Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWD - Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

aaaaaand we're back ..... miss me? Sorry folks, I just couldn't embrace the butterscotch pudding from last weeks TWD. Maybe at a later time ....

This week, we have Tall and Creamy Cheesecake which was chosen by Anne of AnneStrawberry . Yeah! I LOVE cheesecake! I made this recipe as is, no changes, no substitutions. Except for the pan. This recipe calls for 9-inch x 2 3/4-inch springform pan. Come on now. Seriously? I just bought a new springform pan for the Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake in October! I made a short and creamy cheesecake with a side of mini cheesecake! This what the twosome looked like at the end of the hour and half baking time.

Dorie's recipe instructs filling the pan all the way to the rim with filling. I only filled my pans about 3/4 full and look how tall they rose! I'm afraid that if I would have followed directions, I would have a had a huge mess! OK, now here's a question for the experienced cheesecakers ... why is that the recipe says the cake will be brown on top but Dorie's photo of her cheesecake is a beautiful white?
The cheesecakes were allowed to cool in the oven for an hour; at which time they looked like this.

I love how the big one isn't even cracked! I'm a perfectionist like that! I could barely stand waiting for these things cool! But wait I did! Dorie recommends chilling for 4 hours so I set my kitchen timer and got ready to dig in ... kidding ... I didn't really set the timer but I may have watched the clock like a hawk.

My graham cracker crumbs seemed a little wet. I'm not sure if I had some water intrusion beyond my foil wrapped pans. It tasted fine though. OK, who am I kidding? Can't you see how smooth and custardy that cake looks? That is exactly how it tasted! Smooth, light, melt in your mouth deliciousness. The best cheesecake I have ever tasted. Ever. My dear boyfriend had this to say. "I don't know how you do it! I must have been eating poop all of my life!" Hmmmmm ... I think there is a compliment in there somewhere? He also said that the cheesecakes he had previously consumed were really dense and he much preferred this one because of the fluff factor. I paraphrased that last part. :)

I wanted to try a couple different toppings. I started with strawberry.

I also had a slice with apple filling from my disasterous Christmas pie. The crust was so horrible that I scooped out the inside and have been using the filling to top ice cream and now my cheesecake! The apple topped slice was spectacular! I will make this cheesecake again and again! But first I have a date (or four) with the treadmill.

Thanks again Anne for choosing this great recipe. Be sure to check out the other TWD cheesecakers! You can find them here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TWD - Buttery Jam Cookies

This weeks cookie recipe was chose by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl chose Buttery Jam Cookies. The recipe can be found on page 80 of Baking: From my Home to Yours and on Heather's blog.
These cookies turned out cute but kind of bland. I used a flavorful mango fruit spread instead of jam and had high expectations for these little nibblers but they need a little sumpthin' sumpthin' to give them a little kick!
My favorite things about these cookies?

They're soft!!

They're cakey!

They're stackable!

Please check out the rest of TWD gang to see how they made out with these cookies.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWD - Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

This week, Ulrike of K├╝chenlatein chose Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies, which can be found on pages 146-147 of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours". Before I get started discussing these cookies, I wanted to take a few moments to ramble on about how great this cookbook is! I have learned so much from this book and from my fellow TWD bakers! Oh dear, now I'm all verklempt. Please, talk amongst yourselves.

Now about those sugar cookies ... I've said it in a least a half dozen posts ... I do not like hard cookies. All of the sugar cookies that I have known have been hard. With that in mind, I wasn't really excited about making these cookies BUT I had an agenda so I made them. Please take out your Winter 2008 Fancy Flours Catalog. I'll give you a minute to find it. Come on ... I know you have one. Turn to page 25 and check out the upper right hand corner. That snowflake cookie wreath is beautiful! I really wanted to make one so I forged ahead with the sugar cookies, including my first foray into royal icing.

The cookie dough was pretty crumbly but I was really afraid of over beating it. I roughly divided the dough in half and put each half into a gallon ziploc bag and gently kneaded it until it came together. Then I rolled it out (while it was still in the bag - a tip I learned from making the brown sugar shortbread) and refrigerated it for a few hours. Most of the times when I make cut out cookies, the dough spreads into an unrecognizable blob. This time around, after I cut out the shapes, I popped the baking sheet and the cookies back into the refrigerator so they could chill out for another half hour or so (a tip from the linzer sables). It worked like a charm, my cookies came out beautifully!

The royal icing was not a fun adventure. I wanted to get it to "pouring" consistency, but no matter how much water I added, I couldn't do it. It took me hours to frost these cookies but I think the end result was worth it .... and if anyone has any royal icing tips to share, please do!
Here is my take on the Fancy Flours Cookie Wreath which you can see HERE.

I took the wreath to work and left it out for my coworkers. Apparently, they were quite good! After being admonished several times and told that the cookies were NOT HARD, I decided to try one for myself. Except, that by the time I made it back to the kitchen, then entire wreath was gone. Seriously, in less than a half an hour! Gone. Luckily I had a few stashed at home and I found them to be soft and delicious. Like buttah ...

As always, please check out the rest of the TWD Bakers.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TWD - Linzer Sables

This weeks Tuesdays with Dori recipe is Linzer Sables and was chosen by noskos of Living the Life. I halved the recipe, substituted ground hazelnuts, and filled them with chocolate ganache. I was super excited about this flavor combination but found that the hazelnuts completely overpowered the cookies! I used my snowflake cookie cutter to shape them but sadly they still look like flowers. The cookies may have been rolled a little too thin and they were crispier than I like. Overall, I thought these were OK and I would like to try them again using ground almonds.
Don't forget to check out the rest of the TWD gang to see how they made out with these cookies.