Makin' Bacon

It's been reported back that the Jalapeno Bacon Brownies were just OK and that there was "too much going on"...Not really surprised, but also not discouraged. We're going to go in a slightly different direction. Apparently the jalapenos didn't add enough spice, while the bacon pieces oozed too much grease into the cooked brownies. So I'll keep the bacon component but instead of jalapenos try adding a nice chile powder to the mix (just for a hint of heat). Still haven't decided how to take care of the greasiness inside the brownie....







This is all I got when I asked for a picture of a brownie out of the pan- Taken with my boyfriend's iPhone. The brownies were taken along on his annual weekend cabin trip, while I was left at home (thankfully). While home I had time to perfect the Peanut Butter Cup Banana Cookies. Follow this for the recipe.



Visions of bacon brownies danced in their heads

I have had a very interesting past few days of baking, which started off by baking a brownie cheesecake Friday at 5:30 in the morning before work. I brewed two strong cups of coffee for myself and one to put in the cheesecake. I've made this cheesecake before and it's a snap. It's from one of Judy's books, All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book, the amazing founder of Rosie's Bakery in Cambridge, MA and it is delicious.

The cheesecake finally finished baking seven minutes before work, so I turned off the oven, opened the oven door and slid the rack half way out to let the cheesecake cool slowly in the morning kitchen air. Then I ran out the door and prayed for the best.  My boyfriend had already packed the cheesecake in the car along with all of our wakeboard gear before I could take a peek at it- and we were off to the lake.

This was all done to celebrate his birthday with friends and family over Labor Day weekend at our home away from home. Saturday night, blissfully ruminating over sunken cheesecake (due to elevation and off roading), some how jalapenos, brownies and bacon turned into a fantastic wondrous dish that I have been recruited to make. But do we chop up bacon and fold it into the batter, or do we sprinkle it on top just before it goes into the over, or do we place bacon on top of the cooked brownies over a light layer of chocolate frosting?!

OK, mind is going explode, let's move on to recipe #2 of the Peanut Butter Cup Banana Cookies that I baked yesterday, in which I reduced the sugar and added more banana- the recipe still needs fine-tuning. The added banana is great, but reducing the sugar isn't going to work for me, though it hasn't stopped me from eating 3 4 today....Third times the charm and I'll update the recipe then.

cookie dough rolled in orange sugar
(a nod to both the Giants and Halloween)

out of the oven

Rosie's Bakery Brownie Cheesecake
Options for the crust are vanilla wafer cookies, graham cracker crust, or Oreo crust (chocolate cookie), which is what I have used in the past, but this time I tried a Nutter Butter cookie crust-Yum!

1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 30 cookies), or Nutter Butter crumbs (about 16 cookies)
1 tbs sugar
6 tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup hot, very strong brewed coffee
1 lb (2, 16 ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 300 F and place a roasting pan or baking dish with water in the bottom rack of the oven to create moisture.

For the crust, first crush the cookies (I do it in a food processor) so you're able to measure out 1 1/4 cup. Then chop the nuts in the food processor. Place the cookies, nuts, butter and sugar in a small bowl and toss together with a fork. Press this mixture over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Disclaimer: Here the book gives directions to bake the crust for 10 minutes at 350, but I never bake my crust, I find that it bakes the flavor out of it. Once it is in the bottom of the pan I place the pan in the fridge until the filling is ready to be poured in.

For the cake filling, melt the chocolate in the coffee in the top of a double boiler placed over simmering water.

Cream the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, or in a KitchenAid mixer until light and fluffy (About 2 minutes). Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the eggs and beat the mixture on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl and beat on medium speed 30 seconds longer.

Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat on medium speed for 15 seconds. Scrape the bowl and then mix until the batter is smooth and uniform in color, about 10 more seconds.

Pour the filling over the crust. Bake the cake on the center oven rack until it is set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 25 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack (or the way I did it on the oven rack, pulled partially out of the oven. My mom does it by turning off the oven and just leaving the oven door open), then refrigerate the cake overnight.


German Chocolate Cake Exposed

Everyday life has been taking up all of my time, which means I haven’t had time to bake, haven't had time to blog and found myself needing to buy a cake for my very own mother’s birthday.

After accepting the fact that there was just no way I could manage to bake a German chocolate cake for Sunday if I was leaving directly from work Friday to go wakeboarding all weekend, I started to call around on my lunch break to find a bakery that would make a great German chocolate birthday cake.

After calling three bakeries I found a place that actually made authentic German Chocolate Cakes. The first place, an upscale grocery store that will remain nameless said, “we don’t have the ingredients to make a German chocolate cake”, the second place, an independent bakery, tried to trick me by replying to my request for a German chocolate cake with, “…so we'll make a devil’s food cake with…”. Turns out they don't actually make German chocolate cake. OK, third times the charm- Creekside Bakery in Novato, CA made me a wonderful traditional German Chocolate Cake.

The first time I made a German chocolate cake was a few years ago, and it of course got me researching chocolate and what German chocolate is really all about. And now young scholars, I pass this knowledge on to you:

A Brief History
  • German chocolate was actually created by a man named Samuel German. (Much less romantic then what you expected the origin of the name to be, huh?)
  • It only has 48% cocoa liquor (generally less than semi-sweet) and has added white sugar
  • Mr. German created this chocolate mixture in 1852 because he thought it would be convenient for bakers
  • The German chocolate cake gained popularity when a recipe appeared in the 1950s in a Dallas newspaper
Turns out this chocolate is quite convenient if you want to make a traditional German Chocolate Cake (recipe from the Bakers' box).

Though an authentic German chocolate cake leaves the sides of the cake exposed to show the beautiful frosting layers of caramel, pecan, coconut goodness, I frosted the sides of the cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting (and so did the bakery that I bought my mom’s birthday cake from-go team!) You can never have too much of a good thing (frosting) when it comes to baking.

Not only is baking your own cake generally less expensive than buying one, it’s also much more satisfying to eat and share with your friends and family (at least if you’re a baker!)  But, overall this purchase worked out great- we had a delicious birthday cake after a great dinner and the only thing I had to worry about was getting to the baker before closing on Sunday.

...What else can you use German chocolate for? I’m glad you asked.

Try making chocolate peanut butter bomb cookies, yet another variation on my peanut butter cookies in which you omit the chocolate chunks in the cookie batter. Instead melt Bakers' German chocolate in a double boiler, adding in a tablespoon of light corn syrup once it has melted. Peanut butter cookies should be chilled, and the melted chocolate should be some-what cooled. Completely cover the peanut butter cookies with the melted chocolate and place on a cooling rack on a plate. Place it in the fridge to completely chill the chocolate coating. Once the chocolate has set, the cookies are ready to eat. They are best kept in the fridge so they don’t get to messy. I'd love to hear of other great recipes that call for German chocolate...