French Frdays with Dorie

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cafe Volcano Cookies

Like so many of the other bakers, I am just astounded at the ease of making these cookies. I thought I made them just as cited in the recipe, but it turns out I accidentally doubled the espresso powder. Even at that, I thought the taste of coffee was on the backburner. That was no doubt because the taste of sugar was on all of the other burners!

I used walnuts and sliced blanched almonds for my nut mixture. When I make these in the future I use a different nut combination. Walnuts have such an overpowering flavor - a good one when they are roasted - but no way could I taste the almonds in these. I do love a roasted nut though. In addition, I would highly recommend using either whole almonds or almond slivers to make these and when you - don't bother chopping them. I never should have chopped the sliced almonds - they just about melted into the background. That fits with a meringue cookie though as they pretty much just melt when you eat them, anyway.

Super easy and they pack a wallop of flavor. Great choice, MacDuff.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Another easy recipe - just the way I like it. Well, easy to put together, anyway. I did find it just a tad difficult to keep my logs round while cutting the cookies. I just can't seem to master that knack!

My brother, Dennis, celebrated his 60th birthday this past Sunday (his actual birthday was yesterday). He and his wife (Marilyn) hosted a brunch at Deerfield Gold & Tennis Club - formerly DuPont's Louviers Country Club. It was really a lovely event.

Dennis likes a patriotic theme so we decorated the room with those festive trappings. If I do say so myself, it looked quite nice. My sister and I baked the cake and made bags of cookies for everyone take home as a favor.

The sablés were the first cookies we made. Apparently I cut them too thick as I did not get the yield Dorrie suggested. Nevertheless, I found them quite tasty. I rolled them in red & green sugar or red, white, and green nonpareils. I liked the look of the nonpareils best.

Unfortunately I made a packing mistake with these cookies as well. I packed them in a container with some carrot/spice bars. I divided the cookies with parchment paper. Sadly the bars still exuded too much moisture and it caused one entire layer of the cookies to become soggy. So, we had enough for the treat bags but no extras for our own personal munching. We did try one the night we baked them and I can attest to their great taste.

I love shortbread in general so will definitely be adding this cookie to my list of keepers. I do need to fine tune my sugar rolling and my cutting, but other than that, total keeper/success. These delightful morsels were selected by Barbara and the recipe is posted at her site, Bungalow Barbara. Of course, you could also always find it in the book! Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

All in One Holiday Bundt Cake

I loved making this cake. It was almost as easy to pull together as a dump cake. I did my mise en place before starting and I have to admit, slacker than I usually am, life is so much simpler if you practice mise en place. No stuttering between steps, just a smooth transition from one part of the process to the other.

I thought my basic bundt pan was the size Dorie suggested, but it is apparently a bit smaller. I baked the cake in the classic bundt, but had batter remaining that would not fit into the pan. I put that into a small bowl from my life with Pampered Chef and the mini-cake baked up very nicely indeed. Surprisingly the cakes were both done quite quickly. The mini-cake took no more than 25 minutes and the regular bundt no more than 45. They both "depanned" with no issues.

The bundt was given to a friend of mine who is moving this week and my sister and I shared the mini-cake. I quite like this cake and will definitely keep it in mind for the future.

This recipe was selected by Britin of the Nitty Britty. She will post it sometime this month or you can find it in the book!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cran-Apple Crisp

I love crisps - they are so easy and they have crumble toppings! Does it get any better than that? I do not think so. This one was particularly tasty. I made mine with granny smith apples and for many people it would probably border on the slightly too tart side - in other words - pucker up - but I like it that way. I would use the same apples the next time, but I just might use half brown sugar and half white sugar.

I did use double the spices putting them in both the topping and the apple/cranberry mixture. I was fortunate enough to be able to find fresh cranberries and loved using them. I used raisins as the add-in to the body of the crisp after that. I had found a raisin medley some time back at one of the warehouse stores and I love them. It contains red, yellow, green and normal raisins but they are all on steroids. No joke - they are all at least 3/4 of an inch long. They fascinate me.

I made my crisp in one large pan and it made a very thin layer. I liked it but will also switch to a different pan the next time - just to see how it tastes with a thicker layer of apple/cranberries. I liked the thin layer, I just want to experience a thicker one before I decide which way to make my own. I love the idea of individual layers and if I make this at Christmas, as I very well may, I will probably give that a try. I am definitely rolling this out on a regular basis, moving forward. The recipe can be found in the Book or at Em's.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

Putting these cookies together was quite easy and always being on the look-out for my childhood favorite, the gingersnap I was quite looking forward to these. The finishing touches were a bit too fussy for me. I favor the version where you roll the cookie in the sugar and it flattens as it bakes, giving you a slightly thicker cookie with more pronounced crevices. The cookie of my childhood has a darker hue as well and I have come to learn that in general it will be entitled the molasses chew and not a gingersnap, but when I was growing it, my mother always called it a gingersnap and when she made it, it involved pinched off rounds of dough rolling them in sugar and having them miraculously flatten into dark disks of deliciousness. Ahh, I remember them well.

She always used regular granulated sugar it always had the courtesy to appear on the top of the cookies as a pronounced decorative accent. I rolled these cookies in my sparkling sugar and had I not the cookies would have had a decidedly different appearance after their time in that dessert oasis we like to call the oven! I know this because for the last six cookies I had to resort to regular granulated sugar and my last six cookies lost that sparkling scintillating appearance of the others. Next to the other cookies they look almost Amish! They still have the lovely little crannies of the earlier batches but they bear no shiny plumage to catch the light - they do not sparkle and shine.

Mind you they taste mighty fine - they just don't beckon you to bite them, rather they are chosen simply because they are next up on the plate rather than because the sun has hit their enticing granules of taste. Having said that, when I tried the first of these cookies, I wasn't entranced. I found the sparkling sugar taste far too pronounced and was sorry I had used it so liberally. I wished I had dipped my glass in granulated sugar or rather had not dipped my glass at all. But, I knew that I had I tried pressing these flat without dipping the glass that I would never have been able to remove it from the cookies at all. The cookies I pressed with the glass dipped in regular granulated sugar released the best of all - of course all the cookies released with the glass that did not have the inverted bottom released the best - live and learn, people, live and learn! I find that the spice flavor in these becomes more emphasized the more these sit and that the sugar coating becomes less so, so I like these more as time goes by. The recipe is a definite keeper and can be found in the the Book or at Cookies with Boys.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sweet Potato Biscuits

These biscuits came together very easily. The dough was even stickier than I expected it to be. I found them to be far more dense than a normal biscuit, but the taste was very interesting. I think I actually preferred them reheated the next day, but they were quite tasty. In fact, I think if anything, their sweet potato taste was over-pronounced. I loved the smell of them baking, though, it was perfect for this time of year. To see the recipe, visit the BOOK or Erin of Prudence Pennywise's blog. To see how the other TWD baker's fared, visit their blogs.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Split Level Pudding

Just call me Ash . . . my stinking pudding did not set up! It was all my fault. I got sidetracked and forgot to add the cornstarch! What a moron - so few ingredients and yet I managed to omit half of them - what a goober! I tried tossing it in after the fact, but I know cornstarch doesn't mix well with heat. I should have just tossed it into a tablespoon of cold milk but I saw it and just instinctively tossed it into the pot. Sometimes I have very poor instincts.

I'm quite irked with myself about this as I decided to go with the coffee flavored pudding and I thought the two levels would be delightful together. I don't find coffee flavored milk and chocolate ganache nearly as appealing. This is very frustrating - on two levels - hah - split level frustration - I slay me. (1) I hate wasting that very tasty ganache and don't much care to drink my pudding - it isn't as if it is a lemon meringue pie (family joke) and (2) I wasted all the effort of cutting the recipe down to a single serving size. (If you knew how much I suck at math, this would really impress you - hey - maybe I suck more than I knew and this is why it did not set!)

Visit the other TWD bloggers to see how they fared with this recipe selected by Garrett of Flavor of Vanilla.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart

My oh my! I get tired of all the superlatives I toss Dorie's way - but each week I am more and more amazed at how fabulous her desserts taste.

I made individual tarts this week, cutting in half the caramel layer and ganache filling. I had a small amount of ganache left over and a spoonful of caramel remaining - I quickly gave that a taste test. It passed.

I used macadamia nuts instead of peanuts because I just don't care much for peanuts. I chopped the nuts fairly finely because I was putting them into a smaller pan. I think that was the right the way to go - plus I am a compulsive chopper and I just don't have a coarse chop in my repertoire!

I was a bit afraid that I had scorched the sugar when I was making the caramel, but it was good - heck - it was very good.

I did overcook the crusts a tad - they do go from pale blond to brunette very quickly - especially when they are tiny - but they are still quite tasty.

This is a very rich dessert and I will be making it for the chocoholics in my world when they need a fix. The recipe was posted online at Chocolate Moosey by Carla or is, of course, available in the Book - Baking From My Home to Yours.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cottage Cheese Pufflets

Apparently Dorie knows a lot of divas. She previously introduced us to the egg divas and with this recipe we meet the dough diva! If it gets too warm you might want to put it back in the refrigerator? Where did that if come from? Were they saving the extra two characters from the word when?

Roll it to an eighth of an inch? Are you serious? When I got my dough someplace close to that thickness it started to melt! I ended up with giant cookies. Well, giant turnovers. My brother wanted to know what the difference was between these and my apple turnovers. I told him these were full of marmalade and the turnovers were full of chopped up fresh fruit!

Once baked - and the behemoths took considerably longer than the time Dorie suggested - what a shocker - they were divine to taste. I filled mine with pink grapefruit marmalade - it was remaining from the French Yogurt Cake. It was an excellent pairing with that delicate (yet frustrating) dough.

I still have half the dough left and I am going to try baking up a few smaller cookies tonight - and freezing some for baking later. I am hoping to develop a technique for working with the dough. The cookies, once baked, are just great. I don't mind having to take a lot of time to prep my ingredients or giving them a lot of resting time, but I do ultimately have to be able to manipulate the dough somehow and this dough was just a nightmare for me. I ended up with free form shapes that I was pressing together at will. I was hoping the seams would hold and praying that the tops would cook before the bottoms burned. That is not my version of a successful technique - it certainly isn't one I plan to repeat intentionally if I can help it!

Assuming I can figure out how to work with the dough without pulling my hair out, I will definitely add these cookies to my rotation. Otherwise they will simply be an interesting experiment that gets pulled out only for very special persons.

This recipe was selected by Jacque of Daisy Lane Cake and the recipe is posted there. It is also, as always, available in Baking From My Home to Yours. A book without which, I have decided, no baker's kitchen is complete.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Apple Turnovers

Ahh, fresh, hot piping from the oven - delicious! At first I thought there would not be much taste to these turnovers because the apples had so little spice on them, but they were really tasty. They were very easy to make, though it was a time consuming process due to the resting periods the dough required.

I've never made a dough of this nature before. I loved the texture of it - both before and after it was baked. It had such a silky feel to it in its raw state and it was most definitely flaky once baked. I baked half the turnovers and plan to freeze the others.

A quick wash with the egg a dusting of the sprinkling sugar and into the oven they went. A few minutes later, a heavenly odor began to waft through the house. Shortly after that Kathy and I were feasting on the delightful treats.

Julie of Someone's in the Kitchen selected this week's recipe, it is available on her blog or of course, it is yours for the taking in the BOOK!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chocolate Souffle

I had visions of egg divas dancing through my head, but I am pleased to report that my souffle turned out just fine and dandy!

It seems such a shame to actually serve a successful souffle. You start to dish it out and you just watch it deflate - somewhat like a beach ball that has small hole in it!

I was more an extreme liberal with my sugar coating of the souffle dish. So much so that I found the sugar a bit annoying as I ate the crust. That was truly a shame because I really enjoyed the crust. I just found the extra sugar a trifle exasperating as it added a layer of sweetness to the dessert that I did not think it needed.

I cut the recipe in half - another stress factor for me, but it worked quite well. I ended up baking the souffle for about 26 minutes. I think it's time to invest in an oven thermometer, I don't think half a souffle should have taken quite that long. I was fearful that my checking it twice would cause a collapse but fortunately that did not happen.

Other than the slightly overly sweet taste imparted to the crust by the sugar I found the souffle to have exactly the taste a dark chocolate lover would want. It was really an easy dessert to pull together and makes quite a statement when you pull it out of the oven. It is definitely going to be added to my repertoire. For those of you who are not the proud owners of the Book Susan of She's Becoming Doughmestic has posted the recipe.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Even though this was a dish that was made in three parts - brownie base, cheesecake, and sour cream topping - I found it to be a very simple recipe to put together. I really liked the contrast of the creamy cheesecake against the dense brownie.
I was a little concerned that I had overcooked the cheesecake, though. It was total soup at 25 minutes and still extremely loose at 35, so I let go for about five more minutes after that. I think I could have taken it out at 35 and let the residual heat finish it off, but I tried that once and received a puddle of unbaked cream cheese for my efforts so I now tend to err on the side of a more well-done cake. It tasted just as creamy as I wanted though, so the only real issue was that it shrank a bit more than expected and was a darker color on top - once covered with the sour cream icing that wasn't an issue anymore anyway - so a win all the way around.
I shaved a little chocolate across the top of brownies before slicing them just to add some interest to the sea of white and think that was a good plan. Melissa posted the recipe at Life in a Peanut Shell and she added all sorts of delightful treats to her brownies - they look fantastic - and adorable - my jealousy gene is creeping out again!
I've often wondered how the sour cream topping was made when I saw it on a cheesecake - I knew it wasn't just straight sour cream and now, thanks to Dorie, I have the basic proportions to use on my cheesecakes whenever the mood strikes.
As always, if you want all of these fantastic recipes in one place, I can't suggest strongly enough that you buy the BOOK - Baking From My Home to Yours - it is a great investment as this recipe proves easily.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Creamiest Lime Meringue Pie

I always say my favorite flavor if lemon, but I may just have to switch to lime. This lime cream is just divine. I swear - I was licking the blade from the blender after I scraped all I could out of the blender itself - I risked my very tongue itself for this tasty treat!
I made tiny pies this week and still have most of the cream in the fridge for future dispersal. Lord knows if it will make it into a crust or just be devoured by me by the GIANT spoonful.
I am always nervous when making a custard cream, but I had zero problems with this one. It came together for me very quickly - I am sure I was whisking it together over a higher heat (boiling water, probably) than Dorie generally uses. I am just too impatient to wait ten minutes for something to come together. I loved the transfiguration into a velvet-like consistency that the addition of the butter gives you while you are blending the cream.
Linda of Tender Crumb has posted the recipe on her blog. You can buy THE BOOK here and get all the recipes in one place and keep them forever - I highly recommend that choice!
This pie is a definite keeper. I prefer a whipped cream topping to a meringue topping, so I will probably switch to that the next time I make this, but I am in love with this filling.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blanc Manger

I seem to be incapable of two things - well far more than two but for now we'll discuss the two that are relevant to this recipe.

(1)My absolute inability to completely incorporate two disparate elements - in this case, the gelatin and the whipped cream mixture.

(2)My utter failure at leveling anything - as a child I demonstrated this by cutting my own hair. I cleverly hid the shorn locks in my toy chest. Sure that no one would notice the few missing golden tresses. Unfortunately, when you cut off all the hair on your head except for the piece in the middle (in the barrette) your mother does notice. And, when she is a red-headed Irish woman, she might not have the temperament for this upset. As time moves on and your wispy scalp begins to regain some fuzz, the virago might settle down, but alas, every time you pull out a toy, out comes another lock of hair which sets off another bout of anger from the red-head. Not the most scathingly brilliant scheme of my childhood schemes - but one that makes me grateful for my position as last child - of course you know that means there are no photos of me! Especially none as a baldino. But, I digress . . . how does that keep happening to me?
I made the Blanc Manger a few weeks ago when my sister came to visit. We agreed that it was far sweeter in taste than we expected it to be. It also went down into our tummies far easier than we expected! So I quickly trucked the remainder into work so that my fellow employees could wolf it down for me. Otherwise we would have eaten the whole thing and trust me - my natural beauty would have had a hard time compensating for my natural fatness!

I swan, this incorporation business is really starting to frustrate me. A few weeks ago we made that cake that required us to gently fold the flour into the stiffly beaten egg whites. And what did I find when I went to transfer the batter into the cake pan prior to baking? Lump upon lump of unincorporated flour - then what happened? Total baking failure that is what.

Thankfully this lack of incorporation was on a much smaller scale and the results were far less of a calamity. When I unmolded the manger I saw some rather strange grayish streaks running across the top of it. I immediately realized that I had failed to incorporate all of the gelatin. After delivering several sharp remarks to the manger which it took quite bravely, I remedied the situation by thickly applying my coulis.

Oh, my God! My coulis - was so fantastic - you are all so jealous of me - my berries were like berries on flavor steroids (but they aren't they are just the best tasting berries on the planet!) - because I get my berries from Agriberry Farms in Studley, Virginia. They are so darn good. I used a blend of red and black raspberries. I used to dislike raspberries but now I am a total convert. I still hate the darn seeds, but that Agriberry sure knows how to grow a raspberry. The flavor of my coulis was so intense I felt a shock down to my toes when I tasted it. Fantastic - and you could neither see nor feel the grayish streaks any longer. Of course, since I can strain something I also had zero seeds - Perfection - okay - not perfection - but darn good. - a CSA that still has openings for this year if you are lucky enough to live in the central Virginia area. I am so glad I joined. Every week I get six units of berries or other fruits - the fruit is so fresh it hurts my eyes.
Last week I got two units of blackberries, that were almost as big as two of my thumbs stuck together - (my hands are quite small) - as big as a large man's thumb; two units of blueberries and mixed stone fruits - nectarines and peaches. I think that was last week's selection. There was probably a red raspberry in that mix also because that list seems a package short.

Earlier in the summer we had purple raspberries - if you have never had these and you see them at a market BUY THEM. They are a cross between the red and the black raspberry and they are wonderful. Not exactly sweet and not quite tart, they are almost seedless and they are so smooth and delicate. Larger than either of their parental units, they are the most delightful shade of dark mauve. Sadly their season is now over.

Back to my manger, apparently if I am to ever have any hope of leveling a dessert of this sort, I shall have to mold it in a clear pan. I thought the manger was level until I flipped it from the mold. Then of course it looked like I created it on a slope. Aargh! I screamed (mentally) because I did not want my sister to take me to the mental hospital (no Not again). But, now I have decided that this shall not happen to me again. I can avoid this by careful planning and constant measuring. In the future, nothing gets the final nod of approval until I have measured it six ways to Sunday. I am sick of these desserts claiming they are ready to go only to show up uneven when they are unveiled. I will measure the pans top to bottom and side to side. I will have obedience from my food groups. Oh, my gosh, I feel so much better now that I have a plan. My evil food has been thwarted again! Take that you uneven dishes!
This week's recipe was selected by Susan. She has posted the recipe and far better photos at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewey go there and check them out if you don't believe me.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What are you nuts?

These were not the brownies I am used to eating. I am far more accustomed to a thicker cakier brownier. I often eat brownies while they are still quite warm fresh from the oven.

If you like to eat brownies in that condition these are not the brownies for you. But, if you wait until these are completely cooled they are quite tasty. Ultra thin, very rich and dense but good.

I only have one caveat - what's with all the nuts? One cup of nuts? I could, of course, have cut back on this quantity, but I almost never edit a recipe the first time I make it. This extreme quantity of nuts made me question if this recipe was actually a tribute to Kate Hepburn or a subtle manner of Dorie saying she thought Kate was just a tad nuts. I leave the distinction to your palette.

I found the nuts far less intrusive after the brownies cooled, but nonetheless next time I bake these, I will definitely cut back on the quantity I include. Otherwise, this is one quick and easy recipe.

My thanks to Lisa who has posted the recipe at her blog: Surviving Oz. Lisa is the winner of the contest to design a new logo for the Tuesdays with Dorie webpage - visit to see what a lovely design it is.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parisian Apple Tartletts

Oh, how I jealous I am of Jessica. I wish I had memories of eating something like this in Paris. I wish I had memories of eating anything in Paris, but alas, I have not visited the City of Lights so far. It's something to dream about.

Go to My Baking Heart, her blog, to see the full recipe for this incredibly easy, delicious and satisfying dessert.

I used Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry; I wanted to try the all-butter version, but I did not see it at the Fresh Market or Kroeger. I will try to stop by Trader Joe's tomorrow when I pick up my fruit and see if they have any. I can't justify the expense of Dufour and if Trader Joe's doesn't have their less expensive version, I'll probably do as many others did and make my own. Because, I am definitely making this again. It is like a sophisticated apple turnover - or should I say an open-faced apple turnover?

Next time I will probably add a little bit of spice to the brown sugar - maybe give the apples a light dusting of cinnamon sugar before I put them in the oven.

I used McIntosh apples. I generally eat Granny Smith apples, but I went with Dorie's suggestion of a sweeter apple. I can't even stand the thought of touching a Golden Delicious apple - I've never had one that wasn't mealy - so the Mac was as sweet as I could go. But, my gosh, what is with the apple growers? I don't want a ten-pound apple for a snack! I cut my apple into sixteen pieces and made four tartletts because a half an apple was just huge.

I had a good bit of pastry left over so I made myself a Nut Duo Tartlett with Nutella. I covered the dough with chopped walnuts and slivered almonds. Then I sprinkled on some brown sugar, cinnamon, and dabbed the top with a little butter. I baked it for about 20 minutes and after it came out of the oven I dabbed on about 2 tablespoons of Nutella. It smells divine and a couple of the nuts fell off so I munched on them. Delightful - gotta love a toasted nut.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cinnamon Squares

This was a really simple recipe to put together. I laid out most of the ingredients before I went to work this morning. Then when I came home this evening I added the liquid ingredients and put the cake in the oven. Mine baked in just about five extra minutes.

Time out for an advertisement. I purchased a new 8-inch square pan the other day. It is a brand called Magic Line . It has a cute little magic lamp - like a Genie's lamp on it. I love this pan. I used it tonight for the first time. Perfectly square sides and the pan has little lips that allow you to grab it when you want to take it out of the oven. Very handy. Available at Sur La Table and Amazon to name two. I got mine at Sur La Table.

I quite enjoy the taste of this cake, though I was a tad disappointed in my inability to make a delightful layer of chocolate, espresso and cinnamon sugar like Dorrie showed us. These slices are just acting. The ones in the next row over barely seemed to have a layer of the mixture at all, though all of the edges did bear the marks of the chocolate and espresso. I dusted the chocolate I used with flour before adding my chips to the batter, hoping it would keep them from sinking, but it was not entirely successful.
I would make this again in a heartbeat - for everyone but Debbie, who doesn't like cinnamon!
Visit Tracey at her blog to view the recipe (Tracey's Culinary Adventures) or you could just go way out on a limb and purchase Baking: From My Home to Yours and drown yourself in deliciousness!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chipster-Topped Brownies

How I manage to loose the charger or the transfer cord for my camera as frequently as I do is a mystery to me - but manage to loose them I do. Hopefully I will find that dratted charger soon - all I need is a flash of brilliance to remember where (or perhaps when) in God's name I last had it and I know I will remember where I stashed it!

Meanwhile, back at the farm, my camera is deader than a doornail! I shall cut my brownies shortly and save one in the freezer hoping to be able to capture it for posterity's sake before my chocolate cravings require me to consume it!

In a rare fit of organization I actually laid out all of the ingredients I needed for this recipe before I started - a total mise en place. I have no idea what came over me. It was quite exciting.

Once that was done this was an extremely easy recipe to follow and put together. My cookie layer appeared to be quite high when I first removed the brownies from the oven, but it has settled to some degree as the brownies have cooled. I think it is still fairly significant. Assuming the chips haven't burrowed down into the brownies (and appearances don't indicate this behaviour) I think I will be quite pleased with how the recipe turned out. I don't know how either layer tastes baked, but the batter for both (or either) was doggone tasty in the raw!

I took the advice of some of our other members and did bake the brownie layer for the few minutes it took me to put together the chocolate chip layer. I then baked the whole layer for 50 minutes more. I also tented the pan for the last 15 minutes or so. in aluminum foil. The cookie layer is a luscious shade of brown. Maybe one day you'll get to see that for yourself.

This recipe was selected by Beth who posted the recipe at her blog, Supplicious. Oddly enough, the recipe is also available in THE BOOK, I highly recommend you buy it.
Update! The lost sheep has returned. Turns out, my suspicions have once again been confirmed. I am a lousy housekeeper. The charger cord was in my computer room the whole time - buried under mounds of paper. If I ever disappear - just keep moving the piles of clothes or paper - I'm probably in there somewhere!
I enjoyed the taste of these brownies, but I did not find the layers to be individually distinctive. I don't know if it was because they were a couple of days old before I tried one or if it was because my chipster layer wasn't as thick as I originally thought it was or not. It was a very good brownie, but the chipster layer just seemed to be a crunchy sweet top that I was breaking through on my way to the brownie. I would/will make them again - but they did not make me swoon.

Fresh Mango Bread (5/19/09)

Like most of the "quick" breads in the book, this came together rapidly and easily. It was only quick in the preparatory sense however as it took well over an hour to bake.

It smelled fantastic as it was baking.

I don't care for mangoes personally so I just could not get into the idea of trying it. I took it to work and it was gone in a snap. My friend Kathy also tried a slice and she quite enjoyed it.

One of the ladies at work felt it had a ginger bread taste to it, but Kathy did not feel that was so. She really liked the pieces of fruit inside, though.

My lack of expertise with mangoes was obvious in my fruit selection. I chose two mangoes to ensure I would have enough diced mango to make two cups. The first mango I chopped was juicy and a deep orange color. It was so attractive I was slightly tempted to try the cake. However, my second choice was of second quality - at best. It was far from ripe, barely yellow and had no juice whatsoever. Having already cut into its flesh and having no other mangoes nearby I decided to go with it. My theory was that this mango would soften during the cooking process, though it might not add any juice or flavor to the bread/cake; it would also not detract from the flavor. That seemed to be proven by the response to the cake.

I won't be making this again unless I happen upon a stash of mangoes or get a specific request for it. It was easy enough and well liked enough - it just doesn't suit my palette.

Kelly chose this recipe and it can be found on her website, Baking with the Boys. Or you could buy the book - Baking from my home to yours.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pucker Up - Lemon Tart!!

I don't really know how much pucker this tart is going to produce, I haven't tried the finished product yet. It is still cooling down. I made it with Meyer lemons and I tried to remove as much pith as I could from the peel. I am hoping that I managed to capture the tartness of the lemon while avoiding the nasty bitter flavor of the pith. I do love lemon flavoring.
I was very excited when I made the crust for this tart because it actually came together for me and I did not end up putting piles of sand into the tart pan! Turns out that in the past I have not processed the dough long enough. I just could not believe I had to process the butter, flour and egg so long to get it to come together. I will probably switch to making the dough by hand. It doesn't seem right to process it for so long in the food processor. If I were doing it by hand I would not handle it for as long a period of time as I whirled it this evening. I just hope it tastes as good as it usually does. I used almonds in the base.
This is a fantastically easy recipe to make - as long as you follow Dorrie's suggestion to put a pan under the tart pan while it is baking. If I had not, I would have had one ungodly mess in my oven, because I definitely overflowed my tart pan.
I have my fingers crossed that this tastes tongue tingling tart because tomorrow I am going to pick up strawberries from my CSA and I think they will taste just fabulously with this tart. You'll read all about it here.
To see many other versions of this tart go to Tuesdays with Dorrie . Many thanks to Babette of Babette Feasts for choosing this week's recipe. She has posted the recipe on her blog, but you can own it by simply buying the book, Baking From My Home to Yours.
Post Eating Report: Well, first things first - did I mention this did "boil" up over the sides of the tart pan? Well, it did - and let me tell you -if in a pinch you need some really strong adhesive - try using baked on lemon tart filling. My GOD! I absolutely could not get the tart out of the pan.
I ended up slicing the pieces and serving them without the edge crust. They were a tad difficult to remove, until I cleared some space, and they looked so lonesome without the attractive fluted edge of crust . . . but they were very well received.
For me, they were way too mild in the lemon taste. I think this is the payoff from using Meyer lemons. I definitely like the recipe and I will try it again - with regular - really sassy lemons - and I will be sure to be wary of overfilling the crust. For me, it was just a nice tart with a hint of lemon, but most of the fellows who were trying it thought it had just enough lemon - what do they know?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


OMG, I think I found my favorite recipe. Lemon anything is my favorite flavor. But, when I go out tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts. I haven't tried a slice of the cake yet, but I do love this flavored whipped cream. I am not a generally a fan of sweetened whipped cream, but the bitterness of the espresso eliminates any sweetness the confectioners sugar has added to this icing.

I've made tiramisu with the ladyfingers before and though it was extremely easy, I wasn't crazy about it. The cookies were too soggy, the whipped cream wasn't flavorful enough. This promises to be just right - assuming the cake doesn't get too soggy overnight. We shall see.

I was/am a bit worried about the cake. I am not sure it rose enough. My layers are extraordinarily thin. It seemed pretty spongy when I pushed on it, so I will just have to wait and see. They were nice and even when they came out of the oven though, so I did not even have to do any leveling.

Like so many others, I am delighted that Megan of My Baking Adventures made this selection for us. She has posted the recipe on her blog, or you could buy the book - Baking From My Home to Yours.
Not only was this my favorite recipe so far, but it was apparently the favorite of my co-workers as well. Everyone who tried this cake absolutely loved it. Most people said something like, "What was that cake you made yesterday? My God, that was so good." Or, was that tiramisu? It was fantastic.
The next time I make it, I will use a heavier hand putting soaking the cake layers. I was afraid I would make them soggy, but they can take more liquid than I initially thought.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chocolate Overload

Last week I came home from work and made my bread pudding. I had planned to make my pudding early, but I purchased French bread for the pudding and then read on some others' blogs that this bread was not a good choice for the pudding. I had wanted to follow Dorrie's suggestions of Challah or Brioche but purchased the French in desperation because Panera had no other type of white bread available.

But, after reading of the dismal results others had with the French bread, I decided to try once more to find Challah or Brioche. So, back to the markets I traveled. This time the Fresh Market came through. But, now I was making the pudding on Tuesday evening and I was tired. I did not get home from work and my errands until after 8PM, I set to work immediately. The first thing I learned is that Challah is one heck of a lot lighter than French bread. I must have picked up a one pound loaf of Challah. It took almost the full loaf of Challah to make 12 ounces of cubes. It took three slices of the French bread to make 12 ounces.

Of course, I needed to "stale" up my Challah. Like a fool I put all of the cubes on one sheet pan and stuck that in the oven. This meant that rather than taking a few minutes to develop a tray of stale crusts it took me almost 45 minutes. Sometimes those little gray cells are just pasty white and totally uncooperative! Nevertheless I persevered and got the cubes looking very toasty.

I whipped up the chocolate custard with minimal fuss and I believe no eggy bits! I poured this over the bread cubes and commenced drowning my cubes. I fully expected all of the cubes to be brown by the time the pudding was finished soaking and baking. The cubes absorbed just about all of the liquid before I put the pan into the oven.

I took it out of the oven and was waiting for it to cool to room temperature so I could try a taste when the inevitable happened. Well, it is inevitable when you get to be my age. I fell asleep, I woke up around 1AM. I put some plastic wrap on the pudding, put in the refrigerator and called it a night.

The pudding was a smash hit at work. People who have been turning down my treats, because "I'm making them fat" were eager to try this dish. The pan was scraped clean in minutes. I'll definitely give this another try if ever my guests are craving bread pudding. Visit Lauren's Blog and find the recipe or buy the book.

My personal tastes lean more to tonight's selection, Chocolate Cream Tart. I made the filling last night and either I am the queen of pastry cream, or I need to watch my heat. That stuff came together so fast it made my head spin. I was literally dizzy standing there in front of the stove! It was extremely disconcerting.

On the other hand, this tart crust continues to elude me. It never comes together. I end up pouring dust into the tart pan and pressing it down. If it weren't for the melting butter turning the crust into one solid piece, I would have nothing to show for my efforts but a pile of flour and some lumps! I had this same issue the last time I made one of Dorrie's tart crusts. I obviously need a lot more practice with this recipe. It is just way too dry - and I use extra large eggs! I would probably have the Mojave dessert going on if I tried using an actual large egg! I wouldn't be able to see the food processor for the dust that would be getting kicked up!

(Tart Dust Prior to Baking when it will morph
into an actual crust - the magic of baking!!!)

I am going to combine all of the elements tomorrow morning and bring the pie into work. I don't want the dust/crust to get soggy. I will report back tomorrow on how it tastes. The crust looks fine now that it has melted into an actual crust and is no longer just a pile of non-cohesive ingredients. Sigh - pastry is usually one of my better areas of expertise - oh well - another area to improve on . . . sadly there are oh, so many!
Everyone loved this tart! Before I was finished slicing it Karl was back sneaking a second slice. His office is right next to the break room. He said being able to do that was his perk of location. I was very happy with the taste of the tart. I liked everything about it except for my utter failure at making the tart dough itself! It taste fine, it just doesn't come together for me.

I'll just have to keep practicing. I'm sure my friends at work, will
be willing to make the sacrifice and eat my trials - as long as the
errors continue to taste as good as this!

Thanks to Kim for choosing this recipe. She has posted the recipe on her blog Scrumptious Photography. Or as I said above, you could buy the book! I'll let you know how the pie was received tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

15 Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte

For today's recipe, please visit Holly at Phe/Mom/enon. What a great choice this was. I haven't had an official slice of the cake yet, but the crumbs and the glaze are fabulous! I am saving the cake for my "Whine and Cheese" party at work on Thursday. It is National Library Week and I wanted to have an event to celebrate, so I am having an open house.

We aren't allowed to spend any money, so I am generously giving away a few books I found in my storage area - I am way too kind! And, for refreshments I am making some snacks and supplying some cheese and crackers. I'm fairly confident my co-workers will be able to supply plenty of their own whine. If not, I have purchased the juice of the grape - Paul Newman's very own - the best Costco had to offer - and they can partake of that or get a cup of water from the bubbler - nothing but the best for one of my parties! I couldn't see the sense in eating the cake on Tuesday when I could get brownie points for it on Thursday, so I am saving it! It is quite the hardship, let me tell you, the crumbs are just divine.
This was a fabulous cake to make, once I found the cookies. As many folks mentioned in the P&Q, these were a bit difficult to find. Though in all honesty, I saw them in Starbucks quite early in the week. I just refused to give $5.95 for 1.76 ounces of cookies, after having read that Dorie said we needed 2.75 ounces. My mind wouldn't let me use that quantity of cookies and my pocketbook wouldn't let me buy two boxes!
My plan was to bake my own cookies, but with Easter on the calendar and visitors in the house that just wasn't happening. This was complicated by the fact that I came down with a vicious cold on Thursday and spent two days semi-conscious so time just really slipped away from me.

However, last night after knitting class I stopped by the Fresh Market and snagged these lovely little gems - $3.99 for 7 ounces. Interestingly enough, the ingredients list apricot kernals, not almonds as the key ingredient. They don't contain almonds at all. Yet, they taste overwhelmingly of almonds. Very strange.

I haven't decided yet if I am going to make the almond whipped cream or not. I probably won't since I am going to take the cake to work and the whipped cream would just be one more thing to carry.

I'm definitely going to add this cake to my list of fast desserts to have on hand for guests though. It's easy to make, if I keep these cookies in the freezer, I'll be able to whip it up on a moment's notice and it seems to taste great in any stage - warm from the oven, at room temperature or even chilled - life doesn't get much better than that.

Don't forget - all of the Tuesday with Dorie recipes and all of their variations can be found all in one place, the book. Baking from My Home to Yours - buy it, you'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Banana Cream Pie

I missed last week's recipe because I was on vacation. That worked out fine for me because I really don't like coconut. But, then I come back and find that this week we are making banana cream pie. Guess what else I really don't like? Yes, it is the banana, but I decided to persevere anyway.

Of course, Dinny Dimwit that I am, I forgot to chill my pie crust before baking it. Don't ever do that. If you do, it is going to shrink . . . A LOT! So, my photos look like kaka, and my crust could only hold two bananas.

I could not believe how fast the custard came together. First nothing was happening, the next thing I knew, I could barely move the whisk. I was petrified for a few minutes thinking I wasn't going to be able to smooth it back out but as I added the butter things began to improve.

The custard tastes very good and if the bananas were omitted this pie would be a definite keeper. But, the spices are off for me. To me they denote fall and a cream pie denotes summer, so I think the combination fights that dichotomy. I liked the custard, I think I would just try a different spice combination with fruit to make it seem more summery.

Amy from Sing for your Supper made this week's selection. The recipe can be found here or in the BOOK.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Cake

This week's recipe was selected by Sihan of Befuddlement. Though she did not feel her cake was a total success, I am delighted with her choice.
The only thing that displeased me about this recipe was the blueberries. First of all, what is with these darn people who package goods anymore? I expect to purchase blueberries by the pint or half-pint - or if we get really carried away, by the pound. I do not expect to pick up a "half-pint" container and learn that it has be "under-sized" to seven ounces! And, on top of that National Disgrace, I had to pay $3.50 for the tiny little thing!
Well, my sister did, she kindly picked the berries up for me and I kindly forgot to pay her for them. If you practice this, you will save a lot of money over the course of a year, but you will probably annoy the heck out of your siblings. My sister, of course, is a saint who never gets annoyed with me - she knows that is useless - I am incurable. She was calling these the gold-plated blueberries. I am happy to say that the berries themselves were quite nice.
The cake had a great rise, it was light and fluffy and I loved the hint of nutmeg in every bite. I would have liked my berries to be a bit more evenly distributed, they did sink to the bottom a good bit, but even with the undersized pint, there were plenty of them in the cake. And, do I love me some crumble crust? Yes, I do, and this one is great. I will be making this cake again . . . and again, and again...
Go to here to find the recipe on Sihan's site or BUY THE BOOK! Cooking From My Home to Yours by Dorrie Greenspan.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

French yogurt cake

Many thanks to Liliana of My Cookbook Obsession for selecting this week's recipe. I swear this cake comes together easier than a muffin does! It doesn't even require the KitchenAid - how weird!

Well, it comes together easily if you can find the darned marmalade! Click on the link to visit her website and see both her delightful mini-loaves and the recipe. Of course, you could just buy THE BOOK - Baking From my Home to Yours.

Dorrie suggests lemon marmalade. I could not find that in any of the stores I tried and did not want to battle the traffic to get to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. But, today I tried Ellwood Thompson, a local organic grocer, and found that they carry Pink Grapefruit Marmalade. I had resigned myself to making the cake with an orange marmalade glaze, but I so wanted to be exotic!

Yes, my life is truly so sad and boring that I feel finding grapefruit marmalade and using it in a recipe is an exotic thrill. I weep for myself, no need for anyone else to tear up.

Of course I paid no attention to my poor little camera yesterday when I was taking photos of the giant pileated woodpeckers that were trying to fell my tree so I did not realize I had drained its battery. I will update this post with a photo of the cake tomorrow and report on the taste then.
I read on a few of the other blogs that the cake tastes better the next day, anyway. See you next week.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of photos of the birds and the tree - just so you can see what two active beaks can do in about, oh, say 20 minutes:

Cake Update: Yum! Normally I am not much for jam in or on desserts. I was thinking just this morning of how I once heard Rosie O'Donnell say that she doesn't consider anything with fruit in it a dessert. Of course that is insane - fruit pies and cobblers are among my favorite desserts - but I am semi- in that ballpark with jams. Or I was until I tasted this cake. I am beginning to come to the jam side or at least the Pink Grapefruit Marmalade side! The cake itself had a very delicate taste of citrus, but my God, the smell was divine. It wasn't overpowering by any means but it was so tantilizing. The cake was moist and the marmalade was exquistely tart. I don't think much of orange marmalade, but I am totally keeping this stuff around from now!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lemon Cup Custard

I was very torn about this recipe. On the one hand, I lLOVE lemon flavored items. On the other hand, I am not especially fond of custard - especially custard that is flan-like in texture. I decided that my custard would be more pudding-like and commenced to blending.

After having read the various comments I knew that I needed to up the ante to get a more intense lemon flavor so I doubled the lemon zest - steeping the zest of one lemon for an hour to enhance that flavor and mixing the zest of another lemon into the sugar to brighten its flavor. I also used Fiori Di Sicili extract in the egg/milk mixture.

This all resulted in a very enticing delightfully scented custard. My custards baked in less time than I expected. I set the timer for 35 minutes, but I should have checked them at about 30. I think they are just a hair over done. I think they are more solid than they should be - they don't really have much jiggle left!

The tops actually seem to have a very slight skin, but underneath that they are very silky.

They have an initial eggy taste but then the lemon taste takes over - they are definite keepers and are super easy to whip up. I think I may give the espresso variation a try. Thanks to Bridget of the Way the Cookie Crumbles for making this selection. She has posted the recipe here or you could buy THE BOOK! Baking from my Home to Yours.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Caramel Crunch Bars

All I could think of when I was reading this recipe was those cookie/snacks you make by melting the butter over the saltines, then melting the chocolate chips on top and covering that with chopped nuts! I love that cookie/snack, but I am delighted to report that these Caramel Crunch Bars bear little resemblance to them!

It is so nice when a recipe can just about spring to life on its own. If not for the chopping of the chocolate I think everything could be ready for this recipe in about five minutes. If I weren't so anal about chopping finely I suspect most people could have it ready in ten or fifteen minutes. I am sure it took me about 30! On the other hand, I had chocolate dust to add to my batter. Which means my shortbread base is very chocolaty indeed!

I so wanted to use plain Heath(r) bits for this recipe but all I could find were the ones with that stupid milk chocolate attached to them. I used them anyway and my only regret with this recipe is not correspondingly reducing the chocolate on top to offset this.

At this point, my chocolate has still not set firmly, so perhaps in the morning the cookies will have a less prominent chocolate taste and the caramel taste will come through more cleanly. Right now, it is more like a buttery after-taste in your mouth. Delicious but subtle - not a bad thing at all - but I would like it to be a bit stronger.

And, of course, my bag of Heath(r) bits was more Heath(r) dust than bits so bars were not as clearly defined as Dorie's were. The bane of the photo - you so desperately want one so you know if your food came out properly than you berate your food if it doesn't match precisely.

These cookies are definite keepers - I only hope most of them make it to work so I don't keep them as added weight - something I definitely don't need - but I could easily eat the entire batch - and I did make the entire batch.

My thanks to Whitney of What's Left on the Table for choosing the recipe. You can find it on her website or in THE BOOK, pg. 112-113.

Devil's Food White-out Cake

I was so late finishing my cake last week that I never got it posted. I finished it about midnight but I was just too tired to comment on it and I hadn't tried it yet, so I decided to wait until this week to discuss the "Cover" girl.

We can thank Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater for finally making this fabulous choice. She has posted the recipe here or of course, you could buy THE BOOK and keep it forever as your very own!

I thought this was a really easy recipe. The cake came together with no problems whatsoever - I just got started late. I wasn't crazy though about the execution of the final decorating. I got too carried away with using up the crumbs. First off, let me say that I am not fond of vertical stick-ons! I hate smashing stuff into the sides of my cakes. Plus, my cake had so much icing on it, that when I smushed on the crumbs I ended up really whacking my cake out of shape!

Next time I make this cake, I will steal a little cake from the layers and save that to crumble delicately across the top of the cake, leaving the rest a pristine white!

Trust me, I'll have enough to ice four layers easily if my icing yield is anywhere close to what it was this time. I saw that a few bloggers felt this recipe did not produce enough icing. I can't imagine the size of their cakes or perhaps their icing just did not explode like mine did. I must say I love that reaction.

I looked in the bowl and the egg whites were whipping along, but not really taking up all that much of the batter bowl. Then I began pouring the stream of sugar syrup into the bowl. Poof! All of a sudden I was thinking, is this bowl big enough? Everything was fine, it did not overflow, but it was close to an inch from the top of the bowl. Apparently I know my stuff when it comes to marshmallow fluff! Too bad I don't like the taste of it! It is very pretty though.

I had so much icing remaining that I made eighteen cupcakes the next day and gave them the royal marshmallow fluff treatment and still had close to a pint of the white stuff left!

The cake was well appreciated by the folks at work. Some of whom tried to create a small mutiny by harrassing the folks who did not receive a slice of cake. Those folks did not recieve a cupcake the following day!