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Failure Leads to… Jello??

After two failed attempts at making dessert last night I was fed up and furious. Enough was enough (saying of the week?): I was in the mood for dessert, proper dessert, not something you would bite and hope it did not kill you.

Years (I mean, years, really) ago I had attempted a Jell-o poke cake. The recipe called for a “pudding based” cake mix. I searched and came up empty handed, decided to risk it. I really do not remember what happened, but all I know is that there were no Jell-o bubbles throughout my cake as promised. I shelved the idea for “one day when I find pudding based cake mix” and let it be. Then, a few months ago I found a pudding based cake mix, rejoice! Only it was an epic flop (and thus I swore off Dr. Oetker cake mixes, sticking to the basics that I know are good: pudding). With furrowed brow and a giant mess in my cake pan, I yet again shelved the idea: clearly this was going nowhere.

Fed up with my string of failed attempts at dessert (seriously, it has been a bad streak, a month and a half that thankfully was filled with Christmas chocolates and my mom’s cakes) I threw my arms up in an “I-give-up-rage” and decided to go back to basics: box cake. But being the creative (that may be where all my problems stem from) type I could not live with just making a box cake- it had to be more elaborate.

I give you:

Jell-o Poke Cake Attempt #3:

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The recipe called for- unbelievable, get this- adding pudding TO the cake mix. So simple, I cannot believe it took me almost 10 years to get to here (told you it was long ago). I have been craving lemon lately, so I added lemon pudding to lemon cake mix. For the Jell-o I went with the classic (in terms of going with lemon) raspberry flavour.

I was so eager to pour the raspberry Jell-o all over my beautiful square cakes… that I forgot to poke the holes! Thankfully I had barely poured any before (panickedly) realiizing my mistake. I must admit, stabbing the cake with a fork (gently) is a great stress relief. Plus any of the little bits that may fly off, you get to eat.

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I have never gotten this far in the recipe. You have to leave the cake in the fridge for 3 hours. An unbearable 3 hours when you have been dessert-deprived for weeks. I even had some Jell-o left over.. but oh wait, that also has to set. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO EAT IN THE MEANTIME?! you may ask: I thought ahead. You see, I anticipated this being a messy affair and so I put the cake in a giant tupperware. Alas, the tupperware was not big enough and I had to slice off a bit of one cake (easy to choose, it was the one that lost a piece of its bottom sticking to the pan). And so now I have a small piece of cake to munch on while waiting for my creation to set.

This had better turn out or else I have lost all faith in the universe.

 
 

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Pinky’s Out At The Windsor Arms!

I was really excited about going to the Windsor Arms for best afternoon tea– you know, once the “OH MY GOD WHAT AM I GONNA WEAR?!” anxiety had passed. Turns out the panic was all for naught, as there were people at high tea in jeans (were this a real high tea, a lady would have said “my word!” and fainted ever so gently and a fancy man would say something about society going downhill and his monocle would then pop out and fall into his tea).

We were the stragglers, the last to show up because when we arrived the hostess knew the name of the reservation. Clearly we were the last people to show up to high tea. At least we were dressed nicely. I was  in tea heaven: they gave us each a small book with listings of tea, like a wine list but better. The passion-fruit green tea won my fancy, there was no contest even. Even Brent, the non-tea drinker, managed to find a tea to his liking: lemon mint.

We could hear the service staff whispering that they would not serve us our food until we had our tea so it was a bit of a wait but well worth it. The tea was delicious. We were each given our own teapot. Looking around the tea room, it was cute to see that each teapot was different, it made the place seem less intimidating and more inviting.  We were presented with a tiered serving tray of food, ever so fancy. There were even tongs for serving the food ourselves. The fanciness was interrupted by Brent’s teapot dribbling tea on the table, but I told him to just keep his teacup and saucer over the spot, worked like a charm, everything was back to fancy.

Windsor Arms- high tea (1)

The bottom tier was two different types of scones. I do not generally like scones, they remind me of stale rock-hard baked goods, but these were soft and fresh. Alas, a person can only eat so many scones, and two full-sized scones is a bit much. No amount of homemade jam could make me eat that last half. The sandwiches were the tiniest little things I had ever seen. They were made all the more fancy by being rolled up. There were four sandwiches of each three types. In the first round the salmon with roe was the best, but the second time around I preferred the chicken with apple. The cucumber and something one was the least tasty.

Windsor Arms- high tea (3)

With the sandwiches gone all we had left was dessert. There were four different ones. At first I was less than thrilled at the idea of eating four halves of dessert bites. I soon realized why the small amount: these delectable treats embodied quality over quantity to the highest degree. Even half of the chocolate flour-less cake proved to be a lot, there was no way I would have been able to eat a whole one on my own. Ditto the white chocolate ganache one. The red velvet cupcake had a raspberry flavoured icing on top, thankfully it was not a buttercream (bleh).

Windsor Arms- high tea (6)

Apparently high tea was not over yet. There was still a raspberry sorbet to finish it off. It was delicious, you could taste that it had been made with real raspberries.

How many cups of tea were in my teapot? About four and a half.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Fooding

 

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Smores Pudding Cookies

My cookie cravings got the best of me and I found myself in the kitchen mixing up a batch of smores pudding cookies, THE perfect fix for a cookie craving. They’ve got everything: pudding, marshmallows, chocolate chips. And for once I had everything. This was one of those rare kitchen escapades wherein I had all the necessary ingredients and appliances and it shows. The dough was delicious, I had to hide it in the fridge not just because I am actually making the cookies for the weekend (it is Wednesday right now) but also to stop myself from eating it!! I even ended up baking a few just to “test” them and make sure they were in fact as delicious as the dough. They passed with flying colours, though I am unsure of how much dough will be left by Friday, when I actually intend on baking them.

Project 38- chef in training Smores Pudding Cookies

As it turns out, I should be just as worried about how many cookies will last until Saturday. They are so delicious and soft and I cannot help myself. I keep eating the “ugly” misshapen ones because, who wants to serve ugly cookies anyways? Really I am doing everyone a favour… unless I eat them all, of which there is a high probability happening.

Update: that cookie right there in the foreground? Bottom of the image? It’s gone. I ate it.

 

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Snickerdoodle Cupcakes & Failed Jello-Poke-Cake

Years ago I had tried to make a Jello poke cake but it failed epically. I had disregarded the part of the recipe that said to use a cake mix that was pudding based. I could not find one, and just used a regular mix. The cake just got soaked with the Jello. The pudding was so that the cake would not absorb all the Jello, leaving little bubbles of it throughout.

I recently found a box of pudding-based cake mix and I had to buy it. We were going to visit our friends and I thought this would be a great opportunity to make it. It failed miserably. All I know is don’t buy Dr. Oetker cake mixes, bleh. It came out a weird, lumpy sopping mess. It is really difficult to screw up adding JUST WATER AND 1 EGG. I tossed it, but my craving for baking was still nagging at me. I had just bought a whole carton of eggs and I was craving something delicious.

Snickerdoodle cupcakes to the rescue! Only I had enough margarine for a half batch, complicated math ensued such as what is half of 1 3/4 cup? It was bad. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. They weren’t terrible, just small and sort of dense. The key thing is: they tasted good. That is all that matters, however these are begging for a re-do, a proper one.

Project 33- Martha Stewart snickerdoodle cupcakes (1)

 

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Glazed Lemon Cookies

I never in my wildest dreams, thought I would be calling a Martha Stewart recipe simple and easy to make. But I am about to eat my words, as her recipe for glazed lemon cookies is so simple! You would think the addition of glaze would be extra work but it’s not, you just mix lemon juice with icing sugar and glaze the cookies. So simple, so delicious.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to making these cookies, especially given that lemon cookies are delicious. Maybe it’s because it was a Martha Stewart recipe or maybe because of those dud lemon cookies I made last time (dud because of the recipe, not me).

I did cheat a little bit. As usual one or more required items/ingredients was missing* from my kitchen (as is the norm). Turns out I had no lemons in the house, because I switched to using bottled lemon juice for my tea. It’s so much simpler and less messy. Regardless the cookies turned out amazing, even if I made the glaze a bit more lemon-y than called for in the recipe.

*I am working on filling in the gaps, slowly but surely, alas more gaps arise as I continue my forays into the kitchen

 

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Let Me Eat Cake

Bakerbots was recently voted best cake slice. For a second I was mad, best cake is from Dimpflemeier’s everyone knows that. Then I remembered, they don’t do slices, so it’s OK. I went to the original blog post about it and everything was not OK again. It said that they only offer chocolate chip banana cake and carrot cake. Don’t get me wrong, I like carrot cake. But best slice? It said that during the week there is one offering and it varies.

I decided to take my chances as I was back in the neighbourhood (I needed to get my frying pan back, we are now happily reunited- more on that soon). There was a 50-50 chance of chocolate chip banana cake it seemed and I was terrified of my luck. I was scared for nothing. Not only did they not have the dreaded banana monstrosity (especially given that earlier in the day I had a nibble of a banana cake my sister made, I had to try it out of courtesy) BUT they had the most glorious of all cakes! OREO!!! I cannot state enough how psyched I was about this. Cake is good. Oreos are good. Together though?! AWESOME.

Bakerbots- best cake slice (2)

The cake was everything I had hoped for. I preferred the chocolate cream in the centre than the buttercream on top and on the bottom layer, but that is just my personal dislike of most buttercreams. It was very fresh and piled high with fillings. The cake slices come in two options: small or regular and seeing as we were splitting it, I ordered a regular- it is enough for two people, a generous helping of cake each (in the above image that is my half).

 

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Super Soft Sugar Cookies Take 2

It’s been weighing on, slowly driving me nuts: those failed sugar cookies. Failed because of my errors, not the recipes. I was finally going to do something about all the frozen strawberries in my freezer: strawberries and cream on rice*. It might sound gross, but it is in fact delicious. I grew up on it and it is easily one of my favourite dishes and I was in need of some comfort.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (3)

And then I put too much sour cream. I was left with extra sour cream that was strawberry flavoured. I could not possibly throw it out, what a waste! I also happened to have one last egg left in my fridge. I was originally going to make Bailey’s french toast on the weekend, I guess it will have to wait.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (5)

Round two was a lot better. I had to add more sour cream, so it toned down the strawberry flavour to just a subtle hint. All was going well until I got to the part about wrapping it in saran wrap and sticking it in the fridge: I have no saran wrap. I bought a rolling pin today, but no saran wrap. I split the dough and put it on plates, sticking it in the fridge and hoping for the best. We’ll see. I have 1-2 hours now while it chills.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (7)

The first attempt at rolling them with a rolling pin was disastrous to say the least. The dough stuck to the parchment paper and was such a mess I had to toss the whole thing (I was rolling it between two pieces of parchment paper). I added more flour and that seemed to do the trick, no more sticking. It was fun cutting out little chickens with my cookie cutter. I over-baked them a tiny bit and so I now have crunchy cookies. That might also be from rolling the dough too thin. I threw on some sprinkles before baking- alas they fell off when I ate the cookie.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (10)

I baked half the dough and left the other half, I had taken this project up a little late in the day. The second batch warranted some experimenting. The first batch was tasty yes, but kind of boring. They needed some jazzing up. The strawberry flavour got lost in the baking, so I added some almond extract (as originally called for in the recipe) knowing I would not end up with some horrible concoction. The second problem was the sprinkles, so I mixed some in for one variation. The second variation was to add some Bailey’s. Third was adding cocoa powder and fourth was cocoa powder and cinnamon (although at first I accidentally sprinkled a tiny bit of allspice).

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (13)Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (12)

While mixing the cocoa in, the side of the bowl popped out. There had been a large crack and it had grown and formed into a circle- that popped right out. I was too tired to roll out the dough, so I just made blobs that I flatten ed as much as I could. Apparently I did not flatten them enough as they grew into little puff cookies. For versions 3 and 4 I rolled them out and brought out the cookie cutter too.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (15)

So how did the cookies fair? They are better when rolled out thinner (and not overbaked). If I had added just a little more Bailey’s it would have been better- and that was the best variation of them all. In the end, the sugar cookie recipe I had posted earlier is still the clear winner, at least in my stomach.

Project 21- super soft sugar cookies take 2 (18)

 
 

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