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Sunday
Feb202011

Yeasted Chocolate Coffee Cake

yeasted chocolate coffee cake

As a baker, I like to pride myself on keeping my cupboards well stocked so when inspiration strikes I can make whatever strikes my fancy without making a trip to the grocery store. My pantry is filled with the basics—flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar... What can I say? I like sugar. The hall closet doubles as another pantry to keep the extra bags of baking necessities. You'd be surprised how much I go through every week.

Or appalled. Possibly concerned for my arteries.

yeasted chocolate coffee cake

Yet, no matter how I try, it seems that I'm always missing some ingredient. Always. I try to be prepared; why can't that be good enough?

Today there wasn't milk in the house. Luckily, I had powdered milk on hand from this Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix to save this coffee cake. However, I very often find that I don't quite have what I need. Perhaps I don't have enough butter or cream to finish out a recipe. This is when my desserts suddenly become low-fat.

Sometimes low-fat is on purpose, like when I drag out the whole wheat and chop the sugar in half, like for these banana cinnamon muffins.

Usually, though, its because I was too lazy to take a trip to the grocery store.

yeasted chocolate coffee cake

This yeasted chocolate coffee cake is decadent and rich. The cake manages to be both dense and flaky at the same time. Each flavor is separated and distinct, yet they complement each other in such a way that you'll find yourself taking bite after bite. This cake is good. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee for the perfect afternoon snack (or breakfast if you feel like a bit of a rebel).

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Friday
Feb182011

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Bars

brown butter rice krispie bars

Today I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Creamy peanut butter, grape jelly, and white bread—transcendence. I haven't had a PB&J for years and oh it was good. Sometimes I feel like I've outgrown certain foods, like boxed macaroni and cheese, hotdogs, or PB&J. It's not that I've ever stopped enjoying them, but they just got lost somewhere along the way and I'm just not sure why.

Do you ever feel like you've outgrown particular foods?

brown butter rice krispie bars

Occasionally, I throw around words like "palate" and "sophisticated." When I'm trying to be a bit of a show-off, I sometimes relate these words to myself. I'll be the first to admit I don't have any idea what I'm talking about. Having a "sophisticated palate" is probably much more than eating brussel sprouts without cringing or enjoying foie gras with fancy cheeses.

Lately, though, I've noticed that chefs are going back to our roots. The foods we loved as children are now being dressed up in new clothes. Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Macaroni and cheese. The hamburger and fries. As an adult with a "sophisticated palate," I can't complain. I love the nostalgia of my childhood favorites done up from scratch with more vegetables to satisfy my health tooth (I may have a health tooth, but the rest of my mouth is filled with sweet teeth).

brown butter rice krispie bars

These are the traditional Rice Krispie Bars elevated to a whole new level. Browning the butter before mixing everything together results in a bar with deep nutty undertones. By using salted butter, you can cut down on the sweetness of the marshmallow and really allow the browned butter flavors to shine. This isn't the Rice Krispie Bar from your childhood—this is the Rice Krispie Bar you wish you'd grown up eating.

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Thursday
Feb172011

Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix

mexican hot cocoa

I've been following American Idol this year. While the show and its contestants certainly have their ups and downs, I can't help but enjoy watching the stars emerge and the trains wreck. Perhaps the worst of it is that after watching an episode, I tend to get a false perception of my own singing ability. For a few (too many) moments, I actually believe that I can sing.

I can't sing.

My singing voice is reminiscent of the sounds of an angry cat. There is screeching, hissing, and a good chance you'll want to cover your ears. Oh, she's just being modest, you're probably thinking. No one is actually that bad. When I was younger, my mother would ask me to stop making "that noise."

I wish I could tell you I'm being modest.

mexican hot cocoamexican hot cocoa

My singing is limited to the car, with the windows up and the radio loud. In the privacy of my metal cage, there is no one to judge me. No one to cringe when I'm out of tune or in the wrong key. No one to wince when I fall flat trying to hit the big notes.

Alone in the car, I am Celine Dion. I am Madonna. I have the voice of Stevie Nicks and the vocals of Freddie Mercury. I can sing the blissful melodies of Ella Fitzgerald and the pop hits of Lady Gaga. My range knows no bounds. In those few short moments, I can sing.

I don't have to sing for you, my family, or my friends. I sing for myself. And that's good enough for me.

mexican hot cocoa

This Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix is smooth, rich, and oh so creamy. The cocoa has deep chocolate tones and the cinnamon gives it just the right amount of spice. Though I made mine with water, you could easily make this with milk but be sure to anticipate a truly creamy drink. Feel free to top it with whipped cream or marshmallows, but this drink doesn't need the toppings to stand out. The cocoa would satisfy even the purist of hot cocoa drinkers. This mix can be stored in your cupboards for months and months to be enjoyed whenever you need your hot cocoa fix.

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