tephra: Sanji from One Piece, Cooking (Cooking Sanji)

Bar crust:

1 box sugar free devil's food cake mix, minus 1 cup
1/2 cup melted butter
1 egg


24 oz frozen raspberries, partially thawed
1 cup granulated Splenda
1/2 cup flour


1 cup cake mix
1/4 cup Splenda
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar free chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease a 13x9" pan.

Reserve 1 cup of cake mix for the crumble topping. 

Combine remaining cake mix, melted butter, and egg to make a stiff dough. Pat dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan; set aside.

Combine partially thawed raspberries (you want them to be wet), Splenda, and flour. Spread evenly over the crust.

Combine reserved 1 cup of cake mix, 1/4 cup Splenda, softened butter, and cinnamon into a thick paste. Crumble evenly over the raspberry filling.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted in the center has no cake at the tip. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips, if you are using them. (You could also add them about 5-10 minutes before baking is complete.)

Cool completely before cutting.

Makes 24 bars.

There are 28 grams of sugar in 24 ounces of raspberries so these bars can't legally be labeled sugar free (since they have more than 1 g of sugar).

tephra: Sanji from One Piece, Cooking (Cooking Sanji)
Looking back it seems I completely did not blog about the two cakes I made in March and May.

March was an attempt on German Chocolate Cake without sugar. It was not terribly successful and became less so recently when I realized the likely fall out.

The cake itself was too dry. This a failure of recipe and not so much the sugar/stevia switch. I started with an "intense chocolate bread" recipe, trying to start with a dense product so the lack of structure from the sugar would be less of an issue. It was, unsurprisingly in hindsight, rather dry and could have been sweeter. It did give me ideas about future from scratch cake making, largely with Greek yogurt I replaced the sour cream with. Stevia makes a much stiffer batter than sugar does so it also required a bit more liquid to get it to even consider spreading into the pan.

Next time I will try taking my favorite chocolate cake recipe (the one that has more sugar than flour in it) and try that with stevia or Splenda with added Greek yogurt. Perhaps just a straight out Splenda for sugar switch for one attempt and stevia and yogurt for another.

The frosting was really tasty! And I should never, ever make it again.

For the coconut pecan frosting I used unsweetened flaked coconut, chopped pecans, and a jar of Smucker's Sugar Free Caramel Topping. Basically just stir in coconut and pecans until the texture is right. This was surprisingly similar to the completely from scratch with sugar and corn syrup frosting I used to make when I was a teenager.

So why should I never, ever make this frosting again? Sorbitol. It's just a theory right now, but I had a pretty rough month from the intestinal point of view and no idea what it was causing it. I had been eating things with sugar alcohols for a couple years and didn't have any problems so it just did not occur to me until this week to put the observations of the last few months through some hard study. The lovely chocolates and ice creams I have been enjoying all use malitol. Smucker's uses malitol and sorbitol in their sugar free caramel and hot fudge toppings. Which I started eating just before my intestines decided to stage a revolt. So I am going to avoid sorbitol for a while and then conduct a potentially unpleasant experiment involving a caramel hot fudge sundae or two.

May was another stab at doctoring up a box mix, this time Pillsbury Sugar Free Yellow Cake Mix. I did this one up as a lemon cake with straight from the can Pillsbury Sugar Free Vanilla Frosting.

Success! I added an egg, a box of cook and serve sugar free vanilla pudding powder, and lemon extract to the box mix instructions. It was still a bit fragile but much more like a boxed mix with sugar would be so I am happy with it. I will say that Watkins lemon extract is not as nice as it was 30 years ago and I will search out a more concentrated flavoring when this bottle is gone.
tephra: Sanji from One Piece, Cooking (Cooking Sanji)
Sugar-free products have come a long way since the early 1980s when I first tasted them, and these days most of the sugar-free and no sugar added things we can buy are pretty awesome (go get yourself some Russel Stover sugar-free chocolates, the dark chocolate pecan delights are my favorite) but the baked goods are definitely lagging behind. It's not really a taste thing with most of them, it's texture and depth of flavor that's a problem, cookies tend toward crisp rather than chewy and cakes can be fragile. This is because of the things that sugar does other than make things sweet, like keep them moist and add structure.

Now, I will say, there is nothing I would do to improve Pillsbury's Fudge Brownie Mix, if you like a heavy fudge brownie they have you covered. Their Devil's Food cake mix though... it's tasty, and when you haven't had cake in ages due to sugar it's pretty freaking awesome, but it's merely a mediocre chocolate cake. It's light and fragile and not really that chocolate-y. So today I am experimenting.

After doing a bit a research on what to do to a boxed cake mix to make it taste more like "bakery" cake (from what I see, people mean "from scratch") I have decided to do the following:

1. Add an egg. Every site I found on the subject says to add an egg, so I am. The box says use three so I'm using four. The egg should help with the texture and fragility issue. They also say use melted butter rather than oil but I'm sticking with oil this time.

2. Add flavorings. I'm adding one third cup of cocoa powder. Sites suggest adding coffee; brewed, instant, or espresso powder depending on the site. I'm skipping that for now and sticking with the cocoa.

3. Use boiling water rather than whatever temperature you get it from the tap. Boiling water makes the cocoa powder bloom for fuller flavor. I have to say it's always made my favorite from scratch chocolate cake extra awesome so I figure it's a good bet on improving the box.

So the cake is in the oven now and I'm going to hold off on messing with the frosting until it's out and cooled.

Frosting. This is where Pillsbury has failed me. I'm really not fond of the canned Chocolate Fudge Frosting they make. The flavor is weak and chemical. It's bad snack food chocolate frosting is what I am saying, edible but not really enjoyable and cake should be joyful.

Sites were a bit less useful for fixing up frosting, at least if you are avoiding sugar. I can't do the one thing they all say to do, which is to beat in powdered sugar. The reasoning behind doing that seems to be mostly for fixing texture though, and since the flavor also needs help this is my plan:

1. Add cocoa powder. This should take care of the texture part of what the powdered sugar was doing and also help with the weak chemical chocolate thing.

1a. If it needs more sweetening to deal with the cocoa I will add a bit of liquid stevia. I have vanilla and English toffee flavors as well as plain which goes well with the next step.

2. Add flavoring. A bit of vanilla couldn't hurt.

Another suggestion I saw was to add peanut butter, which is something I will save for another day.

I may have to try the vanilla sugar-free frosting Pillsbury also has (they have yellow cake mix too, which is fragile but tasty). I can make that into a peanut butter or cream cheese frosting, or just add flavor for things like lemon. The yellow cake mix is bound to be made into a lemon cake here someday.

Another idea I have for frosting experiments involves Smuckers Sugar-Free Caramel Sauce, flaked (unsweetened) coconut, and pecans. German Chocolate Cake is one of my favorites. :)

I will update with the taste results after thorough sampling.

Update: Added 2 Tbsp cocoa powder and 1 tsp vanilla to the frosting. It's better but still has that sharp chemical after taste. If I want chocolate frosting that I actually like I will have to come up with something else. I'm leaning toward making ganache at this point. It won't be sugar-free due to the cream having natural sugars, but it will be at least low sugar.

As for the cake, the egg did help a bit on the fragility. I think next time I will do still more cocoa powder and maybe try the butter instead of oil thing. I like a dark dense
tephra: Sanji from One Piece, Cooking (Cooking Sanji)
I've tweaked this a bit from the original, and I'm including some tweaks I haven't tried yet but I am certain will work.

You will need a crust for a single crust 9" pie. I like using a shortbread crust for my sweet pies. The recipe makes enough for a double crust 9" pie but it freezes well, so you can save the second half of the dough rather than cutting the recipe.

Since my crust has a lot of butter in it I omitted the one tablespoon of soft butter that the original recipe requires to be rubbed over the crust before filling.

Pie Filling:

1/4 c + 1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c applesauce

Optional crumb topping:

1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c flour
1/3 c brown sugar
3 Tbsp soft butter*

Preheat your oven to 450°F

Prepare pie filling by blending the sugar and cinnamon together to avoid cinnamon lumps in the finished pie. Beat in eggs, then add the vanilla and apple sauce. Pour into your prepared pie crust. If you aren't using the optional crumb topping, dust the top of the pie with cinnamon.

To prepare the crumb topping combine all ingredients in a small zipper bag (sandwich size works perfectly) and massage until well mixed and crumbly. Sprinkle over the pie filling. Some of it will probably sink into the pie.

Bake the pie at 450°F for 15 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 30 additional minutes.

Cool completely before serving.

* This is the untested tweak. The original crumb topping recipe called for 1/3 cup of butter. The pie with this butter rich version of the crumble is in the oven right at this moment so I can't tell you if it worked yet, but I think less butter would be better in any case.
tephra: Sanji from One Piece, Cooking (Cooking Sanji)
[personal profile] hafoc and I have differing views on what constitutes a ripe banana. He likes them just turned yellow, I like them freckled. Normally this works out well, he gets a big hand of bananas and eats them until they start to freckle and then I finish them off. As a result we don't have too many instances of multiple over ripe bananas.

However he bought a large hand of bananas and then left for ten days. I waited until they started to freckle and then did my best to get through them all myself but eventually you just have to admit that you aren't going to get through them all before they rot. So today, on what I judged was the day before ripe ticked over into over ripe, I made banana bread.

1/2 c butter, softened
3/4 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/3 c mashed ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350°F, grease a 9x5" loaf pan.

Since I was feeling lazy and didn't want to clear a spot for my big KitchenAid stand mixer I mixed this up by hand with a "wooden spoon" made of plastic. Had I had my mixer out I would have done the standard method, cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, banana, and vanilla, then add the dry ingredients. Instead I mashed the butter and sugar together with the back of the spoon until I had a well blended paste then beat it a bit before adding the salt and soda by sprinkling it over the butter mixture and then beating it in. Then I added the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and bananas. When those were well mixed I added the flour one cup at a time and sort of folded and stirred to wet it down before beating it a bit.

Pour the batter into the pan and smack it down on the counter a couple times to get it to settle.

Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick (or knife or cake tester or whatever) poked in the center comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes in the pan, turn out onto a rack, cool completely.
tephra: Sanji from One Piece, Cooking (Cooking Sanji)
Even though it's just the two of us, I do cook a fair spread for the holiday. This year I'm trying a new pie recipe and if I weren't still stuffed full of turkey and all the trimmings I might be able to tell you if it turned out tasty or not.

You'll need a double pie crust for this (one in the pie plate, one over the filling) and a 9" pie plate. My favorite crust for sweet pies is a shortbread crust and conveniently the recipe makes a double crust. :)

3 15oz cans sliced peaches1
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter

Drain the peaches, reserving the juice/syrup. There should be 1-11/2 cups.

In a sauce pan, blend together the sugars, cornstarch, and spices. Stir in the reserved peach juice and add the butter. Cook on medium-low heat until the butter melts and the mixture thickens.2

Take your thickened syrup off the heat and let it cool, stirring occasionally. You want to get it down to just warm or room temperature.

Line your pie plate with one of the crusts, add the drained peaches. Pour the syrup over the peaches. You may have a touch more syrup than you need to fill your pie. Add the other layer of crust over the top and seal the edges as you prefer. Cut vent holes in the top crust.

Bake at 450°F for about 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Cool before slicing.

1. The original recipe didn't specify whether they should be in juice, light syrup, or heavy syrup. Mine were accidentally purchased "no sugar added, sweetened with Splenda" and this was an attempt to make them tasty.

2. The original recipe was once again unhelpful for how long to cook it so I let it bubble as I stirred for five minutes. You want this to be thick, otherwise when you cut your pie later it will run all over.
tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)
Lately it seems I can't read recipes in comments without hitting on the infamous Mug Cake. Now for an emergency chocolate hit it's okay but the texture was always too... meaty, for lack of a better term, for my taste. This is undoubtedly due to the lack of leavening and the fact that there is a whole egg in one large coffee mug worth of cake. So I played around a bit, adding a pinch of salt, a smidge of baking soda, things of that sort, and managed to make it taste a bit better but it still didn't really have a cake texture in my opinion. So I tossed the "must fit in a coffee mug" requirement and came up with this.

Coffee Soup Mug Cake

This may work with a smaller mug, but to be safe get yourself a 20 oz mug of some sort. Spray the inside of the mug with your preferred cooking spray.

Mix up in the mug:

1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda

Blend these dry ingredients before adding the following wet ones, it will make things easier.

1 egg
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix well.

Microwave on high for 3-31/2 minutes. The cake will rise above the level of the mug!

Be sure to center the mug in your microwave so the cake will cook evenly and to minimize the chance of a spill over (I've only had it dribble over once, and the mug was not centered in the oven so there was a bit of a tilt, and the small dribble didn't make it all the way down the side of the mug so it was easy to clean up).

You may need a friend to help you eat it, or be greedy and save half for later. ;)
tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)
Since I'm doing some Thanksgiving baking (apple pie!) I figured I'd put my favorite pie crust recipe (for sweet pies anyway) up for anyone interested.

2 c all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c unsalted butter, chilled
1/4 c shortening, chilled
5 Tbsp ice water

Place flour in a bowl with the sugar and salt. Cut the butter and shortening into pieces, and cut into the flour until crumbly. Mix in vanilla. Add just enough water to form a ball: it should not be sticky. Knead quickly into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap (or toss in a ziplock like I do), and chill for 1 hour.

When ready to make pie, work quickly. Do not let sit out, or handle excessively as the butter and shortening will soften and you will curse me in the most vile language as you try to get the crust to behave.
tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)
We dug out the 6qt ice cream maker I bought back in '99 for $13 and never used. We made plain vanilla ice cream for the first attempt (best vanilla EVER by the way) and now that we've managed to get through 6 quarts of that I'm making the Spiced Cider Sorbet from the machine recipe booklet, with a few modifications.

This is for a 6 quart machine, if you want amounts for 2, 4, or 5 quarts let me know and I'll add those.

6 c apple cider or juice (one can of concentrate and water to make 6 cups)
3 c sugar
1 tsp ground cloves (originally, 11/2 tsp whole cloves)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (originally 6 sticks)
6 c unsweetened applesauce (one 50 oz jar)
3 c cranberry juice (half of a can of concentrate and water to make 3 cups)
1/3 c lemon juice

Dissolve sugar in apple juice/cider, add spices and boil for 5 minutes. Remove whole spices. Add remaining ingredients and chill for at least one hour.

Freeze according to your machine's instructions.

Note, have containers that can hold about one gallon plus two cups handy for chilling the mix unless you are fortunate enough to have a fridge that can handle either the pot you mixed it in or your ice cream maker's canister. (I used a gallon jug and the empty applesauce jar.)

Mine is still freezing so I can't tell you if it's any good yet, but it sure smells nice.

Edit: It is done, and it is good.

For the folks on IJ, GJ, and JF: Would you like to see the recipes I have posted on LJ in the past posted over here?
tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)
Just something I wanted to try on my favorite chocolate cake (baked in a plain old 13x9x2" pan this time).

At the moment I'm reserving judgment, it's good, but I don't know if it's something I'll make again.

1/2 c butter (one stick), softened
1 c peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla (the real stuff of course)
4 c confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar/icing sugar/whatever they call it in your region)
1/4 to 1/3 c milk or cream

Cream the butters and vanilla until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in 2 cups of sugar then add 1/4 cup of milk to loosen the mix up before slowly adding the remaining sugar. Add remaining milk as needed to reach the proper consistency for spreading.

My favorite frosting for this cake is still this coconut frosting though.
tephra: (kitty squid)
Just another case of sticking a recipe here so I can find it easily again. :)

Makes one 13x9x2 or two 9" round cakes (and I'm currently testing it in a bundt pan.)

2 c sugar
13/4 c flour
3/4 c cocoa
11/2 tsp baking powder
11/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 c boiling water

Mix the dry ingredients together throughly. Add eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla and beat until well combined. At this point it should be somewhere between a regular cake batter and a brownie batter is consistency. Stir in boiling water and immediately pour into prepared pan(s).

Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until a toothpick/skewer/cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

[ETA: Well the silicon bundt pan experiment was... interesting. The cake will bake up okay in a bundt but it takes about 50 minutes. It needs to cool significantly to unmold though since it's very delicate when hot or even just warm. If I try it again in this pan I will let it get stone cold before I try unmolding it. When you can turn the pan inside out sticking it's that much of a problem.]
tephra: A furry liger-ish dragon portrait in profile (Default)
Not a bread machine recipe for a change. I went looking for a recipe that would use up some of that big bag of cocoa powder we have and also test out the new silicone bakeware I picked up.

1/2 c butter (one stick), softened
11/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 c cocoa powder
1 c sour cream
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
13/4 c flour

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Beat in sour cream.

Sift together dry ingredients and add to batter in small amounts, beating well between each addition.

You'll get a very stiff batter or a rather sticky dough depending on your bias.

Grease a standard loaf pan1 and smoosh the batter/dough into it.

Bake at 350° F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 30 minutes then turn out on a rack to cool completely. Dust top with confectioner's2 sugar if desired.

Note that I never write recipes out like this for myself. My own recipe card says "cream, eggs 1@, wet, dry slowly, loaf, 350~60" but I thought my readers might want something a bit more complete. ;)

1. Use cooking spray on silicone bakeware even if the manufacturer claims you don't need it. Trust me on this.
2. Powdered sugar. I've noticed that "confectioner's" is a somewhat regional term.

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