French Frdays with Dorie

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Buttery Jam Cookies

Well, I've been away for so long and now I've misplaced the cable to connect my camera to the computer so after all of these weeks with no posting, I'm posting without photos! Hah, found it! See photo above to see how utterly non-delightful my little gems turned out to be!

I have managed to make all of the recipes since Thanksgiving's TwoFer Pie, I just haven't blogged about any of them yet.

But, this week, I was going to get back on the straight and narrow. I made my cookies on time and I took a picture for posterity. it wasn't until I went to post that I realized I had no idea where my cable is!

Suffice it to say, these cookies are easy to make, but they are boring and bland. I did not find anything to recommend them - I used the Apricot jam suggested in the recipe and I could not taste it at all. I like the thought of these cookies, a simple cookie with the sweet addition of a jam or marmalade, but in practice, I just thought, these were so what? The folks at work seemed to enjoy them far more than I.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yin and Yang

I don't normally like rice pudding so I almost passed on this week's recipe. But, I finally decided I would give it a shot. I have it cooling in the refrigerator now. I could not decide whether I wanted to make the vanilla or the chocolate flavor so I made them both.
I thought it would be funny to make the pudding into a yin and yang design in the bowl, so I did.
I had read all of the comments about the pudding before starting so I knew to greatly extend my cooking time. I had no problems with it thickening, but it did want to create a skin while it was cooking - which just revolted me.
We have Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa to thank for choosing this week's recipe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Prancing Penguins

I was reading my Baker's Sheet from King Arthur's Flour the other day and they had directions for making these adorable penquins from olives, cream cheese and carrots.

I was hosting a Pampered Chef party on Saturday so I decided I had to have these as appetizers at my party. The directions called for jumbo olives and small olives. I had extra large olives on hand and I figured I would pick up small olives when I went to the Fresh Market to nab a few last minute items. Who knew the Fresh Market would not carry canned olives?

They do however, have an olive bar, so I grabbed some Kalmatta olives from that bar and brought them home to make my little penguin soldiers. All you do is soften the cream cheese, cut the carrots into coins, then cut a small triangle out of the coin. This coin then becomes the base/foot of the penguin, the larger olive his body, the smaller one his head, the small triangle from the carrot becomes his beak.
I thought they looked very attractive standing drunkenly between the salad!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I don't know if I have ever worked so hard for so little reward! This recipe takes so many hours. You have to allow the dough to rise and deflate, then refrigerate it overnight, finally it rises again and you bake it for a surprisingly short time.

Unlike many of the TWD baker's I found that I did indeed own a Kugelhopf pan. I think this marks the second time I have ever used it - when I purchaed it I was in a molded dessert phased and I thought it would make a lovely form for chocolate mousse!
I have been on vacation so I took the ingredients (and the pan) with me and baked the Kugelhopf while I was away. I did not have any problems with the recipe - it behaved exactly as Dorrie described - until it came time for the final rise. Then the dough just decided it was done. After about four hours it was close to the top of the design in the pan, but it wasn't climbing any higher. I baked it anyway.

It puffed up a bit more and browned beautifully. Then came the moment of truth - the great unmolding! Semi-disaster - apparently I don't know what generous buttering consists of, because I could not get the Kugelhopf to release. Finally after much prodding and poking with a knife and a spatula I got the Kugelhopf out of the pan. I lost a bit off the side, but it was minor.

I immediately tried that bit but otherwise I actually did not try the cake/bread for two more days. As Dorrie says, it makes lovely toast. Really delicate light slices of toast. It isn't toast I would wait two days to get but it was lovely. Fresh from the oven my immediate thought was, boy this smells good . . . God this is bland. I'm glad Yolanda from All-purpose girl chose this recipe so I could find out what my pan was for and learn the ins and outs of Kugelhopf-ing!
I did not actually dislike the experience of baking it, I am just not sure it is worth all the time invested. I doubt I will be making Kugelhopf again - I think that pan is destined for a life of non-utility!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Layers and layers of muffins and muffins

Last night I made a southwestern layered salad I from Southern Living, April 2001.
It has a lime vinaigrette dressing. This can be a bit tart, so you might feel the need to add a bit more sugar than the recipe recommends. I like the tartness, so I leave it as is. I forgot to put the tomatoes into it last night, so I cut them up and put them on top and then just chopped some for each serving.

And, of course, since I knew I would not be eating it all immediately, I did not add the crushed tortilla chips. Few food items are more disgusting than limp soggy chips.

To make this a more complete meal (for me) I added some sauteed ground turkey, to which I had added taco spices. I actually don't care much for raw onions and next time I do this I will also saute the onions with the meat. This time I just cut back on them drastically.

It is a very pretty salad and quite tasty as well, with black beans, corn and tomatoes in addition to the romaine lettuce. The recipe is available on-line at the Southern Living website.

Then because I am such a great gal - and because I had a cup of pumpkin left from the Tuesday's with Dorie Pumpkin Muffins, I made pumpkin mufins for work this morning. I did not use Dorie's recipe. I used one from Carol Cutler's Quick Breads. I have had this cookbook for years. The recipes are grouped by the time they take: under 30 minutes, 30 minutes to an hour, etc. This is so helpful when you are in a time crunch but still want to do some baking.

Her pumpkin muffins have no eggs and no milk, that just seems so odd! All the leavening comes from baking soda. There is additional flavoring in a small amount of rum. I did not take photos of these because I anticpated they would look like the ones we made a short time back.

And, externally they did resemble Dorie's muffins. Internally they are a much moister and heavier muffin. Though they only have one tablespoon of rum in the entire batch, I found the smell overwhelming as you bit into the muffin. They have typical pumpkin pie spicing and I do quite like that flavoring. However, the rum really made these muffins unpleasant for me. These are certainly easy to make and they are fast - but I prefer a lighter muffin.

When I decided to make muffins this morning, I knew I was going to look for recipes in two places. One, my Carol Cutler book and two, the small recipe booklets I inherited from mother. These are those booklets that you can buy at the checkout lines in the grocery store. Frequently they are from Pillsbury bake-offs but the one I found my next recipe in was for Crisco vegetable oil.

I absolutely love items made with molasses. When I was a little girl my mother would make me gingersnaps. Somehow we lost the recipe and for years I would make gingersnap cookies and always be dissatisfied with the cookies. Finally I realized the problem, what I wanted was found under molasses chews or some other such category. I can now have gingersnaps my way, whenever I want. But, this morning I wanted to make muffins.

I found a recipe in the booklet that I thought would satisfy my craving for molasses and that was quick and easy. I mixed them up and popped them in the oven. When I pulled them from the oven they were dark, steamy and fragrant. I think I could have actually baked them a minute or two less because, in fact, they were a touch dry - although perhaps with butter or Devonshire cream, that wouldn't have been noticeable. I think I expected them to taste more like gingerbread than they did, but they were quite tasty regardless.

At work the pumpkin muffins were the first ones to be selected. It is hard to decide what drove that decision - the molasses muffins were normal sized - the pumpkin muffins were jumbos - was it greed? The molasses muffins were plain on top - the pumpkin muffins had sunflower seeds - were they the pretty girls? Could it simply be that other people like pumpkin more than I do? The world may never know!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I almost backed out of posting my results today. I looked at so many of the other TWD blogs and everyone's results were so pristine looking and then there are mine . . . which look as though they have mud and muck splashed up on the sidewalls. Sigh, what is a gal to do?

I did forget to push down on ingredients of the second batch of rugelach but does that give the darn things any right to have the chocolate come seeping out all over the place? I think not!

This is another case where I found the fillings excessive. I have to get over myself. I have always followed the recipe the first time I made a dish. I'm getting used to Dorie's recipes now and I really need to follow my gut. (Pardon the unintended pun.) I knew when I was chopping it that four ounces was too much chocolate for these cookies but I went ahead and used it all anyway.

I did like the overall taste of the cookies and in person the chocolate that seeped out created a sort of lacy halo around the cookie - it also almost carmelized on the bottom of the cookie and was quite tasty - it wasn't burned as it appears to be in the photo - but it wasn't very photogenic!

I will be giving rugelach another try varying the fillings - in both flavor and quantity - at some point in the future. I'm still not sure it will become a go-to cookie for my repertoire but I do want to give it another shot. I did especially love the taste of the cookie crust itself.

The next time I bake it I am going to try two things (1) I am not going to cut it into sixteen wedges - those were too small for my tastes - I'm going with no more than twelve unless my circle is considerably larger than it was this time. Hah, if it resembles a circle a good bit more it would be very exciting as well! And, (2) I might try rolling them like pinwheels, and option I saw on Smitten Kitchen's website - something she saw demonstrated on Martha's show (I believe). It seemed a bit less fussy. Either way, it is a cookie with great possibilities and I thank Grace of Piggys Cooking Journal for making this week's delicious choice.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bride of Frankenstein

I wanted to make a Halloween cake for the daughters of one of the men with whom I work. They are young so I did not want to make anything too gross or scary. I trolled the internet and found a cat recipe I liked but by the time I was actually ready to make the cake I had long ago lost that recipe!

I did some more trolling and happened upon Wilton's website. Normally I find their recipes dependent upon specialty cake pans and I won't spend my money on something I will use once. This time, though I could see that the pan they used had practical application.

It is in essence a double loaf pan - sixteen inches long - normal width and slightly higher than normal sides. In addition to now being able to bake my world famous sour cream pound cake as a large loaf (my world is small and yes in my world it is very famous!) I can also make Marge Simpson cakes! Surely there is an untapped market out there for those cakes! Who doesn't want a mouthful of blue icing? Oh, that would be me, yuck - maybe she will be dressed up for Halloween herself with a brown wig on - chocolate hair - now that is a flavor!

But, I digress. The cake turned out very well, though I broke both my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorators! Couldn't find the ring to my coupler for my normal pastry bags and had to stick my decorator tips into a zip-lock bag to finish icing this lovely lady! What a small price to pay to make a family of little girls smile!

I did not make enough green icing to make the ears properly so I stuck wafers in the side of the cake and covered them with icing - then I stuck dragees on the wafers to serve as earrings - they were also to emphasize the fact that these nubs were ears - I think it works. Pete reports that the cake is very tasty and they are enjoying it very much. The girls came to work to pick up the cake and they were very excited and pleased to receive their gift.

FYI - you better have an actual wooden board to put under this cake because a cardboard cake board is way too floppy for long-term carrying needs. I was able to put the cake (on its board) in Longaberger's large gathering basket. If I had not been able to do that I do not know how I would have been able to carry it to work. The cake is so long it is not stable on the cake board alone. I used a half-sheet board for the cake - I cut the board down for the width of the cake. I only used one thickness of board. If you doubled the board it might be strong enough to hold the cake, but I am not sure even that would be stiff enough to support the weight of all that cake.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Today's recipe was selected by Clara from I*heart*Food4Thought. I heart her choice of cupcakes!

I love cupcakes. Tiny little individual cakes - a cake all for me and I don't even have to fell guilty about it. I love it!

It seemed many other bakers had issues with this recipes. They found the cake too dry and wondered if it were a result of either overbeating or excess flour. Several people discussed the relative merits of weighing your flour versus measuring it. And, if you were measuring it, what method would yield the best result? Discussion also revolved around the type of flour used.

Personally I fall into the King Arthur's unbleached all-purpose flour club. I stir the flour and then lightly scoop it into a measuring cup. I have never weighed it and I don't plan on doing so. If my cups weigh more or less than yours do, I don't want to know about it. They are working for me as they are and I am sticking with them.

My cupcakes were until a cake taster inserted into them came out clean. I think it was 20 minutes. I pretty much bake things until they smell done. I am horrible about remembering to set the timer. I just wait until it smells right and then I stick in the cake tester. This method works for me.

I loved the icing on top. I brought these into work and put aluminum foil on top. Sadly much icing was found clinging to the foil when I got to the office. Maintaining my professional poise - I did not suck the icing off the foil. I quite maturely scraped it off with a spoon and ate it like a lady! God it was good.

Everyone loved these cupcakes. As a companion to the cupcakes (since I feed way more than 12 people) I brought in a loaf of banana bread (recipe from the Kitchen Aid cookbook). This was also well received, apparently my office-mates quite like banana bread, go figure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins

Well, I am embarrassed to be making my posting a day late, but the truth of the matter is . . . I fell asleep! I was baking the black and white loaf last night and I was going to make my entry after I removed it from the pan. I sat down to wait the ten minutes before taking it out of the pan and promptly fell asleep for about an hour and a half! It being approximately 12:30 A.M. when I awakened, I decided a late post was in order and I flipped out the loaf and hit the sack!

I made these as mini-muffins - the more to share with the folks at work. I thought they were pretty tasty. They were a bit more dense than I expected, but still quite moist and tasty. I absolutely loved the scent of them and the house still smelled fabulous when I got home from work last evening. I thought the sunflower seeds looked pretty attractive on the top. We have Kelly from Sounding my Barbaric Gulp to thank for this choice.

I also took this opportunity to make something for our group meeting. For months, I have been dying to make tiramisu. I finally got my act together and made that on Monday evening. I brought it in for a meeting on Tuesday and it was a total smash hit. I have no photos of that because cameras at work are forbidden. I figured photos of it uncut were pretty boring. Had I any clue this fabulous dessert was so daggone easy I think I would have been making it for years. I also had the idea that it used a lot more marscapone than it did. Only one eight-ounce container per batch. I made two.

My only complaint about it was that I had to dirty three mixing bowls to make it. Since I only have two that was a pain. Not a major pain, but a pain nonetheless. I do not own a hand mixer only my beloved KitchenAid. This is one of the few times when I would not mind having a hand-held mixer. I could have used it to mix the cream or the egg yolks instead of swapping something out of one bowl and then washing it out. Of course, I survived, but I do so love grousing about these non-essentials.

Anyway, back to the black and white loaf. I detest bananas. However, I concede their healthful benefits and I have been having leg cramps something fierce lately and I have been told the potassium in bananas is helpful in avoiding these. I saw three pounds on sale for $1.49 the other day so I bought them. I read that they do not ripen as quickly if you separate them, so I did. Of course, this meant that they essentially bypassed ripening and instead turned into leopards. You know? Those bananas with the spots all over them? Disgusting. I can barely gag down a pure yellow banana - no way can I eat one with spots. I could barely bring myself to touch it. It was time to show those leopards on the counter who was boss and turn them into something a little less dangerous than lurking fruit! Of course, there are still some left to traumatize me and I may be too damaged to ver visit the Big Cat Display at the Philadelphia Zoo. But, I have been wanting to go there this since the new display opened a few years ago and haven't made it yet, so I don't think they are worried about the loss of revenue).

After stupidly misreading the recipe and melting all of the butter with the chocolate and then even more stupidly tossing it down the drain, instead of just making a completely chocolate loaf, I did manage to put together the proper loaf. I swear I am so stuck in a rut, my brain was thinking black and white (a.ka. marble) the realization that I could do a complete chocolate loaf and thereby save that chocolate that cost me $11/pound did not even enter my head until after it hit the sink - don't worry I have already slapped myself! I mean for God's sake, no one is holding a gun to my head and making me follow these recipes exactly - what am I my own Nazi policewoman? Okay, I'm over myself now and it is too late to suck it back up the drain anyway.

At any rate, I re-melted the chocolate using the appropriate amount of chocolate and finished the loaf appropriately. Marbled it, in what I believe was a very successful manner and baked it right up. I brought it in to work this morning and all who ate it loved it. Most were also stunned that I would bake something that I would not eat, but I always say, hey if there is a calorie I don't like, I am not about to try and convince myself to eat it. I like way too many other calories as it is. Here for your viewing pleasure is the photographic evidence of that effort.
See isn't it cute? Well, except for those spots - and trust me - I am showing this banana's GOOD side!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lenox Almond Pancakes

Oh, sorry, my bad, I mean Lenox Almond Biscotti! These are the oddest biscotti I have ever made. Okay, I don't make biscotti all that often, I have no idea why not - they are darned easy - but nevertheless - I do not make them frequently. However, when I do make them, I can assure you, they look a boatload better than these flat-ass turkeys!

This recipe was selected by Grethen of Canela & Comino.

Aside from the appearance I found the almond extract too heavy in these. It's not as much as a chef I once had the misfortune to encounter liked to use but it is a lot. I'm fairly confident he purchased his almond extract by the barrel and used a good quart (or rather a bad quart!) in the meal he prepared for my group. He used it in each and every item we ate (make that each and every item we were served) that night and burned out the sinuses of a small group of women in Parkersburg, WV. I think we all still bear the mental scars! But, I digress, Obviously, the amount in this recipe doesn't match his extreme, but still, I found the taste strong enough to jolt me back to that very unpleasant memory.

Unlike several of the other bakers, I do like the use of cornmeal in the dough. I like the bite it gives to the cookie. Mine are so thin that they would have crunch and bite in every piece anyway, but the cornmeal would ensure this even in a cookie that is not as dry as mine. I'm not a wine drinker but for those who do drink wine with their biscotti I am sure the cornmeal would provide an interesting layer of flavor.

I thought the problem was in my execution so I made another batch of the biscotti this evening. Tonight I was very careful to ensure that my logs were the requisite 1.5 inches (or less) in width. They are slightly taller, but still they look more like rolled cookies than they do biscotti. I also decreased the amount of almond extract. They are slightly better looking than the batch above, but are still more pancake than biscotti!

To ensure myself that I could still make a good biscotti, I made a different kind for comparison. Why I thought a recipe I cobbled together would prove anything to me, I do not know. But, nevertheless, these did turn out much more like I expect biscotti to behave.

I'm not sure how they taste. I don't like coconut at all, so I don't find them particularly appealing. They look pretty good, but the coconut taste is too apparent for my taste buds. I tried a few crumbs and decided I would get taste opinions from the folks at work tomorrow!

I think I got carried away with add-ins so they were a bit soft in the middle, but they are drying out nicely. I am calling them Tropical Fruit Biscotti.

My recipe was:

1 stick of butter

1 cup butter

1/2 cup diced dried pineapple

1/2 cup diced dried papaya

1/4 cup rum (I soaked the fruit in this)

3/4 teaspoon lemon extract

2 eggs

3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup toasted coconut

3/4 cup chopped nuts, toasted

3/4 cup white chocolate chips

I creamed the butter and sugar. Then I added the eggs. Into this I put the soaked fruit and lemon extract. I mixed this until everything was incorporated. Then I added the dry ingredients (which I had tossed together). After I added the dry ingredients I added the chopped nuts and white chocolate chips and mixed until they were just combined. Then I turned the dough out onto parchment paper and formed it into two logs of equal size. I baked these for 20 minutes at 375. I removed them from the oven and allowed them to cool for about 15 minutes. I moved the parchment paper to a rack to facilitate the cooling. I reduced the oven heat to 350. I then cut the logs into diagonal slices and moved them back into the oven for 20 minutes.

In Dorie's book she says she makes the Lenox Almond Biscotti very frequently. Either she has a lot better luck with them retaining their shape than I did, or she really likes a flat thin biscotti. I guess I'll find out when I try her other biscotti recipe. I definitely won't be trying this one again. I will stick with my King Arthur's Flour version. It never lets me down.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm out of gas - but I'm not out of the running!

There was once a time when I purchased any and every kitchen gadget that caught my eye, so I have had a crème brûlée torch for quite some time. I've never used it, because truth be told, I don't like crème brûlée, or for that matter custard in general. How I miss those days of carefree spending, but unfortunately now I begrudgingly spend that money on more exciting things like mortgages and electric bills - somehow a crème brûlée torch seems so much more exciting!

I was pretty excited that Mari from Mevrouw Cupcake had selected crème brûlée (pg. 393) because I was finally going to use my blowtorch. It was ready. I had the full set. The box said so, right on the front in big red letters it said, "Everything you need to make professional looking desserts." Box contains torch, dishes and recipe. It even repeated everything in French - this maybe was the real deal - or so I thought (cue tension inducing music. . .)

Being at the time of this purchase young and dumb and full of fun I failed to recognize what the box did not say. It did not say that it contained butane. However, it did say it contained all I needed to make professional looking desserts. HAH, I scoff at the Bonjour company and I say "écoutent mes amis sans butane que vous ne pouvez pas faire la crème brulée". Which means, listen my friends, without butane you cannot make crème brulée and I add for emphasis - MORONS! Complete set my behind! I hate it when I am dumb enough to believe I'm buying a complete package only to open it and find a crucial element is not considered "part of the package" even if the package won't work without it! By the way, I am now two out of the original three adjectives listed above and I shall leave it to you to guess which ones.

Okay, deep breaths, luckily we were offered an alternative for this week's recipe if for some reason we were unable to do the brûlée. Therefore, I present to you my rendition of the Double-crusted Blueberry Pie. (originally baked July 8, 2008, recipe found on pages 361-363)

This pie came together extremely quickly. It uses Dorie's trusty "good for almost anything" crust. This is the first crust I have ever made in a food processor. It took me a few tries to get used to this technique but I must say I am quite liking it. I like it so much I am considering mixing up a couple of these bad boys and keeping them in the freezer for baking emergencies. You never can tell when the need for a pie will spring itself on you!

I took the pie to work and doled out the slices quietly and secretly. The pie was all I had to share today and served eight. I did not want any fighting or (more likely whining) to break out so I quietly gave out the slices. The eight people I fed were ecstatic. The crust was a huge hit, its buttery delicacy inspired groans of delight. One of my friends left me a five minute phone message extolling his delight in the flavors of this pie. He said it was the best blueberry pie he had ever eaten. The only improvement I could suggest would be to serve it warm with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

I was extremely impressed with how well the pie stayed together when cut. Usually I thicken my fruit pies with tapioca, but I was very pleased with how neat these slices were and the flavors were excellent. It is a definite keeper. I love a peach/blueberry pie but for a flavor like this, I might just stick with straight blueberries every once in a while.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dimply Plum Cake

This week's recipe was selected by Michelle from Bake-en. Unlike Michelle I am not very fond of plums. I think the California council did too well with their advertising for prunes. You know how they want stopped selling them as prunes and now they sell them as dried plums? Well, that might have worked for some people, but for me, all it did was make me think of plums as prunes and that took them right off my list of foods to eat!

I loved that this recipe called for cardamom. However, I will add more than a scant 1/4 teaspoon if I ever make this again, because I barely noticed it was even there.

And, for sure I won't be using plums. I'll probably use my most favorite of stone fruits the lovely and delectable peach.

I do want to warn everyone, though, about the product that I did purchase for this cake. I was pretty excited when I found these "Petite Plums" at the Kroger. There were seven in the package and they seemed to be about the right size for topping the cake. (Others had said it was difficult to get all the halves on top of the cake.)

I ransomed Melissa's "Plum Bites" from the Kroger because (a) I am a sucker for a cute product name! and (b) I was sure they would be a perfect size for the cake. Now that I had to toss a third of them due to their rotten centers I am convinced that the bite was soley to my pocketbook and I am not a happy woman! It isn't clear in this photo - but the damn things were also organic, which of course explains the high cost of their ransom!

I should have remembered Red Chief and left them there!

Luckily the rotten plums were the last two I opened, so all I had to do was rearrange the other plums on the top of the cake and then bake it. It got darker than I expected. I baked it in a 9 * 9 pan and perhaps should have cut back more on the time.

It was well received at work, but I found the cake to be extremely bland if you did not eat it with a plum slice in your mouth. Well, even then it was bland, but at least with the slice of plum it was extremely moist. I loved the saturation of color that the skin of the plum gave to the body of the cake. I may revisit this cake and try different variations of it, but as the original recipe stands it is a non-repeater for me.

Russian Grandmothers' Apple Pie-Cake

Well, my grandmother certainly never served me anything like this dessert, but then she wasn't Russian. In fact, I don't really remember her ever making dessert. Lasagna was far more her style - she was Irish, so lasagna was right up her alley!

I thoroughly enjoyed this pie/cake. To me this is definitely a pie. We are topping it with and placing the apples into what I would define as a crust, not a batter. A damn tasty crust - and though I don't have the cookbook with me, if my memory serves, Dorie also calls it a crust - so I think she leans that way herself - well of course she does - she lists pie first. If she was leaning towards cake - cake would be first. Especially since cake comes first alphabetically. Surely I am not the only person who always alphabetizes everything if an order is needed and the alphabet is handy.
Admit it, you all have your soups and spices in alphabetical order in your cabinets don't you? Oh, not every day, just when you clean out your pantries and take inventory. Over time these things get mixed up but when things are put in their place - and things always have a place - that place is alphabetical. At least it is in my cabinet(s).

I got the apples for this on my Saturday shopping extravaganza at the Whole Foods a week or so ago. I made it that weekend, I just haven't talked about it yet. Look at the bounty I got - Fuji, Ginger Gold and something from New Zealand.

As the recipe instructed I cored and sliced and then mixed in the spices.

My only problem was folding the excess crust under. I believe the description was something like, "tuck in the crust as if you were making a bed". I don't know about you, but I found hospital corners nigh on to impossible with this dough! I did what I could, but my crust was way too thick on the ends. Thankfully the crust was really delicious, but there was an extreme paucity of apples on the ends.
I have to say, it smelled absolutely divine while it was baking. The apples gave off their juices these combined with the sugar. The two carmelized - Heaven! I wanted to eat the whole thing immediately! Thankfully I know what molten sugar can do to a tongue so I did not!
It was quickly consumed the next morning at work and enjoyed by all. I look forward to an opportunity to make it and try it while it is still bubbly and warm from the oven - here is a photo of it in that state:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies!

My God! Did someone challenge Dorie to see how many different kinds of chocolate she could put into one brownie? Let me say now that I am in the brownies do not need icing camp - I am especially in the brownies do not need icing camp if said icing is made from white chocolate! Who the heck wants wax on their food? Bleech!

The chocolate chunker cookies are borderline candy and I am willing to cross the border to get them. These brownies are borderline fudge - I'm not crazy about fudge - so I'm not likely to chase these too far.

I liked the brownies themselves as long as I did not get too much icing. I have to admit - my icing seemed to drip off faster than Dorie's so that wasn't too hard to avoid.

I shall give these another try but will substitute another flavor chip in lieu of the milk chocolate - maybe mint chips instead.

I do think they make an attractive presentation and they were, of course, popular at work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chocolate Chunkers

This week's recipe was selected by Claudia of "Fool for Food". I may be going out on a limb here, but I suspect one of the foods she is a fool for, just might be chocolate!
These cookies straddle the border between cookie and candy or have they crossed that line? There is just enough dough to hold together the myriad chips, chunks, nuts and fruits that are packed into each dark delectable delight! (How's that for alliteration?)
Sigh of rapture -Dorie's recipe is giving me an excuse to use that bain marie I purchased lo these many years ago. Yet another reason to adore the woman!

After gently melting this chocolate into a simmering puddle of chocolately goodness I added white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate buttons, pecans and raisins!

I put the cookies on the stone and into the oven they went. I expected them to spread but they were like well-behaved little soldiers. They maintained their formation and stayed in line on the stone.

Remember to leave them in place for a few minutes after removing them from the oven. They will fall apart if you try to pick them up too soon.

A word of advice - don't use buttons in this recipe unless you chop them. When I tried to scoop these onto the stones I had a very hard time of it. The buttons were too big to fit into my small scoop. The cookies were not coordinated in their shapes - it was extremely trying but I survived and had to live with free-form cookies - who I ask you - told these cookies they could have their own lives?

The cookies are of course aptly named: Chocolate Chunkers and those of us old enough to remember the original Chunky candy bar will be reminded of it when we bite into these. At least I was reminded of that thicker-er candy. I went online to see if Chunkys are still sold and they are! But, and why this shocked me I do not know, they have been destroyed. What was once a really tasty treat of cashews, brazil nuts and raisins is now the annoying, boring and typical peanuts and raisins. For Pete's sake - if I wanted goobers and raisinets I would get them - what a wasted opportunity to keep a unique candy bar unique. Oh, well, their loss - I will stick with my memories and the chocolate chunkers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's a good temperature. . . really

I was shocked when I started reading on every one's blogs today that there was no temperature listed for the Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops. There had to be a temperature listed, it was 350 degrees, I knew it was there, I saw it last night when I was baking the cookies. It plainly said, preheat the oven to 350. But all of these people kept saying they did not see it. What could the explanation be? Obviously, since I just got my cookbook a few weeks ago, I had a revised edition. I came home this afternoon, went over to my cookbook and read that recipe no less than three times, top to bottom. And, do you know what I learned?

I learned I do not have a revised edition. What I have is the memory of a mother whose answer to the question of what temperature should I use to bake this or cook that was always the same.

"350 is a good temperature."

And, it always was and apparently it still is. It is such a good temperature that when I don't see a temperature in a recipe I just automatically insert her old standby and just keep on going, with absolutely no break in my stride, whatsoever!

In fact, my my mother was so stuck on that temperature that after she died we found the knob on her oven was stuck on that number. She never moved it from that position and on her oven you controlled the power of the oven with one knob and the temperature of the oven with another. She would turn the oven off and on but she saw no reason to move the temperature gauge. After all, why should she? Everything she made turned out just like she wanted it to regardless of what the instructions said. She scoffed at me for following recipes and she was hard to learn from - ask her how she made something and she would take the dish from you, execute it flawlessly and then look at you guilelessly and say, "That's how I do it, I don't know why you want to measure everything." The mere fact that if I did not measure everything I could not get edible results twice in a row was unfathomable to her.

Mind you, my mother could not cook when she and my father first married. Somehow through the passage of time and lots of cooking (for lots of people) my mother managed to forget all of her trials and tribulations - well - she did remember learning how to make fried chicken, but I'll tell you about that some other day.

Rachel from "Confessions of a Tangerine Tart" chose this week's recipe of Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops. I forgot to look for malt powder while I was visiting Richmond's new Whole Foods grocery store on Saturday. I was too overwhelmed with excitement to remember everything I wanted! So, I ran up to the Kroger and grabbed some Ovaltine and Whoppers to make this recipe.

Since I think milk chocolate is barely fit for human consumption I was doubtful about liking these cookies. From my perspective they were just okay. I will make them again, but I will make them smaller and I will be sure to chop the Whoppers more coarsely.

One of the issues I had with the cookies is their appearance - they don't look like the ones pictured in Dorie's book. This is always a catch-22 for me. I want pictures in my cookbooks because I want to know what my items are supposed to look like, but if my items don't turn out just like the pictures, I consider them failures. If I can figure out why my things don't match the photos, I can usually deal with it. If, God forbid, the food actually doesn't taste good - well, let's not even go there (I have visions of Orange Cloud dancing in my head!) - another tale for another day! My cookies were smooth - boring - not rough and chunky looking - they were like smooth unshaven boys - not craggy interesting men!

The directions for this recipe say to chop the Whoppers coarsely. My tiny little anal brain has a hard time with that instruction. I interpret that to be slightly less chopping than complete annihilation - I guarantee that is not what Dorie intended. I rather suspect that quartering the Whoppers or cutting them into thirds is more than adequate. If you cut them as drasticallyas I did they end up melting (almost disappearing) into the cookie as it bakes. This gives it a bit of a caramelized taste - think of those random Whoppers that did not crunch when you bit into them, but were rather chewy and they spread - a lot as they were baking - committing the cardinal sin of touching each other as they baked! Bleech!

To my taste, they were too milky - the bittersweet chunks did not cut through the sweetness of the malt and the milk chocolate coating (gag me). However, I had one person tell me that it was the kind of cookie he would pay money for at a bakery and two people told me they thought they were fantastic. (Of course, some people will say anything to keep home-made treats coming regularly!)

Everyone I work with has resigned themselves to eating treats on multiple days of the week until I catch up with the others in TWD. I just hope they can adjust once I am on the regular schedule!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wanting to be a part of the Tuesday's with Dorie baking group I decided to start by baking their first recipe. Being the competitive twit that I am, I will have to make everything that the group has made or I won't consider myself a "true" member.

No doubt I will not continue in direct recipe order, but I wanted to start at the top. And, am I glad I did. This shortbread is delightful. It was extremely easy to work with, the dough came together very quickly, except for the pecan grinding. I was afraid my cheapo-coffee grinder was getting too hot and I would wind up with pecan butter instead of ground pecans, but they were all right. I did have to pick out the occasional chunk, but that just made for a nice snack!

I don't like to swap out the cookie sheets so I just made the shortbread in rounds. I baked the first sheet for the full length of time Dorie recommends and the second for the shortest. Personally, I prefer the darker cookies, but in general, I like a crisper product, must be from my Oreo dipping days.

I've made a few of the other recipes from the cookbook as well,
the mixed berry cobbler is absolutely fabulous. I'm looking forward to finding out how good everything else tastes as well.