Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chocolate Syrup

CHOCOLATE MILK??!?  Yes, please.  I love me some chocolate milk.  I have never used anything but Hershey's, but I figured, what the, let's go to town with some homemade.

The store brand: Hershey's Chocolate Syrup

My Recipe (from
  • 1 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 C water
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar and cocoa powder. Add water and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes, until thickened, continuing to stir frequently. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes, then add vanilla extract.

Store in air tight container in the fridge.

I made a half batch and it made just about 1 cup of finished syrup.  It was super fast - like 5 minutes from start to finish.

So, the comparison?  Well Hershey's is just high fructose corn syrup with cocoa and preservatives.  I'd take real sugar over HFCS any day.  Taste wise, the homemade version just tasted more chocolatey.  Very deep chocolate flavor - I also needed a little less to make my chocolate milk.  I was worried it would be too thin and watery, but it was thick and great!

The cost to make your own is just about the same.  I used the cost of my homemade vanilla, which saves a little money.

Hershey's Chocolate Syrup24 oz- 2.25 cup $      2.35  $          1.04
Homemade2 cups $      1.96  $          0.98

So overall, it costs about the same to make your own, but it tastes so much richer and more chocolatey.

Bake or Buy?  BAKE!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cookie Giveaway Winner!

Thanks for the entries!!  I used the random number generator and drew a winner - JENNY J!  Congrat Jenny.  I've sampled these cookies and you will LOVE every one.  I've emailed you for your address.

New post coming tomorrow.  Just a hint... I'm feeling like chocolate.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cookie Giveaway!

Alright.  So I had a great snack this afternoon.  I had lunch at the natural food store/deli and I picked up this vegan cookie to take with me.  I know, vegan baked goods?  Ick.  NO WAY.  This cookie was freaking fantastic.  I went with Luscious Lemon Poppyseed.

The company is called Alternative Baking Company out of Sacramento, California.  When I wrote them to tell them how amazing their cookies are, they gracefully offered to send me some to try (!!!!).  I am going to pass some of this amazing gift onto you.

You will receive a sampling of cookies to include:

Cranberry Orange Muffin
Cranberry Orange MuffinCookie
Phenomenal Pumpkin Spice
Phenomenal Pumpkin Spice

Double Chocolate Decadence
Amazing Almond MuffinCookie

How to enter (THREE possible entries - leave separate comments):
1.) Like the Bake or Buy facebook page and leave a comment below.
2.) Like the Alternative Baking Company facebook page and leave a comment below.
3.) Sign up for Bake or Buy emails (on the right of page - must confirm subscription to be counted).

Fans of Alternative Baking Company's facebook page are also entered to win cookies each month, so bam, entering two contests with one click!

I will draw the winner on Wednesday, January 25th and send your cookies out ASAP.  If you don't win, you can always order cookies on their website or check your local health food stores!  Good luck :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Whipped Cream

I love whipped cream.  On my pie, ice cream, hot chocolate, fresh fruit, and the list goes on.  When I'm making something creamy, I must admit I use cool whip, but there are some scary sounding ingredients in that stuff.  Reddi Whip from the can is so fun and easy to squirt straight to your mouth when you just NEED it.  Real whipped cream is super tasty, and you can control the sweetness.

Who will take the cake?  Muahaha - pun intended.

The store brands: Cool Whip (tub from the freezer section)
Reddi Wip (yep, from the can)

The recipe (from
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Chill the bowl and beats in the freeze for at least 5 mins before starting.  Combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla and beat about 2-3 minutes until peaks form.  Don't beat too long or you will end up with butter (not such a bad thing)!

So cool whip always comes from the freezer section, which means it takes at least a little planning.  I've tried to make the creamy jello while it's still too frozen - don't do it.  Reddi Wip from the can tends to "melt" down really fast.  Homemade will fall as well, and you need to handle it fragilly so you don't let too much of the air out.

As far as taste goes, the Reddi Wip was out right away.  It's the lightest, but it has a chemically taste - it's just not right.  The Cool Whip was far sweeter than my whipped cream, but the homemade was just so much creamier.  If you want it sweeter, you can always just up the amount of confectionerary sugar.

Left is Reddi Wip, middle is Cool Whip, and right is homemade.
Well the cost works about about the same for cool whip and homemade.  Reddi Wip comes at a premium, but it is convenient to use it when you need it.  My mom always used to keep a can in the fridge.

      Amount    Cost    Cost/oz
Cool Whip8 oz $     1.65  $          0.21
Reddi Wip6.5 oz $     2.79  $          0.43
Homemade8.5 oz $     2.03  $          0.24

So Bake or Buy?  BAKE!

Cool Whip will do fine if you need to fold it into a recipe, but if you are topping off some fresh strawberries or a warm pie, buck up and make your own!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


We almost always have store-bought hummus in the fridge.  I'm not a mayonaise fan, so I use it on sandwiches, dip carrots or crackers in it, and even in place of sauce on a veggie pizza.  I have made hummus before, but it's definitely not something I do on the reg.

The store brand: Harris Teeter Traditional Hummus

My recipe (adapted from
1 garlic clove, mashed and then minced
1 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1/3 cup of tahini (roasted)
2 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (one juicy lemon)
1/4 cup water
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon of salt

In a food processor, combine the garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt to taste.

I will say that I think tahini is really difficult to work with - it separates and is impossible to stir.  Even worse than natural peanut butter!  But when you are making it in the food processor, you don't need to get it mixed up much before adding it in.  This is fast to make and I do love being able to make custom flavors (think feta and sundried tomato, roasted red pepper and garlic...).

So side by side they look almost identical.  Taste-wise they are a little different.  The store bought was smoother and tasted a little different - saltier and more lemoney.  I felt that mine was a little heavy on the tahini and I'll use a little less next time.  They were both tasty and I think I'd rate them just about the same taste-wise.
Store bought on left, homemade on right.

And the cost?

Harris Teeter Traditional 10 oz $      4.49  $          0.45
Homemade12 oz $      3.12  $          0.31

I tend to keep tahini on hand, just for the sake of making hummus.  I will also say that my grocery store almost always has one brand of hummus on sale, which makes it about the same price as homemade...

Bake or Buy?  BUY!

It is easy to make, but I'd just as soon stock up on fun flavors while they are on sale (they last a long time in the fridge).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


No, I'm not about to get out my butter churner. I've read you can make it by shaking, using an electric mixer, or even the food processor.

The store brand: Land O' Lakes Unsalted Butter

My Recipe (adapted from

1 pint heavy cream, very cold
Pinch salt, optional
- Refrigerate the bowl/beaters/jar or whatever you are going to use ahead of time to get everything very cold.  The food network recipe says to shake the cream in a jar for 15 to 30 minutes, but I just put it in my food processor.

This whole process took about 8 minutes.

 - Pour into a strainer set over a bowl. The chunks in the strainer are butter, and the liquid in the bowl is buttermilk.

- Pour the buttermilk into a clean container, cover, refrigerate, and reserve for another use.
- Turn the butter into a clean bowl and cover with very cold water. Pour into a strainer, discarding the liquid. Continue rinsing the butter with very cold water until the water runs clear. (The cloudy water is buttermilk which will make the butter turn sour.)

- When the butter is clean, work with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to press out any remaining liquid. Discard this liquid. If desired, add salt to the butter. (Salted butter will keep longer.)
- Transfer the butter to a clean container for keeping and refrigerate until ready to use.

So that's it - you've got butter!  It tasted unremarkably like butter - for some reason I thought it would taste like magically delicious butter, but no, just butter.  It was a really neat thing to see though, I'd recommend everyone tries to make butter.

The cost?  You aren't going to save money making your own butter.  But I didn't account for the cup or so of buttermilk you will also get during the butter making process, so that's a bonus for your pancakes or bisquits or whatever.  That buttermilk is not the cultured kind you would get from the store, and I haven't used mine yet, so I'm not sure what I'll do with it. 

I usually just buy our store brand butter, which costs about a dollar less than Land O' Lakes, so store bought definitely wins the price category.

      Amount     Cost Cost/pound
Land O' Lakes Unsalted Butter1 lb $     4.49  $          4.49
Homemade3/4 lb $     5.00  $          6.67

So overall, you get a butter that tastes a lot like the store bought version, that takes a little bit of work, but costs more...
Bake or Buy?  BUY!