Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

Quick post as I am taking the Littlest Baker to the doctor today...2 month check up and (gasp!) shots!

recipe: Flaky Apple Turnovers from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours (via baking club Tuesdays With Dorie (aka TWD).

chosen by: twd club member Julie of Someone's in the Kitchen

verdict: delicious!!!!! love these...love the dough-though it was super crumbly maybe I did not do the cutting in of butter too well?? I had to add some H20 to it.

photos: as seen below...I tried to add a cut-out apple shape to the tops of these, but it puffed up..hopefully you see what I was going for...

Ok, off to get the apple of my eye (pun intended) up from his nap...if only he was old enough to have some of these sweet treats as a way to console him after the 4 vaccinations! Someday....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Souffle!!

Well I did it...albeit the post is not appearing until late Tuesday--I actually baked one of our Tuesdays With Dorie weekly recipes!! Feels good to be back...at least for now! once I am back to work i am not sure how well I'll keep up.
This week I give a shout-out to my nearly 8-week old who let mommy run around like a maniac in the kitchen this afternoon whilst he played on his play mat, staring up at his favorite toys hanging from above him. He loves that play mat ALMOST as much as the ceiling fan in his room...Now the fan--there's his favorite thing in the world. They always seem to have a great dialogue together...the Littlest Baker stares up at the fan, 'talks' and laughs...the fan whirring around back at him...they really do get on famously. If only he looked at me the way he does Hunter Douglas....sigh..(What is it with kids and ceiling fans? I am beginning to think there are some sort of hidden subliminal messages, known only to infants transmitted by these fans.) Here is the li'l guy:

I must admit it was this weeks Tuesdays With Dorie recipe totally lured me back in...this week the recipe was chosen by Susan of the blog: She's Becoming Dough-messtic. (Chocolate Souffle, page 406 in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours) What self-respecting baker wouldn't want to try their hand at making a chocolate souffle?! I am happy to report it came out absolutely decadent, fabulous...it was "beyond'..it was 'bananas" (as Rachel Zoe would say Anyone? anyone?)

Dear Husband and I feel it shoots up to the top of the Dorie list of recipes I have done-the French Pear Tart and banana cream pie have a rival for SURE! I was the only one who enjoyed it warm as I had to make it during the window of opportunity I had earlier in the day. But "fallen souffle cake" was enjoyed by us both tonight after our dinner!

It came together easily...my only hiccup was I burned the top of it. I tried to take a photo of it risen right before I took it out but it didn't come out as I did w/ the door closed, so you see more of MY reflection than the darn souffle! But if you look carefully, you see the nice dome I was able to get on it...it started deflating by the time I took the photo that is at the beginning of the post! (FYI the light you see is not my flash--the flash was off..it's the light in the corner of the oven).

FYI, for the foodies out there who are fans of Food TV-I've made some pretty darn good dinners here and there during maternity leave...not many, and Dear Husband has been my hero when it comes to him arriving home after painting all day and still cooking up dinner for us as my day and nights are spent totally tending to our son...My intentions are always there, but I am at the beck and call of our Little Baker--who at 7 weeks seems to have developed some sort of digestive issues...gassy...spitting up..things that we have dodged until now but add more time to the feeding process--and to the 'calming down' process as he is mr fussy these days due to the aforementioned issues.

When I nurse him I seem to always be tuning into Food TV...so here are recipes I have tried over the past 7-8 weeks! ALL of which I recommend!!

Melissa D'Arabian's (the newest Food TV star) Salmon Cakes and Lemon-Thyme Orzo
Then one day in the mail came my Bon Appetit...and I realized that I had all the fixins for one of their "Fast-Easy-Fresh" recipes--and I gave it a whirl! Can I just say there is nothing more satisfying to me than going through a recipe and realizing that I had all the ingredients?! So Dear Husband was surprised when he came home to Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce

Speaking of Bon Appetit, FYI Dorie has a "brioche-made-easy" recipe in this months B.A mag! I can't wait to try!)
I hope to return for next week's recipe Flaky Apple Turnovers! Fall is around the corner!! My favorite time of year!! (only this year my least favorite..Oct 12 I return to reality and work...and try not to have a breakdown over leaving the Petit Baker with daycare....)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bingo!!! THE definitive chocolate cake recipe!

OK, so I have not been doing much blogging in light of the birth of my our little one--five weeks old this past Wednesday! I will say I DID make the banana bundt cake that everyone made a few weeks ago and LOVED it...but did not take photos...so I never made it an official posting!

Long before joining Tuesdays with Dorie baking club--and since joining--I have often lamented that I have not found 'THE' chocolate cake recipe that offers a 'box cake' moistness...
NOTE; this in no way is to offend Dorie Greenspan--my take is I am just not making her recipes for chocolate cake up to her standards! So THIS recipe I have found is super easy, (i.e. "dummy-proof") and gave me the cake texture I've been seeking....so just to be sure I point out that I'm sure if I had the exact technique that Dorie has, I would deem HER chocolate cake recipe the 'one'!)

The search is over (cue Survivor), I found the recipe today and I AM SO EXCITED! Well, actually I did not find it today, I had heard of it for some time..

Fellow TWD blogger, Nancy, of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs, told me in a comment in February to try Martha Stewart's 'One Bowl Chocolate Cake. It's taken me until NOW to do so.

The occasion was Dear Husband's birthday. He LOVES chocolate cake--problem is he does NOT love frosting..therefore, it leaves little room for error when doing scratch cakes. When a cake lacks moistness--I just slather on more frosting and drink more milk. He, on the other hand, has been stuck with many a dry mouthful of chocolate cake, and I'm sure has wished on many an occasion that I just do the 'box cake' and be done with it. And I almost did this year..almost!

Knowing the Birthday Boy does not enjoy frosting on cake-and knowing we were having our friends over for dinner led me to determine that cupcakes would be best--I could frost some, and leave others as they are.

I found Martha's One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, which is basically taking the cake recipe and halving it. It's not only the BEST texture and moistness--it's the simplest recipe! Sift all dry ingredients in the mixer bowl..then add the liquid ingredients, mix until blended and presto! Cake batter! Indeed its simple nature made this a very "baby-friendly" recipe! I stopped and started about 3 times and never worried that I lost my place in the recipe! Plus, if needed I could do some of it with one hand while I held him in the other arm (I actually cracked 2 eggs with one hand with no shrapnel!)

And so now I've got it--THE recipe for a perfect chocolate cake--and in plenty of time for Jason's first birthday!

Next time I think I'll branch out and fill some with whipped cream a la "Hostess" and maybe do some peanut butter frosting/filling a la "Funny Bones." But for now, I'm just thrilled with having a go-to chocolate cake recipe! Thank you, Martha--and thank you Nancy for turning me onto it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TWD --a bit on hold for now in light of the new arrival!

Here he is...our first born...Jason!
Born July 15
9 lbs 1oz

We're doing GREAT but I am just not sure when I'll get back to the next recipe--but I intend to be back in the Tuesdays with Dorie fold as soon as I can!

In the meantime, in lieu of a food creation, I give you a photo of our blessed creation! So in love with this face..I can't even tell you...!!

:) Lisa

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TWD: Tribute to K.Hepburn Brownies

This week in the Tuesdays With Dorie bake-it-and-blog-it club, the recipe was chosen by the winner of the logo design contest! You see her winning design here on the side of my blog--It perfectly represents Dorie--the combo of France, baking, etc! I love it! The winning artiste is Lisa from Surviving Oz and she chose for this week's recipe the one on page 96 of Dorie's Baking: From My Home to Yours "Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies"

Just a reminder for those 'just joining us'--the Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) club is a group who are baking our way through this cookbook. Every week a new (dessert) recipe. I've been out of it the past few weeks...so have not participated lately but was glad to hop back in the saddle with brownies!

I tried a brownie recipe-not one of Dorie's--back in April and it was a huge success according to Dear Husband (who just loves chocolate). Brownies are a fave in this house--so I was excited to try this interesting spin on them, in which Dorie adds both coffee and cinnamon to the batter. It also calls for nuts, which I normally omit in brownies--though I found new compromise by using finely chopped walnuts (vs coursely/rough chopped) and I think it added some welcome texture and flavor to this rich brownie.

They came together rather easily--I love the 'mixing bowl' recipes (vs hauling out the electric mixer). My pan is 9x9, not 8x8, so I kept checking them not knowning how the baking time would be affected--turns out I baked it about 5 min less than what was called for in the book, and they were baked to perfection!

I LOVE the texture of these--fudgy and moist! They really are an ideal brownie when it comes to texture and the chocolate taste/etc. The recipe is supposedly a fave of Kate Hepburn's (whose movies I just adore....and referenced in this post!) But, overall, for me, let's just say the coffee is not my cup of tea. They are basically 'coffee brownies' which is not a bad thing, but I was hoping for more subtle taste.

I can't wait to make these again and will admit I'll do so by removing the coffee/cinnamon combo and doing a classic walnuts/brownies. I think they'll rival the ones I made back in April for sure!

I would make the coffee flavored ones again, perhaps for entertaining or hostess gift for a dinner...they are really good, and its a neat twist, but it's just I'm a purist (read: boring, mainstream) who just likes her brownies chocolate, once in awhile with nuts and nothing else needed but a glass of milk.

Here is the other project I have going! The nursery is coming along!! 8 days until the due date...doctor appointment is tomorrow, I hope for progress, but seeing as I keep hearing "You haven't dropped yet" my guess is I'll be going past the due date..we shall see!

My very fave part of the nursery is the custom-made vinyl lettering/quote I ordered. I asked for the opening line of the best book ever: Goodnight, Moon and I think it came out great! It was hellish to get the thing up straight, but I am glad that I didn't give up (usually projects like this do not work for me..there was a very good chance the lettering would all have not stuck...or a letter be ripped/peeled off...but happily it's all up there-and looks like it'll stay too!!

Once the baby is here we'll know if we need a pink or blue rug/curtains/etc. In the meantime the next phase is framing up images/covers from favorite storybooks I remember loving when I was growing up. Books like Make Way for Ducklings; One Morning in Maine; Frog & Toad are Friends, the Little Engine the Could--I'm still deciding on the 'finalists'. I wanted a nursery that wasn't to 'theme' ridden, so figured just a few well placed framed children's book covers that were family favorites and this quote should do the trick! It's sort of a tip of the hat to my late mother, who was a librarian, loved kids books--and children in general--who had 5 kids of her own (I was 4th) and relished her role as 'Nana'. My baby may not know Nana in person--yet will be read all the stories that nana would surely have shared with them, just as she did with all of us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TWD: Parisian Apple Tartlet!

Well this is part 1...as my camera was accidentally put away in the 'on' position (such a Lisa thing to do, I can't even begin..) and so as I bake my apple tartlet now (Monday, 9:20pm) I cannot take any photos....I have enough puff pastry to do 'round 2' Tuesday night, so I shall try to follow up later tonight (Tue) with actual photos of a tartlet!

So as I wait for it to come from the oven I will comment that this recipe--for the Tuesdays with Dorie baking club--was chosen by Jessica from My Baking Heart. Visit her site for the recipe!

This one is super easy--though next time I shall make it more challenging and will try to make my own puff pastry. I found some great recipes here and there, and it just sounds like such a wonderful 'baking' sort of recipe to say that I have done...

But this week it was thanks to store-bought puff pastry that made the recipe so simple. Pastry, apple, brown sugar, pads of butter, oven. Done.

Dorie recommended using 100% butter pastry, and thanks to those in TWD, I came to find out that good ol' Trader Joe's sells it! Dear Husband and I LOVE Joe. The only bad thing is the closest stores to us are at least 30 min away. So we tend to go once a month or so and stock up. I took a special jaunt there Sunday and was thrilled to find the Puff Pastry there. My Plan B was the Whole Foods in that same town (again, the closest one to us). But happily Joe came through. Not only that, but the 'sample' of the day was the Joe Joe's cookies (basically Oreo type cookie). Somehow I passed the sample counter...uh...3 times I think? Each time taking a cookie. I figured the baby belly I've got going on would mean no one would cut me off...and I used 'strategery' and only went back up to the counter for subsequent visits when the employee left her post so that she did not see the pregnant lady chow down on 4 cookies (because I just lied--it wasn't 3 times that I went up to the counter, it was 4! But I more than made up for it-- because I ended up just buying a box)

while I'm at it, here is an image of the pastry I found there:

The dinger just went off--they look so great!! Reminds me of a nest--which makes me think these would be neat for an Easter or Spring timed special dinner! Time note: I set it first for 15 min, so I could check on progress...apples were not done, so I threw another 7.5 min on timer. ONe thing I did notice was the sugar/butter dribbled off the top and onto the sheet on one of them, did not stay on the pastry. I guess I'll take that one, give Dear Husband the 'good' one....They are sitting out now as I know I'll scald my tongue off should I attempt to eat now.

(Dessert Break...)

Verdict: we love these! They are the perfect portion, and would compliment many type of meal! I will try to make again Tues evening so I have actual photos-but I must say this was one of the Dorie recipes where what came out of my oven actually really did look like the photo in the book!

What lovely timing..a Parisian recipe on the heels of the French Open! Congratulations Roger Federer!! (my very very fave!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TWD: Cinnamon Squares

This week, in the Tuesdays With Dorie baking club (in which we are baking our way through Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours) Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures chose the recipe on page 210-211--CINNAMON SQUARES!

In reading the TWD comments/questions on this particular recipe there seemed to be a lot of folks who do not like the combo of cinnamon and chocolate. It made me wonder if it would be another recipe like last week when, to me, the combo of brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough were two powerful forces that combined to a not-so-perfect dessert. (I liked it, but reported back that I thought the 2 amazing recipes sort of canceled each other out). Would this week's flavor combo--two other favorites of mine namely chocolate and cinnamon fall to the same fate?? The answer is....sort of. I'm on the fence, and think I need a reality check.

Let's back up to a year ago, before I joined Tuesdays with Dorie. I loved to bake, but kept things to a simple repertoire...though I did branch out and try my first 'from scratch' cake just prior to joining TWD. This led me to want to bake more, and perfect timing, it was very soon after that my college roomie Cathy approached me about TWD.

So I think that the past 2 recipes I have been hard on Ms. Greenspan--saying that desserts aren't ones I 'loved'--when really, when I step back and think about it, they really are amazing recipes. I think with desserts like the Pear Tart and the French Yogurt Cake, or Banana Cream Pie, and some of the others we've done--that have sent me off for days saying how amazing they are, that they are the 'best' recipes yet, and other such praise, that when a recipe does not garner THAT over-the-top reaction, I tend to say "eh, it's good, it's ok" as I did last week--and was about to this week! I tasted the cinnamon squares again tonight, with the mindset of me 365 days ago--and know that I really like these--and that I would make them for guests for sure.

I thought that I need to come up with a rating scale...because basically let's face it, when you get an "this is good" in a Dorie recipe, it would translate to anyone else used to the norm brownie and cookies made-from-a-box as "amazing/great/out of this world." I think I'm becoming spoiled by some of the more fanciful desserts Dorie's book has sent my way?!

So although I did not do cartwheels in the kitchen (which probably would have been a bad idea--if not impossible-- at 34 weeks pregnant), I DID in fact really like the cinnamon squares. Are they a French Pear Tart? No--but they're not supposed to be either.

I can see having these squares at the end of meal, when coffee drinks are being poured as the flavors certainly lend themselves to a cup of coffee (no doubt in part because of the espresso powder we added.)

This recipe came together rather easily--I must admit I love the 'just mix in a bowl' (or 2 as this case) as it means I don't have to deal with the big Kitchen Aid. You basically make the cinnamon cake batter, pour half in a square pan, top with chocolate chips and cinnamon-sugar-espresso powder combination and then top with the 2nd half of the cake batter.

It called for an 8" square pan, and I only had 8.5" so I baked it under the time called for.

After cooling out on the cooling rack, I put together the frosting....
"Look, ma, 1 hand!"--a.k.a me stirring while I snap an action shot:

And with a few swoops of the spatula--voila!

Changes to recipe:
I found I had only 2 oz left of 'bittersweet' chocolate--so my recipe for the frosting is mostly 'semi' sweet chocolate w/ just 2 oz of bittersweet (and the layer of chocolate that is in the middle--bittersweet was called for, but its all semi-sweet.) Still tastes fine by me..though I tend to have a sweet tooth.

So, Dorie--if you are out there in blog-land, I apologize for my lackluster report last week--and for almost doing the same this week. These really are fun, tasty gooodies that I would serve again. If anything it's because some of your other recipes I have had the good fortune of baking from your book are THAT amazing that it spoiled me for some of the others that are fine, just as they are. (There I go quoting Bridget Jones's Diary again...oh that Darcy)

Had my baby shower this past weekend--was fabulous!! Had lots of family and friends, and my sisters and sisters-in-law threw me a great celebration! The only photo I have right now is one of me and my 2 sisters, back at my house at the end of a long--but fabulous--day! So 6 weeks and counting...after this weekend it's really hitting home: there really is a baby moving into the house!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

for the TWD bakers!

I went to see a movie this weekend and saw this preview! Can't wait!!
(see post below for the recipe of the week post-Chipster Topped Brownies!)

TWD: Chipster-Topped Brownies

Wow, I almost forgot today is Tues, not Monday! Posting 'late' for me--though it's still morning here in CT, usually I have this thing done the night before, ready to post at midnight...talk about a flashback to getting a paper done the day it's due!

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie baking recipe was chosen by Beth of Supplicious --Chipster-Topped Brownies....Reading this recipe I knew it was a recipe I would have tried anyway as it combines two of my very (VERY) favorite baked items--brownies and chocolate chip bar cookies...it has a brownie bottom and, as the name suggests, chocolate chip cookie dough on top!

The recipe came together rather easily, and I must add I am proud of myself that I even included the walnuts in the brownie batter, as called for (as for me, walnuts are not necessary...I love my brownies pure and simple and un-cluttered). I told myself "If I have them, I'll use them...I'm not going to buy them just for this"....I must say I love my pantry now that I am involved in our TWD club--it means that now I have a constant stash of chocolate (though never the kind I need--I still had to go out and get unsweetened) and a decent stash of various nut products---some unopened, others half-gone, stored in various zip lock bags. I found pecans...almonds (slivered almonds as well as sliced..) peanuts, and I found a bag of 'finely' chopped walnuts. The recipe called for 'roughly chopped' (or something similar) I believe--but I LOVE that I had the finer diced version as it meant the walnuts would not be dominating the bites of brownie.

It's basically making 2 recipes--as you have to make the brownie batter, then start over and make the chocolate chip cookie dough. (Note to self: buy extra bowl for KitchenAid mixer so I have a spare to use straight away rather than washing/drying/etc and then starting over...)

I was so tempted to stop when I saw the brownie batter in the pan...I do so love brownies! Here is the cookie dough plopped on top (I almost left like this thinking it would just melt evenly in the oven..but I didn't want to chance it, so got out the offset spatula and did as told):

The glitches I had here came with the baking time...I baked it just about 50 min and found I had a fabulous looking outer crust--nice and golden. But....the knife test came out smeared in cookie dough (and some brownie...unless it was melted chocolate chips?)

So I threw foil over the top and baked another 5 minutes--still had the issue...baked 5 more and then worried that the brownies would be terribly overdone, so I bailed and took it out, as I knew the majority of the pan was done, it was just that middle that seemed to keep it's gooey texture.

I love the new 'trick' I learned (not new at all to veteran bakers, but to me it's a godsend). The last time I baked brownies--the.best.ever--I discovered the parchment paper liner technique allowing you to lift them out easily (especially for a 'corner' lover like myself! When you cut them in the pan -vs-lifting out on handy parchment and cutting out of the pan, many times the corners won't really come undone all the way and get left behind. But with parchment--it all stays intact!

Here is what I mean...look at that tasty corner, just waiting for me! Parchment paper rules.

After it cooled to room temp I cut them all up--and found the very middle had a 'middle earth' area that was still undone. The top was great, the bottom part of the brownie was great, but the top half of the brownie and the bottom half of the cookie dough was still unset! ??? I just did away with those few pieces and had plenty to go around!

Here are the throw-away pieces from the very center of the pan.

You can see the divot in the middle that I made when I was testing for doneness...

And here is a close-up of a still unfinished dough:

So Dear Husband came around, asking how everything was going and I summed it up with the following: "two worlds are colliding in here....brownies and pan cookies....either it will be a match made in heaven, or utter chaos" Would you like to hear his reply? "That's what your brother said when we started dating.." (Background=Dear Husband and I have only been together for 6yrs--married for 3, but he and my brother have been the closest of friends since grammar school. So for us to get together was definitely a Seinfeld moment where my brother's "family" and "friends" worlds were all of a sudden colliding before his eyes)

Dear Husband and I share a love for brownies and bar cookies....love, love them. With that said, we did not LOVE this recipe. I liked it a lot, I find myself nibbling on them throughout the day and going back for more, but I keep thinking "these would have been great brownies" or "I should make bar cookies."

So unlike the success of Dear Husband and I combining into a better 'one', for me, when it comes to brownies and pan cookies, they each operate better as a solo gig and never the twain shall meet. For me, neither really 'shines' and they cancel each other out. They're good and all, but I think my expectations were set a bit high...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TWD: Fresh Mango Bread

Well this week I am back from 2 weeks off of blogging...and must say I was pleasantly surprised by this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Fresh Mango Bread, chosen by Kelly of Baking with the Boys!

Mango is a funny fruit to me. It's one of these fruits I rarely have, but not for any true reason...I like the taste of it and all, and when I do have mango (usually in the form of a tropical drink of some sort, admitedly) I think to myself, "Now why don't I eat mango more?" Same with kiwi, pineapple....the more tropical fruits. Most likely because they are all products of some far off sunny spot, far from the Northeast corner of CT.

Still, for some reason I was not so sure I would like this bread--the raisin, the fruit....I must admit now I am really not very sophistique when it comes to my baked sweets...I had my doubts...Yet I am pleased to announce my horizons have been broadened...because this bread, something I thought was more in line of a dish my mom would have loved truly grew on me! (uh-oh, does this mean I'm a grown-up?)

Oh--and speaking of growing...it did just that in the oven...grew and grew and when I checked on it 60 minutes in it had spilled over the top and onto the baking sheet (thank you Dorie for telling us to put it on a sheet! I know it was to prevent burning--but in my case it saved me from a mess in my oven!)

I was so upset my camera's battery needed to recharge...I have no snaps of the bread taking over the cookie sheet, spilling over the top of the bread pan! It did look pretty cool...(ok, so maybe I'm not so grown up?!)

I charged it up in time to show the cut away photo above....the only photo I have as its 8:40pm on a Monday and I must get this posted for Tues!

Notes overall--mine was finished in about 70-75 min...and still it was a bit done more than I expected. After checking on it an hour (when I saw the blob had emerged to take over my oven) it was already pretty brown...but the flavor is amazing!

Dear Husband was not convinced it was up his alley on Sunday night (I made it Sun afternoon). He is not a 'raisin' fan and suggested next time maybe omit the raisins...but he liked it, didn't love it. Then Monday night --just 2 minutes ago actually--he was eating it while I typed this and JUST said, "I think it's even better today." And I got all excited saying how thats EXACTLY what Dorie had mentioned in the footnotes of the recipe! We loved this recipe-- and nary a bittersweet chocolate chip in sight! Now that's a week to remember.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Cream Tart

It's that time of the week again...and lately that seems to mean me in kitchen...unwrapping bars of chocolate...chopping it.......tempering eggs to make a custard....(mind you, I am not complaining, we've just had our run of custard and chocolate recipes lately!)

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was Chocolate Cream Tart, chosen by Kim of Scrumptious Photography.

I love chocolate cream pie...love, love it. And it's the kind of dessert I rarely buy, or order out...I was really looking forward to making this week's dish, seeing the posts on P&Q on TWD site-and hearing from fellow bloggers like Nancy, who promised this recipe would not disappoint.

The only thing I fear is I'M the one who will disappoint....Confession: I didn't make the tart crust for this....what's worse, I didn't make the crust at all..I used the frozen one that's been in the freezer the better part of 6 mos! It was another hectic weekend in the house, my 4 siblings came to town, some with niece/nephew in tow, and we were hopping back and forth between my house and my brother's a few miles away. He was putting up a basketball hoop in his driveway for his three kiddos, and needed help putting the finishing touch--backboard--up onto the pole....Some folks swung by our house as Dear Husband and I wanted to show off the progress we've made on the various paint jobs he's done around the house. So as much as this recipe called for a crowd, I did not make it until it was back to just the 2 of us on Sunday.

Since I am still "wishin' and hopin' and prayin'" for a large capacity food processor to tun out tart dough and other fun pastries (Yes, I know I can make in the mixer..but it never quite comes out the 'grainy' texture I look for) I flaked out (pun intended I suppose!) yet again and went for the frozen pie shell in the freezer that was begging to finally be used. "Use it to save it" as my grandmother would say...and so I did. It also meant I can take this recipe in piecemeal--focus on the filling, get it right, and then next time incorporate a home made crust.

The filling was amaaaazing! I loved this...It came together super easily and I'm a whiz now at the temper, stir and boil routine! Bring on the custards!
I put the filling together on Sunday morning and did the saran wrap on top-and-cool in refrigerator route most of the day. Here is the saran-wrapped filling:
Meanwhile, I baked the empty shell and it hung out on the counter until after dinner when I put it all together with the whipped cream...(is there anything more lovely than home-made whipped cream?!)

So here is the finished product....
I got a bit messy with the topping...not the best presentation (I urge you to visit other TWD bloggers for more creative takes on this!)
I'll definitely make this again--and we are enjoying it tonight, on day 2, so the whipped cream held up in the fridge....so I think it does not necessarily need to be eaten that day, as suggested.

Dear Husband (my chocolate connoisseur) admitted that with such a rich filling, a chocolate crust might actually have been too much chocolate for him, so he voted to go with a pie crust next time (I just vote that next time I make the crust..I feel like a farce using the store bought shell!)

So there you have it...not the best post I've ever had either...I'm rather distracted now that I have 'wi-fi' in the house and a new work laptop...I've got one eye on this post--and the other on my poor Yankees....looks like Detroit is not any better luck for them than Beantown was....Sigh...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesdays (Sans) Dorie

Yes, I had designs on doing my own brioche..using Dorie's recipe, using half for the raisin pinwheels the other half of the dough for the brioche-bread pudding...Then the weekend totally went out of control...I scaled down to: "I'll go buy some brioche and just do it that way.." but then the more I thought about it, the more I thought I could not be trusted with bread pudding in the house--CHOCOLATE bread pudding at that...and I have a major date with the chocolate cream tart next week and was loving the torte last week...what's a mom-to-be to do when she's gaining weight every week as it is?! Plus, the big thing is I feared I had no one to share it with beyond Dear Husband, and I wasn't so sure it was up his alley.

So, I was going to forgo all of baking this week. Then I thought that I wanted to make my guy something special seeing as we celebrate 3 year wedding anniversary Wednesday...(here we are 3 yrs ago, April 22!) and because he worked super hard out in our yard all weekend (Spring was in the air all weekend up in CT this weekend! It was sunny and in the 70's! Gorgeous!) Dear Husband LOVES dark chocolate...I thought cake at first but THEN I remembered seeing the recipe for "Perfect Chocolate Brownies" as I browsed through Phe-Mom-enon's blog last week!

It wasn't a cheap recipe by any means, as I took this opportunity to finally upgrade my cocoa powder from the rather pedestrian Nestle (forgive me expert bakers for being so mainstream!) to something better. The spree did not end there as the recipe called for 11oz dark chocolate...the higher end the better...and at about $1/ounce it did not come cheaply....but I wanted to give this recipe the best shot.

And I'm so glad I did!! Because the result were the.most.amazing brownies I have EVER had!

I did not take photos of it in progress as I was trying hard to follow the recipe (there are very specific instructions to ensure your brownies are not 'cakey' and are moist and 'fudge-like' so I had to focus all energies on that!)

Find recipe here which will take you to the day PheMOMenon posted the recipe, adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking (not only is her post that day about these perfectly heavenly moist brownies, but about her new gig as a writer for Examiner.com as the Salt Lake "Baking Examiner"! Impressive!) It's a rather easy recipe to get together--no electric mixer needed--just double boiler, bowls and the yummy ingredients. I am not one for nuts in my brownies, but these are SO incredibly dense and fudgy that they could very well compliment them...but for me they are perfect!! :) So a shout-out to the Phe-Mom-enon for sharing this recipe! I'd like to think it means that one I will have a child who brags, "MY mom makes the BEST brownies!"

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TWD: (Three-Hour and) Fifteen-Minute Chocolate Amaretti Torte

This week on Tuesdays with Dorie--the baking club made of the most fabulous members who follow a new recipe-a-week from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours--we made a chocolate torte, chosen by club member Holly of Phe/MOM/enon (another clever blog name!)

Now..it's actually called "Fifteen Minute" Chocolate Torte--but you're on the blog of someone who can never make a 30-minute meal in under 60 min....so seeing as I made this, on Monday night, while trying to make dinner....well, let's say I started it between 5 and 6pm and Dear Husband and I did not cut into until about 9pm. (OK, I "get" that the 15 min refers to the prep time to get it into the oven---but let's be real too, the recipe starts off assuming you have ALREADY melted and cooled the bittersweet chocolate...so I think its a bit of a misnomer...but hey, it's probably the most amazing torte I've ever had, so in the words of "Fish" (from Ally McBeal, not Barney Miller) "bygones")

But first a story--so way back during my holidays growing up, there was always that time of the holiday dinner where the kids had gotten up from the (kids') table and were already running every which direction, the adults were chatting...men in dad's study by his TV, and ladies around the dining room table getting out the desserts and finishing up the dishes. It's about this time I would sometimes be collared and by my mom as I ripped through the kitchen to chase someone, or run from someone and my mom would say "Go and tell your father to bring out the liqueurs"--and she'd say the word "liqueurs" with a neat sort of French accent, stressing the second syllable...always making me think that perhaps she was being fancy and did not want to say the mundane word, "liquor"...come to find out that liqueurs were indeed the a special 'type' of liquor--the after-dinner cordials...and they lived up to their fancy sounding name with their fancy and unique bottles...and the fancy pieces of mini stemware from which the ladies would sip them....So I'd go tell Dad, and sometimes help him carry in everything from his wet bar in the study to be placed out for the adults to pour along with their desserts. Everything from "the tall one" (Galliano---which was a yellow color that always reminded me and my siblings of the the amber colored liquid Actifed cold medicine we'd have to take whenever we had colds). I'd admire "the globe" (Chambord) and "the monk" (Frangelico) amongst the other random offerings like "B&B", Crown Royal, white schnapps, and all the other whiskeys/bourbons/etc...And, of course, the subject at hand today: the boxy one with the square top, aka: Disaronno.

And into the dining room buffet or table they would all be lined up with the desserts for all the aunts/uncles/grandmothers to choose their 'poison.' I can hear my great-aunt Agnes now asking my dad, "John, can you pour me a Tia Maria...." And while dad tended to the drinks, mom tended to putting out the desserts...and in the midst of Aunt Margaret's pumpkin pie, apple pie...cookies, etc was always a mysterious tall red tin of cookies. I'd always want to try one, but I'd get close, take a whiff and run the other way. Our family eventually just called them the "booze cookies" as we were told they were made with what was sitting on the table in that square bottle...so we would blow them off (yes, I was young, I thought it was gross...now, had someone told me they tasted a lot like "Stella D'oro Breakfast treats" back in the day, I would have been all over them!)

So I grown up seeing that red tin...which later stood in our kitchen cabinet and was used for other food storage..and to this day we'll kid about the "booze cookies" that we all avoided like the plague not liking the smell of them. (Remember, this was a LONG time ago...fast forward to these days--when prior to pregnancy I will definitely enjoy my coffee+amarettos!)

It was a 'flashback' for me to read that the same di Saronno amarettini cookies were in Dorie's recipe this week. Yet now, 30 some years later, when I WANT to find these darn things, I could not. I finally settled on another brand of mini amaretti cookies from another Italian distributor...but I really was hoping to get back to my 'roots' and find that red tin. I'm determined to find it again and have it at MY next holiday gathering.......where I will also be serving this melt-in-your-mouth decadent chocolate torte!

Yes...back to the torte....as I said, I threw it together on Monday night....because it took me until Sunday to find the cookies! (Thank God--no pun intended--for Easter. I think that was why I found them randomly at a shop that would not normally carry them..they had a display of cookies out for the holiday). So I don't have any photos of the torte in the making, but here it is out of the oven....

And here is my cream+chocolate sitting ready for the big stir...

and here is the glaze that went on top after it cooled...all lookin' glossy-like and yummy!

I threw the glaze on the cake at 8:30.....

and by 9pm after the required 30 min 'chill' to set the glaze, we were digging in.

FYI,I passed on making the whipped cream as I could not stand the thought of another kitchen clean-up after finally cleaning up from dinner +torte making. So I chickened out and took out the RediWhip! Plus I plan to freeze half of this as there is no way we can allow ourselves to eat this whole thing, but we could so very easily!

Here was the scene of our taste test. I cut out a small piece and plated it. Threw on some dots of whipped cream...took a fork to it, as did Dear Husband...we look up at each other, mouths full, eyes W-I-D-E open and we both just started to chuckle a laugh, shaking our heads as if to say, "there is no way we can be left alone with this thing..." I told him my plan was to freeze half and he agreed.

I can't tell you how much enjoyment we have out of these recipes each week! And I just love the fact that it seems the majority of the time, he is always telling me "this one is my favorite so far!"

Check out Holly's blog for the recipe--and check out all the blog members of Tuesdays With Dorie in the blogroll! I assure you, you'll find better bakers than I who probably did really fun things this week with mini tortes, or a different spin on the batter/glaze...I tend to do mine 'by the book' for the first go-round...