • 1/2c butter, softened
  • 2c creamy peanut butter (I used the HT brand. Holla!)
  • 3c Rice Krispies
  • 1lb. (about 4 to 4 1/2c) powdered sugar
  • 1pkg. chocolate baking bark
Directions
  1. Cream together butter and peanut butter to make peanut butter butter. (That amuses me; don't ask me why.)
  2. In a large large large large bowl, mix together p. sugar (sift into bowl) and Rice Krispies.
  3. Add pbb mixture to cereal mixture and mash together using your hands (HURRAY!) until fully combined.
  4. Scoop and roll tablespoon-sized (1 inch) balls and chill for 1 hour.
  5. Melt baking bark and coat.
These were pretty darn great! It makes a bunch and it is actually less work than making cake balls (similar directions).

I haven't gotten feedback from Wanda yet; however my sessy (sexy and sassy) friend Ryan (Shout out!) really enjoyed them. And he doesn't do sweets (sometimes he won't even try my creations!), so that says a lot.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mini-Crescent Rolls Three Ways

So I watch this awesome show Chopped on Food Network. Chefs compete to create an appetizer, entree and dessert that features ingredients from mystery baskets. Each course has a different basket and one chef gets "chopped" after each round. I love it for the creativity that the chefs have to use on the spot to figure out how to incorporate whatever is in the basket into a tasty dish.

I'm mentioning the show because a. it's awesome and 2. in the entree round it's common for a chef to decide they are going to cook something "three-ways." So it seemed like a appropriate title for this post...but I feel totally pretentious for using it.

Again, these were for the morning of one of our workshop days. Most of the stuff that I made was not from scratch, so it shouldn't surprise you that I used Pillsbury crescent rolls. Just to give you a heads up, there aren't many specifics for the amounts of each ingredient. I kind of just went with the flow for the most part.

(Starting at the top left and going clockwise: hazelnut, almond, cinnamon sugar.)

Mini-Crescent Rolls Three Ways

Ingredients

Rolls
  • 3 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • Nutella
  • Almond Paste
  • Cinn/Sugar
  • Butter
  • chopped hazelnuts
  • egg white (for egg wash)
Toppings
  • chopped and toasted almonds
  • 1c powdered sugar
  • 3T milk
  • vanilla extract
  • almond extract
  • more Nutella
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prep some baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using one can of crescents per flavor combo, slice each roll in half starting from the shortest end of the triangle so you end up with 16 long, skinny triangles.
  3. Almond crescents: Spread almond paste (maybe 1/2 to 1t) on each slice and roll up like a regular crescent roll.
  4. Hazelnut crescents: Spread Nutella (maybe 1/2 to 1t) on each slice, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and roll up like a regular crescent roll.
  5. Cinnamon roll crescents: Spread butter on each slice, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and roll up like a regular crescent roll.
  6. Arrange on prepared baking sheet, brush with an egg wash and bake for 6 to 10 minutes.
  7. Let the rolls cool.
  8. For the toppings, mix the powdered sugar and the milk in a bowl, then divide equally among three bowls.
  9. Add almond extract to one, vanilla to another and Nutella to the third (the amount should be based on your preference of flavor). Feel free to mess with the milk the powdered sugar ratio to get a good drizzling consistency.
  10. Drizzle the almond icing over the almond crescents and then sprinkle with the chopped toasted almonds. Drizzled the vanilla icing over the cinnamon sugar crescents and the Nutella icing over the hazelnut crescents.
Jillian particularly liked the almond crescents and declared that she was now dating one. I hope things work out for those crazy kids.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holy Deep-Fried Cake Balls, Batman!

Counter-top deep fryer? Best. Idea. Ever. We've already deep-fried a number of things: pretzels, Doritos, Reese's Pieces, Oreos, jalapenos, pot stickers, mini-Hot Pockets called Hot Shots, basically anything we could get our hands on. But the best thing by far (BY FAR!!) were the cake balls.

Again, like with the cupcakes, I did not coat the cake balls in chocolate. But I did coat them in a tasty batter. The batter I used is usually used for deep-frying Twinkies. It's got vinegar in it, which cuts the sweetness of the batter to keep it from overpowering the actual thing that is being fried. Worked great.



Deep-Fried Cake Balls

Ingredients
  • 1c milk
  • 2T vinegar
  • 1T oil
  • 1c flour
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • one batch of cake balls, frozen (your choice, but I used Funfetti)

Directions
  1. Ready your cake balls and your deep fryer.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients, sans the balls (kind of like a eunuch, tee-hee!).
  3. Coat the cake balls in the batter. Fry until light to golden brown (eh, as soon as the batter looks done, take them out)
Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! These were soooooooooooo amazing. Ryan (Mr. I-don't-do-sweets) even had to admit that they were good. I am so making them again, and I hope it's sooner rather than later.

Oh! Before I end, I should make sure I mention that these were SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOD! (In case I wasn't clear before).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Funfetti Cake Ball Chocolate Cupcakes

Some people think it's weird that I baked my own cake for my birthday. But it's my birthday and I'll bake if I want to, bake if I want to, baaaaaaaaaake if I want to. And I always want to. (Ha! That song is so going to be stuck in your head now!)

You know I'm a fan of the meta-desserts, so I took inspiration from one of my favorite food blogs, Bake It in a Cake. I thought to myself, "What the most awesome thing I could bake inside a cake?" DUH! MORE CAKE!!!

So Funfetti Cake Ball Chocolate Cupcakes were born!


Funfetti Cake Ball Chocolate Cupcakes

Part 1: Cake Balls


Ingredients
  • 1 box Funfetti cake (with corresponding eggs, oil, water)
  • 8 oz Funfetti frosting
  • As many extra multi-colored sprinkles as you can jam in there
Directions
  1. Bake cake as directed and let cool.
  2. Crumble up cake into HUGE bowl. Mix in all of the frosting and tons of sprinkles.
  3. Scoop into tablespoon-size balls and let chill.
Part 2: Chocolate Cupcakes (I used the Cake Mix Doctor's Sour Cream Choc. Cupcakes)

Ingredient
s
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) devil's food cake mix with pudding
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients at low speed until incorporated, then at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  2. Line cupcake pan.
  3. Scoop 1T of cake batter in each cupcake pan.
  4. Place one cake ball into each T of batter.
  5. Top with an additional heaping 1T of cake batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (it may take more time, but start with that) and let cool completely.
Part 3: Frosting

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 cups (1 lb) confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. Cream butter and shortening. Add vanilla. Add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.
  2. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Then, frost those meta-awesome-cakes up, roll the tops in sprinkles and prepare to eat the best birthday cupcake ever! EVER!!

They were moist and fabulous, and exactly what I was hoping for. It was time consuming as I had to bake two totally different cakes (and the scooping and rolling of the balls takes time), but man was it worth it. WORTH IT!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fruit Swirl Coffee Cake

We have workshops going on at work right now for our high-end clientele. We provide breakfast-y things, coffee/tea, fruit, snacks, etc. every day. This time around, I wanted to try out baking the breakfast-y things myself instead of purchasing them from the store.

I knew at one point that I definitely wanted to make coffee cake, but it took me a hot minute to decide on the recipe. I didn't want to make just one flavor option, so this recipe from Betty Crocker/Bisquick actually turned out great as it made two cakes. Switching out the fruit was simple.


Fruit Swirl Coffee Cake

Ingredients

Coffee Cake
  • 4 cups Original Bisquick® mix
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 can cherry pie filling AND 1/2 can peach pie filling
Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of 1 (15x10x1-inch) pan or 2 (9-inch) square pans with shortening or cooking spray. In large bowl, stir all coffee cake ingredients except pie filling; beat vigorously with spoon 30 seconds.
  2. Spread two-thirds of the batter (about 2 1/2 cups) in 15x10-inch pan or one-third of the batter (about 1 1/4 cups) in each square pan. Spread cherry pie filling in one pan and peach pie filling in the other (filling may not cover batter completely). Drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls onto pie filling.
  3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown. Meanwihle, in small bowl, stir glaze ingredients until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over warm coffee cake. Serve warm or cool.
These turned out well and looked all shiny and lovely. The clients enjoyed both options, but the peach was finished up before the cherry.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Irish Christmas Cookies - November Dessert

Another boozy treat, but this time it's not for me. These cookies were requested by my free dessert each month winner.

This request coincided nicely with my buying the Jameson for the Irish Cake Bombs, so I had that on hand. And it's that time of the year when people start making fruit cake. Lucky for me or else I would never have found candied citron at a regular grocery store. (A Southern Season carries it year round, but I swear that's where the Minotaur lives, so I try to avoid it).

I would give props to K-roger for hooking me up, but then they didn't have any golden raisins. LAME!


So after a few trips here and there, I was ready to bake (well,
I'm always ready to bake, but I may not always have exactly what I need).


Irish Christmas Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1c butter, softened
  • 1c sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2c flour
  • 1/4c Irish whiskey
  • 1/4c candied citron, chopped
  • 1/4c golden raisins, blanched ("Buh?" you say? I'll explain) and chopped
  • 1/4c almonds, chopped
Directions
  1. Soak the raisins in the whiskey for an hour or two (aka blanching).
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F and bust out that glorious, glorious invention you know and love: parchment paper and slap it on a cookie sheet.
  3. Cream together the butter and the sugar.
  4. Beat in the eggs until well blended.
  5. Add the flour and mix until smooth.
  6. Add the whiskey along with the fruit and nuts, and mix well.
  7. Drop cookie dough (tablespoon-sized) onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. (Surprisingly, I wasn't lied to this time around. 8 minutes was perfect. Thanks oven thermometer!)
  9. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets with a spatula (thanks for clearing that up; I was going to use my face) while still warm. Place on wire rack to partially cool.
  10. Store the cookies in an airtight container with a slice of white bread to maintain their soft, fruity texture.
I wasn't in the office when Wanda picked up the cookies, so both she and my co-worker (and buuuuuuuuuddy) Jillian, were confused when they saw a random piece of bread in this bag of cookies.

I wasn't impressed; just not my thang, but Wanda enjoyed them, and I quote, "
OHMYGOSH!! They are DELICIOUS!!"