Posts filed under ‘dessert’

Operation Baking GALs + Blondies Bake-Off 2009

Can you believe I’ve never eaten a blondie much less baked one? I have no idea why. Blondies are like the butterscotch distant cousin of brownies. I like brownies. I like butterscotch. What’s not to love right? Again. I ask myself. How the heck did I go 30 years without making or eating a blondie?

I have no answer for you. But I do have the answer to why I decided after all these years to give it a try. For my friend April of Winer Lover’s Cooking Diary. Yes, she *IS* the chick on her blog wearing the wedding dress on the side menu bar. Damn girl can still fit into her wedding dress. Let’s all hate her for a moment. *hate hate hate*

Ok I got that out of my system. Back to my happy place.

The blondies are for her… well… more like her brother. April’s brother is serving in Iraq. That’s where April and Operation Baking GALS comes in. When she put out the “tweet” to join her team, I knew I’d join. She’s a good friend of mine. One of those friends that you’d do anything for. If she asked me to jump, I’d say “How high?” If she asked me to quit eating pizza, I’d say “Are you crazy, woman??” But she’d never ask me to do that b/c friends don’t let friends quit eating pizza. Am I right, April? HA HA!

I had a couple things in mind when I started brainstorming what I wanted to send to April’s brother. Since I am a very indecisive person (Just ask my husband when we try to figure out what restaurant to eat at) I asked April what she thought her brother would want. The following tweet is her reply.

I can’t deny. The woman speaks the truth. My 18 year old brother eats everything. Except fish. He doesn’t like food that “looks” at him while he’s chewing their innards. *cuckoo* Crazy kid!

Toodaloo lovely readers. I am off to figure out how to fill out a customs form. It can’t be “that” hard right? Famous last words.



Basic Blondies
Recipe from Cook Like A Champion

INGREDIENTS

6-7 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Variations:
White Chocolate Macadamia Blondies inspired by Erin’s Food Files
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup macadamia nuts

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies inspired by Baking Blonde
10 peanut butter cups, rough chop

Snickerdoodle Blondies inspired by Two Peas and Their Pod
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp white sugar+1 tbsp cinnamon, sprinkle on top before baking

Funfetti Blondies inspired by my childhood love of Funfetti
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Combine butter and brown sugar and mix until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour and baking powder.

Mix in additions. (See above for suggestions)

Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.


Hint: I’m told that saran wrap+freezing will keep blondies tasting delicious for weeks.

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A+
Of all the variations he said the peanut butter cups were the best. No surprise from my peanut butter addict there! haha

Wifey rating: A
So.FREAKING.good. The edges are the best part! I think my favorite was the white chocolate and macadamia but the snickerdoodle was a close 2nd! Yum! The only thing is I wish they would have been thicker so maybe I’ll double the recipe or use a smaller pan for maximum volume next time.

July 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm 14 comments

Black & White Marbled Cheesecake

Alright already! I get it.

I made a mistake. I misquoted. Whatever you wanna call it.

I made this cheesecake (slight caramel variation) back in December for my baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie, and mentioned that my favorite cheesecake was actually from TGIFridays. If you don’t remember, let me jog your memory mkay? But what I didn’t know and what many readers since then have emailed me is that TGIFridays gets their cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. {smacks head}

Thanks TGIFridays. You just made me look like schmuck in front of my readers. Thanks for that. So I’m going on record now to say… my favorite cheesecake is from The Cheesecake Factory b/c TGIFridays is just the middle man.

Happy?

Whew! I’m glad to get that off my chest.

Now I can move on with my life.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made Dorie Greenspan’s cheesecake. Of all the recipes I’ve made from her book this is the one that gets requested over and over and over again. I am sure I’ll eventually try every variation in her book. I’ve been drooling over the orange version. Baker friends tell me it tastes like a creamsicle. Holy yum batman!

But for this one I decided to go classic chocolate and vanilla. I made this it for Mother’s Day. (Yeah yeah it’s been almost a week so sue me!) And I find it highly amusing that T’s mom requested a cake and T gave me this long convoluted explanation that a cheesecake has “cake” in the name so therefore I should make cheesecake for his mom’s request of “cake”. Basically the man is a sucker for this cheesecake.

I know you will be too.


Recipe from Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 16 servings (or 8 PHAT slices!)

INGREDIENTS

For the crust
1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake
2 pounds (four 8-ounce boxes) cream cheese, at room temperature
1-1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the crust—
Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.

Combine the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Add graham cracker crumb mixture into buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

To make the cheesecake—
Put a kettle of water on to boil.

Working in a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

Add 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to 1/3 of the batter in a separate bowl. Pour all of the vanilla batter into the springform pan, dollop the top of the batter with the chocolate batter and use a table knife to swirl the chocolate batter with the vanilla batter.



I think I was suppose to dollop little amounts of chocolate all over but I was a little overzealous pouring it out and created one big blob! Oops! HAHA

Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster and remove the foil. (Be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil.) Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A+
He absolutely loves this cheesecake recipe and requests it for any and every occasion. He raved about the mix of chocolate and vanilla batters.

Wifey rating: A/A+
I love this cheesecake recipe. It’s my go-to recipe. I am a cheesecake purist though so I like pure vanilla cheesecake more than the marbled variation.

Other rating: A+
Nothing but raves from family and friends. Everyone loved the chocolate swirls!

May 15, 2009 at 5:40 am 28 comments

Bruleed Pumpkin Custard Tart

Happy PI day readers!

Get it? It’s March 14th… 3.14!

Now that is some GREAT nerd love for you right there.

I think many bakers are nerdy. Maybe it’s just me. But I am proud to be a nerd. Don’t you think that baking is kinda nerdy? Measuring ingredients is a science. Why do you think that Rachael Ray says she doesn’t like to bake? You can’t do a palmful of this and a pinch of that in baking. It’s a precise craft. That’s why I love it. Makes me feel like my chemistry labs in college weren’t a waste of time. Although I do admit that when mixing a liter of this and a gallon of that went *kaboom poof*, I did a little jig.

Clara, hate to break it to you but you made a tart. Not a pie.

Au contraire, mon frère.

Dictionarynoun: a small pie filled with cooked fruit or other sweetened preparation, usually having no top crust. slang: a prostitute or promiscuous woman.

(Sorry I had to throw in the slang because it made me laugh. I rarely use “tart” in the slang reference. I prefer slut or whore myself. IE. My ex-SIL is a lying cheating whore. See? It works so much better.)

But there are mixed feelings on the whole tart-pie controversy among my tweeples. (That’s twitter+people for the ignorant.)

So… break the tie for me? Is a tart a pie? and why?


Recipe from Catch The Spoon

Makes 1-9inch tart (8-10 servings)

INGREDIENTS

Dough for 1 pie crust (I used Dorie Greenspan’s pie dough recipe)
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup whole milk (I used half-and-half instead)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
pinch salt
2 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites, lightly beaten

9″ round fluted tart pan, buttered (I used my 9.5″ tart pan)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Fit pie dough into the tart pan and dock with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes and cool, in pan, on a wire rack.


[NOTES: I followed Smitten Kitchen’s fabulous pie dough unfolding technique using a 11-inch plate (she used 12-inch) template. So easy!]

Lower oven temperature to 350F degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin, milk, cream, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla, spices, salt, and eggs until well-combined. Pour into crust and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until filling is almost set. Cool to room temperature, then cover and chill 6 hours or overnight.


Just before serving, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar over top of tart; melt sugar under broiler or with a kitchen torch to desired brulee. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A/A+
Hubs is a pumpkin fan so he had more than one slice. Even though recipe says 8-10 servings I think I only got about 6 servings b/c he cut himself a PHAT slice for each helping. haha

Wifey rating: A
I am not a big pumpkin fan but add some burned sugar on top and you got an amazing dessert. Maybe next time I’ll dollop some whipped cream on top too. I am a little bummed that the crust kinda shrank but next time I use Dorie’s recipe I’ll follow her pie baking instructions instead of “docking with a fork”.

Other rating: A+
T’s mom and dad raved about the pie. They both love pumpkin. T’s dad called dibs on the leftovers after eating his first bite. It was hilarious.

March 14, 2009 at 8:20 am 33 comments

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know?

I am not usually a cookie person.

I think I am more of a cakey dessert person so I rarely get a craving for cookies much less baking them. But today I wanted… No. I NEEDED some cookies. (I seem to need alot of desserts these days huh?) But not just any cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. Why? Because I am 52.6% melancholy and only chocolate chip would do. That’s why.

Ever since I saw them on my foodie all around bestie’s blog, almost a year ago (dang has it really been that long?), I’ve had them on my must-bake-someday list and TODAY was the day! But since her instructions are… ahem… condensed, I also found the recipe on fellow TWDer, Erin’s blog too. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with a recipe that 2 of my favorite blog reads agree are the BEST chocolate chips cookies…

Side note: A little nifty trick that I got from above fbff. One of the biggest reason I am not a cookie baker is b/c it takes time to make and bake each cookie so she told me to bake up some and freeze the rest of the dough for a future cookie craving. So that’s what I did! I made all the dough balls, froze them on a parchment-lined shelf in my freezer until they were solid, then stored them in a ziplock freezer bag and put back in the freezer for another day. Easy peasy!


(Recipe from Dinner & Dessert | photos from me!)

Makes 18 large cookies (I made about 75 minis)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10-5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1 cup semi-sweet)

INSTRUCTIONS

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.



Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

[NOTES: I wanted to make mini cookies so I used my kitchen scale and weighed out 0.5oz dough balls.]

Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

[NOTES: I baked my minis for about 10 minutes.]

ENJOY!

Husband rating: N/A

Wifey rating: A+
These were bite size, soft, chocolate gooey-ness and perfect for my craving. I am officially renaming these cookies Betcha-Can’t-Eat-Just-One-Of-Them Cookies or BCEJOOTC for short. HAHA

November 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm 21 comments

Strawberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Cups

Sometimes a girl just needs some cheesecake.

Can you blame me?


(Recipe adapted from Kraft Food & Family | photos from me!)

Makes about 14 cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

12 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
4oz white chocolate, divided (I used Ghiradelli)
2-8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
12+ tbsp strawberry preserves

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cupcake pan with liners

Press about 1tsbp of crushed cookie into bottom of each cupcake liner. Melt 3oz white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 15-30 sec intervals. Be careful not to burn chocolate. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with a flat beater, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add melted chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Fill cupcake liners almost to the top.


Bake for 20-25 minutes or until almost set. Cool 5 minutes. Spread about 1+ tbsp preserves on top of each cupcake. Melt remaining chocolate and drizzle over cheesecake. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.


[NOTES: I put the remaining melted white chocolate in a ziplock bag and snipped off a little corner to drizzle. Easy cleanup!]

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A+
He’s not usually a white chocolate fan but he loves cheesecake and raved about this one. He liked the strawberry topping b/c it added a nice sweet tang and the white chocolate drizzle b/c it was “purdy”. HAHA

Wifey rating: A+
Ohmygod. So.freaking.good. I won’t tell you how many I ate. All I am gonna say is… I better get my cheescake butt to the gym tomorrow.

November 1, 2008 at 3:56 pm 13 comments

Homemade Samoas

(image credit: Living Novel)

Do you know what the BEST cookie in this world is…? (Aliens might have a better cookie so I am leaving it as an option just in case.)

Samoas!!!

Also known as Caramel De-Lites (but they will always be Samoas to me).

Now I know that plenty of you will disagree with me. My hubs is a Tagalong die-hard but there’s something about that caramel, coconut, shortbread and chocolate that satisfies every cookie craving for me.

It’s a good thing that the little box only holds 15-20 odd cookies b/c I’d gladly eat more in one sitting. I have memories of tummy aches to prove it. But its SO worth it. HAHA. Don’t even shake your head and tut tut tut at me. You know you’ve done the same thing yourself. Maybe when a boy broke your heart and you found your stash of girl scout cookies was the best medicine for the pain? I know the feeling girlfriend… ::shaking head knowingly::

But those darn cookies are a limited commodity and my girl scout connection grew out of her green sash with button flair and into piercings and boys. Frick! So imagine my “delight” (Get it? “Delight”? It’s called Caramel De-lite. Get it?? Is this thing on?) when I found a homemade version of a Samoa.

Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.


(Recipe from Baking Bites | photos from me!)

Makes about 3-1/2 to 4 dozen (I halved the recipe and got 30 cookies)

INGREDIENTS

For cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
up to 2 tablespoons milk

For topping
3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-ounces good-quality chewy caramels ( I used Wether’s Chewy Caramels)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
8 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS

To making cookies—
Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky.


[NOTES: I added 1 tbsp of milk but I probably didn’t need to add anything.]

Roll the dough (working in two or three batches) out between pieces of wax paper to about 1/4-inch thickness (or slightly less) and use a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and use a knife, or the end of a wide straw, to cut a smaller center hole. Repeat with remaining dough.


[NOTES: I used the small end of my 2A round tip to cut out the center hole. Next time I’ll probably use a different size cookie cutter, maybe my 2 inch instead for a bigger cookie.]

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned and cookies are set.

Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make topping—
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F

Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.


Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt a bit of additional chocolate, if necessary) into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

[NOTES: I popped my tray into the frig for the chocolate to set for about an hour.]

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A
He liked the homemade version but he’s a tagalong man so its not his favorite girl scout cookie.

Wifey rating: A
It really tastes like a samoa!! But this recipe takes a little time to make (about 2 hours for me, not counting the setting chocolate part) so I’d only make this again by special request or a serious craving from a pregnant friend during the girl scout off-season.

October 10, 2008 at 10:45 am 14 comments

LOC #2: Grandma’s 85th Birthday Cake

Its almost been a week since the festivities but I finally have some quiet time to divulge the whole sorted story now. (I might be a tad melodramatic today.)

Well… you all read my refrigerator woes but just in case here’s the recap:

1. My frig took a crap.
2. I was forced to cook/bake out of a cooler for a couple days.

How did folks survived in the olden days without a frig? My kitchen was so chaotic! It was back breaking work to drain the melted ice water and refill the coolers with new ice every day! and PS if anyone finds themselves in the same sitch… ziplock your butter! I put my butter in the cooler, the ice melted and water got into the boxes. Its ok for cooking but baking is an exact science and getting my buttercream to be light and fluffy wasn’t happening with water soaked butter. Trust me. I learned that the goopy-not-for-human-consumption way. UGH! I don’t want to talk about it anymore… (It definitely wasn’t baker error. ok maybe?)

But all is right with the world again. I have a new refrigerator. Its no stainless steel, internet ready mega refrigerator but it works for me. At least I have an ice maker now! w00t!

Enough frig talk. Onto the cake…

T’s grandmother (you can see her in the picture with my FIL on my wedding day) turned the ripe ol age of 85 last Saturday and who volunteered her cake services without hesitation? Me? Heck no! My mother-in-law! LOL.

My mother-in-law told T’s grandmother I’d be making her birthday cake. Under normal condition this wouldn’t have phased me at all. I am not the greatest layer cake-er ever (I tend to stick to cupcakes myself) but I am growing an appreciation for layer cakes and have made a couple on occasion. But the whole “no refrigerator thing” made cake-ing slightly harder than usual this time. In MIL’s defense the frig broke after she had asked me to bake the cake. She did give me an out b/c of the circumstances but I decided (b/c I am glutton for punishment) to bake it anyways.

I decided to do a Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind and create the Black and White cake for T’s grandmother’s birthday. Its been on my rewind list for a while now and figured it would be my submission for Layers of Cake Event too. I did make a few adjustments though. Instead of the white chocolate cream layer, I couldn’t get it to work (I guess ghiradelli isn’t high enough quality?), I opted for the Perfect Party Cake buttercream instead. (Props to my caker-licious friend, Nikki, for that rec! *muah*)

I also went out and bought new butter. ::smacks head::

(more…)

September 24, 2008 at 11:29 am 14 comments

TWD #30: Sorry, No chunker dunkers today…

I know you probably came here looking for my Tuesdays with Dorie recipe of the week – Chocolate Chunkers hosted by Claudia of Fool for Food – but I regret that I wasn’t able to make them. You still love me right? Please don’t make me beg… b/c I will.

To get your Chocolate Chunker fix, take a peek at the TWD blogroll and look at what over 250+ Dorie-nators did. I’ll be back next week with Dimply Plum Cake. xoxo

Now that we got that business out of the way, I can show you my latest baking triumph.

(more…)

September 15, 2008 at 7:42 pm 54 comments

Raspberry Mascarpone Ice Cream

I am addicted to infomercials.

I currently own the pasta express, ab slide, aerobed, bellydancing DVD, ab rocker, thighmaster, one touch can opener, snap hooks, smart scissors, the clapper, the shred ender, and many more… Please tell me I am not the only one??

I always find myself watching these shows and when they ask you… “Wouldn’t you like to try this in your own home?”, I find myself nodding enthusiastically, eyes glossy and reaching for my wallet. (It really is an addiction!)

But it’s not my fault. Its the TV’s fault!

Along with my infomercial addiction I am also brainwashed by food network personalities to try their beloved ingredients. One of my favorite food TV stars is Giadia De Laurentiis. If you watch her enough you’ll notice that she loves her pancetta and mascarpone cheese. (I say it in my head the way she does, with her Italian accent.)

So that being said… I found myself staring at 3 tubs of mascarpone cheese in my refrigerator on Tuesday afternoon. But I wasn’t in the mood for something savory. I wanted something sweet.

After trolling around the foodie blogosphere I found what I was looking for.

A quick look at the ingredients and the only thing I was missing were raspberries. I jumped in my car and raided my local grocery store produce section for raspberries (well to be honest, I told T to go get some for me) and hurried back to start my ice cream project.

There’s just something about homemade ice cream. I am not usually an ice cream person but homemade is just better. I have to admit that this recipe takes alot of time and ALOT of bowls/equipment. I was doing dishes for hours after I finished.

Was it worth it? (Read my review at the end.)

PS. I provided the link to the original blog. Definitely check it out. The process pictures are fabulous!


(Recipe from Chocolate Gourmand | photos from me!)

Makes about 2 quarts

INGREDIENTS

1 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks
1-1/4 cup sugar, divided
3 pints fresh raspberries
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 cup heavy whipping cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the milk over medium heat until simmering, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar until well blended and color turns to light yellow. Continue whisking the egg mixture while slowly pouring in the hot milk. Return to saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until temperature reaches about 165° F.


Remove from heat and pour through sieve or chinois. Place in ice bath to cool. Once the mixture is no longer hot you can add the mascarpone cheese. To ensure even mixing you can return the mixture to a mixer and beat until smooth. Return mixture to ice bath to continue cooling.


Rinse the raspberries and dry on a paper towel, removing any leaves or discolored raspberries as needed. Place raspberries in a blender with 3/4 cup of sugar. Pureé well and pour into chinois or sieve to filter out raspberry seeds.

Pour the raspberry puree into the ice cream base, add 1/4 cup of Grand Marnier and blend well with a whisk. Beat the 1 cup of cream just until it is no longer runny and add this to the ice cream base, mixing in thoroughly. Continue to chill in the ice bath until about 45° F. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.


Transfer to a dedicated, odor-free container to let ripen in the freezer for several hours or overnight.

ENJOY!

Husband rating: A+
He is usually a chocolate and pb ice cream eater but he liked how smooth and fresh this ice cream tasted.

Wifey rating: A+
I am not an ice cream person (I prefer cupcakes, cheesecake) but I love how the combination of sweet and tart from the raspberries and mascarpone complimented each other. I won’t tell you how many scoops I had!

Other rating: A+
I brought the ice cream over to T’s parents for dessert and they both loved it. They really liked how fresh it tasted and T’s dad had 3 bowls!

September 14, 2008 at 8:34 am 19 comments

Operation Baking GALS: Raspberry Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

If you spend any time trolling the foodie blogosphere (like me), you know what the logo to the left is. Operation Baking GALS (an acronym for Give A Little Support) was started by a Doughmesstic Don’t you just love her blog name? blogger named Susan.

How it all started: Originally I got an email from Susan during the first round of Operation Baking GALS about her cousin fighting in Iraq. You can read the whole email here.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to participate in round one but I always kept it in the back of my mind. I knew I would participate given the chance again. That chance came in the form of Steph from Steph Chows. Steph is one of the hosts for round 2 of Operation Baking GALS. When I read via her blog about forming a GALS team, I knew I’d be enlisting. (A little army humor for ya! HAHA)

Whether you are for or against the war its hard not to know someone who isn’t involved in the war. T’s bff from high school is stationed near Fallujah right now. He has a wife and a 8 year old son, named Zack. Being a newlywed (well its been 13 months but close enough) I can’t imagine being away from my husband, much less my child (Just FYI, if my MIL is reading this, No I am not pregnant). So I decided to take this opportunity to send him some cookies too. You all know how much I love 2fors!

I plan to ship the cookies with a California related (probably disneyland or beach scene) postcard. Isn’t that a cute idea? Who doesn’t like getting postcards? I know I do!

If you would like to be a baking GAL, email —> bakingGALS [at] gmail [dot] com


(Recipe from Emeril Lagasse, foodnetwork.com | photos from me!)

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup raspberry jam or jelly (I used raspberry preserves)
1 tablespoon Chambord or kirsch (I used chambord)
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets.

In a small bowl, combine the jam and Chambord. Stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to blend. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat just until moist clumps form. Gather the dough together into a ball.


Pinch off the dough to form 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Use your floured index finger or 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to create depressions in the center of each ball. Fill each indentation with nearly 1/2 teaspoon of the jam mixture.


[NOTES: I weigh each ball of dough on my kitchen scale at about 0.5 oz. I also lightly floured the back of my teaspoon so that the cookie dough didnt stick to it. It worked great!]

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

ENJOY! :)

Husband rating: A+
He still claims he’s on a diet but he ate more than 1 cookie! Muhahaha. I am such a saboteur huh?

Wifey rating: A+
Ohmygod. These cookies are so freaking good! I won’t tell you how many I ate. Imagine the possibilities. You could use any berry preserves/jam/jelly and even switch up the lemon for a lime. YUM! Definitely will make again!

August 24, 2008 at 1:44 pm 9 comments

TWD #11: Like a fat kid loves tortecakes

After finding out that this week’s TWD weekly recipe would be a torte, my immediate question was…

What exactly is a torte?

Just to warn you. I have the curiosity of a child. I can askjeeves questions faster than a 5 year old.

When I hear the word “torte” I think of it in the legal sense. A tort (minus the “e”) is an act that injures someone in some way, and the injured person may sue the wrongdoer for damages. Legally, torts are called civil wrongs, as opposed to criminal ones. You can blame my political science nerd husband for my ability to regurgitate the previous mentioned lawyer babble. haha.

In a similar sense, this dessert does do alot of damage. Its very rich and I think one TWDer calculated it to be about 26 WW points per serving! YIKES! Seriously. Was it really necessary to calculate this? I could have lived happily eating my torte not knowing. haha. But with this newfound knowledge, I decided to reduce the recipe by half to increase our chances of living longer healthier lives. My peanut butter junkie husband was not pleased about this decision. Doesn’t he realize that the rules to a happy marriage are “Love, Honor and Disobey”? I am pretty sure it was part of my vows… LOL.

What I learned this week:
A torte is a rich cake, esp. one containing little or no flour, usually made with eggs and ground nuts or bread crumbs.

Hosted by Elizabeth @ Ugg Smell Food
Check out the Tuesdays w/ Dorie blogroll on the side menu bar.

Peanut Butter Tortecakes
(Recipe from DG Baking pages 282-283 | photos from me!)

INGREDIENTS

1-1/4 cup finely chopped salted peanuts, for the filling, crunch and topping (I used unsalted)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate (I used ghiradelli chocolate, chopped)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2-1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1-1/2 cup salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth, not natural (I used smooth Jif)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 oz bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (I used 1/2 semi-sweet+1/2 bittersweet instead)

INSTRUCTIONS

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

[NOTES: Halving the recipe made 12 cupcakes for me.]

Toss 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.


Click image to enlarge

[NOTES: I used unsalted peanuts by mistake but a few TWDer said it was salty so maybe this was one of those good mistakes? teehee]

Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.


Click image to enlarge

[NOTES: I halved the recipe but used about 15 oreos to get the consistency I wanted to fill my cupcake liners. Each cupcake liner got about 1 tbsp of crust to cover the bottom. I didn’t cover the sides.]

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.


Click image to enlarge

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.


Click image to enlarge

To make ganache—
Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.

[NOTES: I used the microwave to melt the chocolate for about 45 secs.]

Bring the remaining 1/2 cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

[NOTES: I poured about 3/4 tbsp of ganache in each cup and then smoothed it out to the edge with my fingers.]


Click image to enlarge

When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

ENJOY! :)

Husband rating: A++
He ate one for a late night dessert and raved the whole time. He declared it his favorite Dorie recipe (so far). I knew he’d love it. He is a pb freak. haha.

Wifey rating: A+
Its SO good but very decadent so I could barely finish one little tortecake. This wasn’t too complicated to put together and I am sure I’ll make it again.

Next week: Florida Pie pages 340-341

May 6, 2008 at 9:34 am 49 comments

TWD #7 The league of extraordinary… tarts?

Sean Connery (there is no other 007) can do no wrong… until The League of Extraordinary Men. T and I rarely agree on movies so I knew this movie was horrible when we both agreed that we didn’t care to finish it and flipped the DVD player off to find greener channel pastures in TV land. Maybe I put things on a higher standard when the word “extraordinary” is used in the title. So I wasn’t sure what to expect from this extraordinary tart. Would it let me down like Sean Connery or live up to the hype?

Right away things weren’t looking too good. I was sleep deprived, kind of baked out from a cupcake order the day before, lacked a candy thermometer, tart pan and 3 lemons. I was ready to throw in the towel even before I began. But in the end I knew I couldn’t let down the other 100+ TWDers that take time out of their busy lives to make their tart. So I left the “I can’t do this” blues and arrived to the “make it work” Tim Gunn wisdom.

First order of business was figuring out how to get the cutesy fluted edge without the tart pan sitch. *light bulb* Cupcake liner!

What I learned this week:
Sometimes baking requires a gut feeling esp when you don’t have all the modern day gadgets (ie candy thermometer, tart pan) that take the guesswork out of baking. But I think its good to keep me on my toes…

Hosted by Mary @ Starting From Scratch
Check out the Tuesdays w/ Dorie blogroll on the side menu bar.

The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
(Recipe from DGs’ Baking: From my home to yours pages 331-332 | photos from me!)


Isn’t my little tartlette slice so cute? It fit in the palm of my hand!

Makes about 12 cupcake-size tarts

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons (I used 2 lemons)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons) (I used 2 lemons’ juice+bottled lemon juice to make up the rest.)
2 sticks plus 5 Tbsp butter (10-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature.
1 9-inch tart shell made with sweet tart dough

INSTRUCTIONS

Have a instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (1st choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture fees tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk- you whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling- you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point- the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience- depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp may take as long as 10 minutes.

[NOTES: Many TWDers had problems getting it up to 180F. Since I don’t have a candy thermometer, I relied on Dorie’s description of how the cream should progress. Took me about 15 minutes. I think using a metal bowl helped too.]

As soon as it reaches 180F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the lender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

[NOTES: I almost skipped the straining step but I am so glad I didn’t. Its worth it for the smooth cream texture. Trust me. Take the time to strain.]

Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going- to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to bend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests, and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. (the cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator)

[NOTES: I had a good amount of lemon cream leftover so next time I make this I might 1/2 the lemon cream recipe.]

When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

ENJOY! :)

Husband rating: A
He likes lemon but wasn’t expecting this one to be as tart as it was. He still ate 2 of them! :)

Wifey rating: A/A+
ditto hubs. But after the 2nd bite I was hooked. The cream is so silky smooth and the crust is buttery goodness.

Next week: Homemade Marshmallows pages 404-405

Sweet Tart Dough

INGREDIENTS

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 T) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

INSTRUCTIONS

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in- you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal fakes and others the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses- about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate and dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

[NOTES: I just realized that I was suppose to use 1 yolk but I used the whole egg. oops!]

To press the dough into the pan: butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy handed- press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferable longer, before baking.

[NOTES: I don’t have a tart pan so I used foil cupcake liners.]

To partially or fully bake the crust: center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, against the crust. (since you froze it, you can bake it without weights). Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, carefully press it down with the back of a spoon.

For partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack. To fully bake the crust, bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

April 8, 2008 at 8:38 pm 28 comments

TWD #5: Flan-tastic Four…err… Five

My subject line would be more clever if this were my fourth TWD challenge but just like there were really 4 Musketeers (Aramis, Athos, Dartagnan and Porthos) not three… things aren’t always what they should be. That’s my story and I am sticking to my subject line! haha.

If you are like me than everything is better with caramel.

Since fellow TWDers who made it earlier than me recommended doubling the caramel thats what I did. It didn’t take much convincing since I love caramel. See…? It does pay to procrastinate sometimes. haha.

What I learned this week:
I need to learn not to be deceived that a recipe “looks” easy. Next time slow down, read the recipe more than one time and enjoy every minute of baking for the tastiest results.

EDIT: To elaborate on my “what I learned this week” per Nikki‘s request… I learned how to speed read when I was young but its something automatic which is great for reading a college textbook, cramming for exams or reading for pleasure but with recipes its a little different and I really have to force myself to slow down or I miss steps like boiling water in a teakettle. Instead of saving me time, it costs me more time while I complete a step that I should have done earlier.

Hosted by Stephanie @ A Whisk and A Spoon
Check out the Tuesdays w/ Dorie blogroll on the side menu bar.

Caramel-Topped Flan


Click image to enlarge
(Recipe from DG’s Baking: From my home to yours pages 395-397 | photos fro me!)

INGREDIENTS

For the caramel
1/3 cup sugar (2/3 cup)
3 tbsp water (6 tbsp)
squirt of fresh lemon juice (2 squirts)

For the flan
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1-1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a roasting pan or a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.

Put a metal 8-x-2-inch round cake pan-not a nonstick one-in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel.

Variation: You can also make 6-8 individual servings using ramekins, pudding cups, coffee cups or foil containers. Skip warming the containers before pouring the caramel and bake around 25 minutes.

[NOTES: I used cupcake foil liners.]

To make the caramel—
Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes-remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.

Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom; set the pan aside.

To make the flan—
Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.

Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in the vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the hot cream and milk. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.

Put the caramel-lined cake pan in the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don’t worry if this sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooking rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen it. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. (I refrigerated overnight.)

When ready to serve, once more, run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan-the flan will shimmy out and the caramel sauce will coat the custard.

ENJOY! :)

Husband rating: A
He made himself sick on a “dessert” during Easter so he wasn’t up for another sweet flan taste so soon but he did take a little bite and liked it.

Wifey rating: A
I like flan but I think its an acquired taste. This version was very good and not as hard to make as I thought flan would be.

Next week: Gooey Chocolate Cakes

March 25, 2008 at 9:02 am 35 comments

TWD#2 Fee Fi Faux Snickers

I love Snickers. I wouldn’t say its my favorite candy but its definitely in my top 3 candy bars. So of course I was thrilled when Erin @ Dinner And Dessert chose this recipe for me and my fellow TWDers to bake this week.

This recipe wasn’t complicated per se but I think *I* made it harder than it should have been. haha.

First faux pa. I forgot the peanuts. So off to the grocery store to get peanuts. Second stupid moment. I got unsalted and not salted peanuts. Turd. To make matters worse, after I left the grocery store, I smacked my forehead when I realized that I came home with no dulce de leche. Crap. Then I got the “brilliant” idea to make my own!

SNICKERY SQUARES
page 120-121


(Recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours | photos from me!)

INGREDIENTS

For the crust
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

For the filling
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1-1/2 cups salted peanuts
1-1/2 cups store-bought dulce de leche (see notes)

For the topping
7 oz bittersweet chocolate, coursely chopped (I used 1/2 bittersweet 1/2 semi-sweet)
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temp

[NOTES: I was too lazy to hit up the grocery store (again!) so I used homemade dulce de leche from this recipe. Recipe says 4 hours but mine took 5.5 hour. Maybe I didn’t have the stove turned high enough? *shrugs]

INSTRUCTIONS

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet. (I used a 9×13 pan b/c I didn’t read the recipe correctly. Probably why my bars came out kinda skinny. *shrugs)

To make the crust—
Toss the flour, sugar, confectioners’ sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds – stop before the dough comes together in a ball.

Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To make the filling–
Have a parchment – or, better yet, a silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon (you’ll be cooking sugar that will climb to over 300 degrees F, so you’ll want to keep as far away from it as possible) and a medium (about 2-quart) heavy-bottomed sauce pan.

Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. (If sugar splatters onto the sides of the saucepan, wash down the splatters with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.) Toss in the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with the sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white – keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel.

When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet, using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.

When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and finely chop the other half for the topping.

Spread the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and sprinkle over the whole candied nuts or the big pieces.

To make the topping—
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water or in a microwave oven, using a low power setting. Remove the chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate.

Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with a long metal icing spatula, then sprinkle over the finely chopped candied peanuts. Slide the pan into the refrigerator to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting.

Cut into 16 bars, each roughly 2-1/2 inches on a side.

ENJOY! :)

Husband rating: A
He liked it but isn’t a huge fan of dulce de leche. He said I should have use peanut butter or nutella for the filling instead. Interesting for next time?

Wifey rating: A
They were good but very rich so I could barely finish one piece. I am glad I decided to use 1/2 bitter and 1/2 semisweet chocolate b/c I am sure the bitterness would have overwhelmed the bar too much for me. I honestly liked eating the caramalized peanuts more than the whole bar! hehe.

Next week: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie Cake

March 4, 2008 at 5:54 am 38 comments

Erin’s Ultimate Sugar Cookies

I was lucky enough to get my dear friend April as my secret baker during the January baked goods exchange and she did not disappoint! I pre-maturely squealed when her package came in a cheesecake box but alas my cheesecake dreams were dashed when her letter explained that it was just a box. :(

(I am so dramatic sometimes… LOL.)

She originally tried to make me one of my favorite candies, York Peppermint Patties, but for some reason her minty filling never solidified! Bummer! But plan B was to send me some of her friend, Erin’s, “secret” sugar cookie recipe.

OH.MY.GOD. Best sugar cookie EVER. (My cheesecake disappointment was long forgotten after taking that first sugar-cookie-bite. haha) I ate them all by myself in one sitting. T didn’t even have a chance to get one bite! Hey… you snooze you don’t get cookie!

Thank you Erin for making me fat sharing your recipe with April (and me)!


(Recipe from WineLoversCookingDiary | photos from me!)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp baking powder
3-1/2 cups cake flour

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add well beaten eggs. Sift dry ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients with shortening/sugar mixture.

Roll out on floured surface. Cut into shapes. Bake for 8 minutes.

ENJOY! :)

Husband rating: N/A

Wifey rating: A+++
I ate every cookie and every crumb in one sitting. Enough said. ;)

February 10, 2008 at 8:56 pm 12 comments

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