Friday, April 8, 2011

It all started with a can of coconut milk

I hate being sick. Yeah yeah, who likes being sick. But I really hate being sick. Knock on wood, it doesn't happen very often but now that I'm a mom there are no sick days. No laying in bed watching reruns of Full House and endless episodes on Food Network. Life must go on whether I'm sick or not. Avalon is very much a mama's girl but when I'm sick she almost smothers me. I think really she is just making sure I'm okay.

I also hate being sick because I have things I need to do and some things I want to do and don't have any energy for either. Yet, laundry still has to be washed, Jeff and Avalon still like to eat and messes don't clean themselves.

I also hate the boredom of being sick and not wanting to do anything. So this afternoon, I sucked it up, finished my laundry and set out to do some baking. And surprisingly it did lift my mood. Unfortunately baking is not the cure to the common cold. I'm still sick. (Thankfully it is only a cold.)

I began looking at some recipes that I had put in my favorites folder and it came down to three things, cake batter truffles, chocolate whoopie pies, and something using the rest of the can of coconut milk in the fridge.

During quiet time, I narrowed it down to the cake batter truffles. With only 3 ingredients, it would be easy to finish if I got started and discovered baking while under the whether is not so fun.

So with my little sous chef, Avalon, we began to mix up the cake batter truffles. But the main binding agent was sweetened condensed milk and I didn't need the whole can. So then, I figured I could use that and the coconut milk leftover in the fridge and make rice pudding. But having only used a cup of the cake mix for the truffles, I now had that to use up and that where the whoopie pies came in. It's seriously like "Six degrees of Coconut Milk." That and I can't stand to waste things. So alas, three tasty desserts for you to try.

Coconut Rice Pudding

While I waited for the cake batter truffles to harden in the fridge I combined the leftover coconut (1 can minus the half cup I used for the shrimp dish early this week) and about 1/2 of the leftover sweetened condensed milk. That was about 1.5 cups total and since I only had instant rice on hand, I used equal parts. I heated up the liquids til boiling and added the rice, removed from the heat and let set covered. After about 10 minutes, I checked it but the rice had too much crunch for my taste and here was no liquid left so I added about 1/2 cup of skim milk and reheated it all till boiling, covered and let set. Perfect! It's coconutty but subtle enough not to taste like shampoo. I was going to carmelize some pineapple but decided it was sweet enough and just topped it with fresh.

I think rice pudding is a thing of the past. However, we grew up eating rice and raisins for breakfast much like you would oatmeal and think rice pudding is passed over far too often. Give it a try. Not all rice dishes have to be savory.

After dinner, the truffles were sufficiently hardened so I decided to dip them in chocolate. Unfortunately I didn't have any dipping chocolate, Wilton chips, or chocolate bark on hand so I used semi-sweet chocolate chips combined with a smidge of canola oil so it wasn't so thick. There is absolutely nothing wrong tasting with this method. It just doesn't harden up the same.

Cake Batter Truffles

Since last year when I first tried, cake truffles(cooked cake, crumbled, combined with frosting and dipped in chocolate) I have been a little obsessed with the technique. It is so easy with such awesome results. Over the last year, I tried different combinations of cake and frosting, decorated them to look like pumpkins and then tried doing it with edible chocolate chip cookie dough. Of late, many food blogs have become interested in what plain boxed powder cake mix does to recipes. I've seen it added to rice crispy treats, ice cream etc. Then the other day I saw someone make truffles with it. Genius.

So today I went about making some of my own. I used a white box cake mix although i think next time, I would use the party chip kind and dip it into all different colored Wilton Chips. Easter truffles anyone?

But I digress, white was all I had. I combine about a cup of the powdered mix and 1/3 cup of sweetened condensed milk to the desired consistency. I rolled them, set them of greased wax paper and froze them. They are naturally really sticky so freezing is definitely a requirement. (Though with most truffles I will freeze them but let them set out for 15 minutes or so becuase after you dip them and they come to room temperature, the truffle expands and leaks out the sides and are not nearly as pretty. Tasty but not as pretty)

I melted about a cup of semisweet chocolate chips and 1 tsp of oil to thin the consistency and dipped them.

Obviously these are sweet, but I'm talking really sweet. They definitely taste like cake batter but one'll do ya. The recipe only made 14 truffles and that will be plenty. I like the concept as I love raw cake batter(Coldstone Cake batter ice cream anyone?) but using the condensed milk as a binder makes it a bit too sweet. I may have to tweak the recipe. But that may be a while, I have a recipe for oatmeal raisin cookie dough that I want to make truffles with first.

So then I was left with this cake mix. So I mixed it with 2 eggs, and 1/3 cup of oil. But it was too wet so I had to add some flour. But if you were to use a complete cake mix with none misssing this mixture should be just right.

I scooped them into rounded tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet, flattened with my palm, and baked at 350 degrees for 6 minutes. They came out soft, a little cakey and perfect for whoopie pies.

So I mixed up some frosting and sandwiched it between two cookies.

Vanilla Whoopie Pies

While the cookies are quite plain, the special frosting inside makes the cookie. Instead of your standard butter/powder sugar mixture, I used marshmallow fluff. So combine, 1 stick of butter, 1 small jar of marshmallow fluff, 1 tsp vanilla extract and about 1.25 cups of powdered sugar. Stick that in a ziploc, snip the corner and swirl of the flat side of a cookie and put another on top.

These hit the spot for me. I haven't had much of an appetite being sick but these tasted so good. I think the frosting be would so good sandwich between a chocolate cookie, maybe a harder one much like an oreo.

So what did I learn today? Rice is so good as dessert or breakfast. I could saved myself a lot of work and made the whoopie pies first. I love my white dishes but they take horrible photos, especially when you are photographing white/light foods. I really need to use my good camera, but it is not nearly as easy to transfer and upload as the other one.

Lastly baking takes my mind off of everything else. Who needs a therapist when I have a kitchen?

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