Anora’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Alright moms, it’s time for you to sit back and let your baker-in-training do all the work! Anora, my 12-year-old daughter, is happy to share with you and your kidlets her go to chocolate chip cookie recipe. It’s easy and always a crowd pleaser!

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ANORA’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

You will need:

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg

2 1/4 cups flour (we like unbleached)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 oz. bag of Ghirardelli premium baking chips

METHOD:

  1. Set butter out to get it to room temperature. If you’re ready to start baking right away, 15 seconds in the microwave usually does the trick!
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  3. Beat sugars, butter, vanilla, and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Stop mixer and add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low to medium low–dough will be stiff! Remove from mixer and stir in entire bag of delicious chips!
  4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about two inches apart onto a cookie sheet prepared with baking parchment (if you have it). We always make our balls almost golf ball size to accommodate the large chips.
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes or until the edges get a light brown tint. Cool 3 to 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

makes approximately 2 dozen cookies

SIDE NOTE: We love these cookies even better the second day! Store in a sealed container once completely cooled.

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Yum! Grab some milk and go to town!

Happy baking!

xo.

Pete & Anora

Orange Dreamsicle Cake

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I’ve turned one of my all-time favorite ice cream treats into a light and refreshing cake!

When I asked my youngest son what kind of cake he would like for his birthday (which happens to be on the first day of spring) this was his request. I thought it sounded weird to use orange sherbet in an ice cream cake, but when I thought about those delicious Orange Dreamsicles I’d get from the ice cream truck, this totally made sense. This recipe is so simple it will make you scream for Orange Dream…sicle! Okay, nerdy chills happening!

ORANGE DREAMSICLE CAKE

ingredients:

1 white cake mix

1 container orange sherbet (1 QT 1 PT or 48 FL OZ)

3 cups heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup powdered sugar

method:

  1. Bake white cake in one 8″ round pan following instructions on the box (I used the egg white only version). You will have half the batter left over to do whatever you want with. I made 12 cupcakes.
  2.  In another 8″ round pan spray with cooking spray. Line the pan with two sheets of plastic wrap crossing them and creating a plus sign. Make sure the plastic wrap is up snug against the inside of the pan and has a few inches to hang over the pan.
  3. Scoop as much slightly softened orange sherbet into the pan as will fit. I used an extra deep 8″ pan for mine, but a regular size pan works too. Smooth out the sherbet using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  4. Cover the top of the sherbet with another sheet of plastic wrap and place in the freezer to chill at least 30 minutes.
  5. Once the cake layer has cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer to chill at least 30 minutes as well.
  6. Make your whipped cream icing! I like to chill my mixing bowl in the freezer for a few minutes before I get started on this. Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Pour heavy whipping cream into chilled mixing bowl. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and set at medium speed. Mix until cream begins to get pretty stiff. Add more powdered sugar if it isn’t sweet enough for you! Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

assembly:

  1. Unwrap your frozen white cake and place it on a cake board or cake stand. I like to drizzle a bit of honey down beforehand to get the cake to stick.
  2. Gently remove the sherbet layer from the pan. I used a helper to hold the pan while I tugged upward on the plastic wrap surrounding the sherbet. Stack sherbet layer on cake layer.
  3. Frost cake with whipped cream, smoothing sides and top as you go with a cake spatula or butter knife.
  4. Put in the freezer immediately after the cake is iced. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 12

Enjoy!

–Pete

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

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Tuesday was my father-in-law’s 65th birthday. Whenever I am available (aka living in Utah) I always offer to make Wayne Harley Brachman’s version of coconut cake for his special day. It’s beautiful and a bit unconventional, just like my sweet father-in-law! However, a series of unfortunate events–catching a terrible cold, running out of ingredients, and having my car break down–led to me needing to shortcut this recipe! So here is my cheater version of dear Mr. Brachman’s cake:

TOASTED COCONUT LAYER CAKE

makes an 8″ cake that serves 12 people

for the cake:

1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix

2 Tbs. flour

3 eggs

1 stick butter, softened

3/4 cup milk (preferably at room temp.)

boiled icing with coconut:

1/2 lb. unsweetened coconut flakes (found in health food stores)

4 egg whites

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

2/3 cup water

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla

method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and grease & flour two 8″ round cake pans.
  2. Empty the cake mix in a mixer bowl and add flour to it. Whisk or mix the ingredients together to break up clumps and blend.
  3. Add the rest of the cake ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl towards the center. Increase speed to medium-high for 2 minutes.
  4. Evenly distribute batter between the two cake pans and bake between 26-30 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
  5. When cakes are done baking place on a wire rack for ten minutes. After 10 minutes, gently remove cakes from pan and place directly on the wire rack until completely cool.

While the cakes are cooling, you can begin to work on the icing.

  1. Preheat or change the oven temperature to 325° and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Evenly spread coconut over the baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes. For an even toasting, shift coconut around baking sheet with a spatula and turn pan. Bake an additional 3 minutes or until coconut edges begin to brown. Typically, they are ready when you can start smelling the coconut!
  3. Set coconut aside. Crack egg whites into a clean mixing bowl. Fit mixer with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium speed until egg whites are foamy and thick.
  4. In a medium sauce pan add sugar, cream of tartar, water, and salt and set to medium heat while whisking occasionally.
  5. Simmer/lightly boil sugar water mixture until temperature reaches softball stage (235°) on a candy thermometer.
  6. While the mixer is mixing the egg whites on low slowly pour sugar water into the egg whites.
  7. Continue to mix increasing the speed to medium. Add vanilla while mixing for about 2-3 minutes. Frosting should be stiff.

assembly:

  1. Divide icing into two bowls evenly. In one bowl mix in half of the coconut.
  2. With a large serrated knife cut the two cool cakes into four layers total.
  3. Place the first layer on a cake plate and top with coconut icing. Continue this process with each layer until you get to the last one.
  4. Once the cake is assembled frost the entire cake in the plain icing making sure it is smooth and even.
  5. Gently press remaining coconut around the sides of the cake. I like to leave the top coconut free like Wayne does. This gives the cake an ultra sharp appearance!
  6. Refrigerate cake until you’re ready to eat!

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I hope all of these steps don’t intimidate you! Learning to make this simple boiled icing will expand your cake-making repertoire and give you the courage to try others like swiss meringue! Let me know how it goes!

xo.

Pete

TIP: Keep all of the eggs you need for this recipe out on the counter to get to room temperature (along with the butter). This helps the eggs separate and blend with batter easier.

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DIY FONDANT

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Do you hate the way fondant tastes? Do you think it’s too expensive? Do you think it’s hard to work with? Well, I have a solution for you! MARSHMALLOW FONDANT! You will laugh at how simple the ingredients are. While fondant is not my first love for covering cakes (I have a tiny obsession with buttercream!), I love it as an option for making cake decorations. I have found it unparalleled in creating smooth, crisp lines and clean finishes. Another bonus to fondant is that it’s like edible play dough. Your kids will love playing with it and this recipe will have them love eating it too!

To make my Marshmallow Fondant you only need two ingredients (three if you count water!). I recommend using C & H confectioner’s sugar and Kraft’s mini marshmallows.

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MARSHMALLOW FONDANT

  • 32 oz (2lbs) C & H Confectioners Sugar
  • 10 oz Mini Marshmallows (make sure you grab a bag that doesn’t have marshmallows all stuck together–no bueno)
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon flavoring such as almond, vanilla, cotton candy, cheesecake, etc. (totally optional–I never do this because I already love the taste)

TOOLS:

  • Standing mixer with either a hook attachment (my preference) or paddle
  • rubber spatula
  • microwave-safe bowl
  • paper towels
  • shortening

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Grease all of your tools with shortening: the mixing bowl, hook/paddle attachment, and rubber spatula.

    2. Pour your marshmallows in a microwave-safe bowl and add the water.26

3. Microwave marshmallows on high for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. Put back in the microwave for an additional 30 seconds and repeat until the marshmallows have completely melted.

4. Pour melted marshmallows in your greased mixing bowl and turn it on a low speed.

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5. Slowly start adding powdered sugar. Do not dump the entire bag in! Keep checking the consistency as you add the sugar. If the mixture gets super thick increase the speed to medium. Your goal is to have soft fondant that isn’t sticky and has a play dough-like texture.
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Often times I don’t use the entire bag of sugar, it all depends on how well everything is mixing together. It may take some practice to find your perfect consistency. This is where quality ingredients help!

6. Once your fondant is done mixing, knead it like dough. This process helps you to gauge consistency and make sure ingredients are properly blended. If the fondant is sticky, mix more powdered sugar in. If the fondant is hard, you’ve added too much sugar. It may be fixable by putting it in the microwave for 5 second increments. If that doesn’t work…you might need to start over. SO BEWARE!

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7. Either use your fondant right away or double wrap it in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock bag. Store at room temperature for up to one month. Fondant dries out quickly when exposed to air, so keep it wrapped tight. If it does harden while in storage you can soften it right up by microwaving it in 5-10 second increments (depending on how big the fondant ball is). 32TIPS:

  • When tinting fondant always use a gel food coloring (and wearing gloves is helpful during this process!)
  • When making decorations or toppers with fondant I purposely let the finished pieces dry out over night to create a sturdy decoration
  • Use shortening on your work surface while playing with fondant to prevent sticking
  • Painting a bit of water on fondant pieces will serve as a glue to attach other fondant pieces

Here are some fun projects I’ve done in the past using this recipe:

Let me know if you have any questions. I hope this opens the door to many food art possibilities for you!

xo,

Pete