Friday, May 27

Chill - {Boston Cream Pie}

The wind picks up as nearby storms show the first signs of their arrival. The rolling clouds over the lake tease toward the park with fury-filled chests, their rage hinting at what appears to be a sure attack. But their threat is false; brief and weak, their swell dies as they approach land, breaking and thinning as they dissipate into the atmosphere. To my surprise, the puffs give up the fight, saving their downpour for another time and another place.

Unfortunately, the wind doesn’t pack up and leave with them.


Earlier this week I was thankful that my uniform was so thin. Apart from the fact that I’ve got to be careful to only wear skin-colored bras underneath my shapeless tennis-ball-yellow (green?) shirt, it’s light, so it’s bearable to wear in the heat of the afternoon sun. Even the black shorts I was handed at wardrobe on my first day have managed to be more-or-less comfortable, despite the fact that they hit me at my natural waist and give me a “mom butt” like you wouldn’t believe. But today, with the wind, I’m not so thankful. I’m frustrated with myself for having neither the foresight to layer a few shirts under my uniform nor bring my jacket with me to put on over it. Frustrated, in particular, because I made a point to check the forecast before work, knew this chill was coming and yet did nothing about it.
Go me.

A passing guest flashes a smile and I do my best to return the gesture. But with my arms locked around my chest, my skin heavily decorated with goosebumps and my eyes shielded with dark glasses, I immediately worry that the honest-to-goodness-100%-genuine smile I cast her way appeared more sarcastic and snide than friendly.

Crap.


However, despite my discomfort, I realize – quite suddenly – that this is the only complaint I’ve had about actually working since I started this job. Sure, it’s been busy and a little overwhelming at times, but I think I’ve got things pretty much figured out and am feeling pretty confident overall. If being cold (or even hot later in the season!) is as "intolerable" as things are going to get, I think I’ll be able to handle things here.

I'm so happy to be working again that it would really take a lot to upset me at this point!


Boston Cream Pie adapted from Sky High
This is a classic cake that won't disappoint. I think it would look really cute with a swirl of whipped cream topped with a cherry in the center... Maybe next time!

Printable Recipe

2 c (278 g) cake flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c (298 g) sugar, divided
8 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp lemon juice
6 Tbsp vegetable Oil
2 tsp vanilla
Vanilla Custard (recipe follows)
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Oil and line three 9" round cake pans, then set aside.

Whisk together cake flour (see note below), baking powder and 1/2 cup (99 g) sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, lemon juice, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium-high until slightly lightened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Pour the egg whites into a very clean large bowl. Begin beating on medium-low until foamy, then turn the speed up to high and gradually add the remaining 1 cup (198 g) of sugar. Beat until moderately stiff peaks form (when lifting the beater from the bowl, the peaks should droop slightly), being very careful not to whip the whites until they are dry.

After the whites have been whipped, use a rubber spatula to gently fold 1/4 of them into the yolk mixture. Add another 1/4 of the whites and fold to combine. Repeat until all of the whites have been incorporated, then sift in 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Fold gently until few streaks remain, then add another third. Repeat, continuing to fold very gently, until the last addition of dry ingredients has been fully incorporated.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans and wrap them in plastic wrap then refrigerate them for at least 4 hours until they are completely cooled.

*If you don't have cake flour, combine 1 3/4 c (248 g) flour and 1/4 c (30 g) cornstarch to substitute.

Vanilla Custard

2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 c (473 ml) milk (author suggests whole, I used skim without any trouble), divided
6 egg yolks
3/4 c (149 g) sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup (59 ml) of the milk in a large heatproof bowl, whisking until smooth and free of lumps. Whisk in the egg yolks and set aside.

Pour the remaining 1 3/4 cups (414 ml) of milk into a sauce pan and stir in the sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and prevent scorching.

When the milk begins to bubble, use a ladle to pour about a cup of it into the yolks, whisking quickly and immediately to temper them. Pour the tempered yolks into the pan with the rest of the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard just begins to boil. Turn the heat down to low and boil gently, whisking constantly, for 1 minute.

Pour the cooked custard into a bowl and whisk in the vanilla (you have to add it last or it will boil off while cooking). Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and chill until set and cool, 4-5 hours.

Chocolate Glaze

1/4 c (59 ml) half and half
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1 c (6 oz or 170 g) chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

In a small pan, combine the half and half and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, being careful that the liquid doesn't bubble over the edge of the pan. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let stand 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature until slightly thickened before using.

Assembly

Level the three cakes. Put one down on a serving platter, and top with half of the vanilla custard. Spread the filling out to the edges, then add another layer of cake. Top with the remaining custard, spreading, again, to the edge of the cake. Cover with the last round of cake, bottom side up, and pour the chocolate glaze over the top. Spread with an offset spatula.

Friday, May 20

The Beginning - {Butterscotch Pudding Tarts with Oat Wheat Crust}

I’m not at liberty to share many specific details about working at Cedar Point, but I can say one thing: living in employee housing is bringing back fond memories of dorm life at MSU. It was certainly nice to have my own place for my sophomore year, but I didn’t realize how much I missed the sense of community that comes with living in the dorms. Not until I was again dropped into the environment, at least.

It’s refreshing.

I made new friends within an hour of parking my car at HR on my first day. A few hours later, after completing a maze of paperwork, I moved into a 2-bedroom apartment with four complete strangers and introduced myself while hastily unpacking my suitcase. Finding myself more or less settled thereafter, I followed my new roommate upstairs to meet a few of her friends, whom I stayed with for a few hours before deciding to go back to my place and crash.


Go, go, go. I’m less than a week in and I can already tell that that’ll be the summer’s theme.

But I like it.

I’m happy for the again-constant coming and going of people – even if they’re not at my apartment visit me specifically – just because it reminds me of being back at school. I’m sure that there will be bumps along the road, but, for now, everyone is incredibly friendly, very cool and completely high-energy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to tend to that knock at the door…

Butterscotch Pudding Tarts with Oat Wheat Crust slightly adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

The crust for these tarts has a fantastic flavor that refuses to be upstaged by the butterscotch pudding. This recipe requires making caramel, which is fun, but occasionally stressful. Just be sure that you use a heavy-bottomed pan so that the sugar heats evenly and there is no scorching. I think halving this recipe would make enough dough and pudding for a 9" tart if you don't have the 4" pans, but please don't hold me to that! Anyway, this dessert is both homey and comforting while being surprising and new at the same time. Sure to please a crowd! Oh, and if you happen to have any leftover pudding - resist the urge to eat it as-is and toss it in your ice cream maker. It's wonderful plain, but also makes fantastic ice cream!

Makes eight 4-inch tarts.

Printable Recipe

Oat Wheat Pie Crust

1 c (90 g) rolled or old-fashioned oats (not quick or instant)
1/2 c (71 g) whole wheat flour
1 c (142 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 c (45 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c (177 g) butter, cubed and frozen
1/4 c (59 ml) whole milk

Put the oats into the bowl of your food processor and process for about 30 seconds, until ground but not powdery. Add in the flours, brown sugar and salt, then pulse to combine.

Sprinkle over the cubes of butter and pulse just until the pieces of butter are small and it looks like coarse sand. Add the milk and pulse just to combine.

Take the dough out of the processor and form into a large disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3.

After the dough has chilled, dust your counter with flour. Unwrap the dough and cut it into 8 equal pieces, about 2 ounces each. Gently shape each portion into a smooth disk and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Roll each portion into a 6-inch round just over 1/8-inch thick. Place each round over a 4-inch tart pan and very gently press the dough into the pan, being careful not to stretch it. Roll the rolling pin over the pan to trim off the overhang. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and use any excess dough trimmings to make a ninth tart shell or freeze for another time.

Preheat the oven to 325F and put the tart pans in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove the tarts from the freezer, then arrange on a baking sheet and dock with a fork to prevent puffing. Bake on the baking sheet until golden brown, 12-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking time.

Transfer the tart pans to wire racks and let cool completely.


Butterscotch Pudding

6 egg yolks
3/4 c (149 g) granulated sugar
1/4 c (59 ml) heavy cream
1/2 c (90 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 c (39 g) cornstarch, sifted
1 tsp salt
3 c (710 ml) whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Put the egg yolks in a large heat-proof bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water. Stir gently with a heatproof spatula being sure not to splash the side of the pan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, then increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture caramelizes and begins to turn dark amber color. Swirl the pan, if necessary, to create an even color, but do not stir as it may encourage the formation of crystals and make your caramel grainy. Remove from heat, let stand for 1 minute, then use the heatproof spatula to stir in the cream. Pour the caramel into small bowl and set aside.

In another small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in the milk and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the caramel. Whisk to combine, then pour one third of the mixture over the eggs, immediately whisking to temper. Continue whisking the egg mixture and add another third of the hot milk mixture. Pour the now-tempered yolks back into the saucepan with the milk and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Boil for 2-3 minutes, or until very thick. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract and butter, continuing to whisk for about 1 minute to help cool the pudding. Let set for about 15 minutes.

Assembly

Baked oat wheat crusts
Cooled butterscotch pudding
Whipped cream (optional)
Crushed Butterfinger (optional)
Cocoa Nibs (Optional)

Whisk the cooled pudding until smooth. Divide equally among the tart shells and top with whipped cream, crushed butterfinger and cocoa nibs, if desired. Cover the tarts with plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator for about 2 hours before serving.
These can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Thursday, May 12

Move (Again) - {Meringue Kiss Sandwiches}

I apologize for those of you who have already seen this post. Blogger "temporarily" removed it during maintenance, but it was never brought back... So here it is again! I should have a new post up sometime this week :)

-------------------------------

So.

I'm home.

Well, kind of. At this point in my life, it's getting difficult to establish what is and is not home...

Regardless, I've been calling my mom's place home base for the past few days and have been making daily trips out to visit family and friends before I pack up and leave. Again.

I've allowed myself one week of "downtime" before I start work on a brand-spankin'-new job this summer. For the last two years I've worked near MSU, but I don't want another summer full of paychecks that just cover gas expenses. The summers before those two were spent at a DQ Grill and Chill where I worked as a shift lead in the kitchen.

I don't have much to say about that job besides stating the fact that I've had my time working in a fast food restaurant, and I'd like to be done with that part of my life.


So, where am I going with this?

Earlier this week I hinted at another move.

I meant it.

I've been unpacking and repacking in spurts for the past few days, trying to determine what few things deserve a place in my suitcase and what can be left behind.

It's been tough, but I've decided that, ultimately, it isn't worth the hassle of carrying my camera, props and baking equipment along with me. I don't think I'll have room for much, if any of it, or even if I'll have the time to use it.

But I won't stop posting recipes, photos and stories on Whisk Kid. You see, I've been planning this whole thing for a few months. When I was hired back in March, I knew that I couldn't put the blog on pause because I'd miss it too much. These weekly posts have become something that I do instinctively out of my love for being able to write down my thoughts and share some yummy-looking food. It's feels so amazing to have an outlet for all of this... I just can't bear to give it up. It wouldn't be healthy!

Not that what I've done to prepare is particularly healthy... Ha.

When I got off the phone for my interview and accepted the position I had been offered, I found a sheet of scrap paper and started working out the details. On the left-hand side of the paper, I calculated the number of weeks between that day and the day of my return. The right-hand side of the once-clear sheet was then numbered from one to twenty-seven, and filled in with the 27 recipes I planned to make and photograph in advance.

I typed all the data in Excel, hit save, and started baking. Some weeks I made five things, some weeks I made one. Toward the end of the process I made two cakes a week (few of which I've shared with you thus far) and sometimes I would throw in a batch of ice cream. Cookies. Scones. A tart. You know how it goes.

I took what I'd made to friends and professors (it didn't occur to me that it seemed quite like a bribe until someone joked about it later in the semester. Oops. Haha), and very little of it went to waste. I became closer to my neighbors and acquaintances in that time (small wonder), I kept my grades up, and somehow my pants still fit. But, most importantly, I had an excuse to spend most of my free time hanging around my teeny apartment and doing what I love. I think I like baking even more than I did before and I've learned a lot about my camera in these past weeks. This has been an incredible experience and opportunity for me, and I'm very thankful for it.


I sincerely hope I'll be able to bake while I'm away... I've been told that the apartments down there have ovens, but because I could potentially be living with 15 roommates (I'm crossing my fingers that the 8-person apartments have openings when I arrive), I, like I said before, don't think it wise to tote along my camera, props and baking equipment.

But at least I can pretend I'm baking with each post I put up here, right? I hope you guys don't think it's "cheating..." A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

Anyway, after all this buildup, I suppose I should finally tell you what I'll be doing. It's not a fancy internship and you've probably guessed that it doesn't involve baking. All that aside, I'm super pumped to share that I'll be working at Cedar Point - America's Roller Coast! - this summer, living in employee housing and sweating my butt off in the heat.

It's going to be exhausting, but I am so looking forward to it!

Meringue Kiss Sandwiches very much inspired by Martha Stewart's recipe which I saw years ago
I love the contrasting textures of meringues; the crunchy outside paired with the pillow-y interior is amazing. The added chocolate is just the icing on the cake!
Makes about 16 sandwiches, or 32 kisses.

Printable Recipe

2 egg whites
1/2 c (100g) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 200F (93C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2" round tip and set aside.

Bring a small pot of water to a simmer. Place a medium-sized bowl over the top, being careful that the bowl does not touch the water. Out the egg whites and sugar in the bowl and whisk constantly, cooking until the sugar is completely dissolved. Take the bowl off of the heat and beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff and shiny, about 10-15 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla. Whip briefly to combine.

When the meringue is finished, transfer it to a piping bag and pipe 1" kisses in rows on the parchment, about 1/2" apart (these will not spread). Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and, bake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until meringues are firm and lift easily from the parchment. To prevent cracking, do not open the door before 1 hour has passed. When the meringues are done, turn off the oven and crack the door, leaving the cookies inside. Allow to cool in the oven for 2 hours, then remove from sheets and store in an airtight container.

Assembly

Handful of chocolate chips
Prepared meringues

Melt the chocolate in the microwave.

Pair up meringues of similar sizes.

Use a spoon/offset spatula/knife to dollop 1/4 - 1/2 tsp of the melted chocolate onto one meringue of each pair. Press together the two meringues and place on their side to set.

Tuesday, May 10

Guest Post - {Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies}

Hey guys! I don't have a formal post for you here today, but the lovely Kristan of Confessions of a Cookbook Queen asked me to do a guest post for her a few weeks back and I simply couldn't resist her offer. I'm completely honored and totally flattered that she'd have me!

If you've never been to her blog before, you should really head on over. She's insanely creative and very, very funny.

Also, her son is adorable which is reason enough to love her, right? ;)

For the recipe for these cookies, please click through to Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. While you're there, be sure to poke around in her archive for a while - you won't be disappointed!



As a last note, I'd like to apologize for being so MIA on Twitter and Facebook in the past few weeks. I'm still in the process of unpacking from my recent move and I'm working on repacking for the next one...

Which I'll tell you more about later in the week ;)

Have a great day!

Friday, May 6

Listen - {Chocolate Coconut Milk Cake with Coconut Buttercream}

I baked a cake today, amid the parcels, pages and books scattered on the floor.


I had to remove my utensils and pans from their temporary homes to do so; emptying neatly packed boxes to retrieve my tools while the music of freed students and busy traffic played through awakened windows. No longer restrained by curtains, those windows pour their all into the apartment, illuminating the now all-white walls in all of their disappointingly bare glory.

I weighed the batter in pans and slipped them into a freshly-cleaned oven.

S packed her tapestries.

Personality fled our apartment when we painted our walls back to their original antique white. It's still home, but it's too fresh. Too clean. Too... Generic.


As the cakes baked, I returned to studying in the middle of the floor. The sun was dipping low in the sky then, distracting me from my cram session when it burst into the room without warning. I'd been studying for hours when I took my first break to throw together the batter, and decided that my brain's sudden reluctance to focus was a sign that it had finally had its fill of accounting.

I feel prepared enough.

I'm not worried.

I'll regurgitate everything when I get to the room where the exam's being proctored.


But, until then, I'm going to push aside these notebooks and papers and boxes and books.

And I'm going to lay here, on the floor, and listen to The Barenaked Ladies.

Because that feels like the right thing to do.

Chocolate Coconut Milk Cake with Coconut Buttercream adapted from The Little Red House
I'm always hesitant to try a new chocolate cake recipe because I feel like I've already established a favorite, but I'm really glad I gave this one a chance! It's deeply chocolaty, very dense (which I attribute to the melted butter) and a perfect friend to a glass of milk. The coconut flavor isn't noticeable the cake, but it's not supposed to be. You'll find it in the frosting, which is a spot-on accompaniment. The provided recipe makes a six inch 4-layer cake or, according the Sheena's recipe, one 9" cake.

Printable Recipe

Chocolate Coconut Milk Cake

2 oz (56g) semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 c (67g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee, optional (it brings out the chocolate taste a little)
3/4 c (177ml) boiling water
1 c (237ml) coconut milk
1 1/4 c (177g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp (85g) butter, melted
1 1/2 c (298g) sugar
2 eggs, room temp

Preheat your oven to 350F. Oil and line 1 9" cake pan or two 6" pans and set aside.

Place the semisweet chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder and instant coffee (if using) in a heatproof container. Pour over the boiling water and let set five minutes to melt, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk when smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk well and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the melted butter and sugar until slightly lightened, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, then beat until light and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix on low to combine. Add half of the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Repeat, alternating as before, and end with the last third of dry ingredients. Pour the batter into your pans and bake until the top springs back when pressed gently, about 25-30 minutes for the 6" cakes or 30-35 minutes for a 9" one.

Cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in freezer or refrigerator to cool.

Coconut Buttercream
Step-by-step guide for making Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 egg whites
1 c (200g) sugar
1 c (266g) butter, room temp
1/2 tsp coconut extract (or more, to taste)

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done) and the egg whites are almost hot to the touch. Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-low speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until the buttercream comes together, about five minutes. Add the extract, and beat briefly to incorporate.

Assembly
Toasted coconut, if desired

Trim and split cooled layers. Fill each layer with buttercream, using a large tip to pipe along the edges, if desired (a la Sweetapolita or Miette). Spread remaining buttercream on top and sprinkle on toasted coconut, if desired.