Saturday, May 30, 2009

World Peace Cookies


Yet another spectacular recipe from Dorie Greenspan (and Pierre Herme). I loved these cookies. Loved. I loved everything about them. The texture, the flavor, the ease of making them, the fact that they're slice and bakes, the list goes on...

Before I made them, I read over the Tuesdays with Dorie P&Q from February (when the group baked these cookies). A lot of people had problems with the dough being too crumbly, but I had no problems at all - they were a breeze, and formed a log easily.

These are super chocolaty with cocoa in the batter and chocolate chips, but also contain salt - enough so that is a very present flavor. The salt is wonderfully unexpected, and a great complement to the intense chocolate. 

The recipe was chosen by Shari of Whisk: A Food Blog, you can find the recipe here. 



Friday, May 29, 2009

Strawberry Yogurt Cake


After seeing Deb's Raspberry Buttermilk Cake over at Smitten Kitchen, I knew what I would be making for Memorial Day! 

I made a few changes - some intentional, some as necessity:

I subbed strawberries for raspberries, as they are in season, and I had a lot of sweet local ones on hand; I added a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom, though the flavor didn't come through as much as I had hoped it would - next time I'll add more; I omitted the zest, because I had no lemons - if I had had lemons I would have used the zest instead of the cardamom; I subbed homemade yogurt for the buttermilk, as that was all I had.

I loved this cake. The thing that took the longest was washing and cutting the strawberries. Other than that it was fast to prepare and bake - only 25 minutes!

I love the thinness of this cake. You can eat it like pizza - no fork necessary. It is also delicious with a big dollop of fresh whipped cream.

I will definitely be making this again - it has a lot of room in it for playing around - so many possibilities!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rugelach



I find myself always saying that recipes were simple and easy to put together, but somehow it's always true. This rugelach is no exception.

This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking, From My Home to Yours, and was chosen by Piggy of Piggy's Cooking Journal back in november of last year for Tuesdays with Dorie. You can find the recipe here.

I used fruit spread without sugar for the filling, along with ground almonds and currants. I omitted the cinnamon and sugar from the entire recipe, as well as the egg wash. They still browned beautifully.


I was really happy with how these turned out, and really surprised at how flaky the dough was. The dough came together quickly and easily, and I think could be used for all manner of pastries. My son loved them, and I will definitely be making them again. And again, and again, and again... 


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers: Strudel


My first Daring Bakers challenge!!!

I almost didn't make it, as it seemed a little intimidating and I wasn't sure I had the time, but stretching the dough was too intriguing to pass up, and I'm glad I went ahead and made it. The dough was fast and easy to make, and the stretching was really fun. I had no problems getting it paper thin, and I had no issues with it tearing. 

Unfortunately, the filling was another story. I realized towards the end of my dough-making that I wasn't sure what to do for a filling. I was running short on time, so I just started throwing things in a bowl: strawberries, currants, ground oats, pistachios, almonds, and a little maple syrup and salt. I think it without the oats it would have been good - or with less - but it ended up tasting too much like oatmeal.

I would really like to try a savory version, hopefully in the next week or so.

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caf├ęs of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chipster Topped Brownies


Like many of the Tuesday's with Dorie bakers, I had no idea what a "chipster" topped brownie was. When I finally did look it up in Baking, From My Home to Yours, I could hardly contain my excitement: a chocolate chip cookie on top of a brownie - what could be better???!!!

Alas, perhaps my expectations were too high, but the chipster topped brownies were not all that I had hoped they'd be...

The two different components were easy enough to put together, they just didn't work so well once in the oven...

I knew from reading the P&Q that baking times were presenting some problems, and that baking the brownie layer for a bit before adding the cookie dough seemed to help. So, I baked my brownies for 10 minutes by themselves, as one baker had done with perfect results. I had immediate reservations when I started plopping my dough on my partially baked brownie batter - the dough started sinking, and the batter was rising up  everywhere. It helped when I flattened each piece of dough before laying it down. So, back in the oven it went. After another 40 minutes, The whole thing had ballooned up - much more than I had expected it to - and was nowhere near done. I actually lost track of how many more times I set my timer for 10 more minutes, but it was at least 3. Finally, it appeared to be done, so I removed it from the oven, and it was looking pretty tasty, I must say. However, once it had been on the counter for a minute or so it caved, and I saw in the enormous crack that ran the length of it that the thing was still runny on the inside. Back  into the oven it went for another 15 minutes. 



Once cooled, we had a slice with some vanilla ice cream. It was pretty good, but not amazing. The brownie part was delicious, but the cookie part was quite a disappointment. Way too crunchy, not very cookie like at all. 

I will try this again, because I think it could be incredible, and because several of the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers (of which I am still not officially a member, by the way - can't get an email response to save my life...) had great results. I think the brownie layer needs more like 20 minutes on its own. 

Thanks to Beth of Supplicious for choosing this recipe

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Sour Cherry Pie with Pistachio Crumble



When we started baking through The Sweet Melissa Baking Book several weeks ago, this recipe was the one that jumped out at me the most. I was hoping to pick it when it was my turn, but Michelle of Flourchild beat me to it!!! Needless to say, I couldn't wait to make it.

I had some concerns about the cherries - all I could find was frozen sweet cherries. Other people seemed to have the same experience, however, and commented that theirs had turned out great, so I forged ahead! 

I made quite a few changes to this recipe:

Crust:
I didn't use Melissa's flaky crust recipe as suggested, or any of her crust recipes for that matter. I don't use shortening, so I just stuck with my tried and true crust recipe from Heaven's Banquet by Miriam Hospodar.

Filling:
The recipe called for sour cherries, but as I couldn't find any - canned, jarred or otherwise - I used frozen sweet cherries. I also omitted the sugar altogether. I figured the cherries would be sweet enough, and without sugar my 2 1/2 year old - who has never had sugar - would be able to eat it.

Topping:
I left the sugar out of the topping as well, but replaced it with maple syrup. I added it to taste, so I'm not sure how much I used, but my guess is ht it was about 1/4 cup, maybe a little less. Also, I substituted cardamom for cinnamon in the topping. I thought it would pair better with the pistachios, and I loooooove cardamom. 

I was slightly disappointed, because when my pie came out of the oven it was very liquidy - even after cooling completely - and this made the bottom of the crust soggy. The crust was very nicely browned, and the topping was quite dark in places, so I was afraid to leave it in any longer, though I think that would have solved the runny problem. Other than that I did love it. My crust was great, the flavor of the cherries was great, and the topping was insanely delicious. As I was eating it, all I could think of was all of the other things I could make as an excuse to eat this topping again. It was that good. 

***UPDATE***


I popped my pie back in the oven for another 40!!! minutes, and it came out perfect!

Thanks to Michelle for picking this great recipe! Look here for the rest of the SMS bakers' pies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fresh Mango Bread


I was so excited about this recipe when I saw that it was a pick for Tuesdays with Dorie this month. I couldn't wait to make it! I love love love mango, and quick-breads are definitely a favorite of mine to make. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to find any ripe mangos, but I was able to find some small, perfectly ripe, not at all stringy, sweet wonderful ones. I used three and yielded about 1 3/4 cups. I would have liked that extra 1/4 cup, but the bread was delicious nonetheless. 

I decided to make the bread sugar-free, so I made a few substitutions. I used 1 cup of maple syrup instead of the sugars, I upped the flour to 3 cups (from 2 1/2) and I used 1/2 cup of oil instead of 3/4 cup. I did tent my bread about half way through, as it was browning quite a bit. Also, I left out the raisins, and I would do that again, though I think some walnuts will make it into my next batch. Perhaps some coconut as well. It was a difficult hour and a half of waiting as the bread baked, as I was anxious to taste it, though it was worth every minute. It is delicious. I will definitely be making this again, though I will make a couple of changes: I really love citrus zest, and couldn't taste it at all in this bread - even though the recipe called for the zest of 1/2 a lime and I used 1 whole lime; also, I will use fresh grated ginger next time, because it wasn't gingery enough for me. I think I'll also try to make an eggless version.  I'm not a huge egg fan - I'll only eat them in things - and I've had a lot of success with eggless quick-breads.
I highly recommend this bread. 

Thanks so much to Kelly of Baking with the Boys for choosing this fantastic recipe

Monday, May 18, 2009

Banana Bread




I love banana bread, but surprisingly this is the first time I've ever made it! This is a very straightforward recipe, and it comes together quite easily. It isn't very sweet, which I like, though if you like your banana bread on the sweeter side you may want to add a little extra sugar (or maple syrup, as I used). I used a recipe from Heaven's Banquet by Miriam Hospodar as a reference, but I made so many changes, I'm not including the original recipe. 



Banana Bread


1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1 /3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl, or bowl of stand mixer. Mix buttermilk, water, olive oil, banana and maple syrup. Pour over dry ingredients. Stir until just mixed. Pour batter in prepared pan and bake for about 55 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on rack for 10 minutes, then unmold and finish cooling. 


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Guinness Gingerbread



Oh, how to begin... I wasn't terribly excited to make this - cake has to be pretty exciting to win me over - but I was hoping that it would be fabulous and surprise me - after all ginger and molasses are some of my favorites. Unfortunately, it didn't. It was just very bland. 

Some of the other SMS bakers mentioned that the ginger didn't come through enough, and since love ginger, I added an additional 3/4 tsp, bringing the total to 3 tsps. I should have doubled it, or added crystalized ginger or ginger juice, or all of the above, because I couldn't taste the ginger at all. I also couldn't taste the molasses. I love molasses as well, and use a really incredible locally made variety. The flavor is wonderful and not bitter at all like some I've bought at the health food store, so perhaps that is why I couldn't taste it. 

I doubt I'll make this again, but if I do, I'll probably cut out the sugar entirely and use all molasses. 

I did enjoy the gingerbread greatly when topped with fresh whipped cream and local strawberries, though the strawberries and whipped cream alone probably would have been equally as satisfying... Ah well...

Other SMS bakers did wonderful things with ice cream and buttercream and ganache, you name it - I'm sure any of those things would have improved my experience greatly...

Thanks to the delightful Katie of Katiecakes for this week's pick. You can find the recipe on her blog. Be sure to look at the gingerbreads by all of the other SMS bakers

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Sweet Melissa Sundays today...

Sadly, I wasn't able to participate in today's SMS... We had a very busy weekend at a wonderful arts and music festival that we always go to. Everyone's cakes look fabulous, and are making me wish that I'd had the time... Look here to see the Icebox Cakes cooked up by the other Sweet Melissa bakers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Asparagus Pizza


For a quick dinner a few nights ago, I pulled out a couple of balls of pizza dough I had in the freezer, thawed them, tossed them and topped them, and a few minutes later I had a heavenly pizza. This one is topped with sharp white cheddar cheese, local organic asparagus from the market, fresh grated parmesan and basil also from the market. It was amazing. I never would have thought to put asparagus on pizza until I saw it on Pinkstripes, but it is now one of my favorite toppings. Here is the link for the crust recipe.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

French Pear Tart


Though not the most attractive photo - I'm always taking them at night after my kids are asleep when there is absolutely no light left - this was a delicious tart. My husband's favorite of everything I've made lately. This was another dessert that I saw on all of the TWDers blogs and thought I just had to make. Also, Dorie herself was given the opportunity to pick a recipe for the TWD bakers and this was her choice. 

Unfortunately, my pears were mealy and had lots of bad spots in them and were pretty flavorless, but the tart turned out fabulously in spite of them. There should have been more pear spokes and they should have been thicker than they are, but after cutting out all of the bad spots, there wasn't much pear left... To make up for the lack of sweetness in the pears, I sprinkled them with sugar before baking the tart. There are also instructions in the recipe for poaching the pears in a sugar syrup, but I started so late at night, I just didn't have the extra time. This step would have also remedied my pear problem. 

I seem to say this about everything I bake, but it was easy and delicious. The crust was fabulous, and the almond cream was fast to make - it is done in a food processor - and superb. 

I didn't make any changes to the recipe, however mine cooked in only 38 minutes - a full 12 minutes shorter than the low end of the baking time given. My oven doesn't run hot, so I'm not sure what the explanation for this is. I'm just glad I checked on it before my timer went off!

You can find the recipe for this wonderful tart on Dorie's blog, In the Kitchen and on the Road with Dorie.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

French Yogurt Cake


This is one of the recipes from Baking, From My Home to yours, by Dorie Greenspan that I saw on blog after blog after blog, looking delicious every time. It was chosen as a Tuesdays with Dorie recipe in mid-March by Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction

I whipped this up last Sunday and it was devoured within 24 hours. It is so easy to make, and has the most divine flavor and texture. We couldn't stop eating it. 

I decided to make mine in a loaf pan, as the recipe suggests, but you can also dress it up and make it more of a fancy cake - as many TWD members did. It is supposed to have a lemon marmalade glaze on it, and I did find lemon pear marmalade - which sounded so delicious - at the health food store I shop at, but it wasn't organic, and I just couldn't buy it. We're pretty particular about buying only organic food. They had plenty of organic orange marmalades to choose from, and even a pink grapefruit one, but I love lemon, and didn't want the zest in the cake to have any competition. In the end, I left it naked. It was so moist and delicious it didn't need anything, really.

We ate most of the cake plain - cutting slices every time we walked past it, but we also tried it with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream and that was fantastic too. Fun, simple, delicious - what more could you ask for?! Go make it! You can find the recipe here on Liliana's blog.



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tiramisu Cake



This week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe for Tiramisu Cake was chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures. Tuesday's with Dorie has finally opened up its membership, and I've emailed to join (twice) but no word yet, so for now I'm still unofficial - though not for long!

Tiramisu is a traditional Italian desert that is made by soaking ladyfingers in espresso and topping them with a whipped mascarpone mixture. Dorie's version is a yellow layer cake soaked in espresso and topped (and filled) with a whipped mascarpone mixture. 

This was a fun cake to make, though incredibly time consuming - it took me 4 hours from start to finish. Of course, I do most of my baking while wearing my 6 month old in a baby carrier, so everything takes a little longer that it would normally. 

I substituted almond extract for the liqueur, and I made half the recipe in one 8" pan and cut the cake horizontally to make my layers. Other than that and topping it with finely chopped chocolate instead of cocoa powder, I stayed true to the recipe. 

I wish the layers of the cake were more evenly soaked with the espresso syrup, so if I make it again, I'll use different proportions on the layers than Dorie calls for. I really appreciate the addition of chocolate between the layers - without it the cake would be all one mushy texture.

I thought this was a very delicious cake, and though it has been a very long time since I've had tiramisu, the cake tasted exactly how I remember it. 






All in all I really loved this cake. I can't believe how many cakes I've been making lately, and enjoying - cake is not usually my thing... 

Great pick from Megan, please visit her blog for the recipe

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mascarpone


For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe - tiramisu cake - mascarpone is one of the ingredients. Mascarpone is a rich creamy soft cheese used in Italian cuisine. I have been wanting to make it for some time, so this cake gave me the perfect excuse. 

I found two different recipes in cookbooks I have. One called for 2 cups heavy cream and 6 cups skim milk with a yield of 2 cups, the other called for 2 cups of cream and 1/4 cup of buttermilk with a 1 1/4 cup yield. The decision was obvious. 

It couldn't have been easier to make, and the result was heavenly! (though not terribly easy to photograph)



Mascarpone
adapted from Heaven's Banquet by Miriam Hospodar


2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup buttermilk


Stir together cream and buttermilk in a small saucepan. Heat to lukewarm - 90 degrees. Careful not to overheat, as this will cause the mixture to curdle. When it reaches temperature, pour into glass jar, cover with a towel, and leave in a warm place for 24-36 hours, until thickened. Mine was about the consistency of a thick yogurt after 24 hours. Line a sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth, place in a bowl so that the sieve is not touching the bottom of the bowl, spoon cheese into cheesecloth, cover and leave in refrigerator for several hours or over night. Remove cheese from cloth and store in an airtight container. Mascarpone will keep for a few days, but is best eaten the day it is made. 


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sweet Melissa Sundays: Strawberry Shortcakes


This week's recipe for SMS was chosen by Wendy of the fabulous blog Pinkstripes, and boy did she pick a winner!!! 

I was really excited to make these, and they didn't disappoint. They are basically biscuits filled and topped with strawberries and whipped cream, but oh my are they delicious. The shortcake is lightly sweet and contains lemon zest to make them extra special - I thought that was one of the things that really made this recipe. 

All of the components are really simple to put together, and fast as well - the whole prep took about 15 minutes. These will be something I'll be making again and again - especially as strawberries come into season in the coming weeks! 

I substituted agave syrup for sugar in all elements of the recipe so that my sugar-free 2 1/2 year old could eat them, and they turned out just beautifully. Thanks for the great pick Wendy! Please visit Wendy's blog for the recipe. If you'd like to see the other SMS baker's creations, look here.




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