Showing posts with label mix a week challenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mix a week challenge. Show all posts

29 February 2012

A Mix A Week(ish): King Arthur Flour's Vermont Cheddar Biscuit Mix

First off, I have to warn you that you can't buy this biscuit mix anymore. I don't know when King Arthur Flour stopped selling it, but I can tell you I bought my biscuit mix in 2008 ... and it's "enjoy by" date was December 16, 2009. (Yes, yes, shame on me). Despite being years out of date, these biscuits baked up really fine and I enjoyed eating them. I've always had a great weakness for cheddar crackers and these biscuits tasted exactly like Cheez-Its. Soft, slightly doughy Cheez-Its. Add a little bacon and, I swear, it you would have biscuit-shaped pieces of heaven.

Cheddar Drop Biscuits

These biscuits were extremely easy to make. I used the drop method, because I wasn't interested in pretty so much as fast, and I add the optional cheese (1 cup Trader Joe's Vintage Reserve Cheddar) and hot sauce (1 teaspoon Huy Fong Foods Sriracha). The biscuit mix already contained powdered Vermont cheddar so the finished biscuits were plenty cheesy and good.

(I feel I should point out that The Husband did not like these biscuits at all. He couldn't get over them tasting, to him, so much like cheddar goldfish crackers while their texture was all soft and biscuit-y).

04 February 2012

A Mix A Week(ish): Jacques Torres Chocolate Pure Bliss Fudge Brownies

It's been over a month since my last Mix a Week post! I tidied all my mixes away in early December so I would have room for holiday cooking and then just forgot about them! Whoops. Obviously, they popped up again when I inventoried my cabinets for the pantry challenge, but I chose to ignore them because I was doing a pantry challenge not a baking challenge. Then Taste of Hartford started up last week and the pantry challenge fell by the wayside so I had no excuse not to bake and every reason to -- especially as The Husband was making noises about how no-one ever bakes him cookies. To shut him up, I decided to bake the richest, most decadent thing I could think of -- Jacques Torres Chocolate Pure Bliss Fudge Brownies.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Pure Bliss Fudge Brownie Mix

I'd baked a batch of Jacques Torres Chocolate French Kiss Cookies last July using a mix I'd bought at King Arthur Flour and, as they were some of the best chocolate chip cookies I had ever eaten, I had high expectations for these brownies ... expectations which were met and surpassed. These were dark, decadent, unrelentingly chocolate-y brownies. Definitely not your every day glass-of-milk-after-school brownies. No, these were grown-up brownies.

And, like many adult pleasures, they took a little time and effort to bring off. I had to melt butter slowly and combine ingredients thoroughly, but gently, and then walk away for a bit. And then come back and add more ingredients. Then the baking. Then the cooling. Then the making of a glaze by melting ingredients and whisking them with other ingredients. Finally, I spread the glaze on the brownies and let them set overnight. That's right, these were next day brownies!

But, they were worth the wait! And I'm an adult so no-one can say boo if I had one for breakfast ...

Jacques Torres Chocolate Brownie

(According to the box, this mix makes 12 brownies, but I managed to cut the 9" square into 16 pieces and that was just about perfect for us. These are very dark, decadent brownies and I found we didn't need much more than a bite-size piece to satiate our chocolate cravings).

07 December 2011

Mix A Week(ish): King Arthur Flour Cranberry-Sunflower Granola Bars

I bought two boxes of Cranberry-Sunflower Granola Bar Mix last year, because I was on a granola bar kick at the time. Unfortunately, I did not realize how heavily saturated the mix would be with sesame seeds. I'm not as brave (or stupid?) as I once was and try to avoid consuming nuts and seeds when I can, because my body just isn't built for such things. So what should I do with these mixes? Make them and take them to work, obviously!

Granola Bar Ingredients

It was not difficult to make these granola bars -- I made the chewy version using maple syrup, vegetable oil, and 1½ cups dried fruit blend leftover from last year's fruitcake -- and making them couldn't have taken more than 30 minutes, from box to oven. They smelled delicious and looked quite lovely when they came out of the oven. I didn't taste them, but at the rate they disappeared from the staff room, I would guess my coworkers liked them pretty well.

(While I'd planned to make both boxes, my intentions were greater than my motivation and I only made one box to take to work. This worked out fine as one of my coworkers liked them so much I just gave her the other mix when she asked for the recipe).

19 November 2011

A Mix A Week(ish): Barefoot Contessa Brownie Pudding Mix

Alright, so it's been over a month since my last Mix a Week post! No excuse for it, but I haven't bought any more mixes in the interim so I'd say I'm still doing pretty well. I finally decided to get back on track by making up a box of Barefoot Contessa's "Brownie Pudding Mix" that I picked up, ohhhh, last year at one of Stonewall Kitchen's clearance sales.

This mix was extremely simple to prepare and assemble -- all I needed, besides the mix, was two sticks of butter and four eggs. Everything comes together in under ten minutes and bakes for an hour. The cake is ready to eat as soon as it comes out of the oven, which is awesome for us impatient type -- no standing around the kitchen, staring at a cooling cake, and wondering just how soon we can nom it.

Woo-hoo, water bath!
Baked in a bain-marie! I feel sophisticated!

Chocolate Pudding Cake
Ooey-gooey chocolate decadence.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

And pretty tasty, too -- crusty on the top with a soft, sweet center -- but it still can't hold a candle to King Arthur Flour's lava cakes which have a richer, deeper flavor.

And, happily, I still have two boxes of King Arthur's mix in my pantry!

27 September 2011

A Mix A Week: Stonewall Kitchen Peppermint Whoopie Pie

I had planned on baking up a box of King Arthur Flour's Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars this past weekend to keep up with my Mix A Week Challenge, but The Husband complained so bitterly about me not baking anything he could eat (hello? last week's cookies?) that I caved and offered to make up the boxes of Stonewall Kitchen's Peppermint Whoopie Pies mix instead. My offer was not completely altruistic as I realized baking whoopie pies meant I got to try out my new whoopie pie pans!

Making Whoopies

Aren't they cute? Nonstick, lightweight, and perfectly sized. Stonewall Kitchen sells 'em, but I bought mine off on Amazon -- $13.36 each plus free Prime shipping and no sales tax.

The mix was extremely simple to prepare and assemble. It took five minutes to make each batch of batter and only ten minutes for the cakes to bake. Yes, they did have to cool for about half an hour before I could fill and assemble them, but that gave me plenty of time to make the filling and read a little of Emma Donoghue's Inseparable. Indeed, it took so little time to make these whoopie pies that I ended up making both boxes. That's sixteen peppermint whoopie pies -- enough for The Husband and work.

Stonewall Kitchen Peppermint Whoopie Pies

My only complaint was that the mix did not provide enough crushed peppermint candies to properly coat the edges of all the whoopie pies, but this was easily fixed by crushing up some peppermint candy canes I found in the back of our candy cupboard.

Yes, we have a candy cupboard. Doesn't everyone?

Nine baking mixes down, eight to go!

24 September 2011

A Mix A Week: Stonewall Kitchen Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

I'm a little behind with my Mix A Week Challenge so I went a little overboard to compensate and made both boxes of Stonewall Kitchen's Chocolate Sandwich Cookie mix this past weekend. Having made the Vanilla Sandwich Cookie mix last month, I felt I'd had enough practice that I was unlikely to ruin a double batch. And, you know, I did pretty good. Almost creamed an egg shell with the butter (don't ask) and burnt my left hand twice, but those were small troubles.

Remembering the domed vanilla sandwich cookies, I smooshed the chocolate ones down much more firmly and the chocolate ones came out pretty flat. Sometimes, going all "Hulk smash!" is a good thing?

chocolate sandwich cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

The mix says it makes twenty-four sandwich cookies per box, but I only managed twenty. This is perfectly okay with me as I don't really want a lot of cookies hanging around my kitchen -- half of them went to work with me, anyway, and were all eaten up by the end of the day. Several people asked me for the recipe and I happily pointed them at the Stonewall Kitchen website ... only to find out Stonewall Kitchen doesn't sell this mix, anymore.

Seven mixes down, ten to go!

07 August 2011

A Mix A Week: Stonewall Kitchen Vanilla Sandwich Cookies

I let The Husband pick this week's mix for my Mix A Week Challenge and, surprisingly, he went with Stonewall Kitchen's Vanilla Sandwich Cookie mix. Given his great appreciation of last week's red velvet whoopie pies, I thought for sure he'd pick a box of Stonewall Kitchen's Peppermint Whoopie Pie mix, but no, he wanted cookies.

And it was a good choice! This mix made some pretty great cookies -- but then when wouldn't sugar cookies sandwiched together with chocolate buttercream frosting taste good?

My cookies came out more domed than I would have liked, but that was probably because I mashed the dough scoops down to gingerly. The instructions said to press them down gently, and next time (with the chocolate sandwich cookie mix) I will just go all "Hulk smash!" on their doughy little heads to get later cookies.

Vanilla Sandwich Cookie Mix

Vanilla Sandwich Cookies

The mix says it makes twenty sandwich cookies, but I only managed to get fifteen out of it and The Husband has already nommed up three. I guess I will need to hide a few, if I want a share!

Five mixes down, twelve to go!

31 July 2011

A Mix A Week: Stonewall Kitchen Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

This weekend, in keeping with my Mix A Week challenge, I made a batch of Stonewall Kitchen's Red Velvet Whoopie Pie mix. Whoopie pies and red velvet everything were incredibly trendy last year and I'm guessing Stonewall Kitchen thought to cash in on two trends with one mix. Certainly, I remember snatching up a box of the mix as soon as I walked into the shop.

Is it a cake mix? Is it prettily packaged in Stonewall Kitchen bling? Is it on sale? I will purchase it and bring it home. Then I will shove it in a cupboard and ignore it for six months. Oh, Stonewall Kitchen, I wish I knew how to quit you!

Other than by developing a terrible food allergy.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pie Mix

The mix was extremely simple to prepare and assemble. It probably took five minutes to make the batter, once the butter was softened, and only ten minutes for the cakes to bake. Yes, they did have to cool for about half an hour before I could fill and assemble them, but that gave me plenty of time to make the filling and do the washing up.

Red Velvet Batter

I liked these whoopie pies pretty well. While filled with the anathema that is vanilla butter cream frosting ("true" whoopie pie has a marshmallowy frosting, imho), they were very light and flavorful in an inverted-cupcake way. I was also really pleased with how precisely the recipe worked out -- it really did make twenty-four cakes and enough filling to make exactly twelve whoopie pies. I thought, with my skills, I would surely end up with half an unfilled whoopie pie!

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

The Husband said that, while these whoopie pies didn't taste that chocolaty, he would be happy to eat a lot of them. Indeed, he went on to say he could eat a lot of them every day -- although that might get a bit samey, so I should probably mix them up with another kind of whoopie pie! Oh, The Husband, he is so lucky I have two boxes of Stonewall Kitchen's Peppermint Whoopie Pie mix waiting to be made up.

Four mixes down, thirteen to go!

24 July 2011

A Mix A Week: Jacques Torres Chocolate French Kiss Cookies

We bought a box of Jacques Torres Chocolate French Kiss cookie mix when we were up at King Arthur Flour about eight months ago. I don't know why I hadn't baked this mix up before now -- I've made it before and it bakes up some of the yummiest chocolate chip cookies ever! I know you think that's mere hyperbole, but these are good cookies. If you can get your hands on a box of this mix, buy it and make these cookies. Big, buttery, bittersweet -- what's not to like?

Oh, Delicious Cookie Mix

(Anyway, I think this cookie mix just ended up trapped behind other mixes and I forgot about it. Embarrassing, but true and further proof I need less baking stuff cluttering up my cupboards!)

Jacques Torres Chocolate French Kiss Cookie mix is an incredibly easy mix to put together. All you need is a softened stick of butter and an egg. Once the butter is softened (which is my least favorite part of baking because I always either forget I need to soften butter and set my baking plans back a couple hours or I remember to take the butter out of the freezer and then completely forget about it while I read a book all afternoon) it takes very little time to throw the dough together. Ten minutes (at most) from greasing the first baking sheet to popping that cookie-laden sheet in the oven.

Giant Chocolate Chips

Each bittersweet Belgian chocolate disk is the size of a quarter, I kid you not.
These are MOFO big cookies.

The cookies have to be cooled completely before they can be removed from the baking sheet and, if you want to eat cookies rightnowthisminute that can be a bit of a bugger. Happily, the whole baking sheet can be popped in the fridge for ten minutes to speed the cooling process along. I know, the food safety people say you shouldn't put hot things in your fridge because it raises the overall temperature of your fridge and may help nasty things grow in your food, but cooling the cookies in the fridge really worked. They weren't cold, but were certainly cool enough to remove from the tray and eat. Mmm. Cookies!

Cookies As Big As My Hand

These cookies bake up pretty big so they're actually perfect for sharing, because you can't eat more than one at a sitting, anyway, so you might as well share them 'round with your friends and deserving coworkers. Also, individually wrapped in pretty cellophane bags with curling ribbons, they'd make easy event favors or sweet bribes for teachers, etc.

That's three mixes down, fourteen more to go!

14 July 2011

A Mix A Week: Barefoot Contessa Orange Pound Cake

Sometimes, after getting a cookie or cake mix home, I experience a bitterly unhappy "WTF??" moment when I realize that preparing the mix is almost as complicated as baking it from scratch. Blame it on years of Betty Crocker cake mixes, but I don't want to do much more than add liquids and stir when using a mix. I don't want have to zest or juice two blessed oranges or bring eggs to room temperature. Frankly, I'd be ecstatic if I didn't have to bring a stick of butter to room temperature.

Yes, when it comes to mixes, I am the laziest baker that ever lived.

So there was a lot of cussing and bitching in my kitchen when I finally got around to making Barefoot Contessa's orange pound cake mix. I softened butter, I put eggs in a bowl of warm water, I zested oranges, I juiced oranges, I made glazes, I swore bitterly about fiddly f-ing mixes. I vowed I would never make this mix again.

And, you know, it is a pretty decent pound cake. Dense, moist, fragrantly orange. We've enjoyed eating it (The Husband said it was just as good as Sara Lee!), but baking it made me so completely and irrationally annoyed that I don't think I'd attempt it again.

Barefoot Contessa Orange Poundcake

We've been eating the orange pound cake with unsweetened whipped cream and berries from the farmers market -- a combination that would make any mix-based cake seem quite awesome, I kid you not.

And that's two mixes down, fifteen more to go.

06 July 2011

A Mix A Week: Stonewall Kitchen White Mountain Chocolate Chip Cookies

Of all the baking mixes I own, Stonewall Kitchen's White Mountain Chocolate Chip Cookie mix requires the fewest extra ingredients and the least effort. Just add softened butter and egg to the mix, follow the instructions, and you will end up with delicious cookies in less than thirty minutes (excluding butter-softening time, of course).

Baking Cookies from Mix

The mix comes in two packets -- one of delicious vanilla-scented baking mix and the other of white, semisweet, and milk chocolate chunks.  Look at those chunks! Don't you just want to nom them up?

Chocolate Chunks

To make these cookies, just beat one cup of baking mix into the softened butter, add the egg and remaining mix, and beat until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chunks. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake. Shazam, you have cookies!

Now, this recipe is supposed to make fourteen cookies. This created a problem for me as fourteen balls of cookies could not be evenly distributed across my cookie sheet. So I made twelve cookies and baked them for seventeen minutes instead of fifteen.

How were the cookies? The cookies were delicious. Vanilla-y, chocolate-y, soft, and chewy ... they tasted pretty darn homemade.

White Mountain Chocolate Chip Cookies

One mix down, sixteen more to go.

04 July 2011

A Mix A Week: Too Many Mixes Baking Challenge

In theory, I have a tidy baking cabinet. All my baking ingredients and mixes live in it. Baking ingredients and mixes should not be found anywhere else in my kitchen. In reality (wretched reality), I have an overflowing baking cabinet plus baking stuff packed all higgledy-piggledy in any available kitchen cabinet space. I shouldn't have to shuffle baking mixes to get to my breakfast cereal or unpack layers of baking ingredients to get to a container of granola. The situation is well out of hand.

Today, I went around my kitchen and gathered up all the baking mixes I could find:

Turns out, I own seventeen baking mixes. Seventeen.
  • Jacques Torres Chocolate Pure Bliss Fudge Brownie
  • Jacques Torres Chocolate French Kiss Cookie
  • King Arthur Flour Chocolate Lava Cake (2)
  • King Arthur Flour Pumpkin Cheesecake (2)
  • Barefoot Contessa Orange Poundcake
  • Barefoot Contessa Brownie Pudding
  • Barefoot Contessa Buttermilk Biscuit
  • Stonewall Kitchen Vanilla Sandwich Cookie
  • Stonewall Kitchen Pie Crust
  • Stonewall Kitchen White Mountain Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Stonewall Kitchen Chocolate Sandwich Cookie (2)
  • Stonewall Kitchen Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
  • Stonewall Kitchen Peppermint Whoopie Pies (2)
They will be baked. One a week for the next seventeen weeks. My coworkers will be happy. The Husband will be happy. And then there will be no more baking mixes in my kitchen!

In the future I will eschew purchasing mixes (even when they're fabulously discounted) unless I have a specific need for one. Really. Swear on my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book.