Thursday, 29 March 2012

Cadbury Creme Egg Brownies (Version 1)

 *sigh*  I love the inklings of spring.

I especially love when the Valentine's crap gets shoved in a dark corner and the Easter stuff starts showing up.  Because it means Cadbury.  Creme.  Eggs. 


Now, I'm sure there are people out there in the world that don't like Creme Eggs.  I don't know any of those people.  Well, maybe I do - but I should stop associating with them immediately.  Cause no-one likes a Debbie Downer.

Juuuuust KIDDING!  Or not.

But seriously, most either love 'em or hate 'em.  Or you start out being unsure and then falling in love with them - like Dee. 

I fall on the side of LOVE 'EM!!!!  LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.  Since I was a kid, I always thought that the best Easter would be one when I woke up and found a basket STUFFED full of only Creme Eggs - I don't have any use for any other chocolates when those bad boys are around.  Of course, the Bunny always treated me very well - but I never did get that basket full of Creme Eggs.

And now that I'm a "grown up" (and let's be serious here - I use that term very loosely), I get to have all the Creme Eggs I want.  And boy, do I ever.  I'm sure people think I'm crazy.

I have to confess something to you.  I may or may not have used this blog as an excuse to purchase incredibly copious amounts of Creme Eggs, large and small. 

Heavy on the may have.

The first recipe we're going to make with Creme Eggs is (are?) Brownies.  I found this last year on Lindsey's blog, Gingerbread Bagels

I know I've gushed about Lindsey before, but I was looking at her blog the other day and I am stunned over and over again at how creative she is!  I can't WAIT to try more of her fantastic and fun recipes!!!!  She really does inspire me!!!  Gush, gush, gush.  I'm suffering from some serious blog envy.  And recipe envy.  And creative envy.  Basically, I wish I could think up recipes like that.  Basically, I wish I lived in the food part of Lindsey's brain.

I suppose I'll just have to settle for being a big ole' copier.

Because it comes with yummy treats.

Now to the Brownies.  Basically, you do up some brownies, cook most of the way, press Creme Egg halves into the batter and bake the rest of the way.

You sift together the cocoa powder, flour, and salt, then set aside.

Mix together the brown sugar, sugar, melted butter, vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Then add in the eggs, one at a time.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread in a greased 8 x 8 inch baking pan.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

While the brownies were in the oven, I used that time to half the Creme Eggs.

I admit - I had a complete brain fart when Lindsey's recipe called for 9 halves.  I couldn't wrap my head around it.  How did she get them in there?  Isn't that too many?  What the fork?

HEE-UUUGE brain fart. 

Then I realised why I couldn't get it.  I assumed she meant two rows of four.  But it's actually three rows of three.

Yeah - I'm an idiot.

So I pulled the brownies out after 25 minutes, gently pushed the egg halves into the batter (cut side up) and returned to the oven for 5 more minutes.  I tried to make sure the top of the cut egg was flush with the surface of the brownies.

And what did we think of them?

They were quite sweet - but totally decadent.  The Creme Egg fondant kind of sets up after baking and doesn't stay creamy.

But it's definitely a perfect excuse to make something created by the most awesome Lindsay!!!

And consume inappropriate amounts of Creme Eggs on the side when no-one's looking.

This is the Cane Girl, up to my elbows in Creme Eggs - signing off.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Cupcakes A to Z: Bailey's Chocolate Cupcakes

My Momma said this would happen.

Just kidding - she didn't.  But I did!  This one is slightly out of order, but that's okay.

Remember the Bailey's Buttercream debacle at the very, very beginning of this blog?  Man, I seriously needed a redemption.

This recipe is a boxed cake mix with Bailey's subbed in for some of the milk and then I changed up the frosting for a Bailey's Buttercream.

I found that I had to watch the recipe really closely.  It says that you need 1 1/4 cups water PLUS 1/4 cup Bailey's.  But then further down it says to sub 1/4 cup Bailey's for 1/4 cup water....

And the recipe also says to prepare using the box instructions, but the box I used said 1 1/3 cups water.

Good thing I was watching somewhat closely.  (Even though I was on the phone dealing with work stuff!)

Moving along.

I started out by sifting the box mix into my stand mixer bowl.  I remember reading somewhere that sifting a box mix will make it a little smoother and give it a better "finish".

Pop everything into the mixer bowl and mix for 30 seconds to combine.  Then turn the mixer speed to medium and beat for two minutes.

Considering I used a Devil's Food mix, I was really surprised at how it lightened up.  It almost became like a milk chocolate (which is my favorite chocolate!).  And, in the uncooked batter, you could taste the Bailey's.

Yes, I taste batter.  Lower that eyebrow. 

Of course, I knew once they were baked it would lose the Bailey's flavouring.

Once they were cooled, I started on my Bailey's Buttercream.  I had been eye-balling the recipe that Michelle from Brown-Eyed Baker used for her Guinness Cupcakes.  So far, Michelle hasn't let me down and I knew that this Buttercream would be PER.FECT.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.  Then, on low speed, add in the icing sugar until combined and then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Then pipe on your cooled cupcakes.

What I thought.  Even though I am, in general, somewhat adverse to using a box mix (and that's just my personal preference, if you want to use a box mix knock yourself out!), I thought that the cupcakes came out lighter in color than a classic Devil's Food, and that the cake itself was moist and tender.  I am convinced that this is because of the Bailey's in the mix.  Nice. 

And the buttercream?  Dee?  Do you remember what it was like the first go-round?  Well, this time it piped perfectly and tasted like BAILEY'S!!!  What a concept.  YAY!  Thank you Michelle!!!

Overall, I was quite pleased with the results.  I was especially ecstatic about the Buttercream.  But I don't think I'd make the cupcake itself again.

Oh!  I almost forgot!  I wanted to dress up the cupcakes a little bit for St Patrick's Day, but I didn't have anything that was really green or appropriate so I though about it a little bit.

Then I remembered reading something about sanding sugar and food coloring.  So I took out the sparkling sugar I bought at Christmastime and pulled out the Wilton green food gel.

I put a little bit of gel into a Ziploc bag and poured in a little of the sparkling sugar and shook it up. 

The sparkling sugar took on the gel color and turned green.  Perfect!  Then I just sprinkled the sugar onto the top of the cupcakes.

Add only a little gel for a little color and add more for a more vibrant color.

Watch out though, the gel on the sugar seems to stay kind of "wet" and transfers to your fingers - but I didn't notice a lot of color loss on the sugar that I sprinkled onto the cupcakes.

I suppose you could spread the sugar out in the bag and try to let it dry.

Anyway - just a little tip from me to you!

Feelin' a little tipsy from the glorious buttercream, this is the Cane Girl - signing off.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Mac & Cheese Monday

Today on Mac & Cheese Monday, we're having Make Me Laugh Macaroni from the happy folks over at The Laughing Cow.

We like to call Laughing Cow cheese, Happy Cow cheese.  Cause that cow is SO.  HAPPY!  And with cheese like that, how could you not be?

The original Laughing Cow cheese is my favorite of all cheeses.  It's the king of cheese in my world.  I just love it.  The texture, the flavour, the funny little wedge shapes...  I like to eat it just by itself, on crackers, on bread, on cardboard, or the bottom of my shoe.  Well, not those last two - but I'll eat it any way I can get it.

I just tried their new French Onion flavour the other day - and I LOVED it!  I will be adding it to my regular rotation for sure.

When I first started buying Happy Cow cheese, the containers had recipes printed on the little cards separating the layers of wedges.  Being in a right state of mind, I happened to hang on to a few of them.

I constantly pull this recipe out and look at it and think about making it - but I'm always missing one or two things.  So I've been hanging on to this little recipe card for ages and ages.  A couple of YEARS probably.

Finally, FINALLY, I'm putting my foot down and making this.

Start by cooking up your macaroni pasta 2/3rds of the way through and then draining it and letting it cool.

I chopped up the Happy Cow a little bit because I thought it would distribute a little better.

You're also going to need 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg.

Seriously, what is with the EGGS?  How many times are we going to see THIS delightful little combo on this blog?

In a bowl, mix the Happy Cow, the eggs, the cream, the milk, salt, and pepper.

You know how I hate recipes that just say "salt and pepper"?  Yeah, this one did it too.  I ended up using a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.

Then mix in the macaroni and pour the mixture into a greased baking dish.

Top with grated Swiss cheese and bake for 40 minutes.

After I took it out, I let it stand for 10 minutes.

Oh.  My.  Goodness. 

It was so delicious I couldn't BE.LIEVE it!  I was worried that because I didn't make a cheese sauce on the stove top it wouldn't come together - and it did!  It wasn't as "cheesy" and saucy as other styles of Mac & Cheese, but the sweetish creamy Happy Cow shone through with every bite.

I kinda wish that I had a bun to soak up the cheese off the bottom of the bowl.

This is definitely going in my permanent files!

Yay for Happy Cow!

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.

*Disclaimer - I'm not trying to sell Laughing Cow (and I didn't get any compensation for this post), I just love the cheese and think you should too!*

Friday, 9 March 2012

Tortilla Bean Soup

I changed the name of this soup.  I took out the "and".

Pretty inspired hey?

I know.  I'm a genius.  Right?

What an experience shopping for this soup was!!!

I spent 20 minutes in the bean aisle at the grocery store.  20.  That's weird right?  I mean, who spends THAT.  MUCH.  TIME. looking for beans?  And part of that time was snooping on the Internet because I couldn't find stuff. 

Like, what the heck are Pinto Beans?  And what the heck do you do when you can find a can that says "Pinto Beans" on the label?  Ugh.  I had to Google.  Turns out - Romano beans are the same as Pinto Beans. 

And what are "Ranch Style Beans"???  I ended up substituting Chili Style Beans. 

And WHAT in the fork is HOMINY????  Of course, my grocery store doesn't CARRY hominy.  But it gave me an excellent excuse to go over to the Latin grocery on Argyll to check it out.  What a treat!  It's an incredibly cool little store - they even make hot sandwiches!  Everything is imported from Mexico - snacks, chips, chocolates, spices, ingredients - and on and on.  I had a GREAT time snooping around!  And I even found the hominy I was looking for.

Just so you know - hominy is like a poufed up corn kernel.  It's not bad, but it's not that great either.

On to the soup.

There are a couple of things that didn't make it to this picture - the taco seasoning and the onion.

Instead of just plain water, I ended up using half chicken broth and half water - just for some extra flavour. 

Cook the chicken (I only used three chicken breasts) on high heat in the broth (this took about 1/2 an hour for me) and then shred into bite size pieces.

And it was here that I stopped taking pictures - but I have a perfectly reasonable excuse.

I realised I forgot about the onion and took it out to start chopping it up. 

It was at this point that point that the knife slipped and I ended up with a cut about 1/2 an inch long and - I'm just guessing here - 1/8 of an inch deep across the pad of my thumb.

It bled like crazy. 

I felt super-barfy.

And super-stupid.

Just as I was about to go to the clinic to see if I needed a couple of stitches - it finally stopped bleeding.  Mostly.

I still haven't made a decision about the clinic.

While I was "applying pressure to the wound", I opened all the cans of beans, tomatoes, and hominy, gave everything a little rinse and threw it back in the pot.  I also added some more water, because it looked like it could use it.

I heated it through for about 40 minutes and dished it up.

Here's what I thought.

It was actually pretty good, and had a nice spicy kick, although I would make a few changes.

First of all - I would put the onion in with the chicken at the beginning.  The onion wasn't really cooked.  I would also use FOUR chicken breasts.  Then, I would just leave out the hominy.  Also, I would throw in a small container of sour cream to make it a little creamy.

Would I make this soup again?  Not as the recipe is written - but it wasn't horrible.

This is the Cane Girl - signing off.