Thursday, August 27, 2009

Malted Milk Ice Cream:Yes, Daring Bakers: Not so much...

No oven = no Daring Bakers.

But that doesn't mean we can't make ice cream!

I like to think I'm not the type to follow trends. But there is one food blogging trend I simply couldn't help getting caught up in. Yes, folks, I could not resist the ice cream from "The Perfect Scoop" by David Lebovitz.

Oh sure, I've picked up the book more than once in the bookstore. I leafed through the pages, admiring all of those mouth-watering ice cream photos, chuckling at the witty stories. But no, I resisted! "I already have too many cookbooks" I told myself. Plus, I'm too cool to follow trends, right? (Right?)

But then, after about the fourth time of tempting myself, drooling over the book, I came across a recipe for Malted Milk Ice Cream.


Malted. Milk. Ice Cream?!?

There went my resistance (and supposed coolness). Out the window.

I did not pass go, I did not collect $200. No, I proceeded directly to the cash register at Borders and then the grocery store (how handy, it's right next door!) to pick up missing ingredients.

People, I am here to tell you, David knows his ice cream!

This ice cream is so good you may need a few minutes to yourself to recover after the first bite.

My normally reserved husband, who's typical comment gets no more exciting than "it's good" even said "this is really good".

So there you go. Ice cream instead of cake. You can find the recipe------> here, at the Amateur Gourmet site (along with a cute and funny musical ode to this ice cream).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD: Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

Hi folks, for this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe, Linda of Tender Crumb decided on Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie.

I'm afraid this post is going to be brief. Today brought the first day of school, and with it, a wake-up time about 3 hours earlier than my normal, lazy summer wake-up. I am tie-ard!

But let me recap the pie, before I head upstairs and pass out.

I used home-made vanilla sugar for both the filling and the meringue. What's vanilla sugar, you ask? Simple, you take a vanilla bean (in my case a past it's prime turning-hard bean), split it in two (or three or four) to expose the inside and mix with some sugar. Stir occasionally. You can replenish the sugar and/or vanilla beans as needed. Note that you'll need to strain your sugar before using to remove any vanilla bean pieces.

My filling and meringue were flecked with vanilla bean seeds. I'm not sure if you can see them but they're there. That's the vanilla sugar!

(Have you ever tried to take a picture of yourself piping meringue? It's not easy, I discovered.)

I've always wanted to do spikey meringue like that. I first saw it in one of Sherry Yard's cookbooks (I think hers was even taller).

My oven is still conked out, but I was able to use the toaster oven... although it's a bit of an adventure to use since the temperature knob is broken off and it only heats up to 400-plus degrees now.

Anyway, I really liked this tart. It was, in fact, quite tart but not overwhelmingly so. I made a half batch and only used one lime's worth of zest. I didn't have any fresh ginger, so I used ground... 1/4 tsp for a half batch. If I were to make this the same way again, I might cut back on the ginger just a smidge so it plays more of a back-up role. As for the butter in the filling, I just used a little (maybe a tablespoon) because this recipe is similar to The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart we made long ago, and I didn't care for all of the butter in that filling. I like butter and I like lemon meringue pie, but not together.

Oh, and I forgot to add that I used Dorie's Sweet Tart Dough with nuts, and used ground pistachios. I think this is going to be my new go-to tart crust. I just love it.

Oh, and I also forgot to add that I only used egg yolks, since I just happened to have the right amount from another recipe I made. That's why my filling is more yellow-ish colored.

OK, somehow this post didn't end up as short and sweet as I'd planned (but probably more poorly written and disjointed), but now it's time to sign off. (Oh, sweet, soft bed, I'm headed your way...)

Until next week!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Four Ways

I'm one of those folks who can't seem to find the exit to the weight-loss/weight-gain roller coaster. Sometimes I'm on the fit and healthy side of the hill, and sometimes I'm on the can't-button-my-top-pants-button side of the hill. After reading this post, I'll let you guess which side of the hill I'm on right now.

Last month, I was on a full-on Chocolate Chip Cookie kick. About once a week, I'd whip up another batch, all under the guise of "testing recipes" (mmm hmm, right).

First, I made the Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. (You might want to check out the recipe----> here.)

Next, were the Chocolate Chip Cookies Straight Up or with Nuts from Elizabeth Faulkner's Demolition Desserts. (The recipe is---> here. You might need to click the page-up button to get to page 23.)

Moving along, we have Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Art & Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet. (That recipe is---> here.)

Finally, we had Chocolate Chip Cookies from Baked, New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. I couldn't find the recipe online and I haven't asked permission to post the recipe, so I encourage you to borrow, buy, or steal a copy of the book (just kidding about that last one!). It's a first rate collection of creative desserts with plenty of drool-worthy photos.

I'm guessing you'd like to know how they tasted.

I wish I could remember!

Well, you see, I meant to take notes and compare and contrast, I really did, but then I slipped into a sugar coma and forgot! It's the truth, I swear! Please don't haul me to the slammer.

Ha, just kidding (sort of). I remember they were all a little less cakey than I tend to like, but that's nothing that an extra 1/2 cup of flour wouldn't solve, I'm guessing.

If you like chewy CCC, I think the Demolition Dessert cookies probably had the nicest chewy texture with that sort of caramely tinge. My hubby liked the chopped chocolate.

The King Arthur cookies had that blend of crispy outside and a bit of soft inside.

The Art and Soul of Baking cookies were softest (my favorite trait).

The Baked cookies look thicker in the book than I think mine turned out, so I would definitely add a little more flour if I made these again (I tend to go easy on the flour anyway, so this might have been my fault.)

All of them tasted really good. I didn't have any complaints with the taste.

OK, folks, that's all for now. Please excuse me while I head to the gym for a 50 mile run followed by 500 sit-ups and several hours of weight training. Or maybe I'll just make some more cookies.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cake Slice: Pistachio Petit Four Cake

This month, the Cake Slice bakers are indulging in some Pistachio Petit Four Cake, from the book "Sky High" by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne.

Alas, my oven is on the fritz, so I'll have to postpone my cake for now. Too bad, I already have the ingredients measured out and the pistachios roasted (and how often does that ever happen, I ask?).

Please check all of the other bakers' fabulous cakes at the Cake Slice Blogroll.

If you'd like to take a peak at the recipe, it's right----> here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

I missed the boat last week when Nancy led the One-Sentence-Blog-Post crusade, but I'm taking her lead and will sum up this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe (chosen by Karen of Something Sweet by Karen) in one (REALLY long) sentence, which will be hard, since I already feel an overwhelming urge to put a period right ---> here, but I won't because that would defeat the purpose, soooooo anyway, I really loved these appley-cinnamony bars and could have easily eaten the whole slab of yumminess by myself and I was thrilled my 6 year old niece helped me make these because she actually enjoyed it, as opposed to my sons who are WAY past the stage of wanting to help mom bake, (it's too darned bad one of my sons didn't have a twin sister because little girls are cool) and oh yeah, don't forget to check out Karen's blog or Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From My Home to Yours" for the recipe.

Ba da bing!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Graffiti "8" Cake

My baby boy turns 8 this week (sniff). There's nothing that makes you realize how quickly time passes like having children and seeing their birthdays flashing by one by one by one, like a high-speed bullet train. I'm pretty sure a year lasted longer when I was a child than it does now. Had to! Time absolutely crawled back then. Now, it's like a time warp. Every time I turn around one of my children is a year older.

But fortunately, birthday cake helps cure the tiny bit of motherly wistfulness that comes with those birthdays. And with it, an excuse to drag out the cake toys and have some fun.

I was at a loss for how to decorate the boy's cake, considering the only thing he likes right now is GUNS. If he had to pick a vocation today, I'm quite certain I would have a SWAT team member for a child. But somehow, guns on a cake... eh, I wasn't feeling it.

Then I remembered an idea from one of my cake friends, Janet... a graffiti cake.

Fortunately, the boy approved.

I took a few "in progress" pictures and figured I'd share them (I love seeing progress pics, and hope y'all do too).

First, I carved the eight shape from a 9x13-inch cake, using a template I sketched out ahead of time. You can see the template here. I've used the bottom of the pan as a size guide.

For the bricks, I cut a stencil from paper using an X-Acto knife. I gave the whole cake a very light spray of black, to give it a kind of grungy urban feel. Working section by section, I first airbrushed a base layer of red bricks (I laid a piece of paper on the bare part to avoid overspray after I took this pic).

Then I took a clean dish cloth and gently pressed down on the "bricks" to give them some texture. Then I went back and airbrushed another layer of red.

(Sorry for the crap pictures, it was nighttime and I wasn't taking my usual 50 pictures just to get one good one.)

For the "COREY" graffiti, I found some example graffiti letters on-line and used them to make a template on a piece of parchment. I then took some white fondant and rolled it very thin. I laid that over the template, and then laid both over an "embossing light box" so I could clearly see the lettering.

Next, I used some edible color markers to lightly sketch around the letters. Then I used my cutting wheel to gently cut around the edges.

I used an X-Acto knife to cut the edges cleanly and pulled the excess fondant away.

Then I let it sit for a while to dry a bit. Next, I airbrushed the green, yellow, and blue. When the color was dry, I went back with my markers and darkened the lines and filled in the 3-d effect.

For the "WASSUP?" and the "HAPPY BIRTHDAY", I first searched for graffiti fonts on google and downloaded those to my computer. Then I printed them out in the size I wanted and used them as a guide for piping onto the cake free-hand.

Then a small tube, piped kinda sloppy around the edges, along with some spikey bits and voila! barbed wire.

OK, if you're still with me, thanks for following along. Hope you enjoyed it!

Night all!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons (& Orange Berry Muffins)

Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen chose Brownie Buttons for this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe. I gotta say, Jayma, your pick ROCKED! This was the best brownie recipe we've done with TWD so far, if you ask me.

These brownies were devoured in about 30 minutes flat at my house. I'd say about half didn't even make it to the white chocolate dippin' part.

I dressed them up with some sanding sugar and sprinkles. My photos of chocolate treats usually end up so dull and boring, I figured I had to give these little guys a fighting chance at looking as good as they tasted.

I took mine out of the oven a few minutes before the lower baking time. They seemed almost done and I like them a little under done anyway. I think I got about 16 bites (can't remember exactly). Oh, and I left out the orange zest... why mess with chocolate when it's perfect already?

Speaking of orange, I made Orange Berry Muffins a few weeks ago, in my never-ending quest to catch up. This recipe was chosen waaaaay back in week 5 of TWD by Michelle of Sugar and Spice.

I sprinkled them with some basic streusel topping before baking.

They were very good! I only used half the orange zest called for and the orange taste was barely noticeable.

Oh, and before I sign off, let me share with you a visitor to our yard this week. Say hello to Mr. Black Rat Snake. (EWWWwww!) Although not poisonous (dear hubby says he's actually beneficial... um, OK) he scared the bejeesus out of me.

I'm guessing he was at least 3 feet long.

OK, if you want to check out the recipes, please pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From My Home to Yours" or stop by either Jayma or Michelle's blogs.

Sssssssee you next week (get it? snake humor! har, har).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cranberry Almond Tartlettes (with Pistachio Crust)

I got to pick the theme for this month's "You Want Pies with That?" blog event. (Oooh, the pressure! )

I had a handful of ideas, but in the end it came down to either a nut-themed pie, or a no-bake pie. I tend to shy away from nuts, so I figured this would force me to step out of my comfort zone. That, and the fact that it's been an unusually cool summer here in our neck of the woods (pausing to say a prayer of thanks), so turning on the oven hasn't been the torture it normally is during the dog days of summer.

So, nuts it was!

I fondly remembered the French Pear Tart that was made for Tuesday's with Dorie and decided to make a modified version. (I love, love, LOVED that tart.) This time around, I made Dorie's Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts, using ground pistachios in place of some of the flour. I made the almond cream as-is, but I subbed cranberries in place of the pears. I was trying for a sort of Christmas theme, but the shell didn't have a green tint like I had hoped.

I filled the partially baked shells with almond cream and then pushed some frozen, thawed cranberries into the almond cream.

So, how was it, you ask? First off, I thought the shell was awesome with the pistachios. I couldn't really detect the taste of the nuts, but somehow the crust tasted richer and had a beautiful sandy texture, while still holding up well. The almond filling was still delish, but honestly, I think the pears are slightly better than the cranberries. It was still good, though.

If I made this again, I'd probably use more cranberries and maybe sprinkle some sanding sugar on top.

If you'd like to see the recipe, you can find it -----> here, at Dorie Greenspan's site. For the tart dough with nuts, reduce the flour to 1 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup ground nuts (almonds, pistachios, etc.). Dorie mentions that you can change up the fruit (obviously, I used cranberries). Oh, and one last thing, for these 4" tarts, I reduced the baking time of the crusts to about 20 minutes, and the tarts to about 45 minutes.

OK, over and out until next month!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWD: Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Mary of The Food Librarian chose Classic Banana Bundt Cake for this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe.

This was the first time in a *long* time that I've made an entire recipe AND my picky family helped devour the whole thing. Usually I'm reducing recipes as far as I can while still being able to do the math. Or, I'm parading around the neighborhood, Tupperware container in hand, trying to pawn dessert off on my unsuspecting neighbors.

There was no sharing with this humble cake. It was perfectly moist and delicious... and it stayed that way the next day and the day after that.

Mary, I thank you and my family thanks you! Excellent choice.

If you'd like to see the recipe, please check out Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours", or stop by Mary's blog for the recipe (Mary's site is awesome, by the way).