Happy Father’s Day: Boston Cream Cake-Pie-Monster-Thing

Whenever I ask my dad what he wants me to make for dessert that weekend, I always get the same answer.  Without fail.

“Flour.  Sugar.  Frosting.  Can I put it on cereal?”

I used to find this a lot more annoying.  I get that it’s his way of enjoying whatever I’ve baked, or something, but there was a while when I would so indignantly declare that he was ruining the dessert that I’d worked so hard to make delicious and pretty and why was I even wasting my time, because he was just going to dissect my beautiful creation with a spoon and stuff it with ice cream?

He answered with his infamous (at least in my house) theory that the uglier food is, the better it tastes, and that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about how pretty my food was.  We’ve since agreed to disagree on the issue.

Our second-biggest dessert disagreement is muffins v. cupcakes: I have explained the difference probably thirty times, and he still seems to decide arbitrarily whether something is a muffin or a cupcake.  Frosting?  Definitely a cupcake.  Chocolate?  Probably a muffin.

Or in most cases in my house, an unfrosted cupcake.  But again, agree to disagree.  And not be able to explain, apparently.

His latest “food whut” has been a bit of a griper, though: what constitutes “frosting”.  He gets the difference between whipped cream and frosting just fine, but all other filling categories (with the exception of pudding, which he is totally on board with) fall into the vague “frosting” category.  I told him I was going to make a tart with a pastry cream; that was frosting.  And when I pitched the Boston cream monstrosity that I made him for Father’s Day, going over each layer with him, his response to the cream filling was something along the lines of “that’s frosting, right?”

When I told him it wasn’t, he asked if we could replace it with frosting.

When I said no and told him we could replace it with something like a cannoli filling instead, he nodded and said “Frosting.  Good.”

I give up.

Happy Fathers’ Day, weirdo.  Glad you like your cake, whatever it is you want to call the filling.

Boston Cream Cake-Pie

Pybrids for victory!

Boston Cream Cake-Pie
adapted from this recipe, reprinted on Huffington Post from Vegan Pie In The Sky

Ingredients

for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the crust:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crumbled fine
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar

for the filling:

  • 6 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon powdered, unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

for the ganache:

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and generously spray a 9″ pie dish with cooking spray.
  2. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, vinegar, sugar, oil, and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened.
  3. Pour the batter into the pie dish and bake 13-14 minutes, or until a toothpick draws clean. (The top will be shiny, and the cake will strongly resemble a very large, very short flan.) Let cool for about five minutes, then invert onto a large dinner plate.
  4. Clean and dry your pie plate, then start on the graham cracker crust. Pour the graham crackers, sugar, and butter into the pie plate and mix by hand until combined; press into the shape of the pie plate and bake 10-12 minutes.
  5. In a blender or stand mixer, blend the ricotta, vanilla and almond extracts, and lemon juice until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Working in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1/2 cup milk and the gelatin. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer after 20-30 seconds and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in the sugar. Combine the remaining milk and cornstarch separately, then pour into the gelatin-milk mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
  7. Add the milk mixture to the ricotta and blend until smooth. Pour this mixture into the pie shell, tap to release air bubbles, and transfer to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set.
  8. Once the filling feels slightly firm, gently place the cake layer on top and return to the fridge.
  9. In a small saucepan, prep your ganache: bring the cream to a rapid boil over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butter. Pour the ganache out onto the center of the cake, tilting to spread the chocolate out to the edges.
  10. Let sit at least 3 hours in the fridge before serving.

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St Pat’s Part 1: Carbomb Cupcakes

One of my favorite English professors in college is seeeriously Irish.  He rants for the Celts, rages at everyone else, and speaks Gaelic.  One of his favorite things to tell (and re-tell) his students is a game of his; when people meet his Irishness with any sort of cutesy/endearing reaction, he’ll fire off something in Gaelic and they’ll smile before walking off.

He tells them he said “may the road rise up to meet you”.  What he told us he actually says is “may the road rise up to meet your face”.

I think he’d like these cupcakes, bitter though he is.  He’d probably bust my ass for still not using Irish whiskey, but Lou, I still don’t have any.  Feel free to share, though.

Cute little buggers!

Cute little buggers!

The best tip I can give anyone on eating an Irish carbomb cupcake is to eat it like you would drink a carbomb.  (Crazy, huh?)  The cake is reeeeally rich with Guinness, and the ganache filling is just bitter chocolate and whiskey.  The frosting is super sweet, though, and the Irish cream kind of helps smooth it out; if you get everything in one bite, it’s fantastic.

Not unlike a carbomb.

Not the firey kind, though.

You know what I mean.

Baking prep started super early yesterday.

Yum.  Booze at 10 AM.

Yum. Booze at 10 AM.

Because St Patrick’s Day weekend.  This is to be expected.

Guinness, butter, and chocolate.

Guinness, butter, and chocolate.

This was definitely one of those ‘well let me just test this to make sure it’s good’ recipes.  A, because everything was delicious and mostly loaded with chocolate, and B, because remember this joke?

I say again: St Patrick’s Day.

Fresh from the oven!

Fresh from the oven!

Once the cakes were successfully baked and cooling, it was ganache time.

There's that Wild Turkey again.

There’s that Wild Turkey again.

I swear to you, we will finish that bourbon by the end of the weekend.  By hook or by crook.

Probably via my mom and me doing actual carbombs with it later today.

Is that weird?

With everything cooled, the process of filling began.

Alcohol count: 2/3.

Alcohol count: 2/3.

The recipe I was working off of said to fill the cupcakes ‘with a pastry bag with a wide tip, or your finger and a spoon’.  Guess which option I went for.

And then the last step, frosting.

Some of that Irish cream went straight into my mouth, too.  Sue me.

Some of that Irish cream went straight into my mouth, too. Sue me.

This was actually the easiest buttercream ever, and I might start replacing my usual buttercream for this method– especially when I need a smooth, flavored frosting.

We're working on the frosting skills thing, really.

We’re working on the frosting skills thing, really.

Voila!  Top with green sanding sugar (or white sugar that’s been shaken in a tiny jar with a few drops of green food coloring, as I did) and you’re good to go!

Part 2 of Irish Cooking Day is calling me from the oven, so I’ll leave you with a link to the printable of the recipe I used rather than a typed-out version.  The only adjustments I made were in the frosting; I used half the butter and two cups less powdered sugar, plus an extra tablespoon of Irish cream.  But I would probably kick up the quantities of all to get better frosting-to-cupcake ratio if I were doing this again.

Here’s the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker.  And I’ll be back later with more Irish goodness (and probably declining typing skills..)

Friday Five: March 15th

Ew.  I finished out my week with a doctor’s appointment, how gross is that.

But it’s cool.  I washed it down with ample doses of the following, plus a good swig of southern Irish cream.

2 for 5 at CVS!

I’m really not sure how it’s lasted this long.

1. Easter Candy
If you couldn’t tell from my gushing gushery about Essie’s pretty spring polishes in last week’s faves, I frakking love pastels.  Stick those pastels on the foil wrapper of a little piece of chocolate and you have the ammunition to cajole me into doing your bidding.

2 for 7 at CVS: Reese’s minis and almond Kisses.  I splurged and got them both, because who else is going to get me the contents of an Easter basket at 21?

So. Good.

So. Good.

2. Biscoff
I am really, really behind on the Biscoff bandwagon.  And I’m starting to think I should have stayed off it.  Probably what happened was there was a guardian angel type character keeping me from getting Biscoff for this long, and he met a tragic end the moment before I pulled this stuff off the shelves.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the magic of Biscoff, I’ll enlighten: it’s like if a cookie were made into peanut butter.  None of the nutritional value of protein.  All of the creaminess, and absolutely all of the delicious.

Half of me wants to take a bath in this stuff and die promptly afterwards.  I have a problem.

Such a pro, sifting with a spoon.

Kellerrrrrr

3. the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
My library wants to overload me with my interlibrary loans this week, which is incredibly wonderful but terribly inconvenient being that I just picked up four novels to read.  I have too much to read!  And I feel like that shouldn’t be recognized as a legitimate problem, so you can look shamefully at me now.

I used the Bouchon cookbook over the weekend to make some pretty great brownies, so I’m counting this guy a success already.  I only have it for another week, though, so we’ll see how much baking I can cram in before it has to go back.  And I cry over its loss.

The funny thing is that she just mentioned Seabiscuit in the book. Lols ensued.

4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Things I did recently: joined a book club of twentysomething ladies who read.  I’m super excited to go to my first meeting, and as a result I’ve been devouring my first read (instead of all those other novels I have; there are now six. Help.)

I’m not generally HUGELY into biographies, but Unbroken is really pretty engaging so far.  It takes you through the life and Olympic career of Louie Zamperini, and all that prisoner-of-war stuff is sure to come once the war picks up.  He’s training for the 1940 Tokyo games right now, and I am just waiting on the edge of my seat for the other shoe to drop.

5. the Skimm
Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been cheating at the news and it is awesome.

Yes, I have time during my day to rummage around the internet and be very well-informed by the time I get home from work.  But I’d really rather spend that time drooling on Pinterest and checking up on my feeds, because…food is pretty tasty, essentially.  Enter Skimm: they send you an email a day with top news items of that day, conveniently linked to source articles for you to peruse at your leisure!  I will never be uninformed again, thanks to them.

Honorable Mention: #6, you guys!
I’ve been at P&P for just over a week now, and I love love LOVE being able to write out little stories about the things I’m eating and my life in general.  It’s great for me, since I haven’t gotten to write this much in ages and the therapeutic factor is a major plus.  But what’s quickly turning out to be the best part is you guys; likes, comments, and follows are not only incredibly encouraging for a fledgling blog like mine, but they stir up the kind of warm fuzzy feelings of knowing that someone is reading and appreciating what you’ve written.  That’s the part of blogging I was most excited to be a part of, and I’m thrilled that it’s taken off so quickly– and it just makes me even more excited to keep on this road with you guys.

So thank you, basically.

Anyway, enough mush.  Regular food blogging commences tomorrow, but in the meantime I’m dying to know…what have you been enjoying this week?

Mint Oreo Brownies with Thomas Keller!

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

..if you’re in Hartford.  I don’t get this at all, but my lovely state is having all of our St Pat’s parades this weekend– even though St Pat’s is, you know.

On a weekend.

Stay perfect, Connecticut.

Since next weekend is going to get overloaded with the food apocalypse that is St Patrick’s Day aka overloaded with starch and starring the word “boiled”, I’m getting a jump and starting with the tasty things a week early.

Planning!  Or something.  Here, I’ll distract you with mint Oreo brownies.

Look at the brownies!  The tasty, tasty brownies.

Look at the brownies! The tasty, tasty brownies.

Okay so mint has nothing to do with Ireland, and neither do Oreos, but mint and Oreos are both things I like and brownies were the dessert-on-the-table for the weekend.  This was inevitable.

And they’re green.  That counts?

The original plan was just to make normal, garden-variety brownies and then Oreo the shit out of them.  But my public library sent me an email yesterday saying that the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook had come in on interlibrary loan…

Cue angelic choir, for this is the baking BIBLE.

Cue angelic choir, for this is the baking BIBLE.

…and I couldn’t. I couldn’t not use it.

Such a pro, sifting with a spoon.

Such a pro, sifting with a spoon.

In addition to 8,000 tips and a whole arsenal of drool-worthy pictures, Thomas Keller is good enough to grace us with a lot (a lot) of recipes for things that you’ll instantly feel compelled to make.  Or at the very least wave around in everyone’s face and say “DOESN’T THAT SOUND DELICIOUS?” until they all get sick of you and tell you to go away.

(Thanks, mom, for not actually telling me to go away.  But your face kind of drove the message home.)

The closest kin to a brownie in the book are Keller’s bouchon(and that’s French for cork, apparently): little round cakes with a special mold named after them from Williams-Sonoma.  But since I didn’t feel like shelling out for a special pan (and really, I just wanted brownies) I figured the recipe would be adaptable for my purposes and set about getting all the ingredients out of their various ingredient-homes.

Totally prepared, right?

Mise en place, my version.  Totally prepared, right?

But then when I started looking at the recipe I remembered something: Keller is, like most professional bakers, really into baking by weight rather than baking by volume.  There’s a whole section of the introduction about it.

Thomas Keller put the fear of baking-god in me, and I caved.  And I weighed.

Mise en place, the anal retentive version.

Mise en place, the anal retentive version.

I have no idea what the difference would have been if I’d used the volumes provided (for the silly people who don’t have scales, what a concept), but there was a nagging voice in the back of my head telling me to just do what Keller wanted.

I guess weights have the advantage of being easier to divide/multiply.  Conversions?  What are those?

I guess weights have the advantage of being easier to divide/multiply. Conversions? What are those?

He probably knows best, anyway.

Mint Oreo Brownies - dry

I whisked dry ingredients. I never whisk dry ingredients, but I did it just because Keller told me to and I am no one to beg to differ.

From there, the brownies were really easy to put together.  Just as easy as any other brownie, which is to say…easy.

I spy with my little eye...yellow Oreos?  They're spring; my mom isn't keen on the mint, so I went half-and-half.

I spy with my little eye…yellow Oreos? They’re spring; my mom isn’t keen on the mint, so I went half-and-half.

I did skip one step (shh! Don’t tell Keller) because I goofed and preheated my oven before I read the part about letting the batter sit for 2 hours.

Whatever.  They came out fine.

See?  Fine.

See? Fine.

You know how sometimes brownies just taste like mislabeled cake?  And you eat them and you feel disappointed because you wanted that nice dry crumb that you get from a brownie?  These are not that.  These are perfectly crumbly, nice and dark, and absolutely delicious.

The cookie part of the Oreo changes texture– it sort of hybridizes with the brownie, which is pretty excellent, since you get the aforementioned crumb with a tiny lingering crunch from the cookie.

Plus, they taste like Thin Mints.  There is literally nothing not to like.

I’m posting the quantities in weights; I know there are converters out there, though, so if you don’t have a scale don’t worry.  I can also post the volume-d out quantities as well, just ask.  Also, for reference: 75 grams of eggs is about 1 large egg, so don’t kill yourself over it.

Mint Oreo Brownies
adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 141 grams unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 50 grams all-purpose flour
  • 50 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 0.4 gram Kosher salt
  • 75 grams eggs
  • 162 grams granulated sugar
  • 1.5 grams vanilla extract
  • 16 mint Oreos

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Set aside half the butter in a medium bowl. Melt the rest in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Stir the melted butter into the non-melted until the mixture comes to room temperature and appears creamy with small bits of non-melted butter left; set aside.
  3. Sift the cocoa powder into the flour. Add the salt and whisk together.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium-low. Scrape down the bowl. While the mixer is running, alternate additions of the flour mixture and the butter (3 additions each). Continue mixing until combined.
  5. Lightly grease an 8×8 glass baking dish and coat the bottom with about half of the batter. Line Oreos across in four rows of four, then cover with the remaining batter, using a spatula to spread until all the Oreos are covered.
  6. Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

What’s your favorite brownie fixin’– or are you more a fan of the classic plain?