Friday, September 27, 2013

Daring Bakers! Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy... just plain delish!

I was simultaneously excited and apprehensive about the Daring Bakers challenge this month. Not because of the recipe, but just because of all the oven fails I've been having lately. I decided to minimize risk and take my baking elsewhere. A large number of my female friends live in an honor house dedicated to sustainable food, and informed me I was welcome to use their oven anytime. So I packed up all my supplies and trucked it down to the house. It was nice to have a large enough space for me to bake and socialize at the same time. 

I slid the cake into the oven nervously, praying that it would not burn or collapse. Thirty five minutes later I pulled it out and hurrah! It had baked up into a fluffy, golden sponge. 
"That smells really good!" someone called from the dining room, and I did a small victory dance (mostly an internal victory dance). Finally, a success. 

Obviously I wasn't done there, but the tricky part was over. You can't have a tres leches cake without the milks! I've made the traditional recipe before, so I wanted to try something new. I was delighted to find that The Pastry Affair had a coconut tres leches cake on her site. The sponge is soaked in a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, and coconut rum (side note, purchasing this was my first time actually buying something from a liquor store. I was a little nervous that there would be some rule I had overlooked preventing me from purchasing alcohol and I would be unceremoniously booted from the store. Thankfully that did not happen). Finish it off with a thick layer of coconut rum spiked whipped cream and toasted coconut and you've got yourself...a pretty irresistible cake.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake 
from The Pastry Affair

5 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9 x 13-inch cake pan.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar until the yolks are a pale yellow. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Fold in the flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter, mixing until just combined (over-beating will result in a denser, flatter cake—not what we want!). Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan until cake reaches room temperature. Pierce top of cake with a fork a couple dozen times to allow glaze to soak into the cake.

1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup coconut rum

In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and coconut rum. Pour evenly over cooled, hole-ridden cake, making sure to get the edges and corners as well as the center. Now here's the hard part: refrigerate the cake overnight so the cake can fully absorb the glaze.

1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon coconut rum
Flaked coconut, toasted (garnish)

In a large bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream, sugar, and coconut rum together until topping is thick and spreadable.
Spread topping evenly over coconut cake, sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Oreo Cheesecake Truffles

I finally got an oven to work for me! But that's a story for later in the week ^__^  Okay, so you know how there are double stuffed oreos (which, apparently, are only 1.86th stuffed. The nerve!)? Now there are MEGA STUFFED OREOS. Is that too much filling for you? I'm kind of feeling yes. How do you eat oreos? I usually either spread peanut butter on them or pull one of these

Whoa, black and white, what is this madness? 

I don't usually buy cookies for myself, but I came into possession of some mega stuffed oreos through my father, who had received them from someone else. He can't eat oreos though, too much sodium, bad for the heart. So they became mine! And as much as I wanted to, I knew I probably shouldn't eat the whole package by myself. 

Messy....sorry, I was in a hurry >_ >

Soooo...I found a recipe for oreo cheesecake cookies. Not surprisingly, given my track record so far, they were a mega fail. All the fat oozed out the bottom without cooking the rest of the cookie. I slammed the rejects into the garbage and pondered my next course of action. I was due to meet up with some friends soon and I was not about to walk over there empty handed. So I rolled the remaining dough (eggless, hooray!) into balls, dipped them in chocolate, and popped them in the freezer. Cheesecake truffles! They were such a huge hit, I made them again a few days later. 

Oreo Cheesecake Truffles
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 sleeve oreos
1 bag chocolate chips

Crush oreos into crumbs. It's okay to have some bigger chunks in there. Set aside. 
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and well-combined. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix until the ingredients are well-combined. Add the flour and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Stir in crushed oreos. Roll into balls (about walnut sized). If your dough is getting too soft, pop it in the freezer until it firms up. Melt chocolate chips and dip each ball into chocolate until completely covered. Freeze until solid.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I recall sampling slices of Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, and Red Delicious apples and noting their different qualities as a class activity about the five senses in kindergarten. Was the apple sweet, red, crunchy? Since then, I have expanded my apple palate, but it’s hard to know what you’re missing when you’ve never had anything better. I used to be satisfied with Red Delicious apples. Apples are apples, right? Wrong. To the present version of myself, Red Delicious apples taste like old sponges with tough, inedible skin. 

I am incredibly lucky to have an apple orchard so close to my school. And I like having to work for my I make an effort to go apple picking each fall. There’s just something special about pulling fruit right from a tree and eating it in the same place where it was grown. 

Apples are one of my favorite fruits to cook and bake with because they’re so versatile and there are so many different varieties with different flavor profiles.  The school cafeteria brings in apples from the local orchard, so if I can keep myself from eating them instantly, I can stockpile enough to whip up some applesauce.
Making your own applesauce is a breeze, and it tastes far better than anything purchased in the store. Even if you have never touched a stove, I am confident that you cannot ruin this recipe. 

Chunky Homemade Applesauce
Peel and slice 4-5 apples. Feel free to eat some of your slices, I always do. If you have a food processor or blender, peeling is optional. It'll give your sauce more fiber and turn it a pretty pink color. But I prefer chunky applesauce more than smooth. Throw the apple slices into a pot, put a lid on it, and cook over medium heat. If you want to add a little water, that’s fine, but it’s usually not necessary. The apples will release their juices and soften pretty quickly. When you can mash the apples up with a fork, your sauce is done! Add as much cinnamon and sugar as you want, and serve hot or cold.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Senior Year + Banana Soft Serve

Sorry it has taken so long to post. Moving in and adjusting to school takes time, you understand. I'm still kind of denying the fact that I'm a senior in college. Most of the time I still have no idea what I'm doing (or it least it feels that way). I've come to the realization that maybe...there's no defining moment when a person transitions into adulthood. Maybe you never really feel like a "grown-up". Just gotta fake it til you make it. I'm okay with a life of continuously learning. 

This is my room, or at least some of it. It's cozy and quiet, down two flights of stairs and tucked into an alcove. To get this space of my own, I had to sacrifice other things...namely, being near my friends. It can get isolated down here, but it's good for me to make an effort to go out. 

This little number is my kitchen. The dorm is so spread out that there are actually 4 or 5 of these. The oven probably has been there since the 80's when it was installed, and the numbers have more or less rubbed off the dials. A few days ago I attempted to make a peanut butter cake that I was all excited to blog about. It cooked to what appeared to be a beautiful golden brown. Deception! The entire top half of the cake cooked while the bottom remained a goo. I was enraged! Not really, but definitely discouraged. I'll have to figure out how to cook things evenly. It's too hot for cake anyway, so I made that trendy banana "ice cream". Those are not unnecessary quotation marks, it's really more of a sorbet. Easy, refreshing, though in my opinion, not a substitute for ice cream. Hopefully I'll get this oven problem solved soon. 

Banana Soft Serve/Sorbet

Cut two bananas into slices, put them in a ziploc bag, and freeze them until they are rock hard (it will probably take at least 8 hours). All you really need to do now is throw the banana slices into a food processor (or magic bullet dealio, which is what I used) until smooth and creamy. For extra goodness, add a spoonful of peanut butter and a splash of vanilla extract. Enjoy immediately!