Archive for November, 2010

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


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 (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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Brownie Bakeoff!

Tonight was a Brownie Bakeoff at The Brooklyn Kitchen, with Matt and Renaldo from Baked (in Red Hook.) They were two of the judges, along with Natasha from High Times (signed my magazine!) and Siobhan from Blondie and Brownie.

I like Baked the store, and I have loved the recipes I’ve seen, and my oven just got fixed, so I decided to enter the brownie bakeoff.

First Rule of Food Competition: Stand Out. Just like cupcakes can have a simple edge over others with a topping of some sort, I decided to do the same thing with my brownies. So, I made…

Coconut Ginger Brownies with Ginger Salted Caramel Sauce

They were awesome. I used my Grandmother’s Brownie Recipe and added ginger and coconut. This was also my first time ever making caramel from scratch. A full recount of the recipe will be up soon.

During Judging, Matt and Renaldo called me up to ask questions about my brownie. They asked where I got my recipe, and they asked what kind of cocoa I used. (Hershey’s. I’m not fancy about cocoa :)

I ended up being a double winner! I won “Best Presentation (with Reservations)” from the judges! The “with reservations” was because there was some debate over if mine were brownies or not. I do agree that the ginger overpowered the chocolate, but they are chocolate! (Natasha from High Times Magazine said mine was her favorite!)

I also won 2nd place in the popular vote! Since the contest was a fundraiser for Greenpoint Reformed Church Hunger Program, the votes were $1 each. First place was won by someone who brought the most friends. It all was for a good cause, so I am glad that everyone came, had a good time, and contributed.

With my win, I won a copy of Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented. This has been on my wishlist since I heard about it, and I am so excited to start baking from it!

Baked Explorations, a Stone Casserole, Chocolate, High Times Magazine

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