Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chocolate Greek yogurt Bundt cake with chocolate ganache

Ooh la la! This irresistible protein-packed chocolate cake is dense, moist and perfect for any chocolate lover. Containing Greek yogurt, this chocolate-drizzled Bundt cake is sure to please!

I was having a hard time figuring out what to bake one weekend. Cookies? Nah. Bar desserts? Nope. Cupcakes? Too much work. I drew some inspiration from my refrigerator and saw that I had half a container of Greek yogurt and some heavy cream in there. Cake? Yes! Cake with Greek yogurt? Even better. Chocolate Greek yogurt cake? Folks, I think we have a winner.

When I ran this cake idea by my husband, he wisely exclaimed that any chocolate cake would always go over well in our house. He is right, of course, as the two of us love chocolate, and we have a little chocoholic-in-training.

This chocolate Bundt cake was fantastic. It was soft and light, and definitely not too sweet. Addie kept talking about how amazing the frosting was. The cake produced a soft and tender crumb, so it's not one of those dense pound cakes. You couldn't taste any of the Greek yogurt, but it provided the cake with a lot of moisture. Dry chocolate cakes do not belong in my house, so this cake was welcome in our home.

I'm glad I gave most of the cake away; otherwise, I'd probably eat it all on my own.

Chocolate Greek yogurt Bundt cake with chocolate ganache
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease a tube or Bundt cake pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, cocoa powder, salt and water together over medium heat. Mix until everything is smooth and the cocoa powder has fully dissolved. Turn off the stove and remove the pan from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and baking soda. Add in half of the butter mixture and mix until everything is well incorporated. The batter will be super thick and clumpy. Add in the remaining butter mixture and whisk until you achieve a smooth batter.

Add in the eggs one at a time until each one is fully incorporated. Add in the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract and mix until everything is well combined.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the ganache. Melt the chocolate, butter and milk/cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens to your desired consistency. It may help to take the saucepan off the stove and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes, as it will thicken in that time.

Drizzle the ganache over the cooled cake and serve.

Yield: One Bundt cake; about 10-12 servings

Source: Gimme Some Oven


Friday, June 26, 2015

Skating Fridays

Trying Out New Spins

For the past few weeks, I've been working on some new spins.  Of course, these still need a lot of work, but it's a decent start. I'll have to see which ones feel comfortable and are worthy enough to refine further to include in my Freestyle program. I'm going to keep my Level 3 sit spin and then hope to add two additional leveled spins this season. I just don't know which ones...yet.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Eggless double chocolate fudge Greek yogurt brownies

These super fudgy double chocolate brownies contain no eggs or butter! It's replaced by Greek yogurt,which adds a ton of moisture and protein to these decadent bars. It's one of my favorite brownie recipes to date!

Hi - Captain Obvious here, but I have a sweet tooth. I'm pretty sure that I got that from my dad. He used to tell me this hilarious story about when he was little. Growing up in Taiwan, my dad's family was poor. He was the oldest of 5 kids and did what he could to keep he and his sisters happy. Sometimes, though, a kid has to go to extreme measures to satisfy his sweet tooth.

Since money was scarce, food vendors would often bargain for other items in exchange for their goods. One such valuable resource was the tub of an empty toothpaste container. I don't know the significance behind this, but perhaps the vendors were able to sell the toothpaste containers to a manufacturer for a small profit (early recycling, perhaps?).

On one sunny day, the candy vendor came around town. My dad's ears perked up when he heard the man pushing his cart down the street. Desperate for a sugar fix, my dad looked around to see if there was any spare change available. Seeing none, he did the next most logical thing. He went into the bathroom, squeezed out all the toothpaste into the sink, and traded the empty tube for some candy.

When my grandmother found out what my dad had done, she gave him a punishment that he can still remember very clearly. While my dad loves his sweets, he has significantly cut back on ones containing eggs. He has been extremely vigilant about his cholesterol intake since he experienced a minor heart attack a year and a half ago. Since then, I've tried to look for eggless recipes that he can enjoy while still satisfying his sweet tooth.

Don't get me wrong - this is not a healthy recipe, but it does not contain eggs or butter. It still includes sugar and chocolate. You can make these slightly healthier by swapping out the all-purpose flour for white whole wheat flour (but you may need to increase the liquids by adding a bit more Greek yogurt).

These double chocolate fudge brownies are rich, chewy and a chocolate lover's dream. You would never guess that they don't contain butter or eggs and are made with mostly Greek yogurt. I'll have to make a batch of these for my dad when I see him next. Hopefully this time, he won't get in trouble (with my mom) for eating this chocolate-y treat!

Eggless double chocolate fudge Greek yogurt brownies
  • 1½ cups chocolate chips, divided (I used a mixture of dark chocolate chunks and semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" pan (with parchment paper or greased aluminum foil) and set aside.

In a small bowl, microwave ½ cup of the chocolate chips in 15 second increments until melted. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, vanilla and Greek yogurt until well combined. Add in the melted chocolate until mixture is uniform. Add in the dry ingredients until a few streaks remain. Fold in ½ cup of the chocolate chips until no streaks remain (do not over mix the batter).

Transfer the brownie batter to your prepared pan and smooth out the top. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips on top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. The brownies will appear underdone when you take them out from the oven. DO NOT over bake these! Allow the brownies to cool completely and store them in the refrigerator. If you can wait, these brownies taste best the next day.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 brownies

Source: Barely adapted from Little Dairy on the Prairie


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Malted milk chocolate cake

Turn back time with a cake featuring malted milk powder! This chocolate cake will remind you of those wonderful malted milk balls from your childhood (or adulthood). It's topped with an irresistible, smooth and silky chocolate malt glaze.

This malted milk cake is the cake that my husband originally requested for his birthday that I wasn't able to make (so I made this vanilla malt one instead). Here's the full story.

My husband found this recipe in a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine and wanted me to bake it for his birthday. I thought I had all the ingredients on hand but realized that I didn't have any coffee (thus me baking the vanilla malt cake as a temporary substitute). Being the non-coffee drinker I am, I had no idea how to brew my own even though I own a basic coffee machine and coffee granules. So I did the next best thing - I went out to buy myself a small cup of coffee.

Seemed like a simple task, right? Well, we were out and about running errands one day when we decided to stop by a fast food place on the way home to buy the $1 cup of joe. My husband decided to go through the drive-through so Addie could experience it, and it also seemed like a fun activity at the time.

Well, this turned out to be quite the experience because the workers at this particular restaurant were incompetent. The person taking our order mistakenly thought my husband had ordered chicken instead of coffee (does "coffee" sound like "chicken"? Maybe. Please educate/amuse me.). We paid our $1.05 (including tax) and drove forward to the next window. The person there asked if we ordered coffee. My husband said yes, and the person told us to pull up to the "waiting spot" a few feet forward. Someone would bring out our coffee once it was ready. It had already been a 5 minute ordeal at this point.

Another 5 minutes tick by and car after car leave the drive-through window with their orders. I'm baffled at this point because I just wanted a simple cup of coffee for this cake. I got impatient and walked into the restaurant to find out what was going on. The workers were just standing around, with no customers in sight, and I saw 2 full pots of coffee just sitting there. I talked to the cashier and said that I had been waiting 10 minutes for my order. He apologized and poured a cup of coffee immediately. Then a manager came by to ask if she could help me, and I told her that it was ridiculous for me to wait 10 minutes for my coffee order. I promptly left and went on my way.

This was the most frustrating experience for a simple $1.05 cup of coffee. Regardless, I am glad I finally got my order and was able to make this cake for my husband.

He did enjoy his birthday cake and liked that the coffee flavor wasn't too strong (I only used ½ cup of coffee and subbed milk for the remaining ¼ cup). The glaze was smooth, silky and full of deep, dark chocolate flavor. The malt flavor in the cake and frosting were a bit more subtle than I wanted, so I'd increase the amount of malt powder next time (and add more liquid to make up for the increase in dry ingredients). He was a happy birthday boy, which was the most important thing. And I learned my lesson - never use the drive-through at that restaurant again.

Malted milk chocolate cake
  • 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup malted milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • cups plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • cup vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup coffee, cooled, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup malted milk powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, malted milk powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a separate owl, mix together the eggs, egg yolk, and cups of granulated sugar. Add the buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, and ½ cup coffee, until just incorporated. Slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the large bowl with the dry ingredients, until just combined. The batter will be lumpy, which is what you want. Do not over mix the batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make the syrup: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, the remaining ¼ cup coffee, and remaining 2 Tablespoons of  granulated sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the syrup on top of the cake after it has come out of the oven. Make sure you use all of the syrup. Allow the syrup to completely soak in before transferring the entire cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze: Put the chocolate and the vanilla in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat, warm the cream, malt powder and salt until it has come to a simmer. Do not allow the liquid to boil.

Turn off the stove and pour the cream into the bowl with the chocolate. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes (do not stir until after the 5 minutes). Stir until everything is mixed completely. Allow the glaze to sit for another 5 minutes to thicken up. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and decorate with candy pearls, chopped malted milk balls or other decorations if desired.

Cake should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Bon Appetit magazine, May 2015 issue


Friday, June 19, 2015

Skating Fridays

National Showcase

I am new to skating competitions. As I mentioned previously, I have only skated freestyle in about 4 or 5 competitions. There is definitely a lot to learn, and last weekend was proof of my newbie status in the wonderful world of competitive skating.

I received an email inviting me to skate at the National Showcase. I'd heard rumblings about it before but didn't know what I was. Naturally, I read the email, the competition announcement and told my coach about it. Apparently the National Showcase is an annual event held in July where skaters perform interpretive, dramatic, light entertainment, ensemble and duet events.

Here is how the text conversation went (this is copied and pasted word by word so I am not embellishing or exaggerating).

Me: I just got an invitation to skate at the National Showcase event in July. I guess it is because I placed at Sectionals for Dramatic?

Coach: Yes it is! Congrats!

Me: Forgive my ignorance, but is this a big deal?

Coach: Yes it is. Only certain competitions qualify for the National Showcase. And you have to place in the Top 4. Being invited is a big deal.

Wow. I had no idea that this was a big deal. I guess it makes sense since you have to place in the top 4 of your showcase event (interpretive, dramatic, light entertainment, ensemble or duet) in order to be considered. I find this to be pretty cool.

The event is in Michigan at the end of July, and unfortunately, the organizers don't know what the schedule will look like until people start registering. I would only skate my Dramatic event and wouldn't stay the entire time since I work full-time. The practice ice begins on Wednesday and the final events are on Sunday. It seems silly for me to travel to Michigan for 5 days for a 1 minute and 40 second program. If I had multiple events, then I would consider it, but I can't seem to justify a $1000+ trip for a program lasting less than 2 minutes.

Thoughts? I can't guarantee that I'll ever get invited again, so maybe I should go? Would you go if you were in my shoes?


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vanilla malt cake

A light, tender vanilla malt cake makes the perfect snack or breakfast! Malted milk powder is the star of this Bundt cake, and it's topped by a malted milk Greek yogurt glaze. You'll want to cut yourself a bigger piece each time!

A few Christmases ago, my mother-in-law asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I had heard wonderful things about the Baked cookbooks by Matt Lewis and Renalto Poliafito. I added these cookbooks to my wish list that season and was grateful when I unwrapped it.

I guess I had been too lazy to make anything from that cookbook because several recipes looked amazing, but I just hadn't baked any of the recipes. I was especially intrigued by the chapter with malted milk powder recipes. Since I didn't own any malted milk powder at the time, those recipes just stayed on the backburner.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. My husband's birthday was fast approaching, and I asked him what type of dessert he wanted me to make for his special day. He was flipping through the most recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine and saw a malted milk cake that he wanted. I read through the ingredients and thought I had everything so I was ready to assemble it.

Wait. I didn't have any coffee. The recipe called for coffee, and here I was, at home with a coffee machine, coffee granules, and no idea how to operate the thing (I don't drink coffee, but I have an old-school machine that my parents use when they are visiting). #adultfail

Because I didn't know how to brew coffee, I went with a backup plan instead. I remembered my Baked cookbook and found a vanilla malt cake that I could make instead. As luck would have it, I didn't have any powdered sugar for the original glaze recipe in the cookbook, so I made up my own instead.

I made a few adjustments since I wanted Addie to be able to eat the cake (the original included bourbon). The cake was soft with just a hint of malted milk powder. The cake, though moist, produced lots of small crumbs which normally isn't a problem unless you have a small child who tends to get crumbs everywhere. The glaze I created gave the cake a little more malt flavor without overpowering the cake. Overall, the cake contained just the perfect amount of sweetness and isn't one of those desserts that puts you in a sugar or food coma.

And in case you're wondering, I did manage to obtain some coffee for my husband's birthday cake. You'll have to stay tuned for that interesting story, as it involves a lengthy trip for a $1.05 cup of joe.

Vanilla malt cake
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon malted milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 ounces (1 and 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
  • 1/4 cup malted milk powder
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease and dust a standard Bundt pan. Tap out the excess flour and set the pan aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Individually add the eggs and egg yolk until just combined. Add the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer down to low and add in half the dry ingredients. Then slowly stream in the buttermilk until well mixed. Finally, add the rest of the dry ingredients until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter into your prepared pan and bake in your preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Yield: One Bundt cake; about 8-10 servings

Source: Cake is slightly adapted from Baked Elements, by Matt Lewis & Renalto Poliafito, pages 126-127; glaze is an Eva Bakes original


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Whole wheat raspberry cheesecake brownies

Raspberries and chocolate are a classic combination. Get a bit of both with these fudgy (whole wheat!) brownies that are topped with a luscious raspberry cheesecake layer!

I didn't eat a lot of berries growing up. Well, with the exception of strawberries. I literally had not tried raspberries, blueberries (other than blueberry muffins), or blackberries as a child. My Asian culture didn't incorporate a lot of these colorful fruits into our diets since they weren't as plentiful in my birth country. As a result, my parents didn't buy these berries at the grocery store even though they were abundant.

I've come to love fresh berries. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I have a thing for blueberry muffins. We eat fresh berries just about every day at home, especially at the peak of the season. One flavor combination I've grown to love is raspberries with chocolate.

Although mint chocolate is my ultimate favorite combination, raspberries and chocolate is a close 2nd.  I love chocolate raspberry ice cream in particular and truffles with raspberry filling. Naturally, brownies with raspberries would be something else that I would love. Rather than just add raspberries or raspberry jam into a standard batch of brownies, I opted to try something new. I wanted a layer of raspberry goodness so I went with a raspberry cheesecake layer instead.

My cheesecake layer turned out a bit soft, but I attribute it to baker's error (me). I didn't let my cream cheese soften enough and may have accidentally overbeat the cheesecake batter. See how the layer curdled a bit? Regardless, the flavors were fantastic, and it even caused my skating BFF to say that these brownies made her top 5 list. She's probably tried 50% of what I've shared on the blog, so this is definitely saying something.

In case you're wondering, the brownies are a bit firmer than your standard brownie. This is done on purpose so your cheesecake layer won't melt into the brownies. The brownies are still fudgy and chewy though, so you don't have to worry on that front. This is a recipe that I will make again, and I am looking forward to experimenting with different flavors.

Whole wheat raspberry cheesecake brownies
Brownie layer
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)

Cheesecake layer
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen (thawed) or fresh raspberries, + 1 tablespoon sugar (can substitute with raspberry jam)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease and/or line a standard 8"x" baking pan and set aside.

Start by making the cheesecake layer. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese with the sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until everything is just incorporated.

In a small bowl, mash the frozen or frozen raspberries with the sugar. Set aside.

In a medium non-stick saucepan, melt the chocolate with the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and mix well. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Then individually add the eggs and egg yolk and mix well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and salt. Fold in the flour and mix until everything is just incorporated - do not over mix.

Pour the brownie batter into your prepared pan. Add the cheesecake layer on top of the brownie layer. Then dollop spoonfuls of berries or jam onto the cheesecake layer. Using a sharp knife or toothpick, swirl the raspberries into the cheesecake batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the cheesecake layer is no longer liquidy and jiggily. If you insert a toothpick in the center, it should come out slightly wet.

Allow the brownies to cool before serving. If you can wait, I suggest cooling them completely in the refrigerator before cutting and serving. Garnish with fresh raspberries if desired.

Brownies should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for at least a week.

Disclaimer: Driscoll's provided me with a coupon for a complimentary container of raspberries. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 servings

Source: Barely adapted from Texanerin Baking


Friday, June 12, 2015

Skating Fridays

Back to (Spin) Basics

As I prepare to revamp my 2015-2016 competition strategy, Coach B has me working on some spin basics. Like all aspects of this wonderful sport, a skater's basic skating skills must be strong. Without a solid core foundation, it's virtually impossible to build additional skills later.

My basic spins are OK, but they can obviously be improved. Of the three basic spin positions (upright, sit and camel), my sit spin is the strongest. That's why all the spins in my freestyle program are based around the sit spin.

Coach B gave me a series of warm-up spin exercises to work on in order to strengthen all my basic positions:

Upright spin exercises
  • Forward upright (scratch) spin - back upright (back spin) - forward upright spin
  • Back upright spin - forward upright spin - back upright spin
Sit spin exercises
  • Forward sit spin - back sit spin - forward sit spin
  • Back sit spin - forward sit pin - back sit spin
Camel spin exercises
  • Forward camel spin - back camel spin - forward camel spin
  • Back camel spin - forward camel spin - back camel spin
  • Forward camel - jump into back camel spin
Believe me when I say that these spins are easier said than done. The most difficult part is the transition from the back spin positions to the forward ones. Coach B wants me to do a 3-turn as the transition point before I proceed to the forward spin. I'm having trouble doing this since I keep rocking on the wrong part of my blade.

Here is a fairly decent (for me) attempt at the back sit - forward sit - back sit exercise. Obviously, the transition to the forward sit needs some work, but you get the idea.

Skaters - have you tried these spin combos yet? I know that the forward upright - back upright - forward upright is a pretty common one. In fact, I think it was a requirement to pass one of the ISI Learn-to-Skate freestyle levels. If you haven't, I'd encourage you to try them and let me know your thoughts.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hokey pokey ice cream

Hokey pokey is the unofficial ice cream flavor of New Zealand. It starts off with a rich and creamy vanilla ice cream base and contains bits of honeycomb toffee. Try this Kiwi favorite without having to travel halfway around the world!

In 2008, I had the honor of visiting a country that many of my friends have not visited: New Zealand. My aunt and uncle left Taiwan many years ago so their sons (my cousins) would not have to endure the mandatory military training required of all 18-year old boys.

New Zealand is made up of two main islands: The North Island and the South Island. The North Island is where the majority of its residents reside, including the capital city of Auckland. The South Island is best known for its lush greenery, sheep and mountains. The Lord of the Rings films were filmed there.
When we were en route to Auckland, the airline offered a treat called Hokey Pokey. Up until then, the only Hokey Pokey I knew of was the kids' song where you shake various body parts and act silly. I had no idea that it was the name of an ice cream. Essentially, it is a vanilla ice cream containing bits of honeycomb toffee.

We learned that Hokey Pokey was the unofficial ice cream for the Kiwis. Hokey Pokey ice cream was everywhere that we went, and we definitely enjoyed our fair share when we visited. We had a few more small containers of it on our flight back to the United States and was sad that our wonderful country didn't sell this flavor.

I don't know what has taken me so long to recreate this flavor, but I should have done it many years ago. You can start off with your favorite vanilla ice cream base. I used one from Jeni's since it doesn't require egg yolks, but you can certainly use whatever you like (even store-bought, but I recommend a high-quality one). I made the honeycomb toffee in about 10 minutes, and it dried in about the same time it took to churn the ice cream.

My husband was very giddy when I told him I was making Hokey Pokey ice cream. Addie was intrigued by the name and thought it had something to do with the dance she learned at school. We all loved this ice cream. Jeni's ice cream base was smooth and creamy, and the chunks of honeycomb coffee provided a nice crunchy texture. Some of the honeycomb bits melted into a caramel-like swirl, which made the ice cream even more enjoyable.

If you're not taking a trip to New Zealand soon, at least you can make one of their famous desserts. I'm sad that no major ice cream manufacturer makes this flavor, but at least I know I can recreate it at home.

Hokey pokey ice cream
Ice cream base
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1½ ounces (3 Tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons golden syrup (can substitute with light corn syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Make the ice cream base: In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set this aside. Reserve the remaining milk and keep it separate.

In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese with the sea salt until well combined. Set a fine mesh sieve above it and set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, heat the cream, remaining milk, sugar and corn syrup on medium to medium-high heat until boiling. Allow the mixture to boil for 4 minutes.

Take the saucepan off the stove and very carefully add the cornstarch/milk slurry. Mix until everything is well incorporated and put the pan back on the stove. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil and until the liquid becomes slightly thicker, about 1 minute.

Turn off the stove and pour the liquid through the sieve into the large bowl with the cream cheese/salt. Add the mint extract and mix well until everything is fully incorporated.

At this point, you have two options. You can either set the ice cream over an ice bath (pour the contents into a large zip-top bag, seal it shut and place it over a large bowl with ice cubes), or put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Make the honeycomb: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside. In a medium sized nonstick pot, melt the sugar and golden syrup over medium heat. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow to boil for another 4-5 minutes or until the liquid becomes a deep amber color. Turn the stove off, take the pot off the stove and quickly stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble and turn lighter in color. Quickly pour the mixture onto your prepared baking sheet and spread it out. Once the syrup hardens, break into small chunks.

Assemble the ice cream: Once the ice cream base is completely cool, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.  Stir in the broken chunks of honeycomb and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Yield: One quart

Sources: Ice cream base barely adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer; honeycomb from Good Food


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Strawberry hand pies

Individual strawberry hand pies are so satisfying and easy to eat! A luscious strawberry filling is surrounded by a buttery, flaky pie crust. No utensils needed!

I'm so excited that this month's What's Baking theme is Baking With Fresh Fruit! Our host for this month is Jaida from Sweet Beginnings. Jaida also happens to manage and organize our What's Baking group, so a big thank you to Jaida for running our group!

My family and I eat pounds and pounds of strawberries every week. In fact, we love strawberries so much that we recently went strawberry picking (although sadly, I didn't come home with many since most of the fields had been picked over already). I contemplated baking a strawberry pie for this month's recipe but wanted to make something that would be easily devoured with one hand. Plus, since I was lazy and didn't want to dirty any serving plates or utensils, my recipe needed to be easy to serve and clean up. Enter these strawberry hand pies.

I thought the photos were fun since the pies look like they are bleeding. Maybe these could be a fun Halloween treat one year? The crusts were flaky and buttery and did not leave a huge trail of crumbs after taking a bite. My husband's only complaint was that they didn't have enough filling. I told you - we love strawberries around here!

I'm glad this recipe only made 6 hand pies because I gave away half of them to our neighbor. Had I kept them, I would have eaten them all on my own. Just make sure you fill these up with lots of strawberries so you get a good crust-to-filling ratio.

Strawberry hand pies
Pie dough

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water 
  • 1 egg, for egg wash
  • Coarse sanding sugar for sprinkling, optional
  • 1 and 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut in half or quarters, depending on size
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • All-purpose flour, for work surface 
Make the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and sugar to combine.  Add the butter, and pulse in short bursts until the mixture resembles wet sand. Keep the food processor running and slowly add the ice water in a slow, constant stream until the dough comes together.  Do not overmix or else it will heat the butter too much.

Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Flatten into a disc. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.

Make the filling: In a medium sized bowl, combine the strawberries, sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

To assemble: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Set aside.

Take the chilled dough out of the refrigerator. Roll it out so it is about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles about 5 inches in circumference (you can use a round cutter, bowl or any other round object). Transfer the dough rounds to your prepared baking sheet and make sure to space them out.
Put about 2 Tablespoons of the filling onto one side of the circle. Fold the un-filled side over to form a half circle or moon shape. Gently press down on the edges to ensure that the pie is completely sealed. Use a fork to crimp the sides.

Brush each pie with egg and make slits in the tops of each pie with a paring knife. Sprinkle with sanding/coarse sugar if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow pies to cool slightly before serving.

Pies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about 4 days.

Yield: 6 hand pies

Source: Martha Stewart


Friday, June 5, 2015

Skating Fridays

Mental block

I am currently experiencing a mental block at the rink. As part of my downtime since Adult Nationals, I have been working on refining my existing elements and learning new ones. A jump that I worked on intermittently last year was the double salchow. I landed two last summer.

However, because I was laser focused on my Gold Freestyle program, I haven't worked on it in months. Now I'm back and re-focusing my efforts on this jump. I'd love to add it to my freestyle program, since I am keeping the same program for next year.

I know that I have the physical ability to land this jump. The part that is preventing me from doing it is my brain. I have a mental block on this jump right now. Part of it is a very real fear of falling and seriously injuring myself. Last year, I tore my meniscus so that injury is always in the back of my head, and I don't want to repeat something similar. The other part of me is freaking out because it is a double jump.

Coach B and I have been working on the pre-jump exercises and all kinds of preparations to get me ready for the real thing. We've done some work on the harness, and I can land them without any help from her. But once the harness comes off, it's a completely different game.

As the Olympic coach said to me last year, I will land this jump when I am ready. I know I am ready, but there is still a little voice in my head that is telling me that I am scared.

Have any advice on how to tell that voice to be quiet? How do you get over mental blocks in skating or in everyday life?


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Soft batch double chocolate fudge cookies

Soft, decadent double chocolate fudge cookies are what dreams are made of. These thick and chewy cookies are perfect with a glass of milk. It's a chocoholic's dream come true!

So far, 2015 has been the Year of the Muffin here on Eva Bakes. I realized that it's been way too long since I've baked any cookies around here, so I am finally fixing that today.

I don't know about you, but I like my cookies to be big, soft and chewy. I don't like hard, crunchy cookies. If I wanted something brittle and dry, I'd eat a cracker or hard pretzel instead. Am I right?

My friend Ashley at Baker by Nature posted these big, beautiful double chocolate fudge cookies earlier this year. Of course I just about drooled on myself when I saw her post. It took me about 0.1475 seconds for me to decide to bake these cookies today.

What I liked best about this recipe (other than the taste, of course, but I'll get to that in a sec) is that I didn't need to use my stand mixer. Most cookies require you to cream the butter and sugar together and then add in the remaining wet ingredients and then the dry ingredients. Not this recipe. Oh no. This one only requires 3 bowls and some elbow grease.

And how did these taste? Did they live up to their name? Oh yes - that and a lot more. The tops were just slightly crisp, while the interiors were chewy yet soft as a pillow. Almost like a perfect brownie, but in cookie form. It's like a chocolate explosion in your mouth.

As for the name of these cookies, I actually think these need to be called quadruple chocolate fudge cookies since there is cocoa powder, melted chocolate and two types of chocolate chips in the batter. Well, at least mine did. If you add in white chocolate chips into the mix, you can call them quintuple chocolate fudge cookies. I might be getting carried away, but you get the drift, right?

Soft batch double chocolate fudge cookies
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup + 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Dark)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips and/or chunks (I used 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chunks)
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper and set aside.

In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips and butter in the microwave. Heat in 15-20 second bursts until both the butter and chocolate chips have melted. Mix until smooth. Do not overheat this or else the chocolate will seize. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugars, egg, milk and vanilla. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together.

Add in the butter/chocolate mixture and the chocolate chips. Mix until everything is just combined.

Using a medium-sized cookie scoop (or two spoons or a measuring cup), drop about 1/4 cup of batter onto your prepared baking pans. Be sure to space out each mound of cookie dough at least 2 inches apart.

Transfer to your preheated oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 300 degrees F. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Allow the cookies to cool completely before serving.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for over a week. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 20 cookies

Source: Barely adapted from Baker by Nature



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