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Preview: Kitchen Jouissance

Kitchen Jouissance

Obeying the symbolic's imperative to "Enjoy!"

Updated: 2018-03-02T11:32:04.568-05:00


It's time...

2010-05-13T19:22:34.625-04:00 start a new chapter. I think I'm signing off of Kitchen Jouissance and movingmyself to Trippingly On the Tongue , a blog I'm starting wherein (whereon?) I will be posting not only cookie recipes, but also theatre reviews. I figure that I'll be more likely to remember to write since I'm already writing theatre criticism...

So, good bye and thanks for all the fish! (Or, you know, cookies.)

Lagging, as usual...


...oh. Right. I'm supposed to remember to update this thing.

Never fear, dearest readers (if you're still out there!)--you may stop holding your breath in just a short while.

An update on the last two months (gulp) is forthcoming.

Catching Up...


I can't seem to stop baking. It's really becoming an issue--although I am not complaining. I love being able to bake again every day...I had forgotten how much I need that daily time for meditation. I realize that chocolate chip cookies can't be a religion, but they're close enough. On Monday, I made Better Than Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins. Now, Let me begin by saying how surprised I am that I haven't yet featured these little numbers on this blog before. the BTCCCC Muffins are my go to recipe when I'm lacking in time or just need a sure-fire crowd pleaser. In fact, I used to make these at least once a week when I was at UF. Backstory: These muffins were my second recipe. I had baked a Death By Triple Chocolate Orgasm cake for one of my best friend's birthday back in 12th grade, and, impressed with the fact that he now had a personal baker, said friend (let's call him "Matt," since that's his name), Matt, asked me to make him blueberry muffins. Matt has a thing for blueberry muffins. We used to go to the Whole Foods Market at night and buy muffins and then drive to the beach (this is what kids who don't drink in high school do...). Now, I don't know if you've ever been to the Whole Foods Market at about 9 pm and purchased a blueberry muffin, but you should try it. At any time of the day, really. So I baked him these blueberry muffins...and they went over really well. So I got creative. I used the basic muffin recipe and then substituted chocolate chips for the blueberries and created a spice mixture (laced with a little bit of espresso) to be sprinkled over the tops of the muffins...and the BTCCCC Muffins were born! I really love this recipe--there's no butter, which is a huge time saver, and the flavor of the muffins is to die for. I cranked out two batches in the time it would probably take to start a cookie recipe. Each batch, makes about 30 muffins, which is the only problem, since I have only one mini muffin pan, and that makes only 24 at a time. When you bake mini muffins and only have 6 in a 24 muffin pan, the cooking spray and excess spices left from the first bake tend to continue cooking, even though there are no muffins in those spaces. So while the second batch of muffins reached its tail end, the cooking spray was turning to steam in my oven. I had gone to put on makeup while the muffins baked, since I had to run out as soon as they were done...and when I went to open up the oven to check on the muffins, steam burst out and hit me in the face--which was not good, since my mascara was wet. Naturally, I closed my eyes...but then quickly realized that my eyelashes were stuck together! Fortunately, I managed to separate them and then remove the muffins from the oven...but I learned my lesson: don't lean over a 400 degree oven until your mascara has dried.Better Than Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins(I apologize for the quality of this picture. I forgot to take one at home, and the lighting in the theatre is very dark...) Tuesday was Seth's birthday. (Seth is one of the actors in the Shakespeare Fest.) Last year, I baked a really sick extra chocolate cake, and I figured that I needed to try something I made Chocolate Chip Chocolate Cheesecake Cookie Bars. My biggest problem with this recipe--because I've made it once before with much success--was that I lacked the right pan in which to bake this insane concoction. Bar cookies are really just cookie dough baked into a cake or bread pan and then sliced up into bars. Picture a chocolate chip cookie cake, only much thicker (because there's more leavening in the recipe) and not round. So I mixed the chocolate chip cookie dough (a slightly different recipe from my Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies) and the chocolate cheesecake mix. Then in a 9" cake pan (which was definitely not big enough) went a large portion of the chocolate chip cookie dough. I baked it at 375 until the sides started to brown and then in went the cheesecake and the remaining cookie dough. By the time such occurred, the origina[...]

A Tedious Brief Respite from Baking


No, I haven't stopped baking...I just have Shakespeare on the brain. So I'm sharing this.

We'll return to your regularly scheduled pastry updates in just a mo'.

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Just a bit of background for the uninitiated:

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner make up, in my opinion, one of the funniest comedy duos of all time. The 2000-Year-Old Man bit began as a silly bit of improv and became a running skit that kept audiences in stitches for 40 years. Carl Reiner plays an interviewer who has been given the privilege of questioning a 2000 year old man (Brooks), who seems to have been present at every important event that occurred on the A.D. side of the calendar (and some events from the B.C. side as well...If you get the chance, listen to the bit about "Phil." You won't regret it.)

In this clip, the 2000 Year Old Man talks about why Shakespeare wasn’t a great writer and one of Shakespeare’s lost plays.

As American as...


Apple Pie Cookies! Happy post-Independence Day, everyone! I hope that your day was filled with good food, lots of fun, and few fireworks-related injuries. Yesterday, my Dad decided we were going to have a "cookout." At our house, that usually entails Dad cooking outside, yes, but he's the only one who ever sets foot out the door. The rest of us stay inside and patiently wait for the fruits of his labor. So, okay: cookout. My father also invited my boyfriend--who accepted the invite--so this meant the potential for embarrassing stories and/or tons of really corny jokes and weird comments. The usual family-meeting-the-boyfriend silliness. I figured that, in order to deflect attention from the crazy, I should cook up some sort of distraction--literally! So I made an old favorite, the Apple Pie Cookie. It's been a long time since I first made these cookies. I think the last time might have been in Jessica's kitchen at UF--well over a year ago. But I pulled out my recipe and ran off to Publix (the most glorious grocery store on Earth!) for the essentials. Unfortunately, while I did (finally) remember to pick up some nutmeg and allspice, I forgot the cream of tartar. (This was the first mistake.) I did not realize this mistake until I was halfway through transforming a gloppy mass of shortening and sugar into cookie dough. Now, if you've never heard of cream of tartar, you're probably not alone. It's a white powdery substance that forms on the inside of wine barrels. When the wine is emptied, the powder is used to stabilize egg whites and as an acid to enhance the leavening power of certain products like baking soda. You can find it in the spice aisle of all reputable grocery stores.My lack of cream of tartar was a problem--leavening is kiiind of important in this sort of cookie dough. So I did a Google search of cream of tartar substitutes, and found that there really are no good ones...however, in a pinch, and in certain recipes, so long as you have an acid you should be okay. An acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Jackpot. In went 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. And I prayed that a) it would work and b) it wouldn't make the cookies taste awful. I also had some difficulty with my apple pie filling. First of all, the butter nearly exploded out of the saucepan because the stove heated up too quickly. Then the sugars started to caramelize, even though I turned the heat allll the way down. But I managed to catch it in time, put in the apples, and transfer the filling to a nice, cold bowl. The cookies were easy to put together, and I dusted the top of each with cinnamon sugar before throwing them in the oven. They came out looking exactly as they were supposed to...and so I crossed my fingers and waited until my first taste-tester arrived. The good news is that, despite the substitution of lemon juice for the cream of tartar, the cookies came out beautifully. They were indeed a hit (as they always were when I made 'em at UF). I guess the sugary distraction worked, because a great time was had by all (myself included). Yesterday was honestly a perfect day. The Cookie!Enjoyment of the CookieThe BoyfriendThe Father[...]

The Best Smell in the World



I love making bread. Love it, love it, love it.

Why, you ask? Because there is probably no better smell than freshly baked bread. It starts with the yeast as it proofs--not a strong smell, but if you happen to be standing by the bowl, watching the yeast slowly bloom--as I usually am--then you get a whiff of the promise of a heavenly aroma, and it's glorious.

Then, after you've kneaded and punched down, and kneaded again the large, floury mass that is to become your bread, you place the (in this case) braided loaves in the oven and wait. And in about 10 minutes, it happens. Your house begins to smell INCREDIBLE. That heady aroma can linger for hours, tempting you toward the kitchen until long after the loaf of bread is gone.

I'm strange. I know.

But I made a challah yesterday, because Andy had never tried it before, and, since it was Friday, I figured, why not?

Sidetrack: Challah is a huge part of my childhood. I'm not a religious person--not by any stretch of the imagination. But I'll do Shabbat if it means I get to eat a piece of challah. I learned my honey challah recipe back in 2006 (for the Rosh Hashanah meal I cooked for my roommates at Columbia...), and I feel that I am a more complete person because of it. When I was little, my Oma (that's "grandmother" in Dutch, in case you didn't know) used to make the perfect challah toast when she came to stay with us. I don't know how she did it, but she always managed to char the outside of the bread but keep the inside flaky and soft. And then she'd spread just this much butter on it and cover it with hagelslag (pronounced "hachelslach"). I'm pretty sure that if heaven exists, the angels get to eat this every morning for breakfast.


So the challah turned out really, incredibly, beautifully well. I did end up using more flour than intended, but I think that had something to do with the extreme humidity yesterday. The dough was very sticky and hard to knead.

The first rise went well--the dough rose so much that I had to punch it down just to keep it in the bowl. The second rise, after I braided the bread, yielded two massive loaves. Much more massive than intended, actually.

I brushed the dough with egg and then baked it at 375 for 40 minutes. the intoxicating aroma of fresh challah pervaded the house for hours and hours after I took the loaves out of the oven to cool.

Half a loaf was gone before I even left for rehearsal.

And the best part is: Andy's first piece of challah wasn't just processed, enriched flour, mass-produced bread--it was the real deal...and it definitely got the seal of approval. :D!


PS Please enjoy this awesome picture of my dad trying a piece of challah.
He is adorable:


PPS Happy Independence Day!

Going nuts...Coconuts, that is.


I love making whipped cream. It's always an adventure, because, when you don't own an electric mixer and you're making it by hand with nothing but heavy cream, powdered sugar, and a whisk, it takes FOREVER and you don't know if it's going to work until the moment when, suddenly, the cream begins to stiffen and little peaks begin to form. (Yes, that was a run-on sentence. I'm not a teacher any more, so sue me.) No matter how many times I make whipped cream, I'm always surprised when it works. Don't ask me why. Anyway. On Monday, as promised, I decided to make Strawberry Shortcake Cookies. Of course, the batch turned out without a hitch...there is something that is just SO perfect about those cookies. I can't put my finger on it, but they are an instant winner and a definite Kay's Cookies classic. My biggest problem in making them, however, is that there is ALWAYS too much whipped cream left over when I'm done. Now, usually, I mash up an entire pint of strawberries and empty them and the ensuing strawberry juice into the pint of whipped cream (which, because I do not use gelatin to stiffen the mixture, usually melts it a little and makes the whipped cream a little too runny to use for anything but cookies). Instead, I separated the whipped cream into two containers--one for the strawberry cookies and one for--get this--Coconut Cream Cookies. I've never made Coconut Cream Cookies, but I figured that I might as well do something with the whipped cream and the shredded coconut that I had waiting around my fridge for just the right occasion. (In case you couldn't tell, the right occasion was now.)So I used my basic sugar cookie template and changed the amounts of sugar (half white and half dark brown) as well as dumped in a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder. Why? Not sure, but I was feeling it. I made the rest of the cookie in the normal way and then flattened teaspoon sized balls of dough, added a dollop of the coconut whipped cream to the center, and then re-rolled the dough around the center. (This is the same way I make the Strawberry Shortcake Cookies.) The result was pretty, well, awesome. I asked Andy his opinion (since he's now my official taste-tester), and he said that they were really tasty, but they definitely need...something. I do agree. Perhaps chocolate chips? I think this is one with which I'm going to keep experimenting. Strawberry Shortcake CookiesCoconut Cream CookiesEither way, I brought both batches of cookies to rehearsal on Monday night, and they were DEMOLISHED. I'm talking empty tupperware by the end of the first run. This is the first time I haven't had to send Andy home from rehearsal with a container of cookies. (He's probably happy about that fact, because--and I know this from personal experience--it's impossible to let those cookies sit on the counter for more than a day and a half. They keep making those adorable puppy-dog eyes at you, and you can't help but pick them up and eat them, just so they won't feel so lonely, all by themselves on the counter like that...)*Today I used up the last of the strawberry whipped cream (because there was STILL some left over, even after splitting it up between two batches of cookies--and I would have used up the coconut whipped cream, but it looked like someone's spoon had mysteriously attacked it in the middle of the night, and so that container ended up in the sink). I also made a batch of Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies. The problem with the BTCCCs is that I forgot to halve the amount of butter, and so I had to make a full batch...which yields 50-75 cookies, depending on the size of each individual cookie. So, Shakespeareans, be prepared for sugar overload tonight. Kay*Yes, I am probably insane. Why do you ask?[...]

A Year Without a Kitchen


And so, as unceremoniously as I disappeared one year ago, I return. I have been thinking about restarting the blogging process for some time now--since about April, if you must know--but I haven't had the fodder, both actual and intellectual, with which to do so. One year ago, I signed a contract with the Palm Beach County School District and began teaching high school drama. One year ago, I left the kitchen with the intent to reenter it every so often. One year ago, I sold my soul to my students and the drama department and baked exactly three times, and never anything of consequence. Now, don't get my wrong: I love those kids. There was a lot of good that came out of my experience being a teacher...We put on three incredible shows, won several awards at both District X and State Thespian competition, and we even won a Cappie (check for Best Featured Actress in the nominee list; they haven't updated their site yet)! One of the toughest parts about my being a teacher was the age gap (or lack thereof) between myself and the students. Several of them have known me since time immemorial, when I was a summer camp counselor, or else they went to elementary school with one of my sisters (etc). I had to navigate the difficult line between friend and authority figure, often failing to establish the authority part. It's hard enough, as a teacher, to gain the respect of your students without being 3 years older than they are. So there's that. But I am terribly proud of them and their accomplishments, and I am going to miss them a lot. I am not, however, going to miss the headache given me by the school and the county and the bureaucracy that feeds on teachers' time and energy. I honestly don't understand why the schools in South Florida are run they way they are. Students and teachers have to put up with incessant standardized testing--so that means that teachers have tons of extra meetings, paperwork, outside training, and lesson plan restructuring all dedicated to middle-of-the-road directed multiple choice questions. On top of that, the arts are given the fuzzy end of the lollipop** because they're "unnecessary." The arts are the icing on a cake that, according to the bakers, tastes just fine without icing. The arts are the dumping grounds for the over-full Phys. Ed. classes and filled with problem students because the Hallmark channel tells administrators that the arts "do problem children good." Drama especially. Apparently it's not a real craft, it's just a place to play improv games filled with sexual innuendo and stereotypes. Even worse, the school only hired one person to run the entire drama department. So not only was I teaching 5 classes and writing all of the lesson plans (since none had been left behind, and I was not trained in Drama education--I just held the certificate having passed the ridiculously easy drama certification exam), I was running a theatre company, from production to direction to publicity to design. The kids tried to help, but trust me, both they and I had no idea what we were doing. I learned the whole process on my feet...Now, having learned what I did through trial and error this year, I am confident that, if asked, I could run an entire theatre company on my own. I learned more about the process than any intern ever could--in fact, I'm almost grateful for the headaches and mistakes, because they've forced me to become a professional. Unfortunately, because I was so overtaxed and pulled in so many directions, I didn't get to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish in the classroom. I know that there was a lot more that I could have given my students in the way of theatre education--I almost feel guilty, because I know that they got gypped out of a lot because I was busy having a breakdown in the office when the choreographer didn't show up or the tickets weren't selling or the power was out on the night of[...]

Le Sigh


I miss baking.

Somehow, SAT prep training, substitute teacher training, and writing 5 curricula are not conducive to kitchen inventiveness.

I'll be back soon. I hope.


Boca and Birthdays


It's official--my final grades are in (straight As) and my degree status is certified (Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude). I've moved in with my father, and I'm already working my tail off to get ready for teaching drama next year.

Despite the chaos of moving and working, I've managed to get a little baking in--specifically, a custom birthday cake for my cousin. I spent all morning in the kitchen yesterday, making a four-layer cinnamon buttercream cake with marshmallow fondant, and it was completely worth dyeing my fingers purple. With help from my amazing cake decorating book and advice culled from the brilliant minds of the Daring Bakers who have left me feedback, my cake turned out beautifully. I know I'm no Ace of Cakes, but I'm pretty happy with how the cake turned out--as was my cousin! I'm so happy I could help her celebrate her sweet 16 with a fun and tasty cake. I really hope that I'll be able to bake in this upcoming year, what with running the theatre and teaching classes all day....

Kiky's 16th Birthday Cake



le sigh,


Pretending to Be a Grown-Up is Hard...


Once again, I apologize for the lack of updates. I feel like this blog has just been one giant excuse: "Sorry I don't have any pictures for you, but..." I swear I've been baking. I just haven't had a chance to a) bake anything new or b) take pictures of the things I've baked.

After the show ended, I spent the next week settling in (mentally) to my new job. Yes, friends, I have been asked to take over the Olympic Heights High School drama department next year. I am so honored to have been given such incredible responsibility--and to know that I've earned the trust and respect of a wonderful faculty and administration. Needless to say, however, with great responsibility comes great panic attacks.

So I'm getting next year ready now. I've been trying to write curricula for the 4 different classes I will be teaching, picking the fall play and the spring musical, and putting together materials for the Thespian competition. Speaking of which, my amazing sister is starring in her high school's production of Little Shop of Horrors on the main stage at this year's State Thespian competition. I'm pretty proud of that kid--she's off to college this summer, and I'm praying that she'll consider the B.F.A. program, because she is damn talented. (I hope you're reading this, Ari!)

Anyway. So I've been working my tail off to get my stuff together and ready for next year--and even next week, because I'm moving back home tomorrow after graduation, and I'll be skulking around the school, trying to get my feet wet before the semester ends.*

Speaking of which: graduation.

I am not ready for that one. I have only been in college for three years--and only here at the University of Florida for one. I went to pick up my honor cords today, and it's official: I'm summa cum laude. 4.0. I still don't think I've actually learned anything, but hey. I'm out of here. I don't know if I can deal with that.

In any case, I'm going to spend my last night here with my friends, eating Better Than Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffeecake Muffins and pretending that I don't have to say goodbye.

I'll be back in the kitchen--my dad's kitchen--on Monday.


*By the way, I'm not Kay anymore...My students have to call me Ms. P. That's gonna be weird. Gee Whiz. I'm not sure how I feel about this "being a grown up" thing.

Cheesecake and Standing O's--A Week of Insanity


It's finally over...and I'm not sure it's hit me yet. Where the Bee Sucks, or Christopher Marlowe is Dead was one of the best experiences of my life. It's so strange to see the words that I wrote on paper--words that I labored over, fretted about, changed, rhymed, and manipulated--were really brought to life in front of an audience. And not only were they brought to life, but they were brought to life convincingly--my actors did such an absolutely incredible job, and I couldn't have asked for a better director or stage manager. I can't stop gushing. I'll post a link to photographs as soon as I have them uploaded to my computer. Now on to the reason for this post being here so early in the morning: The April Daring Bakers challenge. I have no idea how I managed to muster up the time or the energy to complete it, but here goes: Cheesecake Pops. I was a little apprehensive about making these, mainly because the recipe called for five 8 oz packages of cream cheese--and in today's economic climate, well...and then there was also the water bath and the incredibly long cook time (especially since I usually had about 1 hour or less between each of my comings and goings in the past month). But somehow, I managed. These cheesecake pops are made by preparing an actual cheesecake and then scooping out 2 oz balls, putting them on lollipop sticks, and then dipping them in tempered chocolate and various toppings (which were left to our respective discretions). I went with a plain cheesecake (no fancy flavorings) and graham cracker and sprinkle toppings. The cheesecake was a little bit difficult to make, and, like many of the other DBers, I had a very long bake time. For some reason, the middle of the cake took forever to bake, while the sides browned nicely. I had a little extra batter left over because I only have a 9" cake pan, so I poured the remaining batter into my mini muffin pan and baked it in an impromptu water bath made from one of my cookie sheets. Those minis cooked perfectly. Duly noted for next time. While I'm sure the cheesecake pops are great for gifts or party favors, I didn't even get a chance to stand them up and make them look all pretty--they were eaten straight out of the refrigerator by my roommates and friends. Apparently, they taste incredible. The only real problem I had with them was getting them not to melt and fall off of the lollipop sticks. Here in Florida, it's too darn humid to keep them out of the fridge for more than a couple of minutes. Fortunately, they didn't last long enough to melt. Daring Bakers: Cheesecake PopsOh...and I baked my cast and crew a cake, using the amazing cake decorating book from Tartlette as inspiration: Where Have All the Honeybees Gone Cake(Yellow Cake with Strawberry Whipped Cream filling, Butter Cream Frosting, and Marshmallow Fondant)I miss the theatre already. Oh! and one last thing: I was published in the Mangrove Literary Review here at UF. It's just a poem, but I'm still excited that someone thought it was good enough to publish. What a week!Kay[...]

Where the Bee Sucks


Once again, I am *SO* sorry for the lack of updates in the past few days. While I have been baking, it's usually done in the two or three seconds I have available to me between trips to the theatre building.

Tonight is the opening of my first full-length play, "Where the Bee Sucks, or Christopher Marlowe is Dead." I have been privileged enough to work with an amazing director, cast, and crew, and now, the baby that we've raised from it's first workshop reading is about to stand on its own two feet. Needless to say, I've been having a panic attack since last week.

I just wanted to share, since I cannot share any cookies today, a trailer that I made to advertise for my play. Enjoy!
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All right, I'm off to get the day started...and to try not to think about the fact that my play starts in less than 12 hours...


Tasty, Healthy AND Kosher for Passover!?


Somehow, April is almost over, and Passover is just about here. I figured that, since I have some friends who like to keep kosher for Passover, I should try to find a way to make Kay's Cookies kosher so they can continue to enjoy them this weekend. In that same vein, my mother has been nudging me to make a healthy cookie, especially if it's one that my brother, who has an oat allergy, can eat.


The other day, I saw that Heidi of 101 Cookbooks had posted a recipe for Black Bean Brownies. I did a double take. Black beans in a brownie? Believe it or not, yes. I used her recipe (but, as usual, with a few artful tweaks by yours truly) and they were amazing. The most fabulous part about these brownies is that they're made without flour OR sugar. Sure, there's a sugar substitute, but it's actually quite quirky: Agave nectar. I found some at Mother Earth, and I'm kind of excited to see what else I can do with it in the future.

As for the un-oatmeal oatmeal cookie, I think I hit the jackpot on my first try. While searching for the agave nectar at Mother Earth, I stumbled upon a box of Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) flakes. Quinoa is not only gluten-free, but it's also kosher for passover. I made a basic oatmeal cookie, but substituted quinoa meal for all-purpose flour and quinoa flakes for the oatmeal. ...And then I added melted semi-sweet chocolate...AND cocoa powder.

I'm so happy the way they turned out:

Black Bean Brownies and Double Chocolate Quinoa Cookies

I'm still hoping that there will be time to try making some coconut macaroons before Passover, but starting tomorrow at 3 pm, I will be setting up camp in the Black Box theatre. Speaking of which, if you're in Gainesville (or its surrounding environs) and want to come and see my play, "Where the Bee Sucks, or Christopher Marlowe is Dead," then you should probably head on over to the Florida Players website and reserve your *FREE* tickets. My show is on Wednesday, April 23rd at 8 pm and Saturday, April 26th at 12 pm.

I'm so excited!


Cookies in the Sun!


Hello hello! I do apologize for the lack of updates. I've been baking like a fiend, but I have barely had a second to post about said baking due to the crazy that is life before tech week. My play opens one week from today, and tech begins on Friday, so I'm basically selling my soul to the theatre until then.


I did want to share a piece of wonderful news: Kay's Cookies is in today's edition of the Gainesville Sun! You can click HERE to read the article.

This has been a very good week.


PS I have some crazy cookies in the works, so hopefully I'll be able to try them out in the very very near future!

Pick Me Up and Drop Me...


I apologize for the lack of updates over the past week; this has been a ridiculously busy and emotionally overwhelming couple of days for me. Suffice it to say that, after a trip back to South Florida to see my incredibly talented younger sister's musical and to sort out my life, I am back in Gainesville and officially finished with my undergraduate career. That's right: I turned in my thesis today. It's over. Now that things are falling into place in terms of my future employment and my monetary and living situations, I'm starting to realize that I graduate in three weeks. That's it. Only three weeks left until I officially have no more excuses. This is the real world, baby. The worst part about the whole "graduation" thing is that I have to leave my friends. So I've been a little down in the dumps about that. I've been needing a pick me up. And what better pick me up is there than tiramisu? Tiramisu is a lovely little dessert, the origin of whose name is derived from the Italian for "pick me up." I went out and bought myself some mascarpone cheese and decided to use kahlua and espresso instead of brandy or Marsala wine. And then I made a cookie. The actual dessert is a combination of ladyfingers soaked in an espresso syrup and covered in layers of mascarpone cheese filling, shaved chocolate, and cocoa powder. So I had to do a bit of maneuvering to make the tiramisu cookie taste just right. I substituted a kahlua-caramel sauce (which I made up) for some of the sugar in my basic sugar cookie recipe, to imitate the taste of a ladyfinger soaked in espresso syrup. Then I put the cookie dough into muffin tins and filled the dough with a mascarpone and kahlua filling as well as two semi-sweet chocolate chips.Then I covered the cookie with another layer of cookie dough and dusted the tops with cocoa powder. The result was pure yumminess. I am so happy that these came out well...they were a complete experiment, and I pulled the recipe completely out of the air. But when I took them to my friend's house last night, they disappeared in a blink of an eye. So I'm happy with that. Talk about a pick me up!Tiramisu CookiesNow, this is a little belated, but I'm slowly catching up with my posting, so: The other night, my friend asked me to make him some savory drop biscuits. I'm not averse to making savory foods, but I'm much more into baking diabetes-inducing sweets. So this request was a bit of a challenge. But I am not one to turn down a friend's request, so I went on a quest for the perfect Bacon Cheddar Drop Biscuit. After reading through several different recipes, I couldn't find one that seemed to do the drop biscuit justice. So I tinkered for a bit, combining recipes, changing measurements, and dicing bacon into little, drop-able pieces, until I got a moist, tasty, savory drop biscuit. The house smelled incredible when they came out of the oven...My friend gave 'em two thumbs up--although I, being a semi-vegetarian am not going to be trying them out any time soon! Maybe a regular drop biscuit will be in order in the next few days...mmmm.Bacon Cheddar Drop BiscuitsAlrighty then. I'm off to use up some tiramisu filling before rehearsal...Kay[...]

Another Heads Up:


The Bread Baking Day Celebration Breads round-up is posted. Check out all of the delicious spring-y celebration breads there!

[EDIT]: Also, the Strawberry Seduction Round-up is up now too! Check it out!

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes


Have you ever watched another human being actually melt? I did, this past Tuesday.

I don't know how the gods managed to align the stars the way they did, but on Monday, I decided that I wanted to make molten chocolate lava cakes and on Tuesday, the Tuesdays with Dorie group decided to make Dorie Greenspan's version. So I had a recipe sitting in front of me, taunting me not to try it.

Of course I did try the recipe, although, me being me, I had to tweak it. And, oh boy, what a tweak. I ended up with these absolutely incredibly gooey mounds of death by chocolate.

So I brought them over to my friend's house, along with a batch of freshly baked Brownie Batter Cookies. The night before, he and I had discussed the possibility of death by chocolate, and how that would be the best way to go. So we decided to test the hypothesis. He ate about 8 cookies and chased them with a glass of chocolate milk. And then the cake. His reaction after the first bite was incredible. I was tempted to call the paramedics.

So, basically what I'm saying is: I'm definitely making these cakes again.
And I'm keeping Shands on standby when I do.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes




(PS a direct quote after the first bite of the cake: "Oh my god. It's almost better than sex!" And that, my friends, is that.)

Cookies and Amazing-ness


First and foremost, before I do or say anything else, I need to send a HUGE thank you to Tartlette for being so absolutely wonderful. I opened up my mail this afternoon and sitting there was a cake decorating book, which I am SO excited to use. Have I mentioned lately how amazing this foodie blogger community is? Because I am meeting so many lovely, wonderful, supportive people. Thank you thank you thank you!Secondly, my chocolate graham cracker strawberry cream pie cupcakes were featured in this week's cupcake collection at All Things Cupcake, which was a really pleasant surprise. Now, onto the cookies: Two days ago, I realized that I had a bag of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips in my refrigerator. I didn't just want to do any old thing with them, so I went to Publix in search of something special. I ended up with a bunch of blueberries and a box of Lipton's Blueberry and Pomegranate White Tea. Thus were born the Blue and White Tea Cookies. For some reason, the blueberry ended up making them incredibly moist, and I also ended up using a little too much baking soda (a fact to be remedied in the next batch), so they're a little chewy. But the reception for them has still been quite good. One of my friends got his hands on them after rehearsal and couldn't stop eating them. "They're like muffin cookies!" he exclaimed. Blue and White Tea CookiesI have to admit something: I think I'm obsessed with baking with chocolate. I love it. I don't know why. But yesterday's experiment was an experiment in chocolate madness. I'm actually dedicating these to Shannon, who is playing the lead role in my play (which opens in 22 days!!!). We were having a conversation the other day about our favorite desserts (because, when I'm not baking, I'm talking about baking), and she mentioned that she had a terrible weakness for brownie batter. I agreed, but confessed a fear that eating any sort of eggy batter might be grounds for salmonella.So I decided to fix the problem. I decided on Brownie Batter Cookies. This cookie is a variation of my basic sugar cookie, saturated in cocoa powder. Where's the brownie batter, you ask? I decided to make an eggless brownie batter, minus the baking soda and salt. I filled my cupcake decorator with the batter and fitted it with a Bismarck tip so I could fill the warn cookies with the gooey brownie mix. Heaven in a cookie? You bet your rear end it's heaven. Brownie Batter CookiesSo that's that. I'm gonna go bury my nose in my new cake decorating book! I can't wait to give it a try!Kay[...]

Daring Bakers March Challenge: Dorie's Perfect Party Cake


Ahhh, Daring Bakers, how I love thee. This month's challenge was a recipe from Dorie Greenspan, the "Perfect Party Cake." This cake is light, fluffy, and perfect for embellishment with berries and buttercream. It is made with lemon zest and a little bit of buttermilk, so there's a nice tangy undertone, which only enhances the sugary goodness of the whole cake.

I am still working on being a cake decorator. As it stands, I'm decidedly not going to be, say, featured on Ace of Cakes any time in the near future. I can decorate a mean cookie, but when it comes to cakes, I freeze up. I'm working on it though. So my cake, which was filled with raspberry preserves and swiss buttercream, and topped with buttercream, gum paste flowers, and fondant bunnies, is a little sloppy looking. I love love love the Daring Bakers, though, because I posted about my difficulties, and I got all kinds of advice and support. So the next cake is gonna be awesome:




I actually spent Spring Break planning this cake. I made the gum paste flowers on Tuesday, the bunnies on Friday, and the cake that Sunday. I brought it in to rehearsal for my actors that Monday--and it was a hit. I highly recommend checking out all of Dorie's recipes--there's group of bakers who do "Tuesdays With Dorie," where they bake a different recipe and post about their experiences with it every Tuesday. It's kind of awesome.

Anywho, I'm off to finish editing my thesis...more soon!


Coffee a Cookie.


I thought I couldn't top the last cookie. But I think this one (almost) literally takes the cake.

I didn't have much on hand yesterday, but I had the itch to bake a batch of somethings. So bake a batch of somethings I did. I remembered that a friend of mine happened to be a huge fan of crumb cake, and that he'd been having kind of a bad week. It seemed the only thing to do was bake some crumb cake-like cookies. My only problem was how to get the crumb cake part on the cookie. With my red velvets and boston cream pies, I fill the insides with the frosting. With the strawberry shortcakes, I fill the insides but sort of work the strawberry cream throughout. But a crumb cake is topped with a mixture of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and all purpose flour. If I filled a cookie with that, it would just bake into the cookie, all uneven and fairly awkwardly. If I just put a crumble on the top after the cookies baked, it would all fall off. Not my idea of a good cookie.

So I decided on coffee cake. More specifically, coffee buttercream frosting, which would allow me to press a crumb cake-like topping onto the cookie, which would keep the insides awkward-free and the tops attached. So I took my basic cookie recipe and quadrupled the brown sugar, took down some of the white, and added a little bit of espresso for taste. I didn't have my usual buttercream recipe with me in the kitchen, so I improvised. Oh Oh OH my god. It's SO good. (Related anecdote: I came home after rehearsal last night, and my roommate asked me, "Kay, what is that stuff you have in the fridge." I replied, "Leftover Coffee Buttercream Frosting, why?" Quoth she, "I hope you don't mind, but I tasted it. And then took a big spoonful. It's amazing.")

I went through two batches of these last night. Two! And both times they just...disappeared. I'm SO happy with these. I love when mad experiments work out right. I love baking cookies. And most of all, I love sharing them with my friends. When they're smiling, so am I.

Baking could easily be a religion. I think it might actually be mine. After all, pure vanilla extract is the ultimate Good.

Here's a (visual) taste of the Coffee Cake Cookie:



Just a Heads Up...


The Novel Food Round Up has been posted! Go check it out!

Adventures in Marshmallow Fondant...


I have so much whipped strawberry pastry cream in my refrigerator. I don't know what to do with it! I made it for the strawberry shortcake cookies and used maybe three tablespoons tops. I could make about 20 more batches if I wanted to. Now that I'm finished with my thesis, I'm feeling a little purposeless. Yes, I've been making phone calls and finalizing plans for my post-graduate life, but there are still large chunks of time, where all I can think to do is to kick my roommates out of the kitchen and just bake. I had some homemade marshmallow fondant in the fridge from an experiment last weekend, as well as the aforementioned whipped cream, and so it seemed that the obvious thing to do was to make (Chocolate) Strawberry Cream Pie Cupcakes. And since strawberry pies usually have graham cracker pie crusts, I had to make graham cracker cupcakes. With lots and lots of cocoa powder. The fun thing about these cupcakes (one of the many) is that I substituted finely crushed graham cracker crumbs for the majority of the flour. There was a fairly protracted baking time, at least in terms of cupcakes, but so worth it. Besides, I wasn't in a rush.Once the little lovely cupcakes had cooled, I cut out the centers and filled them with that whipped pastry cream, which, might I add, is thick with pieces of fresh strawberry and fresh strawberry juice: Yummy. So I still had some fondant that needed to be molded into something happy, and, since it's finally spring here and Easter is on its way, I decided to be corny and make happy little Easter bunnies. My roommates came home from class and found me on my knees, pressed against the counter, adding details to the bunny faces with a toothpick. I think they think I'm nuts. Fortunately, they're right. And the bunnies came out well. Then I realized that the bunnies needed some grass in which to hide their fondant eggs, so I had to make a stiff butter cream frosting and dye it green. For grass. The result was great. I'm not a decorator by ANY means...but I'm really proud of these really happy spring cupcakes. (Chocolate) Strawberry Cream Pie CupcakesAnd the best part about all of this? My long-lost friend Nina came to visit Gainesville last night, and the bunnies were there to mark the occasion! I'm submitting these guys for the Spring Funny Cuppy we'll see how that goes!Kay[...]

Best Recipes....EVER.


I cannot even begin to describe how good the two recipes you are about to read taste. Really. So, let's start with yesterday's cupcakes, which I made for this month's Cupcake Hero contest. As soon as I heard that this month's special ingredient was marshmallow, my mind began to whir. I had no desire to do a rocky road or some sort of spring themed marshmallow-y cupcake. I wanted to do something different. And then I thought,"What flavors go well with marshmallow?" The answer? sweet potato. The result of an afternoon of experimenting in my kitchen was an extremely sticky, absolutely sinful, spiced Sweet Potato Cupcake with Marshmallow Creme Filling. Oh god. The responses from my friends ranged from "Oh my god, this is by far your best recipe ever" to contented silence because their mouths were full of cupcake. I'm SO happy with this one. The marshmallow creme was a pain in the rear end to work with, but the end result was worth the sticky hands and the insane clean up. Say hello to my sticky little friends...Today's kitchen adventure was even more rewarding than yesterday's, and that's saying something. I finished the first draft of my thesis at 3:30 this afternoon--and I was in the need of a little catharsis. I ran to my kitchen and flung open the refrigerator door. I was confronted by a carton of strawberries, which were so gorgeous and ripe and waiting to be baked into a cookie. Thus was the Strawberry Shortcake Cookie born. A regular strawberry shortcake is made by putting whipped cream and fresh strawberries between a pastry or a scone. My cookie is a very soft sugar cookie filled with a whipped pastry cream and fresh strawberries. I had a hell of a time making the whipped cream, mainly because I don't have a mixer and have to whip the cream by hand. But it was so worth the effort. When I brought the cookies to rehearsal this evening, I watched my friends' eyes grow big and bright as they took their first bites. These are the best cookies I've made to date, I think. And I still have a ton of whipped cream left. I'm thinking that I'll have to make at least another batch. At least. Strawberry cookies forever!I'm contributing these amazing little morsels of strawberry goodness to the Strawberry Seduction roundup. Check it out after April 4th!I'm so happy with these two recipes. Now the question is: will I be able to top them? Kay[...]

Luck 'O' The Irish...


[EDIT]: BY THE WAY: Check out my head shot photography page. It has been updated! Now, on to your regularly scheduled posting. [/EDIT]

I honestly thought about going for the cliché and baking green cookies. I managed to quell the urge, however. Instead, I went for the next best thing: more beer bread!

Now, here's the thing about beer bread: while the basic recipe is always the same, with every new beer you add to the main ingredients, you change the taste and texture, sometimes entirely. As you might remember, I did make beer bread for Super Bowl Sunday--two different loaves, actually: Black Lager and Honey Porter. I remember the Lager being distinctly better than the Porter, at least as per my roommates and their friends' between-play comments.

But for St. Patrick's Day, I decided to add a little cliché to my non-green bread: Guinness. Oh my gosh, the smell that pervaded my house as it baked....mmmmmmmm. I brought the loaf to my rehearsal, and it was gone within minutes. The bread was so rich and flavorful, I can hardly imagine using any other beer ever again. I don't know how well it keeps that amazing, moist goodness, as even the second batch (baked at the request of my friends) barely lasted more than 20 minutes, but I can only assume.

This bread is definitely worth every second of its long bake time. And, it is quite possibly, the best way to add a little Irish to your St. Patrick's Day.

Guinness Bread




Now, how to do easter without falling into the usual bunny-and-eggs clichés....?


P.S. I'm taking part in this month's BreadBakingDay, which you can read about here. Yay for March celebration breads!