Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Science of Baking

Something I love about baking is that it's like a science experiment. Your goal is to make the best pie crust, for example, so you try a recipe. And then you adjust and adjust and adjust as necessary until you do, in fact, make the best pie crust. You can make it flakier or denser or flavored or plain—all by adjusting one or two things.

Something else I love about baking is that it's also like being a detective. If a recipe comes out of the oven all wrong, you can do a little sleuthing to figure out what happened—and again, adjust as necessary. So if your pie crust isn't as flaky as you want it, you can try a couple of things: 1) chill the fat a bit more, or 2) cut the fat into smaller pieces.

See?  Science.  Detective work. I love it.

And that's why I loved this when I saw it on Facebook: The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies. The author gives us a visual of what chocolate chip cookies look like when you add more flour, use only white sugar, or completely melt the butter.

Pretty cool, no?

So get out there and start experimenting with your baking!  It's fun!

P.S. I personally think that chilling cookie dough for a least a few hours will lead to the best cookie results. I rarely ever use cookie dough at room temperature anymore.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Culinary Video that Has My Heart

I bake a lot, and sometimes I need to watch a video to figure out what I'm doing.  Tonight, I stumbled on this gem of a culinary video.  I know you'll like it, too.  (My favorite part is at 2:50.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


You know those cookies that look like poo?  Here, let me show you:

My family calls them "mudballs."  I have no idea who started that name or when it came into being, but I like it.  I think it's the best name for chocolate no-bake cookies.  It's less of a hassle to say, and that's what those cookies look like, right?  Balls of mud!  (Let's keep it clean, folks . . .)

Anyway, I was searching for the perfect mudball recipe several months ago, and I stumbled across  It really offers the best recipe for these cookies.  I think what makes it so great is the low boiling time and extra vanilla extract.  Here, try it!


  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter*
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 -3 1/2 cups dry quick-cooking oats 
  1. Add the first four ingredients into a sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and hold for 1 minute.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Add peanut butter into the hot mixture and stir until melted.
  5. Add in vanilla.
  6. Mix in the oats and drop by tablespoons onto wax paper.*
  7. Let cool until set.
*Some notes:  The author of this recipe noted that chunky peanut butter tends to make these cookies dry and crumbly; I agree.  Also, I don't know exactly why, but I like to drop my cookies onto aluminum foil.  I don't think it really matters, though . . .

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Confessions of a Chocoholic

I had a bar of Dove milk chocolate this afternoon.  As I was eating it, I realized that I can't recall when it was I last had chocolate!  It's unbelievable!  I usually can't go a day without the stuff, but somehow, I've gone days without touching it at all.  Hmmm . . .  Let's see if I can figure out when I had my last piece of chocolate . . .

Ah.  Friday.  It was only Friday.  But that was ice cream.  And I don't know if I count ice cream.  I mean, that's really more milk than anything . . .  So before that?  It must've been early last week.  Yes, that's right.  I think it was last Tuesday.  So that makes it a week.  And even if you do count the ice cream, that's almost four days!  I even went to a pool party on Saturd—Oh.  Yep.  That's it.  The last time I had chocolate was on Saturday afternoon.  I had those soft brownie bites from HEB.  Not my favorite, but still chocolate.

Okay.  Okay.  That's better.  It's been three days since I last had chocolate.  Wow.  How did that happen???

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I am more of a pie fan than a cake fan, but when I saw the following picture today, I thought maybe I had made the wrong choice.  I mean, look at how lovely this cake is!

Apparently, the delicate layering is done with fondant!  I'm guessing you roll out two- or three-inch strips and somehow thin one edge of each strip.  I'm gonna figure out how to do it and let you know.  Or you can watch some online videos for about forty bucks: Fondant Frills with Maggie Austin.

Want to see similar beautiful cakes?  Check out Maggie Austin Cakes, based in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

All Hail to the King

King Arthur Flour, that is.  Goodness, I love that company.  I don't even remember when I discovered it for myself.  It was years and years ago; I know that.  I was looking for unbleached flour, and the only kind Kroger sold was King Arthur.  I used it for sugar cookies, I think, and I never looked back.  I grew up on Gold Medal, but I've been a King Arthur supporter for most of my adult life.  In fact, I should start keeping track of time that way -- B.K.A. for "before King Arthur" and A.K.A. for "after."

Why am I talking about this now?  Because I needed to look something up on the King Arthur site and realized that it is an extremely usable site, and I love it.  Here are my favorite sections:

  • Bake with what's in your pantry
    Enter your list of ingredients and voila!  Recipe options on your screen!
  • Recipes
    Now, this page is just pretty.  Fortunately, it's useful, too!
  • Flour bag recipes
    One of the best bread recipes I've ever tried was on the back of a King Arthur Flour bag.  I emptied the bag, tore off the recipe, and a few months later, lost it.  For the next several months, I looked for the recipe on the back of a bag; it wasn't printed anywhere!  Not to worry -- King Arthur Flour posted the recipe in this section of the site!

Happy baking, folks!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A New Girl Scout Cookie!

Get ready, folks; this Spring's line of Girl Scout Cookies will include a new creation: Mango Cremes.  Since mangoes are my favorite fruit, you can rightly guess that I'll be ordering a box!

Girl Scouts Release Vitamin-Containing* Mango Creme Cookies for 2013.

*You can bet that I don't care a lick about the added vitamins.  It's a nice bonus, I guess, but they had me at "mango."  They had me at "mango."