It’s July 1st and we’re all wondering where June went so fast. The heat of summer is bearing down on us with full force and July 4th is stuck in the middle of the week! Who let this happen? I didn’t approve of this! Frankly, we’re both getting a little sad-faced. Thankfully, we’ve found we can make ourselves feel better with some food and drink and long sessions on Pinterest.
I love the simple joys of summer. Waking up at 6:30am to go to the Minneapolis farmer’s market on a Saturday morning isn’t one of them, though. But as much as I moan and groan when getting up to go, once I am there I am in my happy place. I have my favorite vendors that I go to every weekend. One for fresh herbs and greens. The other is this family that has the most amazing fruits and vegetables. They even have hard to find fruits for this part of the world like, passion fruit, starfruit, lychee, and mangoes the size of my cats head. Keep in mind his head is bigger than a softball. Then there is another stall that has the most amazing root vegetables. They are big, fresh, sweet, and the potatoes are so fresh you can peel the skin off with just light pressure of your finger.
On this most recent trip I was really eyeballing some rhubarb for a trifle that I will be making soon for a good friend’s housewarming party when my eye caught onto these big plump blueberries. I knew right away I wanted to do a sweet and light tart if for anything but a chance to make this fantastic almond sour cream pastry I have been using lately for sweets. It is flaky, easy to work with an almost unnoticeable shrink if handled properly.
I hope everyone is having a good weekend! It’s the season for graduation parties, grilling and early morning trips to the local farmer’s market for fresh herbs and produce. If you’re not going to your local market to get your veggies and herbs and whatever else gets you goin’, you really need to start. I would happily pay so much more for the high quality produce we get at the Minneapolis markets on the weekends but I’m glad for the prices as they are. You can’t beat saving yourself money, getting healthy food and supporting local growers all in one sweet transaction after another. Sleeping in on a Saturday is great and all, but going to the market for the week’s produce is just so much more rewarding for us. I highly encourage your to get up early, go get some great deals on fresh local goods and go make something good with them!
So why did I make these? Well, the girlfriend of one of the members of my monthly D&D group is allergic to eggs. In order to take something to this month’s session, I wanted to find something she could enjoy. I thought of Julia’s melting moments cookies recipe from MasterChef Australia and remembered that they were eggless, so I knew these would be perfect. Consider these the Americanized version of Julia’s.
Test batching started rough but got better as it went along. Batch one, measured the ingredients out like any American would (meaning by volume, not be weight). It ended up in the bin. They were too dry, too dense, too sweet. There was too much sugar and flour, it just was not a pleasant melting moment cookie.
On attempt number two I busted out my kitchen scale, replaced half of the flour with cake flour and used half of the original powdered sugar with some baking powder for a nice rise. Batch two was weighed and successful as far as texture and the sweetness I was looking for but way too thick. This batch I rolled the dough into 25g balls – which are perfect for individual-size melting moments cookies that will not be sandwiched, but just sprinkled with powdered sugar and served. The resulting sandwiched cookie was much too thick and not as fine of a result as I wanted. In the final batch, I made smaller balls of dough at 15g each. Flattening with a glass then imprinting them with a fork made them just thin enough so when sandwiched they were the delicate cookies I was looking for! I highly recommend you do this for your melting moments cookies.
Welcome to the Sunday Snapshot! Throughout the week we bookmark and pin a lot of stuff and we wanted to share it with our readers.
Pinterest Best Practices
Though we’ve only been on Pinterest a few weeks, we’ve noticed something that I think should be addressed when pinning items. The easiest way to pin something is to just re-pin an image from someone without clicking through. Not everyone notices where this image originally came from, but we do. I’ve found a disturbing amount of pins come from Tumblr that have been reblogged over and over and somewhere along the way the attribution has been lost, meaning there’s no link back to the food blog it came from. Often these are called “ghost pins”.
Do you have a chocolate craving that you just can’t satisfy? Do you like chocolate ice cream? Do you like dark chocolate and maybe cocoa nibs? Then my friends this latest semifreddo we cooked up will rock your little chocolate-smeared world. Behold, an chocolate semifreddo so intense and creamy you’ll be breathing out a cloud of chocolate with every exhale.
My husband challenged me to make an ice cream (well, a semifreddo in this case since we have no ice cream maker) that he said needed to be so extremely chocolatey, smooth, and rich that it would satisfy even the worst craving. From the word go I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I needed to layer chocolate flavors into each step of the process, so when everything came together at the end you would get this massive hit of chocolate.
Attempt number one was great in flavor but I had messed up on an important step. I put the chocolate into the cold whipped cream, which caused it to seize. This resulted in lots of bits of chocolate in the final result (so don’t do that). It was not bad but there was just too much going on texture-wise with all of the little chocolate shards it ended up with. I fixed the mistakes from the first batch and the result of the second attempt was a dark, smooth, rich, cold and amazing pan full of chocolate happiness.
To create the layers of chocolate flavor, I made a chocolate caramel with a dutch cocoa powder. Then I made a chocolate chantilly by combining melted dark chocolate with the whipped cream, which is then folded into the egg mixture and cocoa caramel. The semifreddo was capped off by adding in a few (ok a lot) of cocoa nibs.
Adding the cocoa nibs makes it healthy right? Sort of? Well all of the antioxidants and flavanols in this semifreddo along with the happy chocolate rush makes this an all around Good Thing. This should be my final installment of the cocoa nib obsession we have had this past month. Hopefully we’ve peaked your interest a little bit. I suggest you try adding them to your granola, ice cream sundae in place of nuts, in cakes, cupcakes and cookies. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Welcome to our first Sunday Snapshot! We bookmark and pin a fair amount of stuff throughout the week and thought that it would be nice to share some of these good things with our readers. Much of it will be about food or photography (or food photography), but we hope to toss in a few other things that are (usually) related. So let’s get on with it and start sharing some stuff!
What kind of a recipe blog would this be without a recipe for red velvet cupcakes? Not a very good one, I would wager. Red velvet cupcakes happened to be one of the first posts on The Catalyst Cupcakes and I figured that now that I have a much better understanding of how to make a really good cake, it was time to resurrect that old post and revamp the recipe to one that works better. Also, my D&D group requested them for our next session. (Yup, I don’t just play video games!) Thus, I give you the best red velvet cupcake recipe that I could muster.
For gatherings, so many people make something like a Duncan Hines red velvet cupcake box mix. How dare you, I say! Make your red velvet cupcakes from scratch! Homemade red velvet cupcakes are superior for so many reasons, including the self-satisfaction of something made with your own hands and quality ingredients.
I have to admit that I generally don’t understand the obsession with red velvet cupcakes (or just red velvet cake). Maybe it’s because I’ve had a lot of it that was badly made or made from a box cake mix. The flavor of most that I’d had really wasn’t very special at all and the crumb was all wrong for what I consider a good cake. Also, it was just chocolate cake with a lot of red food coloring dumped in. That’s just wrong! I shouldn’t have to worry about staining my guts red when I eat one of these, should I? No for that’s essentially a pretty red delivery vehicle for cream cheese frosting, am I right? Well whatever the reasons for the obsession, there’s no denying that it tastes good and if you’re looking for something with a great texture, not overly sweet and pretty to look at in the form of a cupcake, you can’t go wrong with what I think is the best red velvet cupcake recipe I’ve ever had. They taste so good, I can see how a properly made red velvet can be obsessed over.
Like I said, I don’t like all of the red food coloring that gets added to a traditional red velvet cake recipe. I have seen as much as 2 fl ounces to as low as 1 tbsp. So I go with a red alkalized cocoa powder from my local kitchen store. It may be hard to find for a lot of people so you might have to go with a few more drops of red gel paste than I used. The red alkalized cocoa powder helps give the cake a more natural-looking color that doesn’t make you afraid to eat it. Another addition that I make is to add a small amount of all-purpose flour to the cake flour to give it a bit more stability than the typically quite soft texture that is common with many varieties of known Red Velvet cakes.
My cream cheese frosting is based off of my Swiss meringue frosting. I think it’s important to have a light frosting so that you can eat more than one cupcake. That just makes sense to me, because if people are going back for seconds and thirds, you win. I’ve had cream cheese frosting that was so sweet it made my teeth hurt and I didn’t want to eat more than half of it or just scrape the frosting off. And a cupcake filled with frosting? Forget it. I won’t eat it. The frosting for red velvet cupcakes should complement the light flavor of the cake, not overpower it! So I hope you make this version of the frosting too.