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!!