Sunday, September 26, 2010

The One Where I Make Myself Feel Better

On Thursday morning, one of my students walked into the classroom and announced "I'm mad at you, Miss Granzow". And while I don't particularly care if a 6 year old is mad at me, I thought I should be a little nice to myself to counteract the mean-ness! So I decided to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies, eat some (or a lot) of the dough, and eat the cookies all weekend long (I may or may not have even eaten some for breakfast today.)

Since the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies from before turned out so great, I wanted to make the same recipe using my fair trade chocolate chips.

Insted of using the same recipe though, I found this one that promised soft, chewy, giant cookies like the kind you get at a bakery. I was imagining the kind they have at Noodles or Potbelly - SO GOOD! I followed all of the recipe super carefully, including melting the butter and using lots of brown sugar. So the dough turned out looking way darker than usual. (But it still tasted pretty good. Although to tell you the truth, this might have been the only time I liked the cookies more than the dough.)

Next, I tried to make the giant cookies. The recipe said to roll 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball, then break it apart and stick it back together so that the tops turn out jagged instead of smooth. So I did that, and expected the cookies to spread out as they baked and turn into giant, chewy, tasty cookies worthy of a bakery. Instead, they turned out like this...

...Turns out they did not spread out. Instead, they stayed in the ball shape and stayed tall. I think they look a little like rocks, but the tops did turn out jagged, and they did taste good.

So for the next batch, I rolled them into a ball and then smooshed them down flat to spread them out more. They turned out like this...

I think they look better this way, but they still aren't the giant, bakery cookies I was imagining. Maybe I should have used more dough for each cookie? I think they might also be good with that big, sparkly sugar on top. (Maybe next time.)

Anyway, you'll be happy to know that eating the cookie dough (and most of the cookies) did make me feel more cheerful, and by the time I went to school the next day, I was getting big hugs from the same student that was so mad at me the day before!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The One With The Yogurt Parfait Cupcakes

This summer while my sister and I were waiting at the airport McDonald's for an hour and a half, we started thinking of cupcake recipes. Some sounded tasty - chocolate caramel with peanut butter! Others, not so much - the baconator? I tried out our strawberry yogurt parfait cupcake this summer, and they were such a success that my aunt ordered some to bring for Friday treats at work!

Here's what you do...Bake the cupcakes... (I used some cute liners and  I was a little worried that it could be a fiasco, but they turned out fine!) I made vanilla cupcakes, but instead of using all of the flour, I added in some oatmeal.

 ...dig out the middle and fill with yogurt...

Filling the cupcakes was a little more complicated than it seems. I tried to use my frosting gun, but the yogurt kept squishing out and dripping all over the place before I could get it in, like this...

So I ended up just using a spoon to glop it in there. The best part is that it doesn't really matter what they look like, because the next step is to top them with frosting...I used this cream cheese frosting recipe from Food Network, and it is so good! (In fact, I put some leftover frosting in the fridge, and once it got hard, I ate it straight from the container, like it was fudge!)

Then I put a slice of strawberry on top. In the original recipe, there is also granola on top, like a parfait, but I skipped that step this time. But I did try to be a little fancy by cutting some of the strawberry slices up the middle and twisting them before I put them on top!

I think so far, these are my favorite cupcakes that I've made. They are really good after being in the fridge for a while so the yogurt and frosting have time to set and get cold. I tried to share the extras but mostly ended up eating them myself! YUM!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The One With The Creative Cupcakes

Since no actual baking happened around here this week, I thought I'd just show off some of the more creative cupcakes we've made (we = mostly me and my sister Aimee). Our ideas came mostly from the books Hello, Cupcake and What's New, Cupcake. So here are a few pics and a few funny stories about a few cupcakes...

First, the snowmen. This was our first try making anything creative. We made them for Christmas Eve dessert. We started a few hours before dinner on Christmas Eve and quickly realized we should have started much sooner...It took FOREVER mostly because we used airheads candies to make the scarves and earmuffs and we had to microwave them, then roll them out to make them long enough and thin enough to use. Also, they kept falling over, but once we got them set up, they were pretty adorable, don't you think?!
Our next adventure was to make dancer cupcakes to go with a musical birthday cake for Maddie's 1st birthday. The dresses are fruit roll-ups and the shoes are jelly beans. They turned out looking more like singers in a choir, but they still fit with the theme!

For our grandparents birthdays in June, we made a golf course and some balls of yarn with knitting needles. When my grandma saw the golf course, she said "Oh, how nice - a boat!" What do you think, does it look like a boat to you?

So far that's the most creative we've gotten. What do you think we should try next?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The One Where I Wear My New Apron

It was not supposed to be baking or blogging night...It was supposed to be "get all of my lessons planned for next week so I can enjoy the long weekend" night. BUT...I went to the flea market this afternoon and bought the sweetest little apron, and I was so inspired to use it that I just had to bake something. The fabric is really sweet, but the best part are the pockets on each side. And even though I've always kind of thought half aprons were useless, I just couldn't resist this one.


And even though I was specifically instructed NOT to bake any cookies for this weekend, I really couldn't help it. You all remember the EPIC failure of the white chocolate macadamia nut cupcakes, right?! Well, I had leftover chocolate and nuts from that disaster, so I said to myself, "don't be scared of the white can do it" and I set out to make white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. (Plus I thought it might be a nice change from making so many cupcakes)

I used to LOVE the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies from Mrs. Fields. I would always get them at the mall (no semi-sweet chocolate chip for me). So I went straight to my Mrs. Fields cookie book (signed by Mrs. Fields herself!).

Imagine my horror when there was no such recipe in this book. So instead I found one from the Brown Eyed Baker (cute name, huh?). I crossed my fingers that she was a better baker than the Love and Olive Oil people (who inspired the white chocolate cupcake fiasco).

Side Note: Last time I was at Whole Foods, I discovered that not only is there Fair Trade white sugar, but also brown and powdered options. I got some of the brown sugar and tonight was my first time to use it. I was kind of nervous, because even though the bag specifically says Light Brown Sugar, it looked pretty dark to me. Also, it smells a little funny.

I also used whole wheat white flour instead of regular white flour. So I was using different flour and sugar from the recipe. And we all know what happened last time I experimented with a recipe!

Luckily, the cookies turned out much better than the cupcakes. The sugars/flour all worked out fine, too. Although I think I might have overdone it on the nuts and chocolate - some of them are pretty crowded cookies!

OK, maybe now I will take off my apron (yep, I'm still wearing it, even though the cookies are done and out of the oven) and do some lesson plans...

Friday, September 3, 2010

The One With The Failure

So I decided to try to be the best roommate ever and make some super cute "I'm turning 30, but everything will be fine" cupcakes. I gathered all of my supplies and snuck off to my mom's house to make them in secret. The big day was Friday and Open House at school was Thursday, so I had to make them Wednesday night. I was feeling a little stressed out with my busy week anyway, and then this happened...

First, I found the cutest cupcake papers at Michael's. I spent about 20 minutes deciding which papers to buy and finally decided on these...

Adorable, right?

I decided to be creative and try my own recipe - white chocolate macadamia nut cupcakes. I used my trusty Magnolia Bakery recipe to start, then added melted white chocolate and chopped macadamia nuts...

Everything is working out so far...
The first sign of trouble occurred when I added the vanilla extract to the melted white chocolate and it got super hard and chunky. I decided to just go with it and added it to the batter. I filled up my cutest cupcake papers ever and made my frosting while I waited for them to bake. Last time, my frosting was a little too sweet, so I wanted to try something new. I found this recipe for white chocolate frosting and decided to try it. (Also, this is where I got the (not so great) idea for adding the white chocolate to the cupcakes.)

When the timer went off, I was so excited to see my beautiful cupakes! What I saw instead was this...

Ahh!! The cake is all pulled away from the papers, and the bottom half of the cake is cooked, but the top half is raw. Absolutely Ridiculous! Even worse when you see it close up, and think about how adorable the papers are...

I'm starting to feel more stressed and a lot depressed as I...
So by this time, it's about 8:00 and after I moaned a lot about how I just wanted them to be cute and fun and special, I realize that it's not going to happen with these ones, and I just need to start over. This time, I decide to leave out the white chocolate and nuts and just go with the original recipe. I also used plain papers instead of the fancy ones (sad).

But as I'm making the batter, I discover there is no more sugar in the house. Again, I moan about how they are supposed to be cute and special and it will never work without the right amount of sugar. Luckily, my mom's friend was there to save the day and reminded us of the sugar in the sugar bowl used for coffee...Hooray, you might think, complete disaster averted! NO, still not enough. Last resort...

Yes, those are Dunkin Donuts sugar packets!
Finally the cupcakes are done. Note the difference...

   In the end, despite all the stress and failures, I think they turned out beautifully (I think that's mostly due to the pink sparkle sugar on top). What do you think?

Happy Birthday, Shelley!!