French Frdays with Dorie

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.