First full day of baking and some cocoa brownies

Today was my first day, 9 to 5, as a pastry chef. The day flew by and I loved every minute, except maybe when I overcooked some red velvet cheesecake swirl brownies – then I swore a little. Its amazing how much you can create in 8 hours. I made 25 loaves and 50 rolls of Challah, two pans of apple crisp, peanut butter and jelly sandwich cookies, vegan frosting and the previously mentioned red velvet cheesecake swirl brownies.

And of course after a full day of making breads and desserts, what did I do? Make naan bread on the grill with curry and some M&M brownies! We had a couple move in downstairs from us and I feel like brownies are the only proper introduction. Cocoa brownies are cheep, delicious and easy in a pinch.

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M&M cocoa brownies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

10 T unsalted butter – melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t vanilla
2 large cold eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup M&M’s

Oven @ 350 degrees

Combine ingredients in the order they are listed (except the M&M’s!) when the flour is completely mixed in, mix the batter for another minute or so until it is shiny.

Grease an 8 x 8 pan and pour in batter, sprinkle M&M’s on top and bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a rack and cut into squares. You can always get super clean cut brownies by putting the whole pan in the fridge or freezer before slicing.

Other topping ideas:
Candied or roasted nuts
Dried fruit
Dusted cinnamon and powdered sugar
Crushed andes mints or peppermint patties
Crushed oreo cookies
Candied ginger pieces
Graham cracker pieces and mini marshmallows
The list can go on forever!

Make these basic brownies as casual or as fancy shmancy as you like, they are your blank canvas!

Farmer’s Market Raspberry Coconut Macaroons

Every Wednesday morning I go to the Ann Arbor Farmer’s market in Kerrytown. I stock up on produce eggs etc… To make it through the week. It is also my time to relax because I work late at the Songbird Cafe on Wednesdays. Normally I’ll go early before it gets crowded, get all my produce, pick up a DELICIOUS bakery item from the Cafe Japon table and grab some coffee at a cafe near by. Then I eat, listen to NPR podcasts and knit the morning away, I love Wednesday mornings, especially when vendors do things like this:

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When I saw this the vendor said, “when they grow a nose I have to put a face on them!” I thought it was so adorable, I had to take a picture.

Later, when I got home and unloaded the goods, I realized I had created a color pallet with my fruits and veggies, lots of reds and oranges:

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The raspberries are beautiful and dark red, I couldn’t resist, but I needed something to make with them. So I went over to Smitten Kitchen and found this recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/03/raspberry-coconut-macaroons/ . But I made a couple adjustments by 1) cutting the recipe in half.

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2) not putting ALL the coconut in the food processor, I guess I like my macaroons with a little more texture. And 3) drizzling white chocolate on top – because white chocolate and raspberry is the best combo.

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To smooth out the white chocolate drizzle I used 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon vegetable shortening, just melted in the microwave for 30 seconds and stirred up. This would also be really tasty with milk or dark chocolate.

And finally, I will leave you with a super cute picture of my sleepy kittens.

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Hello and Challah

I love food blogs. But I never thought I could write one. To be honest, I’m not the best writer, even with my IB english classes and liberal art degree – I guess I never really got it. I would much rather write in bullet points for the rest of my life.

But here I am, starting a food blog. I’ve had other blogs in the past, but none of them have really stuck. Now, with two baking jobs, some barista-ing and cooking at home, food has truly become my life. I need a way to document and share my work – and I also need a little kick in the pants.

My greatest challenges will be: staying committed, taking pictures not only on instagram, and not getting discouraged by other people’s AMAZING blogs with hundred of recipes and pretty layouts. I will take this one post at a time and be proud of it!

Now on to food. I am the assistant pastry chef at the U of Michigan’s kosher kitchen in the Hillel Center. I am not jewish, but grew up in a very jewish neighborhood in Minnisota and therefore I know a lot about the culture, the holidays and the rules concerning keeping kosher. I bake a lot of dairy free products there, and a lot of breads (Challah). I also work at the Songbird Cafe in north ann arbor where I bake more basic items like scones, muffins and cookies.

Today at Hillel I made chocolate crinkle cookies, baguettes, wheat rolls and of course challah.

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Challah is an eggy braided bread used for blessings and holidays in the jewish faith. It is absolutely delicious. I got my recipe from my boyfriend’s mother, it is from her Jewish Family Cookbook. I’ll have to make 50 loaves and 50 rolls of it for next Friday… I’m pretty nervous, but so excited as well! Hopefully I can get a picture of all of them.