Friday, March 28, 2014

Pineapple Cake Pops

Pineapple Cake Pops 5

Last fall Hostess with the Mostess blogged about a Tutti Frutti birthday party and included pictures of pineapple cake pops. These made the rounds on Pinterest, of course, and caught my eye. I strongly associate pineapples with the TV series Psych (obvi) and immediately knew I had to make these in honour of Psych's upcoming series finale. Psych finally ended this past Wednesday and so I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday making these cake pops. It was my first time ever making cake pops, and what an adventure it was! Of course I went to Bakerella's website to research this, since she is the queen of cake pops, so thank you Bakerella for all your guidance!

So the first part of making cake pops is, of course, making cake. I found a recipe for Pineapple Cupcakes on Bakerella's website and decided to use it to make pineapple cake. I halved her recipe and baked the batter in a cake pan instead of cupcake trays. Then I took her mango frosting recipe and halved that as well. Because you need cake and frosting to make cake pops!

Pineapple Cake from Bakerella

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free flour since I'm on a no-wheat diet)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature (technically should be 1.5 since the full recipe calls for 3, but how do you halve an egg?)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk, room temperature
10 oz. crushed pineapple, drained and pureed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer for several minutes. Add the eggs one at a time scraping down the sides of the bowl with each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture in three additions with the milk in two additions (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Mix until combined with each addition.
5. Add the pineapple and mix until combined.
6. Pour into a greased cake pan and bake for about 15 minutes.

Pineapple Cake Pops 1

Mango Frosting from Bakerella

1 mango
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 lb box of confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Cut mangoes. Place mango pieces in food processor and puree enough so you have about 1/4 cup.
2. Beat butter and vanilla until creamy.
3. Add confectioners' sugar in several additions. beating until well combined with each addition.
4. Add 1/4 cup of mango puree and beat until completely combined.

I actually made 1/3 cup of mango puree and added it in, which turned out to be too much mango puree and messed with my frosting consistency. So I had to add in more confectioners' sugar to balance it out, which means my frosting was probably a bit sweeter than it should have been.

So I have the cake and the frosting... now what? Time to turn to yet another Bakerella recipe--the one for yellow cake pops! Her recipe was for smiley face cake pops, but same difference :P

1. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.
-- Below: My cooled and crumbled cake, waiting to be mixed with the frosting.

Pineapple Cake Pops 2

2. Mix thoroughly with frosting.
*IMPORTANT NOTE* Bakerella had a small note about how you may not need all the frosting, so you should start out by using most of the frosting and then adding more if you need to. THIS IS IMPORTANT. I glossed over this and added probably 95% of my frosting and that was too much. My cake to frosting ratio was off and now my "mix" just looked like it was cake batter -_- Be smart and put in less frosting than you think you'll need and then add more as needed.

3. Roll mixture into quarter size balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Should make around 25.
-- Below: Most of my cake balls were probably bigger than they were supposed to be, but it was so hard to roll them because of my mistake with the frosting. I made 27 cake balls and then stopped despite having a good amount of leftover "mix" since I couldn't fit any more on my tray.

Pineapple Cake Pops 3

4. Melt yellow candy melts (I bought a 1 lb. package at Michael's) in the microwave per directions on package (30 second intervals, stirring in between)--for this step you only need to melt a few candy melts.

5. Dip the tip of your lollipop stick in a little of the melted candy coating and insert into the cake balls. Insert a little less than halfway.
-- So I was cheap and didn't buy lollipop sticks when I went to Michael's (I don't even know how much they are; didn't bother looking for them) since I had long kabob sticks at home and thought I could just cut them. Turns out kebab sticks really don't like being cut and I gave up after cutting 10 of them. That was a painful experience... So I ended up with just 10 cake pops since I left the rest as cake balls.

-- Option 1: If you are finishing the cake pops in the same day, place them in the freezer for a little while to firm up. Make sure they are completely cold, and when you handle them in the later steps, only take a couple out at a time so they don't warm up.
-- Option 2: Place in the refrigerator overnight. (This is the option that I went for since I did everything up until this step on Tuesday.)

7. (Melt the yellow candy melts again.) Once the cake balls are firm, carefully insert the cake ball into the melted candy coating by holding the lollipop stick and rotating until covered. Once covered, remove and softly tap and rotate until the excess chocolate falls off. Don't tap too hard or the cake ball will fall off too. (Pro tip: tap your wrist, not the pop) Then place in a styrofoam block to dry. Once completely dry, can re-dip for smooth coverage.
-- This part was horrible. I don't think my candy coating was melted to the correct consistency, since it was pretty thick, and as a result would form lumps on my (already lumpy) cake balls. I was afraid of overheating the candy melts in the microwave, and also had to worry about my candy coating starting to thicken/harden as soon as it came out of the microwave. I can see why my friend bought a BabyCakes chocolatier when she was making cake pops.
-- Below: Can you see the lumpiness on my cake pops? Pinterest had told me I could use an egg carton as a cake pop stand... this did not work out very well because the cake pops were constantly falling onto each other. Investing in a cake pop stand would probably be a good decision if I decide to make more of these... (Can you also see how I cut the kebab sticks at uneven lengths? Ugh so much fail in this picture.)

Pineapple Cake Pops 4

So now I had my yellow cake pops. How to turn them into pineapples though? In addition to my yellow candy melts, I had also bought brown and green ones. I melted some brown ones with the yellow ones and then piped that mixed colour onto my cake pops in x shapes to create the crosshatch. Unfortunately that didn't turn out as nicely as the original picture I was trying to imitate. I then melted the green candy melts and piped out "leaf" patterns onto my parchment paper. Once they dried, I dipped them into the melted green candy coating and stuck them onto the cake pops. And voila! Pineapple cake pops.

{With my friend about to watch the Psych series finale}

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Avocado and Corn Salsa

My mum's friend dropped off a whole grocery bag full of limes the other day. We're Korean; there are no limes used in any Korean food! I was at a loss as to what to do with them... having never made pie from scratch, the very idea of making one terrifies me (because, of course, the first thing that popped into my mind was key lime pie). Then my mind went to Mexican food... except I'm also not a big fan of tacos. What to do?! Look at all my bookmarked recipes... which were all about baking, of course. I didn't feel like baking. Time to search Serious Eats! And what did I find but a simple recipe for Healthy & Delicious Avocado and Corn Salsa! Perfect :)

Avocado and Corn Salsa

Avocado and Corn Salsa from Serious Eats

1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 ripe red tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 or 2 ears sweet corn, cooked
1 scallion, both white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the avocado in the bottom of a nonreactive mixing bowl and gently toss it with 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Spoon the tomato on top of the avocado.
2. Cut the kernels off the corn. The easiest way to do this is to lay the cob flat on a cutting board and remove the kernels using lengthwise strokes of a chef's knife. Add the corn kernels to the mixing bowl. The salsa can be prepared to this stage up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate it, covered.
3. Just before serving, add the jalapeño(s) and cilantro to the mixing bowl and gently toss to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice as necessary and season with salt and pepper to taste; the salsa should be highly seasoned.

So of course I made several changes to this recipe:
-- I wasn't kidding about the bag full of limes. 2-3 Tbsp of lime juice is not going to be good enough. I decided to triple this recipe and used 7 limes. Turned out that was one lime too much. My salsa was more like soup :P
-- You would think that tripling the recipe means multiplying everything by 3. But I felt like the ratio of avocados to the whole salsa was off so I ended up using 4 avocados instead. I did only use 3 tomatoes, but that was the only item that was correctly multiplied. I forgot to multiply the scallion and I used almost an entire cup of chopped fresh cilantro.
-- I couldn't be bothered with cooking corn and then cutting the kernals off! So I bought two 15.25oz cans of sweet corn and used that instead ;)

I really like this salsa! It's delicious and addicting once paired with chips.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Gooey Butter Cake

Remember how I spent last NYE making Sopapilla Cheesecake? Well, the tradition of baking delicious but unhealthy desserts on NYE continues! This NYE Gardenia and Keri again came over to my house and we made Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake. This scrumptious treat can be found posted a lot on Pinterest under various names, including "chess squares." So good!

Gooey Butter Cake 2
{How do they get it to cut so nicely in their pictures?}

Gooey Butter Cake by Paula Deen

1 package yellow cake mix*
(Paula's says 18 1/4 oz, but the largest I could find was 16.5 oz. Worked fine for me.)
1 egg
8 Tbsp butter, melted

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 Tbsp butter, melted
1 16 oz box powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13 glass dish with non-stick spray.
2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of the glass dish.
3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and butter; beat together until fully incorporated.
4. Next, add the powdered sugar and mix well. Spread over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Top should be a light brown color. Cool, slice, and enjoy.

Happy New Year everyone! May your 2014 be full of deliciousness :)

Gooey Butter Cake 1
{Fresh out of the oven}

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes

As you know, I have a potluck with my high school friends almost every month. This month, I decided to do something different. I am a huge Game of Thrones fan and had recently bought the official cookbook on Amazon. I decided that I wanted our winter potluck to be Game of Thrones themed, with everyone making a dish from the cookbook. It just so happened that our potluck took place last night, on the first night of winter. Winter is Coming? WINTER HAS COME!

Sansa has really grown as a character this past season, so I decided I wanted to make her favourite Lemon Cakes. The cookbook provided two recipes for the lemon cakes: one Elizabethan, and one Modern. I decided to do the Elizabethan one since that would be more similar to the one that Sansa loves (as if she's a real live person :P). They were quite simple to make and a great hit at the potluck.

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes 1

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes from The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook
Makes 36 small cakes (I ended up with 30; they are more like moist cookies than cakes)

2 1/2 cups flour, plus more as needed
2 cups granulated sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
Grated zest from 2 lemons
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a large baking sheet (I ended up using three).

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour and granulated sugar. Cut in the butter, then add the zest and the whole egg and yolks. Mix thoroughly, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is no longer sticky and can be easily shaped by hand. If the mixture seems too dry, add a little water or lemon juice until the dough comes together. (I ended up needing the juice from about 1 1/2 lemons in order to get my dough to stay together when I rolled them into balls.)

3. Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch across and place them on the prepared baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, giving them room to spread as they bake.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops are just slightly golden. Allow the cakes to cool for a minute before moving them to a cooling rack.

5. Mix the confectioners' sugar and milk to a smooth consistency. Once the cakes have cooled, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over the cookies. (I ended up using 2x the amount listed in order to have enough of the glaze.)

Elizabethan Lemon Cakes 2

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Avocado Devilled Eggs

I had my Christmas/Year-End potluck last night with some ladies I've known for years from Young Nak. We decided to have a theme ingredient that everyone must incorporate into their dishes (except dessert): GARLIC!

I know devilled eggs are not the first thing that come to mind when people say garlic, but the recipe does call for garlic powder so it works ;) I've been wanting to try these out for a while anyway so it was perfect. The recipe comes from this blog called Eating Well... Living Thin(er). I haven't really checked out Linda's recipes, but now that I've fallen in love with this dish, I should! It was a major hit at the potluck so I recommend it if you love avocado and eggs (like me!) :D

Avocado Devilled Eggs

Avocado Devilled Eggs from Eating Well... Living Thin(er)

6 hard boiled eggs
1 medium avocado, diced small
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Salt to taste

1. Cut boiled eggs in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out yolks.
2. Mash yolks with a fork. Stir in diced avocados, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.
3. Fill egg whites with yolk mixture and place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with cayenne or fresh, chopped parsley.

Very simple and quick! I didn't have cayenne pepper, however, so I just skipped that part. I usually use paprika instead in my devilled eggs, but I didn't this time because I had already packed it up into storage (my house is currently undergoing fumigation for termites -_-). I also used garlic salt instead of just normal table salt so I can get some extra garlic taste in there! ;) And even though I was generous in my scooping, I still had a bit of leftover mixture... which was not a problem for me since it was delicious on its own. Enjoy! :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Birthday Cake Oreo Cheesecakes

Man, I hadn't baked in months! I blame it on my unemployment... I no longer have a workplace to bake for. Not that I baked a lot when I was working either though XP

Birthday Cake Oreo Cheesecakes

I saw that Oreos were on sale, so I wanted to make my go-to Cookies and Cream Cheesecakes. But I wanted to try an Oreo flavour I'd never tried before: Birthday Cake. Turns out these are richer than normal Oreos, so the cheesecakes are a little TOO rich. Would not recommend using for this recipe in the future. I ended up making 24 mini ones to bring to bible study with me and then a dozen normal ones for my potluck which was last night. They were a hit with both groups, although everyone preferred the mini ones to the normal ones (due to the richness factor). Something to keep in mind for the future :) I'm glad I got the chance to bake again and I have my eye on a couple new cupcake recipes for fall!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins 2

Have you ever had the itch to bake? I had it before and it went away... but it came back! And this weekend I had a good excuse--I wanted to bake "thank you" goodies for one of my friends since she did a huge favour for me. I had also been craving blueberry muffins lately, so I decided that that is what I wanted to bake! It was perfect since it would also give me an excuse to check out the Pasadena Farmer's Market on Saturday (I would be seeing my friend on Sunday). Now the only thing left was finding a good recipe... and who never fails me? Joy the Baker! Of course she would have a delicious and simple blueberry muffin recipe for me :)

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins 1

Browned Butter Fresh Blueberry Muffins
from Joy the Baker, adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
makes 12 muffins

7 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups fresh blueberries

For the crumb topping:
3 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1. Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners.

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that. Keep a close eye. Remove from heat.

3. Whisk milk, egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add the brown butter and stir to combine.

4. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl Add milk and butter mixture all at one and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the blueberries.

5. Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.

6. To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the cups.

7. Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins 3

I bought 3 baskets of blueberries from the farmer's market on Saturday, so I actually had enough to make two batches. So I made one on Saturday and another one today. I was a little scared about browning butter in the beginning, but it was actually a lot easier than I had feared. Yay for browning butter for the first time! So it's a simple recipe and the muffins came out great! They weren't overly sweet and everyone that I've shared them with has loved them. Success! Thanks Joy!