Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan

I wanted to take my cake balls further than I have before, and I found the perfect excuse to do this over the weekend. At Matt's work, some of the animators (mostly Tiffany) decided to do a bake sale for relief efforts in Japan. We all thought this was a great idea and decided to do another baking day at Kate's place.

I already knew that the pops would take a long time so I made the cake the day before, and I also went to the store to get some candy for the decorations on my pops. You can cheat, and look down the blog a bit to see what I made, but let me tell you what it is and why I did them.

The bake sale was to take place at Oktobor, where Matty works; they animate (and do other things) for the TV show Penguins of Madagascar, so I thought it would be really cute to make the cake pops little penguins. I took a picture off of google as my model, then went to the store to see what I could find to use as the wings, beak and feet. Here is what the candies looked like before and after cutting them into the shapes I needed.
 I am so glad that I did some prep the day before, because even without doing that I was in way over my head! I dont know how Bakerella does this so well, because I was super exhausted and I didnt even get nearly as many done as I wanted to. But man was it fun! Here I am at the beginning of dipping.

Yum, chocolate!

This is Kate, getting me back for the picture I put of her on the last blog post :) haha.

Some pops that had been sitting for a while in the fridge and a fresh batch going in.

Here I am starting out the decorating process. They started with a layer of dark chocolate as the base and I am making the eyes and the body with white chocolate. My lovely mom :) sent me some food writers from the states, because I havent been able to find them here, and I used the black marker to make the pupils of the penguin.

And here I am with one of my finished products! This is another victory pose; I couldnt believe I actually did it! I have to say that I was pretty proud of myself, for these only being the third time I have made cake balls, and my first time actually making them into something. I do, however, also have to say that I was expecting to get about 40 of these made, and only 16 made it to penguin shapes. I was really afraid I was going to be at Kate's house until it was time to take them to Oktobor! But luckily, I got enough done, and the rest just stayed chocolate.

Matty said that I gave birth to 16 penguins! And let me tell you, it was hard labor! Haha :) Here's my babies.

And a close up...

The bake sale took place at Oktobor, in the kitchen area. Here is Tiff's amazing cheddar and jalapeno cookies, and she even cut out "Japan" and some hearts! Too cute!

Here's all the goodies we were selling. Kate made some lemon slice and hedgehog. Those both seemed to be a big hit. Tiff made her savory cookies and some chocolate cupcakes. Dan's wife made rice crispy treats and strawberry white chocolate chip cookies, Mercedes made some other cupcakes (not sure what they were), Claudia made two amazing cakes that were gone before you could blink your eyes. Cant remember what either of them were though either, and I made my cake pops, which were chocolate cake with white chocolate chips and chocolate frosting.  We didnt expect a lot of people to contribute and eat the goodies, but boy were we wrong! It was gone in a matter of 30 minutes!

Here is Dan (and Tiff's Matt behind him) holding a cake pop to take to his kid at home :) 

Our money jar. In the end, we raised over $700 that is all going to the relief fund for Japan. Pretty cool! 

The amazing Tiffany who organized the whole thing! We are all thankful for her for doing that. She is holding a cake pop. I still am not sure if she has eaten it. She just couldnt find it in her heart to kill the cute little thing! :) 

On the last post, I said that I was so jealous to be in Kate's apartment and whether I said it or not, I got a little spoiled baking in her great kitchen. Well I can no longer say that, and unfortunately my blog is no longer going to be valid being called "Cooking Without a Kitchen". As of tomorrow, we will be in a new (and much bigger) apartment. I will have to show pictures of what it looks like when we get in there, but the kitchen is also much bigger and there is an actual oven. So unfortunately, my blog name isnt as valid, but the point will still stand; that I am learning to bake in a new country and discovering my passion for it! :) We are excited!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Bake Off :)

For the bake off, I didnt make anything out of my recipe book, but believe me, I had enough to do! Kate, the one who invited me over, asked me to make a cheesecake called Chocolate Liquer Cheesecake. She wanted me to make it because it was yet another :) coworkers b-day, and she has been wanting to have this cake. I gotta tell you, I was quite nervous to make this cheesecake, as I had never made one before, and Kate just thinks that I am a great baker (thank you Kate for the confidence), but I was not so confident when she told me that her mom always gets stressed when making this one. Oh man, Im thinking, how am I gonna be able to do this? There was a lot of pressure, and I was very nervous. So this cake has chocolate "bisquits" or cookies, butter and coffee liquer as the base, cream cheese (lots and lots of it), sugar, chocolate, whipped cream, and more coffee liquer and some peppermint liquer mixed in. YUM! Here I am, contemplating the recipe and hoping that all will go well. :)

Here it is with everything except the whipped cream. Already looks yum yum yummy!

So I forgot to mention that the whipped cream, was just cream that had to be whipped. Oh yeah, and Matt wont let me not mention this part - I thought that we had the right kind and the right amount of whipped cream. When I realized that I didnt, guess to had to be runner to get the right stuff? Matty of course! The store is not very close to where we were either, so he literally had to RUN to the store and get back in time so the mixture didnt get ruined. Now he can say that he contributed to the bake off haha :)

Me mixing in the whipped cream.

Here is Kate, although you cant see her face, but making her peanut butter cookies, which turned out super yummy, even though we were all having issues baking things, thanks to the different climate. I never realized how much climate changes can effect baking.

Here is my victory pose, after Kate told me the cheesecake looked and tasted exactly the way it was suppose to! Oh success!

Here is what the finished product looked like. We had it yesterday, and man it was so great! Nick appreciated it (b-day boy), and we paired it with canned whipped cream and frozen raspberries. YUM-O!

Here is Tiffany, who is making her yummy savory cookies, which had cheddar cheese and jalapenos in them. I have to stay I wasnt too sure about these, but YUM YUM YUM. I even got the recipe from her, so I can make them sometime.

Here are the three bakers of the day. Me, Tiff and Kate. We are already pretty exhausted by this point, and we arent even close to done with our baking adventures.

Kate eating her cookie batter before she even baked them. How dare her lol. She will probably kill me for putting this picture up too! :)

I did lie a little bit before when I said that I didnt make anything out of my recipe book. I wanted to make cake balls compliments of Bakerella. Her website says to make any kind of cake that you want, so I chose one out my recipe book. It was chocolate with white chocolate chips, and chocolate frosting. So I made it the day before the bake off, just so I wasnt taking up too much of the oven on the day. I am so glad I did, not for that reason, but because I was already exhausted and I only made the two things! So here are the cake balls before they got dipped.

Here they are being dipped in chocolate melts.

Heres Tiff's finished savory cookies.

Haha, although Im not asleep here, I was sure wishing I was!

Kate's yummy peanut butter cookies.

Tiff also made chocolate chip cookies and M&M cookies. Man they were all so great!

We had such a fun day and we all got to enjoy them on Saturday then also yesterday for Nick's b-day. It was a lot of fun, and although note very soon, I do want to do that again! :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

I know that I said on my last post that my next goody would be cappuccino brownies, but we bought a lot fruit this week, and need to get rid of some of it, so I wanted to try a different banana bread recipe. I also got these great TINY cake and bread tins sent over by my lovely sister-in-law Stephanie! She got them from Cost Plus World Market, and when she saw them she thought of me, so she sent them. So sweet of her, and I just HAD to use them. Arent they adorable?!?

When I made the banana bread out of my recipe book, it had a lot of different ingredients that I didnt expect to be in it, but I just assumed that those ingredients were normal for banana bread. It had things like two different colors of self raising flour, demerara sugar, which is just a brown sugar, salt, nutmeg, and orange juice and oil. It also had some of the ingredients that other banana breads have, such as, of course, bananas, and cinnamon too, but overall it seemed like it was a different recipe for banana bread.

This new recipe, I found because I didnt have all of the ingredients for the other one. I went looking, and came across the recipe on www.banana-bread.biz which has every banana bread recipe imaginable. I was excited to see an actual recipe that had chocolate in it, because I just dont see the point in banana bread without the chocolate :)

Dark Chocolate Banana Bread has plain flour, baking soda, cinnamon, melted butter (YUM), sugar, eggs, mashed bananas, vanilla and the best part, dark chocolate chips. I definitely wanted to use the tiny tins, but as you can see, I only have one tiny bread tin, so I decided to make a tiny bread loaf, a big bread loaf and a banana bread bundt cake! :) It was so much fun using the small tins, and they really turned out great! I had to really keep an eye on them, as they are so much smaller than the big tin, but ultimately they came out great. Matt had a lot of fun taking pictures of these, and I think this picture turned out great! I do have to apologize for the fact that all of the pictures are taken on this one particular plate, but we only have a total of 7 (5 of which we bought) plates in our cabinet, and these are the prettiest plates we have, so therefore, thats what we use.

I am very excited too for this weekend, because I am going to a bake-off! One of our good friends who is from Australia, lives in a nice loft condo, and she has a great kitchen, so she invited me and another girl to come over this Saturday to have a baking day. She said she didnt want to call it a bake off, because she knew that I would win, but Im not so sure about that. We are also having three guys (yes my Matty included) come over to "oversee" the baking and make sure that we arent making anything poisonous... If you ask me, I just think they want the goodies! I dont know...

Please stay tuned because we will be bringing the camera and Matt will be taking lots of pictures and I will post all about the fun day. I am very excited about it!

Thanks again Steph for the fun cake tins and dont worry, the bread was yummy! :)

Also quick side note, happy 8 month anniversary of being married to Matty and me today! Yay! And on March 23, we will be celebrating 6 years of being together! Crazy how fast time goes...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Coffee and Walnut Cake

Since Matt really wanted this cake when I made the cinnamon rolls, I decided to make him happy and make this next. I just had to go to the store to get some walnuts. This cake called for butter, muscovado sugar (a sort of brown sugar), 3 eggs, strong black coffee (I actually brewed it this time haha), self-raising flour, baking powder, and walnuts of course. For the icing, it only called for butter, icing sugar, coffee and vanilla.

I am really starting to find that baking is getting a lot easier, and this cake was really quite simple, other than having to bake two separate cakes, which takes a while, as we know how small my oven is. I had a lot of fun making this cake and luckily, Matt enjoyed it. I felt like there was a lot of pressure since he wanted it last time, but I think I came through. He said he liked it better than my Hummingbird cake, so that's really good since that one was my favorite. I tasted this cake too and I liked it, but not near as much as the Hummingbird cake. Thankfully, we are all allowed to have our own opinions :) Well anyway, here it is, and Im thinking next will be the cappuccino brownies.

On another note, I have been watching Julie&Julia pretty much every time I bake, and I almost have that movie memorized all the lines in it! I know, its bad. I would watch other cooking shows or anything, but here there arent a whole lot of channels to watch and I dont know what other movies to buy, so that movie it is. But I have pretty much become obsessed with the movie and more importantly with Julia Child. She is so amazing and I feel like I can relate to her with cooking and living in a new country. I have purchased My Life in France on my kindle, and I want so many more books about her. I like having that one on my kindle but I think that one and the other ones would be so great to have as a hard copy.

I also really want to get her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Last night, I really wanted to make artichokes and use her Hollandaise sauce (from Julie&Julia), but I went to the store and lo and behold, the store was out of artichokes. Luckily I had already prepared myself for this, but it is a darn good thing I am not doing what Julie Powell did. I would never be able to make it to the deadline, if for nothing else but the store being out of the ingredients. My goodness - the joys of living in a small country.

The point of all that is just to say that I love Julia Child, and she is quickly becoming a huge influence in my life, as well as Bakerella of course. It is just amazing the way things happen in your life, and how things can do a 180 turn in an instant. I went to school and all the way through college thinking I wanted to be a physical therapist, and here I am, realizing that I want to do the opposite of that! :) Not that I still dont want to be into health, but instead I want to make people feel good with yummy treats, not forcing them to do exercises they dont want to. No offense Andre and the Custom PT staff!

Its just crazy the way life takes you, and I honestly wouldnt have figured this all out if we hadnt have come to New Zealand. I know I still have a long way to go, but I have finally found my calling, and I have to give thanks to God above all, but to Matt for taking me to NZ and to all his coworkers who urged me to do this. So thanks! So many others to thank too, but this isnt the Oscars, so I wont go into those haha. :) My point is just that I have found my calling, and I am very excited about it.

And thanks again for joining me on my journey of learning the joy of baking!