Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gingerbread Men

Finally, House of Munch is back up and running. Sorry about the prolonged absence- balancing school and life has been a bit overwhelming. It's not as if I haven't been baking; I've just been selfish and haven't shared it with you!

The recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook, a book I highly suggest for anyone who likes to bake. The recipes are not overly complicated and there are diagrams in select recipes to help show you how to achieve the final product.

In total, I baked over 180 gingerbread men for the holidays. My mom and I decorated for 4 hours. It started out as gifts for my friends, which turned into a list of 25 people, which spilled over to my aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins. Luckily, the weather was in my favor because Boston got at least 16 inches of snow over the weekend- allowing me to become a hermit without getting weird looks from my sisters.

So worth it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

TWD: Chocolate- Chocolate Cake

On Tuesdays, as well as TWD, I have Wilton Cake Decorating, for which I need to bring a cake for. That's why instead of cupcakes here, you see a cake. I added 1 tsp of espresso powder to the recipe to amp up the chocolate flavor.
Sorry for being late- I've been baking non-stop for a bakesale on Friday that supports my ceramics teacher.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

I'm back. After three long weeks of barely any baking and absolutely no time to participate in Tuesdays with Dorie, I finally cracked down and made these muffins. It was well worth it. This was a recipe I had wanted to make on my first flip-through of the book, and thanks to Kelly from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp! I finally had all the motivation I needed to make them.
The sunflower seeds on top added an interesting crunch and flavor to the muffins. The muffins themselves didn't come out as orange as I expected, but that's not such a big deal. When I started getting out all the ingredients I found out that we have no nuts in the house except for hazelnuts, and those sounded wrong in these muffins. I left out the nuts and only added golden raisins. I used the large Oxo cookie scoop to fill the muffin cups because I read on the Q&A that you could fill these all the way and not have a problem with overflow. I also took most of the TWDer's advice on the baking time, taking out the muffins at 18 minutes instead of Dorie's recommended 25.
I don't know if this tops my mom's recipe for pumpkin muffins, but I will most likely make these again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cranberry-Orange Scones

I made these scones for my family's open sukkah today. Sukkot is the Jewish holiday that celebrates the fall harvest, and our temple selects families to welcome new and old members of the community into their sukkah. We have done this for the past couple of years, but I was in charge of the baking this time.
The recipe is from Simply Scones by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright and were the first scones I have ever made. They turned out really well, usually scones are too dry but these were the perfect balance of crumble and slight moistness. They're aesthetically pleasing too with their bright red flecks of cranberry and pale yellow crumb.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD: absent

I'm so sorry I didn't make either the Creme Brulee or the Brownie Cake. School has gotten really busy with college applications and whatnot...those biscotti are mine next week!

Make sure to check out everyone else on TWD's blogroll for some delicious looking treats.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

I actually took Dorie's advice on this one and ate a piece for breakfast the day after I baked it. This is one delicious cake. If you're looking for something not too heavy or sweet, with that tangy plum taste that comes with fall, you will love this cake. I used prune plums and also used the cardamom. The plums wouldn't completely suck back in their juices while it was cooling, but that's ok; they weren't to dribbly anyways.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pumpkin-Apple Butter Waffles

I opened up a big can of pumpkin on Thursday to make Pumpkin Mini Loaves. Then I realized that I had to use the whole thing up, or risk forgetting about it in the freezer. So I made Pumpkin Rocks and this morning, Pumpkin-Apple Butter Waffles. I used smitten kitchen's Pumpkin Waffle recipe except after putting all the ingredients together, I realized I only had a 1/2 cup of pumpkin left. Instead of running out at 9:00 to go to the supermarket, I substituted a 1/2 cup of apple butter.
They turned out really good, just the right combination of fluffy and dense, with the spice of pumpkin pie. The apple butter didn't add too much flavor, it was mostly pumpkin; I figured it was the right consistency and wouldn't mess up the batter. My whole family ate them with plain greek yogurt and baklava filling (golden raisins, almonds, walnuts, honey, and spices) on top. The house is saturated in the smell of these delicous waffles- something I don't mind one bit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chunkers

I hate them. I hate hate hate hate them. My dad's taking pictures right now. They wouldn't form into balls when I shaped them onto the cookie sheet, and they fell apart when I took them out of the oven. Hmm...maybe that's because THERE'S NO COOKIE IN BETWEEN THE CRAZY AMOUNT OF CHUNKS. I never want to see these cookies again.

And besides. They're too sweet.

Update: the infamous "turd" cookies, as all the other TWD bloggers are saying!

Update: I made the rest of the dough into bar cookies- much easier. They are still too sweet, although I like the saltiness of the peanuts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Semi-Food Related...

I'm a senior this year and I'm hoping to go to culinary school next fall. I'm mainly looking at Le Cordon Bleu either in London or Pasadena, California, mainly because their Grand Diploma consists of both Patisserie and Cuisine. I've also researched Johnson & Wales a little, although I really do not want to go to a four-year school. Does anyone have any suggestions for what to look at? Have any of you been to culinary school? If you could help me out that would be awesome, I'm really not sure what they look for in a potential student.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Maple Walnut Mini Loaves

Two days ago, I went to Home Goods and got this. Mini anything is so cute, and I wanted to make something immediately, except I couldn't think of the perfect recipe to christen my new pan. It was between the basics: pumpkin bread, banana nut bread, blueberry loaf, blah blah blah. Then I spotted Maple Walnut Muffins in Mostly Muffins by Barbara Albright and Leslie Weiner. It was the perfect recipe for the fall chill we're starting to get in Massachusetts.
They baked for the full 20 minutes that the recipe called for; I thought they would take a little bit longer, but good thing I checked! I haven't tried them yet, but I'm sure that's what I'll be having for breakfast tomorrow morning. I'll let you know how they turn out although, I have to say, they smell maple syrup-y deliciousness.

Maple Walnut Mini Loaves
original from Mostly Muffins
adapted by Zoe

1 cup all-purpose flour (the original calls for 2 cups AP and no whole wheat)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 T dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup sweet butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
optional- 1/2 tsp maple extract (I didn't use this)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 4 mini-loaf pans.

In a large bowl, stir together flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir nuts into dry ingredients to coat. In another bowl, stir together buttermilk, syrup, butter, egg, vanilla, and maple extract if you're using it, until blended. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add buttermilk mixture and stir just to combine.

Spoon batter evenly into the 4 pans, and spread the batter so it reaches all the corners of the pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool 3 or 4 minutes before removing the loaves from the pans. Wait until the loaves are completely cool before storing in an airtight container.

These freeze very well, and are best eaten, warm, the day they are made.

Update: Just had a slice of this- it's so good. Moist, with a nutty whole wheat flavor and the distinctive sweetness of maple syrup. Although there is definite maple flavor, next time I will add the maple extract to give it that extra je ne sais quoi.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mom's Birthday Cake

Chocolate cake with chocolate mousse frosting and strawberries.

TWD: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Ok so here's the deal...
I though I had missed a week of TWD. I really did. Tuesday was crazy at my house; I was making cupcakes for a friend, and my moms birthday cake (which I will post pictures of later). I though this week was the Chocolate Chunkers and I was so upset that I had missed them. Except as I looked through the other blogs, I realized that yesterday was the Whopper Drops! I must have done them so far in advance that I completely forgot about them. they are. Sorry about that!

These cookies were soft, incredibly chocolatey, and so so good. If I made them again I think I would leave out the Whoppers though- I know, that's sacrilegious cause it has Whopper in the name- I just thought they got kind of crunchy and oozed out the sides of the cookies and didn't really add much. I would up the amount of malt powder in the cookie and add more chocolate chunks, yum!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

No school today- a water main broke and flooded the school. Five day weekend!
These cookies were delicious straight out of the oven and dunked in milk. I made them with a friend, and cut the recipe in half cause honestly we don't need 60 cookies lying around. These were quite simple but delicious, and I love the flavor combo of chocolate and peanut butter.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Finale: Wilton Cake Decorating Course I

Basically, this cake was a vehicle for my rose-making skills. This was the cake I made for the last class of Course 1, and although all the other cakes I made were 2-layers, this one was far more impressive decoration-wise.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TWD: Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte

I use butter pecan ice cream - if I did this again I would use something with a stronger flavor. Really good but time consuming. Sorry about the short post; school starts tomorrow and I've been busy all day doing last-minute summer lounging.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Covered Cookies

Just some volunteer work for my synagogue...chocolate covered pizzelles with nonpareils.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

TWD: Granola Grabbers

I usually make granola for my mom every couple of weeks, and we had just run out when this became the recipe of the week. So I made some granola, and got started on these cookies. I substituted pecans for peanuts because that's what I had on hand. I also was too impatient to wait for the baking sheets to cool down in between batches, so I stuck the remaining half of the batter into the fridge and made the rest two days later.
My parents like them a lot, I actually haven't tried more than a crumb that fell off the cooling rack cause I'm not a big fan of granola. I guess I'll have to eat one soon though, there are so many and not enough people in the house to eat them!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

TWD: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

I've never made sticky buns before. In fact, even after 5 months of working for Panera Bread, I've never eaten a sticky bun! Sure I loved to snag the pralines off the baking pan when my evil manager wasn't looking but...the whole thing? It looked like a crusty swirl with glop and nuts on top. Well...essentially that is a sticky bun. But trust me, the ones I sold were not appealing. So when I asked my parents to pick from the Tuesdays with Dorie list of already made recipes and they unanimously chose the sticky buns, I knew I was in for a treat.
They were hard. I didn't have a KitchenAid that I could use, because my parents keep a kosher house and our KitchenAid is parve, meaning no dairy or meat can go in it. And boy does this dough have a lot of butter. So I got to work out my arms with a wooden spoon and some seriously sticky dough.
In the end, these were SO GOOD. I didn't let the glaze boil quite enough, so it was a bit grainy, but otherwise these were ooey gooey perfection. The soft brioche dough combined with the crunch of the pecans and the sweet sweet glaze took these buns over the top. Lesson learned- I will never judge a sticky bun by Panera's nastyness again.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

TWD: Black and White Banana Loaf

Sorry I waited until the last minute to post - I was in New York visiting my grandparents.
Anyways, this loaf was simple and smells delicious. It's cooling as I type; I'll make sure to post about how good it is when we get around to dessert. That might not be til around 9 though, so hold your horses!
I used the "drop by teaspoons" marbling method, after reading the other ones on p. 229, figuring that would be the most obsessive-compulsive friendly :)I have my first Wilton Cake decorating class tonight at 6:30, and I started the Baking series at Cambridge Culinary yesterday. We made cream puffs, except I forgot the flour for the cream broke when Chef Marcos tried to add it afterwards. It's ok though - I went home and immediately made another batch, which ended up being perfect.

Monday, July 28, 2008

TWD: Summer Fruit Galette

One word: delicious.
This free-from pie was stunning in presentation and taste. I had never made Dorie's pie crust before and found it incredibly tender and buttery. The custard was a good accent to the nectarines, and the blueberry jam rounded everything out without being overwhelming. I would definitely make this again.
I couldn't halve the nectarines like the recipe called for; when I tried they turned into a lot of mush. Also, the recipe called for 8-10 nectarines, but there was no way all of those would have fit. I used 6 and it was perfect, I was able to fit about half the custard into the galette.
My dad was at the Red Sox - Yankees game so I took these unattractive pictures on my 2.0 mega pixel phone. They don't do this delectable dessert justice.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

S'mores Muffins

I've been planning on making s'mores the whole summer, but I have an electric range and doing them on the grill just seems wrong. So there have been marshmallows, Hershey's bars, and graham crackers sitting in my pantry for about a month. I was skimming through my mom's old (and falling apart) Mostly Muffins cookbook and found a Graham Cracker Muffin recipe, to which I added the chopped Hershey's bars and cut up marshmallows. Both my mom and I found that I hadn't added quite enough chocolate or marshmallows, so I upped the amount in the following recipe. They were sufficiently graham cracker-y though, and I loved the way the marshmallows oozed up and down during the baking process.

S'mores Cupcakes
adapted by Zoe

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup honey crunch wheat germ
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Hershey's bars, chopped (I used 2)
12 marshmallows, cut into 1/6ths (I used 8)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a muffin tin.

In a large bowl, stir together first 7 ingredients. In anoth
er bowl, stir together the buttermilk, molasses, oil, and egg. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add buttermilk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in the chocolate and marshmallows. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing the muffins and putting them on a cooling rack.

Note: I think the Hershey's was too meltable - next time I'll try chocolate chips.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

This is my first Tuesdays with Dorie post. I pitted and halved all the cherries a day ahead, and made the recipe exactly the way Dorie wrote it.

I only baked the cobbler for the minimum 35 minutes because the crust was getting brown, but I should have left it in for the full 45 - some of the rhubarb was still crunchy. My mom thought it wasn't sweet enough; it seems like a lot of TWD bloggers had that same issue.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Yesterday, I had an urge for something sweet. Something small. Something...covered in chocolate. So I forced my mother to rush me over to Michael's art supply store and bought a Wilton Dessert Decorator and made Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. I got the cupcake recipe from Cooks Illustrated online, and halved the frosting recipe from the Wilton website.

The cupcakes were really delicious and simple - a one bowl recipe. However, the frosting was too thick and needed 2 tsp. corn syrup, and still could have used more. It was hard to use the Decorator with thick frosting, hence the strange looking swirls atop the cupcakes. I had some Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting sitting in the pantry, so I used some of that once the Chocolate Frosting ran out (that I put on with a knife...I got fed up with the Decorators' difficulty).

Yellow Cupcakes
original from

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
8 tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg, room temp. (I used extra large because it's what I had in the fridge)
2 large egg yolks, room temp.
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick spray.

Using a hand mixer or a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth- make sure no flour pockets remain.

Divide the batter evenly among the cups using a heaping tablespoon. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold, 20 - 24 minutes (mine took the whole 24). Let the cupcakes rest for less than a minute and transfer to a wire rack.

Take a walk with your dog, watch your favorite show, read a book...whatever you do, make sure you wait until the cupcakes have cooled to room temperature before frosting them!

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

original from

This frosting was messy, to say the least. Cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar flew all over my counter. I probably should have used a bigger bowl- 1 quart didn't cut it. I thought I could make it fit! But I was sorely mistaken...I also didn't have vegetable shortening, and used margarine instead.

This would have been enough for all 12 cupcakes if I hadn't overloaded them with frosting. I desperately wanted to make the pretty swirls you see in cookbooks, and didn't even accomplish that. I think I'll stick to using a knife with thicker frostings; My boyfriend and I agree that the less frosting, the better.

If you're going to make the frosting ahead, cover it with a damp towel. It also keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup + 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tbs milk
light corn syrup, for thinning

Cream shortening and butter together with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add cocoa and vanilla, mix well.

Gradually add the sugar, one cup at a time, on medium speed. Icing will appear dry when everything is combined.

Add milk and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add corn syrup 1/2 tsp at a time until its at the consistency you want.

Next time I will try the Chocolate Buttercream recipe found on the back of the Ghirardelli can.