Memorial Day Weekend has come and gone and Chicago’s weather still doesn’t seem to understand the significance of that… Last week the temperature fluctuated from 90 degrees F to 50 degrees F…
In anticipation for Memorial Day Weekend and all things warm I bought S’mores makings, but since I am a boss and I am fully aware of the terrible weather I live in, I bought your regular S’mores fixings and S’mores Cheesecake ingredients… just in case the weather happened to be overcast and chilly, which, without a doubt it was.
The wonderful thing about S’mores Cheesecake Bars is they are so amazingly rich and delicious regardless of the weather outside. Many of you, I know, have suffered the same 7-months and counting winter weather conditions so I know you can appreciate my lack of enthusiasm about summer desserts and BBQs. Thankfully, it hasn’t snowed since April19th, but I wouldn’t put my money on it. Whether the weather is 90 degrees or 50 degrees, S’mores Cheesecake Bars can always be appreciated.
S’mores Cheesecake Bars recipe from Indigo Scones:
Graham Cracker Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup marshmallow cream
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1½ cups mini marshmallows
Milk chocolate chips, melted (optional)
- To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with foil (Do not use parchment, since you will be later torching/broiling the marshmallows. Fire hazard!); spray lightly with cooking spray. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl. Stir together with a fork until well combined. Press the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared baking pan (A large, flat-bottomed glass helps to make an even layer.). Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown; transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F
- To make the filling, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally, making sure the water never boils. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and marshmallow cream. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, 1-2 minutes. Blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and eggs until incorporated. Stir in the melted chocolate until well blended. Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the center is just set (only jiggles the slightest bit in the center when gently shaken.). Remove from the oven.
- To make the topping, evenly top the cheesecake layer with the mini marshmallows. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, just long enough so the marshmallows begin to melt into each other (If using a broiler to toast the marshmallows, really make sure you don’t let them melt into each other too much in this step. You want them to keep some of their uniformity so they can withstand the broiler.). Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the tops of the marshmallows. (Alternatively, this can be done underneath the broiler with a very watchful eye.) Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted milk chocolate if desired. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.
I am on a Thai food kick right now. I think it started with the Garam Masala nuts, but I started to get adventorous and I tried Panang Curry and I am now obsessed with anything that has curry in it… or flavors related to curry.
I tend to be a dreamer and want to travel the world and Thailand is definitely on the top of my list…. How could I not want to visit a place where their coffee is served with sweetened condensed milk? Or is that just an American thing? Anyway, Tony and I also like to pretend that we’re really cultural and eat Thai Curry, Tom Kha Gai soup, Pananag Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, and other dishes that I cannot pronounce on a weekly basis to pretend like we’re there… Although I think my Shrimp Thai Curry is pretty dang delightful, I can’t help but think it gives no justice to the real thing… Unfortunately, food is all I have for now, so I cook and I eat and I dream!
This recipe is so simple that I only needed to make it twice to perfect it and we all know my strength is in baking, not necessarily cooking. The first time I made this meal I used full-fat coconut milk and while it does give you a very rich and creamy consistency, it is… full of fat. However, the second time I made this dish I used light coconut milk, the good ole stuff from Trader Joe’s, and a touch of full-fat coconut milk to thicken the sauce up a bit and that was the perfect consistency. Also, if you are one of those unfortunate few who do not like coconut this dish is not for you.
After you’ve found the perfect consistency, you add a dollop of this and a dash of that, saute your veggies, pur your sauce, and mix it all together and then voilà! I’ve used pre-shredded carrots and frozen cooked shrimp in the past to speed up the process, but I would recommend cooking the shrimp yourself to give a deeper flavor profile and get rid of that fishy taste frozen fish sometimes tends to have. Overall, delicious and easy meal that everyone can make on a weeknight!
Shrimp Thai Curry by The Bite-Sized Baker:
1 (13.5 ounce) can light coconut milk
½ cup full-fat coconut milk (more or less depending on your desired consistency)
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon fish oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced julienne style
1 cup red bell peppers, sliced julienne style
1 cup shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup snow peas
1 pound cooked shrimp
Chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges, for serving
Sriracha, for serving
- To make the sauce, combine coconut milk, curry paste, fish oil, and curry powder and whisk until combined.
- To make the veggies, coat a large nonstick skillet with vegetable oil and add chopped onion. Cook until translucent, 5-10 minutes. Add carrots, bell peppers, garlic, and ginger and cook for additional 5-10 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add mushrooms and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until mushrooms begin to lightly brown. Add snow peas and cooked shrimp and sauté for a few minutes just to release flavor.
- Pour sauce over shrimp and vegetables and stir gently. Cook until just warmed through and thickened a bit. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.
- Serve with steamed brown rice and garnish with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, and Sriracha sauce.
Thoughts, inquiries, and photos from The Bite-Sized Baker… This week.
1. Introducing the newest addition to The Bite-Sized Baker blog, Louie! Louie made the trip from Austin to California to Chicago and we couldn’t be more happy to have him. He is literally the most snuggly and happy dog there ever was.
In a land far away, my dad recently brought home a new puppy to
annoy entertain Chandler… We think his name is Ike but it could also be Joey depending on the day of the week.
2. I challenged myself to go a week without coffee and start my morning with a cup of tea and honey… I’ve never been so delighted to welcome coffee back into my life again… Not to mention such a pretty one at that!
3. The sun started shining this week and I was finally able to go outside for a run! Time to get my beach body ready… Oh, joy.
4. Tony and I went to see The Book of Mormon last weekend. It was both of our first time ever seeing a broadway show and it was the perfect combination of humor and musical for some not so theatrical people. And yes, I did make him color coordinate with me…
5. One beautiful sunset… Spring has officially sprung!
6. Baby Genius!!! “But what does it all mean???”
7. The beginning stages of a beautiful thing… Flourless Chocolate Cake.
8. Tony and I felt like reenacting prom this weekend… We went to a charity ball downtown and I felt like I walked into a set of Real Housewives of Chicago.
9. Later that night we met up with our friends, Chelsea and Hunter, and took ample amounts of Fireball shots and devoured a breakfast food feast, complete with a milkshake.
10. This weekend I finally understood why people like Madeleines. They’re not like shortbread at all, but soft and caramelized cake cookies!
Happy Monday, my friends. It’s almost May.
It snowed this weekend. It’s the end of April and it snowed this weekend.
I am so sick of winter. A little bit of my soul gets crushed with each passing winter. I’m sick of looking green. I’m sick of waking up in the middle of the night because I am freezing. I am sick of having to wrap myself in a blanket while I eat soup because I’m frozen to the core. I am sick of seeing this message pop up “The growing season is currently dormant here; opt for items from storage, such as apples, pears, and root vegetables,” when I check Epicurious’s Seasonal Map…
I decided to bake a cake that reflects my crushed soul. A Flourless Chocolate Cake that swells in size as it’s warmed by the oven’s high temperatures only moments before it collapses upon itself as it sits at room temperature. This is a reflection of my soul. My spirits rise as the promise of spring presents itself with a high of 50 degrees only to find that it will be snowing the following day.
Whatever the temperature is outside for you, this is a cake worth baking. The oven only needs to be heated to 275 degrees so it won’t heat up the entire house– if you are one of the more fortunate ones who gets to see the sun on a daily basis and is worried about that sort of thing…
The cake is light and fluffy and not overly sweet. Oh, oh and if the title didn’t give it away this cake is also gluten-free!
Flourless Chocolate Cake by Martha Stewart:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 6 large eggs, separated
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
To make the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees with the rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
- Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until completely melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks.
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar, and continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then gently fold in remaining egg whites.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is set in the center, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack; remove sides of pan. Serve at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Lately it seems as though I don’t have a spare moment to sit down and just not think. I just want to sit down and let my mind go blank for a while and not think about what I have to do that night or the next day or the next weekend or the next month. I want to be not thinking of the moment I am in.
The problem is every time I sit down to not think I start thinking of all the things I need to think of so I don’t forget my thoughts later. It’s a lost cause… I can’t help but think.
When the going gets tough and I need a break from my thoughts I bake. I follow a recipe because it tells me exactly what I need, makes all my decisions for me, guides me on what I need to do, and it always gives me a perfect result. It’s a nice break from making the decisions that are difficult to make and gives me the time I need to not think.
Baking gives me the satisfaction that I’ve done something right. I know the tops of my cupcakes rose to pretty little domes because of what I did. I know the diference between folding in egg whites and mixing in egg whites. I know without the proper vigilance, browned butter can quickly become burnt butter. I know these things because I’ve learned these things from trial and error.
As different as ruining a batch of cupcakes and making a bad decision may seem, I like to think they teach you a similar lesson. Maybe you were experimenting with creating a new recipe and the first recipe was a flop, but by the
second third fourth attempt you realized you were missing that secret step that gives the bread it’s elasticity. I like to think life is like experimenting in the kitchen. So maybe you made a poor decision at one point, but you saw what happened as a result, you changed your behavior accordingly the next time you were faced with a similar decision, and you were left with something great.
I’ve attempted to make bread on numerous occasions and for some reason or another, it’s never really worked out for me. I didn’t let the yeast get foamy, there was a draft, I didn’t knead properly… the list goes on. I’ve always strayed away from making bread because it’s always ended up in a failure and I don’t like failing. But I decided to take on this challenge head first and not shy away!
For the FIRST time in my life, I made bread properly. I found a space with no draft, I covered it in plastic wrap so the dough could double in size, I timed it perfectly. I made dough-y yeast cinnamon rolls and MY GOD, are they delicious.
**Ironically enough the morning after I wrote this post my garage door wouldn’t open and I got trapped in the garage, then broke the garage door entirely, and then that night it took me three hours to get home from work because there was a snow storm. Some weeks aren’t easy.
Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls recipe from The Crepes of Wrath:
1 cup buttermilk (about 115 degrees F)
½ cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons yeast
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 eggs, room temperature
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup brown sugar
3 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons whole milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped (or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract)
- Place your sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer (or just a regular bowl if you are doing this by hand). Heat up the buttermilk to about 115 degrees F. Add the warm buttermilk to the sugar, then sprinkle your yeast on top. Allow the yeast to sit for 8-10 minutes, until it becomes foamy (sometimes this may take more than 10 minutes if you have older yeast, but if it doesn’t foam, you’re going to have to start over)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the melted and cooled butter, eggs, and salt, then add them to the bowl with the foamy yeast and buttermilk. Mix until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour and salt, then gradually add that to the bowl, until just moistened. Using a dough hook, turn the mixer to low and add in an additional cup of flour, and when that has been incorporated, add in the 5th cup of flour. Continue to knead for 8 minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in that bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for 90 minutes, until doubled in size
- When you’re ready to roll out your dough, lightly flour your work surface, your hands, and your rolling pin, and punch down the dough. Roll out the dough into an 18×20-inch rectangle, adding more flour as needed. Brush your 1/3 cup melted butter over the dough, leaving about 1 inch of space around the outside so that the filling doesn’t squeeze out when you roll it up, then combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the butter.
- Roll the dough up from the longest side, keeping it as tightly rolled as possible. Cut it into 15 equal sized pieces with a sharp knife, then butter a 9×13-inch pan and place the cinnamon rolls into the greased pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a towel, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise for another hour, until about doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or so, until lightly golden but not browned. While they bake, make your frosting by combining the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla bean in a mixer and beating until smooth. Spread the frosting over the warm cinnamon rolls. You can serve them warm, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Thoughts, inquiries, and photos from The Bite-Sized Baker… This weekend. According to Punxsutawney Phil, winter should be ending soon… My Instagram account says otherwise.
1. I have been pretty swamped lately, but I was able to catch a glimpse of the beautiful winter sunset this past Friday. It’s the simple things that count.
2. I apologize… I just really like coffee… and coffee art.
3. I was feeling adventurous this weekend and decided to walk out to the middle of the frozen lake… I did not see any fishies and Thunder and I were very disappointed.
4. But then we had a photo shoot in the middle of the lake and all was right again.
5. In other news, Tony left me to go snowboarding in Colorado for TWO WEEKS. He sends me pictures of mountains and I send him pictures of me sitting at my desk at work. I’m not jealous.
6. It is an excellent day when your dough rises. This is a Bite-Sized Baker first.
7. As always, at the end of winter I get very homesick… But I’m going home, I’m going home in two weeks!!! No amount of exclamation marks is inappropriate!!!