September 16, 2011

I'm still here!

My 12 yr. old daughter, Camryn, also known as my PR person, advised me to let everybody know that I'm, indeed, not dead.

She noticed the date of my last post and gasped!  "Mom, when will you work on your next post?"

Turns out that date coincided with the arrival and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, which sadly wreaked havoc in my area of Northern New Jersey.  Even President Obama paid us a visit.  We weathered things just fine and are thankful that our discomforts were few. I'm sorry I can't say the same for many of my neighbors.

The school year began without a glitch and we realized during the previous school year, classes began exactly the day after we moved into our new home! (Same neighborhood)  So we celebrated our first year anniversary in grand style with milk and cookies=)

Just as I began working on my Fall and holiday cookies, allergies kicked in and flat on my back I went. I haven't visited my favorite bloggers to read their posts and 'Oh and Ah' over their creations and recipes in weeks.  Sorry=(  I will catch up when my face doesn't hurt so much.

So there.  I hope Camryn is happy now. I heeded her advice and won't lose any sleep=D

I hope everyone is well, can't wait to show you what I've been working on!

Happy Baking,

August 29, 2011

School Bus Cookies!

We have one glorious week of summer vacation left but we're starting to gear towards the beginning of the new school year.  Enjoy my school bus cookies=)

Happy Decorating,

August 22, 2011

Coffee Flan for Mama

My mom is my biggest fan. There. I said it. And not because she’s my mom.  Well…ok…maybe just a little because she’s my mom=)

She loves to sit at one end of the counter, throw me an impish smile and asks what that wonderful aroma is filling the air.  Of course there isn’t anything baking=)

I’m guessing that fact throws her into panic mode and feels compelled to drop a not so subtle hint to ensure dessert at the end of our meals when either one of us is visiting!

She is a cook, not a baker.  So the onus is on me to provide baked yummies!

So recently I made her a family favorite (amongst many favorites)…coffee flan! Very traditional, luxurious on the palate and super easy! 
Coffee Flan

1 C sugar

4 eggs

1 C evaporated milk, undiluted

14 oz (1 can) condensed milk

¼ salt

½ C very strong coffee, cooled to room temp

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cook the sugar in a heavy sauce pan over low heat and look for the sugar to melt into a gorgeous medium amber color, never dark.

Caramelizing the sugar correctly is key. If you kill this step you are guaranteed a bitter tasting flan. Ew.

How do you do this?  Keep an eye on the saucepan! There are no shortcuts!

Should the melted sugar become very dark in some areas, chances are you’ve burnt the sugar. Start over.

Once you’ve caramelized the sugar, immediately coat the bottom of your custard cups or mold and set aside.

Whip up the rest of the ingredients in a blender; pour through a fine sieve and into your caramelized custard cups or mold.

Bake inside bain-marie for 45-50 minutes smack in the middle of the oven.

Check that the outside of the flan is firm but the center is slightly wiggly, that’s when it is done. The flan will continue to cook a bit longer once you’ve removed it from the oven and out of the bain-marie ensuring the perfect consistency.

If the center is firm, you’ve over baked your flan and it will have a tough, rubbery consistency.  If the center is too wiggly, you’ll have a center that will sink once it has cooled.

Let the flan cool at room temp and then refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours to overnight.

When transferring to a plate or platter, run a knife along the edge of your mold, place your serving plate on top then turn over.  You may have to run hot tap water on the mold to loosen the caramel.  Ta-daa and there you have it, coffee flan!

Happy Baking,