Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Berties_New Years Eve Cake

Another great year has passed, and I truly believe an even better year is ahead! Hopefully 2012 will be the official birth year of the Bakery, and even more of Bertie’s loyal followers can enjoy cakes and confections from my kitchen!

The above cake is just a little something I put together to celebrate the coming of the New Year, I hope you have a star studded golden year whoever and wherever you are!

~Happy New Year~

 

Oh… for those anxiously awaiting the rest of the 12 Days of Christmas, those posts are coming! There was a slight mishap with the auto publishing and I thought posts were up when they weren’t :(  Now we’ll be celebrating baking holiday goods all the way up to the “Old Christmas Day”!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Peanut Butter Fudge

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This is my favorite Peanut Butter Fudge! Wrap this little nugget up for a great Holiday gift or set it out on a party tray for dessert. The only complaint that you will hear is “where did the last of the fudge go?”

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup unsalted butter

1 Cup Peanut Butter (I prefer smooth over crunchy)

1/2 Cup Fluff (Puffed Marshmallow)

2.5-3 Cups Confectioners Sugar 

1) Melt the butter and peanut butter together.

2) Whisk the butters until a light and uniform mixture.

3) Add fluff and stir in. Eventually try to whisk the mixture together until smooth.

4) Add sugar in 3 parts. Use a fork to cut the sugar into the mixture. Add sugar until the mixture is solid but not too much as the fudge starts to crumble. You should have a fairly malleable dough that can be pressed into a cake pan.

5) Press fudge into cake pan to 1/2” thickness. Put fudge in freezer for 30 minutes for best “cutting” experience.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

I truly believe that there is a direct link between the level of NOM left under one’s tree for Santa and the amount of goodness that he leaves for you in return! Sure there is all of this talk of “have you been bad or good” but lets be honest, no matter how much magic one old Man can possess it’s surely becoming a much tougher job (with his age and all) to keep track of kids Facebook pages! So, unless you’re willing to take a chance on a very old, yet jolly, Saint Nick to bring you what you REALLY want for Christmas this year, you better get to baking!

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

I made these cookie cut outs much the same as I did the Gingerbread cookies from the Gingerbread Christmas Tree, which means I rolled out all of the batter into a fairly thin sheet and baked it… THEN I used my handy cookie cutters to get really crisp edges on my cookies!

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Then I let them cool off for an hour or so. There are two important things for you to remember here, first you HAVE to let the cookies cool sufficiently to allow for decorating. Any heat coming off the cookies is going to create one big puddle of icing on you; not good. Second thing to remember is that you just cut into a baked cookie sheet. So the natural browned edges of the cookie sheet that you see above go away for the little individual cookies that you just cut out. This is important to remember because now all of the steam being released from the cookie is going to via the new raw edges of the cookie. Cover your cookie, and don’t let them sit around all day before decorating. The icing acts as a natural barrier and keeps the moisture in the cookie!

Now Decorate!

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Go ahead, break out your best sugar sparkles, pearls, and gel coloring!

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The easiest thing I find for decorating cookies is to have an idea going into it what you would like the design or pattern of the cookie to look like, but also allow yourself the ability  to make veer from the path if the need arises! If you go into it with zero idea how you want the cookie to turn out then your going to waste a lot of time making mistakes and tossing out undesirable designs. On the opposite spectrum, if you go into it way set on one specific outcome, you might also waste a lot off cookies that aren’t up to par! Have Fun!

Shortbread Recipe

3 cups Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

2 tsp Cream of Tartar

1 cup Sugar

1 cup Unsalted Butter (softened)

2 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

 

1) Cream the butter for 5 minutes with paddle attachment on medium speed.

2) Add eggs, vanilla, and sugar, continue to beat for 3 more minutes.

3) Add remaining ingredients with mixer on low speed until all dry ingredients are combined and the dough looks uniform.

4) Roll out using parchment paper on both sides of the dough.

5) Bake 15-18 minutes at 350 or until the center of the dough is becoming slightly firm.

6) Remove from oven and allow 2-3 minutes to allow cookie to cool slightly; cut cookie shapes while the cookie is still warm and soft.

7) **** IMPORTANT STEP**** Hide cookies from “others” in the house or be prepared to suffer the same fate of my cookie below. Santa will not be pleased :(

 

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Gingerbread Christmas Tree

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I saw in a recent newspaper the other day an idea similar to this and got to thinking. I can do that, and I can make it even cooler! So I’ve listed the steps that I created below, but remember you can actually do this with any cookie recipe that you like; I just liked the way the brown and green contrasted with each other.

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First I gathered all the goods for the gingerbread, and then figured out what cookie cutters I liked. It’s important to take a few minutes to figure out what shapes and sizes you like for tree. There really is no pattern per se, you really just have to stack the cutters on top of each other and use some imagination! I also made sure to cut out several extra of each shape in case there were any “oops” moments and in case I happened to like one shape more than I thought I would!

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Once you have all of the ingredients mixed together in one giant gingerbread ball, roll it out into about a 1/4” thick sheet of gingerbread. Believe me, in order to save time, patience, and sharp edges on your cookies bake the sheet of gingerbread and THEN cut out your cookie shapes! Don’t bother cutting out the shapes in the raw dough, it’s only a pain, and even thought these cookies don’t rise a whole lot, they are still going to grow a little bit and leave undesirable edges. If you’re worried about “wasting” unused scraps of the baked cookie dough, don’t kid yourself. Put the extras in a bowl and set it out for kitchen by passers to munch on. Let’s be honest, as soon as you open that oven door and the smell of warm cookies waft out, you might as well have tossed a bucket of chum into a sharks cage! Swarms of hungry hands will be attacking for anything you let them have!

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After much debate I finally choose what shape cookies I thought looked best stacked as together as a tree and proceeded to color them with royal icing. Again, there is no method to the madness here on what decorating techniques to use, I was going for a bit of a funky look to my tree.

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Let the icing on the cookies stiffen up for a bit before stacking (now would be a good time to clean up a bit!), and figure out what you would like the tree to be placed on.

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Assemble your tree using a little bit extra icing in between the layers of cookies to act as a glue to keep from tumbling over. Put your star on top and smile at your creation. Honestly, I couldn’t bring myself to eat this one so it is currently standing tall on my kitchen window sill looking mighty festive! I’m now thinking that next year I ought to to make this same style tree, only bigger and use it as a center piece! Ohhh the possibilities!

The gingerbread recipe that I used is below, but remember you can actually use any cookie that you like best!

Gingerbread Cookies

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Parchment Paper

1 cup Molasses

1 cup Unsalted Butter

3 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

2 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Salt

2 tsp Ginger

1 tsp Cinnimon

1) First melt the butter and molasses together and lightly whisk until smooth. Let rest until room temperature.

2) Combine the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, and mix them together with a fork.

3) Pour the molasses and butter mixture on top of the combined dry ingredients and fold the mixture together, cutting though it several times to make sure it is well mixed.

4) If the mixture is looking too “wet” add a tablespoon of flour at a time until you can roll the mixture together into a loose ball (picture shown above)

5) Using parchment paper to cover both the top and bottom of the gingerbread dough ball, roll the dough out into a 1/4” thickness. Remove top layer of parchment paper and place in oven.

6) Bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees. If however you did not take my advice on the cutting the shapes out AFTER the gingerbread sheet is cooked, the gingerbread dough cut outs only need around 5 minutes at 400.

Good luck! And don’t be afraid to be creative and think outside of the Christmas tree shape and color!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Cheese Cakes Cups

Bertie’s 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 4

Cheesecake potsWatch out chocolate lovers, this quick and easy treat is a show stopper every time! Dress it up in cute tea cups and saucers for an even more sophisticated look!

First step turn your oven to 325 degrees and  then finely chop your semisweet chocolate.

Now, pour your cream into a sauce pan to bring to a boil.

Chocolate Cheese Cake

This is probably the most important step in terms of paying attention. Keep your eyes on the bubbles, once they start to get rolling they will climb high and quickly, and always keep stirring the pot to keep from any hot spots burning the cream.

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Pour the boiling cream into the bowl with the finely chopped chocolate and let it sit, do not stir yet! Let the cream sit on the chocolate for about 2 minutes and then whisk the two together into a smooth sauce. Allow to cool to room temp.

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In the meantime, start combining your other ingredients until blended until smooth.

Then add the chocolate sauce and whisk together with electric mixer.

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Once you have scrapped the bottom of the bowl and ensured all of the mixture is well blended you can start pouring up your cheesecake into your selected service ware!

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Bake for 25-30 minutes and remove when the peaks of the cheese cake look solid yet still have a slight “wiggle” to them when you lightly shake or tap the pan.

These playful little treats can be topped with your imagination! Tonight I used a homemade “fluff”, but you could simply serve with chocolate syrup, a drop of whipped cream, ice cream, cherries, or just plain. I like these cheese cakes after they have had time to cool and sit in the fridge for 2- 4 hours, but I have know people to serve them hot with a side of ice cream. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of the above combinations so go with what you like or simply what you have time to make! Since the Boss wasn’t around today, I took the opportunity to play with fire :)

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Dig in, and come back tomorrow to see how I sprouted my very own Christmas Tree!

Cheesecake pots

 

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream

4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

8 ounces cream cheese

1/4 cups of sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp imitation run (or you can use the real thing with 1 Tbsp)

3 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla

 

*These make 6 portions of about 3/4 cups of batter, fill your ramekin or oven proof mug to the almost top (1/2 from the edge). Since there isn’t much leavening in cheese cake so they wont rise to high on you.

*Place ramekins on baking or cookie sheets and then into the 325* oven.

*EAT THEM!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Pancakes

Bertie’s 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 3

Part of the fun of the12 days of baking, is giving you ideas of what to bake/eat in the days leading up to the big Christmas holiday. One of my favorite things to eat on a long weekend or any big occasion is a big feed of pancakes! Christmas morning is no different! So I’ve come up with a more festive take on pancakes!

Christmas Pancakes1These are mini pancakes! Mini pancakes are about 2 inches in diameter and can be eaten in a single bite! They are a lot of fun and look super cute on the plate.

Another way to make this traditional breakfast food a little more festive is to add a little bit of red, white, and green to the pile and say Ho Ho Ho. Here I used a handful of Wilton Christmas candy melts and chopped them up fairly fine…you don’t really need a lot of them, just enough to add some color.

Below is a recipe I like to use for homemade pancakes, but you can always use trusty ol’ Aunt Jemima if you like  :)

1 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. sugar
1 c. milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Combine dry ingredients. Add milk, egg and oil. Mix until smooth. When your batter (in the pan) starts to form bubbles and those bubble pop and leaves a visible hole then it’s time to flip them! Another 20-30 seconds on the other side and they are ready to serve!Christmas Pancakes

And of course, once you have poured your batter into the hot pan, be sure to add some chopped up Christmas treats saving the last sprinkle for on top. Serve with your favorite maple syrup and enjoy!

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bite Sized Cheese Cakes

Bertie’s 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 2

So as some of you may know today is NATIONAL CUPCAKE DAY!

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However… it is also my Birthday….which most of you would think “How Freaking Cool to have National Cupcake Day on your Birthday” BUUUUUT I have been instructed by both my sister ANNNND The Boss that I am NOT under any circumstances to make myself my own Birthday Cupcakes Sad smile Apparently they would start worrying about me if I started baking myself my own Birthday treats (I guess this isn’t the time to tell them I bought myself a few birthday presents? Hehehe!)

 

Anyways, so what I am willing to do is continue with my 12 Days of Christmas baking and then TOMORROW… give you a Christmas themed Cupcake! HA… not on my Birthday!

SO on with the Cheese cakes!

Bite Size Cheese Cake-2

These are super simple and REALLY delish! You are going to want to make these for your next dinner party or event that you have to bring a dessert! And they are NOT cupcakes!

It all starts with my favorite store bought cookie!

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These mini cheese cakes are great time savers because you don’t even have to make your own crusts! Just stick your Nilla wafers in the bottom of the mini cupcake trays and fill with your own favorite Cheese Cake filling! I went super easy and used the cheese cake recipe right off the Philadelphia label! Remember that your cheese cake is not going to rise a whole lot, so go ahead, fill ‘em up!

The only snag I ran into here was that I was a genius and forgot to buy the Nilla Minis! They fit into the bottom of your mini cupcake trays a lot better, and therefore I actually ended up trimming down my wafers before use!

IMG_9873 This only took a second and the Bite sized cheese cakes were in the oven! (only 12 minutes!)

As soon as you take out your Cheese Cakes to cool, go ahead and pop in something decorative for the top of the cake! I used little chocolate pops that were red and green, but you can do whatever you like… just wait until they come out of the oven to decorate or otherwise your decorations will sink in the batter!

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Once removed from the oven let the cheese cakes cool completely in the pan, otherwise you risk the cheese cake shrinking away from the wrapper. Then when the cheese cakes are at around room temperature refrigerate before serving; believe me, they are best served cold!

Bite Size Cheese Cake

 

Thanks for reading! Come back tomorrow for the Cupcakes! Smile

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peanut Butter Holiday Cookies

Bertie’s 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 1

With a fairly busy December schedule currently in the works, you have to forgive my one day tardiness on what I had planned to be the kick off of Bertie’s 12 Day’s of Christmas!

Now I know and am aware that the 12 Days of Christmas really start on Christmas Day and continue until January 5th/ 6th (depending on what Christian tradition your faith follows), BUT lucky for me this is a baking blog and not a forum for religious beliefs and discussion (phew!) and therefore I think it would only make sense to post Christmas Recipes before Christmas and then you can choose when and if to bake! Sound good? Good, because my kitchen is smelling good too!

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I kicked started this baking extravaganza with an all time Bertie’s childhood favorite! I absolutely loved these cookies and looked forward to each December to sink my teeth into these peanutty-delights.

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Once you have all of your ingredients creamed and well incorporated, go ahead and grab your ice cream scooper, this will save you a lot of time from having to roll cookie balls! Also, your guaranteed to get uniformed cookies each time!

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Another quick tip to save time and frustration is to pre-dip your dinner fork into flour before pressing out your cookies. This really quick extra step will be sure to save you time and from frustration!

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Decorate with your favorite chocolate treat!

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Pop them in the oven for only 12 minutes and presto! **Side note, if you are a peanut butter fan, then you need to make these cookies if not for the simple eating pleasure, but for the warm and smooth peanut butter smell that will come wafting out of your oven when you open the door to take a peek! Heavenly!

IMG_9850 Now this above picture might look pretty straight for you, but if you look closer you will notice that there is a cooling rack stuck half way under the parchment paper? This is actually a really important tip because I hate when the bottom of my cookies get too brown! But I also like my cookies a little softer in the middle, and it is this “soft middle” that causes problems when you go to scoop off your cookies from the tray. You want to get them off the tray so the bottoms don’t over brown, but you don’t want to mess with them until they set because they will crack on you! How do you solve this? Simple, while the cookies are still hot slide the cooling rack under the parchment paper (keeping it at a shallow angle) and off of the too hot baking sheet! Perfect bottoms every time!

 

Nom Nom Cookie

 

Once the cookies have cooled, feel free to package them up however you want to disburse them! I put mine in a Santa tin under my Christmas tree for when visitors come I have a quick gift to send them home with!

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Hope you enjoyed! Stay tuned for Day 2 of Bertie’s 12 Days of Christmas Baking!

 

Peanut Butter Holiday Cookies:

1 EGG

1/2 CUP BUTTER

1/2CUP PEANUT BUTTER

1/2 CUP BROWN SUGAR

1/2 WHITE SUGAR

1TSP VANILLA

1 CUP FLOUR

1/2 TSP SALT

1/2 TSP CINNAMON

1/2 TSP BAKNIG SODA

1/2 CUP CHOCOLATE FOR DECORATING (I USED M&M’S)

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper

2. Cream butter and peanut butter until smooth; add egg, brown sugar, white sugar &, vanilla and combine until smooth.

3. Add remaining dry ingredients and beat until incorporated

4. Using a medium ice cream scooper measure out 24 peanut butter balls

5. Lightly press cookies down with dinner fork and decorate with something Chocolate!

6. Place in oven for 12-13minutes or remove when cookie edges are just turning a golden brown.

7. Eat!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Diet Coke Birthday Cake

Recently I received an e-mail inquiring about a birthday cake for a woman who is a local triathlete, lover of DC, and in no stretch of the word “extraordinary”! She’s turning 50 and celebrating much more than just a number. This birthday girl was a recent Ironman Arizona finisher AND she hiked Mount. Kilimanjaro earlier this year! That’s one heck of a year, that alone during the year you turn the big 5-0! I was more convinced this lady was turning 35 for the 15th time… and therefore how could I say no to a cake for a person like this?

But why a giant Diet Coke can? Well apparently the e-mail inquirer is a good friend and fellow triathlete who after all of their big races together they share a celebratory “Diet Coke”! Like I said, how can I say no to a friend like that? (I guess that means when The Boss turns 50 I’m be making him a giant McFlurry Cake!) 

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So off to work I went to re-create a very well recognized object… there was a little bit of pressure there. Some things are subject to “creative perspective”, Diet Coke cans, not so much!

First thing is first, we have to make this look more like a can of pop and not just a straight log of cake. Time to get out the carving knife!

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Once the top of the pop can is carved I actually popped the cake into the fridge for about 20 minutes to get the buttercream and cake time to rest and harden up a little.

Covering a cake that is slightly firm is a lot easier than a soft one! But don’t worry, then cake doesn’t dry out in the fridge because you have covered it was a phenomenal delicious protective coating of buttercream! 

Times up!

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Once the cake was covered in fondant it was begging for some color! Although I was pretty happy with how the shape of the can was turning out, I don’t think anyone would buy that the Diet Coke can was “supposed” to be stark white.

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Bless that air brush; that was almost magical! A perfectly smooth paint job of (edible) silver metal was definitely what this cake needed! Other than its Logo…

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Happy Birthday Kidd… and here’s to 50 kicking 49 right in butt  :)

Bon App├ętit!

 
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