Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Deliciousness

I had a lovely Thanksgiving at home with my family and Matt. Lots of shopping, not nearly enough studying, and way too much dessert. I brought four desserts to the event, including the Sans Rival cake I posted below. My favorite was the cheesecake. My mom was a big fan of the cranberry pie and her boyfriend kept getting up in the middle of the night to eat the pear pie. Here's the photos I snapped, while everyone was still full of breakfast.


 Pioneer Woman's Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Our Best Bites' Creamy Pear Pie

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge: Sans Rival Cake

I made this delicious cake for Thanksgiving. I wasn't planning to bake it, but then my step-mom asked me to bring something chocolate to Thanksgiving, so that was that.

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog. The Bibingka cake was a little to crazy for my family, so the sans rival cake was a much better match.

This cake takes 10 eggs! The cake layers are meringue with ground cashews and cocoa folded in. The frosting is made from half of the left-over egg yolks and is an extremely rich French buttercream. It was my first time making butter cream in this way and it was difficult but ultimately worth the effort.

I don't know if I'll make this again, just because it was so labor intensive. But, it was a fun thing to bring for the holidays and everyone enjoyed it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies

 I promised to bring treats to my Tax Procedure course this week during our pre-Thanksgiving movie week. I made cupcakes, but they aren't very cute, so I felt the need to make something else. I was watching my friend's son, so I decided to make something easy that he would be able to participate in. He's only two, so he wasn't much help, but he did really like the color. He was also totally entranced with the oven window and watching them bake. So cute!

 Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies
  • Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/3 C Oil
  • 1 C White Chocolate Chips 
  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Beat eggs and oil together in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add cake mix and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined and uniform. 
  4. Stir in the white chocolate chips. 
  5. Measure out tablespoons of dough. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes. Allow to rest 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Craft Divergence: Easy DIY Necktie Obi Belt

I saw a belt like this on Pinterest ages ago and kept intending to make it. I love neckties and I love wide belts, so this was a must! This belt is so stupidly easy to make, I'm kind of embarrassed to even give the instructions.

You start with two neckties that are as close as possible to the same width and their widest. It would be best to test this out before buying them to make sure they line up. I prefer silk ties for all of my necktie crafting - if all ties cost the same amount at the thrift store, why not go for the nicer fabric?! Anyway, I glued the large ends together using fabric glue. To tie the belt, put it on front to back, wrap the ends around your front, and then tie in a knot.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Grandma Betz’s Sugar Twist Christmas Cookies

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to send all of the adults in the family a tin of cookies for Christmas. The ones I remember most were the ones she sent to my dad, these sugar twists. My grandma died back in 2002 after a long fight with emphysema. In 2007, I asked my grandfather to send me a couple of my grandma's cookie recipes. He sent me this one, but at that point, I wasn't a good enough baker to execute these cookies. I remember sitting in M's kitchen in Grinnell and rolling out the dough, but in the end, they ended up being too dense and they didn't have any layers.

CIMG0475 (2)
 This is in black and white because...uh, it's like a memory.

In the intervening years, I lost the recipe he sent me - I'm guessing it has to do with the approximately eight times I've had to move since then. I was scouring the internet trying to find the recipe, and I thought this looked close. I decided to make them, but I also added my own touches. I've also written instructions that are a little more clear than the original.


 Sugar Twists
  • 2 1/4 tsp Yeast
  • 1/4 C Water (between 105 and 115 degrees Farenheit)
  • 1 C Unsalted Butter (cold)
  • 3 3/4 C Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 C Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp Lemon Bakery Emulsion
  1. Stir yeast into warm water and allow to sit while you mix up the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Combine flour and salt. Dice butter and work into the flour mixture. 
  3. Add in the eggs, sour cream, 1 tsp of vanilla, and yeast mixture. Mix until well combined and dough forms. 
  4.  Mix the granulated sugar, 2 tsp of vanilla, and lemon emulsion together until the sugar appears uniform.
  5. Refrigerate the dough for at least two hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 375. 
  7. After refrigeration, spread 1/2 C of vanilla on a cutting board and roll out 1/2 of the dough. Place the remaining dough back in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out. 
  8. After the dough is rolled out into a large rectangle approximately 1/2" thick, place 1 TBSP of the vanilla sugar along the middle third of the dough. Fold the left and right thirds over one another. Then fold the dough into thirds again so that it is square. Roll out the dough back into the large rectangle. Spread another 1 TBSP of sugar down the middle section and refold back into a square. Roll back out. Add more sugar as needed throughout the rolling out process.
  9. Cut the dough into strips and twirl them into desired shape. The middle cookie in the picture above was folded in half and then twisted. The other cookies were just twisted. 
  10. Repeat with remaining dough.
  11. Baked on a lined baking sheet for 15-10 minutes until golden brown.

My grandma really loved coffee, but it's Coke Zero in this cup! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Craft Divergence: DIY Ruffle Wreath

I've been in a really crafty mood lately, which is good, because Christmas is coming! I have yet to sort through my all of my craft supplies since my move back in August, so it's been kind of an adventure. I can't find a lot of things, but I'm rediscovering materials I forgot about! The fabric I used for this is from back when I lived in Ann Arbor, and I'm pretty sure it's from the Scrap Box.

This wreath probably cost me under $5. This is in part because the wreath is made from a pipe insulator. I picked up this idea off of Pinterest which linked to The Penny Parlor. THIS IDEA CHANGED MY LIFE. Lots of wreaths are in my future, I think. All you do is tape the ends together - I used packing tape, because I forgot to buy duct tape.

The wreath was made using this tutorial at Kelly Hicks Design, though I packed my ruffles more tightly together for a more robust look. Love it! This is probably going to be a Christmas present, but I do rather like it, so who know?!