Like Me On Facebook!

Hey THKers!

Come and like me on Facebook!  I mean, that doesn’t mean you have to marry me, but if it’s your goal to have a man in the house who likes to bake delicious sweets, cleans the house when he’s bored and likes to take long walks on the beach then maybe we were a match made in heaven.  If not, we can still be a match made on Facebook!

I wish I had some kind of cool prize to offer the first 100 people to like my page, but I live in Peru and the chances of something getting to your front door from here to there are slim to none, and honestly, if I have to bribe you to like my page then this was probably never love in the first place, right?  I mean, who are we kidding, you are only going to marry me because I bake!  Oh right, we’re talking about Facebook.  Nevermind!

Go here, www.facebook.com/thkblog and click “Like” just because you LOVE this site and want to get updates in your Newsfeed.

Advertisements

Borrachitos – Rum Balls

“Buen dia” to everyone.  My day has come to an end and to celebrate that fact I am in bed with apple slices, caramel sauce and two borrachitos.  It’s a good end to these past two days.  Have you ever had several days that feel like one big long day?  Those are my Wednesdays and Thursdays.  So, coming home and finding these little chocolate delicacies still in the fridge is quite the lucky surprise.  Living with 8 other ravenous fridge mongers things like these disappear QUICKLY!

They are, in English, “Little Drunkards.”  But, were profoundly popular in the 60s as Rum Balls.  From the blatantly obvious name of the chocolate truffles, it’s clear that they have rum in them.  Of course, there are always options to replace alcohol, you can replace the rum with apple or orange juice.

When I searched for these online, I had the hardest time finding them!  I had first tried these in Arequipa, Peru.  They were in a little bakery hidden in the Plaza de Armas.  It was really an accident that we stumbled upon La Canasta one day and when my eyes locked with a big chocolate ball sitting in the display case I knew I just had to try it.  Yum, yum, yum.  It was food love.  I’m beyond happy that what I made in my kitchen turned out to be exactly what I had from La Canasta that blessed day.

I’m pretty sure these will quickly find their way into stomachs among your household members.  They are rather quick to conjure up as well.  Conjure, sounds witchy, that’s as much Halloween theme you’re going to get out of me here.  But, in all seriousness, which should always be our attitudes in the kitchen…………… yea, these are simply simple and can even be considered a no-baking confection!

Anything that is no-bake, to me, is kind of a cheat.  Sorry to all of you who vie for the other side.  So, I baked a cake, which turned out to be the BEST cake I’ve ever made, let alone at 12,000 feet, and posted an article on it.  It’s The Perfect High Altitude Cake.  It raised up to pretty and looked so nice… it was a shame though because I had to mash it all up into crumbs.

Borrachitos
recipe adapted from The Joy of Baking. 

2-3 cups mashed chocolate cake
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup rum, apple juice or orange juice
4 tbsp corn syrup or honey

Toppings
melted chocolate
confectioners sugar
cocoa powder
sprinkles
finely chopped nuts

If you click on the link above for The Joy of Baking it will take you to the Rum Ball recipe.  My adapted version is a little different.  There’s also a nice video you can watch.

Basically, my version is cheaper.  Nuts are not inexpensive.  So, I used cake instead of vanilla wafers and nuts like TJOB has listed and I also doubled the recipe because I made a 9×13 cake and had a lot of it to use.

So, mash up your cake into fine crumbs.  I just used my hands.  It’s fun to get dirty in the kitchen.  Then, mix in the confectioners sugar.  At this point you may want to get a wooden spoon, because honey or corn syrup won’t be fun to clean off your hands.  Mix in the corn syrup or honey and then the rum or whatever liquid substitute you decide to use.  Mix well.  If your “dough” turns out looking shiny, then mash in some more cake.  You should have a dough that has a satin look.

Before rolling them you may want to put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes.  They might be too sticky to handle, but I honestly didn’t have an issue with this.  Roll into little balls.  You can make them as big as you want, really.  I made them about 2 inches.

Melt your chocolate, or get your stuff to roll them in ready and make ’em pretty!  I’d have to say that out of all the topping ideas, the chocolate covered borrachitos turned out to be the most delicious, though some of the others were just so darn pretty.

As for dipping them in chocolate, I just plopped them in the chocolate and covered them completely and then fished them out with a fork and placed them on a cookie sheet with saran-wrap.  Let them set in the fridge.

Store these babies in the fridge.  The flavor does enhance and change with time.  So, you may want to make them a few days in advance before you bust them out for a party or what-not.  Try not to eat all of them at once, they are quite the temptation.

P.S. The boxes are origami boxes I made from parchment paper.  I’ve got a clever plan to do more things with these little guys.  You can go here to find out how to make them.

P.P.S. You can follow The Handicapped Kitchen on Facebook!  Go to www.facebook.com/thkblog and click the “Like” button to get the latest news on THK in your news feed!

P.P.P.S. I LOVE YOU!

The Perfect Altitude Cake

After many failures.  After much crying and tears shed.  After near moments of sheer rage where I simply wanted to throw caution and my entire kitchen setup to the wind, I have FOUND it.  I have DONE it.  I have made the perfect Altitude Cake.  I have made an adapted chocolate cake for high altitude!

It is chocolaty.  It is delicious.  It is moist!  And it is NOT dense!  I made this cake once before, but it did not turn out as good as it did this time.  This won’t be something for which all of you get to joy and jump around the kitchen screaming praises to God, because all of you are not living at 12,000 ft above sea level, you lucky freaks.

For those of you who have to deal with falling cakes, well you will love me!

Alright, so I can’t take full credit for this cake recipe.  It is a tweaked recipe.  The original I found on All Recipes.  If you have never been to said site, you are missing out and need to head over there as soon as you are done reading this!   Dark Chocolate Cake is the name of the recipe that I found and tweaked.  If you live where altitude is no problem, then you can just click that link and make according to that recipe.  NOTE: I would highly suggest using the comments as a guide.  More often than not, you will find adjustments there that make all the difference.  

Here are my adjustments with notes provided with each ingredient as needed.

Dark Chocolate Perfect Altitude Cake

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour PLUS 2 tbsp
    Note: Don’t measure the flour exactly.  The goal is to measure out more than needed.  Spoon the flour out into the cup and instead of scrapping off the excess flour that piles on top of the measuring cup, just pour it in.  Then, add two tbsp more of flour.  This gives the mixture more structure.  
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    Note: When you are baking at high altitude, leavening products become a huge challenge.  The idea is for each tsp of leavening called for reduce to a 1/4 tsp.  So, 2 tsp was the original amount so we reduce it to 1/2 tsp.
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    Note: Again, more leavening.  Since there was so much, I cut this in half from the original amount which was 1/2 tsp.  
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, melted
    Note: Usually you would cream the butter and sugar together.  Instead, you are going to melt the butter and mix the sugar with it.  I’ll explain that later.    
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar MINUS 1-2 tbsp
    Note: Baking at high altitude, sugar also affects the outcome of a product.  It’s necessary to take out a certain quantity of sugar.  I left out about 1-2 tbsp of sugar.  
  • 5-6 eggs
    Note:  The original recipe called for 4 eggs.  You will want to add more, this also contributes to the amount of liquid in the mixture and the out-coming structure.  The eggs we get in Peru are various in size, some are extremely small, so I used 6 eggs in my mixture.  If you have all pretty well sized eggs just use 5.     
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
How It’s Done
Note:
explanations and more in-depth directions are all in italics.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).  When baking at higher altitude, it’s necessary to increase the temperature of the oven.  It’s usually the basic rule of thumb to increase the temperature by 25 degrees.  You need the liquid in the batter to evaporate quicker so the overall structure will set before it can rise too much and then break and fall.  

Grease 3 – 9 inch round cake pans or one 9×13″ pan.  In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Set aside and let cool.
In another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Basic note for baking at high altitude.  Mixing and beating the batter by hand will give you more control over how much air is incorporated into the mixture.  I will explain as we go along why the amount of air in a batter is so important.  

All seems nice and normal until this point.  Here I did something that I thought was going to ruin my cake.  I melted my butter over low heat on the stove and added the sugar to this, whisking until well incorporated.  Now, the first reason I did this was because the Handicap Kitchen mixer caught on fire and is out of commission.
 The second reason is my theory for why this is necessary.  When you cream your sugar and butter together you are essentially creating pockets of air in your fatty product (butter).  Butter is not the only thing that does this in a cake batter, eggs also do this.  But, while a cake is baking at high altitude it’s important to not have TOO many air bubbles.  The leavening products react with the air pockets and cause them to grow.  This is their job!  But, at high altitudes this process happens a lot quicker and if there are a lot of air pockets and a lot of leavening product in your cake batter it will break and fall.  You will cry.  So, the challenge is to beat air into the batter in moderation with a reduction of leavening.  Make sense?  So, by melting the butter, I basically removed one more constituent of the danger of getting too many air pockets.  

Once you’ve mixed your sugar and butter together beat in the eggs.  It’s important to not beat the eggs in all at once.  However, you do want to be careful of beating the mixture too much.  I beat in two eggs at a time twice and then the rest of the times one egg at a time.  Does that make sense?  If you beat the eggs too much you will have to problem of too many air pockets.  You need to beat in the eggs just until they are mixed into the batter.  This should be approximately beating ten times for each (or pair) of eggs.  

Then stir in vanilla.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture.  It’s important at this point that you stir instead of beat.  If you beat you may add too many air pockets.  Work carefully, folding the flour into the batter and mixing in the cocoa mixture.  

Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans or into the 9×13″ pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool.  I find that at high altitudes it takes a bit longer to bake cakes all the way through.  You may need more like 30-45 minutes.  

Please, if you have any questions, leave a comment and ask, or send an email to thehandicappedkitchen at gmail dot com.

Have you ever baked at high altitude?  What were your experiences?
Also, find me on Facebook and like the page to get updates about what I’m making and when!  Find me here.

Choux à la Citrouille: Pumpkin Cream Puffs

zapallo

Oh glorious fall, how I miss you.  There is nothing quite like the smell of rotting leaves hanging on the air.  That and the many smells that spill out of kitchens nation-wide.  It’s something dear to me, but unfortunately, Peru only experiences two seasons, neither of which include fall.  So, I only get to live out fall precariously through desserts.  That’s not too bad right?

When I first embarked upon this  idea of using pâte à choux I was  planning on making éclairs, if you had seen my posts via Facebook you would´ve seen that.  I wanted to make éclairs with a pumpkin filling and cream cheese glaze.  However, I was quickly brought back to the reality of where it is that I actually live.  I live at 12,000 feet above sea level.  I was excited to start up on THK again.  It has been too long that I haven´t posted anything new, mostly because I burnt myself out.  Well, this recipe about did that in one strike.

I´m going to share with you some things about pâte à choux that I learned in my three different attempts that carried me through several stages of insanity.  I was ticked that out of all the different recipes I found only one included what I thought was key to making pâte à choux.  Only use the amount of eggs you need to get the consistency you need.  Seriously, I was so mad when I found this after two failed attempts.   Well, I gave up on the éclair idea, so I did a fall rendition of choux à la crème instead.  Though, still with paté à choux and the pumpking and cream cheese!  Even then, our elevation effected how much the dough would rise. 

 

I certainly wish that they had puffed up more, but I did what I could.  I spent unspeakable hours slaving in the kitchen today.  I started at 10 am and didn’t get done until 5 pm.  I’m not being dramatic when I say that I have near blisters on my hands from stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon today.  I do not want to scare you away from making these cream puffs though!  They were actually well worth the trouble.  Next time, I’ll know exactly what to do and I won’t have to utilize as much prayer as I did today. 

At one point of this process I really was sitting in front of my oven praying to God that He would make my PUFFS PUFF! 

puffupbuttercup

There are three parts of the recipe: dough, filling and glaze.

Dough
You know, I’m just going to refer you to the site I got the dough recipe from.  They explain it rather well, probably better than I could.  http://www.annamariavolpi.com/pate_a_choux.html  But, read on first.

I will note that it’s key you follow every step closely.  It is rather technical.  The consistency of the dough in the end should be not of mayo, like that site says, but rather between mayo and playdough.  It should hold it’s shape if you spoon it out onto a surface, but it should not be extremely stiff. 

Something else that made me want to rip out my hair was that the majority of pâte à choux recipes I found were all in METRIC.  I despise you metric.  Only because I have nothing to measure you out with. 

Filling
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp butter, melted
4 large eggs
2 cups of milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp clove (ground)

If you’re using pumpkin pie filling, like Libby’s then you shouldn’t have to worry about the spices, you could add a little more, because you’re practically deluding it in the cream you’re creating.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, butter and eggs in a large sauce pan.  Then mix in milk slowly as not to create lumps.  Put over heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Cook until thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and set aside. 

I roasted my own pumpkin, because finding canned pumpkin in Peru would cause an aneurism.  It’s no problem finding pumpkin here either.  The pumpkin in the first picture in this post is zapallo, what I used for this recipe and yields a great substitute for any recipes that call for the convention pumpkin one might find in the States. 

If you already have you pumpkin puree seasoned dump it in with the cream and stir.  If not, measure out your pumpkin puree and add the seasonings.  You may want to put this over a medium heat and add milk so the flavors set into the puree.  Then add to the cream.  Add more spices as needed. 

When the puffs are cooled and ready cut them open with a serrated knife and spoon pumpkin cream into the centers and put the tops over the cream to form sandwiches. 

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth.  I put this over a low heat until the frosting melted and then spooned this out over the puffs.  You can sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top for garnish.

A Sorry Note

Woe is me!  I am a horrible blogger.  I have neglected for so long this blog.  I will tell you the truth that it was out of shear laziness.  Mondays are the only day that I can bake/take pictures/blog because all the other days are selfish and don’t let me do anything else but work.  That’s fine though, I like to work, but those other days need to learn to share.

Monday, being my day off, as turned sourly into a day of rest.  I say sourly because instead of doing other things I enjoy on Monday, I end up staying in my p.j.’s and feeling like poo because I’ve squandered my whole day off.  It would be better if I had two days off.  Then, one day could be my day of nothingness and the other a day I don’t have to do anything, but I can still do something.  That would be ideal, mais c’est la vie.

I have been studying French lately.  I’ve been using a Podcast called Coffee Break French by RadioLingua Network.  It’s pretty fantastic.  If you’re interested in learning French, I would suggest taking a gander.  Their Podcasts are also free on iTunes.

Again, I apologize for my laziness.  I’m excited to get back into THK, maybe not so tiring this time, though.  The clue for the next recipe is, it’s a fall twist on a French pastry!