the cake! the cake! and marshmallows, too

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Many many thanks to all of you who sent ideas (and encouragement) after last week’s puppy cake post. I promised follow-up on that cake and food for fun is here to deliver.Its deLizious facebook debut noted a resemblance to the … Continue reading

2 oatmeal cookies–one traditional, one not so much

A fellow WordPress blogger set a lofty goal for herself in committing to read 52 books in 2014. An avid reader as well, I pledged to join her. While I read a fair amount of food-related fare (culinary mysteries are faves), I enjoy genres of all sorts.

Take my most recent read: Before Green Gables. The prequel to the series of Anne and her adventures on Prince Edward Island, it covers the span from just before her birth to her arrival on PEI. It’s a tale that speaks to the spirit of the underdog as well as how hard life was in earlier centuries.

Though there was no direct food connection, Anne’s story made me crave cookies. Molasses, oatmeal, and other old-school favorites were mentioned in its pages. I wanted a plate of old-school, from-scratch, homemade cookies. Oatmeal seemed the thing and despite a disdain for raisins in baked goods (which I’ve learned many of you wholeheartedly share), I had to have me some oatmeal raisin cookies.

yes, they have raisins, but they're so good!

yes, they have raisins, but they’re tasty!

The recipe came from Susan G. Purdy’s The Family Baker. I followed directions for the extra-chewy version, soaking the raisins in beaten eggs and vanilla for an hour before stirring into the batter. Note that this version replaces 1/2 cup butter with an equal amount of shortening, though coconut oil works if shortening isn’t happening in your kitchen. These are lovely cookies, chewy and sweet. Pair them with a glass of milk and call it breakfast.

And the other oatmeal cookie? This one was found in Bartender’s Black Book, purchased ten or so years ago as my first foray into cocktails. I remember well the winter weekend my husband and I were snowbound with a sick baby. We watched movies to pass the time, but my recently purchased spiral-bound bar guide called to me and I flipped through, imagining the cocktails I could create if only I had the booze.

The following weekend we were still snowbound and baby was still sick. Tired of winter, tired of sick, it was time to make my cocktail dream reality. After making notes of recipes I wanted to try along with spirits to buy, I ventured out the few blocks to a local liquor store and came home with ingredients for an Oatmeal Cookie.

oatmeal cookie squared

an oatmeal cookie served with oatmeal cookies

In the spirit of cocktail evolution, I more recently dressed this drink up after Attempts at Domesticity posted this marvelous concoction on deLizious facebook. A cap of marshmallow fluff and brief spin in the microwave made for a steamy and sweet cookie cocktail. No surprise that it pairs perfectly with treats that Anne (with an “e”) would most certainly have enjoyed.

before heating

before heating

30 seconds later

30 seconds later

what a way to drink!

what a glorious drink!

Extra-Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla. Add raisins; stir to coat. Let soak 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

In mixing bowl, beat together butter, shortening, and granulated and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add soaked raisin mixture; beat to blend. Slowly beat in flour mixture just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in oats.

Drop batter inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets 1 minute; transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 5 dozen cookies.

Oatmeal Cookie Cocktail

  • 2 ounces half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 1/2 ounces butterscotch schnapps
  • 1 ounce Jägermeister
  • 1 ounce cinnamon schnapps
  • Large spoonful marshmallow fluff

In microwave-safe drinking glass or mug, stir together all ingredients except marshmallow fluff. Top with fluff, spooning to seal rim of glass. Microwave, watching carefully, 30 seconds or until warm and fluff is puffed but hasn’t yet overflowed.

because sometimes one ice cream flavor just isn’t enough

Seems the blogosphere has been heating up. True, some bloggers are now enjoying a winter season (talking to you, Peckish Kiwi), but for the most part I read of folks pert-near melting from high temps. Becky, Deb, Lilly Sue, Cheri, and so many others have been advising us on how to stay cool. Even in Minnesota, where winter kicks in late October and sometimes stays put until April, we’re looking at high temps and dastardly humidity that make indoor cooking unfathomable. For my part, meals this week have been no-cook, grilled (thanks to the fine folk at Patrons of the Pit for teaching me there are few foods that can’t be grilled), or cooked up in the slow cooker.

The soaring mercury also has me thinking ice cream (though ice cream thoughts are always near regardless of what the mercury is doing) and plentiful fresh produce offers hosts of options. Nearly 30 pounds of pick-your-own berries (when local fresh produce shows up in Minnesota, we consume with a vengeance) and a neighborly gift of MORE BANANAS helped me narrow these options. My ice cream cravings would be satisfied in flavors of banana and strawberry.

First, those bananas. What to do with more bananas? I’d already baked bread, cakes, cookies, and bars. I’d made a smoothie. I’d roasted and pureed the flesh for mashed banana at a moments’ notice. But, I had yet to make ice cream. Stories of “healthy” banana ice cream had always intrigued me as it was purported to taste like ice cream, while being nothing more than frozen frappéed bananas. It seemed a good way to burn through the six bunches I had recently acquired, so I peeled, pureed, froze. I also mixed in chopped chocolate just because I could.

banana "ice cream" in the making

banana “ice cream” in the making

Verdict? Not bad. Though I’d compare it to an icy popsicle more than I would ice cream. In the end, the poor banana faux ice cream didn’t stand a chance as it was compared to my next project: Killer strawberry ice cream.

Turning again to Humphry Slocombe, I pureed 2 cups sliced fresh berries per instructions for Here’s Your D@mn Strawberry Ice Cream. (This wicked-cool ice cream has the same naming origins as does HS’s Here’s Your D@mn Chocolate Ice Cream, featured here.) A no-cook “custard” made this the perfect frozen treat to make on a sweltering day in a non-air conditioned kitchen.

berries + cream=bliss

berries + cream=bliss

And when I put these ice creams side-by-side for their deLizious facebook post

can you spot the imposter ice cream?

can you spot the imposter ice cream?

a clear winner emerged. The strawberry ice cream was rich, creamy, tart, sweet, and pink; a frozen ball of brown banana was going to play second fiddle.

Wanting to give the banana ice cream another shot, I thawed it slightly, then beat it with an electric mixer (a food processor was used the first round) to whip more air into it along with ingredients I hoped would enhance flavor: ground cinnamon, vanilla, peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and bourbon (!). It was much improved with a stronger flavor profile and slightly creamy texture. But it was also still basically frozen banana.

creamier and a fuller flavor, but it still ain't ice cream!

creamier and a fuller flavor, but still not ice cream

If this were a contest, the strawberry ice cream wins. But there’s always room for more than one ice cream–real or faux–so will enjoy each flavor for what it is. The banana as a sweet and sort-of healthy treat (adding bourbon, etc zapped much of its nutritional merit) and the strawberry as a decadent summer I-shouldn’t-really-eat-this-whole-bowl-but-I-just-can’t-stop-myself sort of thing.

If you need a summer cooler, I’d recommend whipping up bananas (with beaters instead of in a food processor) and freezing the puree. Stirring in plain or vanilla yogurt would be a good move, too, adding creaminess. But don’t stop there. Go ahead and make HS’s sensational strawberry ice cream as well. It’s as simple as pureeing those 2 cups fresh hulled berries (straining if desired, though I did not) and whisking together with 2 cups cream, 1/2 cup condensed milk, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (!), and 2 teaspoons salt. Chill thoroughly, then process in ice-cream maker.

tastes like summer

tastes like summer

So, chill out, beat the heat, stay cool. There are more summertime clichés I’d like to use here, but that strawberry ice cream is melting and it’d be a shame to let it go to waste. Rushing off to catch it now, but will see you next week. Thanks for stopping by!

marshmallow throw-down

Anyone who has followed deLizious facebook posts will know that I enjoy marshmallows very much. They’re so simple, so pure. Sugar, all fluffed up. I made a batch 15 or so years ago and have always said I’d do it again. But it turned out to be one of those things I always thought about doing but never did. Until now. Backing up a bit…

the fluff!

the fluff!

When holiday baking season hit last November, I shopped the local Fleet Farm repeatedly to buy up their stock of Marshmallow Fluff. Living in the midwest, it’s hard to find fluff (I’m not talking creme here–it has to be fluff) on store shelves. I’ve purchased online before, but when it shows up at Fleet Farm November through December, I save myself shipping costs and buy enough to keep me going for the year.

buffet of holiday novelty marshmallows

buffet of holiday novelty marshmallows

After the Great Fluff Purchase, my mom started buying novelty marshmallows for me: French vanilla snowmen, gingerbread folk, peppermint minis, Christmas trees. I was tickled she thought of me when she saw them and loved the innovative flavors. (Thanks again, mom!)

Next on my ‘mallow trail was Attempt in Domesticity‘s (awesome blog if you’ve never been) gargantuan mug-topping marshmallow. Reading about her marshmallow-making experience reminded me that this was something I’d done before and could do again.

Then A/D turned me on to Plush Puffs. This maker of “gourmet” and “artisan” marshmallows was calling my name–I lost no time in following A/D’s example and ordering from their odds-and-ends selection. These marshmallow remnants are less expensive than their prettier cube cousins, but just as yum. My first order was for caramel swirl (!), vanilla bean, and cinnamon. When they had a 20% off sale, I collected pumpkin pie, mochaccino, and chocolate chipetta flavors. These marshmallows are worlds apart from the packaged jet-puff variety. Plushies are soft, fresh, fragrant, and full of Real Flavor. Am a huge fan.

plush puff purchases

plush puff purchases–see the caramel swirling upper left?

Finally, I threw a challenge out to A/D saying I would make mallows if she’d take a turn at the caramel sauce she’s been wanting to make. And I’m here to say that I made my mallows!

final product all stacked up

final product all stacked up

Just as A/D had said in her post, nothing to it. The part where the whipped mixture went into the greased pan to firm was a bit sticky, but outside of that it was an easy task. I did veer ever-so-slightly from the recipe just twice: Plush Puff’s chipettas inspired me toss half-a-bag of mini chips into my batch before letting them set. Also, I was shy of the 1/2 cup powdered sugar I needed for dusting at the end, so mixed in a handful or so of gold sanding sugar. (How could that not be a good addition?) It was indeed pretty and next time I’d replace even more of the final dusting sugar with a more brightly colored sugar. My recipe follows and I encourage you to take up the marshmallow challenge. Or better yet, challenge yourself to make whatever it is you’ve been meaning to make for a very long time.

gorgeous

gorgeous–anyone else think it looks like the entrance to a deep cave of snow?

chips stirred in, ready to set

chips stirred in, ready to set

a slice of mallow

a slice of mallow

all done!

all done!

Homemade Marshmallows

  • 1 cup cold water, divided
  • 3 (1/4-ounce) envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup potato starch (cornstarch would be fine–I was surprised to see potato starch on my shelf–leftover from a gluten-free recipe, I think)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Line 13×9-inch pan with foil; coat with cooking spray.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into large bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand 15 minutes until gelatin softens and absorbs water.

In heavy medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, remaining 1/2 cup cold water, and the salt; stir over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat; bring to a boil. Boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 240°F.

With mixer at low speed, gradually pour hot syrup down side of bowl into gelatin mixture. Gradually increase speed to high. Beat 15 minutes or until mixture is thickened and stiff. Add vanilla; beat 30 seconds longer or until well blended.

Scrape marshmallow mixture into pan; smooth top with wet spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature 4 hours or until firm. (I so cheated here–didn’t wait much more than 20 minutes. Didn’t seem to be a problem as the mixture was just dry enough to work with.)

In large bowl, toss together potato starch and powdered sugar. Sprinkle onto work surface. Invert marshmallow pan onto starch mixture; remove foil from marshmallow. Sprinkle some of starch mixture over marshmallow; pat lightly. Coat sharp, large knife with cooking spray. Cut marshmallows into desired shapes. (Can use cookie cutters, too.) Return cut marshmallows and starch mixture to large bowl; toss to coat. Transfer marshmallows to wire rack, shaking off any excess starch mixture.

failed pink squirrel pie

I’ve posted before that I love a pink squirrel. This sweet cocktail is a blend of equal parts cream (or ice cream, if so inclined), white crème de cacao, and crème de Noyaux (also known as crème de noya or crème de almond). Made of apricot kernels, crème de Noyaux takes its name from “noyau,” the French word for kernel, pit, or core. Its red hue puts the pink in a pink squirrel and lends a more interesting flavor than if similarly flavored amaretto were used in its place.

Pink squirrels rank high on my list. So does Marshmallow Fluff. (Click over to deLizious Facebook for proof of the fluff obsession.) With two dozen jars of fluff in my pantry (I can only find it on store shelves once a year, folks. Please don’t judge me. 😉 ), I’ve taken The Marshmallow Fluff Cookbook down from the shelf. A recipe for Grasshopper Pie caught my eye and I thought why not crème de Noyaux instead of de menthe? A traditionally mint green pie went pink as I subbed in one liqueur for another.

I’d like to say it was an amazing success. Except that it wasn’t. My tendency to play fast and loose with recipes got me into trouble. Instead of using gelatin, I used vegetarian gelatin left over from a past project (vegetarian marshmallows anyone?). I also let the gelatin mixture come to a boil, which is for sure a no-no. In the end, the chilled gelatin mixture was a bit gloppy–certainly not the light and airy mousse I was going for. Once folded into the freshly whipped cream, it made a passable pie filling, though it never fully set, so slices didn’t hold their shape once plated.

pink squirrel pie

pretty and delish, but so not what I was going for

I’ll call it pudding in a pie shell and still enjoy, but will try again another day using regular gelatin and paying more attention when heating the gelatin mixture. It’s a reminder to me that experimenting with recipes doesn’t always lead to success. Even the mistakes are delicious, though, which is why I’m ok making mistakes in the kitchen. And for the sake of deliciousness, I hope you are, too.

Pink Squirrel Pie

Play with flavor by switching out the crème de Noyaux for another liqueur.

  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (vegetarian gelatin not recommended)
  • 1 (7.5-ounce) jar marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cup crème de Noyaux
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 (9-inch) graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • Sliced almonds

In medium saucepan, stir together cold water and gelatin; let stand 1 minutes. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly,  just until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallow fluff and crème de Noyaux. Refrigerate until mixture mounds when dropped from spoon.

In large bowl, whip 1 1/2 cups cream until soft peaks form. Fold into thickened gelatin mixture. Pour filling into crust. Top with 1 cup whipped cream; sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate 4 hours or until set.