I have heard about how one can bake cookies inside a very hot car and wanted to try it myself. After all, with the hot Manila sun during summers, I knew the experiment would be worth trying. I am fortunate that my work requires me to be in my home kitchen and testing recipes and various baking techniques is a large part of what I do.
Everything came together for me last Monday. I had some time, a stash of mini chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer and my car was parked outside under the blistering heat of the noontime sun. I checked the temperature inside the car with my candy thermometer and it read 180 deg F. Perfect! That is how the temperature should be, according to Baking Bites.
Since I did not want to waste any of my cookie dough should the experiment fail, I just took out four pieces and put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and set it on my car’s dashboard with some thick pot holders underneath. And now the long wait began. According to Baking Bites, it will take around two and half hours for the cookies to bake. Yes, it will take that long so if you are one of the impatient ones, this project is not for you.
I think it was around 2 pm so I set my timer at 4:30 pm.
I checked the cookies after an hour and found that some of the butter oozed out. Otherwise, the cookies held their shape and did not spread out too much, maybe because they were tiny and were thawed from the freezer. I did not open the car door and just eyeballed the cookies and I admit I was delighted to see the transformation. By jove, they were indeed getting baked!
I checked them again by 4:15 pm. They were firm and had the appearance of a baked cookie so I took them out. Baking over!
The edges were crispy. The top part was firm and the bottom part was like a soft-baked cookie. The underside did not turn brown because unlike in a conventional oven, the heat inside the car was too low and baking time was too long for the sugar in the cookies to caramelize.
We all loved the cookie. What made it even more enjoyable was that six of us shared those four tiny cookies. Although the cookies tasted great, this is one project that would be at the bottom of my list. In our house, we couldn’t wait that long to eat freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. But I was happy I did the experiment. Now on to the next!
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Here is the recipe I used, which I took from a magazine -I forgot which- years ago. Normally, I would portion these cookies using an ice cream scooper, bake half of the batch and freeze the leftover dough. For baking in the car, you can either shape the dough into logs wrap them in wax paper and freeze or portion them like I do.
Chocolate Chip Cookies, makes 48
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts
1. Combine dry ingredients except chocolate chips and nuts in a medium bowl.
2. Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl at medium speed until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. At low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture until blended. Stir in the chips and nuts. Shape into 2 logs and wrap in wax paper or portion them as described above. Freeze overnight.
3. If deciding to bake, make sure your car is parked under the sun and the temperature inside should be at least 100 deg F. When ready to bake, slice the logs into 1/4 inch thick pieces (or just take out the portioned cookie dough) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place on the car’s dashboard (with protective towel or pot holders underneath) and bake for about 2 1/2 hours. Check for doneness. You can extend baking time if you wish to have a crispier cookie.
4. When done, congratulate yourself for being patient enough to try this time consuming project. Good luck and enjoy!
April 8th, 2015
Bite-size Raw Carrot Cake - no-bake mini carrot cakes that taste like the real deal. Price available upon request.
you’re gonna hear me raw(r)!
I am a dessert person and I am just glad I don’t have any dietary restrictions. I have family members who are diabetics so early on in my baking life, I tried making treats that used artificial sweeteners. I didn’t like the taste so I put that endeavor in the back burner.
When I became a runner, I learned more about nutrition so I tried incorporating healthy stuff in some of my baked goods, like replacing part of the all purpose flour with whole wheat, adding some ground flax seeds to boost fiber and get some Omega-3. Heck, I even won a contest with my Runner’s Treat cupcakes, healthy cupcakes that I made even healthier.
Lately, I have been getting a lot of requests for vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free desserts. I have done sugar-free treats although I’d rather call my versions no added sugar or no refined sugar. Last Christmas, a friend ordered jars of my chocolate biscotti and asked if I can make one batch vegan. Good thing I had some ingredients on hand for the eggless goodies (I used flax eggs). They tasted great but they turned out bone-dry so I will have to look for another recipe that is kinder to the teeth.
And now gluten-free.
I haven’t really thought about pursuing more of gluten-free baking until a cousin asked me about it. She just gave birth and was into the paleo diet to shed pregnancy weight. Honestly, she was the most gorgeous pregnant lady ever and was slim as one can be for someone carrying a baby so I am pretty sure that she will have no problem going back to her normal weight with breastfeeding and all. But then, she wanted to reset the button and eat healthier for her sake and her baby’s so the challenge was on for me. I had made these red velvet brownies prior that were gluten-free (made with quinoa flour) and colored with red sugarbeets. I had high hopes for the recipe which I found in Runners World magazine. Sadly, they turned out weird-tasting. They were interesting, yes, but they weren’t brownies in my book. Again, a separate post for that.
When I found these raw carrot cake recipe, I gave it a go. I love carrot cakes and I recently switched to a honey-sweetened cream cheese frosting from one that was loaded with confectioner’s sugar. I found the recipe here. This was tedious for me to make because I lack the most essential equipment needed. Everything was supposed to be mixed in a food processor which I do not have so I used our trusty old blender. Which did not help me at all so I ended up doing everything by hand, as in finely chopping the walnuts and dates with a knife. Yes, all this recipe had were carrots, dates, walnuts, coconut, cinammon, ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. And. They. Were. Awesome.
The frosting was supposed to be raw, too, made with ground cashew and coconut oil. But since I wanted to try the cakes as soon as I shaped them, I topped them with my honey-sweetened cream cheese frosting. Maybe I will try the cashew version some other time.
These bite-size beauties are bursting with all the healthy stuff you need in your body right now. Vitamin C, A, omega-3, fiber, simple sugars, beta carotene, iron, potassium, and a host of other natural vitamins and antioxidants. What’s not to love?
February 26th, 2015
Gingerbread Cupcakes – cupcakes that taste like the holiday cookie frosted with a swirl of vanilla whipped cream and topped with a chocolate gingerbread figure. Price available upon request.
christmas is coming!
I have never eaten a proper gingerbread man until last year when I bought a box of those cookies from Marks and Spencer. Gingerbread is not big in the Philippines but ginger root is. And ginger tea or salabat as we call it is as popular here during the holidays as hot cocoa is to the USA. I remember when I was young, gingersnap cookies were available in the supermarket and we used to buy some to bring to school as recess fare. However, for some reason they faded into oblivion which was such a shame as I enjoyed them very much.
I love baking cookies but I don’t have the patience to make cut-out ones so I never attempted to make gingerbread boys and girls. When I came across a recipe for gingerbread cupcakes, I was so excited to try it I was over the moon. But then I fell down to earth fast just as I had one bite of the finished product. It was too molassesy for my taste – ugh!
I was about to try the Chai-Tea Mini Cupcakes from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book when I chanced upon the Gingerbread Cupcakes recipe. To my delight, it called for only 3 tablespoons of molasses for 22 cupcakes. And to my additional delight, they baked perfectly well! I was skeptical at first because there was no leavening. I frantically searched for reviews online of the cupcakes and one blogger said that beating the egg well is they key to make them rise. I do not know if that is true but I was indeed astonished when I peeked in the oven and saw that the cupcakes have risen significantly. And. They. Taste. Awesome.
Because the cupcakes already tasted like gingerbread cookies, I decided to just frost them with vanilla whipped cream. And as I mentioned earlier, making rolled-out cookies is not my cup of tea so I just fashioned the gingerbread figure topper out of chocolate. I must say that this is now among my favorite cupcakes. I could eat several in just one sitting. And there goes my diet!
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Gingerbread Cupcakes, makes 22 – (from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together flour and spices.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the molasses and beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Top with frosting of your choice.
November 27th, 2014
Pop Art Cake – three-tiered cake of different flavors covered in white chocolate. Price available upon request.
pop goes the world …
I have never done a three-tier cake project before so when my good friend and namesake R._ asked if I can make such for her daughter’s 18th birthday, I knew I had my work cut out for me. The theme of the celebration was Pop Art and was conceptualized by the birthday girl’s elder sister. She gave me several ideas and color palettes. I was initially hesitant about the cake being three-tier but she was insistent. Besides, how can I turn down a challenge when I knew in my mind I can do it? Bring it on, baby!
Because the client wanted a matte look, I decided to use white chocolate as cake cover. For the first tier, I made a butter cream cake with hidden polka dots inside. It was an inspired choice but not an original one. I had to research how to do it (you can also make your own if you follow the instructions here) and made a test cake to see if my dots inside the cake will behave. I was happy with the results and happier that I have something to nibble on while I work on the project.
Second tier was chocolate chip cake. Just because it goes well with white chocolate. I would have wanted to make all tiers edible but budget-wise, the bottom tier had to be faux cake which was fine with the client.
White chocolate softens in warm temperatures so I had to be careful while enrobing the cake. The idea was to leave the lower tiers bare for the guests to decorate it. I made gel icing. I also prepared chocolate-dipped cookies that spelled out “happy birthday”. They were supposed to be attached to the cake. Unfortunately, the venue’s AC was on full blast drying out the cake’s coating’s natural moisture. Good thing there were enough icing for the guests to play with. Phew!
It was nice to see again my schoolmate from elementary until high school. I made the cake for her little boy way back and now it was her daughter’s turn to have a cake from me. From the photos I saw of the celebration, everybody had a grand time. It was a sweet gathering and I was glad I was part of it. Cheers to the birthday girl!
November 2nd, 2014
Guardians of the Galaxy Cassette Tape Cake – inspired by the movie of the same name. Price available upon request.
I haven’t watched the movie but with all the press releases, I felt as if I did. I adore Andy Dwyer*, I mean Chris Pratt, but I have never watched any of his movies, only the hilarious show Parks and Recreation where his character Andy Dwyer always leaves me in stitches. When my cousin J._ asked me to bake a Guardians of the Galaxy cassette tape cake for her daughter, my niece who was turning 13, I had some trepidations. She sent me a photo for reference and I in turn called on my faithful friend Google to help me. So I found a site detailing how to make this cake; thank you The Chic Site!
I made the cakes for Gwen’s fourth and eleventh birthday. J._ told me if I can frost the cake with the chocolate buttercream that they all so love. But I was going to use white chocolate modelling clay in order to get the colors of Peter Quill’s cassette tape right. I just warned her that they should be prepared to have black tongues, teeth and lips once they eat the cake.
I used my chocolate chip cake as base because it is sturdy enough to carry the weight of the chocolate coating. It was indeed a challenging project and backbreaking at that. But we bakers are gluttons for punishment, so there.
I was glad the birthday girl, her family and guests enjoyed the cake. J._’s sister has reserved her own cake for her birthday this December. And the photo below said it all. Now excuse me while I download the movie for watching later.
October 30th, 2014