Welcome to Natasha's Creative Confections! If you have stumbled upon this blog page, then you're in for a real treat! One of my favorite things to do is bake. If you choose to read on you will find pictures and recipes of some of the fabulous treats that I have created. So take a look around and enjoy!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I was SO excited to make these cupcakes....and then, I wasn't.
They turned out nothing like they were supposed to. The recipe I had wanted to recreate ended up not happening...so I had to makeshift and change A LOT of things in order for these cupcakes to take form.
Where shall I begin?
So, I made a list of things I needed to pick up from the store. I went and thought I had picked up everything I needed. This recipe seemed as if it was going to be a lot of work, so I kept going back and forth between making them and not making them. I finally convinced myself I was going to, so I began to make the cupcake part. And then, of course, I realized I didn't have all the ingredients I needed. I didn't have cupcake liners, I didn't have enough eggs to make the custard filling...I was frustrated and I already had the batter finished!
Let me break it down. The cupcake itself was coconut. There was supposed to be this elaborate and yummy sounding filling that you inserted after they baked, which was also a key component of making the coconut frosting to pipe on top! I had to cut out the filling AND the frosting. I was not a happy camper at this point. What was I going to do?
While the cupcakes were baking, (and they didn't even smell like cake was baking so I was slightly concerned) I thought of what would taste good with coconut and decided a chocolate frosting should compliment it pretty well. Who doesn't like chocolate and coconut? :) I used a frosting recipe that I had made before, but I don't know if I was flustered or what, and it didn't turn out like I was hoping. It was a little on the thin side...too thin to pipe on, so I just had to use a small spatula and spread it on. These cupcakes were already pretty depressing looking since I didn't have liners and they didn't ease their way out of the tins very well...so I just topped these little disasters with some shredded coconut and called it good.
When my husband came home from work he tried one and described them as being "not bad". I was too scared to try one because I didn't think they would be very good. I was convinced that they wouldn't be very good because of how they looked and their lack of scrumptious smell during baking. I had a small bite the next day and, and wouldn't you know it? I was actually surprised that they weren't bad at all! I had made them for a group meeting at church and everyone there seemed to really like them. I don't know what I was so worried about this whole time...
I guess you always need to taste the things you bake before you discredit yourself completely :)
*If you would like the recipe, leave me a comment and I'd be happy to send it to you!
Friday, March 25, 2011
Most of you have probably heard of Madeleine's, but if you haven't, they are an amazing, delicate little French cookie. They are one of my favorites. I don't see them too much anywhere. I know that they sell them in packs of 3 at Starbucks, but other than that, they seem rare to find.
I actually had a very hard time finding the Madeleine pan when I first wanted to make these cookies. I looked all over and absolutely no kitchen store carried them! I finally found one online, so I bought it from there. I almost wish I had bought 2 pans because they only hold 12 cookies (unless you get the mini-sized pan). Next time, I think I'll double the recipe!
One thing I particularly love about these cookies is that they have a very unique shape. They remind me of seashells! I also love that they are considered a cookie, but they have a very cake-like texture. They also just slide right out of the pan once they're baked, which makes clean up super easy and they don't lose their shape!
They are just so different from any other kind of cookie and once you try them, I think you'll really enjoy them. Some popular flavors to try are Earl Grey, Traditional Lemon and Chocolate! This recipe below comes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking, From My Home To Yours. It is excellent! Enjoy :)
- 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 c. sugar
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- 2 large eggs, at room temp.
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- melted chocolate (I just used semi-sweet)
- confectioner's sugar, for dusting
1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Working in a mixer bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the eggs to the bowl. Working with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together on med-high speed until pale, thick and light, 2-3 mins. Beat in the vanilla. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or for up to 2 days. The long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines. (You can also scoop the batter right into the pan, cover and refrigerate, and then bake right from the refrigerator. Be sure to prep your pan properly before though!)
3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Butter the molds and dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. If you have a non-stick pan, lightly butter or coat with vegetable cooking spray.
4. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling each almost to the top. Don't worry about spreading the batter evenly because the oven's heat will take care of it. Bake 10-12 minutes (or minis for 8 mins.), until they are golden. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter (do this gently! i lost 2 because they slid out so easily)
5. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool to just warm or room temperature.
For chocolate coating: Melt about 1/2-1 cup chocolate of your choice slowly in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Once melted, carefully remove and take a madeleine and dip one side into chocolate. Place on a cookie sheet covered with a piece of wax or parchment paper. After all the cookies have been dipped, lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar and then place in the refrigerator for the chocolate to harden, around 15 minutes.
If you don't want to dip in chocolate, just sprinkle with a little powdered sugar :)
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Have you ever had Creme Brulee before? It is DELICIOUS! and if you haven't tried it, I suggest you give it a taste! It is such an amazing dessert and I was happy to make this and share it with my family when they came to visit. My sister had never had it before, so it was nice to have her try a homemade one.
Yes, this is a rich dessert, and obviously not the healthiest, but who eats it everyday? :) It is definitely a treat to have and if you want to make your own, it really isn't that hard!
My favorite part is the top. I love the caramelized taste of the sugar and the crunch, but it would be hard to eat just the top! The custard is amazing too. I was really glad that everyone enjoyed it. It's a special dessert that you don't get to make everyday!
- 6 egg yolks
- 6 Tbsp. white sugar, divided
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 1/2 c. heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar.
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Beat egg yolks, 4 Tbsp. sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until thick and creamy.
3. Pour cream into a saucepan and stir over low heat until it almost comes to boil. Remove the cream from heat immediately. Stir cream into the egg yolk mixture; beat until combined.
4. Pour cream mixture into the top of a double boiler. Stir over simmering water until the mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon; around 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a shallow heat-proof dish. (I used 1 large dish and some small ramekins. Either is fine, but be sure to watch how long you cook them!)
5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temp. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.
6. Preheat oven to broil. (--> I don't have a broiler, so I used my small torch to caramelize the sugar!)
7. In a small bowl, combine remaining 2 Tbsp. white sugar and brown sugar. Sift this mixture evenly over custard. Place dish under broiler (or torch it!), until sugar melts, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully so as not to burn.
8. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until custard is set again.
You will enjoy this dessert! Promise :)
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Okay...Chocolate Chip Cookies are pretty much the HARDEST thing for me to make, if you can believe that. I have tried so many different recipes, and while they usually come out tasting good, I can never get the consistency that I want. I end up with thin, sometimes falling apart chocolate chip cookies and it irritates me to no end! When I was a kid we used to make the best chocolate chip cookies and I cannot seem to recreate them, no matter how hard I try. I've used different butters, adjusted the temperature on the oven, even switched how I add the ingredients to see if it has anything to do with the chemistry of the way they mix together. But, always, they turn out to be super thin. I'm happy with how they taste, but would be ecstatic if one time they came out just a wee bit thicker :)
This recipe that I used came from this cute little cookbook that I have, Bride & Groom, First and Forever Cookbook, and they turned out the same way, but that was how they were supposed to be, so I can't say that I did anything wrong :) They are chewy and simple--just chocolate chips, no nuts (even thought you could add some toasted walnuts or pecans and I think they would be pretty tasty!), but I think everyone loves the taste of a simple chocolate chip cookie. These chewy delights are pretty great actually! You can really taste the brown sugar and the vanilla. It brings out so much flavor! My husband agrees and thinks they are great, so I suppose I didn't completely fail in making chocolate chip cookies for, oh i don't know, the hundredth time? :)
I am still searching for the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie, but if you're looking for a chewy delight, try this recipe!
- 1 c. plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (i stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1. Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Stir together the egg and vanilla in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until just mixed, about 20-30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture and beat well, about 10-20 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, slowly add the dry ingredients, and beat until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 in. apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, 10-12 minutes (even if they seem underdone). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.
These cookies taste delicious while they're still warm, so grab one after they cool for a few minutes! :)
Saturday, March 19, 2011
These bars are quick and pretty simple to make. Kind of a funny story involved with this recipe...I found it flipping through one of my baking cookbooks and it sounded delicious! They actually were supposed to be Raspberry-Cherry Crumble Bars, and I was sure that I had all of the ingredients for them, except the dried cherries which I was going to substitute with cranberries. However, when I looked through my baking shelf, I could only find blackberry preserves. Oh no! I didn't know what to do and I had already began making the dough at this point. I didn't think that the dried cranberries would taste good with the blackberry, and the only other dried fruits I had were mango and raisins. Definitely didn't think that they would taste good in the recipe either! So, I went ahead and decided to just skip the dried fruit and have just Blackberry Crumble Bars :)
I actually just tasted one and they are pretty good. They have a chew almost like a cookie and the crust resembles something like a lemon bar. The blackberry has a sweet, mild flavor. The great thing about this recipe is that you can use any type of filling that you want! I'm looking forward to trying raspberry! What do you think would taste good?
- 1 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 c. old fashioned or quick oats
- 1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-in. pieces
- 1 jar blackberry preserves
- Confectioner's sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil across the bottom and up the two long sides, then lightly coat with melted butter.
2. Place the flour, brown sugar, salt and oats in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on low speed until evenly mixed. Add the cold butter and mix on low speed until the mixture looks like wet sand and starts to form clumps, 5-6 minutes.
3. Divide the dough in half. Pat one half into an even layer in the prepared pan. Set the other half aside. Bake for 20 minutes, until gold and crisp. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Leave the oven on.
4. Empty the preserves into a medium bowl and stir well to break up any clumps. Spread evenly over the cooled crust, all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining dough evenly over the filling.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Transfer to a rack and cool completely, 1 1/2-2 hours.
6. To serve, run a thin knife, or spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen any dough or filling. Lift the cookies out using the foil as handles and place on a cutting surface. Cut into 3 by 1-inch bars. Just before serving, use a fine-mesh strainer to lightly dust with confectioner's sugar.
Monday, March 14, 2011
...aka my take on Sift's Pink Champagne cupcake! This is easily my favorite cupcake and I was inspired to recreate Sift's famous flavor.
My sister-in-law, Kelli, and I have tried making this cupcake before and we were really impressed with how it turned out! This recipe is slightly different and will be featured this weekend on my friend Savannah's blog, Savannah Smiles! She is featuring a different cupcake each week and asked if I would post a guest blog for this upcoming weekend. I chose to make raspberry cupcakes because they are something that you don't see everyday! They are paired with a delicious champagne buttercream frosting that add a little sparkle to the flavor ;)
I topped these already cute cupcakes with crystal sugar and a light sprinkle of edible pink glitter. When I look at them, they remind me so much of Sift's Pink Champagne, and they honestly taste just as good!! I was so happy with the way they turned out!
More pictures and the recipe for these cupcakes will be posted on my friend Savannah's blog, Savannah Smiles, this weekend so be sure to check it out!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
This is a favorite of mine that I have made on several occasions. Another blueberry recipe...yes, but so tasty! I love the simplicity of this cake. It can be served for breakfast, after lunch, after dinner or as a midnight snack! It is so light with such good flavor that you will want to eat it all the time--and keep eating it! It can be described almost as a simple coffee cake, but I think the blueberries obviously give it something extra.
Hope that you enjoy this one as much as I do :)
-1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional, but excellent)
-1/8 tsp. plus a pinch of salt
-2 large eggs, separated
-1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
-1 c. (packed) light brown sugar
-1/2 c. milk
-1 pint blueberries (fresh or frozen--not thawed)
-Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the over to 375 degrees. Generously butter an 11x7-inch baking pan and place it on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and the 1/8 tsp. salt.
3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they form firm, glossy peaks. Gently scrape the whites into a clean bowl. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment (no need to clean the bowl!). Put the butter and sugar in the mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the egg yolks and beat 2 mins. more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, then all of the milk and then the remainder of the dry ingredients, adding each new batch as soon as the previous batch has been incorporated.
4. Switch to a large rubber spatula and lighten the batter by stirring in about one quarter of the stiffly beaten egg whites. Fold in the rest of the whites, working as gently as you can. Since the cake batter is heavy, the whites will deflate a little, but it's ok. Still working with as light a hand as possible, fold in the blueberries, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
5. Bake the cake for 35-40 mins, or until it is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and cool in the pan about 30 mins. before dusting the top with confectioner's sugar.
This cake can be served warm or cool.
*For something different, try another type of berry, such as a blackberry or raspberry. I'm sure both would taste great! Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
I know, I know...it's not fall, but can't I pretend? I miss the fall season a lot and making this delicious dessert made me realize just how much. Don't get me wrong...I am looking forward to spring coming (hopefully soon!) but there is something about fall that just makes me smile inside. Maybe it's the thought of the holidays approaching and how special it is to be around family at that time. Maybe because the leaves are changing colors and there is a new crispness in the air. Maybe it's just because I LOVE to bake in the fall with the apples that are in season and all the different things you can make with the oh so miraculous pumpkin :) I think it is probably a combination of all of those...
But anyway, here I am...in the month of March, sharing a recipe for a homemade Harvest Apple Crisp. I've made this dessert a few times, and I honestly don't think the month matters...it tastes good all the time. Whenever you have a craving for an apple-cinnamon combo, I suggest you make this. It is very quick and simple and will always come out tasting perfect. Everyone I have made this for has tried it and loved it. I hope you do as well :)
-5 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
-Contents of 1 vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. nutmeg
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/2 cup unsalted butter
-1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1/3 cup rolled-oats or quick-cooking oats
~ Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
To Make the Filling:
Combine the apples, granulated sugar, lemon juice, contents of 1 vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in an 8-inch square glass baking dish and mix well. Set aside.
To Make the Streusel Topping:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in the brown sugar and salt. Add the flour and oatmeal and stir until just incorporated. Do not overwork. Crumble the mixture evenly over the apple filling. (If your kitchen is warm and humid, the mixture may resemble cookie dough. That is OK. Simply crumble the pieces over the apples.) Put the baking dish on a baking sheet and bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 40-50 minutes.
*Serve yourself a scoopful (with or without some tasty vanilla ice cream), eat, and enjoy!