Monday, June 23, 2014

Cakes, cakes, and more cakes

I get asked a lot if I am a professional baker.  And the answer is "no".  I then get asked if I want to do this for a living.  And the answer is " I don't know".  Why do I feel weird telling people that I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up?   I am going to be 33 soon and I still haven't figured out yet what I want to do with my life.

But for right now, with my two beautiful babies still at home, I am enjoying what I do.  I really don't make any money off of my baking.  I sold two dozen cupcakes the other day but I have also spent a small fortune at the grocery store this week buying other supplies.  My husband recently asked me what I want for my birthday at the end of the summer and I sent him my Amazon wish list full of fondant cutters and other goodies.  It never ends.

This week I got to make three different cakes for three different occasions.  I was completely swamped with other things too.  I am worn out and my back hurts tremendously...but I kinda can't wait to do it again.

The first cake I made was for my father-in-law.  He LOVES golf.  Every single Sunday and Wednesday he is on the course.  And what's with the "Faja" you say? Apparently, he is also a huge Austin Powers fan.  He even has my son calling him Grandfaja.

The second cake I made was for my New York born and bred neighbor.  He just retired from the Post Office and makes me laugh every single time I see him.  As soon as I told him it was his favorite chocolate cake I make, he gave me a huge hug too.

The third cake I made this week was for another very special neighbor of ours.  I got to meet the mom and son while I was out walking with my children.  Her little boy was 15 months at the time and she explained that over the last few months he had been battling brain cancer.  I told her a little later on that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to cry or give her and her boy a hug.

You see, I left the conversation feeling so many things.  I was having, what I thought, was a pretty crappy day.  My daughter was not feeding well and my son was not listening to a word I said.  I went for a walk to get some fresh air and to wear out my energetic boy.  I quickly realized after talking to JR's mom that I could be dealing with so much more.  For all the heart break and stress she was going through, she had a huge smile on her face the whole time talking about how great he, her Superman baby, had been doing with his treatments.

So I just knew I had to make a cake for him to celebrate his treatments ending soon. I got to deliver my promise on his cake this weekend.

And seeing the joy on their faces when I showed up was payment enough for me.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

We have been trying to behave this week on food.  We even have lettuce in the fridge.  We are actually using the crisper drawer in the fridge for what it was meant for.  And here I thought it was just extra storage for unsalted butter sticks.

But after dealing with our third round of colds this year, and a three hour trip to the dentist today, we needed a little chocolate.  Luckily, my husband has coworkers who will eat anything we bring them so most of the cookies are headed their way.

I have to be honest.  I am not sold on these cookies yet.  It is probably because the original recipe calls for chunky peanut butter.  Don't get me wrong.  We LOVE chunky peanut butter.  But we have been die hard fans of NATURAL peanut butter for years.  And without the added sugar and other additives, the natural stuff will alter the outcome of the cookies.  They still taste pretty darn good.  But I am very curious to see what a difference a good ole scoop of Jif would make to these cookies.

What you will need

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter
1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

Two words for this recipe.  Super easy.  Cream the butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter together in a mixing bowl.  Once everything is light and fluffy, add in the egg and vanilla.  Now throw in your dry ingredients and mix together.  Once done, fold in your chocolate chips.  How easy is that?  I wasn't lying when I said "super".

Portion the dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

I will try to do an update soon with regular peanut butter to show a difference. Keep you posted!

Print Recipe - Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie

************STATUS UPDATE************

So I had an epiphany the other night in the shower.  Some people figure out how to end world hunger while shampooing their hair, others might realize just how to beat that level in the video game they are playing while soaping up...I think about cookies during my 10 minutes away from my screaming 3 year old.  

Not only was changing the peanut butter the key to these cookies but actually using the right type of leavening agent helped too.  I know.  I know.  I obviously was having a moment.  For some reason, I knew I needed baking soda but my hand grabbed the baking powder.  Hence the reason the cookie dough had a mousse like texture the first time around.  

But using baking soda and crunchy Jif, the second batch turned out so much better. They were a little sweeter and a little softer too!