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    Entries in happy birthday! (6)

    Wednesday
    Feb012017

    It's Authors Kitchen's Birthday!!

    That’s right, Authors Kitchen is 6 years old today! And no, that’s not a picture of a cake. I know cakes are traditional fare for birthdays, but you know how I feel about traditions. Besides, my own birthday is on the 12th, so I’m sure I’ll be making something cake like between now and then. Also, as an added bonus, these pretzel bites are the perfect snack for your Super Bowl party this weekend.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 2 ½ cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 packet instant yeast (1 scant Tablespoon)
    • 1 cup warm water 

     For Later:

    • 1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ cup hot water
    • Pretzel salt (or other coarse salt)
    • Melted butter 

    Into a mixing bowl go the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.

    Stir those together and then pour in the water. You want the water to be bath water warm.

    I like to stir those together with a spoon just until it comes together into a shaggy mess.

    Then the stand mixer will take care of the rest. Give it a good 5 minutes with the dough hook. I like to use the third speed setting on my KitchenAid for that. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can always knead by hand. Just dump it onto the counter and go to town for probably 10 minutes, or until your arms give out. Whichever comes first. When it’s ready, the dough should be soft and smooth, but not really sticky anymore.

    Butter a medium sized bowl.

    Place your dough ball upside down in the bowl and turn it to coat the top side with butter.

    Then flip it over and turn it again so that the whole ball has a light coating of butter. This will keep it from drying out while it’s rising.

    Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set it aside to do its thing.

    While that’s rising, you can make the alkaline mixture. This is the secret ingredient. It’s what makes pretzels chewy on the outside. Measure about ½ cup hot water, then add 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda. Stir until the baking soda is completely dissolved. If it won’t completely dissolve, just add a little more hot water.

    After about thirty minutes or so, the dough has probably risen enough for what we’re making. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 400°

    Punch the dough down and pat it out on an unfloured surface. Yes, I know there is flour in my picture, but it wasn’t necessary, and I ended up having to scrape it out of the way for the next step.

    Cut the dough into four pieces and roll each one into a rope. My favorite place for these is Wetzel’s Pretzels, so I was trying to copy theirs for size. Mine were probably about an inch in diameter, which was good.  

    Cut each rope into segments. Mine were probably about 1 ½ inches. Can you use this same recipe to make whole pretzels? Sure! Just roll the ropes thinner and shape them into a pretzel shape and then continue with the rest just the same.

    Dip each segment into the soda water solution and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. I dipped mine into the salt, which made for overly salty pretzels. I recommend sprinkling it over the top, instead. If you want to make sweet ones or if you just don’t like salt, you can also leave them bare at this point. Just make sure they all get a dip in the soda water.

    Into the 400° oven for about 10 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll be nicely browned.

    Melt a couple tablespoons of butter and brush it over each one. (If you do want to make sweet ones, you would just dip each one in butter and then roll them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture.)

    And that’s it! Did you know it was so easy to make your own pretzels? And aren’t they beautiful? You can serve them with whatever you like for dipping. Personally, I like good ol’ French’s yellow mustard.  

    What are you going to be eating during the Super Bowl this year?

     

    Monday
    Feb012016

    Authors Kitchen is Turning 5!!

    That's right, Authors Kitchen is 5 years old today!  Surely that deserves some serious pomp and circumstance, right? A 6-layer cake with fillings and marzipan decorations or something? Actually, I decided to kind of go the opposite direction with it. I wanted to create a cake that people might actually make, something accessible and realistic. With that in mind, I was determined to create a recipe for a single serving, microwave cake, that is fantastic enough to celebrate our fifth birthday with. I know, you’re skeptical. We’ve tried a microwave cake before and it turned out, well…

    But trust me. This recipe creates a moist, chocolate studded, molten cake that is nothing short of fabulous. The cool (and dangerous) part is, it’s only 5 minutes from “I want chocolate cake” to taking a bite of warm, rich, chocolaty goodness.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 3 Tablespoons flour
    • 1 ½ Tablespoons cocoa
    • 2 Tablespoons sugar
    • Scant ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    • Pinch of salt
    • 3 Tablespoons milk
    • 1 ½ tablespoons oil
    • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips
    • 2 Tablespoons cocoa almond spread
    • (or Nutella, cookie butter, peanut butter, caramel, etc.) 

    First up, choose a microwave safe vessel. I’m using a 14 oz. ramekin. If you don’t have something like that, a mug that’s 12 oz. or more will work. Whatever you use, go ahead and spray it lightly with non-stick spray. I like to use Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray.

    Set that aside and measure all of the dry ingredients into a small mixing bowl.

    Whisk them so that they’re evenly distributed and there are no clumps of anything.

    Add the milk, oil, and vanilla.

    Whisk until everything is combined and there are no, or at least few, lumps.

    Add the chocolate chips. I like Ghirardelli semisweet, but you can really use whatever you like.

    Fold those in and pour the batter into your prepared vessel.

    Dollop on some of whatever you want to use for your filling. I LOVE Trader Joe’s cocoa almond spread, but if you don’t have that, don’t like it, or can’t have it because of allergies, use something else. I’m sure cookie butter would be delicious, nutella, or perhaps a couple squares of good salted caramel. If you like peanut butter, add some of that. Me, I’m going with the chocolate almond deliciousness.

    To prevent spills in your microwave and also make it easy to handle, I like to go plate, damp paper towel, then ramekin. That way it won’t slide around on the plate.

    Now, into the microwave for 70 seconds. I know, you still don’t believe this is going to turn into an actual cake… especially one that’s delicious, but there it is.

    Top it with powdered sugar or a scoop of good vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

    Amazing chocolaty goodness, so quick easy to make, it doesn’t have to be your birthday to enjoy it!

    The only thing that could make it any better would be to eat it by the ocean and be rid of this yucky snow.