Summer ’12 | Cookies & Cream Italian Ice

The past few months have passed in a whirl of SAT prep work, sweet sixteens, summer assignments, taking long runs and reading books. It sounds so typically teenager-ish but it was amazingly relaxing and great break from all the stress, work, and deadlines of school. And in this time, I also learned many things:

1. It’s hard to stop procrastinating. Really. I thought my procrastinating habit was because I was stressed during school, and that without any stress during the summer, I wouldn’t procrastinate on my summer assignments. That  is the worst lie I ever told myself.

2. Photographing anything frozen and prone to quick melting is hard.  Really. Originally I’d intended to do an entire ice cream series for you guys, but after spending about five minutes trying to scoop a perfect ball of ice cream, only to have it melt and slide all around the bowl… I know the trick to photographing frozen things is to work fast, but its pretty hard.

3. Italian ice is great. Its super easy and quick to make + it really cools you down on summer days. They’re also easier to photograph than ice cream, because you don’t have make it look perfect, just serve with whipped cream garnish, and that is the end of it :)

Anyways, here’s the recipe to an ice recipe that I’ve made several times over the summer :) It’s very simple, but it tastes great, and is easy to make so here you go…

note: I’m not quite sure that this dessert should be categorized as an italian ice because it does contain milk & ice cream, however, it does resemble italian ice more than anything to me, and has a similar texture…

Cookies & Cream Ice

Serves two

1 big scoop of vanilla ice cream

4 oreos cookies

1 cup of milk (whole is preferable, but 2 % is great as well) & two table spoons (keep separated)

1. In a blender blend together all of the above ingredients until smooth, then pour it into a ice cube tray, and freeze until completely solid (this should take a three hours or more depending on how cold your freezer is)

2. Remove frozen cookies&cream mixture from ice tray and place in blender and add two table spoons of milk into the blender, and then blend the mixture until smooth :)

Keep cool & enjoy :)

Deepshikha :)

Spelling | Banana Bread

I’ve always had issues spelling banana.

It’s just the fact that I never quite remember when I need  to stop with the na’s.

It’s also the reason I lost my second grade spelling bee, which was really quite embarrassing .

But the good thing was, that my embarrassment eventually made me want learn from my mistake, and I finally taught myself how to spell bananas through a song, which I still sing to this day whenever I need to spell bananas.

Heck, I still sing it when I even hear the word bananas, and it was what I stood around singing while mixing the batter for this banana bread.

In my family banana bread is something that everyone loves.

However it’s very rare that you will ever find a piece in my house, because its consumed

within two days of baking it, and we just love it.

My only qualm with it: its very dense and heavy, which i hated for a while. Until I found this recipe.

This particular recipe is lighter than most banana breads which I absolutely love. It still has a good amount of density in it, so its not very fluffy and cake like, essentially hitting an equilibrium in terms of bread density.

The recipe:

Banana Bread:

adapted from food network

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts broken into small pieces ( not too small or you won’t be able to taste it, but if you make the chunks too big, you will have trouble cutting the bread into proper pieces later) can also be substituted with other nuts i.e. pecans, or if you don’t want nuts they can be removed or replaced with chocolate or butterscotch chips.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl, and leave them off to the side.
  4.  With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for three minutes to make a fluffy/light mixture (in a medium sized bowl)
  5.  Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Mix in the dry ingredients.(don’t over blend!)
  7. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas that were set off to the side before with a rubber spatula.
  8. Pour into a greased and lined baking pan, and bake for approx. an hour, make sure to check with a tooth pick(insert a tooth pick into the center and see if it comes out clean).
Note: the bread will develop a crack down the middle, which supposed to happen :)

Cool the bread completely before slicing

~Dee

Pantone Cake | Happy Mother’s Day

My mother always wears red lipstick. I’ve never seen her wear any other color, and it’s almost as if the lipstick is a part of her.
Even as a toddler I remember her wearing red lipstick…
…and I may have also grafftied several walls with those lipsticks….
Because of the lipstick, the first color that comes to my mind when I think of my mother is a bright, vibrant red, which is what inspired this cake for her.

My original idea was to have a rainbow cake with six layers, however, I felt that was too  random. I still wanted to do a colorful cake however, so I thought of the various pictures of Pantone swatches I’ve been seeing on pinterest and tumblr lately, deciding to do a red gradient cake. One problem remained: usually when you do a gradient of red, it starts out pink, and pink was not a  color I associated with my mother’s character at all, thus I did a yellow to red gradient instead, which also reminded me of summer, her favorite season.
I had very little time, so by the time the cake layers were baked and ready to use, I didn’t have time to whip up icing, crumb coat the cake, wait for it to dry and then ice the entire thing. Instead I just used a white chocolate glaze on the whole thing,  which I now regret doing because the cake with glaze doesn’t taste as great as cake with icing. However by itself, it was great,with a soft and spongy texture For that reason, I’m only going to include the cake’s recipe, not the glaze, so instead I reccomend pairing the cake with swiss meringue butter cream(for which Kaitlin of Whisk Kid has an amazing step by step guide for).

White Cake 

Adapted from Whisk Kid

  • 2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
  • 2 c (426 g) sugar
  • 5 egg whites, room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c (426 g) flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c (355 ml) butter milk at room temperature
  • Red and Yellow food coloring.

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line some 9″ cake pans(however many you have, I only have two so I reused them)
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.

Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls, (i just used my one cup measuring cup, and divided it up  among six bowls, but you can do it by weight as well, just make sure you weight the bowl you’re using before you put anything in it, and then weight it after you’re done preparing the batter, then subtract the weight of the bowl before from the weight of the bowl after, and then divide it by six and put that amount of batter into each bowl).  Next add the food coloring, here are the ratios for it

1st bowl: add as many drops as red food coloring as you want until it looks vibrant enough to you.

2nd bowl: add and yellow food coloring, and keep it to a ratio of 2 red drops to every one red drop(so basically if you ad five yellow drops, then you have to add ten red drops, that way it makes it more of a reddish orange). Don’t start out with ten yellow drops then, have to put in twenty red drops, the mixture will probably be overwhelmed by red, and it won’t look too different from the plain red. Start out with about four yellow drops and add eight yellow drops, until it looks like an orange tinged red to you.

3rd bowl: add red and yellow food coloring in equal amounts to make a regular orange.

4th bowl: add red in yellow food coloring, in the reversed ratio thats in the 2nd bowl, so basically 1 red drop to two yellow drops, to make a lighter more yellowy orange.

5th bowl:  add just yellow food coloring

6th bowl: just leave alone. it’ll be your white layer (  I made a white layer for my cake, however I just ate it plain instead of using it, because I ruined it because i forgot to line the pan before i put it into the oven.)

I’ve only given you the  ratio for the colors because I did this entirely by how it looked to me, and if the color of the batter was vibrant enough, so, keep in mind, that whatever color you see in the batter is exactly the color it will be after it bakes, it won’t darken or lighten or anything.

When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes, then remove it from the pan, and cover it and put it in the fridge to cool quickly, and then frost them with whatever you like.

Tip for frosting: Do a crumb coat, since this is a extremely colorful cake, any stray crumbs from the cake will look really bad if it gets into the icing.

for those who don’t know: a crumb coat is a thin layer of icing that you put on the cake and let it dry so that a layer forms around the cake to prevent crumbs from straying into the whiteness of your icing.

Happy Mothers Day!

~dee

Chocolate Silk Pie

I’ve spent many times in my life sitting down in the dark with my little sister watching movies. Movies fascinate me, with film making stories come to life. I haven’t had time for movies as of late, actually I haven’t had time for anything. However, this weekend, I finally managed to find some time for myself, and sit down to watch The Help. I absolutely loved the movie, it was sweet, had a good amount of laughs in it, along with a good amount of meaning as well. Also, the vintage clothes and the whole setting of the movie was great. One thing that really caught my attention was a chocolate pie that one of the characters, Milly, had made. So, as a result, I decided to make chocolate pie [not the special pie for Hilly(; ].

Chocolate silk pie is a symphony of rich, smooth,  chocolate, with a buttery graham cracker crust to top it all of. I’ve tried this recipe with a traditional pastry pie crust, however  found it to be not as amazing in taste. The filling and the crisp graham cracker crust are a perfect pairing, like peanut butter and jelly. The filling of the pie is perfectly rich,  smooth, and melts in your mouth. It’s absolutely amazing.

French Silk Pie

adapted from Pillsbury

  • 1 Crust (crust recipe below) (you can use a store bought one, or a regular pastry pie crust, but believe me it tastes better with a graham cracker crust)
  • 5 oz. semi sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup room temperature  butter(do not use margarine)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs(pasteurized)
Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1 1/2 cup of graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of melted butter
1. Prepare the crust by mixing together the sugar and graham crackers in a small bowl, and then adding the butter in, until the butter is evenly distributed. Dump the whole mixture into a 9 inch pie pan and press into the sides and bottom of the pie pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-9 minutes(time may vary a little depending on your oven). Set aside to cool.
2. Melt the chocolate down using a double boiler, and set aside to cool.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, and then add the chocolate(which is cool now) and the vanilla extract, until mixed in smoothly.
4. Add one egg in beating until the color lighten and the volume of the mixture increases( about  2 minutes on high speed).
5. repeat step four for the remaining two eggs.
6. pour the mixture into the pie crust(which must be cooled or the mixture will start to melt), and smooth the top over.
7.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, garnish with whipped cream and whatever else you feel urge to add, and serve :)
Enjoy!
~ Dee :)

Almond Cookies | A Tradition

January has passed by in rushed afternoons, studying as the sun crept down the sky. I missed having time to relax, read, or even to bake. As you can see baking hasn’t quite been in my schedule as of late, and I started to miss spending afternoons stirring up ingredients, feeling the warmth of the oven against my face, and biting into my creations just as they came out of the oven. Finally after weekends of studying relentlessly, I finally found myself an hour of time.

With this extra time, I made these familiar little cookies. I grew up with them, watching my mother bake them at nearly every special occasion, however I never quite liked them, or appreciated them. Soon, my family’s life became a lot busier, and my mother stopped baking the cookies for a while and the tradition was forgotten.

But only for a while.

A couple of months ago, in December I had to complete a school project about my family’s traditions, and the very first thing I thought of were these little cookies. I did not have much time that particular weekend, and my mom was more familiar with the recipe, so I asked her to make them for me. When I finally bit into one I realized how much I had missed my mother’s cookies, and remade them for my family.

Almond Cookies

  • 16 tablespoons butter at room temperature (I used browned butter, but that’s purely optional)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup of ground almonds
  1. Toast the almonds until golden brown.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and the brown sugar together until fluffy, then add in the egg yolk, oil and vanilla, and mix well.
  4. Add a half a cup of flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix in well.
  5. Repeat step three until all of the flour mixture is mixed in.
  6. Add the almonds to the mixture, and mix in well. Scoop 1/2 a table-spoon for each cookie and roll them into a ball and space them out on a cookie sheet evenly.
  7. bake at 350 degrees farenheit for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Christmas | Red Velvet

Christmas is one of those seasons that has a contagious mood, and it makes everyone want to be happy. The lights, the colors, and the happiness of the season is amazing.

My family isn’t Christian, but since we’ve been in America  for so long, we’ve taken on some of the traditions, and added many of our own.

The week before Christmas when I was four I  saw a red velvet cake for the first time. This may sound strange,  but in my little four year old head there were only to types of cupcakes: chocolate and vanilla, and chocolate was the better one.  When I saw this red velvet cupcake, frankly: it blew my mind, I was amazed, and immediately obsessed. So for that Christmas, a new tradition started: we would have red velvet cake for a snack on Christmas along with our tea. A strange tradition, yes, but it’s something I just love and look forward to every year.

The tradition has altered a little, now instead of just having cake, my sister decided that cupcakes were I quote: In style, and definitely cuter. Admittedly, I don’t like red velvet cake as much as I used to, the cake part’s flavor isn’t all that amazing. However my mother and sister are great fans, and I still remain a fan of cream cheese icing on the cake, so the tradition remains.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

From Confetti Cakes Cookbook, via Smitten Kitchen

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup of melted and slightly cooled semi sweet chocolate
  • 3 large eggs
  • At least five table spoons of food coloring (this can be increased or decreased by the red color you want, since this recipe has a good amount of chocolate in it, it takes a whole lot more coloring to make it red and same goes for any other colors you feel the urge to try out)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda & 2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar mixed together
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tray with liners.
  2. Whisk together the cake flour and salt in a medium sized bowl.
  3. Mix together the canola oil, sugar, the chocolate and the eggs( don’t put the chocolate in immediately after heating it! Let it cool down a little, other wise it can scramble the eggs) in a large bowl until smooth.
  4. Add the food coloring
  5. Add the butter milk and the flour alternately to the oil/egg/sugar/chocolate bowl, and mix to smoothness, then add the vinegar/baking soda mixture…
  6. fill the cupcake trays
  7. bake for about 25 minutes(i reccomend letting it bake fifteen minutes, then coming back and checking, every five or six minutes after), until you are able to put a tooth pick in it, and pull it out cleanly.

The Icing.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature (you need it at room temperature, other it won’t blend smoothly)
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted  ( you may need more if you want a stiffer icing, in these pictures i used 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso (optional, i just find that it adds something extra to the whole cupcake)
  1. Mix together cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and espresso.
  2. add cup, by cup of sugar and beat it, till fluffy and light. (mixers make it easier)
Note:  When frosting this, note that cream cheese frosting can be a little heavy, which is why i piped the icing on the pictures above a little flatter than i normally would.

Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Vanilla Sugar

A couple days ago I was sitting in my biology class, listening to my teacher talk about evolution, the past of earth, and fossils. Fossils were a subject that have fascinated me ever since I was a child, it amazed me how an animals body could turn into stone, however I never quite looked into it, intimidated and confused by the complex terms I didn’t understand, being the age of seven(even though I did try making my own fossils). However, when I grew older, I switched on to a different scientific fascination, forgetting about fossils until now. I’ve finally found out how fossils become the way they are, and the strange thing is, when I was reading about this, it reminded me vaguely of vanilla sugar. No, I don’t always relate everything I learn to baking, however this was one time I did :)

So with fossils what happens after its buried is that the minerals in the bones of the organism and other hard tissues get replaced with metal ions and other inorganic materials, and also combined with the pressure of the sediment on top of the whole thing transforms it.

With vanilla sugar you have two simple elements, sugar and a vanilla bean, with the insides scraped out. Now you leave them in an air tight jar for a while. The sugar starts to take on the smells and tastes of vanilla like the bones did with the metal ions and inorganic material. However in the end, unlike the process of fossilization, you end up with a delicious vanilla tinged sugar that adds a little flair to everything you put it in.

So, you ask, what exactly is vanilla sugar, and what do we do with it?

Well that’s simple. It’s simply sugar that  has this amazing vanilla taste to it, and you can do many things with it, like spoon a bit into your tea, or coffee in the morning, however I mostly prefer using it for making creme brulee, trust me it makes a difference compared to regular granulated sugar!

So I’ll start over from the beginning for how to make it.

you need:

A vanilla beans with the insides scraped out or used(i usually use mine in ice cream, and keep the pods around for exactly this purpose).

An airtight jar | I usually make really big jar of this but for depiction purposes:

and lastly: sugar. Just plain ol’ granulated sugar.

so what do you do with these?

  1. Take the jar and fill it up with sugar(not fully to the rim. Just below is good.)
  2. Take your vanilla bean, and push it into the middle of the sugar, like so:

3. Put it in the pantry wait for a month. Yes a month. Although I recommend checking on it every week and a half, because I’ve heard other food blogs say that their vanilla sugar was made much faster than mine. How do you know its ready? You open the jar, and the first you smell is the light aroma of vanilla, and if you taste the sugar it should definitely taste vanilla-y.

Bon apetit :)

~Dee D.