Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Woe is a Fluffy Marshmallow...

Of which the pan I can no longer eat in one sitting...

Well by now, most of you are probably sick and tired of looking at marshmallow cookies and Milan(o) cookies. Or you could be like me - not exactly sick of looking at them, but getting to the point that the photos are driving you f'n crazy and soon will cause you to say "Fakkk the diet" as you dive into the freezer head first, in search of the box of cookies you made last week. Gah.

Now I'm not blaming anyone here but myself. I made my bed by abusing my body for 40 some years. So this is entirely my fault. But DAMN people. Couldn't the Daring Bakers hostess picked baked carrot sticks?? Sugar-free Jello Trifle?? Dog biscuits? ANYTHING but crispy and delicate lemon scented cookies stuffed with chocolate or melt in your mouth fluffy marshmallow dipped in chocolate?? c'mon!

Speaking of hostesses...

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Incredibly, I didn't have many problems this month. I KNOW! That's rare for me! :P

I started with the Milan(o)s - the batter was so easy to put together I was kinda shocked once it was done and reread the recipe to make sure I didn't forget an ingredient or step. I decided to not pipe them out because seriously, my piping skillz are about equal to my mad frosting skillz. I really need to make another cake so I have something else to reference to. hahahaa! Anyhoo.. instead of piping, I decided to make a template. Problem was, I didn't have anything thin enough to cut the shape of a milan(o) cookie out of.

It was getting close to lunch time, so I decided to think about what to use while perusing the fridge and pantry for something to munch on when I happened upon an old box of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Even though this box of tiny elbow macaroni and package of orange dyed salt is a comfort food to me, I didn't think about eating it.. I thought about sacrificing it to the Baking Gods. So I poured the contents out, cut the box so it would lay flat and proceeded to draw a 3" x 1" template of my cookies. Worked like a charm! Course after they baked they didn't exactly stay in the perfect shape I had worked so hard on, but they weren't too bad and I liked the "rustic" look of them.

Now when it came to the chocolate.. well.. that's where I had a problem. I didn't melt the chocolate over a double boiler, because the last couple times I've done that, my chocolate broke. Some steam had caused it and I didn't want to take that chance this time. So I nuked the chocolate & cream.. at first it came out great but soon it got clumpy and greasy looking. I have no fakking idea how or why this happened unless there was a water molecule on the spoon I used to stir it? Fakk me. Of course I didn't care toooooo much as I figured it was going to be sandwiched and the look of the chocolate didn't matter as much as the taste. So I filled up ohhh eleventy billion cookies. Uhh Gale? You don't know how to count. This recipe made quadrupal the amount of what your recipe said it would. I ended up with lots of cookies left over without filling, but that was okay because Hubbs had cookies to munch on while driving to work and didn't have to worry about getting chocolate all over his truck. ;)

As I'm sure you've guessed, I did sample a cookie or two. Please, I have next to zero willpower when it comes to chocolate anything. They were good - I actually prefered the cookie plain for munching. But they weren't Milanos. A Milano isn't lemon flavored. And I didn't particularly like the vanilla/lemon flavors. I wish I had cut down on the vanilla.. but you'll have that. Will I make these cookies again? Nah.. but it was really fun going through the process. :)

Now the chocolate covered marshmallow cookies (Mallows) - they were delicious. I couldn't get over how easy making marshmallow was. And to think, I've made that frosting a 1000 times and didn't realize that by just adding some gelatin, I could have had homemade marshmallows years ago. Doh.

The cookie base was also as easy as the Milan(o)s. Instead of shaping into a disk and refrigerating, I decided to take a tip from one of our wonderful Daring Baker members and cut the dough in half, rolled each half into a log and I froze it for a couple hours to make cutting easier. That also worked like a charm and I got some nice round 1.5" - 2" cookies in the end. I went bigger than what the recipe called for because by now, I'd already invested like 3 hours into the Milan(o)s and didn't want to be up til midnight with the Mallows. I'm glad I did.. they make an impressive larger cookie!

Originally, I wanted my marshmallow to be swirled. Like this one. I was going to make two flavors.. strawberry swirled and mocha swirled. I was also going to spread homemade strawberry preserves, that were given to us last week, over the cookie before I piped the strawberry marshmallow and this wonderful super thick hot fudge over the cookie before I piped the mocha marshmallow. But again, I'd been at this baking without eating 1/2 the end product before I was done thing for many hours and I just couldn't be bothered. So I went with mocha only, no fudge. Unforch, my folding skillz leave much to be desired.. so by the time I stopped folding, my mocha mix (2 TBS. water, 1 tsp. instant espresso powder & 1 tsp. Starbucks' Mocha Mix) was completely incorporated into the marshmallow - no swirls. Boo. Didn't matter though - the mocha flavored marshmallow was fakking heavenly. OHMYGOD. It's a wonder I had enough to top 1/2 a batch of the cookies (still have a log in the freezer.. wtf am I going to do with it??).. yeah, my diet went straight to hell once I tasted that marshmallow. Gah.

I let them set over night and dipped them the next morning.. they started to set up immediately and that happened because I went with Crisco instead of cocoa butter or oil. I was very, VERY pleased especially since I'd read about so many members' cookies not setting up for them. I've just always used Crisco in my Buckeyes candies, so it wasn't even a conscious decision to do so with these cookies.

Right now, I've got about 20 cookies in my fridge that I still haven't had a chance (or good lighting) to take a photo of, but will upload them as soon as I do. Once they are photographed they are also going into the deep freeze and along with the Milan(o)s, will be a gift to my girlie-friends who are coming for a slumber party this weekend.

Thanks, Nicole! Even though I cheated some this past weekend.. it was worth it to know I can make marshmallows now! I can't wait for winter and Christmas present making! :)

Check out the blogroll for BILLIONS of other amazing cookies!

PS - Mom is doing well.. a few problems with leg cramping (from the Lasix) and exhaustion from being poked and prodded.. but I am confident she'll be like brand new once they are done draining the excess fluid. Thanks for the many concerned emails.. ya'll have no idea how uplifting they were. Hugs!


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today - I promise!

Made both cookies.. still need to take photos of mallows and will post tonight or tomorrow morning, I promise.

Mommie went into the hospital yesterday.. she's okay, but spending the day with her at the doctor's office and then the E.R. sucked the energy out of me, so I didn't have the oomph to post when I got home last night.

So stayed tuned..


Tuesday, July 14, 2009


No Daring Cook challenge for me this month.. I'm sad to say this is becoming a habit, me not making my DB or DC challenges.. I feel like I'm letting my "team" down.

I really don't have an excuse either. I guess I just wasn't feeling very Daring in the cooking department this month. I apologize to all the other DC's who were feeling Daring and to our Host, Sketchy. I'm really sorry I didn't participate.

Please check out the other fantastic and so very, very talented Daring Cooks.. I've seen a few "previews" and I was blown away from their creativity. Check them out HERE!!

Don't forget.. today is the LAST day you can sign up to be a Daring Cook on the Daring Kitchen to participate in August's challenge. If you sign up tomorrow you must wait until September's challenge. So hurry up and register!

Also.. don't forget we've got many extremely talented and creative non-blogging members who participate each month.. they post their challenges right on the Daring Kitchen website and you can read/see them HERE!



Thursday, July 09, 2009

Weekly Menu Plan at FoodieView


Ya'll know how sometimes I contribute an article to FoodieView? Well the lovely people who run the site, Michele and Howie, have asked me and a few other INCREDIBLY TALENTED food bloggers if we'd take turns writing up a weekly menu plan featuring lunches and dinners that are quick, easy and inexpensive. I am thrilled to be part of this team! You can read my first contribution RIGHT HERE! :D

Mind you, I had a heck of a time writing this one.. but after a few trials and many errors, I finally started to figure out the art of chosing meals that are delicious, healthy, use like or same ingredients and are quick to prepare. Because really.. it's all about being busy (whether you have a choice or not) and still being able to cook delicious and nutritious meals throughout the week.

And please, don't forget to check this new feature out every Thursday.. these gals & guys will be putting out some amazingly helpful suggestions and lists to make your hectic life easier - and tastier. :D

Thanks so much for including me, Howie and Michele! Hugs!



Monday, July 06, 2009

Beans Beans the Magical Fruit...

So yeah. Beans and I have never had a good relationship. Frankly, I loathe them. I hate the pasty texture of beans and the flavor certainly doesn't make up for texture, IMHO. I realize that I am in the minority and that I'm the weird one and I'm okay with this. :P No, seriously, I've been trying to get over my bean thing, especially this past year. My sister turned me on to a bean dip at a Mexican restaurant we like and I fell in love with it. Course it comes with 4 inches of the creamiest most delectible melted cheese on top so I can barely taste the beans, but nevertheless, I am now eating refried beans! Woot! Also, I've bought cans and bags of different types of beans. I even have "beluga" lentils sitting in my pantry! I WANT to like beans, dammit! Problem is.. I've overcome my dislike enough to PURCHASE beans, but they are all pretty much still sitting in my pantry. boo.

So one day I get a email from a lovely gal named Lauren. She had a question about recipe archiving and although I couldn't help her (my recipe archive is archaic, and that's putting it nicely), her email was an introduction to her blog, Healthy Indulgences. Actually, I've mentioned her before in the Shrimp Fried "Rice" post of a few weeks back.

Well the most recent recipe she had posted was this amazing looking flourless chocolate cake. Please.. go look right now. Seriously. When you are done drooling, come on back.. we'll wait for you.

Didn't I tell you? Ah-mazing. AND it's gluten free. AND it's sugarless. AND it only has 5.7 grams net carbs per 1/10th of the cake.. that's a pretty decent sized slice! So other than substituting the sugar, what makes it so different from other flourless cakes? One of the main ingredients is BLACK BEANS. Yes, you read me right.. BEANS. WTF?

I'm still unsure what place the beans take, other than ensuring a very moist cake. Does someone else know? Lauren? :) But you can't taste bean in the cake AT ALL. All you taste is deep, rich chocolate. So rich, in fact, that 1/10 of a cake is actually too big of a portion. Especially when you slather it with Lauren's low-carb chocolate buttercream frosting. *swoon*

So all of this sounds fabulous doesn't it? I mean, LOOK AT THAT PHOTO on her blog. Now look at THIS photo:

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! Mmmm hmmm.. mine turned out to be the height of ONE of Lauren's layers. teeeee!


I swear to the baby Jebus, the fuckin' baking Gods just have it in for me. They NEVER cut me any slack. In fact, I'm sure they'd rather munch on LIVE BEES than make ANY baking project go perfectly for me. Fakk me, I'm not even asking for perfect, just you know.. correctly?? Gah.

So here's what happened. I normally have just about any kind of cocoa you can imagine in my pantry. But I'll be dipped in turtle shit, if this time.. this ONE time that I needed regular old cocoa powder, I didn't have any. I have like TWENTY containers of Hershey's Special Dark dutch process cocoa and 15 containers of Scharffen Berger DUTCH PROCESS cocoa, but no regular old cocoa. Can you even imagine? Okay.. so there's the first "tweak" - using DP cocoa.

The 2nd tweak was omitting the baking powder because of the DP cocoa. Ya'll might remember The Mothership and her twin brains? Well the "brain" reaction was due to the fact that I used baking powder with the DP cocoa and I didn't want that to happen with this cake, so I omitted the baking powder and used baking soda only. You'd think with 5 eggs the cake would still rise quite a bit more than it did, but my baking soda must be super old or this cake really needs the baking powder too? Fakk if I know, I can barely butter toast without some kind of chaos ensuing, let alone figure out the science behind what reactions are caused by what ingredients for crissakes.

Everything else stayed true to the recipe. I used both Stevia and Erythritol. My cake was just sweet enough, actually a little less sweet than other flourless chocolate cakes, and that was perfect for me. I prefer less sweet when it comes to my chocolate. I even wrapped this cake up after it cooled and stored it in the fridge over night before frosting the next day, to ensure no beaniness. The frosting turned out wonderfully.. wasn't too sweet and had a great creamy texture. Slightly on the "cool" side, which I read is a characteristic of Erythritol.. it imparts a minty coolness into whatever you make with it, unless you add Xantham gum, which in this instance wasn't necessary. But even the coolness didn't take away from the deep chocolate flavor of the frosting.

Two things I didn't like about the cake. Apparently Erythritol doesn't like to be refrigerated. It forms crystals that really take away from the texture of the cake.. it makes it feel like the cake is stale directly under the frosting. Another textural problem was that mine ended up being almost "solid" compared to Lauren's cake which was fluffy and full of air bubbles. The texture was a little on the spongy side.

I took the cake into work, even though I could have eaten the whole damn thing without much guilt or bad side effects to my blood sugar. (I just don't want to get in the habit of having any kind of sweets in the house for more than a day or two)

Two of the guys tried it the day I brought it in. One will eat anything that's chocolate and can't form an opinion other than it's good or bad. To him it was "good" - but I can assure you, had I dipped a dog turd in chocolate, he most likely would have said it was "good" because there was chocolate involved. The other guy always gives me good opinions on what I bring in.. not just good or bad, but why so good or why so bad.. and he said the flavor was really amazing, but the texture was off. Then I told them both it was sugar free and made with beans and neither could believe it. hehee!

So two of us both thought the texture was off. Before writing this post, I left a comment on Lauren's blog with my opinion of the cake and what I did and didn't like.. she's already answered my questions! You just have to lurve her ;)

I'll make this cake again, it's too damn good for someone like me who can't have a boat load of carbs at one sitting anymore. I'll use REGULAR cocoa powder, baking soda (which I will make sure is fresh) AND baking powder. A tip Lauren just gave me was to make sure I dust the pan with cocoa powder all the way up the sides so that the cake can climb. I didn't realize that. I'm unsure how far up I went last time, but next time I'll make sure the sides are dusted completely. And the last change will be, I won't refrigerate.

My goodness, I'm hesitant to say it, but maybe with Lauren's advice and my making sure I've got the correct ingredients.. the next cake will turn out.. correctly? I'm unsure how I'd react? Myocardial infarction? Pee-Pee in my pants? Call Guiness?? Stay tuned my friends.. this could get interesting. ;)


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