French Frdays with Dorie

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Devilish Shortcakes

Honestly - how can these be devilish when they taste so heavenly?  A question for the ages no doubt.  This is my kind of recipe.  It pulls together in minutes, fills the house with a divine smell and the taste lives up to the advance notice.  Excellent!

I made a half-batch.  Thank you to whomever posted about whipping a single egg, measuring its volume and then using half.  I have often wanted to halve a recipe that used one egg and was always too much of a coward to do so.  That idea is genius.

I ended up with six rather hefty shortcakes.  I don't care for fruit with my chocolate so I simply whipped up a small batch of coffee-flavored whipped cream and topped one with that.  Again, genius!

Tania made this choice.  I like her for that.  She has posted the recipe on her excellent blog - Love Big, Bake Often.  You can find the recipe there or of course, find it in the best place - your copy of Baking from my Home to Yours.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Coffee-Break Muffins

I loved this recipe.  I don't know why I am so in love with the more simple recipes lately,but such is the case.  I am delighted with how easy this recipe was to mix together.  I forgot to set the timer when I put these in the oven and it seemed like seconds later when I smelled them, tested them, and found them to be perfectly baked.  They rose tall and proud in their little muffin papers.  I popped them out of the pan a heartbeat later and fiftee minutes later was eating my first one.  Okay, my first TWO.  Yum.  As I look at them I think, bran muffin - that is just what they looked like to me - but oh the flavor.  I don't think this one needs any add-ins - but if you tossed in some chunks of chocolate - I would catch them.  I think I would only want one then as an afternoon coffee break, but I would still want one.  The crumb was light and delicate - these are serious keepers.

Visit Chocoholic Anonymous to see Rhianna's take on this recipe - or buy the book NOW before we start French Fridays - if you wait until then you will be two books behind. That is no doubt a criminal offense.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cranberry Upside-Downer

Is this cake in the quick breads section of the cookbook?  It definitely has the best attributes of a quick bread - easy to mix, quick to bake, delicious to eat.  I snagged a fair amount of cranberries this past season and froze them.  I have been on pins and needles waiting for an excuse to use them.  Thanks so much Sabrina, you gave me the reason I have been wanting!

I'm so glad Dorie suggests cranberries for this upside-down cake.  I have never cared much for a pineapple upside-down cake.  I am not overly fond of cooked pineapple - I really only like fresh pineapple.  I sometimes used canned pineapple - carrot cake and coleslaw - but mostly I just avoid it!  At any rate, this is so much better than the pineapple version.

First of all, the cranberries make it so festive looking.  I dug mine out of the freezer and poured them into the pan atop the melted butter.  They looked so doggone festive!  I was a bit disappointed by how much they cook down - but such is life - cooked fruits are flatter than their raw counterparts.  I am learning to live with this staggering disappointment.  A few more slices of cake and you should be able to roll me right into a happy place.

I was worried a smidgen  because the recipe mentioned nothing about cooling the cake.  It just said, take it out of the oven, loosen it from the sides of the pan - and flip it.  If some berries come off the top, just scoop them back onto the cake.  If a few cranberries stick?  I think we have a slight typo here - surely it is supposed to say something more like this: "Loosen the cranberries that are stuck to the pan with a spatula and carefully place them back atop the cranberry upside-downer.

The entire bottom of my pan was covered with stuck-behind pieces of cranberries.  No worries - I scooped them up and lay them back on the cake - voila! - crisis avoided.  Not having any current jelly on-hand, I skipped the cake glazing step.  I am all about the natural look anyway, so I am satisfied with eliminating this step.

I let the cake cool completely before I tried it.  I would have loved to have tried it when it was still warm, but I was too full from my lunch at that moment.  It is quite tasty at room temperature. 

I was slightly worried about flipping the cake onto the plate without letting it cool for any length of time in the pan.  I was afraid it would be soggy.  Happily, it was not, it was light moist and delicious!  Excellent choice Sabrina.  You can see the recipe at her blog Superfluous or you could own them all by simply buying the book!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Criss Cross

Yeah, more cookies!  Love that.  I put together a half-batch of the dough this morning before I went to work.  It was very soft when it went into the refrigerator and it was firm, but by no means hard, this evening when I baked a few off.

I baked a small sampling of the cookies - a mere dozen!  I shall enjoy these for the next few days.  I plan to roll out the rest and flash freeze them.  They will then be placed in a Ziploc bag for future baking.  I think I need to flatten them with the forks before I freeze them.  I don't know if I will roll them into the sugar first or not.  I think it will be a waste of time to take that step as I would anticipate the dough absorbing the sugar while it is in the freezer.  I'll ponder that option deeply before proceeding.

After I bake them I plan to fill them with some chocolate ganache I have in the freezer. I think peanut butter chocolate ganache sandwiches will be indescribably delicious!

I liked these cookies quite a bit.  It is funny, isn't it?  I think that if a peanut butter cookie does not have a cross-hatch design on the top that it is less of a cookie.  Some traditions should never be ignored!

It took me about five minutes to pull together the dough - including peanut butter measurement - so I am quite pleased with this recipe.  Jasmine Cuisine selected this recipe and she has posted it here or you can find it in the Book on page 78.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chocolate Espresso Shortcake

I made my first post to this group in September 2008. I could not imagine that there would still be recipes left to select almost two years later, but oh there were! And, finally, faster than I had actually imagined, especially for a day I thought would never come, I was choosing the recipe for this fabulous group.

Because I love, chocolate, coffee and shortbread, I thought there could be no better for selection for me than the Espresso Chocolate Shortbread (found on page 125). As I was looking over my blog, I remembered shortbread was the first recipe selected from the book - and the first throw-back I baked. So, what could be more perfect? Nothing. I loved the simplicity of the ingredient list for this recipe. I loved the ease with which the ingredients came together and ultimately I loved the flavor as well.

I knew that I would be choosing a cookie recipe because I love cookies. Generally easy to pull together and then you have a snacking dessert available to you. I debated a few of the remaining recipes in the side of the plate cookie section, but ultimately was drawn to the one that expressed so many of my loves - coffee - chocolate - shortbread. What could go wrong?

I lined the ingredients up for their beauty shot and set to mixing.
I had minor issues rolling out the dough. The batter is flecked with the small delicious pieces of bittersweet chocolate - chopped by the food processor because I chopped my chocolate - painstakingly by hand earlier and then lost it!

Ultimately, I feel I rolled the dough out too thin, but they worked. My only issue was that sometimes my dough would crack as I was trying to cut neat little squares. Speaking of that, I ask forgiveness in advance - straight lines and I are not the best of friends. It must be like that simple math gene. Mine is just slightly wonky - so despite using a straight-edged ruler, I still have (for the most part) rectangles, not squares.

And, apparently I have also lost my ability to read simple sentences because I misread the section about creating holes with the tines of a fork. Dorie said to prick the dough twice with the tines of a fork, ensuring that the tines completely pierced the dough. I read that to be pierce the dough two times with a fork tine. Not having any single or double-tined forks, I used a bamboo skewer to create two holes in my dough. Not a terminal error by any means, but definitely a stupid one!

None of my stupidity however, impacted these little darlings. They do mix divinely with a cup of coffee. They aren't too bad just by themselves - though they do lead one to desiring a beverage. All in all, I am quite pleased with my selection. A bit of time - but for the most part that is hands-off chilling time. And, the result is fine - very fine.

Esspresso Chocolate Shortbread
Makes 32 cookies

I NEVER tire of the satisfying combination of espresso and chocolate and am always pleased when I think of another way to use it. Stirring some instant espresso into a classic shortbread dough and then adding bits of bittersweet chocolate transforms a traditional cookie into a modern treat with an edge.
If you’re new to making shortbread, take a look at the pointers on page 124.

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or ¾ cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)
Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.
Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9-x-10½ -inch rectangle that’s ¼ inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife cut the dough into 1½-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale – they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.
If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.

Variation: OATMEAL SPICE SHORTBREADS: omit the espresso, boiling water and chopped chocolate. Reduce the flour to 1½ cups, and whisk it together with 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. Once the butter and confectioners’ sugar are well beaten, add the vanilla, then the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

I made this variation as well. Mostly because I knew others would and as hostess I felt I should know what they were going to encounter. These mix together as easily as the espresso chocolate does - easier in fact - as there is no chocolate chopping involved.

However, they do not pack quite as much as a flavor punch as the others do. They are all right - certainly not a cookie to turn your back on - but also not one for which to cross the street. I think these might be improved with a simple cinnamon sugar dusting as they go into the oven, but I did not think of that until I after I made them plain.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Oatmeal Breakfast Bread - Make that Muffins

When I saw the instructions calling for a loaf I just wasn't feeling it. So, I decided to do muffins instead. I am so glad I did. This made eight or nine, I've forgotten now, giant Texas-sized jumbo muffins.

The ingredients just whipped together in a heartbeat and they were all standard pantry items.

I baked them for about 26 minutes and they were light and moist with a delicate, delicious strusel topping. I might elect to include nuts in the body of the muffins the next time I bake them or include a few oak flakes in the strusel.

I took them with me to work and they were gobbled up right away. Thanks Natalie for making this wonderful selection. The recipe is posted at Oven Love. But. by now, you really should have purchased the book!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart

I was actually ahead of the game this week having made this tart a couple of weeks ago. I found the tart shell to be as delicious this time as it was the first time I made it. I could have easily eaten nothing but the shell and been pretty happy.

But, I do love peaches, so adding them to the mix made me very happy. I have gotten peaches a couple of times in the share from my fruit CSA so I had them handy. I felt they were a bit smaller than Dorrie suggested so I used an extra one in the tart. Nevertheless, I still felt their appearance was a bit lacking. They tasted fabulous, but I felt the proportion of custard to peach was too high.

It wasn't that the custard wasn't tasty. As custards go, this one is quite nice. It is not overly eggy and it certainly came together easily. I just prefer more fruit to the custard.

I spread my struesel over the entire top of the tart and have seen in the photos of several others that they limited the spreading to the custard area. That made for a very attractive tart. My custard had sort of taken over the entire pan, so that wasn't a viable option for me, but it is definitely something I am going to try and emulate the next time around.

Rachel of sweet tarte made this very excellent selection for the group - Brava!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

Smooth, creamy, decadent - all adjectives I saw on other people's blogs. But, I thought to myself - they won't be applying to your rendition of this treat! Nice to be so wrong, I must say. If I could have an issue with this recipe, I did.

I did not get the custard made yesterday because I found out I had no milk - or rather I had milk, but it had expired about a month ago. I did not even want to open that carton to pour that sludge down the drain, but I did.

So, I was going to go to the store this morning and grab some milk and some more dark chocolate. Then when I awakened this morning I felt like death warmed over and it took me until after 2PM to get myself together enough to face the inferno that has become the norm for our weather this summer. I got back home sometime around 3:30 and started pulling together the recipe.

I was chopping the chocolate while the 3/4 cup of cream heated - no make that - overheated. Do you know how disgusting the stove gets when you boil over heavy cream? No? Lucky you - first of all it stinks and secondly it is difficult to remove from the burner rings.

Second batch, came out just fine. I added it to the whipped eggs slowly and steadily. I then strained this mixture back into the pan to ensure no scrambled eggs were happening. That plan appeared to be successful. However, my custard was very fluffy. I had about two inches of foam atop the custard base. I kept stirring it expecting it to melt down. No, such luck. I finally put a thermometer into the pan because I could not tell if the mixture was thickening.

When it reached the proper temperature I poured it into the ganache. Do you want to know what looks really foul? Scrambled chocolate eggs! What a disaster, this stuff looked so repugnant I almost tossed it down the drain immediately. Instead, I strained it into a new bowl and transferred it to the fridge.

After several hours I checked it - it seemed to be cool - but it did not seem to be smooth. Figuring all I would be wasting was a little electricity and some time, I went ahead and transferred it to the ice cream maker's bowl.

Imagine my shock and delighted surprise when some 30 minutes later I had smooth, creamy, decadent chocolate ganache ice cream! I don't know what I was doing wrong all day to have so many annoying experiences during the ice cream making process, but the end result was worth every annoying second. My friend Debbie is going to love this stuff - she is THE chocolate expert! Thanks for making this choice, Katrina - go to her site - Baking with the Boys for the recipe or of course, you could Buy The Book!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Junior's Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

A couple of months ago my brother asked me if I could bring my mixer with me and come to his house to make him a cheesecake. He had purchased a copy of the Junior's (from NY) cheesecake cookbook. His reading of the book led him to believe it was best made with a stand mixer and he and his wife do not own one.

I told him that would not be possible as I cannot carry my mixer by myself. However, my sister can move hers and I would ask her to bring it to his house the next time I was up in DE. He considered this for awhile and then decided the best thing to do would be to send me the cookbook and have me make the cheesecake for him when he next time came to Richmond.
I got the book and shortly thereafter saw the recipe he wanted. The man has a serious chocolate habit! Junior's cheesecakes are made on a spongecake base. In this case, the base was a chocolate sponge.

The creamy center is also a chocolate base - 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, I might add! My brother was in charge of the chocolate chopping. He is an extremely good chopper. The top of the cake is covered in what Junior's refers to as a fudge mirror and then you make a web of chocolate strips across the top. We used a combination of dark and white chocolate for the webbing. More chopping for the brother! Our web was a little thick due to imprecise cutting of the piping baggie, but nevertheless, I think it looked quite pretty.
This is one massive cake. It says to use a nine inch pan. If you do, it better be at least four inches high. My pan is three inches high and our far cake surpassed that height. Eventually it would be only three inches high, but that was due to an unfortunate incident.
Junior's gives you very precise directions to obtain a perfectly smoothed top cake. I tried to follow those instructions precisely. However, the first oddity I noticed was the sponge itself. I found it to be extremely difficult to blend the chocolate half into the egg whites. I decided not to worry about it and baked the cake. All looked fine, until as the cake cooled it began to pull away from the sides. I knew that meant the bottom of the cake would be a bear to remove from the tray, but you can't fix that midstream.
I then mixed the main batter according to the game plan. All went well, except as I was filling the cake pan, I realized there was a lot of batter. Everything else had been so precise I decided this cake would not rise as most others do. I went ahead and put all the batter into the pan. I have been baking for over 40 years, by now I should know to trust my judgement, but no, I had to listen to the damn recipe. Curses upon my anal little head and its insistence to follow a recipe exactly on the first go-round.

Sure enough as the cake baked it began to rise far above the heights of the pan's sides. I watched through the window nervously for the batter to collapse over the side and fall into the water bath. It remained stable until the time came to test the cake for doneness. I gave it the Junior's test and it appeared to be baked.

Hah! Not so much. As I tried to remove the pan from the water bath without soaking my pot holders I tipped the pan - the layer of batter that had come over the top of the pan was in fact nicely baked. Unfortunately some two inches of it below the pan's sides were still molten liquid chocolate. Slosh over the side and into the water bath - thank God for the water bath - it captured the overflow. It looked disgusting, but at least the mess was contained.

I was quite dismayed about what this was going to do to our smooth cake, but felt I had no choice but to reinsert the cake into the oven. I sent it back to Hades for I believe another 20 minutes or so. With the mess the edges were now in, I knew that removing this cake from the pan was not going to be pleasant. In fact, it was not as horrible as I feared. There was a slight crust formed around the very top edge and I had to do some creative carving to get the cake to release, but overall it came out pretty nicely. The top had a slight indentation, but nothing a little swirl of whipped cream wouldn't cover. The indentation made application of the chocolate mirror slightly difficult, but considering the cavern I expected it was not too daunting.

We let the cake chill appropriately and then we cut into it. As you can see the slices looked quite delectable. Even I, who can chow down on an excessively rich dessert with the best of them, did not want a large slice of this cake. My brother gifted me with the cookbook because as he said, you'll be the one baking them for me! So, now I have this little gem in my hands. I told him I would be happy to make additional cakes for him, but I am not making the same cake every time he comes to visit. Then again, this is the first time he's been down in years, so who knows, maybe by his next visit I will be ready to try and defy death by chocolate once again!

Obviously the next time I bake a Junior's cake I will listen to my instincts and not overfill the pan. I think I will also use my own sponge cake recipe as I found theirs to be a tad dry. I'll do theirs one more time to ensure I did not mix it improperly, but it was much more time consuming than my old stand-by from the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.

I also love that the Junior's cookbook has recipes for individual cakes, made in muffin tins, so I am going to try for them the next time. It will make sending home the extras so easy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gingered Carrot Cookies

Whipped these cookies up after I got home from work today. What an easy recipe to pull together. I agree with Paula, these are nothing like mini-carrot cakes. They are delicious but very different from a carrot cake.

I would not have said they were especially scone-like, but I can't come up with an alternative suggestion, either. I think they are far lighter in texture than the average scone - even my home made scones tend to be a bit drier than these are. I do love scones and make them often. I think my best description would be a cross between the texture of a scone and cake - a cake with the texture say of pound cake.

I quite like the taste - not exactly savory - but definitely not overly sweet. I prefer rich desserts to sweet ones, so that totally works for me. I got 36 cookies - I could have easily made them smaller and gotten closer to 60, but they are not gigantors - just a good size. Also I found them to be exactly as trustworthy as Dorie said - no massive spreading, so I could bake more on one sheet than I normally do.

Over all, an excellent choice by Natalia, she has posted the recipe here. Natlia - congratulations on the new job, it sounds so interesting.
Hah, almost forgot, you know I skipped the coconut, we don't need to keep beating that poor dead horse! I subbed about 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds for the missing coconut and added a few more nuts to as well. I used untoasted walnuts in these because I left them lying on the counter after baking last week and I was too darn lazy to get out the pecans! Of course, you already knew I was lazy the nuts were on the counter for a week!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chewy, Chunky Blondies

So, I think I may have mentioned a time or ten thousand that I do not like coconut - so you know I substituted something else for that evil being! In this case I tossed some peanut butter chips in with the chocolate chips, heath bar pieces and nuts. May I just say this was not my brightest decision? I forgot how sweet the heath pieces would be and adding the peanut butter chips just gave it a bit too strong of a nudge into the overly sweet world.

It also hindered the baking process a bit as well. I tested the bars at 35 minutes - dead center and they registered totally baked. Out of the oven they came, a fifteen minute rest and flip - then splat as a third of the pan of brownies slid off the rack and onto the counter. I am grateful they hit there and not on the floor. What a doofus! I always check my baked goods in multiples spots - except of course - for the one time the darned things are underdone!

Oh, well, nothing a bench knife couldn't cure! Oddly enough the other end of the blondies was perfectly fine. Live and learn, live and learn. As you can see from this photo, they just collapsed onto themselves in a temporarily molten pile of hot cookie dough. They are now headed for the great big garbage dump in the sky!

I still prefer my bar cookies to be rich, dense, brownies, but these were fine. If I am baking for a non-chocolate addicted audience I could pull these into the fray. They were easily mixed up, took a fairly short time to bake and were enjoyed by all of my fellow knitters tonight at the community knitting group.
Nicole of Cookies on Friday chose this week's excellent recipe. Go to her blog to view the recipe or finally give in and buy the book!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tarte Noire

I am so far behind in my posting, I am actually ashamed! I have been baking fairly regularly, but for some reason I just haven't felt like posting. I'm going to try and bring this blog up to date and stay focused, wish me luck.

I cheated a bit with the tarte noire. I used a store bought crust for this endeavor. I made a couple of mini-tarts and have the extra ganache in the fridge - I will be moving it to the freezer tomorrow.

This was such a delightfully easy treat to make. It would be divine with using one of Dorrie's crusts - but it was no slouch with the roll and bake version, either.

The ganache came together with no effort to speak of and the flavor was just luscious. This is an easy elegant desert, one I plan to remember for the chocoholics in my world. Great choice Dharmagirl.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tender Shortcakes

These are fabulous. So easy to pull together and so tasty. They are truly tender and flaky. I loved them with a mix of berries. I used black raspberries, red raspberries and blueberries. Topped with some freshly whipped cream --- yummmm!

Everytime I eat a dessert like this I am shocked when I remember that Rosie O'Donnell used to say that if it had fruit in it she did not consider it a dessert - I pity her.

I made a half-batch of these lovelys. Expecting to get ten from a full batch, I insisted on making five. However, they were a tad on the large side - woe is me - I have to eat a bigger dessert. Boo Hoo. I am having tea with/for some friends on Sunday and I believe mini-versions will be making an appearance.

Go to Cathy's site, the Tortefeaser to view the recipe or make the leap and buy the book!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

White Chocolate Brownies

Boring - at least to me. Now, I confess, I did slightly modify the recipe. First of all, I only made an 8 * 8 batch. I don't much care for white chocolate, so I failed to see the sense in baking a full batch. Secondly, I skipped the meringue. Instead, I made a glaze and coated the top with that. I flavored said glaze with orange juice to heighten the flavor obtained from the zest used with the sugar. Brilliant! Well, at least it was an adequate idea - no - it was scathing brilliant, if I do say so myself.

I baked the brownies for approximately 35 minutes and might have baked them just a few minutes too long. They were a touch brown around the edges, but at 24 minutes they looked like soup in the middle and I prefer to err on the side of well-done.

I found the raspberries to be a bit intrusive - not the flavor - my raspberries were as usual - fabulous (courtesy of my Agriberry fruit share - they taste like fruit on steroids - anyone in central VA should really join this CSA). Their intrusion took the form of serious dents in the batter. I had visions of a glaze similar to that on a Napolean. I was going to glaze the tops of the brownies and then draw a design with raspberry coulis.

But, then I glazed the brownies and the raspberry dents looked like nail heads poking out of drywall, so I skipped the coulis and just left them alone. I was a bit surprised by how thin the brownies were, but of course, mine were not enhanced by the meringue layer.

For some odd reason they were very moist on the bottom. I don't know if the rack they cooled on was too close to the counter top or if the fruit allowed excess juice to seep into the batter. I lean more towards condensation during cooling.

They did not taste soggy - but they were quite sticky on the bottom. I'm a traditionalist, as it turns out. For me, it isn't a brownie unless it is brown! I loved the ease with which these came together, but in the future I'll be using brown chocolate to make my brownies.

Thanks for picking this one Marthe - I wouldn't have tried it on my own. Find the recipe at Culinary Delights or in the book.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sweet Cream Biscuits

Hands down this has to be the simpliest recipe of Dorie's that we have ever made. A fork and bowl were the only tools I needed (beyond my measuring cups/spoons). What did it take? Five minutes to pull the dough together? I love that in a recipe.

It seems that numerous people had some trouble with their biscuits not rising as much as expected. I don't know if I have lower expectations than others do or if I just got lucky, but I was quite pleased with how my biscuits looked and even more importantly, how they tasted.

I did not get a lot of biscuits from the dough, I think ten, but they were just fine for me. They were delicious hot - I had a couple with my potato soup - killer combo - and I had two for lunch today. The ones I ate today were stone cold and they were still damn good. These were a very light biscuit - I thought they might taste a tad more like scones than they did, but they were great just as they were.

I brushed the tops with a little of my left-over cream before baking them and I think that helped color the tops. I think I will add a touch more salt the next time I make them, but otherwise I was 100% happy with how these turned out.

These fantastic biscuits were selected for us by Melissa of Love at First Bite. You can find the recipe on her blog or you could be smart and buy the Book!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Swedish Visiting Cake

What a delightfully simple recipe this turns out to be. Dorie mentions something about ten minutes to bring the recipe together. Usually for me that ends up meaning 30 minutes or more. But, today, ten minutes or less. Another half-an-hour for baking a few minutes to cool and voila - dessert is served.

The cake is moist, rich and delicate. I was unable to flip my cake from the skillet so am serving it au natural - this is no hardship. My skillet was a bit wider than nine inches so my cake is corresponding thinner than might be expected, but it is still very nice. I baked mine for just under 25 minutes and it is perfectly baked. I got a little carried away sprinkling sugar on the top, but that is a minor error.

I may try the apple slice version Dorie highlighted or I may try a different blend of extracts the next time I make this cake. I will definitely bake it the next time I want a quickie non-chocolate dessert. Kudos to Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs for selecting this week's recipe. As she notes on her blog - you can't go wrong buying the Book.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake

I seem to be on a roll these days. This week I very carefully measured all of my ingredients, mixed the batter, swirled to a (no doubt) delightful pattern and inserted the cake in the oven. At that point, I turned around and saw the damnable vanilla smirking at me from the countertop!

Aargh! Bat rastard! Out of the oven came the cake. I poured the vanilla over the top and as gently as possible incorporated it into the batter. With my fingers crossed - my God are they cramped after an hour in that position! - I waited to taste the result.

As I feared there are places where the vanilla did not incorporate very well and they taste a bit strange. However, that is just once in a blue bite. Overall, I am quite pleased with this cake. It is extremely moist and both layers are delicious. And, I am shocked to say that my marbling seems to have survived its harrowing experience. Look - I think it is Thomas Jefferson - why oh why did I eat that slice? I could have easily sold that on E-bay and made my fortune. Poor planning, definitely poor planning.

I used my European butter in this cake and I don't know if it accounts for the delightful taste of the white layer, but that layer is really good. I wasn't happy with my ground walnuts. I spun them around, in my food processor, until I feared I was creating walnut butter, but the pieces were still very visible in the batter. They were not so visible in the cake itself, however.

The chocolate layer turned out perfectly baked as well. Erin chose this week's recipe. You can find her version at When in Doubt Leave it at 350. Once you have your very own special copy of The Book, you can find this recipe on pages 180-181.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Coconut Tea Cake

When I saw Dorrie's suggestion that we bake this cake in our Kugelhof pans I gave a small cheer. This makes the second or third time that I have used this pan in the 15+ years I have owned it. Truth be told I've probably owned it for closer to 25 years. I'm pretty sure I bought it when I lived in MD and that was 17 years ago. Time definitely flies.

Alas, when I attempted to remove the cake from the pan it stuck again! I had the same problem with my Kugelhof. This is extremely frustrating, but it was the only issue I had with this recipe. Well, the second issue - the first one involved my memory - or lack thereof. I made this coconut cake without the coconut! I measured it out and then promptly finished mixing the batter and pouring the cake into the pan without ever adding the coconut to the batter. Oh well, I don't like coconut away, so for me that was a plus.

Without the nasty flakes of coconut this cake is not half bad. It still has a mild coconut flavor, from the milk, but it is not overwhelming and you don't have those little flakes sticking to your mouth to gross you out!

Unlike Dorrie I pretty much always think a cake is better with some form of icing. I did not do this, but I think this cake would be very interesting if it were split and filled with lime or lemon curd. Then a thin glaze made with the juice of a lime or lemon would be a very nice addition, I think.

The cake was very moist and all of my tasters were very pleased with what they felt was a delicate hint of coconut.

Our friend, Carmen of Carmen Cooks selected this recipe and has it posted on her blog. You can also find the recipe in the Book!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dulce de Leche Duos

Yum. I contemplated ending my post at Yum, but that is just not like me - way too concise. On target, but too concise.

I am very VERY fond of dulce de leche. I purchased some from Amazon several months ago and I have made it by boiling the can of condensed milk as well. I am not sure which I prefer - they were both thick and luscious.

I was quite concerned that my cookies would not be round enough to sandwich, but in fact they turned out quite nicely. I used a regular spoon to scoop mine and some of them were on the large side. I think I ended up with just under 60. My cookies turned out very thin and somewhat dark - I like a well-done cookie so that works for me.

I used the remainder of my jar of dulce de leche to fill most of the cookies, but I ran out of leche before I ran out of cookies. I filled the remainder with Nutella. I actually wasn't crazy about that combination. I found it difficult to spread a very thin layer of Nutella and I think it overpowered the caramel taste of the cookies themselves.

I adored the scent of this dough before I formed the cookies and found that baking the cookies a tad more enhanced this flavor.

Excellent choice for this week by Jodie. She has posted the recipe here and of course you can also find it in the book!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thumbprints for Us Big Guys

These cookies remind me very much of the Linzer Sables we made a few months ago. This could be because I made mine with ground almonds instead of ground hazelnuts - but I am certainly not complaining about the similarity.

I was shocked by the recipe - could there truly be so few ingredients? No eggs - no liquid, other than the piddling little extracts? Careful rereading showed this to be true. So, I beat and blended and was happily surprised. I suppose I could have done a better job of blending in the nut/flour combo - some of my cookies were rather dry when I was forming them - but all of them (at least the ones I have tried so far) have been excellent to taste. One of the cookies was so dry it just fell apart while cooking. It was, because of this, far more brown the other cookies. As I expected, I liked this very much. Hey - I eat singed toast it should not be a surprise.

I made my cookies a tad on the larger size at first and then realized how low my yield would be so on the last two sheets I made the cookies considerably smaller. I ended up with about 52 cookies, so I did all right in that regard.

I have never made thumbprint cookies before and was wary of pushing a hole through the dough. This concern caused me to make my initial holes too shallow and while baking the cookies rose to make the indentation very faint. While they were cooling on the sheets I went back through them and pushed the dough down to make a deeper indentation. That worked quite well and on the last batch I did much better.

When I was younger my mother would make a cookie called the split second which is very similar to this cookie. There is some difference in the amounts of butter, flour and sugar used, but the recipes are very similar. The main difference between the split second and thumbprint is that you take your split second dough and separate it. You then form each section of dough into a log. Then you press an indentation into the log and fill that indentation with jam. I don't remember my mother ever heating the jam - and these cookies were filled before baking. They are sliced on the diagonal when they come out of the oven. They look like little jewels when they are done. She always said the name came from the speed with which the cookies came together. I found this photo of those cookies on the Taste of Home website.

Jam-filled treats are not my favorite but I filled these with some fantastic blackberry preserves and some three-fruit marmalade so they are rather tasty. I tried melting some chips into one batch (as Dorie did for the small guy thumbprints) but they did not really melt. I think I will make a ganache tomorrow and refill those cookies. I would also like to try some made with a different extract (other than the almond) and fill the cookies with a correspondingly flavored jam. And, of course, I deeply regret not filling any of these with lemon curd. I did think about it, but decided to stick with the fillings I previously discussed. Lemon curd would have been so much more successful than the chips.
This week's recipe was selected by Mike and can be found at his Ugly Food website. Despite his protestations I am not buying that he is, in fact, an ugly dude. All of the recipes are neatly organized and contained in BFMHTY, a book all should own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dorie's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

I omitted the nuts from my cookies as my sister prefers her cookies blank. I then ended up with cookies that spread an inordinate amount across the pan. I am not sure if I made some other type of error or if the nuts hold the dough together longer.

The dough might have benefited from a visit to the freezer or the refrigerator, but I baked them right after mixing the dough. Next time I will try giving them the cold shoulder for a little while before I bake them up. I believe I may also take Dorie's suggestion and put some ready to bake balls in the freezer for some upcoming chocolate chip emergency. An actual cookie would satisfy that need so much better than a handful of chips!

Their appearance is simply an aesthetic issue, however, the cookies themselves are very good. I baked the first batch for 12 minutes, the next for eleven and each subsequent batch for 10 minutes. I already know I prefer my goods darker than does Dorrie and the color of my cookies reflects that.

I used a combination of chocolate disks and various left-over chips for the chocolate and was happy with how that turned out as well. The cookie portion is crisp and buttery and the chips are plentiful. Combine this with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea or an ice-cold glass of milk and you have a great snack.

This week's recipe was selected by Kaitlin and is posted on her website. Or, of course, you can find it in Baking From My Home to Yours.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mini Milk Chocolate Bundt Cakes

I made these last night in my Pampered Chef mini-bundt pan - six wells. It produced some incredibly thin bundt cakes. So thin, that I am tempted to make ganache and sandwich it between two of the cakes!

So, today I made the cake again, but this time I used only four of the wells. Apparently this cake compresses quite a bit as it cools because once again, the cakes are thinner than I expected. They looked like they filled the mold when I took it out of the oven, but after five minutes of cooling they had pulled away from the sides and were about 1/4 - 1/2 inch lower than earlier. They are cute, I will give them that.

They were also very easy to put together. My only dilemma was the milk chocolate. Personally I never eat milk chocolate and at first I thought I would not have any in the house. Then I remembered that I had purchased a large bar from Trader Joe's a few weeks ago. I pulled it out and fortunately had just enough for both batches.

I topped the cake with some leftover peanut butter frosting that I had on hand. It was leftover from some peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes I made last week. The chocolate flavor was extremely mild, so the peanut butter flavor was far more pronounced. I also dusted one with confectioner's sugar for its photo op.

I liked the "swirl" addition - I used the nuts and cocoa. However, since my cakes were so thin, it was more like a crust than a swirl. I will definitely bake these in a smaller pan the next time - or I will double the batter for the not so mini-bundts I have.

The cake was nice and moist, though the outside was a bit dry. I attribute that to the thinness of the cakes, it was not unpleasant.

You can find the recipe at Kristen's blog, I'm right about everything or in the Book!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

Apparently January is not going to be my favorite month for recipes. Last week our recipe was Mrs. Vogel’s Scherben, I skipped this because it was described as tasting like the fried dough from county fairs. The repulsive, so must be avoided, funnel cake. I also did not want to deal with a large quantity of grease.

In lieu of the Scherben I elected to make a recipe from the past - Dorrie's marshmallows. I have made marshmallows a couple of times in the past so I thought I knew what to expect. But, I was disappointed, these marshmallows were not nearly as fluffy as the ones I made previously. To go with them, I made some of Ina Garten's hot chocolate. Turns out once I put the marshmallows into the hot chocolate, I couldn't stomach the sweetness!

I made the cappucino flavored marshmallow - this was my first attempt at a flavored marshmallow. They are a nice color and they have a nice background flavor. However, I was not impressed with the yield, with their strange ability to absorb the dusting sugar and generally with their overall taste. I'll stick to my other recipes and give this one a miss.

Then this week - Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars - oatmeal cookies (not my fav), in bar form (not my fav) and my containing peanuts (not my fav in fact they are my least favorite nut for cooking). Before even beginning my expectations were very low.

I found the cookie base to be a poor carrier of flavor. I did not get the sensation of rich buttery oatmeal cookies - it just seemed to lack cohesion. I liked the hint of cinnamon but that was all. The chocolate layer was okay - it reminded me of today's Chunky candy bar - I prefer the original with the Brazil nuts. So, I did not care much for it. Once the individual sections were combined into one cookie, I hoped the sum of the parts would be larger than the individual components. For me, this did not happen.

I cut the bars into fairly small servings, but my bars were quite tall so even a small cookie was a lot of cookie to eat.

I did find their construction to be surprisingly easy considering all of the elements involved. I will be looking elsewhere to satisfy any oatmeal cookie cravings that I develop. Lilian at Confectiona's Realm selected and posted this recipe. Visit the other TWD blogs to see how our other bakers fared with this recipe and buy the book, if you want to own all of these recipes for yourself.

And next week's recipe is called Cocoa-Nana Bread - now you know that thing is going to have at least one stinking banana in it! Bleech! I can't wait for February's recipes - I know I'll like them better!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy Birthday to TWD

This week marks the second anniversary of Tuesdays with Dorie. I haven't been with the group for the entire time, but what a great journey this has been. To celebrate our anniversary we voted on which recipe we wanted to make next and there were two winners: Tarte Tatin and Cocoa Buttermilk Cake.

I elected to try them both. I made the Tarte Tatin a week or so ago. I used a mixture of apples: pink lady, granny smith and macoun(?). I had neither a cast iron frying pan nor a tarte tatin pan with me - I was pet sitting for a friend - but my sister had a new Calphalon 10-inch skillet that looked like it would be a perfect replacement. Indeed, it worked fantastically. I did let my sugar go a tad too long and my photos appear to show some carbonized apples vs. caramelized apples, but in actuality, the color appears darker than the flavor. This happened because it was taking far longer to caramelize the butter and sugar than I anticipated. I got a bit bored and took my eye off the stove at just the wrong time. Oh, well, live and learn.

I topped the tarte with puff pastry. Oh, did it look fabulous when it was ready to come out of the oven - all poufed up and a gorgeous brown color. I waited the requisite lava cool-down period and then tried a slice. Oh, my God - this is fabulous. I ate it plain, but I can see where the addition of some whipped cream or good vanilla ice cream would take this from fabulous to decadent.

I had no trouble at all flipping the tarte. I did wear hefty oven mitts, but I had nary a stray splash of caramel with which to contend. I did leave a couple of apples behind in the pan, but a quick flip of the spatula and they were back on the crust where they belonged.

This desert looks so elegant but it was so easy to put together, that I am sure I will try it again. I will probably lower the amount of butter and sugar used in the caramelizing process, but it was definitely delicious as Dorie wrote the recipe.

Then today, I made the Cocoa Buttermilk Cake. Well, truth be told, my sister and I had made this cake about a month ago for my brother's 60th birthday party. We made a large sheet cake, half of the batter was from Sky High - the Park Avenue Cake - made completely as white chocolate. The other half was the cocoa buttermilk cake. We must have done something wrong when we made it then, though. The batter was extremely dense and very dark.

The batter was much more fluid this time around and far less dark in color. I also made the cake as cupcakes this time. I got a dozen regular sized cupcakes and nine jumbo cupcakes out of the batter.

I had problems flipping the large cake out of the pan, but I attribute that to (a) failing to line the pan with parchment paper and (b) waiting too long to flip the cake. When I did flip the cake some portion of the chocolate cake stuck to the bottom of the pan. I made some adjustments and salvaged the cake for his party but I know now that regardless of how much heat remains in the pan, you should always flip your cakes at ten minutes and a parchment paper liner never goes out of style.

I found this cake to be a bit dense at Dennis's birthdayparty , but it was much lighter today. The cupcakes baked a bit unevenly though and I ended up leaving them in for about four minutes too long. I had checked them and should have removed them from the oven when a bit of batter was still clinging to the tester. Their residual heat would, no doubt, have finished baking them.

They are still quite tasty, however. I made a whipped cream icing for the cupcakes. One portion was vanilla flavored and the other was coffee flavored. I love the extra tang of the espresso in the whipped cream. Now to find room in the fridge to store the little devils! Well, if that proves too hard, I'll just put them on the back porch - this may be Richmond - but it feels like the frozen tundra these days!
Two great recipes to celebrate a great idea. Thanks for starting this group, Lorie.