Tuesday, September 14, 2010

TWD: Cranberry Upside-Downer

I know it's been awhile. Once again I forgot my password to sign into the blog. Once again I've been busy. I tried to join in a few recipes last month. I even bought ingredients. But the summer just got away from me.

I was excited about this pick, by Sabrina of Superfluous, but I could not find any cranberries. Cherries seemed like an excellent idea. Everything was coming together beautifully, though I did worry about not having 8 inch pans. I went with 9 inch, and tossed a little extra into the bottom of the pan.

Everything smelled great, and flipping the cake went well (nothing stuck to the bottom). Sadly the cake doesn't look very pretty.

I'll let it cool a bit more to see how it tastes. No biggie - it's all a learning experience. And with any luck it will be tasty and I can keep it all to myself.

Sorry so short this week. Will do better going forward!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TWD: Chewy Chunky Blondies

I know the rest of the country has been dealing with extreme heat, but here in "sunny" San Diego we've barely seen the sun all month. This has been just fine with me, as I live in a little house with little windows making it very difficult to cool down at night. While others complain I like the silver lining of being able to bake in the summer. And to enjoy hot tea in the morning, but that is another story.

Sometimes there is no better therapy than baking. Baking is good for the soul. And my soul has needed a little TLC this week. Everything is fine with me. No complaints, actually. But friends past and present have suffered great losses recently, and I feel for them. Scratch that - I ache for them. I ache and I am frustrated at not being able to help relieve their pain.

So you can see why I am so happy to be able to fire up the oven.

These little gems, chosen by Nicole from Cookies on Friday were a big hit at the office today. I occasionally lead meetings with my co-workers, and it is always nice to win them over first with a tasty treat. Too bad for those who don't like coconut (with all due respect, what is wrong with you people?). Apparently these looked and/or smelled so good that a non-coconut person broke down and gave them a try. Sadly, he tasted the coconut in them, and a perfectly good Blondie square was wasted. Sigh.

These were super easy to make, and although mine seemed to bake forever they ended up being perfectly done. If I need a quick and easy dessert to take somewhere, this will be high on the list.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TWD: Tarte Noire

Hello all - this will be quick. I have a weird habit of participating, enjoying what I make, and then totally forgetting to post. UGH!

This should be an interesting summer as I have once again made two boo boos. At least I got the right recipe this time (whew!) but messed up both parts to it. I used regular sugar for the crust rather than confectioner's sugar. The other mistake was not getting the butter to the correct room temp before putting it into the ganache. The result - not quite mixed ganache, which isn't very pretty. The most upsetting bit about this is my attention to detail is quite good, if I do say so myself. Or at least it is at work. Somehow I'm making some stupid mistakes in the baking department.

I went super bittersweet on the chocolate, for reasons that escape me, so this is a bit too much. I definitely needed the whipped cream to offset the taste of the chocolate. Were I to make this again I would use a milder chocolate, or perhaps one with a flavor (a little chocolate and coconut sounds pretty darn good).

My thanks (and apologies) to dharma girl at bliss: towards a delicious life for this week's pick. It would be a show stopper dessert in someone else's hands. I'll give this a try again another day, correcting my errors (I hope!).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TWD: Dressy Chocolate Loafcake

This cake was a challenge for me. It looked easy. I've been busy lately so easy was perfect for a birthday cake I needed to make for someone at work. And this could have been easy too, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had a pan a little longer than suggested. This made getting the baked cake out of the pan and flipping it a little difficult. I should have waited longer than the 5 minutes Dorie suggested for it to cool (I almost lost the whole thing at least twice). I was in a hurry. This would be my downfall the following morning as well.

I didn't quite have the correct plate size. You can see that I've already lost a corner of the cake. I found the raspberry filling a little runny.

Then came the cutting. This is where I made my biggest mistake. Being in a hurry led to the leaning tower of chocolate cake. Also known as "the cake too ugly to serve." At this point, both out of frustration and a lack of time, I wrapped the thing up and went to work. No birthday cake for you, co-worker!

Hating to let a perfectly good cake go to waste, I decided to try again, only this time on a surface that was appropriate for the cake.

After some shaving (and eating the extra bits - yum!) I had a cake that was almost presentable. I cut off the ends to make them even and smaller, and shaved the top to even it out. I hoped with the icing no one would notice how uneven and unattractive the layers were.

I had some delicious left overs. Overall I liked this cake, but as I'm not a big fan of chocolate and raspberry (I know - what's wrong with me) I probably wouldn't make it as is again. A different filling, with more time to cool before taking out of the pan, and better knife skills - I could be persuaded!

So thank you, Amy at Amy Ruth Bakes for this week's pick. Want the recipe - visit Amy for the details!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TWD: Color me Embarrassed!

I almost didn't post this, but since I'm pretty sure I don't know any of you in real life, and you're all so kind, I decided to admit my mistake.

You see, once the month's recipes are announced I go through the book and mark each one and decide which, if any, I will do. This process works great 99% of the time. This month I marked the wrong recipe, so while all of you were making "Tender Shortcakes" (page 423) I was making "Devilish Shortcakes" (on page 425).

Perhaps it is time to get new glasses......?

You'd think I'd have noticed. I even left a comment on the P & Q and darn if it doesn't say "Tender Shortcakes." And I spent the week looking at the picture for the Tender Shortcakes thinking they looked tasty.

How did I discover my mistake? Looking at other blogs while my shortcakes were baking. "My, those don't look very dark," I thought at the first blog to pop up on my Reader. The next one looked a little pale as well. Then, as they say, the penny dropped. In disbelief I ran to the book for confirmation of what I already knew. Ugh!

This is so not the blog I was planning on writing! My deepest apologies to Cathy of The Tortefeasor (a blog I absolutely LOVE) for messing this up.

That all said, here are some pictures from my adventure. At least I'll be prepared when someone chooses this recipe!

This recipe does the 1/3 cup drop. I made the whole recipe (I couldn't figure out how to halve an egg). Some are in the freezer waiting for more strawberries. Some are wrapped up in the fridge. Some are in my tummy.

I can't even tell you how much I love strawberries. LOVE them!

Yes, they do look a little like turds. They smell a LOT better though.

I cheated and used canned whipped cream. At that point what did I have to lose!

These are delish. I highly recommend them, especially if you have left over strawberries (not a problem I ever have, but just in case you do).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TWD: Banana-Coconut Ice Cream Pie

The timing of this recipe was perfect. I needed a little something to bring to a viewing get-together for the series finale of "Lost" and the tropical ingredients seemed perfect. I come from a long line of ice cream eaters, so it seemed even more perfect.

Of course, just like in "Lost" there was a complication (no Smoke Monster, luckily). I love bananas in bread, on sandwiches with peanut butter, in my cereal. But I simply do not like frozen bananas. Not one bit. It may go back to a "traumatic dessert" experience when I was a kid. My Mom would often take me to the Zoo (it's handy to have a "world famous" Zoo in one's backyard. Even more handy for my Mom since kids under 16 had free admission back then). I was fairly young and saw the advertisements for chocolate covered frozen bananas. They looked delicious! After an afternoon of whining, my Mom finally caved in. I took one bite, and BLECH! I don't know what my small child self thought it would taste like, but I was having none of it. My Mom couldn't have been less pleased! Even then stuff at the Zoo cost a lot of money, so she couldn't have been happy about this tyke turning up her whiny nose at the frozen banana. I distinctly remember her getting very quiet, and not wanting to eat the rest of mine.

Haven't had a chocolate covered frozen banana since.

Because of my aversion I opted to not have any bananas on the bottom of the pie and only mixed one banana into the ice cream. Even so I thought the banana flavor was too much. If I were to make it again, I'd just pick a really yummy flavor, or make one, and have it and the crust.

Because that crust was oh-so-good! Definitely the star of the dessert. A little difficult to get out of my brand-new Giada Pie Pan from Target, but once properly defrosted, absolutely the best thing about this pie!

I thought it needed a little something on top, so I added a bit of whipped cream. That did the trick!

If I needed a pretty easy dessert to take somewhere, I would definitely make this again, with the changes listed above. Or I might just make the crust and eat it on its own (only kind of kidding about that idea). Either way, thanks to Spike at spike.bakes for choosing this recipe (it all made sense once I learned Spike is from Massachusetts. One of my most favorite things about New England - an ice cream stand on every corner, and they all seem to have a line of people - day or night, no matter the weather).

PS - Any "Lost" fans out there? What did you think of the finale?? I LOVED it. Cried like a baby at the end, mind you, and have felt like I've had a "Lost" hangover ever since, but loved it!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

TWD: Apple-Apple Bread Pudding

It's hard to get back to the things you love sometimes. So much can get in the way. There's work, of course, but also family obligations, new puppies, friends, becoming a Mac, laundry, the epic end to "Lost." But eventually, with careful planning, and re-arranging of puppy space in the kitchen, you get back to baking. And that is a good thing.

Of course the getting back can be poorly planned. As I type this the bread pudding is in the oven, with another hour to go. But I have high hopes for it's taste based on fellow TWDer's reviews, and the fact that all of Dorie's apple recipes have been stellar.

I made an 8 x 8 pan rather than the 9 x 13, and tried to reduce the recipe by 1/4 (I guess that means I made 3/4 of the recipe??). My math is never very good, so it will be interesting to see how this all turns out. I had hoped to get some apple butter from Trader Joe's, but was left with a monstrously large container from Vons. Good thing I like it when I tried it on the end of some left over challah. I will be adding it to my toast in the future (and for a long time after!).

A few apple slices hit the floor on their way to the pan, so it was a great opportunity to see if Bailey (the new pooch) liked apples. Apparently he didn't know himself until after he played with the slices a few times. He came back for more, which seemed like a good sign.

This is a little rambling since I have no actual dessert yet. But a big shout out and thanks for the pick to Elizabeth at Cake or Death. I have another year before I get to pick a recipe (assuming I post a wee bit more than I do now) so I can understand the angst that goes into making the choice. But based on the reviews and the fabulous smell coming from my oven, this one is a real winner.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TWD: Coconut Tea Cakes

Picture this - it's just after 11:30pm. I've taken the new pup for the last walk of the night as the last of my Coconut Tea Cake cupcakes are baking in the oven. After getting him settled I pull the cupcakes out of the oven, having already put the first batch in a container to take to work. I settle into bed, warm and snugly, happy in the knowledge that I have finally reclaimed my kitchen after 2 weeks of exile. This "being a new mom thing" is really hard, even if it is only being a canine mom.

Then, just as I am about to drift off to sleep, happy in knowing I have baked and baked well, I look at the clock and realize I forgot one last step - I didn't post! Since it was after midnight, I figured a few hours either way wasn't going to matter.

So that is how I am here posting on Wednesday morning about this delicious recipe picked by Carmen of Carmen Cooks.

Since I don't have a bundt pan I went the cupcake route. I used sweetened coconut as I am a huge lover of coconut. The cupcakes took about 20 minutes and turned out moist and and so good (I've already had two!). They have just enough coconut flavor without being over powering and I love the texture the shredded coconut gives. These will definitely find their way into a rotation.

Since I made cupcakes I was tempted to find a way to top them, but I think they will show up to work "naked." They are tasty all on their own. And for my co-workers who may reject them because they need a topping, then I say "more for me!"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why there is no TWD from me this week

And it's a good one......I'm a mom again! Complete with lots of walks (us), a little separation anxiety (us again), a few "accidents" (that would be him) and a whole lot of sleep deprivation (me! He's snoring right now! UGH).

That said, I think I struck gold with this little rescue poodle/terrier/who-knows-what mix. I've been 2 years without a furry companion after Jake the Wonderdog went to doggie heaven. It was finally time to bring in a new recruit. And this little one year old, named Bailey, is a well mannered, smart, fun little guy. We're getting to know each other, and so far I think we like what we see in the other.

I'll be back to baking next week. See you then!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

TWD: Thumbprints for us Big Guys

Well, I can say I'm not a guy - no comment on the size part. And instead of a thumb this recipe calls for a pinky. I went the wooden spoon route, but I am getting a little ahead of myself.

I made half of the recipe, and used almond meal rather than ground hazelnuts. Since Trader Joe's carries the almond meal it just sounded easier and cheaper. Also I am not a huge fan of raspberry, so I used what I had on hand - apricot preserves and lemon curd (oh how I love lemon curd!). Otherwise I followed the rest of the recipe. I won't tell you how old the almond extract I used was. Let's just say I haven't used much of it until now, but it has been packed up and moved with the rest of the kitchen things more than once.

Sadly I felt very rusty making these, even though I have baked since January. When I mixed everything together it just didn't come out right. Rather than dough I had sand and definitely not the correct consistency. My solution - my hands. I squished everything together until it was dough like, and would maintain the shape of a ball.

These also seemed pretty small. Somehow the picture in the book makes both the cookie and the "thumbprint" look much bigger. And they didn't come out of the oven looking very pretty (probably due to the weird consistency of the dough). They look more "ragtag" than anything else.

It's at this point in the process I think that my co-workers will not be munching on cookies tomorrow.

After cooling I filled them and gave them a try. A little dry - again, probably more to do with me than with the recipe - but very tasty. I really like the nutty flavor with the sweet apricot. The lemon curd sure does give it some tang! Still won't be bringing these to work for the co-workers (I have a reputation to maintain), but they will be very nice with a cup of tea in the morning.

PS - it sure is good to be back!

Almost Back!

Hey there!

Long time no blog. So long, in fact, that when asked for my password I really had to think about it. I'm horrified it's been since January since I've posted here. Yikes!

My excuses are the usual - work, family, etc. I work for a company that is very busy around Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. This year I was able to travel for the company, which I love to do. I have to work really hard, but I also get out of the office and meet new people and see new places. This time I went to Maine. Since I have friends in New England I was very happy about the location (plus the incredibly mild winter they are having this year!). Last time was Albuquerque (which I can now spell). Most "interesting" place was Waco, Texas. "Interesting" indeed!

Other than those reasons I feel compelled to share one more. I suffer from a "perfectionism" problem. It isn't just here, it's really all through my life. I don't want to do something unless it is nothing short of spectacular. So often times I don't post because I'm just not feeling spectacular. Anyone else have that problem? I know it's ridiculous, so I'm going to try to make a concerted effort to post more often, even if it's only "good enough." Get on me if I don't. A little peer pressure and/or friendly support is good for these personal life changes one wants to make.

Anyway, I'm just typing this up while I wait for my butter to get to "room temperature" so I can make this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Plus I wanted to lessen the shock of my return. Oh, and bribe you a bit. Many of you asked about my cool Recipe Divider months back. It divides and multiplies measurements by two and three - very handy when not wanting to make 60 cookies, for instance. I was at the local cooking store recently and picked up an extra as a give away. So leave a comment on my blog (any post, not just this one) during the month of March and I'll pick a name at random and send it to you.

I look forward to seeing what you've been up to the last few months. Now - off to bake some cookies!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

TWD: Tarte Tatin

First let me say "Happy Birthday 'Tuesdays with Dorie'!" At this time of year, especially when flipping over to a year with a "0" one can't help but look back and reflect on what has come before. Two years ago I never would have imagined I'd be blogging about cooking or baking. Or would I have imagined that one cook book can hold so many wonderful treasures. Or the confidence I would gain in the kitchen by making the variety of recipes we've made out of said book. But most of all, I wouldn't have imagined meeting such a fun and fine group of people as yourselves. I'm somewhat sporadic in visiting your blogs, and even more sporadic when it comes to leaving comments - so you may have a hard time believing how much I've come to adore you. Thanks so much for the cyber friendship. It means a lot to me.

Last, but not least, a special thanks to LW who got the whole TWD thing rolling. Your hard work is appreciated and you should be very proud of this amazing thing you created. Congrats!

Now -- on with the post!

I can't tell you how much I've looked forward to this recipe. On my whirlwind 48 hour trip to Paris I took in 2003 I had this dessert for the very first time. How little I knew about food is horrifying in retrospect. But I did "get" that "caramelized apple tart" sounded like a very good thing. And it was. Heaven on earth. It sealed the deal for my love of Paris (that and the multitude of chocolate croissants I consumed!).

I've pondered getting a cast iron pan many times just for this recipe, but since Dorie gave a great option of using a skillet I gave that a try. I was very nervous about the whole project. Worried the pan wasn't right, worried the Braeburn apples weren't the best choice, worried the caramel would burn, worried I wouldn't survive the flip. And truth be told the pan was probably a little big and the sides a little too slanty. The apples were a little soft when I cut them and probably weren't the right choice. Although I let the apples cook over the stove for much longer than the 15 minutes Dorie recommended, I didn't have the heat on high enough to get the proper color on the caramel. The one true success was the pan flipping. I just took Dorie at her word - I flipped it "confidently" and it worked. Had I listened to her on all the other things, I probably would have better results.

All of that said, even though I have very "tender" apples that have very little color, the results are delicious. And due to my experience this past year plus of baking with this group, I know I have another puff pastry in the freezer. A few more apples (I'll try Gala this time), a trip with my coupon to my favorite cooking store to get that cast iron skillet, and I'll be good to go trying this out once again. I can't wait to do so. Just like I can't wait to see what this year brings baking with all of you.

Happy 2010!