Posted by: crispygoldenflaky | December 4, 2010

a favorite holiday

Sometimes I have the most irrational fear of certain baking techniques and materials.  First it was caramelizing, then baking biscuits, souffles, and fondant.  Caramelizing went through a couple waves of confident and insecure moments.  I made my own caramels with sugar and sweetened condensed milk in the beginning stages of college and was lulled into this false sense of security by this isolated, positive tete-a-tete with caramel.  Then I was caught unguarded at Sam’s apartment when I tried to explain to Stephen that making caramel was as easy as heating sugar on the stove to a caramelization point and then letting it go for as brown as you want it… and we tried it and burned the sugar.  Boo.  It was inpossible to clean out of the pan and it smelled horrible.  It scared e from working with caramels for a while.  I’m currently content with my arms-length relationship with caramel as I only make it for my caramel apple pie, and that relationship has flour, butter, AND water as buffers.


Biscuits have been mostly a fail on my end.  I set out in the summer after sophomore year to perfect the biscuit.  After failed attempts to emulate the cute grandmothers on youtube (because I thought I could just go without measuring anything and just ‘feel for it’), I escaped to the Couches’s houseboat, exasperated and sick of buttermilk and White Lily flour.  I learned that the biscuit dough was supposed to be super sticky and you weren’t supposed to work it for too long.  Couch and Mama Couch’s biscuits had the perfect shape and melt-in-your-mouth texture that I was inspired to recreate them a couple more times after, but could never quite replicate them sooooo I’ve mostly given up the fight with this beast.

Souffles have been interesting.  The first time I made chocolate souffles, I was inspired by Paula Deen and my 10 cent ramekins from a yard sale.  They turned out more like chocolate lava cakes, which was completely fine by me, Megan, Alex, and the gallon of milk in the fridge that was itching for a brownie-coated mouth.  Butttttt deep down, I knew I hadn’t made a souffle yet.  I put this project on hold until Kelly taught me how to properly fold in egg whites, souffle style.  I remember tucking the stiff peaks swiftly into the dangerously warm, viscous gruyere sauce with a wall of clouds blocking out any anxiety attempting to creep into my head.  Nailed it.  🙂  And then made a chocolate souffle later that week at the big green space.  And the texture was good.  Boom.

So fondant was the one I had been avoiding for the longest time.  I had heard so many bad stories about fondant.  Mostly regarding difficulty to work with and bad taste.  And when Kristi needed 3 dozen cupcakes for a baby shower, I got up the courage to try it.  Kristi let me be pretty creative with my work because there wasn’t much of a theme, so I did a pastel baby animal jungle.  I chose marshmallow fondant because it’s supposed to be the tastiest kind.  Here’s how it went:


First, I dumped a whole bag of mini marshmallows in a large bowl.  Mini marshmallows = more surface area.


Convention of food coloring.  The regulars and the neons.


I melted the marshmallows until they were fluff consistency.  The microwave was the easiest way.  I loved the way they poufed up!


Next was the powdered sugar, water, and vanilla.

And then I criscoed up my hands and tried to knead the beast.  Unfortunately, I DID NOT GREASE THE COUNTER SURFACE.  Bad move.  A generous dusting of powdered sugar did NOT suffice and I ended up spending forever attempting to scrape it off the counter.


After adding the colors, I molded animals.  Here’s an elephant!


Doing all the animals took longer than I thought…. animal assembly line.


And lions, too!  My molding tools were my hands, toothpicks, and some kitchen shears (for the lion’s mane)


Closeup on the lion.  These were the most time consuming.


The red velvet cupcakes.


Animal cupcakes on the tower with the other cupcakes.  All red velvet.  The green grass frosting and the white frosting is homemade cream cheese frosting and the white dots are white sugar pearls.


Closeup of the pretty ones.


Closeup of my little edible jungle.


All ready to go to Kristis!
Fondant.   Check!


Pumpkin pancakes.

Dusted with sugar and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips.
I’ve really really been enjoying volunteering at the farmer’s market.  And sometimes they send me home with day-old bread or oldish stuff from other vendors.  One day I got this incredible caramelized onion and olive foccacia.  From SoNo baking company.  Did not make it past that evening.

Here it is when I got home.


Here it is post run.
Recent cooking adventures with Sam.   Risotto!  With Spinach, Mushrooms, and a bunch of other delicious stuff I don’t really remember.


Closeup.


Thought this was a pretty photo of sam’s work veggies!
And I recently made a pumpkin pecan pie for a lab wine and cheese at Dana (my boss)’s place in New Haven.


Pumpkin filling with the crust that I crimped.


Together.


The only pecans we had left in the pantry.  Wish I had more… 😦


Finished baking.


Look at that crust.
I spent most of Thanksgiving at the Farbers, which was incredible as they are family to me and it was warm and fuzzy for a darn good part.  This Thanksgiving & holiday season, I am especially thankful for my friends who can do so much to pull me out of the deepest darkest miserablestest places, Motown, pumpkins, the ability to run, amazing people to send letters to, a job where people are so motivated and personable, wool and mismatched socks, enlightening conversations on the road, pictures of food, harmonizing with the radio, songs can be played easily on the ukulele, a large (and growing!) extended family of real fam, farbers, and duke, being able to feel alive again, surviving the Gauley, my headlamp, people at the New Haven farmer’s market, Kristi’s dogs, and and being able to share pillows of cheese at Ted’s restaurant with my best friend.
Love you all.


And happy birthday anne.  I love you to pieces!  You are actually one of the best people I know.

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Responses

  1. I LOVE YOU. those fondant animal bebes are da bomb. sell that shit

  2. tam I am so so so impressed by your cupcakes, just looking at them makes me so happy. you know what else makes me really happy? You! 🙂


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