Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Thanks Steph for a great challenge! Please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see how the rest of the group fared with their Vols-au-vent!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Please check out the rest of the TWD bakers to see how they did with this week's recipe!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Banana Chai Cupcakes
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chai spice blend (I used McCormick's)
3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 4-ounce jar banana baby food
3 small bananas, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 30 muffin cups with paper liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai spices and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and then add the vanilla. Gently mix in the buttermilk and baby food. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the chopped banana.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla, beat until frosting is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens back up a bit, about 30 minutes, then spread or dollop on cooled cupcakes.
Please check out the other Cupcake Hero entries and cast your vote for your favorite at I Heart Cupcakes. The voting poll is on the left hand side of the screen.
Here I was thinking that this overpriced Animal Kingdom monkey was a complete waste of money when in fact, she makes an excellent photo prop!
Monday, July 6, 2009
Bakewell tarts…er…puddings combine a number of dessert elements but still let you show off your area’s seasonal fruits.
Like many regional dishes there’s no “one way” to make a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types. The first is the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling.
For this challenge, I made three mini tarts. For one of them, I used mango jam (I know you're all shocked that I would slip in mangoes) and for the other two I used homemade caramel apple jam. I think the idea behind the tart .. er.. pudding, was to use a smooth jam, I just couldn't pass on the chunky apple jam. The result? Fantastic! I actually liked the apple version better than the mango version and plan on making this again when fall rolls around. Here, in Michigan, that could very well be the week after next! :)
The recipe calls for flaked almonds for the top, but I used sliced almonds because I had them in the cupboard. Here is what the inside of the mango tart looked like.
And the caramel apple jam version topped with whipped cream sweetened with brown sugar and a dusting of cinnamon. Yum! I seriously can't stop eating the tartlettes!
Monday, June 29, 2009
My co-workers and I have enjoyed this cake twice in the last couple of months. The first time I baked it, it was to celebrate impending nuptials. I made the cake exactly as written and it was fantastic! Everyone loved everything about this cake - the filling, the frosting, the coconut - it was all fantastic. The second time was for a birthday celebration and I turned the cake into cupcakes. I made both regular sized cupcakes and mini cupcakes.
The frosting was thick enough to use in a piping bag and each cupcake was topped with generous swirl of frosting and a sprinkle of coconut. Instead of using raspberry preserves, I simply added a fresh raspberry to each cupcake. The results were divine! This recipe is by far my favorite so far and I'll be using it again and again!
Please visit the rest of the TWD blogs to see what the rest of my fellow bakers did this week!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Please visit Kelly's blog for the recipe and the TWD Blogroll to check out the rest of the TWD bloggers. Now if you'll excuse me, that mango in the first photo has yet to be eaten ...
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
At the time of my cake baking he had only been a member of our household for a few hours and I set my cake layers out by the window to cool, just as I always do, and he just started chomping away when I had my back turned. He's new and cute and I'm an inexperienced dog owner ... c'est la vie. I'll try it again in a week or so. Now, on to this weeks TWD Baking Assignment! Today's Tartest Lemon Tart was chosen by Babette of Babette Feasts. One of my co-workers was just telling me about the movie Babette's Feast - looks like a sign that I should visit Blockbuster! Please visit Babette's Blog for the recipe, which can also be found on page 336 of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours."
My tart tasted super lemony with just a tiny hint of bitterness, but it was fantastic! Dorie recommends using a blender to get a smooth custard but this super slacker was too lazy to dig out the blender so I used my food processor instead. I could not get a smooth custard so I strained it into the crust and was very happy with the results. My official taste tester loved it (and I did too)! My tart was very skinny - I think my tart pan may be 10 inches instead of the recommended 9 inches and it was not very photogenic!
Please visit the rest of TWD Bakers to see how they made out with the Tarty Tart! Next week is Mango Bread! I CAN. NOT. WAIT! I love mangoes!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Once again, I struggled with the TWD recipe. I seem to have lost my baking mojo! I've baked Dorie's shortbread tart crust before with no problem but this time around, the crust was super dry and crumbly. I'm not sure where I went wrong - other than the fact that it was over baked - oops! The chocolate cream filling came together easy and was creamy and delicious. I decided to make mini tarts this time around.
I also decided to sneak in a layer of homemade peanut butter because ... well, just because I could. Everything except for the crust was to die for yummy! I will definitely try this one again. In the meantime, please visit the rest of the TWD bakers to see what they cooked up this week!
Monday, April 27, 2009
Have you ever eaten something so good that the taste of it haunts you? Many years ago I made a Key Lime Cheesecake with Strawberry Butter Sauce that was absolutely divine. I think about that cheesecake with a frequency that borders on obsession. We were allowed to choose our own flavors for this challenge and not surprisingly, the key lime cheesecake crept back into my brain.
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake was wonderfully smooth and creamy. I added about 1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice which made it over the top delicious! The strawberry sauce wasn't as good as I remember but it certainly didn't stop me from eating it! I served a slice to my official taste tester and he pronounced it "evil" and licked his plate clean.
The photos are actually from a mini cheesecake that I kept at home for myself and the taste tester. After the photography session, I remembered some blackberries that I had stashed in the refrigerator so I made a quick single serving of blackberry butter sauce. Oh my ..... the combination of the key limes and blackberries was indescribable. Yum!
I can't wait to see what the rest of the Daring Bakers have concocted this month! You can also check out the new Daring Kitchen website which is full cool cooking stuff! May will also be the inaugural month of the Daring Cooks Challenges! I can't wait for these challenges!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Would you just look at that beautifully fluted and well behaved graham cracker macadamia nut pie crust! I was quite happy with the results! I've never baked banana cream anything so I had to dig into this one right away and despite my crust troubles, I think I may come back to this recipe! The custard was smooth and creamy and the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar wonderfully complemented the bananas and the macadamia nuts. The topping was rich and delicious with a light touch of sour cream.
Thanks to Amy of Sing for Your Supper for choosing this week's recipe which can be found on her blog and on pages 342 and 343 of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Yours." Don't forget to check out the rest of the TWD bakers to see how they baked their Banana Cream Pie.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
When I read through this recipe and spotted coconut, macadamia nuts, and lime as ingredients, I was immediately put in an island state of mind. When I spotted key limes at the grocery store, I knew I had to have them! Would anyone know the difference if I substituted key lime zest for regular lime zest? Nope. But I would know and adding key lime zest makes me happy. :)
Saturday, March 28, 2009
When I found out we would be making pasta for this months challenge I was super excited. Pasta making is something that I have always wanted to try and now I had the perfect opportunity. We were to make an authentic Italian lasagna composed of noodles, bechamel sauce, and a ragu. My enthusiasm started to fade as I was reading through the recipe for the ragu. I started Weight Watchers about a month ago. I'm not the food police by any means and if I want something like lasagna, I just have a small portion, make good choices for the rest of the day and call it good. But the ragu ingredients (pancetta, veal, pork loin, beef skirt steak, Prosciutto di Parma and red wine among other things) did me in and I had resigned myself to skipping this months challenge. Lucky for me ... I stumbled upon a logical substitution. Roasted Vegetable Ragu.
My friend google and I found a delicious sounding recipe at Picky Cook. The ragu tasted as wonderful as the recipe promised! I was eating it straight out of the pan! The vegetables looked so pretty in the pan ready for roasting.
Here's the finished roasted vegetable ragu. Some of the veggies got a little overdone.
Now on to the pasta making! I struggled with the recipe at first. I wanted to make 1/2 batch and I couldn't get the dough to come together. I had a big pile of unsightly crumbs.
So I added another egg and after a lot of hard work formed a lovely little dough ball!
After some rolling and stretching of the dough, I cut some beautiful noodles. My noodles were a little on the thick side but my dough was starting to tear, so I decided to just take my chances. On a side note, how is it that Alton Brown made this process look so much easier on TV and he did it in thirty minutes! I didn't let my noodles dry since I did the entire lasagna process in a single day. Here they are hanging out in the kitchen.
I made the bechamel sauce and assembling the rest of the lasagna was a breeze! The end result was divine! I never imagined that this lasagna would taste so good!
Thanks Mary, Melinda, and Enza for this great challenge! Thank you Kristin for allowing me to use the ragu recipe. Please check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see how the rest of the gang did with their lasagnas! If you've never made your own pasta - try it!
Oh, and for those that may be counting: WW Points=7 :)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The only other change I made to Dorie's recipe was using the zest of an entire lemon instead of half - another wise choice I think! I also used a round pan instead of square since I rarely have the proper pan for the chosen recipe!
Unfortunately, I had a few problems with this cake. From what I have read from other TWD bloggers, many had the same issues with their crumb cakes. After 55 minutes in the oven, I had a puddle of butter in the center of the cake. After 65 minutes in the oven, my cake was over browning and not cooked in the center. When all was said and done, I think I left my cake in the oven for close to 90 minutes! YIKES! I still couldn't get a clean knife out of the center so I just gave up and removed it from the oven and when it cooled, it seemed fine.
My official taste taster had to have a piece before it was properly photographed and he said it was fantastic. I took the rest to my co-workers and they ate it and (I think) mostly loved it. I heard no complaints about it being dry. I had a small portion from near the center of the cake and thought it was absolutely wonderful! I will be trying this one with an assortment of fruit. Dorie says you can use peaches and in my world peaches = mangoes, so expect to see that version come out of the kitchen! :) I also want to make these as minis from my cupcake pan.
Please see how the rest of the TWD group fared and visit Sihan of Befuddlement for this weeks recipe. Sihan has mango marshmallows posted on her site. Mmmmm ..... mango. :)
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Although Dorie instructs us to strain the marmalade and gently brush it the glaze on the cake tops, I decided on a more rustic look and basically spread my marmalde directly on top of the cake! I think it looks pretty cool with the chunks of orange peel.
Instead of making a large loaf or a round cake, I baked eight mini loaves instead. They were super moist and delicious. Yum!
Please check out the TWD bakers to see what they're up to this week and thanks for stopping by. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Dorie's cake also calls for prunes. Prunes are not a staple in my pantry and since I am not going out for liquor - I am most certainly not going out for prunes. As recommended, I sub raisins for prunes. Raisins soaked in Wild Turkey Bourbon Whisky. Yee haw ... I'm going to countrify Dorie's fine french dessert!
I think I'm ready to get this cake going but realize that, once again, I don't have the proper sized pan. You'd think that I would just throw in the towel at this point. I don't have several key ingredients and I don't have an 8-inch springform pan. I'm not a quitter and I refuse to let baked goods get the best of me! A few days ago, I saw an episode of Good Eats on the Food Network where Alton Brown uses a regular 2-inch tall cake pan instead of a springform pan so I decide to improvise by covering the bottom and sides of the cake pan with parchment paper. I am happy to report that it worked like a charm!
The cake came together easily enough and looked beautiful when I removed it from the oven. It tasted great ... except for one small thing ... I don't like dried fruit co-mingling with chocolate. Like a 3 year old, I picked the raisins out of my cake slice. The bits of cake without raisins were fantastic! I plan on making this cake again and using the prunes as directed. I think they will disappear into the cake and I will be happier with the texture. The chocolate glaze that tops the cake is thick and rich and decadent!
Thanks Lyb of "And then I do the dishes" for choosing this months recipe for Chocolate Armagnac Cake, also known as the cake that got Dorie fired. You can read that story and find the cake recipe on pages 278-281 of "Baking: From my home to yours".
Saturday, February 28, 2009
I was super excited to see this month's flourless chocolate cake challenge! I LOVE chocolate in all of it's forms. I made my chocolate cake for my honey as part of our Valentine's Day dinner. He loved it. I loved it. All around it was huge success! I halved the recipe and made four mini heart shaped cakes in my silicone heart-shaped muffin pan.
The February Challenge included churning some homemade ice cream. My aimless wandering around the Internet led me to a recipe for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream by David Lebovitz (click link at your own risk!) I made the caramel three times and even after the third time it still tasted slightly burned to me but since I'm hyper critical of my cooking, I decided to go with it anyway. Fantastic! I couldn't stop eating it!
I served the flourless chocolate Valentinos with Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream, and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. It was so good and the perfect ending to a dinner of ribeye steaks and roasted potatoes. Please check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see how the other bakers did.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
On a side note, I was noticing that I have a bunch of partial bags of chocolate and small chunks of chocolate in my baking cupboard and I'm kind of annoyed by it! :) I'll need to make some kind of chocolate chip cookie and dump the assortment of chips in the mix to use them up. After finishing the Caramel Crunch Bar recipe I was left with yet another partial bag of "stuff" - in this case, the toffee bits. Instead of adding to the cupboard collection, I made the World Peace Cookies again and used the toffee bits instead of bittersweet chocolate chips. YUM! YUM! YUM!
Please check out the Tuesdays with Dorie Blogroll to see what the other bakers came up with.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I always seem to struggle with layer cakes and this one was no exception! The cake itself was pretty simple and straightforward and tasted delicious. I will definitely be referring back to this one although I may use a different frosting.
The frosting is fluffy, marshmallowy, and not overly sweet. I thought that it tasted OK but was not crazy about it. At the very last minute I decided to make one single cupcake, hollow out the center and fill it with the frosting. The cupcake was fabulous! The frosting had the perfect texture and consistency for filling a cupcake! I will do the cupcakes again.
I had a picture of the inside but it seems to have disappeared from my memory stick! When I spread the frosting between the cake layers, I didn't add equal amounts to each layer so my cake looks a little wonky on the inside.
Please check out the TWD blogroll to see how the rest of the bakers did this week.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
For the shells, I chose a recipe from The Arthur Avenue Cookbook suggested by Susan at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy . The only concern that I had was the instructions indicated that the cannoli shells be fried at 325 degrees and that seemed too low of a temperature. I started at 325 and added heat and found that I had the best results when the oil temperature was closer to 400 degrees. In order to cut the suggested oval shape out of the dough I decided to try a template that I created on my computer.
This worked well, but about 1/3 of the way through the very time consuming process, I was getting a bit frustrated. I took out my largest biscuit cutter and forced it into an oval.
Since it wasn't big enough, I simply rolled the dough a little thicker, cut out the ovals, and then rolled them thinner and larger. Now I was moving along at a better clip!
I don't have a deep fryer so I just used a regular old pot from my collection and had to fry them one at a time so the temperature would remain high and I had room to move them around a bit in the pot. The end result looked pretty good but I couldn't tell if they were overcooked or undercooked or greasy or just plain nasty. I'm fairly certain that I have never eaten a cannoli so I had no idea what I was aiming for!
For the filling, I decided to try the recipe suggested by Becke from Columbus Foodie. I added just a tad more sugar to sweetened things up a bit and thought the filling tasted fantastic! The texture was grainier than I expected but I loved the flavor! I gave the finished cannoli's a dusting of powdered sugar and a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips and I sent them on their way.
The recipient (MA) and her friends and family were very impressed with the results so I guess I did ok! MA is old school Italian and mentioned that she had an authentic recipe that she dearly loved and perhaps I would like to try that one next time? Bring it MA! Bring it.
Thanks again to Susan and Becke and everyone else who offered up advice and suggestions!