So now we've seen how good I am at keeping this blog updated regularly, but I shall improve on that!
The benefit of the long cold sleep, however... PICTURES OF MAD SCIENCE!
First of, the promised production from the first post- SWEET CINNAMON PRETZEL CHEESECAKE!
As can be seen in this photographic evidence, the cake was AMAZING. While I was a bit displeased with the pretzel crust (my food processor kicked the bucket, so that crust was brought to you by me, a rolling pin, a bag of pretzels, and some angry music), the filling was excellent. I had been slightly worried that sprinkling the cinnamon on top would be off-putting, but it proved to be flavorful and a most effective garnish! Perhaps in a clever design next time?
Next up- THE INNSMOUTH COOKIES!
For anyone that successfully managed to dodge that little pun, these cookies are my send-off to the works of H.P. Lovecraft- creator of the Cthulhu Mythos, and author of such works as "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", "At the Mountains of Madness", "The Strange Case of Charles Dexter Ward", "Dreams at the Witch House", and of course, "The Call of Cthulhu." If you are not familiar with his work and are into science fiction and cosmic horror, you should certainly pick up a volume.
These cookies are inspired by the story "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," in which a young man is touring Massachusetts and decides to stop in at the quiet city of Innsmouth and find out WHY people say it's so strange, why people never seem to want to go there, and why the citizenry there seem to be ill-favored with certain characteristics that given them "the Innsmouth look..." To that effect, the cookies capture the flavors of New England- cranberries, walnuts, and oatmeal, with the strange addition of seaweed. (That's the ONLY hint you're getting. No spoilers here!)
At first I was slightly dismayed that the seaweed added little to the flavor profile, but I soon realized that in made for it in nutritional value (by adding seaweed, I could cut the salt in the recipe and include all the nutritional benefits of the seaweed itself), as well as it's eye appeal and intrigue. What stands out first and foremost is the cookie itself- oatmeal and cranberry.
Finally, we come to my most recent experiment, and a bolder foray into candymaking-
BARON SAMEDI PEANUT BUTTER CUPS!
These were VERY exciting for me to make. It all started with making a batch of my Baron Samedi cupcakes (check out the menu!), and finiding myself having a bit of the spicy peanut butter filling left over. I was VERY pleased that the filling had come out well, and didn't want to simply watch it sit in the fridge, waiting for another batch. So, having studied up a bit on chocolate work recently, I thought these would make for fantastic confections! But what kind of mold to use?! I wanted it to reflect the Baron just as much as the cupcakes did. I thought about plain cup molds and decorated with purple and silver sugar. I thought about rosette molds (black roses at a funeral)... and that when I wandered into my local outlet store and found a silicone skull-shaped ice cube tray, already for Halloween. Silicone is amazing stuff- it's non-stick, it can be frozen, and it can take temperatures up to 500℉, making it perfect for candywork. Chocolate doesn't get anywhere NEAR that hot (the working temperature for dark chocolate is around 88℉), but the non-stick quality made these perfect. The chocolate I picked was by one of my personal favorite companies, Green & Black's (http://www.greenandblacks.com/us/). They specialize in organic, fair-trade, DELICIOUS chocolate. Their baking chocolate is fantastic (76% Cacao), but they're snacking chocolate is also rather excellent for when you have a sweet tooth. I'm looking forward to doing a lot more candymaking in the future- thoughts anyone?
In the next installment:
Chocolate! Honeycomb Candy! MADNESS!!!
'Till then, stay classy, everyone!
About the Author
The Black Hat Baker, a.k.a. Matt Strenger, lives in SE Portland, Oregon as a professional baker. Here, Matt bakes, cooks, exercises, and explores, returning to his wife and their hobbit hole up Mt. Tabor to write about all of it.
Email the BHB at blackhatbakery(at)gmail(dot)com
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