Saturday, 25 February 2012

Scarlett's First Birthday

Scarlett's Birthday by SashaWarner
Scarlett's Birthday, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr... this pretty much sums up their attitudes towards food.
Last Sunday we had Scarlett’s birthday party. No baby “friends,” no outsiders. Just direct ascendants. If she doesn’t carry part of your genome in each of her adorable little cells, you weren’t invited. Why? Because she doesn’t know the difference. I find first birthdays to be anticlimactic. Why hire a clown when something shiny will due? Why invite the entire neighbourhood and their brother when your baby is at the height of separation anxiety? Nothing says “this day is for you, kiddo” like a bunch of strangers that she is certain are going to steal her away from her mother.

Truthfully, I would’ve done without the whole thing, since it was two weeks late. The kids were supersick/on quarantine when the real thing happened, so we had to cancel it and reschedule this one. There was one reason why it needed to happen. I wanted the pictures for her. Someday she’ll have a school project and need them as evidence, or she’ll have her own baby and want them for comparison’s sake. So I did it for her. And its not too often that she gets all of her surviving ascendants in one room (sidenote: she looks like none of them), which is far more special than the actual ritual.

I will say this: I rocked the cake out of the park. I recreated Nevin’s first birthday cake, only with better icing. Pioneer Woman gave the icing glowing reviews (with a complete pictorial), so I thought I’d give it a try. Decadent and fluffy at the same time… almost like if the texture of whip cream mated with the flavour of butter cream icing. It was a hit, so I’ve posted it below.

The Best Frosting
(from MissyDew at Tasty Kitchen)
5 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (NOT powdered sugar)
“In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. (If I’m in a hurry, I place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about 10 minutes or so until the mixture cools.) It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.
While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.”

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Compost Cookies

Stacked Kids by SashaWarner
Stacked Kids, a photo by SashaWarner on Flickr.
This is it. My last weekend before I return to work. And my probably my last post before I return to the realities of juggling work and family.

Look at those kids... aren't they adorable? I'm still struggling with the fact that I have to leave them with someone else, who doesn't think their quite as adorable as I do, four days a week. I wish I could keep playing with them everyday. At the same time, I'm ready to use my brain in a more adult way. I think part of the reason I did such a good job over the past year is because I knew there was a job for me to go back to.

Oh my gosh! I'll miss them.

At supper, my hubby, who knows me so well, said "lets bake tonight! They sky's the limit, sweetie. You name it and I'll get it." So I suggested these, which I've been dying to try. Oh. My. Gosh. I think I'll also be missing my skinny thighs tomorrow.

Compost Cookies
Makes 15-20 large cookies
(Slightly adapted from Christina Tosi – get the original recipe here).
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1 tablespoon corn syrup)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped assortment of chocolate and chocolate chips
1/2 cup Skor chips
1/2 cup Graham Crust (see below)*
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups Kettle chips
1 cup mini pretzels
1. Combine the butter, sugars and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream together on medium for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7-8 minutes.
2. Reduce mixer speed to low; add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Remove the bowl from the stand and add the chocolate chips, Skor chips, graham crust, and oats; mix until just blended. Add the potato chips and pretzels and mix with hands, until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or break too many pretzels or potato chips.
4. Place 1/3-cup mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature -- or skimp on the chilling time -- or they will not bake properly.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchmentlined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges, yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute if that's not the case.
6. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate (or an airtight container for storage). At room temperature, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days. In the freezer, they will keep 1 month.

*Graham Crust
Makes about 2 cups
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup milk powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Toss the graham cracker crumbs, milk powder, sugar and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute the dry ingredients.
2. Whisk the butter and cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 1 to 1½ tablespoons butter and mix it in.
3. Eat immediately or deploy as directed in the recipe. If using as a pie crust, the crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature, or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
-- Christina Tosi, "Momofuku Milk Bar" (Clarkson Potter, 256 pages, $35)
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