Baking Through the Alphabet: H is for Honey Cranberry Orange Scones

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I’m sick.

Headache, runny/stuff nose, slight cough, burning eyes (a little), fever, and slight nausea.

But after sucking it up at work for 7 hours and finally caving in at 3 to use my sick hours and to just go home, and after some meds and a good nap, I’m feeling much better! I think. Hopefully I’m well enough to go in to work tomorrow. (Edit: I didn’t make it to work. POO.)

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But seriously. Sick hours = :) :) :).

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I’ve been really slow with the alphabet recently because I’ve been baking other things outside of this alphabet project. I’ve made…thin mint cupcakes (which will probably be for T), chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes, baked parmesan eggs, Andes mint chocolate cookies, and other baked goodies just for friends and the apartment. Cream cheese was on sale at Albertsons for a buck again, so I’ll try to find things to make with those. I bought 10 blocks HAHA.

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I made these scones about 3 weeks ago. I knew I wanted to do something with honey for T, but I was having a reaaallly hard time finding something. I wanted to make some baked good that hasn’t been a part of this whole alphabet thing yet. I settled on this honey cinnamon scone recipe until Sam gave me the idea to make honey cranberry scones.

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I really wish the honey flavor stood out more though, but I love the citrusy combination with the fluffy scones and tart cranberries. I used this honey that Sam got from a farmer’s market, but take my advice, use honey instead of sugar. I made it once replacing the honey with 3 tablespoons of sugar, but they just came out so much drier. Also, the flour called for in the original recipe wasn’t enough; my dough was sooo sticky. Just keep adding flour until it’s manageable; I gave an estimate in the recipe below. Don’t add too much because the scones will turn out dry. Oh, I also used milk instead of cream to save some fat and calories. The scones still came out delicious! So yummy that I made them again three times after that. =)

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Honey Cranberry Orange Scones
From Inspired Taste
Makes 8 scones

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (or 2 1/2 depending on how wet the dough is)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 cup cold milk, plus 1 tablespoon for tops of scones
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon orange zest (I used the zest from one orange)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (like Sugar in the Raw…I used
half of those packets you can get a coffee shops)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. I used my silicon baking mat and it got stained.

2. For the dough, blend together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with a few small crumbles of butter the size of peas. Alternatively you can do this by hand in a bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips. I just find that a food processor makes it so much easier.

3. In another bowl, combine the milk, honey, and orange zest and stir until the honey is completely incorporated into the cream.

4. Pour the flour/butter mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the cranberries. Pour in the honey-milk mixture and mix until a dough forms. If it’s too wet, add a little flour just until it’s easy to work with, but not too much or else the scones will come out dry.

5. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3 to 5 times. Form it into an 8 inch circle and cut into 8 triangles.

6. Place the scones onto the lined baking sheet. Brush with the milk and lightly sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar.

7. Bake scones in the preheated over for 12 to 15 minutes until light golden brown. Scones are best eaten fresh, but they can keep at room temperature for a few days. Perfect for breakfast. Enjoy!

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Perfect with some coffee (sorry, I lied in the picture because I really don’t drink my coffee that black…), a journal, and the word of God. :)

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Happy Thursday!

Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

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Baking Through the Alphabet: G is for Garlic Parmesan Bread Knots

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Oops, I lagged again! Forgive me, please.

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I’ve been super lazy about blogging (and pretty much everything else, actually). BUT I have been baking and the pictures are sitting on my laptop waiting to be edited.

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Actually…did I mention I got a job? I work full-time at the same place I was a student worker at, and I’m a part-time student for the next two quarters until I graduate in June (thanks 2014 for letting me crash your party!). I work 40 hours a week, and I am actually really enjoying the working life. I’m definitely not a big fan of studying or school, and I really like just being able to come home at 5 and…relax. I’m sure I have it easy now, because I know I’ll have many more responsibilities once I’m married, have kids, etc. But for now, I’m just going to enjoy it.

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I’m really thankful for my job, and sometimes I forget to remind myself how lucky I am to have this job. Everything for this job just fell into place…the timing worked out really well. I was mentioning to my boss (who is also a Christian and is a pastor’s wife) the other day how lucky I was to have randomly met my friend Heidi (who introduced me to the student position). I was telling her how lucky I was to have everything work out so smoothly. But she reminded me that it wasn’t pure luck, it was God who had everything planned out. It was my sovereign creator who had allowed everything to happen the way it did. And I am so thankful.

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[Look! My coworkers got my flowers for my new office :’) ]

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Anyways,

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Garlic Parmesan Knots. Soft, bread-y knots topped with garlic, butter, fresh parsley, and parmesan cheese. It’s sooo yummy. It’s a little hard to tie the dough into knots, but after a few you get the hang of it. After you do that, you bake the knots, then you toss them in a garlic/butter/oil/parsley mixture and top them with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Eat them while they’re warm!

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Garlic Parmesan Bread Knots
Makes about 40 knots
Adapted From White on Rice Couple

Ingredients:

For the dough:
1 3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
about 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the Parmesan-Garlic Coating:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

1. To make the dough: Combine the warm water, olive oil, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Add the flour and mix and knead to incorporate all the ingredients. Cover the bowl and set it in a warm spot to proof until doubled in volume.

2. If you want, you can chill the dough for a few hours to make it easier to handle. I didn’t have time so I skipped this step.

3. Prepare baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

4. For the knots, pinch off and weigh 1 oz (28g) balls of dough. Weighing helps keep the sizes consistent. Roll the dough ball back and forth to create an even rope about 6-inch long. Tie the rope into a knot (over, under, and through), and place the knots onto the lined sheets. Allow about 1 1/2-inches between each knot. If the dough gets too sticky, you can add a little flour. Be careful to not add too much flour or the knots will come out dry. Let the knots rise on the trays until doubled in size before baking.

5. Preheat the oven to 400° F. 

6. When the knots have doubled in size, bake the knots in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

7. While the knots are baking, prepare the coating. Mix together the warm/hot butter, olive oil, parsley, and garlic (If you want a stronger garlic flavor, you can melt the butter with the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan). Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

8. When the knots are done and still warm, toss the knots with the garlic coating, then top with parmesan cheese. These taste best when warm, but you can always heat them up in the microwave for a few seconds if they get cold. Enjoy!

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Until Next Time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

Baking Through the Alphabet: F is for Flan Cupcakes

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There’s this one episode in Friends where they’re sitting around the dining table at the girls’ apartment planning Rachel’s surprise birthday party. Phoebe asks about the birthday cake, and Monica says she’s not making a birthday cake, but is making “birthday flan” instead. “It’s a traditional Mexican custard dessert!,” to which Joey responds with “Happy birthday, here’s some goo.”

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The reason why I mention this is because:

1) Friends is my favorite TV show! I don’t really agree with a lot of their morals, but I really do appreciate the friendship among the six of them. The show never fails to make me laugh, and my friends and I love quoting their lines for any and every situation. I own all 10 seasons, and it never gets old. Never.

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2) F is for Flan Cupcakes! I found these cupcakes while watching Food Network with a friend a few years back. It seemed like such a genius idea–vanilla cupcakes filled with flan, topped with cream cheese frosting. Yum!

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I know the recipe seems complicated, but it’s not too bad! Slow and steady wins the race. The cupcakes were moist and fluffy…and I’d have to say the best vanilla cupcakes I’ve made so far. The flan came out more like a really light and fluffy cheesecake, a bit like the Asian cheesecakes with a caramel flavor. For the cream cheese frosting, I ended up making half of what the original frosting recipe called for, and I was able to frost 18 out of the 24 cupcakes. I’m not a big fan of frosting and a little goes a long way for me, but if you are, feel free to double what’s called for below.

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As for the cupcake as a whole, I really wish the flan flavor shined more. With the cream cheese frosting and vanilla cupcake, the flan was kind of tucked away in the back. Regardless, I think this is the best cupcake I’ve made so far (which…isn’t THAT big of a deal since I don’t make cupcakes that often. BUT they usually fail–too dry, frosting too runny, too doughy, etc–so I’m glad this one turned out well).You don’t use all the flan in the cupcakes, but you can always use the extra as a side dessert. To be honest, I think I like the flan more on its own than with the cupcakes because it tastes like a light cheesecake. I like the combination and concept behind the flan cupcakes, which is why I’m sharing this with you all. Maybe you’ll like these more than my picky tastebuds did!

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Flan Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes
From Food Network

Ingredients:

For the Flan Custard:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk

For the Cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup milk

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
One 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. For the Flan Custard: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium pot over medium heat, cook the sugar and 1/2 cup water. Cook until the sugar caramelizes and turns into a nice, amber color, about 10 minutes, without stirring. Pour the caramelized sugar into an 8- by 10-inch pan or 10-inch cake pan. Let it cool.

2. In a blender, blend together the eggs, cream cheese, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Blend for about 4 minutes.

3. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the sugar. Put the pan inside an 11 x 14-inch pan. Pour water into the larger pan until almost full (water bath). Bake until it sets and has a slight uniform jiggle, about 1 hour. When done, take out the small pan and let it cool.

4. For the Cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins by lining with paper liners. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

5. In another bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy and light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the vanilla; mix until fluffy. Fold in the flour mixture, alternating with the milk. Do not overmix. Portion the batter into the prepared tins. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or just until set and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

6. For the Frosting: Cream together the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until fluffy.

7. For Assembly: Cut a hole in the top of each cupcake. You can use an apple corer; I used a paring knife. Fill a pastry bag with the flan. Pipe in enough flan to fill the hole in the cupcake. Top each cupcake with frosting. Enjoy!

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So for all the January babies, happy birthday, here’s some goo. =)

Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

Baking Through the Alphabet: E is for Earl Grey Donuts (baked) with a Blueberry Glaze

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

I thought I would post another letter before the year ended…but obviously I didn’t. Winter break is over (insert sadface), but it was a good three weeks. I spent the first week plus some at work, a couple more days at a church retreat, and the remaining days with my family and friends. It’s always a joy to be at home, and it makes me happy to see old faces back home for the holidays.

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2014 is here, 2013 is gone (*whispers* foreverrrr. If anyone got that Friends reference…you make me proud), and winter quarter is here! I’m not going to go into too much detail, but 2013 was a good year. A bunch of trials and struggles, but I know that God is sovereign and has planned all things for a greater purpose.

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Something that comes with each new year is new year resolutions. I used to make resolutions, but stopped once I failed to keep up with them. As for this year…I’m not sure. I haven’t really sat down to think about my resolutions, but I do know one of them is be more consistent with my blog posts (sorry all!!). One for sure resolution is to glorify God in all that I do. And only through the grace of God may I do so.

One more thing before I get to the donuts (or doughnuts? what?): The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Read it. It’s an encouragement. I’m reading it too.

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E is for earl grey (baked) donuts with a blueberry glaze. I had originally planned to do earl grey macarons for the letter E, but that one totally flopped. I tried a new recipe and the shells just looked like junk. I did tint it a pretty blueish/gray color though! But the shells didn’t come out right, and the filling was too runny. I’ll try them again eventually! You’ll find out when I do.

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But I finally caved and bought donut pans–they’re so cute! I love donuts, but I hate dealing with all the oil after you fry them, so I figured baking them would be the way to go. BUT DISCLAIMER: if you’re thinking baked donuts=yeasty, bready donuts, then you’re wrong, and this recipe may not be the right one for you. Baked donuts taste more like muffins instead of bread, but having them in a donut shape do make them much more fun.

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I added two earl grey tea bags to the donut batter–I steeped one bag in the hot milk, and another bag I tried crushing the tea leaves and then threw them in with the dry ingredients. I made a blueberry glaze to go on top, and I really do like the combination, but to be honest, the blueberry flavor overpowered the earl grey flavor. If I were to make this again, I’d probably try either a regular vanilla glaze, or an earl grey glaze. Regardless, the donuts were moist and the earl grey flavor was there. Again, they had a muffin texture to them rather than a bready texture, but I’m glad that I didn’t have to deal with leftover oil and all the excess fat if I were to fry them. I like how they turned out! The bits of blueberries look like sprinkles. And if you like The Simpsons, these donuts look like the infamous one on the show =)

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Baked Earl Grey Donuts with Blueberry Glaze
Makes 1 dozen (I made 6 regular and 24 mini ones)
Adapted from A Beautiful Mess

Ingredients:

For the Earl Grey Donuts:
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 earl grey tea bags
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk, hot
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Blueberry Glaze:
1/4 cup fresh blueberries
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare your donut pans by spraying with cooking spray.

2. For the donuts: Open one tea bag, and pour out the leaves into a small bowl. Using a spoon (or a mortar and pestle if you have it), crush up the big tea leaves by pushing the tea leaves against the sides of the bowl with the spoon. It’s okay if you can’t get it. I just wanted didn’t want big leaves in the donuts.

3. Steep the other tea bag in the hot milk for 5 minutes. Using a fork, poke at the bag to get as much flavor out of the leaves. It’s okay if you pop the bag because the leaves will just get mixed into the donut dough. Toss the tea bag.

4. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (first five listed above). In another bowl, combine all the wet ingredients (the last five listed above, including the steeped milk–make sure it’s not too hot or it’ll cook the eggs).

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir just until combined.

6. Fill the prepared donut pans 2/3 full with batter (don’t fill too much, or else they’ll come out looking like mini bundt cakes). You can spoon in the batter, but I poured the batter into a pastry bag and piped the batter into the pans for better control. Bake them for 10-13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If you’re making mini donuts, bake them for 8-10 minutes. Let the donuts cool before dipping them in the glaze.

7. For the blueberry glaze: Place blueberries, powdered sugar, and lemon juice in a food processor, and pulse until smooth.

8. Dip the cooled donuts in the glaze, and let them set before serving. Enjoy!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

Baking Through the Alphabet: D is for Dulce de Leche Eclairs

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Hello to all my new readers!

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It’s crazy how much my blog has grown the past few weeks, all thanks to Welcome Home on Facebook! I know there are a lot of comments sitting in my inbox, but I promise I’ll get to them soon! I’ve been swamped with finals and projects these past two week and haven’t had the chance to get around to them. But guess what? Finals are done, projects have been submitted, fall quarter duties have been relieved, so I can safely say…

HELLO WINTER BREAK!

Yes, I survived another quarter of college (all through the grace of God, of course). It’s been a crazy one, but I’m thankful for it all.

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I had meant for this post to be my “Happy Thanksgiving!” post, so let me just say…Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! I hope you all had an enjoyable and relaxing Thanksgiving with your loved ones (food included!). I know I did–it was great to be at home during the week with family and friends. I had lunch with my family, reunited with (actually, MET for the very first time) some extremely distant cousins for dinner (we have the same great-great-great grandma), and hung out with high school and church friends. It was a weekend well spent!

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I’m still baking my way through the alphabet. I know I’m only four letters in, but this letter kind of sucked. I knew I wanted to do dulce de leche eclairs, but it took me THREE tries to get the filling right. First, I tried making this diplomat cream, which is basically a combination of whipped cream and pastry cream. It was perfect since I had a bunch of leftover egg yolks from making macarons. But I messed up because I overcooked the pastry cream and ended up with this ugly, chunky, scrambled egg mess. Not good. Delicious!, but not good. I decided to make a dulce de leche whipped cream by beating together dulce de leche and heavy cream. All was well, until I got a little selfish and wanted stiffer peaks. So I put the bowl back under the wire whisk, turned it on, and ran to get my camera. I swear, it was only like 20 seconds, but by the time I got back the cream was overbeat (is that a word?) and had turned into a curdled mess. Boo.

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Third time was the charm. I used my trusty cream puff recipe from Joy of Baking, and piped logs instead of little mounds. The eclairs did come out a little fatter than I would’ve liked and I’ll have to pipe thinner logs next time, but they were still delicious. I spread a little dulce de leche on the bottom shell of the eclair, filled it with dulce de leche whipped cream, topped it with its other half, and topped that with chocolate ganache. The chocolate and dulce de leche go so nicely together, and it’s a nice twist to your typical cream puff/eclair. My roommates said it was a little too sweet for them (it was okay for me), but if you want it less sweet, you can spread less dulce de leche onto the bottom puff or skip it altogether. Either way, the chocolate ganache with the eclair shell and the dulce de leche whipped cream will be tres excelente (insert the “ok” hand emoji here).

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Dulce de Leche Eclairs
Makes 16 eclairs
Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients:

For the Choux Pastry:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup water
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the filling:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup dulce de leche (more or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the chocolate ganache:
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1. For the choux pastry: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a Silpat or parchment paper. Place the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat; bring to a boil. Make sure the butter is completely melted before the water boils. Remove it from the heat, and using a wooden spoon, add the flour, sugar, and salt, stir until combined. Return the saucepan back to the heat, and keep stirring until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball.

2. Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl, and beat it to release the steam from the dough. When the dough is lukewarm, mix in the eggs until you have a smooth, thick paste. The dough will separate but will come together to form a thick paste. The dough should fall from the spoon in a thick ribbon.

3. Place the dough in a pastry bag and pipe oblongs of dough onto the baking sheet. I made mine slightly larger, but the original recipe piped “12 oblongs of dough about 3/4 inch wide. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the shells are an amber color and are almost dry inside when split. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack.

4. For the filling: With a whisk attachment (or a whisk, if you’re doing it by hand), beat the cream until soft peaks form. Mix in the dulce de leche, and beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. Add more dulce de leche if you want a stronger flavor. Mix in the vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to use.

5. For the chocolate ganache: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream until just boiling and pour it over the chocolate. Gently stir until the chocolate is melted.

6. For assembly: Split the pastry shells in half, lengthwise. Take the top shell, dip it into the chocolate glaze, and let the excess drip off. Let it dry. Spread a little dulce de leche onto the bottom half (you should have some extra from the can), and fill it (can spoon or pipe) with the dulce de leche cream. Place the top half of the pastry shell on the cream. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use; it can be stored for two days. Enjoy!

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

Baking Through the Alphabet: C is for Crème Brûlée Cheesecake Bars

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First things first, SWITCHFOOT.

For those of you who know me, Switchfoot is my favorite band. They’re an alternative rock band from San Diego, and they play good music with good lyrics.

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A few weeks ago, my friends and I drove up to Santa Barbara for their Fading West tour. We met up with another friend there, and the four of us went to the concert together. It’s my third time seeing them (I saw them this past June at the San Diego Fair and last fall in Anaheim), but it was different because the first half was the premiere of the surfing documentary they just finished. Who knew a surfing documentary would be that exciting, huh? They had a short set after the movie. After the concert, we decided to flock down their tour bus in  hopes of seeing them before they left. We caught Jerome Fontamillas, who’s the instrumental genius and plays (I swear) everything. We got his autograph and a picture with him!

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We were able to catch Jon Foreman, the lead singer, and he was kind enough to give whoever was there an after show at the back of the venue. I’ll embed the video I got at the end of the post. But seriously, these guys just seem so genuine! I mean, I haven’t met them before, but the way they write and make and talk about music is so pure and amazing. VIP next round, maybe! Good music, good weather, good company. ‘Twas a good weekend indeed.

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BUT ENOUGH ABOUT SWITCHFOOT.

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Crème. Brûlée. Cheesecake. Bars.

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Creamy cheesecake topped with a beautiful brûlée.

Cheesecake meets crème brûlée.

Deliciousness meets even more deliciousness.

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It’s as good as it sounds and looks. There’s just something satisfying about tapping a brûlée-d top and watching it crack. And it’s even more satisfying when you know you’re digging into rich, creamy cheesecake (also satisfying when you’re eating actual crème brûlée too…but you get the picture. right?). It’s definitely simple; no custards/egg yolks, no having to heat up cream or anything, no water baths. The crust is thick, the filling is luscious and creamy, and the the tangy-ness of the cream cheese is paired perfectly with the sweetness of the sugar in the cheesecake and from the crème brûlée topping. The cheesecake bars aren’t too sweet at all, and they’re super quick and easy to make. It just requires the extra step of torching the tops, but hey, it’s always fun to play with a torch, right? =) (definitely be safe, people!!)

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Crème Brûlée Cheesecake Bars
Makes one 8×8 square pan
From Handle the Heat

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
9 whole graham crackers
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (I used 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Brûlée Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1. For the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil, and leave an overhang for easy removal later.

2. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until moistened. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned and set. Let the crust cool and reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

3. For the cheesecake: Beat the cream cheese until smooth (you can use either an electric mixture or a food processor). Add the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla bean/extract, and salt, and beat until smooth and well combined.

4. Pour the mixture into the pan, and bake for about 45 minutes, until the cheesecake is set and still slightly jiggly in the center (don’t worry, it’ll set as it cools). Be careful to not overbake. Let the cheesecake cool completely in the pan, then cover and chill until firm.

5. When the cheesecake is firm, cut into squares. I cut off the edges of my cheesecake so I could have a smooth top to form the brûlée.

6. On a heat-safe work surface, sprinkle the tops of each square with sugar, and being careful, torch the tops with a kitchen torch until it turns a deep amber color. If you want a thicker brûlée top, sprinkle more sugar on top. You can refrigerate the cheesecakes, but the brûlée will start to soften as it sits in the fridge. Enjoy!

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Until next time,
Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!
P.S. =)

Baking Through the Alphabet: B is for Blueberry and Cream Cookies (A Momofuku Recipe)

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I’m back. One month and 8 days later. At this rate, I’ll finish my “baking through the alphabet” series in two years…hopefully that won’t happen! I know I haven’t been baking too much this past quarter. My friends ask me how my alphabet series is coming along, and I always say “I’m still on the letter A…but I’m getting there!” And I’m there now, starting with B! Making baby steps.

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I’m eight weeks into my fall quarter, so that means two more weeks of school (or 1.5, I should say), then finals week, then WINTER BREAK! Not that I’ll be doing a lot, but it’ll be nice to be back home during the week. This quarter has been one of the craziest yet, but not in the usual way. LIFE has been crazy, I should say. But hey, I’m still breathing, I still have my salvation, life is good.

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It took me foreverrrrrrr to decide what to do for the letter B. I wanted to do bo luo baos, but was too lazy to go buy bread flour. I wanted to make banana cream pie, but making a pie just seemed so tedious (I’ve never made a pie before! One of these days…). So there I was, flipping through my favorites section on foodgawker, when I found this–Momofuku’s blueberry and cream cookies. I’ve never had anything from the Milk Bar (AKA Momofuku Milk Bar), and I only heard about them through Facebook (I think a friend posted about them or something). But from what I hear and read, baked goodies from there are supposed to be really good. And I find their recipes online, and they’re super interesting and incorporate all these different things to it like “cereal milk” and “cornflake crunch.” Intriguing huh!

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These cookies are really good–trust me. The edges are crisp and the center is chewy, just the way I like them. It’s not too sweet, and the blueberries add a nice tartness to the cookies. They remind me of a blueberry muffin top. These cookies are different than your normal recipe; there’s an extra step of adding “milk crumbs,” which is just nonfat dry milk powder, butter, and white chocolate. It’s an extra step, but I think it’s totally worth it! It adds a different taste to the cookies, and it’s the “cream” aspect for your blueberry and cream cookies! Don’t worry, making the milk crumbs is easy; it kind of reminds me of making a graham cracker crust for a cheesecake. DO IT. It adds this extra “milky” taste in the cookies that you really don’t find in other ones, and I like it and it’s delicious! They’re thick and chewy, and I love the cracked aspect on top of the cookies. I have no idea what the real cookies are supposed to taste like, but if my cookie is supposed to be a copycat of the ones from the store, then the real ones must be HECKA GOOD.

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Blueberry and Cream Cookies
Makes 12 to 17 Cookies
From Momofuku Milk Bar

Ingredients:

225 g (16 tbs) butter, at room temperature
150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
150 g (2/3 cup) light brown sugar
100 g (1/4 cup) glucose, or 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 eggs
320 g (2 cups) flour
2 g (1/2 tsp) baking powder
1.5 g (1/4 tsp) baking soda
6 g (1 1/2 tsp) kosher salt
1/2 recipe milk crumbs, recipe follows
130 g (3/4 cup) dried blueberries

1. Cream together the butter, sugars, and glucose (or light corn syrup) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I used an electric mixer) on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

2. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than a minute. Don’t overmix the dough, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. On low speed (I did this part by hand), add the milk crumbs and mix until they’re incorporated, no more than 30 seconds. Add the dried blueberries, and mix them in for 30 seconds.

4. Portion out the cookie dough into balls (mine were probably 1.5-2 tablespoons, or use a 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop) onto parchment-lined (I used Silpat) sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie balls flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. I rolled the dough into balls after I refrigerated it, then refrigerated the dough balls again. Make sure you don’t bake them from room temperature, or they won’t bake correctly!

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the chilled dough balls at least 4-inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes until faintly browned on the edges but bright yellow in the center. Rotate your pans halfway through if necessary. The cookies should puff, crackle, and spread. 

6. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans. The cookies will keep fresh at room temperature for five days. Enjoy!

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Milk Crumbs
Makes about 250 g (2 1/4 cups)

Ingredients:

40 g (1/2 cup) milk powder
40 g (1/4 cup) flour
12 g (2 tbs) cornstarch
25 g (2 tbs) sugar
2 g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
90 g (3 oz) white chocolate, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the 40 g (1/2 cup) milk powder, flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. Add the melted butter, and stir until a mixture starts to come together and forms small clusters.

3. Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. The crumbs should sandy, and (as the site puts it) your kitchen should smell like buttery heaven. Let the crumbs cool completely.

4. Crumble any crumb clusters that are larger than 1/2 inch in diameter. Put the crumbs in a medium bowl, and mix in the 20 g milk powder until it is evenly distributed.

5. Pour the white chocolate over the crumbs, and toss until the clusters are coated with the chocolate. Keep tossing them every five minutes until the chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to a month.

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!