Friday, December 30, 2011

Candied Fruit

I decided to make the fruitcake wreath yesterday and opened up the recipe to see if I could put it together really quickly.  Lo and behold, the first step is to soak the fruit in vodka for a week before starting the cake.  I looked at what type of fruit I needed:

"Glacéed mixed fruit, preferably lemon and orange peel" and "glacéed red cherries."

I had to idea what "glacéed" meant but soon discovered that it means candied fruit. Then I read Rose's blurb and it said that she recommended high quality glacéed fruit from France because it tastes the best.  I'm impatient and cheap so I decided to make my own candied fruit.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

73/99: The Bostini


I've been waiting to make this one for awhile.  I really wanted to use a similar cup to Rose's because hers has a cool handle but I haven't come across one.  Tonight I had some friends over for dinner and decided to finish with the Bostini despite the lack of a custard or cappuccino cup.  In the end, I think my cups turned out just fine.  They had some pretty drawings of the side of them that had been etched in glass that I thought would look nice.  You can't really see them in the picture though.

For dinner I decided to make Dorie Greenspan's "my go-to beef duabe" (beef stew slow roasted in red wine, brandy, and herbs) from her book "Around My French Table."  Note to readers- the book is fabulous.  There was recently a Julie and Julia style blog community going on around it called Tuesdays with Dorie that I followed... it definitely inspired me to put the book on my Christmas list.  Now that the group has finished they are starting a new book called "Baking with Julia" in February.  I have twenty something cakes left so I'm seriously considering joining up with the group.  I would love to finish this one before I take on another project but I don't know if I can get that many cakes done by FEBRUARY!! We'll see...

Monday, December 26, 2011

72/99: Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake

I had a special request from my Aunt Mary this year for Christmas: coconut cake.  I looked through the book and found that this cake is my last coconut flavored cake in the book. It didn't look as exciting as the Southern (Manhattan) Coconut Cake with Silk Meringue Buttercream or as the Coconut Cheesecake but it's coconut and so it seemed like it would be good nonetheless.

My mom and I made a long list of everything that we would need to make for parties and family get togethers each day of the week leading up to Christmas. Since there was so much to do, I decided to make the cake on Thursday and stick it in the refrigerator till Christmas. Sadly, that wasn't the best idea.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Buck-eyes (peanut butter balls)

One of our Christmas traditions is the Travis family Christmas questionnaire.  It's basically a Christmas list that asks sizes, store preferences, etc. but also includes general life questions.  For example, this year included "What's the best thing that's happened this year?" and "What is your favorite holiday food?"

My brother in law put Mom's famous buck-eyes as his favorite holiday food item. Their family is moving to Costa Rica this year so it seemed fitting to make Nate's favorite holiday food item since he won't be around for awhile.

Buck eyes are pretty easy. I used the Kitchen Aid and it might have been a mistake because the mixture barely fit in there by the end but it worked anyways. Here's my mom's famous recipe that she's used to use at the annual Christmas Party so if anybody gets hungry for some Reeses type snacks, try this one out:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve

I really shouldn't be on my computer right now because I have a list of about 20 things to make before the Christmas Eve service tonight, but I got a new camera for Christmas and I've been snapping photos all day.  And seriously--what kid wouldn't want to play with her new toy at Christmas before doing the grown up stuff?

Part of the Travis family tradition is to open one gift on Christmas eve.  The gift is always pajamas and that way we get to wake up in Christmas morning with our new pajamas already on.  I'm all upset this year because we're doing Santa after church since my sister has to do Santa at her own house on Christmas morning.  I announced this afternoon that everyone was going to have to change back into their Christmas pajamas after we get back from church but my family wasn't quite as enthusiastic as I am about it. So much is different this year.  For instance, now that we're all grown up, my nieces and nephews can't stay up late enough on Christmas eve after our Christmas eve party so we've switched to a Christmas eve breakfast. But I secretly kind of like it that way--good food all day for 2 days straight.

Anyway, my pajamas this year said "I majored in wine tasting" (hah funny mom... but yes true). And, as I already mentioned, I got a new camera that my mom let me open today so that the whole event could be properly documented! Yay! Now my pictures will look much better.

But before I go crazy putting tons of pictures for you to look at, check out this video in celebration of Christmas.  Some kids from New Zealand (?) made their own version of the Christmas story and it is the cutest thing you will ever see:

But if you're ready for some more pictures (and since I haven't made any cakes that are ready to be photographed) here are some pictures of my lovely family during our little Christmas Eve traditions:

Friday, December 23, 2011

71/99: Holiday Pinecone Cake

I've been really nervous about making this cake.  My mom volunteered me to make a cake for our family's yearly Christmas get together so I figured that would be a good time to make it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cinnamon Apple Cake

My niece is the sweetest, most adorable little girl that you will ever meet.  I came over to my sister's house this afternoon and my niece attacked me out in the driveway.  She was so excited to see me and said that she had a HUGE surprise for me.   She brought me inside and gave me a foil wrapped package and said in her cutest 5 year old little girl voice that she wanted to make a cake for me because I make so many cakes for people but nobody ever makes a cake for me.  I know, don't cry too hard.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

70/99: English Gingerbread Cake

Well, Ladies and Gents, I am over half way through finals: 3 down and 2 to go.  I studied all day yesterday for my English final that was scheduled for today. Then last night, my roommate asked me if I was ready for my Social Stratification final scheduled for today since I have that class at the same time that she has another class.  I told her that she was confused--my English final was scheduled for today and my Social Stratification final was scheduled for Thursday.

Well, the good news is that she wasn't mistaken.  The bad news is that I was. I had studied all day long for the wrong final.

I complained for a couple minutes before collecting myself.  I made a pot of coffee and went to my room to study.  The coffee definitely didn't work.  Since I get my best studying done in the morning I resolved to go straight to bed so that I could be rested and ready to study hard in the morning.  I set 5 alarms to go off every 10 minutes starting at 6:30.

And guess what happened? I slept through them.

That's when I decided that my final was doomed and gave up. Don't get me wrong, I studied for a few hours at Lusa and then decided that going into my final cheerfully was more important than stressing over pages of information that probably weren't going to stick in my head anyway. What's done is done.

So I went home and made a cake.

Monday, December 5, 2011

69/99: Caramelized Pineapple Pudding Cakes

Either my baking skills are rapidly declining or these little things were just mean. I started making these back in August when I made the Brioche that goes in it.  I made the Creme Anglaise that the brioche cubes have to sit in and never got around to making the rest of it.

Ever since then, the recipe has been staring at me from the index.  The thing is, I didn't want to make another brioche.  A few months ago I called several bakeries in town and one of them had brioche. I went to grab one but when I got there I was told that someone had just come and they bought the rest of them.  All that to say, these have been cursed since the first time I opened the book.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

68/99: Coconut Cheesecake

Yeah, I know. Coconut is not a Christmas-y food item. But the recipe has been calling me because I love cheesecake and I love coconut.  Let's just pretend that the coconut is supposed to be snow.  It can even be in celebration of our first snowfall of the season that we got this week. 

Though the coconut cheesecake was not difficult, it was time consuming--and not just in baking it.  It took me forever at the grocery store because it called for cream of coconut--not coconut cream and not coconut milk. Rose was very specific.  Being the novice that I am, I had no idea where to find cream of coconut.  First I went to the baking aisle to look by all of the evaporated milk and spices.  No luck.  Then the canned fruit.  Next stop- soups (I thought if they have cream of chicken then maybe they have cream of coconut... you can see how lost I am). Obviously that didn't work so I tried the oriental section since there's so much coconut in thai cooking. They had coconut milk but no cream of coconut.  

I asked the first store worker I found if he knew where the cream of coconut was.  He seemed like he was in his mid twenties and had probably never talked to a girl before.  He shyly looked at his feet while he spoke back to me.  He took me to the soup aisle again and slowly read the names of every soup on the shelf. As you can see, this was taking way too much time.