Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eary Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies

"No thank you, but I would like some hot tea. Earl Grey or
Blackcurrant if you have it.

I'm a tea drinker, there I've admitted it. I don't like coffee, cappuccino, or even chocolate covered espresso beans. I just don't like it taste or even the smell. I think it all goes back to one memorable Mardi Gras (that year the gang was dressed as Commodes of the Rich and Famous) when I was guzzling coffee and eating bananas in the hopes of sobering up. I did sober up but it had more to do with… well no need to go there.

So here I am 20+ years later and I stumble upon a recipe for Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies on the Food Network website. Be still my anti-coffee heart. I didn't have any Earl Grey on hand, so I used my second favorite tea, Twinings Blackcurrant (Twinings Vanilla is my favorite). Boy did they turn out good. Crisp on the edges, slightly soft in the middle, and oh so buttery and smooth. Yummm…

The blackcurrant tea also gave the cookies a faint berry taste/aroma that was elusive as well as addictive. My guest devoured all 2 dozen cookies in 10 minutes flat and still couldn't pinpoint what gave the cookies their unique taste. In the words of one guest, "They're bloody good."

I used the Food Networks version of Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, (take a moment to read the comments associated with the recipe. There are angry accusations of recipe theft, plagiarism and a rehash of Cindy McCain's cookie recipe debacle. What a hoot!)

But Martha Stewart's has a version

As well as several on RecipeZaar

Whichever recipe you use, I'm sure you will enjoy them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strawberry Pie

I never realized how many strawberries are in a “flat”. I bought a flat a few days ago, and after making strawberry cupcakes, strawberry cookies, and strawberry shortcake I still had 6 of the 12 pints remaining. So what is a girl to do??

What else, Make Strawberry Pie

Here is the cooking…

The pouring…

The final product…

Don’t you just love strawberries!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

I bought a flat of strawberries from a local vendor and decided to make this a Strawberry Memorial Day Weekend.

My favorite strawberry dessert is Strawberry Shortcake (with sweet biscuits not sponge cake), and my favorite recipe is Strawberry Shortcake a la Treebeard’s. I think it is the brown sugar in the mix that makes it so special tasting.

If you like a lots of strawberry filling on your shortcake, double the volume of filling called for in the Treebeard’s recipe or cut the shortcake recipe in half. Also, taste the filling before adding the entire 1/3 cup of sugar. The added sugar needs to be adjusted depending on the natural sweetness of the berries.

Enjoy your Memorial Day…

Strawberry Filled Cupcakes

My second adventure on Strawberry Memorial Day Weekend was Strawberry Filled Cupcakes.


The cupcake "cake" is my third attempt at duplicating the famous White Almond Wedding Cake from Swiss Confectionery in New Orleans. Cake version #3 was good, but still not Swiss (too dense). I’ll try again some other day, but the real purpose of the cupcake was to try different “filling” methods.

The Cone Method – I used a knife and cup a cone shape out of the top of the cupcake and then cut the “cone” off of the cupcake plug leaving only a cap.

Next I just spooned the strawberry jam into the cavity and covered with the cupcake cap.

I frosted using a standard buttercream recipe, then cut the cupcake in half to see the guts. Here is what the inside looks like using the Cone Method.

The next method I tried was the “Piping Method”. I made two perpendicular cuts in the top of the cupcake using a regular paring knife, and then squeezed the strawberry jam into the opening using Wilton Star Tip 21.

Don’t pipe too much or it will overflow.

Here is the inside of the “Piped” filling method. The piped method was quicker but I think I like the neat look of the “Cone” filling method. I guess it is just a matter of preference because they both tasted the same.

Here is the finished cupcake again. Don’t you just love the sparkly fruit? The recipe called for sanding sugar but I just had regular granulated sugar on hand. The sanding sugar would have look much more sparkly, but you have to work with what ya got. I also forgot to “sugar” the mint leaves. I’m such a scatterbrain sometime.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

I don’t know if you are supposed to publish your failures (or non-tasty results) on a blog, but disappointment is a big part of baking so here goes…. I found a Martha Stewart recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Cookies that looked good and sounded delicious.

Here is the strawberry shortcake cookie dough all mixed up. Looking good at this point.

Here they are about to go into the oven. The recipe said to use parchment paper, but I used a silicon baking mat instead. The recipe also said to sprinkle sugar on top of the cookies. I should have known better. From my many scone baking adventures I have found that any sugar that lands on the pan instead of the cookies will burn to a crisp.

Just out of the oven at this point. The still look good. The edges are turning brown and the centers are still pale and soft looking. Yummm…

I thought I had a winner at this point. But then I turned a cookie over and noticed the bottoms. YUCK…. Granted I do have a hot spot in my oven and I have to rotate the tray once or twice, but even with that a few of the cookies ended up a little too toasty. Also notice the areas of the cookies where the sugared strawberries came in direct contact with the pan. Cinders!!

Here are the best of the bunch. The finished cookie looked nice, but unfortunately the taste was downright bland and definitely not worth the calories. If they had tasted better I might have experimented with protecting the bottom, but they were not worth a second try.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crawfish Boil

Every year on the weekend before Memorial Day my brother, David, has a big crawfish boil. Here is a batch jut coming out of the pot and in the background is the second batch of live crawfish waiting for their turn in the sauna (poor things).

This year my brother bought a big "pirouge" serving boat. He was so proud of that thing.

And here is a scoop of crawfish waiting to be eaten by me. Traditional accompani-
ments to the crawfish are corn on the cob, potatoes, sausage, garlic and mushrooms. And BUTTER, lots and lots of butter squirted on the corn and potatoes.

My contribution to the party was of course the desserts. Pralines, brownies, red velvet sandwich cookies, and burger cupcakes. I also made deviled eggs, not a dessert but still damn good.

Here are the pralines. Yum....
I use a typical praline recipe: white sugar, brown sugar, butter, milk, pecan, etc. The real "art" of praline cooking is temperature. Too low and the pralines are gritty, too high and the pralines are brittle. Like Goldilocks, the temperature needs to be just right.

The brownies... Actually brownie - chocolate chip cookie combo with chocolate icing...

The Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies... this is a Paul Deen recipe that has become a family favorite. I make it without the pecans because one of my brothers is allergic to nuts. PS: the Paula Dean recipe makes waaaaayyyy too much icing. I cut the icing recipe in half and still have leftovers.

The burger cupcakes and sugar cookie French fries... A favorite with the kids.

The deviled eggs... Made with olives - a family recipe.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Peanut - Basking in the Sun

Mr. Sunbeam, can you move a little to the right? Now, please!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hubig Pie

There is nothing as tempting as a Hubig's Pie. Fresh fruit wrapped in tender crust, deep fried, and then enrobed in a thin sheen of crunchy icing. Was there ever a more perfect junk food invented?

I think not....

Goody Links

Here are some links to cakes / cupcakes / cookies I want to try soon (maybe this weekend).

Martha Stewart - Our Best Cupcakes

Martha Stewart - 30 Birthday Cakes

A Taste of Home - Raspberry Patch Crumb Bars

Betty Crocker Cookie Recipe Contest Winners

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

50th Birthday Wreath

My sister-in-law turned 50
on May 8th and I gave her black wreath (made out of cupcakes of course) to commemorate the day. The idea came from the book "Hello, Cupcake". The cupcakes are Betty Crocker Butter Pecan and the icing is Praline Butter Cream. The leaves are semi-sweet chocolate and the bow is a black satin ribbon.

First I baked the cupcakes according to the box.

Then I cooked the pralines that go into the frosting. Here is a picture of the pralines cooling on the stove. Yum.

And here is a picture of the crumbled pralines being added to the butter cream. Note: I added a little brown food color to the frosting so it would be less obvious beneath the chocolate leaves.

Here I am artfully (ha, ha) arranging the chocolate leaves on top of the cupcakes. To mold the leaves I stripped my pathetic mint plant of all its larger leaves, washed & dried them, and then painted melted chocolate over the surface. Once the chocolate dried, I pealed away the green leaf and was left with a pretty chocolate impression. I think I made about 100 of them. I sure do love my sister-in-law.

Again the finished 50th Birthday Wreath