Get jazzed. There is a healthily Pinteresting post coming your way next week. Look how those non pareils pop! Happy birthday, Waynes.
life as an aspiring amateur
These pots are a product of exhaustion. Sometimes I plan to bake something and then have some extra ingreds to use up, which is a problem because of my natured and nutured sense of frugality. My thought process is like this:
“Oh, I’ll just do one more thing. I’ve really wanted to try this recipe again. Dang, now I will have an extra egg yolk? Heaven knows I don’t want to be wasteful and throw it away…what’s a girl to do with egg yolks? Pastry cream! But I need two. Ok, now I have an extra egg white! What to do with…ok, frosting, obviously. This recipe split last time I tried it. I think the kitchen was too warm. Or I overbeat it, one of the two. Might as well try my hand at two different flavors while I’m at it. I like Oreos. Ok perfect.”
And thus, a two-hour baking project turns into a day-long baking frenzy, the end of which results in zero self-control, eight cookies and that nauseous feeling you get after “taste-testing” the thirty kinds of frosting you’ve just made.
I don’t remember what these even tasted like, but their praises were sung by all those who partook in their rich, creamy depths. I made the portions small, because heaven knows eating frosting and pastry cream with a spoon should only be done in the smallest of doses.
Grasshopper Oreo Pots
An LH original
Oreo Pastry Cream
Inspired by Serious Eats
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 package of Oreo cookies, maybe 15?
Set out a large bowl over an ice bath. Pulse up the Oreo cookies in a food processor until you have both fine and large chunks.
In a small saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, salt and milk. Stir frequently and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the pudding is thick with slow bubbles breaking the surface (about 2 minutes). Remove from the heat and pour immediately into a large bowl. Whisk in the vanilla. Set the bowl over the ice bath and whisk frequently to cool to room temperature, which should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Stir in about half of the Oreo crumbles to the pastry cream, using the finer crumbles and reserving the larger chunks for a garnish. Transfer into six small ramekins and refrigerate while you make the buttercream.
Note: The pastry cream can be made in advance, but make sure to put some cling film on top of the cream to prevent a skin forming.
Adapted from The Great British Bakeoff
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
85 grams white sugar or caster sugar
150 grams (or 1 1/2 sticks, 12 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon creme de menthe, to taste
1 teaspoon creme de cacao, to taste
Put the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat briefly to combine.
In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar with 4 tablespoons of water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When the sugar is dissolved, heat the sugar water until it boils. Using a candy thermometer, wait until the mixture has reached 225 degrees F; you shouldn’t need to stir it. Make sure the mixture does not start to caramelize.
With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the eggs, letting the syrup run down the side of the bowl in a thin, steady stream. Continue to beat the mixture until it is pale and mousse-like and completely cold.
At this point, start adding the butter, one tablespoon at a time and whipping until incorporated before adding another tablespoon. Whip until fluffy, then beat in the creme de menthe and creme de cacao.
To assemble the pots, pipe a swirl of buttercream over top of the chilled pastry cream and garnish with the reserved Oreo crumbles. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
So I brought these to work, right? And I set them in their usual place of glory–the centrally-located filing cabinet space by the two fellas in my division. I mean, this positioning spares me some lectures from the ladies. (Ok, they don’t chastise me when I bring in treats, but we are just all so very, very aware that boys can handle eating mass amounts of treats and work a desk job without any adverse effects. Thus, the treats land there.)
But before I brought these bars over, I walked past another dude from a different division. It’s a long hallway, and though there weren’t too many bars, I thought it would be rude to wave a plate of fabulous treats under his face and not offer him any, so I asked him if he wanted one.
As he reached for the plate, he asked, “What are these?”
I replied, “Chocolatechipcookiedough-stuffedRiceKrispiebars.”
Quick as a wink, he jerked his hand back from the plate.
Taken aback, I was like, “Dude, what’s up? Is that the worst thing you’ve ever heard of?”
And he said, “Wait, say that again. What are these? They had such a long name, I was worried that they were something weird.”
And I was just amused. It’s just not the usual reaction people have to baked goods. What do these look like, chocolate covered scorpions? Glazed eel ovum? He seriously jerked away like they were going to bite. So scared of Rice Krispie bars, one of the most classically delicious treats out there.
And these bars just happen to be stuffed with marshmallows and cookie dough, a few other innocuously delectable American delicacies.
You know you are going to make these tonight. Come on. So easy and fairly harmless compared to white chocolate cheesecakes. Like the Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies I made once, these were a bit sweet for me, but they’re worth a shot as an easy weeknight treat.
Cookie Dough-Stuffed Rice Krispie Treats
Inspired by averie cooks
For the cookie dough:
4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1/8 cup coconut oil*
1/8 cup vegetable shortening*
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
* You can really use whatever fat you like, as long as you have 3/4 cup worth. So you could use all butter, all coconut oil, or all shortening, but there will be flavor differences for sure.
**This batch makes enough to stuff the bars and have some leftover for cookies, which is why I included an egg. If you’re worried about eating raw cookie dough, try a vegan version, like this one.
Melt the coconut oil and shortening in a microwave safe bowl, and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together, then add in the melted oil, stirring until well-mixed. Beat in the in egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Dump all of the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips into the bowl and stir together until dough forms. Make sure to beat this pretty well to distribute everything if you don’t sift the dry ingredients together. Stir in chocolate chips. Stick this in the fridge to chill.
For the bars:
1 10 ounce bag of marshamallows + 1 cup mini marshmallows, reserved
4 tablespoons butter
5 1/2 cups Rice Krispies or other rice cereal
Melt the butter in a large pot of over medium heat. Add the marshmallows (not the mini marshamallows), stirring often until the butter and marshmallows are melted and combined. Remove from the heat and add the rice cereal, stirring until well-combined.
Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick spray. Press half of the rice cereal mixture into the pan using a spatula sprayed with non-stick spray. (Mine only took up aabout 2/3 of the pan, but try to spread it out–my bars were a little thick.)
Remove the chilled cookie dough from the fridge and sprinkle decent-sized chunks all over the cereal layer. Sprinkle the mini marshmallows over the first layer as well. Take the remaining cereal mixture and spread that over the dough layer, pressing it down firmly. The “firmly” part of this is key, otherwise your bars will break apart.
Let cool, then cut into bars.
I was looking through my drive the other day and came across this photo. How the ha-eck did I edit this? I forgot, and now I’m frustrated because I want to edit all my photos this way. It’s dreamy.
But hey, I guess this makes it, like, true art, or something? I can’t ever go back and recreate it. It is inimitable. Original.
I just keep saying words, sorry. Enjoy these flowers.
Pavlova. Pavlooooooova. Named for Anna Pavlova, the famed Russian ballet dancer, after her tour to New Zealand in the 1920s. I learned this from Wikipedia.
The world’s largest pavlova, named ‘Pavkong,’ was made by some New Zealand students in 2005. Prior to this, the record for the largest pavlova was held by New Zealand’s national museum. It was named ‘Pavzilla.’
I didn’t go for the world record of largest pavlova (the most original names had already been taken), but I did create a mini version in addition to a regular-sized one to show you the technique of filling the meringue. And by “technique,” I mean “plopping some instant pudding and blueberries on top of a cookie.”
Sounds simple (it is), but the end result is a beautifully rustic dessert, that ends ups being really light. The fillings and flavors are endless. If you wanted something lighter, you could go with whipped cream and fresh fruit as a filling, which is a bit more classic.
This dessert is a celebration of eggs, clearly. They are the main ingredient, and with that yellow pudding thrown on top, it looks just like a deviled egg. Luckily, it doesn’t taste like a deviled egg. I mean, deviled eggs are scrumptious, don’t get me wrong; it’s just that if you tell someone, “Hey, try this blueberry lemon almond pavlova,” they will probably be expecting a flavor profile somewhere on the sweeter side of things. You don’t want to be accused of false advertising now, do you?
I thought blueberry and almond would be a nice complement to the lemon pudding, so I tried my hand at making a blueberry sauce. The sauce is akin to the blueberry syrup stuff you get at Perkins, uber-sweet, but alright for its function as pancake-dresser. I’ll go with fresh blueberries next time to balance the sweetness.
Blueberry Lemon Almond Pavlova
An LH original
For the pavlova:
6 egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups white sugar or caster sugar
pinch cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
scant 1/4 teaspoon almond oil or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, to taste
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment, and draw a circle about a foot in diameter on the parchment.
Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy, then gradually add the sugar. GRADUALLY. Let the mixture beat for 30 seconds to a minute after each tablespoon. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Beat in the cornstarch and salt, then fold in the almond oil.
Mound the meringue in the middle of the baking sheet, keeping inside the drawn circle. Smooth it out however you want; the meringue won’t spread out or change shape.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours, checking at 1 hour. The pavlova is done when it moves easily on the baking sheet. (Mine didn’t exactly), but I took it out anyway. It was fine. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet. Transfer to a serving plate.
For the lemon pudding:
Dig a box of off-brand instant lemon pudding out of your cupboard. Follow package directions and refrigerate. You’ll need 2 cups of milk.
For the blueberry sauce:
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon almond extract, to taste
Bring the blueberries, water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with a couple tablespoons of water. Add the cornstarch to the blueberries and cook until the sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Let cool, then refrigerate.
For the candied almond garnish:
Chuck 2 ounces sliced almonds, 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small frying pan. Boil until the water is gone and the almonds look shiny. Transfer to a sheet of waxed paper or parchment, breaking up the pieces. Let cool.
Note: I didn’t like this method; the almonds were chewy instead of crunchy. Try something else. Just Google it. There are way better ways to candy almonds.
To assemble the pavlova:
Move the pavlova from the baking sheet to a serving platter. Top first with the lemon pudding, then with the blueberry sauce, letting the sauce run down the sides of the pavlova. Garnish with candied almonds. To serve, dig in. There is no clean way to do this.
I couldn’t help it. I threw everything in my heart and cupboard into these cookies, and then I underbaked these by a mile. And I would do so again in an instant without regret. Because they were so happily fattily satisfying. Happily fattily, happily fattily. New favorite phrase. Just try it. You’ll like it. It reminds me of this song. Caroling, caroling.
If I did these again, I would have included more coconut and oats, which got lost, texturally-speaking. You could try doubling the amounts below on them. I also used Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips. Normally, I don’t fuss about using high quality chocolate, but oh my, these chips are fat and taste so much better than cheap chips. Cheap chips, cheap chips.
Since I’m clearly into word-smithing today, I spent a few minutes rooting around for a baking-inspired poem to share with you, but, as with many poems I have read, I was too gagged-out by all the waxing on about failed relationships, so I couldn’t find anything really profound or great. Who knew that the search term “poems about baking” would yield such sappy drivel? A total misuse of all baking words ever.
Instead, I give you this short piece about cookies. Pay particular attention to the end of the first stanza. “Homemade is boss.” A great thinker of our time?
Coconut Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Inspired by averie cooks
Makes about 18 cookies
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup coconut oil, softened in the microwave for 8 seconds
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup quick oats
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
Cream together the sugar, oil and egg in a stand mixer for about three minutes. Scrape down the bowl, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt, and mix until just combined, then stir in the oats, coconut and chocolate chips.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and stick in the freezer while the oven preheats. Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop out 18 cookies, baking about 9 at a time on a parchment lined sheet. Bake for 7-10 minutes (I left mine on the softer side at 7.). Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Best served in rhyme.
It’s almost time for endless flowers and insects. Today is such a good day! Just think about it!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.