Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crumb Cake

Thanks to all of you who voted for this week's dessert! I really appreciated your input and it was great to start to learn more about your likes and dislikes. Chocolate souffle was the unanimous winner, but it is a picky dish that requires special dishes, total silence, and an accurate oven. None of which I seem to have at the moment, so that will have to be a future dessert.

Crumb cake was the second most popular first choice dessert so I went ahead with that. Luckily, I didn't vacuum prior to dessert night because this dessert is really every bit as messy as you think it's going to be. The recipe was very easy. One thing of note was that the cake batter is much thinner than usual. Don't worry, it's supposed to be that way. While the cake is baking, you will be making the crumbly topping. This topping can be made and stuck on top of a variety of other pastries like muffins and scones and adds a nice crunchy crumbliness to them. If you'd like to make your own crumb cake, please check out the recipe here.

Stay tuned for the second favorite dessert, Chocolate Angel Food Cupcakes, next week!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Accepted to Haas!!!

WOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! After having my application for almost 7 months, Haas finally called and accepted me to the Class of 2011!!! I'm so so so excited!!! What a great way to start a long Memorial Day weekend!!!

Ghiradelli Brownies and a Low Fat Vanilla Ice Cream Incident

Ghiradelli has been my favorite chocolate company pretty much since I realized that you can get as many of their free samples as you want by going back in again and again. They just keep giving you those delicious caramel squares. They also used to have a soda fountain attached to their store on Cannery Row in Monterey that had the best mint chip ice cream. I recently discovered that they are venturing into other chocolate based mixes like brownie mix. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the traditional Betty Crocker or Pillsbury mixes because they have this bit of artificial sweetness that allows me to instantly tell that they're not a true homemade brownie. Given that Ghiradelli makes superior chocolate, I had to give their brownie mix a shot. This was a perfect week for a quick and easy dessert too with my Haas interview before dessert night.

I must say that the brownies were intense and delightfully moist. I made them in an 8x8 pan, per the directions, but I think next time I might make them in a 9x13 pan to spread out the chocolatey goodness. As Amy astutely commented though, the low fat vanilla ice cream was a good pairing with the intensity of the brownie because it sufficiently diluted it.

Let's talk about this ice cream for a second. I attempted to make ice cream with 2% milk instead of cream and whole milk. For all of you out there who are thinking right now that this is a good idea, let me asure you that it is NOT a good idea. The resulting ice cream had a great flavor, but was very very icey. I even added a teaspoon of rum in an attempt to make it less icy. I'm sure it helped but not nearly enough. If you're trying to enjoy ice cream, but also trying to keep with your diet, I highly recommend just having a little bit of the homemade full fat stuff or buying some of the lowfat ice creams from Safeway.

So while the ice cream was a bust, I can officially highly recommend the Ghiradelli brownie mix. It's really worth the extra dollar over the Betty Crocker mixes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Haas Interview

Earlier this week, I headed over to Berkeley for my interview at the Haas Admission's Office. I always mis-estimate the amount of time that it will take me to get to Berkeley because I don't know my way around that well yet and it seems that parking is always incredibly challenging and requires a long walk to Haas. I left myself plenty of time and ended up with about an hour to kill.

I wandered around Berkeley and chuckled at the many hilarious sights that you see wandering around along with the most intelligent comments from the homeless bums. (One bum was arguing that you owed him your spare change because you had not suffered as he had for years sleeping on cement and that it would be cheaper than paying his medicare.) After spending a few minutes relaxing in the sunshine and reviewing my interview notes, I headed to Haas.

The interview was an hour. We started talking about me (resume, why b-school, why Haas - those kinds of questions) and then we moved onto her background as an alum and then role in the Admissions office. Finally, we wrapped up with questions. She asked some very interesting questions about my resume that really required that I link common themes throughout my work experience. Most of these questions stemmed from my research paper about nonverbal communication. She also asked about challenging situations that I had encountered and how I had handled them. We talked about why I felt particularly drawn to Haas and why getting my MBA now. This conversation evolved into her asking me about which activities I was looking forward to participating in at Haas. Next, I got to ask her about her experience at Haas and the types of things that she wish that she could have done while a student. Also, she covered the remainder of the admissions process for me since I was interviewing on the decision notification deadline for the 4th round and the timeline over the summer before school starts.

All in all, I felt that the interview went really well. We had a great conversation and I got to show my knowledge of Haas and passion for business school. I can't wait to hear from them in the next couple of weeks so I can start feeling more settled about what my next direction will be.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vote for Next Week's Dessert!!

I'm stuck in that weekly dilemma again of which of the hundreds of tasty recipes that I have on file I should make for dessert night next week. So, this week, I'm asking for your help! Please check out my survey and rank the things that I'm considering for next week. Check out the survey here:

I will be making the winning dessert for dessert night next week!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blackberry Clafoutis

I have been wanting to make more desserts with fruit lately since we're getting to summer when all of my favorite fruits are available. I really enjoyed the last clafoutis that I had made because it smelled so good and was so fluffy. I decided that I would add blackberries this time instead of cherries because they are relatively tough fruits. I also saw recipes for apricot and peach clafoutis, but decided that a thicker fruit would be better. Also, blackberries are in season.

I used the same recipe that I used for the cherry clafoutis, just substituting blackberries for the cherries. This time though I used my mixer instead of doing it by hand. While this made my arm much less tired, I don't think that it mixed the batter quite as well as I did by hand. Next time, I think I'll try the handmixer, either that or do it by hand again. Last time's clafoutis was a lot better because it was better mixed. However, it was just as tasty with blackberries as it did with cherries. I'd like to try it again with a handmixer and perhaps some apricots.

If you'd like to make your own clafoutis, go here. Feel free to substitute two cups of any fruit for the cherries.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Celebration: Margarita Cookies

Margaritas are pretty much my favorite way to drink tequila. These are an essential part of any Cinco de Mayo celebration along with Coronas and lime. Why not have margarita cookies instead of the liquid version?

Smitten Kitchen
had a recipe posted on her blog and so I decided to give it a shot because she always has such great, tasty things. The recipe had lime and orange flavorings to create the taste of a margarita, with some tequila in the batter, and a sugar/salt rim on the outside. You definitely have to make the added effort to get the crystal clear granulated sugar to roll the cookies in. The crunchiness that it adds to the outsides is not like any other and, if you use Sugar in the Raw or a brown sugar, it will change the color of the cookie.

Because these cookies are rolled and then sliced, you save a lot of time and energy trying to use two spoons to make nice dollops of cookie dough if you don't own a cookie scoop.

All in all, these cookies were a very tasty bite-sized margarita. Eat them quickly after you make them because they taste the most like margaritas just after you make them and the flavor separates more over time. If you'd like your own margarita cookies, check out the recipe here.

I decided to get a bit artsy this week since I remembered to take pictures before everyone came over.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Haas Interview Invite!!

Let me preface this post by saying that I turned in my application to Haas WAY back in December and after deciding on Fuqua, I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was going to reapply next year. I had almost forgotten about Haas.

Today, I got an email from them inviting me to a campus interview. I am so excited because Haas is one of my top choice programs and I have learned a ton more about the school since applying that makes me want to go there even more.

Now, I have the next week to prep for my interview to knock their socks off.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream & Strawberry Sherbert

Thank you to all of you who participated in my ice cream survey. The results were not what I was expecting. Most people wanted ice cream with fruit in the first question, followed by something with nuts. The second question though showed that Ben & Jerry's is the preferred ice cream brand by far. This question had the most responses for an ice cream with stuff in it, like Phish food, cookie dough, or cookies and cream. The other most mentioned desired flavor was vanilla with some kind of fruit in it.

Knowing that, I set out to pick one fruit flavored ice cream and one intensely flavored chocolate based ice cream. The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz is definitely my go to book for all ice creams. That's where I found the most amazing Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream recipe with peanut butter patties mixed in. It had the qualities of cookie dough with the peanut butter chunks, but also the intensity of the chocolate that you'd find in a Phish food. As with all ice creams, the recipe is exceedingly easy. Just throw everything in a pot, boil for a bit, chill, and throw in the ice cream maker. If you want to make your own chocolate peanut butter ice cream, check out this link for the online recipe or pick up your own copy of The Perfect Scoop.

For my fruity ice cream, Candace had been flipping through my latest Eating Well magazine and come across a great recipe for Strawberry Sherbert. What I liked about this recipe was that it used buttermilk instead of half and half so added a bit of a sour flavor to the sweetness of the strawberries. Honestly, I would have probably added more strawberries in comparison to the volume of buttermilk because I wanted a bit more of a strawberry flavor, but it was still great as is. The recipe is below for those of you who'd like to make your own.

Strawberry Sherbert (from Eating Well):
2 cups chopped fresh or frozen (not thawed) strawberries, divided
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups nonfat or low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup half and half
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1. Combine 1 cup of berries and sugar in a small bowl and let sit, stirring occaisonally until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes. Transfer the berry mixture to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
2. Meanwhile, combine buttermilk, half and half, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl. Press the strawberry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl. Stir, cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
3. Whisk the sherbert mixture and pour into the canister of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. During the last 5 minutes of freezing, add the remaining 1 cup chopped berries. If necessary, place the sherbert in the freezer to firm up before serving. (If the sherbert becomes very hard in the freezer, soften it in the refridgerator for about 30 mins before scooping.) Makes 8 servings.