Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Scones {Recipe}

Tissues, just in case...
I LOVE WEDDINGS!  Unless we are reliving mine.  Mine had multiple glitches (they prepared me for perfectly planning someone elses'), but in the end I got to marry my Prince Charming.  That's all that matters.  Soon, the famous Kate Middleton will be marrying her prince.  I remember watching recaps of Princess Diana's wedding over and over as a child.  My grandma even has several Princess Di porcelain dolls, including one of her in her wedding gown.  My favorite fictitious books are about the history of the royal family.  It's intriguing to us commoners.  : ) 

So, I'm gonna watch this grand event in a few short hours, in my pj's, with cups of tea and scones with cream, and a feathery headband to top it off.  It seems the proper thing to do. 

Example of such head piece.  I'm wearing a sleeveless dress.
 Scones come in a variety of flavors.   You can have savory scones, like broccoli and cheddar, or my favorite, sweet ones, like blueberry cardamom.  I hope I've given you enough time to make these for your watch party.  If not, make them for Mother's Day.  This version is vegan, but you can replace the vegan ingredients with the dairy version if you prefer. 

Blueberry Cardamom Scones


3 cups of flour
1/3 cup of sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cardamom
1 teaspoons salt (omit salt if using salted butter or butter alternative like Earth Balance with salt in it)
3/4 cup of vegan butter/shortening
1 cup of frozen blueberries or dried if you prefer
1 c of almond milk with 1 Tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in it (makes "buttermilk")
Sanding sugar-amount varies

Preheat 400 degrees F.
Make the buttermilk mixture first.  Let it sit while you make the rest.  Mix the butter, cut into small 1/2 in pieces, with the dry ingredients using a pastry fork, food processor, or your fingertips until pea sized crumbles form.  No need sift the dry ingredients together first unless you like being precise.  Stir in the blueberries.  Stir in the buttermilk.  Mix well.  I mix by hand.  Knead 4 times or so, I cheat and do it in the bowl.  Spread out into a circle on the counter.  Cut into 8 wedges and place on a parchment or Silpat lined sheet.  With a pastry brush, brush a bit of almond milk or even water on the tops of the wedges.  Sprinkle with various sanding sugars.  Be fun, use color if you like.  I often do.  Bake 25 minutes.  Edges and tops should be deep golden brown.  Cool on the pans for 5-10 minutes and remove to cool for freezing or place on a plate and enjoy with tea or cream.  They freeze well, after cutting the dough or after baking.  Scones tasted best when warm, but they are pretty darn tasty regardless.

 Sweet Poatato and Carrot

Orange Cranberry Wheat 

Orange Cranberry Wheat-minis

I also made orange cranberry wheat scones and sweet potato carrot.  If anyone wants, I can post those recipes too.  Normally I roll them out and cut them with darling cookie cutters.  See the hearts with the colorful sanding sugars?  I know William and Kate like color so I popped some on for them. 

Have a delicious day watching the two love birds tie the knot!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lemon Sugar Cookies {Recipe}

As I've mentioned, I've been fascinated with sugar cookie decoration for some time now.  My addiction to has not helped with that.  I've long wanted to try to decorate sugar cookies in flavors other than the traditional vanilla.  Chocolate is naturally the next choice.  It is, after all, superior.  But, oddly, it is not my husband's favorite. 

He has an obsession with citrus.  If he ever offers to make you his mediteranian soup, pass.  It's chocked full of lemon or lime juice.  The acid will melt your teeth off.  Not kidding.  So I attempted to make some lemon sugar cookies, just for him.  Also, it was really the only option I had because we always have citrus flavors on hand.  These would make a lovely Mother's Day cookie option too.  Just saying.  That's not too far off.

4 cups of unbleached flour (remember you can trade this out if needed)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 box of lemon pudding mix, I think it's about 4oz.
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla or substitute for lemon extract to get extra lemon pizazz
(If you'd like to add a bit of yellow coloring you can, to make them look more lemony.  I did not.)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix dry ingredients a little at a time to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.  You can use your clean hand to help incorporate if needed.  Then roll it out between wax paper as previously mentioned here.  Refrigerate until firm.  I left mine this time for 2 days because I got busy!  Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 7 minutes for soft cookies and 10-12 minutes for crisper cookies.*  This makes 2 dozen or so cookies, depending on size.  Keep them chilled, just like I've said before, to keep them from spreading or losing shape.  Your cookies come out PERFECT if you do this.  You may have to pop them in the freezer for 5 minutes after cutting them out if your kitchen is hot.

*If you are serving your cookies soon, then I recommend closer to the 7 min. mark.  If you are doing them in advance, like a week or two, then make them crisper and they will soften over the week or two in a sealed container on the counter.  I've done this many times.  They never taste "stale" or old.  Just as wonderful as you'd expect.

Decorate with your favorite frosting recipes as normal!  They're almost better than the chocolate cookies.  Just don't tell my husband. ;)

Check back soon for the chocolate ones.  I think I finally got the recipe right.

Have a delicious day!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Good Friday

When I originally started this blog, just about a month ago, I intended it to be a place I would share not only desserts, but also tid bits of my life.  Interestingly, in the last month I have become more distant in sharing my feelings and thoughts with those around me.  In many cases, justifiably so.  But I'm going to try to be more open anyway.

As the name insinuates, Lost and Searching for Dessert, I'm in search for some answers.  Mostly, I've been searching lately for answers on what I should be when I grow up.  I thought I knew.  About a year ago I thought I had it all figured out.  Even as recently as January, I had it all figured out.  After all, I'm 28 years old.  I've been going to school for years.  I'd chosen a prestigious career.  A career that would give me notoriety, respect, and leave me an expert in my field.  I would have the privilege of naming my discoveries and authoring several, hopefully many, papers in my field of science.  It would be a career full of pride and self-love.  Something most of us want.

However, this career has always been my back up plan.  It's not really what I had longed to do.  Originally, I had wanted to be a doctor, a cardiologist or a neonatologist.  Unfortunately, a series of poor decisions on my part and treacherous conditions presented to me made that dream impossible.  So, being a Christian, I prayed about what to do.  I asked the door I should walk through to open.  The road to this career was the only thing that opened.  Naturally, I jumped at it.  I loved it at first for so many reasons. 

Like a mirage of a lush oasis, those reasons have revealed themselves to be nothing more than parched sandy dunes.  My creative desires, my passion for medical science, have both be tugging on my heart strings.  While I've been evaluating what to do I've revealed some of my thoughts of both sides of the argument to friends and family.  The responses have been shocking, depressing, and out right disrespectful.

Several friends have told me exactly what to do, apparently thinking to know me better than myself.  That's been painful because it has shown me how little they actually know of me and my passions.  Obviously, I haven't done a good job of truly representing myself.  Furthermore, my lifestyle changes have gone completely unnoticed by some of these individuals.  I keep finding throughout my personality changes in life that my past just won't die.  "You hate (insert research, baking, working, hospitals, people, etc. here).  So you should be (insert scientist, business woman, baker, stay at home mom, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, etc. here)."  Worse than that are the people that tell me I'm a fool for even contemplating following my dreams.  I'm throwing away my future, my degree, my life.  I'm blinded by faith.  I'm an idiot.  I obviously am not an expert in my field and I don't know what science is, they've said.  When I've offered to explain or show my evidences, I'm cut off.  The slander begins all over.  The lack of respect begins all over.

This weekend has been especially difficult and depressing.  It's hard to see the light in all this darkness.  I'm destraught about doing what I feel God is telling me to do, what He is not telling me to do, and about making a choice without my pride getting in the way.  And as I sat in church this weekend feeling sorry for myself and more confused than ever, I heard a women say, "You have to go through the sorrow, pain and despair of Good Friday before you can experience the joy of the Resurrection."  Wow.  Maybe this is my Good Friday?  It gave me hope.  That combined with some delicate vanilla cake and sugar cookies, gave that blip of bliss to help me soldier on one more week.
Lemon, Vanilla, and Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Vanilla Vertical Cake with Red and Aqua Hydrangea Flowers

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vegan Molasses Chai Cookies {Recipe}

I found this recipe in Comfort Cuisine for the Soul, a local church cookbook, and I thought, now this would be delish if turned into a vegan cookie!  There are several church members and friends of mine that eat vegan to promote a healthy, plant based lifestyle.  I myself am a vegetarian for the last few years which, with exercise, has allowed me to stop taking medication for my heart disease.  For those that don't know, vegans do not eat any animal products.  No meat, cheeses, butter, milk, eggs; not even in the fine print of packaged food. ~ Food companies can be very specific and crafty.  Whey, casein, etc. in the ingredients for instance mean the product contains milk. 

This cookie is very soft and reminiscent of gingerbread with less spice.  It could easily be decorated with royal icing to give it more pizazz.  So if you want some variety for the holidays use this recipe.  Even people who love their butter (me) loved this cookie.  I'll include the recipe as I made it this round, but next time I will decrease the sugar by half a cup*.  The cookies are naturally sweet and the frosting takes care of any extra sweetness needed.

1 cup vegan butter (Earth Balance, Veg. Shortening, homemade with coconut oil)
1 cup sugar*
1 cup molasses
5 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons ginger
pinch of cloves (no more than 1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 cup of strongly brewed Chai tea, cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon of vegan butter, melted
1 Tablespoon of vegan milk (I used regular almond milk)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in molasses.  Add dry ingredients alternately with the tea.  Mix well.  Add vanilla.  Chill overnight, or at least a few hours, rolled out between two sheets of wax paper.  Roll thin, about 1/8-1/4 inch and cut with cookie cutters.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven 7-8 minutes.  Keep re-chilling the batter as needed to maintain shapes of cookies.  As they cool, make frosting by beating all ingredients until smooth.  Apply frosting by spreading with a spatula, or if you are as anal retentive as I, then put it in a piping bag.  Sprinkle sanding sugar on them for extra sparkle.
Prior to baking.
Right out of the oven.  They loose the puffy look as they cool.
Add sanding sugar for extra sparkle.
Or leave it off for a different look.
Try them.  They are tasty.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Owl Brownie Pops {Tutorial}

I really like making brownie and cake pops.  They allow you to be artistic and children, young and old, get a kick out of them.  I tried doing these for church on day, but I just didn't finish in time.  They ended up accompanying me to a Kinect Dance Party with the girls.  Whooo wants one?!

Since I did this late in the evening I didn't have natural light for photography so the pictures came out even more amateur.

I made the brownies earlier in the day, for a candidate (yes, we've had a lot of those it seems).  I saved all the "inside" brownies, the ones that weren't corners for the pops.  I removed the crusty tops of the brownies.  I think the pops taste better this way.  Then to help with the molding, I put the brownies in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.  This melts the chocolate chips inside the brownies which makes a great "glue".

Now squish the brownies between your hands and form an oval or egg shape.  Feel free to wear gloves as it can be messy. 
Next, pull out the lollipop sticks for the number of brownie pops you will need.  I had longer sticks and I chose to cut them in half. 

I also took an empty egg carton and poked small holes in it with the edge of a knife to hold the pops while they dried.  Styrofoam works better, but I didn't have any on hand.  Someday soon I'll have the hubby make a piece of wood into my stand but until then...

Melt your coating in coffee mugs or microwave safe bowls.  Most people use candy coats by Wilton.  Some people choose chocolate, but if you don't want it to melt easily then you must temper the chocolate.  That takes time.  Instead of these options I went the cheapest route and bought vanilla and chocolate almond bark.  Almost all my plastic spatulas are stained with various food coloring.  So don't be alarmed if you see pink.  I also tried coloring the white bark with a gel color which works great.  Alas, I thought it was too dark so I added water based white color, forgetting that water and chocolate do not like each other.  It seized and that was the end of attempting that.

Now that every thing is ready, dip one of you lollipop sticks in a chocolate and poke it gently into your brownie egg.  I let them dry on the plate for a few before I placed them upright in the egg carton. 

Next was the ears.  I used chocolate morsels attached with chocolate to the tops of all the pops.  I recommend after this popping them in the freezer for around 15 minutes.  With the chocolate bark I did this and with the vanilla bark ones I did not.  Since milk chocolate has a low melting point, the ears melted upon contact with the hot bark, resulting in saggy ear syndrome. 

 After removal from the freezer, begin dipping the owls in warm coating.  Let the excess drip for a few moments from the edge of the ears.  Place upright in the carton to set.

Now that they are dry, you can add the details!  For the white owls I tried to add chocolate bark bellies by melting some bark in a plastic baggie and cutting the tip off to pipe the details.  That didn't turn out with the precision that I desired. 

So I pulled out some MMF, rolled it out, and cut it with the large side of a piping tip.  I stretched it into an oval and cut one side off.  Then I added it just like you normally would with a cake.  I used the other side of the tip for the eyes.  The beak was a triangle I made with my fingers.  For the eye dots use a food coloring marker.  The I used a straw I cut length wise to put the details on the bellies.  Tada! 

The girls loved them.  We all ate more than we wanted, but I think we burned it off dancing so it was okay.

This also could easily be transformed for Easter bunnies or spring chicks.

Many thanks to Bakerella who is far more advanced than myself in this art.  I probably got the idea from some of her sister bakers at some point too, although I couldn't find a tutorial when I was looking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tangy Lemon Bars {Recipe}

This morning Marion from partnered with the TomKatStudio had a lovely post on a blue and yellow themed Easter Brunch.  I love dessert tables for special gatherings.  Guests are always charmed by them.  So if you are thinking of doing something similar for your Easter or Passover celebrations why not throw in some Tangy Lemon Bars to balance out those sweet sugar cookies?  These are our deparment chair's favorite (in case you have him on your committee and need to take them with you to the next meeting).

Recipe:  (for a 9x13 pan)
Preheat oven to 350 degress F
2 cups of unbleached flour (can be replaced with bleached or for more whole grains equal parts of wheat and unbleached flour)
1 1/2 sticks of cold unsalted butter (or Passover margarine or even cold vegetable shortening if you have a dairy allergy)
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Cut butter in 1/2 inch (small) pieces and blend flour, butter, sugar, and salt with a pastry fork (see the dirty one pictured to the side) or a food processor until the mixture resembles crumbled bagged soil or is pea sized.  Place in a pan lined with aluminum foil that overhangs the edges.  Press with a spatula into the pan.  Bake around 20 minutes until the color is golden brown.  While that is baking, make filling.

Lemon Filling
8 eggs (organic or natural eggs taste better!)
1 1/2 cups of sugar (some like them with 2 cups or with only 1 cup, I lean toward less)
1 1/2 cups of lemon juice
2/3 cup of flour (see above comments)
1 teaspoon of lemon zest or real lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom (optional but is what makes them original)

Whisk together and pore on hot shorbread.  Reduce oven temperature to 300F.  Pop large bubbles on the top with the whisk or a toothpick .  Cook in oven for 30-40 minutes until center is set when you lightly jiggle the pan (my oven can be moody).  Cool in pan until you can touch the side of it.  Cut with a clean blade or a plastic knife. Remove from pan using the overhanging aluminum foil.  Arrange on a lovely dish.  Refridgerate and right before serving sprinkle with powdered sugar.  
Golden Brown

Pop these bubbles.

See what happens when you don't pop the bubbles.

Hope you feel inspired!  Have a delicious day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hungary for Mousse...bars

I meant to write so much more last week, but life got in the way.  This last week has been rough.  Meetings.  Discrimination.  Decisions.  Will I have the courage to stand up to it?  What's right is rarely popular.  I have never been a popular person as it is so it shouldn't be foreign to me.  But fear ripples through my viens, weakening my resolve.  I believe you must give credit where credit is due and not doing so would be plagerism--at least when it comes to writing papers.  Oh that I might have the cunning of a lioness and the voice of her roaring, golden maned mate.  I pray to do what is right.

I needed something to distract me and clear the soot from my soul.  So I baked.  I've long desired to try these Hungarian Mousse Bars from  Before you say it's too much work, just know they're divine.  Plus, you have me giving you tips!
I used Silpat rather than wax paper.  In hindsight, I'd rather have used the paper.  The delicate cakes are difficult to remove the heavy Silpat from.  If you mess up like I did, just mash it back down in the empty spots.  I also didn't have apricot jelly so I subed black raspberry.  Good decision.
One pan was Silpat, the other was this.  Both work equally well.
Jam layer in back, ganache layer in front.
 It's important to make sure you have STIFF peaks everytime the recipe says for stability.

Stiff peaks on the egg whites.

Stiff peaks on the whipped cream.

Several reviews stated that the mousse didn't set properly.  I had no problems.  I set the mousse bowl inside a bowl full of ice as suggested, however, I sprinkled a generous amount salt on the ice.  It acts as a cataylst for the reaction.  When I felt it was on th slow side still, I popped it in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes.  (My husband claimed this really did nothing.)
Set mousse.
Mousse spread across cake and jam layer.

Personally, I don't feel geletin is necessary for the whipped cream layer either.

They were very delicate when assembled so we (hubby helped) flipped them onto the bottom of another pan and pealed the wax paper off that way.  If you want them to look like the picture on Epicurious, you need to either use smaller pans or cut the cake layers in half and stack them on each other first, then proceed with the rest of assembly.
Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.  Well, a bit on your fingers.

Everyone who ate them, loved them.  I hope you do too! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring! Celebrated with Chocolate Sugar Cookies

 Oh I love the warmer weather!  The flowers are scratching their way through winter's decay into the honey lit mornings.  The breeze carries the bouquet of hycinth mingled with fresh rain drops.  New life can be seen exploring, tasting the first rich green clovers of the season.  Spring brings new beginnings.  Also, new experimentations with sugar cookie recipes. 
Sweet baby bunny early in the morning!  Captured with Iphone.

Here was the first attempt with that!  Chocolate sugar cookies...with disco dust!  I won't post the recipe yet.  One, because I didn't write it down and I'm not sure I remember it.  Two, it needs another tweek or two. 

See how fun they look! 

I found a delightful place to order the disco dust offline, for cheap.  I've loved the possibilites with it since I first saw it on Marion's blog,  She has lovely tutorials on how to use it.  The only things that bother me about it are: 1. It will get EVERYWHERE.  It ended up on a shirt and pants of my husband's and they weren't even in the room at the time.  2. It doesn't come off the cookie easily in the areas where you don't want it.  I wanted to preserve as much of the excess dust too and since it gets everywhere it was a bit of a lost cause.  That being said, I LOVE it. 

I put it on cakes and cupcakes first.  See... 

Just a shimmer!  I had to.  I'd just bought it!

Don't think you can tell well in the pic but it's sprinkled all over.

There are so many possibilities with sugar cookies.  I'm going to try several different flavors too.  Keep checking back to see how they turn out and to get the recipes yourself!