Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TWD: Kid's Thumbprints & TWD Top 10

Wow, here it is. Finally. The L.A.S.T. recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie. After four years of baking along, week by week, here we are. I'm not going to go on and on here, because I'm sure everyone feels the same way. I just want to say thanks so much to Laurie of Slush for starting and maintining this group, along with all of the great helpers, and mostly to Dorie Greenspan for writing this most-excellent baking book from which I've learned so much and grown so much as a baker. I now feel like I could tackle most any baking recipe without getting too worked up. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

OK, for this last recipe, Dorie chose Kids Thumbprints. What a great recipe to end with. These were fantastic - slightly peanuty cookies wrapped in crushed peanuts and with a little dab of jam (or chocolate) on top. Perfect! I underbaked just a tad to keep them soft.

I'm going to share my favorite recipes from the book. Interestingly, I never knew I was such a big fan of fruit desserts before. Who knew?

My Top 10 Tuesdays with Dorie Recipes

- Coconut Butter Thins

- Blueberry Pie

- Banana Cream Pie

- Blanc-Manger

- Lenox Almond Biscotti

- Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops

- Real Butterscotch Pudding

- French Pear Tart plus I'm going to add the Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart.

Brioche Raisin Snails

- Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

OK, that's all folks. You can find all of these recipes in Dorie's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TWD: A Fig Cake for Fall

In October, Ursula of Cookie Rookie chose A Fig Cake for Fall. Alas, no figs were to be found in October. But low and behold, I found some at my local Meijer the other day and I knew exactly what I was going to make for this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, where we got to chose a rewind.

This little cake featured a cornmeal based cake with poached figs. I used red wine for the poaching liquid since that was all I had. Interestingly, my first impression when I tasted the cake was of peanut butter and jelly, of all things. Somehow the cake was nutty tasting with the cornmeal and the wine flavored figs reminded me of jelly (grape, I suppose).

It's hard to believe next week is THE. LAST. WEEK. of baking through Tuesdays with Dorie. Wow, so many recipe. I guess a "top ten" will be in order.

Anyway, If you'd like to see the recipe for the fig cake, check out Ursula's blog, or find yourself a copy of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking, From my Home to Yours... seriously, one of the best baking books EVER.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

TWD: Puffed Double Plum Tart

Since we're on the homestretch with Tuesdays with Dorie, we're doubling up on recipes to get them all done by the end of the month. This week, Laurie of Slush chose Unbelievably Good Chocolate Blueberry Ice Cream and Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen chose Puffed Double Plum Tart.

As you can see, I went with the tart. It was beyond simple thanks to the shell being made with pre-made puff pastry. You almost don't need a recipe for this type of tart. That's one great thing I've learned over the past four years, baking with the TWD gang. Desserts don't have to be hard. Heck, I'll bet if you just roasted the plums by themselves in ramekins with a little sprinkle of sugar on top, they'd be awesome.

OK, that's it for this week. We've only got TWO more weeks and this project will be a wrap. TWD will be done, finished, no more. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TWD: Two Tarts - Honey Almond Fig and Normandy Apple

Wow, so many tart recipes as we come down the home stretch with Tuesdays with Dorie. Does that mean folks are scared of tarts? With their sugar cookie-like shell, I've found tarts to be much easier than pie.

Anyway, this week Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table chose Honey Almond Fig Tart. In addition, Nicole of Bakeologie chose Earl Grey Madeleines, which I didn't make but I'm sure were terrific.

I opted for canned peaches in my tart rather than figs, since figs are not to be found in stores right now.

I really loved how it looked with the peaches and the shiny nougaty-looking filling.

Sadly, my tart wasn't baked through in the middle, even after 40 minutes in the oven. We managed to munch around the outer circle, though. The overwhelming flavor in this tart was honey, with the peaches and almond taking a supporting role. If I were to bake this again, I might cut the honey by half, only because I'm a huge fan of peaches.

I'm also playing catchup from last week. I made both the Sour Cream Pumpkin Tart and the Normandy Apple Tart that Judy of Judy’s Gross Eats and Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures chose. As you can see, I only managed to photograph the apple tart.

This was a really tasty tart, with a homemade applesauce making up the bulk of the filling. The rosy color came from cooking the apple peels with the filling before straining them out. This was a big hit with the family.

I served the pumpkin tart at Thanksgiving and it was a bit hit too. The filling was a perfectly textured pumpkin flavor, just what you'd expect for the star of the Thanksgiving dessert table.

As a side note, I thought I'd mention that I didn't prebake any of the shells and they came out fine. I find that the edges of the shells come out too dark for my tastes if I prebake.

OK, that's it for now. The next few weeks will highlight the final recipes from Dorie Greenspan's outstanding book "Baking, From my Home to Yours". You can find the tart recipes in her book or at the recipe links above.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TWD: Alsatian Apple Tart

Jessica of Cookbook Habit chose Alsatian Apple Tart for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. I'm so happy this recipe was finally chosen. I came so close (twice!) to choosing this but I got lazy both times and opted for cookies instead. So, thanks Jessica!

This tart was really simple to make. Sliced apples were placed in an unbaked tart shell and a custard mixture was poured over top. Then bake and eat! I had to add a couple of shakes of cinnamon to the custard first though (apples without cinnamon is grounds for a flogging in my book).

Anyway, it was fantastic! Seriously loved it.

OK, that's it for this week. If you'd like to see the recipe, checkout the link in the first paragraph or Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Friday, November 4, 2011

TWD: Mini Madeleines plus some Catch Up

Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook chose Mini Madeleines for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. (Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine also chose Fall Butternut Squash Pie, but it seems my childhood experiences of being made to "clean my plate" have scarred me for life when it comes to squash. Needless to say, I didn't make the pie.)

Madeleines are a cake-like cookie, baked in a special pan. They are famous for sticking to the pan and for being prized for the little hump formed on the tops if you "do it right". Sadly, mine were hump-less, but happily they didn't stick to the pan.

I'm also going to share some recipes I've made but haven't blogged about over the past few months.

Last week, Nicole of Cookies on Friday chose Far Breton. A French dessert, it's 80% custard, 20% cake. I used dried cranberries and cherries rather than the prunes and raisins called for in the recipe. I thought it looked like bacon-covered quiche.

It was definitely eggy! I liked it but then, I like eggs.

In mid-October, Hindy of Bubie’s Little Baker chose Ginger Jazzed Brownies.

These spicy little guys had both ground ginger and fresh ginger for a double whammy of ginger. As usual, when mixing spices with chocolate, I couldn't decide if I liked them or not. But they were interesting and something different.

Going all the way back to August, Margie of Tea and Scones chose Golden Brioche Loaves.

I actually made this a loooong time ago when we made one of the bread puddings (can't remember which, though). The brioche by itself was really nice. Come to think of it, I should make it again.

Also in August, Gaye of Laws of the Kitchen chose Tropical Crumble.

This was an unusual crumble made with bananas and mango. I wasn't really sure I would like it, but with the first bite... true love!! It was kind of weird, but the taste reminded me a lot of banana baby food. I remember when my kids were babies, when banana baby food was on the menu it would be - a bite for you, a bite for me, a bite for you, a bite for me... (gee, that sounds terrible, doesn't it?) I love that stuff!

I made 1/2 recipe and it fit in two mini pie pans.

Too bad I didn't have this recipe before. My poor kids would have been better fed!

Another August recipe, Caitlin of Engineer Baker chose Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf.

For me, this was just OK. One by-product of baking EVERY single recipe in a baking book is that you find out what you like and what you don't. I've found out that I'm not a huge fan of muffins, biscuits, or quickbreads. I mean, they're OK and I'm not likely to turn down banana bread, but you won't find me chosing them over cookies and pie.

Whew! That's about it. If you'd like to see the recipes, check out Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, from my Home to Yours", or click on the links (i.e. click on the names of the desserts) above.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

TWD: Flip-Over Plum Cake & Cocoa Almond Meringues

Becky of Project Domestication chose Flip-Over Plum Cake for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Yah, I know, those don't look much like Plum Cake, do they? That's cause they're not. After baking the cake, sharing it with friends and family and enjoying it very much, I can't believe I forgot to take a picture of it!! Duh. Anyway, the cake was fanTAStic. It almost seemed to be more of a crumble than a cake, but whatever, it was GOOD.

Just so I would have a picture to post, I made the Cocoa Almond Meringues, chosen by Mike of Ugly Food for an Ugly Dude back in August.

YUM! they were light and crumbly and melt in your mouth good. Not to mention a little chewy inside.

Thanks to Becky and Mike for two very good picks. If you'd like to see the recipes you can visit the links above or check out Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Daring Bakers: (Chocolate) Croissants

If you saw the movie, "It's Complicated", then you might remember the scene that inspired my friend Monica to ask our little baking club to try Chocolate Croissants. (Coincidentally, Croissants just happen to be this month's Daring Bakers challenge.)

If you didn't see the movie, it goes something like this: the owner of a gorgeous bakery pops into the silent bakery late at night after shmoozing with her handsome new (boy)friend over dinner and drinks. They casually decide to make croissants. It is simple and sexy, and apparently done sans mess. Apparently, it only takes about 10 minutes.

Ha! I don't think so. Maybe in the movies it's short and sweet, but in real life, it is just a tiny bit more complicated (harhar). You might even say a labor of love (again with the harhar).

But the results are just as decadent (and sexy) as in the movies.

They are fantastic, which they well should be because it's a major effort. Although, to be fair, they're not hard, just time consuming.

We decided to make ours chocolate, in keeping with the movie theme. We tried rolling rectangle as well as triangle shaped pieces of dough. Even though the triangles looked prettier when baked, the chocolate to croissant ratio was better with the rectangles... the pointy little ends were skimpy on chocolate.

Thanks so much to Sarah for a great pick this month. (And now for the required blurb----> The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!)

For the recipe, I'm going to pass you along you mamaliga, who's got the recipe and some really fantastic how-to pictures as well. Here you go ---> click here for the recipe.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TWD: Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbreads

Wow, has it really been three months since I've blogged? Chalk it up to a long and busy summer. Thanks to an extra goofy school year schedule, the kids got out of school in late May and didn't go back until Sept. 6. (Pretty sure someone was conspiring against us stay home moms, but I have yet to prove it.)

I barely baked at all this summer, aside from the occasionally requested batch of chocolate chip cookies. Good thing too, because I would have probably been hitting the baked goods hard come August.

Blah, blah, blah... anyway, back to baking. This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbreads, was chosen by Tianne of Buttercream Barbie.

Salt definitely has it's place in baking, but pepper? Weirdly enough, you couldn't really taste the pepper even though there seemed to be quite a lot (especially when any-at-all seems like a lot... for cookies!) It was more of a warm mouth-sensation punctuated by a little kick in the back of your throat. They were very good, with the crumbly, dry texture you expect with good shortbread, and just the right amount of chocolate.

I say, bring on the pepper! Thanks for a great pick, Buttercream Barbie. If you'd like to see the recipe, please check out Tianne's blog (link in first paragraph) or Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

TWD: Chocolate Biscotti

I feel like I won the lottery this week! and I kind of did. Believe it or not, after three years of baking, chopping, caramelizing, and mixing, all of the Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) bakers have had a turn picking the weekly recipe and we're (kind of) starting over. Instead of going back to the beginning of the list, however, Laurie, founder of TWD, has opted for a "pick a name out of the hat" approach and so I get to pick this week. YEAH!!

I have to take a moment to applaud Dorie for a really fabulous baking book. After making 150 or so of the recipes from this book, I feel qualified to say that this is one of the best baking books EVER. The recipes are consistently good, the directions clear and precise, and there's so much variety. Bravo to Dorie!

There were still plenty of tempting recipes to choose from and I went with the Chocolate Biscotti.

Dorie's directions first call for mixing the ingredients and rolling halves of the dough into 12" logs, then flattening them out. I opted for a lazier approach and dropped hunks of the batter into loose rows.

I dipped my fingers in some cocoa powder and nudged, prodded, and coaxed the cookie dough into flattish logs. Then I sprinkled on some sugar, as directed.

Next came the first round of baking, about 25 minutes.

The baked logs were allowed to cool slightly and then sliced.

Next, the slices are placed cut-side-up back on the baking sheet and then into the oven they go for their second round of baking. Here's my secret, though, I only bake about half of them the second time. I leave some on the racks to cool because I think they're just perfect at this point.

Then all that's left to to kick back and enjoy! These biscotti were perfectly chocolate and just plain delish. If you noticed, I left half of them plain and half of them had chopped pistachios and dried cherries added. Either way, they were awesome!

Chocolate Biscotti

Reproduced with permission from "Baking, From my home to yours", by Dorie Greenspan.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
sugar, for dusting

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or silicone mat.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don't worry if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12 inch long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack - and that's just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)

Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet - you'll have an army of biscotti - and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.

Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

TWD: Blueberry Brown Sugar Plain Cake

Cindy of Everyday Insanity chose Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Simple, cinnamony, with a big hit of blueberry; this was a perfect snacking cake.

Perfect for this time of year too, with fruits becoming more plentiful (and cheaper!) in the stores.

I would definitely make this again.

Thanks so much to Cindy for a great pick and Dorie for a great recipe. If you'd like to see the recipe you can visit Cindy's blog (link above) or Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TWD: Caramel Pots de Creme

Wow, somehow I'm behind 4 recipes! Guess I've been baking, but not posting.

In the interest of time, I'll just do a quick catch up, then.

This week, Peggy from Peggy the Baker chose Caramel Pots de Creme for the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Sounds fancy, huh? Really, it's caramel custard and man-oh-man is it heavenly. So simple too. I baked 1/2 recipe exactly as specified and it worked great. The custard was perfectly set. The only "fail" was covering the pan with plastic wrap... my first "visual inspection" of the pan in the oven surprised me with plastic wrap that was half melted. Thankfully, none of it melted into the custards. I followed up with an aluminum foil covering and all was well.

Needless to say, this was my favorite recipe of the four.

Last week, Patricia from Life With a Whisk chose Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones.

These were surprisingly good and I loved the slightly chewy texture the oatmeal gave. I didn't really detect the nutmeg but I could tell "something" was there.

Before that, Lindsay from A Little Something… Sweet chose Maple Cornmeal Biscuits.

I thought these were OK, something like a breakfast flavored cornmeal biscuit. I'm sure the cornbread lovers would enjoy these.

Finally, Peggy from Pantry Revisited chose Brown Sugar Bundt Cake earlier in the month.

I really enjoyed this bundt cake and it's rich caramelly taste. The pears were a nice addition, although I think their ghostly appearance turned off my kids.

OK, that pretty much covers the month of May. If you'd like to see the recipes, please check out each baker's blog, or Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TWD: Basic Marbled Loaf Cake & Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

It was a double-loafer weekend. Loaf cake, that is.

Carol from The Bake More chose Basic Marbled Loaf Cake for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Amy of Amy Ruth Bakes decided on Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake last June but I didn't get to it then.

I used my handy-dandy home-made loaf cake splitter-in-halfer thingamajiggy* and made half a recipe of both cakes in one pop.

* the thingamajiggy is a piece of cardboard cut to fit the pan, then covered well in aluminum foil. I use a couple of pieces of parchment paper lining the bottom and middle side for a little extra insurance to keep the batters safely on their own sides.

As long as the baking times are similar, this method works well for halving loaf cakes. (I included a show and tell on how to make the divider in this post).

As you can see, I opted not to make the standard vanilla - chocolate marble cake. Instead I went with straight vanilla and colored half the batter pink. My son begged me not to add raspberries like I was planning to, or any other flavors, so my marbling is cosmetic only.

Both cakes were moist and dense and tasted delish with no frosting or glaze. I would have a hard time picking a favorite.

If you'd like to see the recipe, stop by Carol and Amy's sites (links in the first paragraph), or find yourself a copy of Dorie Greenspan's book "Baking, From my Home to Yours".