Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TWD: My Favorite Pecan Pie

I can hardly contain my excitement. Christmas is three short days away. Christmas is the beloved of all holidays in this house. I love it even more with kids. I love their excitement and cheer. My three year old has been belting frosty the snow man and Rudolph the red nose reindeer for a few weeks now. I love the songs, the dancing that surely accompanies the songs, the stories, the decorating, the parties, the crafts, the cold (when accompanied by Christmas only), and of course the TREATS. This house has been nonstop treat zone for a few weeks. This beauty of a treat is a Tuesday with Dorie treat. It was a fun make. Here is the short breakdown.

The making: So this awesome pecan pie is not your average. Some of the extras it calls for are cinnamon, bittersweet chocolate chunks, and espresso powder. I of course omitted the espresso powder. I think it would have been delicious and richened the taste, so I think I need to research non-caffeinated espresso powder. Do you think there is such thing? Dorie uses A LOT of espresso powder and it would be fun to add it to our dishes without the caffeine. Okay....I am rambling. I used cocoa powder in place of espresso powder (not a bad alternative, yum!).

The Tasting: Quote directly from my hubby after his first bite, "this is definitely the best pecan pie I have ever tasted." Chocolate makes all the difference. It was rich, but a different kind of rich than your average pecan pie. I LOVED the cinnamon after taste!!! The bittersweet chocolate made for some wonderful surprises. This may be my regular pecan pie recipe from now on.

This treat was a fun one, because we had a baking day at my house where Lizzie and KT came and enjoyed the fun. Liz made toffee which was amazing and KT was a great nut chopper (there were lots of nuts)

Beth of Someone’s in the Kitchen with Brina chose My Favorite Pecan Pie, page 327 of Dorie's book.

Some of our Christmas treats this year have included:
pumpkin roll
Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Gingerbread men cookies
Apple cake
And I am sure there are more that I am not remembering, but I did tone it down quite a bit this year.

Please note that these gingerbread men where decorated by children

I hope everyone else is enjoying the baking season. What will we do when spring hits? (hopefully loose 10 lbs and stop baking)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TWD: Sables

TWD: Sables

So, just to be clear, this week its Thursdays with Dorie and its a week late too. Sorry. Its December and everything is at the top of my priority list, which pretty much makes the whole list null and void.

This will probably eventually kill me, but this is one of my favorite things to see in the mixing bowl because it means deliciousness is about to happen. (No, I didn't make it in the shape of a "T" on purpose, but I did smile when I noticed it.)

The recipe was super simple and straightforward. You mix the dough, minimally once the flour is in. Then you roll into long tubes and store in refrigerator for several hours. I rolled mine in white sparkling sugar, then sliced and baked.

I do not think these are good when they are warm. The texture is weird. However, if you can have some patience, they are delicious once they are cooled and even better with hot cocoa, even if you live in Florida and its 80 degrees in December. These would be a nice addition to a Christmas cookie plate too!

This recipe was chosen by Bungalow Barbara. For the recipe and to see how she fared, click here. She also did some kind of science experiment with these involving different kinds of flour, egg, and sugar. I thought it was kind of interesting. It made me wonder if she has a fourth grader.

Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TWD-Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart

Tarts are one of my favorite desserts. I love a fresh fruit tart, especially in the Summer months. Pastry cream is also a favorite of mine so this dessert seemed to be right up my alley, although I have never made a tart with "Fall" fruit so this was new for me.

This recipe was definitely labor intensive, but in the end I felt it was well worth the work. When I went to start the pastry cream, I realized I had forgotten to get pistachios at the grocery store and I wasn't about to head back with three little ones in tow, so I made due with the almonds I already had in the freezer and I think it worked out just fine. Nuts were a nice addition to the pastry cream. I love all things flavored almond, so this pastry cream hit a home run.

For religious reasons, I chose not to use wine as my poaching liquid. After talking with my husband and checking the P&Q on the TWD site, I decided that a combination of cranberry juice and apple juice would make a good alternative to red wine. The pears were beautiful in color and had a nice hint of citrus to them when they were done poaching.

Once assembled, this dessert is quite the show stopper. My guess is it is more so when pistachios are used, as the pastry cream is a different color. The sweet, cookie-like crust, combined with the nut-filled pastry cream, topped with rosy poached pears, made for a lovely combination, and the reduced syrup from the poaching liquid gave it the perfect finishing touch. I will definitely make this recipe again, but would want to make it for a crowd to ooh and ahh over! For the full recipe, head on over to I'll Eat You. As for pictures, I hope to get some posted tomorrow. We just returned from a wonderful Thanksgiving at Disney World with my parents, sisters, their husbands and kids and life has been a bit hectic here. Until next week!

Happy Baking!

Birthday Cakes

We had a birthday in October and one in November and having young children that means we get to make fun cakes. Here are my latest creations. I am actually quite impressed with myself since I have never been a super creative cake maker.

This is a little truck cake I made for my now one year old. The cake itself was a spice cake with cream cheese frosting, which he downed in minutes. The idea for the polka dots came from a blog from a woman I knew for a bit in Brooklyn. She is amazingly talented and creative, I LOVE looking at her stuff.

This cake is for my now 6 year old daughter. She alwasy requests chocolate cake and pink frosting. So I jazzed it up this year with a crown. I found this idea on the family fun website. The cake was chocolate cake mix mixed with cherry pie filling, chocolate chips, a little oil, and some eggs. It was very rich. The middle layer was a cherry cream cheese filling inspired by a Dorie recipe. Last years attempt at a barbie cake turned out a little mediocre so I am happy this turned out better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TWD: All in One Holiday Bundt Cake

This was a pretty good one. My family liked it and so did all my neighbors. I LOVED the fresh cranberries. I of course added some things. If it was all in one I might as well really make it all. The girls begged me to use their ideas of marshmallows and m&m's, but I did refrain. I ended up adding orange zest to the sugar which livened up the whole thing. I also added chocolate chips and they made it oh so yummy! I thought white chips would be good, but I did not have any on hand. All in all I liked it. I also loved that it was easy enough for my kiddos to sit and stir and stir and it did not ruin the treat.

For the recipe visit The Nitty Britty

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TWD: Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

I was excited to see that Pamela from Cookies with Boys (a blog name I love and completely identify with) chose Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice cookies. Molasses cookies are some of our favorite and it was fun to try a new recipe.

First of all, the dough was amazing! I feel like I would eaten all the dough if I didn't have to post pics of the cookies! It was buttery and yummy and had the perfect amount of spice. I debated whether or not I would add the black pepper, but in the end I did it and my husband loved it! It wasn't too much for the boys and I took the cookies to book club where they were loved by all.

If I could change one thing about this recipe, I really love a cookie that has a chewy texture to it. This seemed to be a little more crunch for my preference, although the great flavor made up for the crunch. This is a recipe that will definitely be made again in our house, especially during the holidays! Check out Pamela's blog for the full recipe!

TWD-Cran-Apple Crisp

Fall. One of my very favorite times of the year. What could be more Fall than apples and cranberries? I actually made this last November, not long after getting Baking: From My Home to Yours, because it looked like such a great recipe.

Well Fall has come again and with it the chance to make the Cran-Apple Crisp again. Mmmmm! I actually made a double batch, one for my neighbor's dinner party, and a small one for our family. This is an easy and delicious recipe. I love the ginger in the crisp. It adds a lovely zing. My neighbor served it hot, with homemade pumpkin ice cream on top. That sounded delicious to me, something I might try next year.

This is a real winner of a recipe. I haven't been able to upload a picture yet, but might get to it tomorrow. If you are interested in the full recipe, head on over to The Repressed Pastry Chef. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, October 26, 2009

TWD: Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte

Fabulous!!! I really did love this dessert. It was super rich though so only one piece was enough for all. I had to change it a little so it would work for us. I don't really like making things we can't or won't eat so I altered it a bit.

The Review:
The brownie bottom was sensational. It surprised me how much I liked the dried cherries mixed in. The brownie torte was extremely fudgie and rich...just the way I like it. I ended up halving the recipe since we have a small family and we were not planning on having guests over. I actually kind of liked the pepper added to the brownie, but I think the torte would have been just as good without it.
The mousse was a nice offset to the rich brownie layer. It needed something to tame the fudginess. I liked the added cherry filling (my addition), because it made it a little different than your normal whip cream topping. It also served the purposes of making it more like a black forest torte.

The alterations:
The brownie portion of this lovely dish called for kirsch that is added to the dried cherries then you ignite it. Since we don't do alcohol here I omitted the kirsch and added a few tablespoons of apple juice and let it simmer with the cherries and thicken a little. It worked fine.
The second alteration I made was to the mousse. The original recipe calls for mascarpone cheese. I am not a huge fan of the mascarpone flavor. I thought of using ricotta instead but opted to add more cream cheese and some cherry pie filling to get more of a cherry flavor to the mousse. It turned out beautifully!
I did not have a springform pan small enough so I just used a 6 inch cake pan and carefully removed the torte about 10 min after it came out of the oven. Then in order to get the mousse layer shaped with the brownie I put wax paper in my 6 inch pan and topped the torte with the mousse. After freezing it I pulled it out of the pan easily. I also had a little extra batter that I put into mini muffin tins. It was very fun to have these rich little brownie bites with a dollop of cherry mousse on top.

Overall we loved it and will surely make it again. If you are interested in making these you can visit April of Short + Rose.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

I was excited when my sister, Sarah, asked me to fill in for her this week. Fall is here and an allspice crumb muffin sounded great! These muffins were quick and easy to mix up, but I was really wanting more flavor out of them. I opted not to add the lemon, but I think should have. I think I'll give them a try with the lemon another time.

To check out the recipe go to Grandma's Kitchen Table.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TWD-Split Level Pudding

I am a sucker for a really good homemade pudding so I was excited that this was the recipe I got to make this month. I stuck to the basics and kept the flavors of vanilla and chocolate. Some other TWD members had posted that they had problems with their pudding being a bit runny after it went into the blender. Mine thinned out some but not significantly. It did, however, mix with the ganache when I poured it into the bowl and did not stay in any kind of layered form. Try more like marbled. I made the pudding in one large bowl so that might have been part of the problem. When all was said and done the taste was fantastic. Smooth and creamy, a perfect pudding. The rich ganache was a nice compliment to the simpleness of the vanilla. I think it would be fun to play around with different flavors as well.

I took a few pictures but felt they didn't look very nice. I'm still trying to figure out how to take good food pictures. I also couldn't find the cord to upload the ones I took so I decided just to post my thoughts now and maybe add some pictures tomorrow.

This is a simple recipe and one I will definitely try again. If you are interested in the full recipe, head on over to The Flavor of Vanilla. The pictures there, as well as many others I saw today, did the recipe justice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TWD: Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart


That could pretty much sum up this divine rich desert. Similar to many of Dorie's recipes this delightful dish was a very detailed treat to make. Luckily I had an extra baker this time to help and a much more adept baker at that. Thanks Lizzie (sister and TWD baker as well) for helping out and thanks Mike for studying ALL night so I could borrow your wife!

For the first time I did not change a thing...I think.
Here is the run down:

The crust was a short bread crust. It was very buttery and delicious. It was slightly time consuming so next time I may use a faster recipe...Liz has a no roll nut crust that is similar. Maybe she will post it sometime.

I turned the caramel responsibilities over to Liz. She is the family caramel expert (at least that is what I think). This caramel used a very unique technique done in a skillet with heating just the sugar first. She did a fabulous job. After the caramel has cooled the recipe called for honey roasted peanuts, which I thought were super fun in the desert.

The ganache. Wow!!! This stuff was rich. This wasn't too hard to make. I think this is the best ganache I have ever made. I used ghiradeli bittersweet chocolate and it was crazy rich. If I were serving it to guest I may tone it down a little and use at least semisweet or maybe milk. Although the caramel is so sweet you have to be careful with the balance. It was good!

The finished product. Oh so good. When we sat down to eat (at 11pm) my husband said he didn't think he could eat the whole thing because it was so rich. Oh he totally finished it. It is too good pass up. All of the flavors worked well together without one over powering the other. If you are interested in giving it a try you can hop on over to Chocolate Moosey for the recipe.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TWD: Cottage Cheese Pufflets

Hello Bakers.....happy fall as it is the first day of fall. I love fall treats. It is the best time of year to bake. I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am. The TWD this week is yummy, but not neccesaryily fallish. Don't you worry though we still had some fun with it.

These were a fun little change in pace. These pufflets were more like tiny little pastries that I think would be good served as appetizers. My husband's family has a Cottage Cheese Pancake recipe that is delicious so I thought these cookies could be similar. I am not sure what the cottage cheese adds to something like this, but they were tastey. The original recipe calls for a dot of fruit preserves in the middle, but I am not a fan of preserves in my desserts so I changed it up a bit. I did three variations.

The dough is refridgerated for a while before rolling out.

My filling variations were as such:
1. cinnamon, brown sugar, a little butter, and chopped pecans
2. sweetened cream cheese and chocolate chips
3. sweetened cream cheese and frozen raspberries

It seems like the favorite by my taste testers was the cinnamon version. It was delicious, but didn't turn out as pretty as the others. I preferred the raspberry version, but may have sweetened the raspberries a little next time. The chocolate was a fun variation as well. Next time I think I will make the pufflets bigger and more like puffs so I can add more filling. While these were yummy they may not be a regular in our house. Perhaps an occasional fun treat.

If you are interested in the recipe you can visit Daisy Lane Cakes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

This weeks TWD recipe was a fun one! I enjoyed making Dorie's sour cream dough, although it was a bit difficult to work with when it softened. It made the flakiest, butteriest turnover I can imagine. The filling was a simple apple pie filling that complimented the dough perfectly.

I only made up 3 turnovers, and I saved the rest of the dough and filling in the fridge. I think I'll bake these up as a warm "welcome home after school treat" for the kids. -And maybe one for me too! ;)

If you would like to see how others fared with this recipe, you can go to Tuesdays with Dorie and if you want to try your hand at homemade apple turnovers, you can visit Julie at Someone's in the kitchen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TWD - Chocolate Souffle

I was so excited for this weeks recipe! Although I knew it would be a challenge, I was up for it and was ready to face it head on. I had all my ingredients out and got everything ready to make the Chocolate Souffle. I pre-heated my oven and headed out to the garden to pick the late-summer bounty. When I came in a half-hour later, my oven was only at 190 degrees. Right then I knew things were not going my way. I called my neighbor to see if I could use her oven but no one was home. At that point everything was ready to go in a hot oven so I opted to use my new, shiny convection counter oven (a fancy toaster oven) I got for my birthday.

I had my doubts as to whether it could handle something as delicate as a souffle. I watched with great anticipation and saw it rise. Those hopes were dashed when minutes later it fell. I finished the cooking time and decided it was worth at least tasting. I even plated it and took a few pics. Alas, the pictures didn't do the dessert justice so I decided not to post any. I did taste it though and thought the taste was nice. It wasn't eggy, as I feared it might be having possibly been cooked too long. I put a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top of a scoop of warm souffle and took a few bites. I'm sure the texture was completely off but the taste was nice and chocolaty.

So, if you are brave and want to try Dorie's Chocolate Souffle, head on over to She's Becoming DoughMesstic for beautiful pictures and the full recipe. Maybe when my oven is fixed I'll attempt it again. I guess every week can't be a smashing success.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TWD Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

I have been so excited to make these brownies! While they were cooling, I could hardly contain myself. I've been wanting a rich chocolaty treat. I read the P&Q's and saw that many people had dry brownie. I was tempted to use my own brownie recipe, but was true to Dorie and used hers. I decreased the temperature to 325, yet I still had dry brownies! I was bummed!
I also chose to fore go the topping, as my sour cream was expired. I thought it was fine to bake with, but was hesitant to put it on top (and I'd already thrown up once for the day! I'm loving this 3rd pregnancy!).

The cheesecake was delicious and creamy, but my brownie was a let down. I would love to make this recipe again using my no fail brownie recipe. I hope others had better luck! To check out the recipe see Life in a Peanut Shell.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

Lime pie in the summertime, what more could you ask for? Once again I had a recipe that tempers eggs, it makes me so nervous! Fortunately, this was a success and my pie had a creamy and delicious lime flavor, rather than egg!

Linda, from Tender Crumb, selected this recipe and her photos are amazing! Seriously, some people really put me to shame. I love the creamy lime flavor, but agree with Linda that I was wanting more ginger. I am, however, not a meringue fan, so I opted to top my pie with whipped cream. I believe whipped cream can top anything and make it better!

I loved the pie in a graham cracker crust and thought Linda's suggestion not to sweeten it was a good idea. I'll have to try that next time. If you're interested in a zingy and delicious summer pie, head over to Tender Crumb and check out the recipe and amazing pictures!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

I'm now officially ready for autumn! The kids are on their way back to school and we have amazing apple bars. Now if I could get Tampa, Florida to cool down a bit...

These spicy little bars were DEE-licious!!! We loved every bite!! They had a cake-like consistency with a perfect buttery-carmelly icing on top. The bits of apple and chewy raisins were a perfect pair mixed into all the homey deliciousness. The crazy thing about these is that they were even better the next day. Of course, I omitted the nuts because they would have ruined this yummy treat. But we all devoured them.

Thanks Karen for choosing this delicious recipe. I will definitely add this to my list of favorites!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD-Brownie Buttons

It was my pleasure this week to "test" these little wonders that are called Brownie Buttons! Personally, I think chocolate and orange were meant to go together. Such a lovely combination. They were a snap to put together. I made batch #1 last week to give to a friend I was taking dinner to. The verdict, she was surprised to have liked them as much as she did because she is not usually a fan of chocolate and orange. (In my defense, I had no idea that was the case, otherwise I would have done them plain.) My thought is that the soft, fudgy brownie was just too good and couldn't be ruined by a bit of orange zest!

I made a double batch yesterday for the Fam, seeing as they were sorely disappointed that all of the first batch went out the door without even a little bite. Here at our house they were gobbled up. In fact, I had to make sure the husband knew he could eat a few but had to leave some for my pictures. This morning he told me how hard it was to not eat the entire plate of them, they were that good in his book.

Another five star Dorie recipe! If you are interested in trying out Brownie Buttons yourself, head here for the full recipe.

Happy Baking!

P.S. If you haven't been to see Julie and Julia yet, you are missing out and should definitely see it this week. It was fabulous!

p.p.s. When I was taking the pictures my almost 4-year-old kept saying, "Smile little brownie bites! Smile for your pictures!" I loved it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Couscous Salad

When we left California, we very sadly left behind The Athenian Grill, a waterfront Greek restaurant with some of the tastiest foods I've ever had. Sometimes I long for their hummus with grilled pita or Lamb stew with a big hunk of feta, but with no avail.

Then one day, I found this tasty salad in a South Beach Diet book and adapted it to suit my taste. I love the way all the fresh flavors combine in my mouth. It almost takes me back to the patio by the water in Suisun. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Couscous Salad

1/2 c couscous (flavored, if not flavored, add some chicken boullion when cooking)
1 large cucumber
2 or 3 tomatoes, depending on size
2 cups spinach
1/2 c crumbled feta (or the pre-packaged combo of feta, provelone, and parmesan)
1/2 c balsamic vinaigrette

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Set aside to cool. Chop cucumber, tomatoes, and spinach. Mix all ingredients and serve. This actually keeps pretty well in the fridge for a day or two. For variety, I sometimes make this salad with navy beans or chickpeas in addition to the existing ingredients.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWD: Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Happy August bakers. This week's TWD was chosen by The Food Librarian and it was delicious. I loved that it was quick to whip up. There was no drawn out process in order to get this goodie in the oven. It was like a slightly more moist banana bread, so if you like banana bread this is definitely worth a try.

This time around I was happy to have more mouths to feed a whole cake to. Our little family can eat a whole cake (unfortunately), but it is so much more enjoyable (and better on the hips) with more people to share it with.

First off...I love bundt cakes. They are so incredibly easy. You don't have to layer or spend a long time frosting. All you do is pop it out of the pan and it looks pretty. You can drizzle a little icing on top, but it looks fancy either way. The sour cream of course added a little extra moisture. The only changes I made was adding chocolate chips and a chocolate drizzle atop. I was deciding between chocolate ganache or the buttery chocolate frosting from a Texas sheet cake recipe. I went with the Texas sheet cake frosting. It was rich and delicious, but not quite as dark chocolatey as the ganache.

I served it up to a house full of people and it was enjoyed by all. I do believe the chocolate chips were a necesity in order to cut the strong banana flavor, but I think chocolate is better in anything.

If you want to give this recipe a try you can visit The Food Librarian or it is on page 190 of Baking: From My Home to Yours

Happy Baking

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TWD: Vanilla Ice Cream

I LOVE homemade ice cream and I was thrilled when I realized this was my recipe/week to "bake." This week I made a batch of my own vanilla ice cream recipe and it was nice to compare and contrast Dories recipe with our old standby.

Dorie's recipe is a cooked custard-like cream that you cool and then put in the ice cream maker. I use egg beaters in mine and just dump it in and go. I'll admit that I was a little nervous when I realized I was dealing with boiled milk/cream and tempering eggs because of my blundered lemon custard months ago. I was anxious that I would have egg flavored ice cream to serve to my in-laws! I was, however, pleasantly surprised at my success this time around. I think it had something to do with a little more patience when adding boiling milk to eggs and sugar.
When my ice cream maker came to a stop, I was amazed at how creamy the ice cream looked and tasted! My standby recipe is delicious, but never this creamy.
This is my final presentation picture! I had the family chomping at the bit, children begging for ice cream. As we all sat down and started chowing I realized I hadn't taken a picture! Luckily, my brother-in-law, Adam, hadn't gotten too far and I was able to snap a picture of his bowl. The family loved it and our ice cream was devoured in minutes!
I really loved the creamy texture of Dorie's ice cream, but have to admit that I prefer the flavor of my old stand by recipe. I will definitely make this again and play around. I think the mint chip sounds delicious, but wanted to compare this recipe to mine.
If you'd like to see the recipe, check out Cafe LynnLu and her amazing photographs. I am always amazed at the creativity and talents of others.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TWD: Raspberry Blanc Manger

Happy Tuesday!!

Dorie, Dorie, Dorie, always finding new twists and turns in the kitchen. Keepin' it fresh, I like that! The Raspberry Blanc Manger is not something I ever would have thought up or even imagined. I really loved its smooth, creamy texture with raspberries popping with flavor here and there. I know its simple, but we really loved the raspberry coulis too. My kids all lined up for more coulis.

It was pretty easy to make. The recipe was very straightforward. I thought it would be jello-like, but it had a much more sophisticated texture. I served it on plates with coulis for the adults and scooped it like ice cream for the kids.

Something I'm working on: I love the almond flavor, but don't really enjoy the bits of almonds. Do I need to grind the almonds better? I've had this issue with a few recipes. Would a coffee grinder put out a finer granule than my mini food processor? I would also like to try it stacked on a yellow cake layer....

If you want to check it out, you can go to Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, but I should tell you that hers looks WAY better than mine. You can also find it in "Baking From my home to yours" by Dorie Greenspan. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

TWD- Brioche Plum Tart

This was my first attempt at making a brioche dough. When I initially read the Brioche Plum Tart recipe, I was concerned about the amount of time and attention it took to prepare the brioche dough. With four kids, a house and yard to care for, babysitting my brioche dough was not at the top of my priority list! As I read through the P&Q comments on the TWD site, I noticed someone asked if it would work to use the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day brioche recipe and a light went on in my head.

The recipe varied slightly from Dorie's recipe in ingredients. The Artisan Bread recipe used honey as its sweetener instead of sugar, and did not have milk as Dorie's recipe did. Other than that the ingredients were the same. What I liked was I only had to mix it, let it rise once and then put in the fridge until I used it. That's my kind of dough.

I was able to find plums for only 88 cents a pound at Sunflower Farmer's Market (my favorite store right now!), but was unable to find plum jam. I had a jar of Cherry Boysenberry Preserves I had left over from a previous TWD recipe that I decided to use. I wanted to use almonds but didn't have any so I had to settle for walnuts.

The assembly was rather simple and quick. As the tart baked it smelled divine! It came out of the oven nicely browned and the plums were tender and juicy and plump. I made half the Artisan Bread brioche recipe, and used about 2/3 of the dough that I had. I think it was probably more than there would have been with the original recipe.

The finished product was quite good. The plums were a bit tart, but the sugar balanced it nicely. The walnuts gave a slightly crunchy texture and the brioche was light and tender. This is definitely more a breakfast pastry. Not quite sweet enough for dessert but it made for a great evening snack for the hubby and I and I think the kiddos will enjoy some for breakfast in the morning. At some point I will attempt brioche dough the way it is supposed to be made, but it just wasn't in the cards for me right now. If I were to try it again I would love to experiment with other fruit combinations.

If you are interested in the complete recipe, head on over to Chez Us. Until next week!

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lucky Me

My family is moving this week from New Jersey. We have spent the last year living here and I don't think I knew how much I would enjoy it. It has truly been a joy. I am having such a hard time leaving. So in the process of our move my most wonderful neighbors threw the kids and I the best garden party. I really do have the best neighbors!! They set out tables in front of our complex with a bounty of food and drink. I wanted to share some of the goods because they were special. One thing that makes this complex unique is that there are several mothers who stay at home, but each is so different and from different cultures. So my friends shared food from their own culture. Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of everything, but here is what I have.

Gunjan made an Indian dish called Pakora which is potatoes and cauliflower breaded in chickpea flour and fried. It was delicious!

Wipha made a Thai dish of pan fried talapia with fried garlic. It was very flavorful. I am just barely starting cook fish and my talapia is not nearly as delcious.

Wipha also made another delicious Thai dish made with Tuna, mint leaves, lime juice, red onion, and lemongrass.

Ulrika served a sweedish dish of sour cream with chives meatballs with Lingonberry jam. I loved the sweet flavor of the jam along with the savory meatballs...yum. I might just eat my meatballs with jam from now on.

Ulrika also served pickled herring and herring in mustard sauce, I have memories as a child of my Dad eating pickled and creamed herring. I can't say I ever tried it as a child. I am glad that I finally got a chance to try it.

Ulrika also served potatoes sweedish style. They were boiled potatoes with dill sprinkled atop. They were pretty and delicious.

Joanne brought a delicious cake from the most loved Bakery in downtown Summit called Natale's. I heard about Natale's from the very first week I moved here. You can check out their delicious website here. Marcus my little non-eater ate up little bits of this cake like crazy.

Ulrika brought some sweedish goodies. So if you want to experience a bit of my lucky day go to Ikea and buy your self some of these Ballerina Kex cookies.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to get to know these wonderful women. There is something unique about the bond of motherhood. I have loved watching these women mother their beautiful children. Each in a different way. It has been so enriching to learn from them. One of the best parts of the afternoon was this beautiful painting Wipha painted for me. She was so incredibly sweet about the resemblance to the uniqueness and beauty of each mother in comparison to the beautiful flowers and how together they are beautiful. I will miss these great women in my life. Thank you for the grand afternoon.

Thank you Ladies!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TWD-Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies

With Rach moving, she has decided to take a break from TWD until they have a house and are somewhat settled in their new place. I kindly offered to take her recipe this month so that she didn't have to worry about it. Who wouldn't want to try a new brownie recipe?

I loved the story behind these brownies. Who would have thought that Katherine Hepburn had a fabulous brownie recipe! I also loved the fact that this entire recipe was assembled in one pan and didn't require the use of a mixer. The less mess the better! I have never made brownies in this method before. Adding all the ingredients to the melted butter pan was new to me.

I made mine minus the coffee for religious reasons. There are some times I will purchase decaf for recipes like this but I didn't have it on hand so I just made do with what I had. When they were finished baking and I took them out of the oven, I could tell they were very soft. I let them rest for the time recommended but they still fell apart when I took them out of the pan. No harm done, they still tasted fabulous. They were rich and fudge-like and required a tall glass of milk. The cinnamon was a subtle, but nice addition to the brownies and you got little chunks of gooey chocolate in every bite.

These are a definite keeper and are a recipe I will make again. Thanks to Lisa at Surviving Oz for the pick this week. Head on over to her site for the full recipe.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TWD: Perfect Party Cake

I LOVED the look of this cake. It really is beautiful and will wow everytime. The coconut adds to the beauty. I ended up halving the recipe, because a whole double layered cake was a little much for our family. So we ended up with this darling little square cake that was the perfect size for our family.

The Cake: I haven't had a lot of luck with with layered cakes. I am sure it is due to lack of practice. I was happy when this one turned out well. Dorie describes the cake as a tight crumb cake and that is just what it was. I expected it to be heavy, but it was very refreshing and light. It's color was a beautiful white. The lemon zest in the cake was not necesarilly recognizable in the finished product but lightened up the taste significantly.

The filling: I made a raspberry sauce from frozen raspberries for the filling instead of raspberry jam as I am not a huge fan of jam in my treats.

The frosting: This frosting was light and elegant. It finished off the cake charmingly. I was really curious about how the frosting would turn out and taste. It was a hot meringue buttercream frosting. This was no ordinary buttercream. Basically you take egg whites and sugar and warm over simmering water while whisking. It turns into a shiny white mixture that looks like thin marshmellow cream. You then whisk the egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer to make a meringue. I was unsure whether the frosting would take on the pristine white whipped frosting that was described. However as I whipped the meringue and added the butter and watched and watched my frosting transform into a soft beautiful flowing buttercream.

I assembled the cake and cooled it in the refridgerator. Glenn and I both sampled it that night. The cake was delicious as was the filling. The icing, while beautiful, might have been heavy on the butter flavor. I may use a whipped cream next time. But it is hard to pass up the beautiful look of that frosting. However...my other taste testers (my lovely neighbors) loved the cake and felt the whole thing was refreshing and delicious...frosting and all.

This was a fun make and I would surely make it again for a special event. If you are interested in the recipe you can visit mix, mix...stir, stir.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TWD-Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise

You're probably thinking this looks nothing like Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise....well, it's not! I made a valiant effort, but had a bit of a problem. My dacquoise looked and smelled beautiful! I was so excited when I pulled it out of the oven; however, my excitement quickly dissolved when my dacquoise was stuck to my paper!
This is definitely a recipe I will try at another time, but time did not permit me to start the three hour plus process again. In the meantime, I whipped up my ganache and we've been eating it with strawberries, pineapple, graham crackers, and anything else we can think of! It is delicious and we're in heaven eating it!

The recipe isn't super hard, just requires a good amount of time. Make sure you have plenty of time when you get started. Thanks Andrea for the recipe, we'll give it another try!