French Frdays with Dorie

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.