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    Entries in colours (with a u) (15)

    Tuesday
    Sep252012

    ice cream flavoured cake

    would be even better with ice cream.

    But I was out of ice cream, which is why I made the cake. Well, that and I'd managed to make it around the sun one more time.

    So, you've seen me make mint chocolate chip ice cream. Definitely one of my favourites. Last weekend was the time of year for cake, and so I made a mint chocolate chip cake. And since I have trained my offspring to be aware of food additives, he insisted that we make it without artificial colors or flavours. Which apparently meant I was not allowed to use mint extract either. Had to be mint-mint.

    Okay.

    I can do that.

    Mint Chocolate Chip Cake

    What you need:

    • about 2 c mint
    • 2/3 c milk
    • 1/3 c butter
    • 3/4 c sugar
    • more mint (about 1 tbsp once it's all chopped)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla (which was allowed for some reason)
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 generous cup of flour
    • 1 c mini chocolate chips (they're in the other pictures)

    What you gotta do:

    Don't preheat your oven yet. We've got an extra step at the beginning here. Since I wasn't allowed to use a mint extract, even a non-artificial one, I had to make one of my own.

    So, I took a step from the ice cream recipe. Trim and rinse the mint, and put it in a pot with the milk.

    You will barely be able to see the milk under all the mint. Don't worry, it's still there. And the mint will cook down like all leafy green things.

    Bring this just barely to a simmer, stir it, cover it, and leave it alone for about half an hour.

    Set the butter and egg on the counter to warm up to room temperature while the mint milk is steeping.

    Once you've strained and squeezed the mint out, the milk will be just barely green.

    Not quite green enough to colour a cake. Which is where the other bit of mint comes in. Chiffonade and then cut that up a bit more.

    Cream the butter, sugar, and minced mint together.

    I was hoping that creaming the mint in with the sugar would mash it up a bit more and spread it around (using the coarseness of the sugar to macerate it) but that didn't quite go as I'd hoped. Oh well.

    Add the egg and vanilla to your speckled butter.

    Now, we do the three bowl method for the cake. In the big bowl, the creamed butter mixture. In a smaller bowl (the one I started in and then decided was too small) the flour, salt, and baking powder. And in a bowl shaped like a measuring cup, the mint milk.

    First, we add about 1/3 of the flour to the creamed butter. Mix this in well.

    Now, about half the milk. Also mix in well.

    And then about half of what remains of the flour. Mix again.

    And the rest of the milk. Mix!

    And finally the last of the flour. Don't mix. Kidding! Mix it.

    Oh. Um. You should have preheated the oven just before the mixing started.

    Now, the chocolate chips. The Boy insisted on chips rather than chopped chocolate. And he was calling the shots with this one; I guess that's his version of making me a cake.  

    Butter and flour a cake pan. I had a 9 inch pan, which turns out was too big. You'll see why in a minute. If you have an 8 inch round pan, or an 8 inch square pan that would work fine. I'm going to use the 8 inch square pan next time.

    You can also line the pan with a bit of parchment paper.

    I would show you how to cut a round piece, but I know I'm going to need a tip to post in a few weeks during midterms and I think that sounds like a good one. Until then, you can leave the parchment out if you'd like.

    Bake the cake at 350 for about 30 minutes. You can test after 25 if you'd like but mine took almost exactly 30. Let it cool in the pan for about 20 minutes, and then on a rack until it's room temp.

    You see that flat bit in the middle?

    That's what I mean about the wrong pan size. There wasn't enough leavening in the mixture to keep everything together enough to lift that far from the edge. Another egg, or a bit more baking powder would work. Or, I could use a smaller pan so I don't have to go messing with recipe proportions.

    But, it was still cooked through, and it smelled minty. Tasted minty too, but it wasn't as green as The Boy was hoping. Still, he was glad it didn't have fake colour in it. I doubt I could convince him to use spinach juice though, like Taneasha did with her colourful cookies.

    There are definitely flecks of green in there though.

    This is a very moist moist cake, with a crumbly, delicate crumb. And the texture kinda reminded me of those "snack cakes" that my mom used to make from a box in the 80s. Quick cakes, never frosted, and always done in a square pan. So, I skipped the frosting step on this one.

    A bit of vanilla ice cream on the side would have been nice though.

     

    Tuesday
    Sep042012

    You Jelly?

    This is a mesquite tree.

    Mesquite trees have thorns. Be careful.

    Mesquite trees also make beans.

    Lots of them.

    Beans can be made into jelly.

    Beans?? Yup. Beans.

    When they're "ripe" you can hear the seeds rattling around inside them, but a couple green ones isn't going to hurt anything.

    Bean Jelly. Not Green Jelly, the hilarious 80s band that did a cover of "Three Little Pigs" metal style.

    And the best part is that the beans grow wild across the street from Recipe Guy's house.

    Mesquite Bean Jelly

    • About a gallon of mesquite beans
    • Water
    • 2 c sugar
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 package of dry fruit pectin

    I hate using the "package" measure, but I'm not sure how much that was... the package says 49 grams, so I guess around 25? It looked like maybe 1/6 of a cup... I think.

    Kinda.

    Um, I forgot to do an Ingredients pic with this one, so I'm just going to keep typing like I know what I'm doing.

    The best way to rinse the beans is in a sink full of water.

    This also encourages any critters who have been munching on your beans to vacate them. Yes, there will be critters. This is wild food which means it's someone else's link in the food chain, and you're going to have to out compete them if you want to eat.

    Pick through the beans and remove any that have holes in them or look like they've been nibbled on. We had about a 50% recovery: we picked about 2 gallons of beans to get 1 gallon of usable ones.

    Break the beans into pieces, cover them with an inch or two of cold water (above the bean level), and bring them to a boil.

    After about 5 minutes, it starts to smell kinda sweet, almost like chamomile tea. Once it's boiled for 5 minutes, turn the heat off, cover it, and let it steep for another 30.

    Definitely tea.

    There's a distinct floral aroma, that you wouldn't expect from beans.

    Strain the beans. You can pause here in the process and refridgerate or freeze your bean tea if you've done enough for the day.

    When you're ready to make jelly, dump the tea back in the pot and bring it back to a boil. Keep boiling until you have 1 1/2 cups of tea. The colour definitely darkens as you concentrate it. This isn't the best light, but it's a lovely reddish gold colour.

    (you can check your level by either pouring hot tea into a pyrex cup to check and then back into the pot to continue, or: before you start, put 1.5 cups of water in your pot to get an idea of what that level looks like then dump it out and put the tea in to boil)

    I think this is the point at which we made a mistake.

    Not a cataclysmic one by any means, but the end product wasn't quite what we were expecting.

    We didn't let our tea cool.

    This messed with our pectin, which needs to start out cool and then be heated, not poured into a pot of boiling tea.

    Oops.

    So, let your tea cool. Completely. Like until it's not hot.

    Neither of us have ever made jam or jelly before and had no clue ... Taneasha is laffing at us, I know.

    Okay, so with your cool concentrated tea...

    Put the tea back in the pot and add the lemon juice, sugar, and the pectin.

    Stir this gently as you bring it back to a boil. The recipe we found at Edible Austin said to boil it one minute, but looking at the pectin package... I'm seeing slightly different instructions. So, in addition not to starting with boiling tea, read the directions. (freaking engineers, think they know how to do things without instructions... )

    Keep it at a full rolling boil (this means that the boil doesn't stop or slow if you stir it) for one minute.

    Pour your supposedly thickened jelly into a large clean jar.

    You can actually see the tiny beads of solidified pectin stuck to the sides of the pot in this pic. That's where some of the missing "jelly" went, I think. Wouldn't have happened if we'd started with cold tea.

    We aren't properly "canning" the jelly because we only made a tiny test batch, and we're pretty sure it's going to be eaten quickly.

    Because although it has the consistency of syrup,

    it tastes fucking awesome.

    The floral aroma totally stayed, and there's a distinct flavour of wildflower honey. Amazing on biscuits and with late season peaches.

    This was my first attempt at using pectin to gel anything. What have you canned?

     

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