Trying all the Robicellis Flavors

I am on a quest to try every Robicellis Flavor that exists. This may mean talking Matt and Allison into making discontinued flavors for me! If I can get 45 other crazy people together, we can special order these flavors (while in season). Anyone care to join me?

The following are flavors that I have not tried yet, and notes are in parenthesis.

Sweet Potato Casserole: Sweet potato cake, toasted marshmallow buttercream, turbinado sugar (Thanksgiving 2011)

Chocolate Merlot: Chocolate merlot cake and buttercream, merlot reduction, fresh black pepper (Appearing November 30)

(Appearing December 9th)
NEW! Port Poached Pear: Pear cake, vanilla buttercream, port poached pears, port reduction
NEW! Gingerbread Man: Gingerbread cake, white chocolate pudding, speculoos buttercream, white chocolate dipped gingerbread man
NEW! Milk & Cookies: Brown sugar chocolate chip cake, mascarpone buttercream, chopped chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate Candy Cane: Chocolate mint cake, peppermint buttercream, crushed candy canes

Chocolate Paneforte: Chocolate cake, mascarpone buttercream, topped with homemade Italian Paneforte (Holiday 2011)

Grasshopper: Mint chocolate chocolate chip cake, mint buttercream, ground chocolate *DISCONTINUED*

Meyer Lemon Cranberry: Lemon-cranberry cake, Meyer lemon buttercream, dried cranberries Meyer lemon curd (Was a special Event cake)

Lemon Blueberry Ricotta: Italian lemon cake, ricotta buttercream, blueberries with lemon zest

Green Tea Mandarin: Green tea-mandarin cake, matcha buttercream, honey glazed mandarins (Chinese New Year)

The Leung: Asian pear-ginger cake, lemon-wasabi buttercream , roasted pear, ginger sugar *DISCONTINUED* (I have asked for this cupcake every time Allison asks for cupcake schedule flavors.)

Apricot Chardonnay: Apricot chardonnay cake, apricot buttercream, chardonnay simmered Turkish apricot

Mango Coconut: Coconut cake, caramelized mango buttercream, roasted coconut

Lime in da Coconut: Coconut-lime cake and buttercream, roasted coconut and lime zest

Salty Dog: Tequila grapefruit cake & buttercream, grapefruit zest and sea salt

Breakfast of Champions: Vanilla cake, salted caramel and espresso buttercream, Liddabit Sweet’s “Breakfast of Champions” Caramel Corn (special Market Flavor)

The Andie: White chocolate cake, fresh strawberry buttercream, white chocolate ganache ***DISCONTINUED***
The Blaine: Rich white vanilla cake, vanilla pudding, vanilla buttercream, edible gold dust *DISCONTINUED*

The IndyFornia: Blueberry swirl cake, “Hoosier Pie” topping (sweet cream buttercream and brown sugar brittle) **DISCONTINUED**
The “Thyme?!?!?! THERE’S NEVER ANY THYME!!!!”: Apricot- Napa Valley chardonnay cake and buttercream accented by fresh thyme

Red, White and Blue: Vanilla cake filled with homemade mixed berry jam, mascarpone buttercream, fresh berries ******4th of July Only!*****

Key Lime Cheesecake: Graham cracker cake, key lime curd, key lime cheesecake buttercream, toasted graham cracker crumbs

Black & White: Vanilla cake, chocolate pudding, chocolate, homemade black and white cookie **DISCONTINUED**

The Saccenti: Fresh fig cake, ricotta buttercream, port wine reduction, tri colored peppercorn*

Banana Split: Banana cake, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla buttercreams, whipped cream, chopped nuts, cookie crumbs, whipped cream, maraschino cherry
Kiwanis: Vanilla cake filled with chopped bananas, walnuts and pastry cream, with mocha buttercream, chocolate dipped strawberry, chocolate dipped cream puff, ganache, roasted walnuts

The Concetta: Polenta-olive oil cake, red grape & balsamic jam, mascarpone & parmesan buttercream, pan roasted balsamic grapes, Maldon sea salt
The Fiesole: Polenta olive oil cake, honey butter, gorgonzola buttercream, roasted hazelnuts

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I think I need a moment

(Title is Actual Quote from today.)

Imagine a food. This is a food that you may enjoy various concoctions and flavors. You might even be a bit experimental.

Then, someone places something in your hand. It looks like this food. It even has the ingredients and components of this food. Yet, when you take a bite, your brain goes:

WHAT THE HELL DID YOU PUT INTO YOUR MOUTH!!!

Your brain knows the components. They even sound good, if slightly on the experimental cutting edge of food.

Celery Root Carrot Cake. Okay, celery root isn’t all that traditional, but carrot cake is pretty good.

Blue Cheese Buttercream. Well, okay, kinda weird, but you had that pear olive oil cake with blue cheese buttercream that was pretty good, so you go for it.

Fried Chicken. Okay, unorthodox, but chicken and waffles is a southern delicacy, and you have even had the chicken ‘n waffle cupcake and it was good.

Citrus Buffalo Sauce. Which they should bottle and sell it was so good. Tangy and spice and I dont even like buffalo sauce.

Put it together? You have a cupcake that defies words, that is the bastard love child of an evil scientist and a high couture pastry chef.*

I give you, the Hot Josh.

“Celery root & carrot cake with Point Reyes blue cheese buttercream and citrus tinged Buffalo chicken.”

You take a bite. Your brain processes the cake. Not to sweet, very moist, very good. You bite into the chicken. Spicy, tangy, good. Yet, somehow, your brain refuses to process the combination of all of the components.

Seriously. My brain rejected this experience.

MY BRAIN DOES NOT COMPREHEND.

I can remember the taste of the buffalo chicken. And I kinda remember the cake. But even though I took several bites of everything together, I have no memory of that flavor.

They blew my brain. How many of you can say that a cupcake (or any food) did the same for you?

Read their post about the Hot Josh at Robicellis.tumblr.com.

*Actually, it is a husband and wife team, and both parties embody both examples. :)

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How to Choose Recipes

I feel that I have been a bit scatterbrained in my approach to picking recipes, and I think this has prevented me from cooking and baking many things. As such, I wanted to formalize a way to choose a recipe, so I stop spending hours searching.

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Bread for Non Bakers

(Sorry for the cell phone picture, as my camera has gone MIA.)

I have written before about my bread failures. And, in my many discussions with other bakers, many are still afraid of bread. (I am still afraid of pie crust, so we all have our fears.) Thus, when I picked up a copy of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, I was intrigued by the recipes for Batter Bread. The recipe is basically “Put things in a bowl, beat for two minutes, let rise for 45 minutes, and bake for 45 minutes.”

I thought this would be an excellent way, if it turned out, to give a basic bread recipe to the masses. We are obsessed with no knead breads, and Artisan Bread in Five gives a great way to have artisan breads at home. Yet, they still take hours, and the longer resting times give a flavor quality to the bread.

This bread recipe is not going to give you artisan quality bread. Artisan Bread comes from high moisture, long rises, and can take several days.

But, this is a great bread to whip up quickly, and to have home baked bread that is tasty and quick.

(Please keep away from cats. My kitten ate a piece of the first loaf before knocking it on the floor.)

Fannie Farmer Batter Bread
Recipe from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book

1 packed of active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp yeast)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) milk, warm.
3 tbsp butter, softened
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour*

If you are using active dry yeast, then put the yeast, butter, and milk into a bowl, and let sit for a few minutes. The milk should be warm but not hot, put a clean finger into it to test the warmness. (I put cold butter and cold milk in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes.) The yeast should bubble up and look slightly foamy and smell like yeast. If you are using instant yeast, then you can skip this step.

Add sugar, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Beat by hand for two minutes, or by stand mixer for one minute. Add the last cup of flour, and beat until combined.

Put batter into a loaf pan. Smooth the top, and slice down the middle with a very sharp knife. Let it stand until it has risen to the top of the pan, about 45 minutes (in my 73 degree kitchen).

Bake the bread at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and turn out onto a towel or rack. For a better loaf, let it cool before cutting into it.

Enjoy!

*While making this recipe, I tried to emulate all of the non bakers that I knew and did the “dip and sweep” method of flour measuring. The first time, I purposefully tried to get extra flour in the batter, and the batter 1) took longer to rise, and 2) took longer to bake. In the second case, I shook the flour bag before dipping, and didn’t try to pack it in. It rose faster.

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“Best Of” Post: Recipes and Analysis

Apparently Cooked flour Frosting is the most popular thing I write about. I attempted a few other versions of it recently, and none have come out right. I found another version today which includes powdered sugar that I may try soon.

Top Five Posts of 2010

  1. Heirloom Cooked Flour Frosting: A unique frosting made from milk, flour, butter, and sugar. Traditional for Red Velvet Cake.
  2. How Many Frostings Are There: I keep adding to this list. And, I keep discovering new frostings every day!
  3. Dulce de Leche Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting. This and my Chocolate Orange Cupcakes are my most requested at parties.
  4. Orange Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Orange Marmalade Frosting. My Cupcake Camp entry, loved by most who tasted it, and Jennifer Appel from Buttercup Bakeshop called them “Amazing.”
  5. Coconut Ginger Brownies with Ginger Salted Caramel Sauce: My Award Winning “Ginger Dessert Bars.”

This year, my personal baking goal is to 1) Find more people to eat my cakes, and 2) attempt to document pictures and video of the various types of frosting. In my extensive cupcake research, the three places that offered non powdered sugar based buttercream also had the best cupcake cake base. (Those three places are the Robicellis (The best cupcakes in the entire world), Molly’s Cupcakes (in Chicago, but opening soon in NYC), and sugar Sweet sunshine.) I find that many people write cupcake recipes that discuss that this or that frosting is the best, but never actually discuss *Why* the frosting is good. I think educating people on *Why* what they are eating tastes like it tastes is a good step.

My professional goals are to 1) GRADUATE! (OMG I am sick of school) and 2) write the business plan for, well, a possible business. If you know me in person, please ask, if not, I am not quite ready to put it out on the internet. :)

What are your baking goals for the year?

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Burger of Awesomeness

Warning: If you are a cardiologist, into healthy eating, dislike bacon and beef, and/or care about your heart being damaged reading about something Really Unhealthy, please do not go further.

Double Decker Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger

A few months ago, while watching television, we kept seeing the commercial for Friendly’s “Grilled Cheese Burgermelt”. I live in Brooklyn, and the closest Friendly’s is in Staten Island. As a non driver, the Friendly’s in Staten Island is hours away, and thus we could not go.

Yet, we wanted this burger. It was a cheeseburger with grilled cheese sandwiches for buns. An unholy awesomeness of cheese, bread, and meat. We vowed that we would make this monstrosity, someday.

I was relating this story to Matt of Robicelli’s fame, and he mentioned bacon. Grilled Bacon and Cheese Sandwiches, and bacon on the burger.

Single Patty Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger

Must. Have.

Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Cheeseburger
Aka: “Burger of Awesomeness”

Makes 4(ish)

Ingredients:
One pound of Thick Cut Bacon
One Pound of Mozzarella, Sliced
One Loaf of White Bread
4-8 Hamburger Patties (depending on if you want single or double patties)

Cook Bacon.
Bacon Grease is Good.
I did half of the bacon in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes, and it was very crispy, just how I like it. We did the other half on the stove for a less crispy texture.

Be sure to save the grease!

Using some of the bacon grease, cook hamburger patties. I suppose you can do it on a grill, but we live in the city, and thus are only allowed to cook on a stove.

Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from the Oven. Make the Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. For four sandwiches, you need Eight grilled cheese sandwiches, which is 16 slices of bread. With half a pound of cheese, this allowed each grilled cheese sandwich to have one slice of cheese, and each burger to have one slice. I buttered the outside of each bread, put one slice of cheese and one slice of bacon inside, and cover with another piece of buttered bread. Ten minutes on the bottom rack of the oven, flipping at five minutes, and we had nice grilled cheese.

To Assemble:
Place Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich on a plate. Top with cheese if you have it (we ran out, so these are a 1/4th slice)

First Layer of Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger

Top with Hamburger Patty.

Second Layer Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger

Top with Bacon and Cheese.

Third Layer

For a double decker, add another hamburger patty.

Last Beef Layer Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger

Top with Cheese and the second Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger

Admire. Eat. Debate the damage being done to your arteries, and think about taking an Aspirin. My friend said “I can feel the chest pain after a bite.”

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Baked Brownies

Directly after winning something at the Brooklyn Brownie Bake off, and winning a copy of Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, my friend Emily pointed me towards Baked Sunday Mornings, in which we bake recipes from the book and post them on Sunday mornings.

As you can see, I am late.

I was not able to do the first date, as, I, ahem, ate all my nutella. I am jumping in with the second event, Sweet and Salty Brownies.

If I had read this recipe before entering the bake off, I may have altered my recipe. Reading this recipe, and the description of the winning recipe from the event, these brownies are basically solid chocolate, with a little sugar, eggs, and flour.

There is twice as much chocolate as flour in the recipe. There is slightly more chocolate than sugar. Basically, you take solid chocolate, melt it with butter, add some sugar, flour, and eggs, and bake.

And, as much as I love the idea, I did not like the brownies.

There are two warring factions of brownie eaters. There are the fudgy brownies, those that like brownies almost like fudge, heavy, full of chocolate, and dense. There are cakey brownies, which are like denser cakes, but still lighter and fluffier than fudge. I fall into the latter category, as well as having grown up with this type of brownie.

I loved the idea of the combination of salty caramel sauce and sea salt on the top of the brownies, but I feel that, at least in my execution, the combination of flavors never came out. Knowing me, I would drown the brownies with caramel over the brownies, which I may do next time. Part of my disappointment was that the caramel drizzled in the middle seeps into the bottom of the brownies, which eliminated that from a separate flavor component. It also means I now have some chocolate caked to the bottom of the cake pan. (Parchment? You mean, actually following the directions on how to prepare the pan? Um, no :)

I have learned that I firmly fall into the “cakey” brownie category. I also learned that I probably should not keep homemade caramel sauce around, because I learned that it is far to easy to eat with a spoon. Or without a spoon. Whatever :)

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Baking Classes at the Insitutite for Culinary Education

I won!

I do not enter many things, but DICED had a contest to celebrate their anniversary. The question asked “What was the best thing you cooked this year?” I entered my Strawberry Jalapeno Cupcakes

And, in a random drawing, I won a $100 gift certificate to the Institute for Culinary Education! I am so excited!

Now, I just have to decide what class to take. I am probably looking at a sweet bread baking class, maybe puff pastry. I would LOVE to take their “Introduction to Pastry and Baking,” but would need another $1300 gift certificate. (This class would be far more useful than my NYU classes. Wonder if I can take an independent study? :)

Have you taken a class at ICE? Or have any recommendations? You can see the course catalog (for all recreational classes, click on the tabs on top.

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Stand Mixers and Other Bakers Goodness

A friend asked me on twitter to recommend stand mixers. I asked about her baking habits.

I LOVE my stand mixer. I find that it makes baking easier, most recipes are written with a stand mixer in mind, and it makes the magic of frosting easier as well. But, it takes up significant kitchen real estate, which is a problem for me in my tiny Brooklyn kitchen, so it is only for serious bakers, or those who do quite a bit of baking.

Last year (actually, before last thanksgiving, so happy one year stand mixer anniversary to me!) I asked for the Red KitchenAid Five Quart Model for my Christmas gift. Since I was baking for Thanksgiving, I asked for it early.

I ordered it from the KitchenAid Outlet. It is a refurbished model, and only has a six month warranty, but otherwise the same model as new.

I do think that the KitchenAid was a good investment, because not only do I use it weekly or more, there are also additional accessories that you can get. I am looking at the Pasta Roller/Cutters, or Food Grinder Attachments, Slicer/Shredder Attachments , or even Ice Cream Maker Attachment (The latter would probably take up too much space in my freezer, however, I thought about using it as a cooler bowl for egg based meringue icings that have to cool. Just a thought.)

I know other people have other types of mixers. I do recommend (if you can afford it) to go with a brand name such as KitchenAid or Cuisinart. If you do bread, and want to use the mixer to knead, I would not think about a smaller or less powerful mode. If you do gluten free baking, you want a more powerful stand mixer. If you do the occasional cake, and want to just not have to stand there for 2 minutes mixing the mix (nothing wrong with that!) you may be able to get away with a cheaper and less powerful model.

Lastly, I would not buy a stand mixer the first time you bake. I would rather buy a (very) cheap hand mixer to use for a month or two while my frustration builds, than to spend 200+ on a mixer that I may not use. \

Note: Amazon links are affiliate links, and if you make an Amazon purchase after clicking them, I get a (very) small percentage.)

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Coconut Ginger “Brownies” with Ginger Salted Caramel Sauce

The 2nd place award winning “dessert bars.” :)

There was a small controversy at the judging table, and among some fellow bakers, that suggested that the taste of chocolate did not come through. I will agree. The brownie recipe is my Grandmother’s, and she stole it from someone else, so it is an older recipe. Compared to several other brownie recipes I have seen, it does not have a high percentage of cocoa in it, and it does not have any melted chocolate, so this will give you more of a cake like brownie than a dense fudge type brownie. Still, I grew up on it, and I think it is one of the best brownies out there.

This has several parts. It is not necessarily a recipe that needs to be followed exactly, but rather a starting point for future explorations. I have made a few notes in places where I would modify it if I were making it again. Enjoy it!

Coconut Ginger Brownies with Ginger Salted Caramel Sauce

Brownies

I have posted these before here

1 1/2 cup (7.5 oz) flour
2 cup (14 oz) sugar (or you can use part brown sugar)
1/2 cup (2oz) cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil (or do half melted butter and half oil)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecan halves (optional)
(to make it ginger: add 1 tbsp ginger powder. If you want more of a ginger taste in the brownie, you can experiment with adding diced candied ginger to the batter.)

Place all ingredients in mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

For regular brownies, you can bake these as is. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Coconut “Macaroon” filling
Idea from AllRecipes.com (which has a very similar brownie recipe with a different way of mixing)

I did not measure this. It was approximately 7 oz of Sweetened Condensed milk (or about half the can) to about 5 oz of Coconut Flakes. Stir together until you have all the coconut covered in the sweetened condensed milk. When I did it this time, it was very crumbly. Next time, I may try a higher proportion of sweetened condensed milk, or more coconut. Many people said that it did not taste enough of coconut.

To make the layered brownies, place half of the brownie batter in a 9×13 baking pan. Top with all the coconut, sprinkled as evenly as possible. Top with remaining brownie batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, at 350, until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean.

You can also make these just two layer brownies, with brownies on the bottom and the coconut on the top. I made a half batch (pictured above), which cooked for 22 minutes. The tallest peaks of the coconut were dark brown, but I think it would be fine in a longer bake for the full size brownies.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Good Eats

2 cups of Sugar (14 oz)
about 1 cup of water
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 tsp sea salt

Pour sugar in Heavy Pan. Pour water around edge of the sugar pile, to try to get any sugar crystals off the side. Put over high heat. After it boils for a bit, insert a candy thermometer. Cook until it hits the right temperature. (I took mine to 320, because I was playing it safe. You can take it higher than that. Rose Levy Beranbaum said in Rose’s Celebrations that she takes her caramel to 380. Alton Brown said on Good Eats to take it until you see wisps of smoke. Me, 320 to be safe, and it was tasty.)

Once it hits the temperature, pour in the heavy cream. Stir and boil until it is all combined. Then add the butter and sea salt, and turn off the burner.

Ginger Salted Caramel

Dice Candied Ginger. Mix with Salted Caramel Sauce. Pour over cooled brownies.

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