Sunday, August 20, 2017

Root beer float cupcakes

If you're craving a root beer float but don't want to leave the house, make these root beer float cupcakes! These soft and fluffy treats are topped with a smooth and root beer-licious frosting!
When my brother and I used to go to the mall, we'd always stop by the food court. Next to the amazing cinnamon roll place (you know the one) was a root beer stand. Without fail, my brother and I would buy a root beer float and somehow managed to share it. There were always fights about who drank the bigger sip and who ate a bigger spoonful of ice cream, but demolishing that root beer float was usually the highlight of our mall trip.

Sadly, I haven't had a root beer float in years, even though it remains a favorite summertime treat of mine. But in lieu of that, I decided to make some root beer floats into cupcake form. I mean, how else to satisfy my root beer float craving than to turn it into a fully edible version with a moundful of luscious frosting?
I had a hard time finding root beer concentrate but eventually spotted some at my local Walmart. I'm sure you can buy it online as well. The sticky concentrate is a deep brownish color so it is the ingredient that will tint your cupcakes and frosting that nice hue of root beer brown.

Root beer float cupcakes 
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon root beer extract or 1 teaspoon root beer concentrate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup root beer
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons root beer
  • 1 teaspoon root beer extract or 1/4 teaspoon root beer concentrate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard muffin pans with 18 cupcake liners and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy on medium speed, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs, root beer extract and vanilla and mix well.

Turn the mixer to low and alternatively add your dry ingredients and root beer, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Fill your cupcake liners with the batter, filling each liner about 3/4 full.

Bake your cupcakes in your preheated oven for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, cream the butter on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes in a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer. Turn the mixer to low and add in the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add in the root beer, root beer extract and vanilla. If needed, add more powdered sugar. You can also add a splash of milk or cream for a creamier consistency.

I used a large open tip to frost my cupcakes.

Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for a few days.

Yield: About 18 cupcakes

Source: Cincy Shopper

Friday, August 18, 2017

Skating Fridays

Check and Check - Another Spin Pyramid Update

When I am not running my revamped freestyle program at the rink, I've been furiously trying to check off more boxes on Coach B's spin pyramid.

I finally got to check off the 20 revolution forward sit spin, the 10 revolution camel spin and the 6 revolution flying camel spin. Well, I am pleased to tell you that I can check a few more things off now: 6 revolution back camel, back sit difficult variation, difficult entrance to a spin, difficult forward sit variation and a forward camel difficult variation. Whew!

Remember, video evidence or it doesn't count! I sent these to Coach B for verification, and she happily approved these to officially count. That means that I can check these off the pyramid!

So here is the video proof...

6 revolution back camel:

Back sit difficult variation:

Difficult entrance to a spin and difficult forward sit variation:

Forward camel difficult variation:

So that leaves only 1 more box on the bottom row of the pyramid (back sit for 15 revolutions) and 2 more on the next row (upright difficult variation and back camel difficult variation). I'll work on getting those checked off soon.

How is your spin journey coming along?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Chocolate babka

Stun your friends and family with this beautiful chocolate babka from David Lebovitz. This sweet and chocolate-y bread is something you'll always remember!

For those of you keeping count, yes, I have made a chocolate babka before. But that was about a year ago so it was time to make another loaf. This one comes to us from famed blogger and current Parisian David Lebovitz. The previous recipe that I tried made two loaves, and because we were going to be out of town the days following this baking experiment, I made only one loaf this time (the horror! I know better next time).

In full disclosure, I wanted to share that I did not allow my dough to rest in the refrigerator for 6 hours. I just don't have for long waiting periods like that, particularly when there's bread that needs to be baked and eaten. I went straight from mixing the dough to rolling and filling it. This probably wasn't a good move on my part because my dough was super soft and the dough strands were hard to twist together. As a result, I had a chocolate-y mess on my hands (quite literally).

Despite my impatience, my babka baked up beautifully. I suppose it may have set even better had I allowed it to rest and meld all the flavors together. Regardless, I was still a huge fan of the final product - a soft, sweet, buttery, and chocolate-y bread with just the perfect bit of crunch from the simple syrup layer that I drizzled over the top.

Chocolate babka
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 3/4 ounce (20 grams) fresh yeast)
  • Scant 1/2 cup (100 grams) whole or lowfat milk, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons (3 ounces or 90 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 7 Tablespoons (3 and 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 ounces (80 g rams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 Tablespoons (40 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 milliliters) water
  • 1/2 Tablespoon honey
Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the yeast, milk, sugar and 1/3 cup of the flour. Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes until foamy.

Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Turn the mixer to low and add in the butter, egg and salt until well mixed. Slowly add in the remaining 1 and 2/3 cups of flour. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, about 1 Tablespoon at a time. Turn the mixer to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 4-5 minutes.

Cover the dough and refrigerate for 6 hours or up to overnight (I skipped this step and went directly to the next step since I am impatient).

Make the filling: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and mix until most of the sugar has dissolved. Turn the stove off, remove the pan from the heat and add in the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth and allow to rest for 1 minute. Then add in the cocoa powder and ground cinnamon and mix until well blended. Set aside.

Roll and shape the dough: Generously grease a standard 9"x5" loaf pan. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out onto a lightly floured surface to an approximate 12" x 20" rectangle. Brush the filling on top, leaving at least 1 inch around all edges free of filling.

With the long side of the dough facing you, roll the dough up, jelly-roll style. With a sharp knife, slice the bread down the middle, length-wise. Turn each half of the dough, cut side up. Pinch one of the ends together and cross one side of the bread over the other. Continue to twist the bread, making sure that the cut sides of the bread remain up. Pinch the remaining end.

Transfer the bread to your prepared baking pan and allow to rest in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.

Make the syrup: While the dough is rising, boil the sugar, water and honey in a small saucepan. Let the mixture boil for 4 full minutes. Turn off the stove, remove the pan from the heat and set aside and allow to come to room temperature.

Finish the babka: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake your babka in your preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center (without chocolate) comes out clean. Once the babka is done baking, pour the syrup over the top.

Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing and serving. Do not attempt to remove the bread from the pan while it is warm or else it may fall apart.

Leftover bread should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about 3 or 4 days. It can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Barely adapted from David Lebovitz; originally adapted from the Honey & Co. Baking Book by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich

Sunday, August 13, 2017

S'mores skillet cookie

When it's too hot ouside to make authentic s'mores, skip the campfire and make this skillet s'mores cookie instead. With a graham cracker cookie base, melted chocolate and two layers of marshmallows, this indoor version is hard to beat!
What would you say if I told you that my first taste of a real s'mores was in a department store? Yup, I'm afraid that is a true story. My husband and I were browsing a department store one day when a salesperson was demonstrating something in the homewares department and handed out free s'mores. While that wasn't an authentic s'mores that was created over a campfire, it was good (but remember that I had nothing to compare it to).

Even though I haven't had too many opportunities to create real s'mores over a campfire, the combination of graham crackers, melted chocolate and charred but toasty marshmallows stayed in my mind. Enter this s'mores skillet cookie.
I had a craving one day for some s'mores but had no outdoor fire to work with. All I had was an oven and a cast iron skillet. So, I made the next best thing and created this s'mores skillet cookie. The cookie base was made up of crushed graham crackers so it had a nice graham cracker flavor. I topped it with marshmallows, more cookie dough and a full layer of giant marshmallows.

This giant cookie definitely satisfied all of my s'mores cravings, and I was grateful that I gifted some away to friends. Had I kept this in the house longer, I would have eaten it all and gained another 10 pounds.
The marshmallow layer is a bit sticky and tricky to cut into, so I'd recommend greasing a butter knife or server so that it doesn't get stuck. So the next time you want some s'mores but don't want to go outside, consider making this skillet cookie.

S'mores skillet cookie 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I pulsed 2 packages of them in my high-speed blender)
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3-4 milk chocolate bars, broken into pieces 
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mini marshmallows, or several large ones cut into thirds
  • 15-20 large marshmallows, cut in half
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously grease a 10" cast iron skillet and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Then add the baking soda and salt and continue to beat.

Turn the mixer to low and fold in the graham cracker crumbs and mix until the dough is uniform. Add in the flour and mix until everything just comes together.

Spread half of the dough onto the bottom of your prepared cast iron pan. Smooth the top with a spatula.

Add the broken chocolate pieces on top of the dough. Sprinkle the mini marshmallows on top.

Cover the marshmallows with the remaining cookie dough, making sure to cover the marshmallows completely.

Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and cover the top of the cookie with the marshmallow halves, making sure to cover it almost completely. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

If the marshmallows aren't browned enough, turn on the broiler and broil the pan for about 10-15 seconds.

Cookie should be served warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container. It will keep for a few days.

Yield: One 10" cookie; about 8-12 servings

Source: Cookies and Cups

Friday, August 11, 2017

Skating Fridays

Camel Spin Progress

I am happy to report that Coach B has given me the green light to check off two additional boxes on her spin pyramid: the 10 revolution forward camel spin and the 6 revolution flying camel spin.

This is a BIG DEAL to me (and yes, all caps was completely necessary). For those who have been following my skating journey, you all know how many times I have received the dreaded "dash of doom" on my camel spin combinations. I have had a really, really hard time getting the camel spin. Many tears were shed during this difficult journey.

Well, I have had some recent success getting this spin to be a little bit more consistent. Note that it's definitely not where I want it to be yet, but it's a step in the right direction.

Two weeks ago, I could barely get 4 revolutions on a camel. A week after that, I got 8 (ugly) revolutions. But here I am with 10 revolutions! They are slow, but they are there. And it was good enough for Coach B to check this off the spin pyramid.
And even better, here is a 6 revolution flying camel spin. I haven't worked on these in a while, and my back camel is pretty laughable (especially that ugly bent free leg), but it's made a lot of improvement over the past year. There is still a lot of work to do here, but here you go!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Cookie dough whoopie pies

Cookie dough-palooza comes to a close with these soft, fluffy and rich chocolate cookie dough whoopie pies. Share with a friend or enjoy one all to yourself!
The time has come. Cookie dough-palooza has officially ended. At least for now. Here I am with my 4th cookie dough recipe in two weeks. I hope you've had as much fun as I have with all of the cookie dough deliciousness here on Eva Bakes.

Today's recipe is brought to you by my 7-year old. Addie agonized over which recipe she wanted to make together during our mommy/daughter time a few weeks ago, and this is what she chose. Did she help? No, not really. But she definitely got to be a taste tester and helped lick the bowl clean.
I did alter the original filling slightly. Since I did not have any marshmallow fluff (or the energy to make my own), I simply smeared on a tablespoon of cookie dough between two cookies and called it a day. Did my family care? Not in the slightest. Was it amazing? Yes, of course.

I shared these with some of my skating friends and received some fun memes back - all praising the wonderous whoopie pie.

Cookie dough whoopie pies 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Filling was left over from this recipe, and also listed out below:
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and espresso powder. Add in the sugar and mix well. Form a well in the center and add in the milk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla. Mix until no large lumps remain.

Using a medium sized cookie scoop (or a tablespoon), scoop out batter and drop it onto your prepared baking mat, making sure you leave at least 2 inches between each mound of batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are set. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

To assemble the cookies, spread about a tablespoon of filling in between two cookie halves. Press down until the filling evenly spreads to the sides of the sandwich.

Keep cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep for about 3 days.

Yield: About 16 whoopie pies

Source: Barely adapted from The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook by Lindsay Landis

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Cookie dough s'mores

A fun new twist on traditional s'mores - add a layer of decadent (eggless) cookie dough for some amazing deliciousness!
Man, it is way too hot outside to turn on the oven. But I still want dessert. And yes, I love ice cream, but there are the (rare) days when I want something else. And grilled fruit isn't going to cut it.

That's where these cookie dough s'mores come in. They are a fun variation of the traditional campfire s'mores, except no campfire and no oven required! That's right - you can either microwave your marshmallows or use a kitchen torch to melt and char them.
The cookie dough layer gave these s'mores a fun new taste and texture. The slight grittiness from the cookie dough and the flavor definitely amped up the s'mores, and in a very good way.

My family and I enjoyed these one evening after a super hot day at the pool. Once we had finally cooled down and had our dinner, we scarfed these down like ice pops.

If you're a fan of s'mores, try this variation!

Cookie dough s'mores
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 graham cracker sheets, broken in half
  • 2 (1.55 ounces) bars milk chocolate
  • 12 large marshmallows
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and milk and mix well. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour and salt and mix until the mixture is uniform.

Spread about 1 Tablespoon of the cookie dough mixture on top of 1 half of the graham cracker sheet. Top with a piece of chocolate and 1 large marshmallow. You can torch the marshmallow with a kitchen torch or broil it for about 30 seconds in the oven. Alternatively, you can microwave the marshmallows for about 8-10 seconds. Top with another graham cracker half and smash the two halves together.

Yield: About 12 s'mores

Source: The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook by Lindsay Landis

Friday, August 4, 2017

Skating Fridays

Spin challenge update

I wanted to provide a quick update on Coach B's spin challenge. I am working diligently on trying to complete the bottom layer of the spin pyramid and think I am pretty close to the box in the lower left-hand corner: 20 revolutions in a forward sit spin.

As we adult skaters like to say, "Video... or it doesn't count."

So, here is the video evidence!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Chocolate chip cookie dough mochi

Soft, fluffy mochi filled with chocolate chip cookie dough! East meets west in this bite-sized treats!
Have you ever tried a mochi? If not, get yourself to an Asian grocery store (or even Whole Foods - they sell mochi ice cream!) stat. Mochi are soft, fluffy and sticky treats that are bite-sized and usually filled with red bean paste, sesame paste or other sweet deliciousness.

When I saw Lindsay's post about chocolate chip cookie dough mochi, my first thought was, "Why didn't I think of that?" I mean come on - cookie dough is amazing on its own, but then you wrap a mochi around it and now it's just about the best thing ever. In my mind, this is a perfect combination of Eastern and Western treats all rolled into one perfect bite.
I made my mochi into two different colors and used 2 drops of food coloring in each batch. If you want your colors to be lighter, use one drop. The mochi will harden as you start working with it, so I do recommend halving the mochi dough recipe if you are making multiple colors (then starting over again with another color).

I did include some step-by-step photos below so you could follow along and see how the mochi dough comes together. Just be sure to generously cover your hands in starch before you begin assembling or else you'll be prone to a sticky mess.

My family and I adored these mochi and could not get enough of them. Perhaps a Nutella truffle filling is next...!

Chocolate chip cookie dough mochi
Cookie dough
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup glutinous sweet rice flour (I used Mochiko brand, which you can find at most Asian grocery stores)
  • 2 tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (regular-sized will do in a pinch)
  • 3/4 cup glutinous sweet rice flour (I used Mochiko brand, which you can find at most Asian grocery stores)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • food coloring (optional)
  • potato starch or corn starch for rolling and dusting
Make the cookie dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the glutinous rice flour and mix until incorporated. Add the milk, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Toss in the chocolate chips and mix well.

Using a small cookie scoop or two small spoons, portion out the cookie dough into 14-15 servings. Roll each portion into a ball and place on a parchment or waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Place the cookie dough balls in the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes while you prepare the mochi.

Make the mochi: First, decide if you want to color your mochi. If you want to keep them white or only create one color, follow the directions and measurements written in the recipe. If you want to make multiple colors, my suggestion is to cut the mochi ingredients in half and work with half of the recipe at a time. The mochi will start to harden and be difficult to work with in large batches. I made two colors and cut the recipe in half.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour with the sugar. Add the water and mix well.

Add 1 or 2 drops of food coloring if using.
Mix well until everything is uniform.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir well until you achieve a paste-like texture.

If you are making a full batch, microwave for another 30-60 seconds. If you are making a half batch, microwave for another 15-20 seconds. Mix well - the mochi should be extremely sticky and elastic.

Cover your hands liberally with corn starch or potato starch (trust me on this). Dip a medium cookie scoop (or 2 spoons) in water. Scoop out a ball of mochi and place it on a corn starch or potato starch-lined cookie sheet (ideally on a silicone mat, if you own one). Roll it into a ball and make sure you cover most of the mochi in the starch. Flatten the ball and repeat with the remaining mochi.

Carefully roll the mochi out into an approximate 3" circle, keeping the centers fairly thick. Place a ball of chilled cookie dough in the center of each dough disc.

Bring the top and bottom ends up towards the middle and pinch. Then bring the two sides in towards the middle and pinch. Bring up any remaining sides towards the middle and pinch. Place the covered mochi ball in your palm and gently roll into a ball. Dust with additional starch if needed.

Repeat with remaining mochi discs and cookie dough balls.

Mochi is best the day they are made but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

Yield: About 14-15 mochi

Source: Love and Olive Oil

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Cookie dough ice cream

There's nothing better than homemade ice cream in the heat of the summer! This cookie dough ice cream contains LOADS of cookie dough so you get several chunks in every bite!
Remember how it was Cookiepalooza earlier this year? Well, behold Cookie dough-palooza! I will be sharing several cookie dough recipes over the next week to satisfy the cookie dough lover in you. Don't worry, none of these have raw eggs, so these are definitely safe to eat.

I don't know about you, but when summertime rolls around and is in full force, I want to eat ALL of the ice cream. I want to go to all the ice creameries and also make all of the flavors. If we have time after dinner, I want to eat ice cream. Have a free hour before bedtime? I want ice cream. Maybe I have a problem, but I just can't help myself.
I was flipping through one of my cookbooks and saw this cookie dough ice cream. Rather than follow it exactly, I used the base from Jeni's and then followed the directions from the cookbook for the cookie dough.

What I loved about the cookie dough recipe is that it made plenty - so much, in fact, that every bite of ice cream contained several cookie dough nuggets. It's definitely not one of those store-bought kinds where you hunt endlessly for cookie dough and cannot find any.
This is honestly one of the best ice creams that have come out of my kitchen to date. It's definitely something that I will be making year after year, and even in the winter.

Cookie dough ice cream 
Ice cream base
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1½ ounces (3 Tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cookie dough
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chip cookies
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla and milk and mix well. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour and mix until well incorporated. Turn the mixer off and stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Refrigerate the cookie dough for about 30 minutes. Then break up the cookie dough into marble-sized pieces and place back in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set this aside. Reserve the remaining milk and keep it separate.

In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese with the sea salt until well combined. Set a fine mesh sieve above it and set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, heat the cream, remaining milk, sugar and corn syrup on medium to medium-high heat until boiling. Allow the mixture to boil for 4 minutes.

Take the saucepan off the stove and very carefully add the cornstarch/milk slurry. Mix until everything is well incorporated and put the pan back on the stove. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil and until the liquid becomes slightly thicker, about 1 minute.

Turn off the stove and pour the liquid through the sieve into the large bowl with the cream cheese/salt. Add the vanilla and mix well until everything is fully incorporated.

At this point, you have two options. You can either set the ice cream over an ice bath (pour the contents into a large zip-top bag, seal it shut and place it over a large bowl with ice cubes), or put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Once the mixture is completely cool, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. Add in the cooled cookie dough pieces and transfer the ice cream to a freezer-proof container. Freeze at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Yield: About 1 quart

Source: Ice cream base from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer; cookie dough from The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook by Lindsay Landis

Friday, July 28, 2017

Skating Fridays

New Choreography 

Hooray - the new choreography for my freestyle program is done! I worked with the same choreographer as last year's program to make the updates. This year, we tried to make the steps a little easier and allow me to really s-t-r-e-t-c-h out my steps so they look effortless and less rushed.

Just for fun, I decided to map it out so I could see how much ice coverage I had (or didn't have). One of the judges' comments from last season was that I needed to fill up the rink more, so I am hoping that this year I am doing just that.

I am noticing that a lot of my movements are toward the middle of the ice, so when I approach the ends, I will really need to make an effort to fill out all of the corners.

The tentative elements are also listed on the photo above. Coach B and I may change these, depending upon how these are progressing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Baked Alaska

A showstopping Baked Alaska is easier to make than you think! Take shortcuts by using store-bought ice cream and cupcakes. This beautifully torched dessert will be the talk of your next party!

My husband's birthday was last month. Our birthday tradition is that the person of honor gets to choose whatever dessert they want, and I will make my best attempt to create it. My husband has been talked about baked Alaska for years... even though neither of us has actually tried it before. Something about the ice cream encased in a torched meringue just seemed to intrigue him.

When I brought home a copy of Baked Occasions from the library, my husband immediately said that this was the dessert that he wanted me to make. I read the instructions, and it didn't look too intimidating. I could use store-bought ice cream and cupcakes to make it even easier and fuss-free. But why? I decided to make my own cupcakes and two different flavors of ice cream for a 100% homemade version.

For whatever reason, I had a difficult time assembling my Alaskas. My chocolate ice cream was on the melty side, so no matter how quickly I worked to stack the cupcake halves on top of the ice cream, a puddle of chocolate would be gathering at the side almost immediately. And when I tried slathering the meringue on top, the same thing would happen.

Even though my Alaskas weren't the prettiest things ever, they were super tasty. I expected the meringue to be crunchier after being in the freezer, but they were still soft and fluffy.

Both Addie and my husband loved this dessert and were thrilled when I told them that this recipe made 12 of them. Since you'll have a dozen of these beauties, these Alaskas are a great dessert if you host a dinner party and want to wow your guests. Or, if you have a dessert-loving family, feel free to eat them over a course of a few days!

Baked Alaska
  • 1 pint ice cream of choice, slightly softened (I made Jeni's milkiest chocolate
  • 1 pint ice cream of choice, slightly softened (I made cookies and cream)
  • 12 unglazed, unfrosted chocolate cupcakes (I made half a batch of these)
  • 7 large egg whites
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Put 1-2 large pieces of plastic wrap on top of a standard muffin pan. Make sure you press the plastic wrap all the way into the muffin wells. Don't worry if it's not perfect - you just want to make sure the bottoms and sides of the muffin wells are covered in plastic wrap.

Equally divide the first ice cream flavor into your 12 muffin wells. Use your hands to initially smooth out the ice cream. Then you can switch to a spoon and use the back side of it to even out the tops. Loosely cover the muffin pan with another layer of plastic wrap. Place this in the freezer for 1 hour.

Cut the cupcakes in half horizontally. Take off the top layer of plastic wrap from the muffin pan. Place the bottom half of the cupcake, cut side up, on top of the layer of ice cream. Press the cupcake down so it's packed in there good. Cover again and freeze for another 20 minutes. Then remove the second ice cream flavor to allow it to soften.

Remove the muffin pan from the freezer and take off the layer of plastic again. Even distribute the ice cream and repeat the same process as before - pack down the ice cream with your hands or the back of a spoon. Add the top half of the cupcake, smush it down and cover the muffin pan and freeze for another 5 hours or overnight.

Release the Alaskas by inverting the pan and by gently removing the plastic wrap. Place 6 Alaskas on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other 6 Alaskas. Freeze for another 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg whites and sugar by hand until combined. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until the egg white mixture reaches 140 degrees F.

Beat the egg white mixture in the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer) on high speed until it starts to thicken. Add the cream of tartar. Once the egg whites reach stiff peaks, add the vanilla. Beat for another 3 minutes on high speed.

Working very quickly, remove 6 of the Alaskas from the freezer. Cover the Alaskas completely in the meringue, making sure that no part of the ice cream/cupcake is showing through. Repeat with the remaining Alaskas. Freeze for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

To finish the Alaskas, you can bake in the oven or use a kitchen torch. To bake, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Take 6 Alaskas and place it in the oven and bake for 1-3 minutes or until the tops are torched. Do not bake more than 6 at a time. Repeat with the remaining Alaskas.

Serve immediately.

Yield: 12 servings

Source: Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Triple chocolate muffins

A triple chocolate muffin that is made with melted chocolate, cocoa powder and chocolate chips! This super chocolate-y muffin is a wonderful treat to snack on throughout the day. It's also the perfect excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast!

Yes, I am sharing another muffin recipe. I'm sorry, I just can't help myself. When I can make excuses to eat chocolate for breakfast, I am going to take it. I mean, how can you resist eating a TRIPLE chocolate item after you wake up? You just can't.

These beauties contain three doses of chocolate - from melted chocolate, cocoa powder and of course loads of chocolate chips. Does it get any better than that? Well, I guess I could have thrown in a molten chocolate center, but maybe I'll do that next time.

My family demolished these muffins in no time flat. Addie ate one just about every day for her breakfast, and I noticed that my husband was happily enjoying them too. The muffins are a tad on the drier side, so I'd actually recommend increasing the liquid a little bit in these - maybe bump the milk up to 3/4 cup (or adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of applesauce).

The muffins will dry out a little bit if you keep them in the refrigerator. Just make sure you pop them in the microwave for about 10 seconds before serving.

Triple chocolate muffins
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk of choice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chopped chocolate together. Mix until it is completely smooth. Allow it to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, milk, eggs and vanilla.

Add the melted chocolate and milk mixtures to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Slowly fold until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared baking pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. Top with additional chocolate chips if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 5 minutes. Then, without opening the oven, turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: 12 muffins


Friday, July 21, 2017

Skating Fridays

Seeing Double 

One of the adult male skaters at my rink happens to be a clockwise skater like me (I don't like to call us lefties, since we jump and spin to the right). We recently decided to see if partnering up would be a possibility.

He's probably 6 feet tall, and I am around 5'4" so there is a good height difference. We're at different free skate levels, but that's not a concern right now.

Here is a fun still shot of us attempting side-by-side upright spins.
 We'll see how far this experiment goes... or not!


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