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Monday, January 23, 2012

Test Kitchen

Goodmorning Everyone!!
I hope you all had a GREAT weekend. Mine was the usual: Work on Saturday, bought some birthday presents after work (I get off at 5, shops close at 7), went to my friend's house for coffee Sunday morning, had some good-tasting lunch at my in-laws' to-be, and spent the afternoon in my kitchen testing recipes :!)

First of all, I have to tell you. I do NOT like coconut. Not the smell or flavor itself, but the texture. I try to omit it from my recipes. But see, my fiance? Well that's his FAVORITE flavor!! So he's been asking me to make him some Coconut Cupcakes since...forever! (Especially after our Christmas Cake was a Coconut Cake really). I had never made them before, so I thought I'd give it a try.

He LOVED them! Especially the Cream Cheese Frosting (I added a bit of almond extract this time - since I was testing - to see the difference from it being plain. My conclusion: Too strong of a flavor).

So, since I made him the Coconut Cupcakes that he REEEeeeeAAAlly liked, I should make something I REEEaaally like too, right? YEAP! I'm a sucker for Strawberry desserts! So the other day I bought some strawberries from this girl (you know, those that sell fruit on the streets, or come by your work? Well she came at the shop where I work and they looked really good, so I grabbed a pack). I had them in the refrigerator for 3 days and didn't know what to do with them. So I asked my friends on Facebook, and they suggested the Strawberry Mousse (it was either that or Strawberry Cupcakes with Orange Frosting-recipes I've made before and love, I just couldn't choose all by myself).


After I took the pictures, I realized I never left a strawberry behind to decorate! I haven't had one yet. They needed to set and cool in the refrigerator, so I will have one today. I'm pretty sure that they are reeeeeeeeally tasty :) Because they have strawberries in them! You can tell from the picture that this is homemade and not the packaged kind: You can see the strawberry bits!

Other than testing in the kitchen and making yummy gooods, I also baked a Red Velvet Cake for an order (I also baked brownies, but I didn't take a picture of those for you).

This also falls under Test Kitchen because I had many people try it and tell me what they think. Everyone said it was reeeally good...I wasn't all that pleased with it. I think it's because I like the cupcake version much better....due to the fact that cupcakes have a higher cuteness factor!

So, what did you guys do this weekend? Anyone baked something new??

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chocolate Blackout Cake

No, I haven't forgotten about you. It's just that I've been super busy with life and baking. I thought while I have a Cheesecake baking in the oven, I'd share with you what's up with me.

First of all.... I took the biggest step EVER for my career. I. Quit. My. Job. That's right! It was really hard for me to do, but I have given my resignation letter, and as of February 1st, I will be a full time baker! Yeih me!!!

Then, I baked a LOT of Carrot Cakes. Apparently, that's my forte. Everyone LOVES my Carrot Cake. You've seen it before right here. I baked 2 of those today, 1 yesterday, and after I'm done with the Cheesecake in the oven? Yeap, that's right! I'm baking yet another cake for a delivery tomorrow morning. I also had a girl ask me if I can turn it into her Engagement Cake. That's how much she liked it! So I'm working on some ideas for that. 200 people. Wow! A Carrot Cake for 200 people that doesn't look like a wedding cake. Ok.. we'll see how that goes.

Also, yesterday was one of my bestest friend's wedding. It was also the groom's birthday so the bride asked me to bake him a Chocolate Birthday Cake. So I did a Chocolate Blackout Cake. Have you ever had one of those before? It's strictly for Chocolate LOVERS! It's a Chocolate Cake basically, and instead of having frosting, it has Chocolate Custard.
I worte Happy Birthday for him in Greek, and then I closed the top of the box so I could deliver it to the hotel...and the cake was too tall and all the writing came off! So...since I was going to be late, I rewrote it with what I had on hand, and it came out looking a little bulky.

It looks all nice and innocent here, and look how it looks with the writing.

See the yuck-y "O" on the first word? (For all those wondering, it's Happy Birthday in Greek). Well..remember how I said "what I had on hand?" What I DID have on hand last minute, was some Cream Cheese Frosting that was left over from the Carrot Cake I baked in the morning. I mised it with some blue paste color and voia-la! It looks gooey, too, but the whole "birthday" deal lasted about 30 seconds, there was no picture taken of the cake and people just downed it! So other than this picture I am sharing with you guys, no one else will know!! It was a surprise so the photographer didn't get the chance to snap a picture. Thank. You!

Off I go to take out the Cheesecake from the oven. This is how my Cheesecake looks like:

I call it "The New Yorker." The ultimate New York Cheesecake.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!

I hope everyone had a good time whatever it is they did for the turn of the year. I stayed home with my family...fell asleep at 11:15pm...woke up at 11:55pm, turned the year with my fiance, and then OPENED PRESENTS!!! It is Greek tradition that presents are opened on New Year's Day instead of Christmas Day like the end of the world. See it's Saint Vasilios Day and he is Santa Claus (instead of Saint Nick). And instead od cookies and milk, we leave out some wine for him and a St. Vasilios Pie that we make. He is supposed to have a slice and then bless the rest for us. We also leave our wallets by the fireplace where the pie and wine are so he can bless them to be full all year long.
The fun part about the pie is that there's always a coin hidden in there, and the one who finds it is supposed to be lucky for the whole year to come. You keep it in your wallet (it's covered in you know which one it is and not spend it) and it keeps your wallet full. My mum made the pie.. it tasted mmmhmmm good! Last year I found the lucky coin..this year, my mum did.

But enough with tradition! What did you do for the turn of the year? Well, last week we did open presents (just not from Santa) and I got a porcelain 3-tier cupcake platter from my fiance, and a Waffle maker from my mum. Santa brought me a cookbook for waffles! I was supposed to make waffles for breakfast this morning but Santa also brought me a PlayStation game and (yes yes.. I am a geek also!) I played that instead!!! Ever since I started baking full time, I haven't been playing any games (I'm all grown up and such) and it was fun playing for a bit.

I also wrote down some goals for myself.. see I'm trying to actually open this bakery thing I want to do.. meanwhile, I have to attend a wedding this year, too. MY WEDDING! So I thought I'd share some of my goals with you.

#1. Plan my wedding.
Even though I have many things done already, I want to plan as much as I can way before the end so I can be stress free the last month. My wedding is in November. I wanted a cool wedding. I'm a sucker for Fall.

#2. Open a Bakery.
Or at least, take all the steps to getting closer to my dream. Finances are the one thing keeping me away, but hopefully I can get that down before the end of the year. I have a whole 365 days to go!

#3. Organize!!!
Those that know me, know I'm an organizing FREAK and a perfectionist to what I do. Thing is, I organize EVERYTHING but my house. Why? I'm too tired once I walk through the door to organize the house, too. So my goal is to keep everything organized so I can have a clutter free life! Plus, I'm an organizing FREAK I said.. it will be fun to do this!! I made a binder and everything! Can't wait!

#4. Keep up with my friends.
I know this might seem stupid to some, but ever since I took the position of being the Store Manager at the clothing store I work at, I haven't been keeping up with my friends. I decline outings (I always seem to be so tired...!), I forget name days, and I forget birthdays. Not acceptable! The old me would NEVER EVER forget birthdays. I like making cards, and I like buying presents. I LOVE the expression on my friends' faces when they open a card with sentiments and a successful present. See, I pay attention to what my friends like and I usually buy nice presents, meaningful ones!

#5. Be healthy.
Since I have the wedding and all, I need to lose like 25 pounds (I'm not THAT fat, but I do have my love handles). I gained it all this past year after my 2 surgeries. So I know I can lose it all. I also want to make sure I eat more healthy. Ever since I decided I will be on a healhier eating schedule, I thought it was OK for me to eat as much junk as I can so I don't miss out on anything. If you went on a diet before, then you know the feeling. So now I feel overly disgusted with junk food and cheap sweets. I'm going to eat healthier and do those exercises I have on my PlayStation (see, it comes in handy!)

Tell me what your goals are for the year. Any resolutions on your mind?

And before I leave you, here is a picture of my Chocolate Almond Crisps. I think I did a pretty good job with this shot!!