Making Chocolate Buttercrunch — Photos

This weekend’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included a plain cake with lemon sauce, more pickled eggs (darn those sales on eggs! 🙂 ), and the subject of this post, chocolate buttercrunch. As with previous posts on making pickled eggs and making bran muffins, while I have already made a previous post with some pictures on the subject of chocolate buttercrunch, this post is all about the photos taken while making the chocolate buttercrunch.

First, a bowl was placed on a kitchen scale and the scale weight was set to zero:

Kitchen scale set to zero after placing a bowl on it

Then semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate buttons (as well as a few rosettes) were taken out …

Semi-sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate buttons

… and 150 grams of each were weighed out in the bowl, for a total of 300 grams:

300 grams of semi sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate buttons and rosettes

The chocolates were then put aside for later.

Then, two 13″ x 9″ baking pans were lined with parchment paper, and put aside for later:

Two 13″ x 9″ baking pans lined with parchment paper

To begin making the buttercrunch part, margarine was scooped up in a paper towel …

Margarine on a paper towel

… and a heavy pot was coated with the margarine:

Heavy pot coated with the margarine

A pound of butter was taken out …

A package of butter

… and half a pound of butter was cut off to be used in the recipe, while the remaining portion was put away:

Half a pound of butter was cut off

The butter was placed in the greased, heavy pot, and the stove turned on low:

Butter placed in the greased pot

On a low heat, the butter was completely melted:

Melted butter

A cup and a quarter of granulated white sugar was added to the melted butter …

A cup and a quarter of granulated white sugar added to the melted butter

… along with roughly two tablespoons of maple syrup …

Two tablespoons of maple syrup added

… and roughly two tablespoons of water:

Two tablespoons of water added

The melted butter, sugar, maple syrup, and water were mixed together …

Melted butter, sugar, maple syrup, and water mixed together

… and then stove burner was turned up from a low setting to a medium setting:

Stove raised to medium heat

And the mixture was heated, while constantly being stirred, and the temperature being monitored with a candy thermometer:

Mixture being heated, while constantly being stirred, and the temperature being monitored

Once the mixture reached 300F, it was transferred to the baking pans lined with the parchment paper …

Hot buttercrunch mixture transferred to baking pans lined with parchment paper

… and immediately spread out using a stiff spatula:

Buttercrunch mixture spread out in the baking pans

As a cautionary mention, be careful not to overheat the buttercrunch mixture, since shortly after 300F, the pan will scorch (this picture is normal, but it is at the point at which the candy would scorch if the buttercrunch were left in the pot any longer):

Scorching pot bottom

The chocolate prepared earlier was placed in a microwave oven for two and a half minutes to melt, and partway through, I took it out to blend it so as to help with even melting and to avoid hot spots which would promote burning:

Partially melted chocolates

And then the fully melted chocolate was taken out of the microwave, and fully blended (Note that this photo is from a previous batch some months ago):

Fully melted and blended chocolate

The fully melted and blended chocolate was poured onto the still-warm buttercrunch …

Melted chocolate poured onto the still-warm buttercrunch

… and then the chocolate was promptly spread over the buttercrunch with a stiff spatula:

Chocolate spread over the buttercrunch

The chocolate was allowed to just about fully cool to room temperature, and hence once the chocolate was congealed, a table knife was use to break the buttercrunch into rough pieces:

Chocolate buttercrunch broken into rough pieces with a table knife

The trays of chocolate buttercrunch were then placed in a fridge to completely cool and solidify the candy, and then the pieces were gingerly broken apart by hand (be careful, too much effort or enthusiasm in doing so will separate the chocolate from the buttercrunch):

Pieces of chocolate buttercrunch separated from each other

And finally, the candy was separated into bags:

Chocolate buttercrunch pieces separated into bags

Of course, mom received the largest bag, while my brother will get one of the other two bags.


Making Plain Cake (With Lemon Sauce) — Photos

This weekend’s cooking projects from my collection of recipes included more chocolate buttecrunch, more bran muffins, and the subject of this post, plain cake, with the addition of a lemon sauce as an experiment.

I came about to learning to make plain cake from scratch after I attempted to make a New York crumble cake I’d seen being made on a Martha Stewart cooking show. Not only was the cake not as expected — we were expecting mostly cake with a modest but tasty crumble crust, instead of the actual small amount of cake and a sizable crumble crust — the cake did not bake well, and I was very disinclined to try it again. The next day, I looked for a plain cake recipe on the internet and found one, which I adapted to my format.

First, two cups of flour were placed in a mixing bowl:

Two cups of flour added to a mixing bowl

… to which two teaspoons of baking powder were added:

Baking powder added to the flour

… as well as a quarter teaspoon of salt:

Quarter teaspoon salt added to flour and baking powder

The flour, baking powder, and salt were blended with a fork:

Blending flour, baking powder, and salt

The bowl was then put aside until later.

Margarine was picked up on a piece of paper towelling:

Margarine on a piece of paper towel

… in order to coat the interior surfaces of the baking pan:

Inner surfaces of baking pan coated with margarine

Then, a bit of flour was put in the pan …

Flour put into pan

… and spread around to coat the margarine:

Baking pan coated with flour and margarine

The baking pan was also put aside until later.

In another mixing bowl, a quarter cup of shortening was added:

A quarter cup of shortening in a mixing bowl

The shortening was creamed with an electric mixer:

Creamed shortening

A cup of sugar was added to the creamed shortening:

Adding a cup of sugar to the creamed shortening

… and the sugar and shortening were blended:

Sugar and shortening blended

An egg was added to the mixing bowl:

Egg added to mixing bowl

… and the ingredients were again blended:

Egg, sugar, and shortening blended

A teaspoon of vanilla extract was added to the mix:

A teaspoon of vanilla extract being added to the mix
A teaspoon of vanilla extract added to the mix

… and again, the ingredients were blended.

About a third of the flour mix prepared earlier, and about a third of a cup of milk, were added to the ingredients:

A third of the flour mix and a third of a cup of milk added to the ingredients

… and completely blended:

Cake batter thoroughly mixed

The previous two steps were repeated twice until all the milk and flour mix were blended into the batter.

The batter was then transferred to the floured baking pan:

Batter transferred to baking pan

… and placed in a countertop convection oven preheated to 350F:

Cake pan in countertop convection oven

At this point, I was getting rather thirsty, so I poured myself some iced tea, and a bottle of my homebrew, a Belgian-style brown ale, made with water from filtered, melted ice from the lake at my cottage:

Some of my homebrew, and some iced tea
Aaahhhhh …

Since my mom suggested that a lemon drizzle be added to the cake, first a few tablespoons of icing sugar were placed in a bowl:

Icing sugar added to a bowl

… to which half the number of teaspoons of lemon juice were added:

Lemon juice added to the icing sugar

… and the ingredients were mixed, then put aside for later:

Icing sugar and lemon juice mixed together

Soon, the cake in the oven was puffing up and browning:

Cake baking in the oven

… and was taken out of the oven after 55 minutes of baking:

Fully baked cake

The cake was pricked multiple times with a thick needle …

Pricking the cake

… to allow for some absorption of the lemon sauce which was poured over the cake with a small plastic scoop:

Pouring the lemon sauce on the cake

… at which point, the cake looked like follows:

Baked cake with lemon sauce

When cooled, a knife was used to loosen the cake around its edges in the baking pan, and the cake was taken out of the baking pan:

Cake removed from baking pan

A few slices of cake were cut from the cake:

Cake with some pieces sliced off

And, of course, the cake was yummy! And mom said “Delicious!”

Making Chicken Soup — Photos

This week’s cooking project from my collection of recipes is my recipe for chicken soup. Originally, I put together the recipe to make soup on one of the occasions I did so for the coffee and social hour at my church (a different kind of soup from the vegetable soup I initially, and usually, make on such occasions), hence a volume of eight quarts; normally at home, I make four quarts of this soup. However, today I decided I would make the full eight quart recipe and test out how well it freezes, never having tried to freeze this soup before. (Update 20210407: I have since made another eight quarts of the soup, it having been gobbled up rather quickly, and for both batches, it froze and defrosted quite nicely.)

First, I emptied six 900ml boxes of store-bought chicken broth …

Six – 900mL boxes of chicken broth

… into my 16 quart stock pot:

Chicken broth transferred to a pot

Then, four pounds of chicken pieces …

Four pounds of chicken

… were placed into the chicken broth …

Chicken pieces placed in the chicken broth

… and brought to a boil:

Broth and chicken brought to a boil

While the broth and chicken were heating up and boiling for about 30 minutes, carrots were taken out (yes, these were a bit on the old side):

Carrots taken out

The carrots were cleaned and trimmed:

Cleaned and trimmed carrots

Then, they were quartered, length-wise:

Quartered carrots

… and then the carrots were chopped coarsely:

Chopped carrots

The chopped carrots were placed in a bowl, and put aside for later:

Chopped carrots in a bowl and put aside

Then, celery (a bit more than called for in my recipe) was taken out and cleaned:

Cleaned celery sticks

The celery stalks were trimmed:

Trimmed celery stalks

Then the celery stalks were were sliced lengthwise:

Celery stalks sliced lengthwise

… and then the celery stalks were chopped coarsely:

Chopping the celery

The chopped celery was placed in a bowl, and put aside for later:

Chopped celery in a bowl and put aside

About two pounds of onions were then taken out …

About two pounds of onions

… trimmed …

Trimmed onions

… quartered …

Quartered onions

… and chopped coarsely:

Chopped onions

The chopped onions were placed in a bowl, and put aside for later:

Chopped onions in a bowl and put aside

At this point, the chicken and broth had been boiling for about 30 minutes:

Cooked chicken after boiling for 30 minutes

… and the chicken pieces were taken out of the broth, and placed on a cutting board:

Cooked chicken taken out of the broth and placed on a cutting board

The heat under the broth was turned off for the time being, and the chicken put aside for a few moments to allow some cooling.

In the meantime, the chicken fat was skimmed off the top of the broth and placed in a fat separator:

Skimmed chicken fat in a fat separator

The soup fraction at the bottom was transferred back to the soup pot, and the fat was transferred to a bowl to solidify:

Liquid chicken fat transferred to a bowl

Should one not have a fat separator, the skimmed fat can be placed in a large bowl or pot, and ice can be added to more quickly solidify the fat, allowing for its easy removal so that the (now diluted) soup fraction underneath can be returned to the soup pot:

Ice added to the chicken fat to solidify it and recover the liquid soup underneath

Returning to the soup ingredients, I separated the somewhat cooled chicken meat …

Chicken meat separated from bones, skin, and cartilage

… from the bones, skin, and cartilage:

Bones, skin, and cartilage separated from the chicken meat

The bones, skin, and cartilage were wrapped up in paper along with the solidified chicken fat, and the trimmings from the carrots, celery, and onions, to be placed in my curbside brown box for pickup for municipal composting.

The chicken meat was placed back on the cleaned cutting board:

Chicken meat placed back on the cutting board

… and the chicken meat was chopped coarsely:

Coarsely chopped chicken

The chopped chicken was placed in a bowl, and put aside for later:

Chopped chicken

At this point, I started “assembling” the soup, by adding the chopped celery to the still-hot broth:

Adding chopped celery to the chicken broth

… then the chopped carrots:

Adding chopped carrots to the chicken broth

… then the chopped onions:

Adding chopped onions to the chicken broth

… and finally the chopped chicken meat:

Adding chopped chicken to the chicken broth

Given that the commercial broth purchased for today’s cooking had sufficient salt content for my liking, barely a shake of extra salt was added to the pot.

The soup was brought to a boil again, and boiled for another thirty minutes:

Soup boiling again

Here’s the soup after boiling all the ingredients together for thirty minutes:

Cooked chicken soup. Yummy!

The cooked chicken soup was transferred to ten used yoghurt containers for freezing, and two more slightly larger containers (on the right) to put in the fridge for supper later on in the day:

Ten containers of soup for freezing, and two more slightly larger containers for supper

The soup for supper was great, and the individual containers are already in the freezer for future eating.

Making Stuffed Potato Skins — Photos

This weekend’s cooking plans from my collection of recipes included making stuffed potato skins (along with more bran muffins for my mom, and some chocolate buttercrunch.)

My recipe for stuffed potato skins is a bit of a no-brainer, whose formal existence as a recipe lies more in the documenting the amounts of ingredients required so as to minimize waste and leftovers, or scrambling about to prepare extra ingredients to use up other already-prepared ingredients. Originally, making the stuffed potato skins was both an effort to add to my collection of recipes that could be used to fill the freezer, as well as a response to a desire to make stuffed potato skins, critically, using items I normally have on hand (potatoes, cheese, and in this case, frozen cooked breakfast sausages); however, yummy as they are, there was no pretense to attempt to replicate some mythically great potato skins eaten at some hypothetical pub.

First, five potatoes were taken out …

Five potatoes

… and then washed — in this picture, save one, to show the comparison between cleaned and not (although the bag of potatoes does say “washed potatoes”).

Washed potatoes

Potatoes were halved along their length:

Potato cut along its length

The potatoes were then somewhat hollowed out (before cooking, instead of after, as mentioned in my recipe, so that I could boil the removed pulp later to make mashed potatoes), while leaving a generous amount of the potato pulp in the skins:

Hollowed out potato skin and removed pulp

The pulps from the potatoes were placed in water, to boil later …

Pieces of potato pulp hollowed out from the skins, to be boiled later

… and with which to ultimately make a bit of mashed potatoes to be used in a lunch in the next couple of days:

The mashed potatoes made from the pulp parts of the five potatoes used today, to be eaten at an upcoming meal

Back to the potato skins: The hollowed out potatoes were placed on a microwave-safe plate:

Hollowed out potatoes on a plate

The plate of hollowed out potatoes were placed in the microwave oven (1200 watts) for 10 minutes:

Hollowed out potatoes in the microwave oven

Once cooked (a few skins needed another couple of minutes to finish cooking), the hollowed out potatoes were placed on a flat surface (a cutting board), ready for stuffing with sausage cubes:

Cooked potato skins with plenty of potato flesh

Earlier, three frozen, pre-cooked breakfast sausages were placed on a cutting board:

Three frozen, pre-cooked breakfast sausages

The sausages were sliced lengthwise …

Sausage sliced lengthwise

… and sliced again lengthwise, making spears:

Breakfast sausage cut into spears

The spears were sliced cross-wise in order to make little cubes …

The spears were sliced to make little cubes

… which were then transferred to a bowl …

Sausage cubes placed in a bowl and put aside

… and which was put aside to be used at the point at which the cooked potato skins were to be stuffed:

Potato skins filled with sausage cut into little cubes

A block of cheese (cheddar in this case) was taken out, along with a cheese slicer:

Block of cheddar cheese and a cheese slicer

About 100g of slices of cheese were cut off of the block …

Cheese slices

… and placed on top of the potato skins filled with sausage cubes:

Cheese slices placed on top of the potato skins filled with sausage cubes

The potato skins were placed in a countertop convection oven preheated to 350F for 15 minutes:

Stuffed potato skins cooked in a countertop convection oven

The first batch of cooked potato skins were taken out of the oven, smelling yummy!

Cooked stuffed potato skins

Once all the stuffed potato skins were cooked and cooled, a couple of them were put aside for supper, while the other eight stuffed potato skins were placed in a container for freezing:

Cooked stuffed potato skins in a container for freezer as well as a plate for supper

Yes, they were yummy!