Sunday, November 30, 2008

TWD - Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

This weeks recipe was chosen by Vibi from La Casserole Carrée. Once again, I made something that, when left to my own devices, would not have tried! Thanks Vibi! The "Twofer Pie" is basically a pumpkin pie with pecan pie layered on top. I had problems with this recipe right from the beginning. I put flour in my food processor for a single pie crust and then promptly added the rest of the ingredients as listed for a double pie crust. I didn't want to trash a couple cups flour (King Arthur flour is $4.19 a bag in my neck of the woods!) so I added enough flour for the double crust and away I went ...... until my dough refused to come together in the food processor. I ended up finishing the dough with my hands but I was very worried that the results would be less than flaky. I pre-baked the pie crust as directed and ended up with this.

Shrinkage. I decided to go another route with the remaining pie dough. I cut the dough to fit my regular sized muffin pans and ended up with 12 crusts! I pre-baked 6 of them to use for mini Lemon Meringue pies and used the remaining 6 for mini Twofer Pies. This time around, I did not pre-bake the crust. Here they are fresh out of the oven.

The next time around (and there WILL be a next time because these were fabulous), I will more generously butter the muffin tin, including the top! These buggers were sticky!

In general, I'm a pie purist and didn't think I would care for pecan and pumpkin pie sharing the same space, but once again, I was surprised and delighted with the outcome! The pumpkin portion was perfectly cooked and the pecans added a wonderful flavor and crunch! Although I was worried about the crust, it turned out just fine! You can see a little bit of the flakiness in this photo.

As for the lemon meringue pies, they turned out ok. The filling was more tart that I would have liked and the meringue was kind of marshmallowy but overall, very tasty!

I think I may make mini pies like this from now on. It is very easy to please everyone this way and they are super cute and fun to make!

One more thing .... this recipe does not use an entire can of pumpkin. I refuse to throw it away. I won't do it. So say hello to my pumpkin mousse!! I added a little sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the pumpkin and folded it into about a cup of whipped cream.

Please check out the rest of the TWD bakers to see what they cooked up!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TWD - Arborio Rice Pudding

Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa chose "Arborio Rice Pudding, White, Black (Or Both)", for this weeks TWD selection. For the third consecutive week I'm wandering about in unknown culinary territory! I have never cooked rice pudding or any kind of pudding for that matter. Truth be told, when I saw how much money the arborio rice was going to set me back, I almost scrapped the whole project! I managed to muddle through the recipe and produce an OK pudding (I think)!

I made both the vanilla and a chocolate version but thought that both tasted rather bland. These days chocolate pudding makes me think of Dexter, my latest unhealthy obsession! Rita in the kitchen, stirring, stirring, stirring, that chocolate pudding. Seriously people, this is good TV!

On another tangent, this was the view of my backyard on Sunday.

and on the front porch. There is nothing like the first snow of the season to make you go "blech"!

Sunday was pudding cooking day and coincidentally, Dexter watching night! So I decided to go all "winter themed" on my pudding. I decorated my little bowl of chocolate pudding with a white chocolate snowflake and my little cup of chocolate pudding with some crushed candy cane. I added a little bit of the caramel apple jam and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the vanilla pudding. The last one being my favorite! I think I had more fun styling my food than cooking or eating it!

Check out the rest of the TWD Bakers and see what they cooked up! And watch Dexter! Do it! Do it now! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Black Hole Chocolate Cake

I think I can.... I think I can..... I will conquer the layer cake. This attempt was called Black Hole Chocolate Cake and I found the recipe at I had high hopes for this one since after baking, the layers were very dense. I had a few problems though ....

1. A buttercream concoction was to serve as the filling and used to frost the sides of the cake. Now I know how to make buttercream. I really do. So when the recipe instructed that melted, uncooled chocolate, butter, powdered sugar, and cream be combined; I knew I wouldn't get "light and fluffy". None the less, I followed the directions, and ended up with a tasting filling but not enough frosting. I looks ok though.

2. Nothing good can come of pouring a hot glaze over a cake. Nothing. Nothing but a disaster. Again, I'm no stranger to the kitchen, so I let the glaze cool but not nearly enough. I should have been darn near room temperature. On the plus side, this was the best tasting glaze I've ever had and I think I'll keep it!

3. This cake did not taste good. The cake layers were very dry and the filling was "meh" but not spectacular. My coworkers ate it but my official taste tester dumped it into the garbage after a couple bites (as did I - after I licked the glaze off the top).

So it's back to the layer cake drawing board.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TWD - Kugelhopf

This weeks TWD selection comes from Yolanda of The All-Purpose Girl and she chose the Kugelhopf on pages 61-63. As I scanned the ingredients list my very first thought was "yeast? Ummm ... no can do." Yeast is not my friend. As a matter fact, I would even go so far to say that yeast is my Kitchen Kryptonite and quite frankly, I think the yeast is in cahoots with the layer cake and they are determined to drive me from the kitchen. I put away my copy of "Baking: From My Home to Yours" and walked away. I'll just catch up with the TWD folks next week.

Fortunately (or not), I cannot resist a challenge, so by Friday afternoon I was back in the kitchen ready to go. I started on Saturday morning but by Saturday afternoon I couldn't get even one single rise out of that doughy mess in my bowl. I reread the recipe, googled, and tried again. The second time around, I started by using my thermometer to make sure the milk was the proper temperature and I proofed the yeast to make sure it was still fresh. Everything checked out A-OK and I actually got the bugger to rise this time. As directed I put it in the refrigerator and got two more rises out of the dough. I let it rest overnight but when I took it out Sunday morning, the dough was very stiff and went into my bundt pan in three separate pieces.

Much to my surprise and delight, the dough rose in the pan!

The portion of the dough that is visible in the top right of the above picture was kind of deformed and even during baking that part of the dough didn't rise. None the less, I could smell victory over the yeast! I can assure that the sweet scent victory made my house smell fabulous when my kugelhopf was baking. I couldn't wait to dig in to this baby! Seriously, I was salivating - I love the smell of baking bread.

Following the rest of the directions, I brushed the kugelhopf with melted butter, sprinkled it with sugar, dusted with confectioners sugar, and ate it the same day. Just kidding, I only ate half of it on Sunday. Seriously, it was that good. Nearly half.

In the cookbook, Dorie warns that this cake is best eaten the same day that it is prepared or else it will go stale. She suggests that stale slices of kugelhopf should be toasted and served with jam. Really? Stale bread makes me think of french toast. Mmmmmm ..... french toast. So I cut up the remaining quarter, I mean half, of my kugelhopf, and made french toast Monday morning. Seriously. To the untrained eye, it would appear that my french toast is covered in giant pats of butter, but you know what they say - the camera adds ten pounds. Seriously. I would never eat that much butter on tiny pieces of bread. That would be wrong.

So, at the end of the day I would definitely make this recipe again. The kugelhopf tasted fantastic and I am so glad that I tried it. Now that I conquered the yeast, bring on the layer cakes! Seriously, check back tomorrow because I made a chocolate cake. Don't forget to check out the other TWD bakers!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

TWD - Rugelach

I was super excited to see that Piggy of Piggy’s Cooking Journal chose rugelach for this weeks TWD baking adventure. I have never eaten rugelach and I had certainly never baked rugelach! After carefully reading through the recipe I realized two things. The first realization was that my grandmother made something similar to this with leftover pie crust! She would roll out the scraps, brush the dough with melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, cut into triangles, roll, and bake. Yum, yum, yum! The second realization was that this recipe contained both fruit and chocolate. As discussed in the Chocolate Chunker post, I do not care for fruit mixing it up chocolate!

I decided to make half the batch with the recipe more or less as written (I didn't use currants because I didn't have any) and I found that I didn't really care for apricot preserves with the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips that I used. My official taste tester didn't really like them either so I took them to the office and unloaded them on my co-workers.

My second batch was entirely different story ... mmm mmm good. I loved them so much that I refused to take them to work and share with my co-workers! It is my intention to consume each and every one of them by myself!

I substituted the apricot jam with caramel apple jam, skipped the chocolate and currants, and used pecans. I made the jam myself using this recipe. The jam was overally sweet and didn't taste very "caramelly" but it was really good! I've sinced used it on an english muffin and as a topping for ice cream. I'm going to mess around with the jam recipe and try to develop a stronger caramel flavor. I am totally in love with the apple rugelach and will surely make more as soon as I finish eating this batch.

In the following photo, you can see the tiny chunks of apple peeking out of the dough.

In my excitement, I forgot to brush the cookies with the egg wash and sprinkle them with coarse sugar prior to baking but I still think they turned out great! Please check out the other TWD bakers to see all the other amazing twists on rugelach.