Farewell!

I’m sorry to say but I am ending this blog, Chem. Crew. Cupcakes.  I would love to continue adding delicious recipes and cute anecdotes, but there just isn’t time in my life anymore.  I have loved the support I received from all of you when I began this journey almost 2 years ago.  I feel I have expanded my baking and culinary knowledge considerably, and I hope you also benefited from these recipes.

I continue to bake and even started a cookie business at my college recently, with growing success.  As a result, there seems to be little time left to give to this blog.  And, I believe you all deserve well-written and tested recipes, which I am unable to provide at this time.  I hope that you continue to hear my name within the baking world.

Good luck with your baking endeavors!

Kelly,

Rice Krispies Extravaganza

What do you think of when you hear Rice Krispies treats?

… childhood memories?

…times with Grandma?

…spilling Rice Krispies all over the floor?

I have been baking for many years and love baking complex treats, but I still love the simplicity of Rice Krispies treats.  These are one of the first treats I learned how to make.  I make this treat for friends, bake sales, or for an afternoon or evening snack. I have made these treats forever, and I recently had a strong desire to try this recipe with other cereals.  I wanted to try these treats with Cocoa Krispies and Fruity Pebbles (I understand that this is a different type of cereal).  First, I want to talk about the basic recipe that I used for all of these.

Rice Krispies (I call the treats by the cereal name without the word ‘treat.’ do you?) came be made two ways: on the stovetop or in the microwave.  I have always made my Rice Krispies in the microwave because it seems easier, but for all of you, I wanted to try the other method, too. So, I could report back my findings.

Well, the two versions tasted a little different.  I even did a blind taste test with my mom (a wonderful baker in her own right).  I liked the stovetop version better, and she liked the microwave version better.  I think it had to do more with the marshmallow to cereal ratio than the different cooking methods.

I think most families have their way of doing it, and they always make these treats the same way.  I urge you to give both methods a try.

Both techniques are found on the back of the Rice Krispies box.

Let me give you quick instructions for both methods.

STOVETOP MEHTOD:

In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.

Add marshmallows, stirring marshmallows until melted.  See the progression of the marshmallows melt.

Once melted, remove from heat and immediately add the cereal.

Look at that sticky goodness.

Spread into a greased pan (9×9 will yield 1 1/2 inch. thick treats, 13×9 inch. pan will yield 1/2 inch treats).  Use your hands (coated with cooking spray) or a spatula (coated with cooking spray) to press down the treats into the pan.  Cut and enjoy!

I made these during crew season, and I took a picture of my beat-up hands (this isn’t as bad as it gets).  When your hands look like this, use the spatula.

MICROWAVE METHOD:

Microwave butter and marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl.  How long?

This is where it gets a little tricky.  I microwave mine for 30 seconds at a time, on high, stirring after each 30 second increment. Look at those puffy, puffy marshmallows.  De-lic-ious!

When do you stop microwaving them?  When they have started to form one big blob and return to their original size when the microwave is off, stop.  Air on the side of less time.

This is what you want:

Add in the cereal.  Follow the rest of the stovetop instructions.

Look at this masterpiece. It seems that the microwave treats are glossier but less white.

Enjoy!

For variations, I wanted to try different cereals.  In all my attempts, I have never tried anything but the traditional.  Never dipped them in chocolate, added other ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, or candy.

I tried these delicious treats with Cocoa Krispies and Fruity Pebbles with abysmal results.

The Coca Krispies treats brought out the fakeness of the ‘cocoa’ in the cereal.  The Fruity Pebbles tasted bad for similar reasons.  The fruity taste that is so yummy in a bowl with milk becomes a bad part about the treats.  They both were not good, but the trial and error was great for you because now you don’t have to try these combinations.

All in all, I discovered the awesome tastiness of pure Rice Krispies treats: just butter, marshmallows, and Rice Krispies.

Enjoy!!!

Recipe: Rice Krispie Treats Extravaganza

Rocky Road Brownies

I’ve never in my life had Rocky Road ice cream (for those of you who don’t know what this is: it is chocolate ice cream with nuts and marshmallows).  For some reason, I never thought it sounded good or I always thought there were better ice cream flavors (coffee, peppermint, mint chocolate chip…, I’m getting hungry for ice cream now).  I found this recipe for Rocky Road Brownies, and these caught my fancy.  I think it was the lightly roasted/browned marshmallows on top that appealed to me.  As I was whipping up this recipe, I looked up some more about the history of the rocky road.

First, William Dreyer, one of the founder’s of Edy’s Ice Cream, cut up walnuts and marshmallows with his wife’s SEWING SCISSORS (crazy?) and added them to this chocolate ice cream in 1929.   It’s been said that he used his wife’s sewing scissors because at that time, only large marshmallows were being produced.  I couldn’t prove that, but it sounds plausible. He based this mixture on a similar candy bar his partner, Joseph Edy, had created.

The name was created to give people a laugh and a smile amidst the Great Depression.  It’s amazing the complex history of a popular ice cream flavor.

For the brownies, they mimicked the main flavors of chocolate, marshmallow, and nuts.  Real Rocky Road ice cream is made with almonds, but I made them with walnuts because that is what I prefer.  Do what you want.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 ˚F.  Next, spray an 8 x 8 in. square pan with cooking spray. Chop up your pecans or almonds (whichever you prefer). 

Put chopped nuts, marshmallows, and chocolate chips in a small bowl and mix together.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, and vanilla until blended.

Lots of sugar.

Add one egg at a time mixing well after each addition.

Add cocoa, flour, and salt and stir the batter until everything is fully incorporated. (Cocoa=pure joy)

You notice the beater.  That is from my KitchenAid mixer.  It was so nice to come home and use it.

Spread the brownie batter into the prepared pan trying to spread the batter as evenly as possible. 

Sprinkle the almond/marshmallow/chocolate mixture over the top of the batter.  Again, try to spread the mixture evenly.  Using the back of a spoon or your fingers (why bother getting a spoon dirty when you have 2 beautiful hands), gently press the topping mixture into the batter.  This will ensure that the topping backs into the brownie and won’t fall off the top once baked.

Bake for 30 minutes or until done.  The marshmallows will be slightly crisp and golden.

Enjoy!

Recipe from: Savory Sweet Life

Recipe:Rocky Road Brownies

I’m back

So, I’m finally back to blogging.  I’m very sorry for the long, long delay.  I’ve been back in the country for about a month now, but I have been super, super busy with tons of other projects.

 

I had a wonderful time in Mexico (check out the picture below of me in Chiapas, Mexico), and I even did some baking introducing my host family to such American wonders as whoopie pies, chocolate chip cookies, and angel food cake (I made one and dyed different layers to form the Mexican flag colors).  Everything was a hit, and all the Mexican food was also delicious.  I decided not to blog of my baking adventures in Mexico, so I could enjoy every second of my 4 months there.  But, now I’m back and I’m ready to start this up again.


Thank you for your patience.  I had some posts in the mix to post, but I’ve been busy re-acclimating to America and English.  I also decided to start up a small cookie/baking business on the side to sell delicious, fresh cookies to other students at my college.  Yet another activity to add to my already busy schedule.

 

I have decided to change the format of this blog a bit.  Instead of pictures of every step, I will post pictures at just the most important or confusing steps.  I have faith that many people can add simple ingredients properly and follow the directions.  This will also give me some more time to try out new recipes and concoctions.

 

Thanks for your continued support of me and this blog as I transition back.  I promise a delicious recipe here very soon.

 

Kelly,

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

My family likes bread/toast for breakfast.  My brother likes to make French toast with his bread.  My mom likes to top her toast with peanut butter and jelly.  My dad likes to slather his with butter against the rest of the family’s wishes because he thinks a little butter on your toast is a lot of butter in my mind.  I, actually, enjoy eating toast with butter or butter and jelly on occasion, but I prefer the old standby of cereal with milk for breakfast.  The reasons are: I don’t enjoy change so eating the same thing for breakfast is what I like, I don’t want to have to think too hard about what I am eating for breakfast especially early in the morning, and finally, I’m usually hungry in the morning, and I don’t want to have to work hard for my breakfast.  (I’m sorry past grammar teachers because I know the past sentence was 3 sentences smashed together.)  I really enjoy college because there are pancakes, waffles, omelets, and pastries for breakfast, and all I have to do is show up.  Oh, the wonders of college.

Well, back to the point.  My family likes bread for breakfast, so when I got home from college, I decided to make some breakfast bread.  This recipe is a nice cinnamon raisin bread that has whole-wheat flour and oatmeal to add some health and brown sugar to add some sweetness.

For the recipe:

Add buttermilk to a saucepan and heat just to a scald (light boil).  If the buttermilk begins to curdle, that is okay.

I actually used powdered buttermilk that is in the baking aisle near the powdered regular milk and the canned milk.  This powdered buttermilk comes as a powder (obviously), and you just add water to make buttermilk in whatever quantity you need.  This jar can sit in your fridge for about a year instead of the normal shelf life of fresh buttermilk of 1-2 weeks.  Usually for recipes, I add the powdered buttermilk to the dry ingredients and the water for reconstituting to the liquid ingredients.  You can also mix up the buttermilk in a separate bowl and add it when needed.  For this recipe, you do need to mix the buttermilk up separately and heat to a slight boil.

On to the rest of the recipe:

Add the buttermilk into a large bowl.  Add in brown sugar, salt, and butter.

Mix until well blended.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.  Once cool, add in the egg, oats, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, and yeast.

It is essential that you let the buttermilk mixture cool because if it is too hot, you can kill the yeast.  Yeast will die when it is 140˚, and water, the main ingredient of buttermilk boils at 212˚F.  Mix ingredients for a few minutes until well mixed.  Allow the batter to rest uncovered for 10 minutes.  This allows the gluten network to start developing and will make kneading easier and shorter.

Look at that nice and wet batter.

Start to add in the bread flour (add the 1st cup) and beat until flour is incorporated. Add more bread flour as needed.  You may not need all 2 cups.  It depends on where you live and the time of year.  A humid climate will need less water/more flour because the flour will soak up water from the air.  Use your judgment for the flour, but when in doubt, add less flour.  When it becomes hard to mix in the bowl, turn out onto floured surface.  Knead for 8 minutes adding more flour if dough becomes sticky.  The dough should be smooth and elastic.  If you poke the dough with your finger, it should spring back relatively quickly meaning the gluten has developed enough.

Put the dough in a bowl that is coated with either oil or non-stick cooking spray.  Flip dough over so that all sides are coated.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double in bulk: about 1 or 1 ½ hours.

While the dough is rising, combine cinnamon and sugar in small bowl for the filling. Also, place a piece of parchment paper on a pan (lots of p’s), and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Once dough has finished rising, turn out onto floured surface.  Cut dough in half.  Roll each piece into a rectangle about 16 x 7 in. The fol in my dough is due to the fact that it was the right length but a tad too wide.

Brush half of the melted butter onto the dough.

Sprinkle half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top of the butter.  Sprinkle on raisins. I like a lot of raisins, but add as many as you would like.  I actually made one loaf without raisins for my mother who doesn’t like raisins.

Roll the short end of the dough like a jelly roll, and pinch the seam closed.

Place bread loaf on prepared pan.

It make look ugly, but it will taste pretty.

Do the same with the other half of the dough.

Cover loaves with plastic wrap, and allow to double in bulk again, about 1 hour.  Preheat the oven to 375 ˚F, and put a cast iron pan on the lowest rack (I’ll explain why later).  To add a little variety to your loaf, take a wooden spoon and stick the handle into a bag of flour.

Now take the spoon handle and press into the center of the dough, pressing all the way to the bottom.  Cover with plastic wrap again, and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  Now place into preheated oven.

This is where things get interesting. I have a bad habit of skimming instead of reading.  I do it with emails and with recipes.  Both of which are very bad.  For emails, I tend to miss key points when I skim the email.  On many occasions, this has ended badly with scheduling 2 things on the same night, forgetting to  bring something to an event, etc.  For recipes, it means that I make the bread and it comes out perfectly, but when I reread the recipe and make changes for my blog, I notice things I didn’t get the first time.  For this recipe, I was supposed to add the raisins into the dough instead of sprinkling them on top of the filling.  I think my way worked better because the raisins were pretty evenly distributed which is hard with kneading.  See the distribution?

Another mistake I made was with the baking.  I was supposed to bake the loaves in an oven that had a cup of hot water in the bottom to create steam.  I didn’t read that, so I didn’t do that.  Instead, I just put my loaves in the oven and baked them for the allotted time.  How could I have skipped such a chunk of directions, you may be asking?  Well, I was ready to bake, and I just skimmed for the length of time for baking.

What does the hot water in the oven do?  This creates steam in the oven and helps create a crisp crust.  Think of baguettes, they have super crunchy crusts.  That is because the bakeries that bake baguettes (I’m really into alliteration today, have you noticed?) have very expensive ovens that have steam injection.  The boiling water is a cheap and somewhat successful substitute.

So, now I will tell you what you should do and what I should have done to bake these loaves.  Remember that cast iron pan, here’s its moment in the spotlight.  Place the bread pan into the oven.  Before you close the oven, add about a cup of boiling water to the cast iron pan.  Close the door immediately.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy with a touch of butter, some hot coffee, and today’s paper!  My idea of a perfect morning.

Recipe adapted from: CookingBread.com

Recipe:Brown Sugar Oatmeal Raisin Bread

1 Year of Blogging Celebrated with Delicious Cake

I can’t believe I have been blogging for ONE whole year. Well, actually yesterday was the 1-year anniversary, but last week my computer was getting fixed, and this week my internet hasn’t been working, and the last few days I’ve been busy finishing up my internship, packing, and moving back home. I’m so excited that I was able to make it this far, and I’m excited for adventures to come.

I’ve written 54 posts, and I have many more that I want to publish.  For this important anniversary, I whipped up a delicious strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting.  This cake was so decadent but so delicious.  Everyone wanted a second piece and a piece to take home.

This recipe wasn’t too complicated, but the outcome was out of this world.

For the cake:

First, I prepared the pans.  Line 3 9-inch round pans with parchment paper.  I turn my pans over and trace the outline to get the right size parchment rounds.

Once done with all the tracing, cutting, and preparing.  Butter the parchment paper.

Chop up 2 cups of strawberries. You can use frozen strawberries, thawed, but I always prefer fresh.  I would recommend frozen in the winter because the strawberries are usually frozen at the peak of ripeness, instead of being shipped 3,000 miles in the middle of winter. Puree in your food processor or blender.

In a large bowl, mix together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Add in the butter (yes, I know it is a lot, but well worth it).

Add in the strawberry puree.

Beat at medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.  The batter is so tasty, and the strawberry flavor comes out well.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk, and red food dye.

Egg whites?  I hate to separate out the whites from the yolks and then throw away the yolks or use them in something else.  Instead, I bought a carton of egg whites. 3 Tbsp. is equal to 1 egg white.

Mix the egg whites, milk, and 3-4 drops of red food dye.  The food dye will bring out the color of the strawberries and will make the cake a nice pink color, a little surprise when you cut open the cake.

Reminds me a little of Pepto Bismol.  I’m starting to feel a little nausea, heartburn… It will look good in the cake, so carry on.

Add the pink whites to the batter in 2-3 additions, mixing well after each addition.  Once all is incorporated, don’t keep mixing.

Divide the batter between the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for 28-33 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

While the cakes are cooling, whip up the frosting.  Cream together the butter and powdered sugar until thick and creamy.

Add in vanilla and cream cheese.Beat until smooth.

Put this in the fridge to cool while the cakes bake and cool.

Check the cakes.  A toothpick should come out clean.

The cake separates nicely from the pan making for easy removal.

Once cool, turn the first cake out on to the plate you wish to serve the cake on. This is one of the plates I recently purchased to showcase my desserts.

Peel off the parchment paper.

Top with a dollop of frosting (1/2 cup).  Spread out frosting.

Top with the next layer.  I was using the oven to make some bread, so one of my pans was lopsided leading to a lopsided level.

It’s not obvious from the picture, but it’s crooked.  I added extra icing on 1 side to even it out.

Top with the remaining layer. Coat the entire cake with the frosting.

I decorated the cake with strawberries.  Here is a trick I learned from a bakery I worked at.

Take a strawberry, and cut small slices in it.

Spread them apart like a fan.

I put this in the center of the cake.

See the man in the background getting his fork ready to dig in to the deliciousness.

ENJOY for whatever occasion you have, whether you are celebrating 1-year anniversary of your blog or your wedding anniversary or for your birthday.

I hope you will continue to follow my blog for many more years.

Recipe:Strawberry Celebration Cake

Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen

Red, White, and Blue Strawberries

These red, white, and blue strawberries are perfect for 4th of July.

Begin by washing the strawberries and let them dry.

(Even my dish towel was patriotic, notice the star!)

Melt semisweet or milk chocolate in the microwave or over the stovetop. Chocolate too thick?  Add in a little neutral oil like canola oil to thin out the chocolate.  I added about 1/4 tsp. to 1 cup of chocolate.  This made the chocolate nice and smooth so, it could coat the strawberries well.

Dip strawberries in chocolate.

Then dip into blue sprinkles.

Put the dipped strawberries on a sheet of wax paper to cool.

 

In another bowl, melt white chocolate, adding oil if too thick. Dip more strawberries in white chocolate. Skip the sprinkles though.

Finally, leave some strawberries naked (without chocolate).

Put the wax paper sheet with the strawberries in the fridge for 15 minutes to help set up the chocolate.

Leftover chocolate?  Tip some smaller strawberries, using a spoon to coat with that last bit of chocolate.

Drizzle the other chocolate over top to cover up any imperfections.

Remove strawberries from the fridge. Arrange on a plate.  I recently bought some decorative plates in different sizes and shades.  This is one of my purchases.  It was the perfect size for these beauties.

Enjoy!

 

Another option:

Dip strawberries in white chocolate, and then just dip the tip of the strawberry into the sprinkles.  Each strawberry has all three American colors.

I like the other idea because I prefer regular chocolate to white chocolate, but both designs compliment the strawberries in a sweet way.

Either way, enjoy with friends and family.  Have a wonderful 4th of July!

 

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