Friday, December 28, 2012

Lazy Bakemas--a photo essay

You CAN make pie crust with no rolling pin and no lard. But if you're visiting at sea level you have to remember that baking times are different.

 Looks pretty, but didn't taste quite right. To be tweaked. Also? That fruitcake in the background? Maybe cured too long. 3 weeks MAX next year.

This is what happens when you use cupcake recipes, but you live at a high altitude. EVEN when you make alterations because you're well aware of your altitude problems. Recipe writers: please. Take pity on those of us who are altitude challenged.

And then you have to surgically remove the cupcakes from the pan and they look like this. But taste delicious!

Perfect Swiss Meringue to start Buttercream.

The moral of this story: Next time you think making a Stump de Noël is going to be too big of pain, DO IT ANYWAY. The variety of things you have to do to make up for the grandiosity of the stump is just as much of a pain, and those things don't necessarily turn out the way you hope they will. Also, next year you better make more cookies.

Next up: 2012 year in review.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Roasting Pumpkin

 (Please excuse my instragram filters. I'm a victim of my own attempt to be hip. I'll try to stop.)

Turns out roasting your own pumpkin is super easy and makes super delicious pies. I used the method described by the BAKED boys, but really you can find directions anywhere, google it. The homemade puree has a more fresh taste, but without being overpoweringly pumpkin-y. Just a lovely, subtle base for yummy spices and other stuff. HOWEVER, it is not an attractive color, when all is said and done. Picture above is roasted and pureed. Beautiful. This one below is pretty fresh out of the oven (the pumpkin is in the 9:00 position). Also nice to look at.

 (Psst, that pie in the 6:00 position is what I'm calling Pecan Cranberry Pie from now on. It's this recipe, but with half the bourbon and double the vanilla. Don't tell the Pie King! It was really delicious even with only half the booze.)

This next one is the proof in the pudding (ha!) after sitting on the Thanksgiving dessert table for a couple of hours and then getting popped back in the fridge overnight.

Uh, is it gray or is it my imagination? UNappetizing. But this pie tasted so good! I used this recipe topped with the streusel from this recipe. The homemade pumpkin puree is a little looser than the canned stuff, so I probably should have cooked the pie another 5-10 minutes before putting the streusel on. It kind of sank a little. But as you can see above, it still stayed in the top layer. The sweet and crunch of it added so much to this already delicious, warming, spicy pie. But for me, food has to look good enough to eat. It doesn't have to be perfect. Rustic is good. But gray? Not so good. I might have to stick to using the homemade puree for soups and breads (and maybe muffins) and using the canned for pies. I know, I'm a big disappointment.

TGIP Rating--Homemade Pumpkin Puree--definitely has its place in my kitchen. But probably not in my pies. Good news is streusel on top of pumpkin pie makes a good thing that much better.

Next up: Cookies. Christmas cookies, to be precise. Some new, some old/reliable. I don't even know what yet. But there may be snickerdoodles.

P.S. My kitchen video debut is over there --->

Friday, November 16, 2012

Twinkie Cake

SO. This was yucky. Which is doubly bad because I made it for my Mom's birthday party. Bad form to bring a yucky cake to your own mother's birthday celebration. Ah well. I'll make it up to her next year. With something chocolate.

I found the recipe here and, you know, I really trust those BAKED boys. I do. Implicitly. Just so happens Matt's wrong on this one. Yes, I should have made alterations because of my altitude, it was far too dense. But that wouldn't have changed the taste, which was chemical. Why? I can't explain it. The cake, the filling, all of it had a chemical aftertaste. I don't know that it's even worth trying to research and fix potential problems. I'm perfectly happy buying the real (regular-sized) thing at the grocery store (which Jeff Horwich assures me will still happen, even though Hostess is going under--the brand will likely be bought by some other company and production will resume then *phew*).

TGIP Rating--Twinkie Cake--FAIL. Both on my part and the part of the recipe. Completely not worth trying again.

Next up: Starting Christmas baking and, at the same time, baking for Thanksgiving. This weekend I bake Fruitcake. Then on Wednesday, with the assistance of my baby brother (ha! he's been bigger than me since the day he was born, see:)

(Okay, so that wasn't the day he was born, but pretty close to it) I'll be making 4 pies for Thanksgiving: Spiced Pumpkin with Streusel Topping, Pecan, Cherry Chocolate, and Buttermilk. I lobbied for an all-pie Thanksgiving feast but nobody else was on board. Maybe next year!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Harvest Pie

Remember how pumpkin doesn't HAVE to come from a can?! Yeah, I needed to be reminded of that too. This was an excellent reminder. So much like a pumpkin pie, but more fresh-tasting and I love the crumble on top. Now I have to try that same trick with regular pumpkin pie. This recipe is from my amazing friend Mike Bottoms who I met when I was 18 and we worked together at a restaurant (that shall remain nameless). He taught me many things about food when I was in college and was part of one of the best Thanksgivings I've ever had. And he's a smarty pants who I still adore.

Here's the recipe. Go make it.

Harvest Pie *click here for printable version*
recipe courtesy Michael Bottoms

1 large butternut squash, halved and seeded (about 2 1/4 lbs)
1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute (or about 2 extra-large eggs)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs chilled butter, cut into pieces
3 tbs chopped pecans
pie dough

Position oven rack to lowest setting. Preheat oven to 400.

Roast squash, cut side down until tender, ~30-40 minutes. Allow to cool, then scoop out squash and mash pulp to measure 2 1/2 cups. Combine squash with evaporated milk in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add granulated sugar and next 5 ingredients (through cloves), process until smooth.

(I wish I could describe the completely delicious smell of this)
Increase oven temp to 425.

Pour squash mixture into a 9-inch pie pan lined with pie crust. Place on bottom rack and bake for 15 minutes. During this time, combine flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl and cut in butter. Add pecans and toss to combine.


Remove pie from oven, reduce heat to 350, sprinkle flour/sugar/pecan mixture over pie and return to bottom rack. Bake another 40 minutes or until center is set.


Notes: For very liquidy custard pies (like this and pumpkin), I prebake my pie crust for 10 minutes then brush egg white over the parts of the crust where the custard will be. I find this makes for a less soggy bottom in leftover pie that has been refrigerated.

Also, add more spices and vanilla according to your preferences.

TGIP Rating--Harvest Pie--KEEPER. Just lovely. You wouldn't think that a pie made from squash could be described as "fresh", but this one is.

Next up: A TOP SECRET surprise for The Pie Queen's birthday celebration. :)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Caramel Swirl Cheesecake and Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Fall is here. Glorious fall. With cooler temps, all things pumpkin, and endless excuses to make homey, spicy baked goods. Also, caramel.

First up: cheesecake. This one was ridiculously easy. Ridiculously. Easy. I used this recipe (except I used the graham cracker crust from this recipe) and loved the method. A friend who is famous for her cheesecakes told me years ago that I should never use a mixer for cheesecakes, they should only be mixed by hand. All that beating air into the mixture takes away the density that a cheesecake should have. I tried that method exactly 1/2 of a time. Too much hard work. Vanilla sugar recommends putting all the ingredients through a food processor. Perfect. It doesn't whip too much air into the mixture, so you still get the dense texture you want, but with none of the work! Everything mixed together smoothly and beautifully. Then I blobbed some of this caramel (which, incidentally works exactly as it says on the blog, pure magic--it's a very milky caramel, more like a dulce de leche, and DElicious) around on top of the cheesecake (saved some to heat up and drizzle over when serving), sprinkled a sprinkling of sea salt here and there,

and swirled it all together with a chopstick. Look how pretty!

And when it baked, it didn't sink and blend in, it stayed right in the top layer of the cheesecake.

I got nervous about it's doneness, so I cooked it a little longer than the recipe suggests. I shouldn't have. The 10" size could have done with just 50 minutes plus an hour or so sitting in the oven after turning it off. Not that it wasn't still delicious, it certainly was--creamy, dense, tangy, sweet, caramely. I just could tell I cooked it a teensy bit too long.

Next up: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Also ridiculously easy. I know you don't believe me when I say that about cinnamon rolls. They SEEM labor intensive, they ARE NOT. There are several steps and some waiting involved, so when you first attempt them, use the rise-then-hang-out-in-the-fridge-overnight method. It will save you starving children and a lot of grief in the morning.

I used smitten kitchen's alterations of the BAKED boys recipe from their new book. Having not tried the original, I guess I can't say which is better, but these were delicious and came together really easily. I forgot that once you've (or I've) had Cinnabon frosting there's really no going back, and I should have just made that frosting for them. The frosting in the recipe is delicious, it's just...not Cinnabon frosting.

One other alteration I would make (will make, probably for Thanksgiving morning) is replacing some of the cinnamon in the filling with pumpkin pie spice. The pumpkin itself wasn't very strong tasting, and I want to taste it! I think pumpkin pie spice will punch up that flavor. And, another thing, I might add some toasted and chopped pecans to the filling. I always forget how much I like to have nuts in my cinnamon rolls. Remind me!

TGIP Rating--Caramel Swirl Cheesecake--KEEPER. Mind the baking time.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls--KEEPER. A couple of alterations and they'll be perfect.

Next up: Harvest Pie. My friend Mike Bottoms (who is about to be a famous published author) sent me this recipe ages ago and I lost track of it. Found it again and now is the perfect time. It's like pumpkin pie except with butternut squash. And a sort of pecan streusel on top. *drool*

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cake Pops (or balls) (or blobs)

Yes, sure. These were tasty (I used chocolate cake and frosting). Not really homemade in the least (except in the Sandra Lee way). And they were KINDOF easy. But not completely. The cake/frosting balls were kind of sticky and weird to work with. Dipping them in white chocolate turned out to be disastrous and I ended up going to the store for orange-colored Candy Melts. I don't even know what's in that stuff, I chose NOT to read the ingredients. But it sure worked better for coverage. Although there was still clearly a temperature problem, as I ended up with swirly whitish orange cake blobs. But the "homemade" and the "tasty" weren't really the point of this project. They were just supposed to be cute. So, FAIL. They were supposed to look like little pumpkins with brown stems and twirly brown vines. FAIL (that one above is the most pumpkin-looking one of them all). I even made little indentations around them so they'd have the ridged appearance of pumpkins, like these. OMG such a FAIL. I never claimed to be a candy maker. I hereby vow to stick to baking that tastes good, not baking that looks good.

TGIP Rating--Cake Pops (or balls...or blobs, as the case may be)--NEVER AGAIN. They taste fine, people enjoy them, they're easy enough. The lady who invented them and has published a couple of books with ideas is unbelievably clever with the things she comes up with. So, YOU make them. I'll be in my kitchen making something that is so delicious people don't care what it looks like.

Next up: Prima turns 13 today. Ushering in Facebook, make-up, and slumber parties. Yipes. She also wants cheesecake. A caramel cheesecake, to be precise. So I'm going to try this recipe, except with a graham cracker crust and some of this swirled in. Unless you have a better idea/recipe. BRING IT ON. She also wants Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls for the post-slumber breakfast. I'm going to try smitten kitchen's alterations of the BAKED recipe. Wish me luck (but mostly with the 13 thing, not so much with the baking).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Momofuku's Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

I think this might surprise you: I didn't like these. I wouldn't consider them a fail, just a flavor that turned out to be not as delicious as I'd hoped. Yes, they flattened out. Yes, I made altitude adjustments and did all the things I was supposed to (including chilling the dough before baking). And still they flattened out. And I think part of the problem is that MARSHMALLOWS MELT. Yes, I know, some news. The parts of the cookie where the marshmallow just melted a little bit (the white parts in the picture) were gooey and sweet and delicious. But the rest seemed kind of greasy? And too salty? (overuse of ?'s due to utterly not understanding WHAT I didn't like about these cookies) So, IF I were going to try these again these are the things I would change:
  • Decrease the amount of salt in the recipe overall, either by eliminating the salt from the Cornflake Crunch or by using unsalted butter in that piece of the recipe and then eliminating the salt from the main recipe.
  • Arrange the marshmallows in groupings of 3 or 4 pressed into the top of each mound of dough before chilling, rather than stirring them in. 
  • Obvs, put less cookies on each pan.
So, maybe now that I've typed those things it would be worth a second try. How about this, YOU try it with those changes and let me know how it goes!

TGIP Rating--Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies--MEH. I could really take them or leave them. Undecided as to whether it's worth a second try with more alterations.

Next up: I'm going to try these Cake Pops (except I'm making mine without sticks, so...cake...balls...sorry) that are all the rage nowadays. I'm making them the old-fashioned way (and by "old-fashioned", I mean the completely easy way, the way they were originally conceived, with boxed cake mix and canned frosting). Yes, I am. But, I think, in this one instance, the point isn't that they are the most amazing things you've ever eaten, but that they're cute. That's what I'm going for. Cute baby pumpkins.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chocolate Adventure Contest time!

Look! It's THIS time of year again! Sandwich cookies this year!


I've already got my thinking cap on. Christmas is the perfect time of year to do cookie experimentation. So exciting!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars

This is the first recipe I have tried out of this gorgeous book.

And...they were scrumptious. But I'm not going to pretend they were easy to make. Caramel is never easy (except this caramel apparently, which I still haven't tried, I seriously need to).  I don't believe in my candy thermometer (this is on my Christmas list), and I hate electric stoves (this is on my lifelong wishlist). *heavy sigh* I'm thwarted on every front. In the caramel-making process I usually have a panic attack or two, sweat, curse, yell, and have an extra glass of wine to calm my nerves. In spite of the sturm und drang, it all culminates in some form of caramel, not necessarily the right one for the recipe. BUT I LOVE HOMEMADE CARAMEL SO IT'S WORTH IT.

I think in this instance it was just too soft, due to my not cooking it to a high enough temperature: it got to about 225 and just would not move any higher, no matter how high I turned the stove or how long I let it bubble. The softness made the bars difficult to cut, difficult to dip in chocolate, difficult to eat. In spite of all of that, they were completely delicious. And I will definitely be trying them again. My family loved them so much that I didn't even have to pawn them off on people at work: BONUS!

TGIP Rating--Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars--KEEPER w/this caveat: not for the faint of heart. Caramel-making-chocolate-melting-bar-dipping might sound easy, but it's not.

Next up: Another thing on The List of Things I Covet is this book: 

But, until I have it, I will remain grateful to people who post recipes from it on their blogs. Another baking actress no less! Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie. Yep. I need cookies.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Challah and Cheesecake--anything but the usual

Sometimes weeks go by when I don't bake at all. And my stress comes to a big, ugly head. And I have to spend a whole day doing the things that refresh and revitalize: haircut/color, pedicure, wine, time with my best girlfriend, and baking. Yeah, I'm not one of those people that gets stressed out by baking, just the opposite. And I needed it so much that I did double-duty: Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah from smitten kitchen and Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake from Our Best Bites (which I don't visit much, my Min found that recipe, and I'm so glad!).

Now, there's only one thing you need to know about these two recipes: I baked BOTH of them (with help) between 7 pm and 1 am, in someone else's kitchen (with a mixer that needed...nudging), WHILE DRINKING WINE. Lots of it. I deserve my own youtube channel--Drunkbaking with Spiker. It would be mildly entertaining to most people, and wildly embarrassing to The Pie Queen. Anyway, if I can do both of them in that state, you can do one of them while sober. Easy peasy.

Okay, so my challah braid didn't end up as perfect as it should have, but doesn't it look delicious anyway?

And it tasted delicious too. We made french toast out of it in the morning and I loved it. Unfortunately, I'll probably never bake it again, but only because nobody in my family loves figs like I do. At least not in baked goods.

And this. This will be on the menu wherever I land for Thanksgiving this year.

Ridiculously easy. And look at those perfect layers! I especially liked the fact that the pumpkin pie filling on top meant there was no worry about cracking cheesecake. The recipe calls for a 9- or 10-inch springform. We used a 10-inch one and the given cooking time was perfect. Delicious blend of toffee and pumpkin.

Bonus: both recipes are perfect for Autumn. Spicy, rich, complimented with lots of butter and cream. Mmmm.

TGIP Rating--Fig, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Challah--KEEPER. But I won't be baking it again. My waistline can't afford to bake things unless my family will eat them. But YOU can make it!
--Layered Pumpkin Pie Toffee Cheesecake--KEEPER. Easy and delicious. All the right things.

Next up: Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars. For real.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Brewer's Blondies

Not much to say about these. Not much to show either. Just this:

But here's what I will say--just delicious. So easy. So caramel-y (I think because of the malt powder, but I don't really know, I just know that it's yummy). Sort of nutty and warming with a unique flavor. I really, truly loved them. And did I mention they were easy? The recipe is from the first BAKED book.

Now, for the really important news: this book was published a few days early, and I have my copy in my hot little hands. It was hard to put down last night. So much food porn to drool over. So many new things to learn about. So many meals to plan around desserts. I cannot wait to get started.

My girls are scared of the Whiskey Sauce on the Lacy Panty Cakes (which, what a beautiful confluence of campy recipe name and deliciousness, I can't wait to make them--they're like delicate pancakes with graham cracker crumbs in the batter! PLUS WHISKEY SAUCE!). So, I've decided that will be for another time. But I do have a plan for the weekend.

TGIP Rating--Brewer's Blondies--KEEPER. Have you even bought the first BAKED book yet? I don't know what more I can do to convince you.

Next up: Caramel Coconut Cluster Bars. Yes.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lemon Drop Cupcakes

Another perfect BAKED recipe. Another pretty perfect outcome. It's getting boring isn't it? I should try something super difficult next so that I can have another epic fail, right? The recipe for this is for a full-size cake, but I decided to make cupcakes for ease of transport (to rehearsal). The only difference in the recipe itself is that I added an egg yolk, as is suggested in the cupcake version of the Whiteout Cake recipe. They rose just right, and were lovely and tender. Here is where somebody else posted the Lemon Drop Cake recipe.

No, those aren't poppy seeds, that's black sugar that my friend Dan brought me from Fortnum & Mason. Pretty sparklies.

No stress over the buttercream this time. I feel like maybe I've mastered it. I let it take as long as it took, without forcing it, and I was rewarded. Prima even said maybe she likes buttercream now, and won't ask for canned frosting on her birthday cakes anymore (?!). 

Also, the lemon curd is completely delicious. I promised my girls I'd make raspberry muffins (a mix from here that someone gave me for Christmas) (incidentally, that's where I buy all my flour) for their breakfasts next week, and that they'd be allowed to put lemon curd on them. Even though it seems like dessert. Goodness knows I've been known to eat cherry pie for breakfast.

Here's a thing though: I rarely have time to bake, make frosting, and decorate a cake or cupcakes all in one day. So I end up having to store the cake portion for a day or two on the counter, or longer in the fridge or freezer. And the texture just doesn't stay the same. The cake is just ever so slightly dryer than it would be if eaten on the day it was baked. Is it just me? If not, what do you do about this problem? Should I just always resign myself to brushing cake with simple syrup to give it extra moisture after being stored? Suggestions?

Oooh, also. I made this vanilla cake for our Independence Day celebration. 

 (those are edible gold-dusted white chocolate stars on top--I...dislike red/white/blue
desserts that come out of the woodwork on Independence Day--mainly because blue is not
terribly appetizing to me)

I was really surprised at the outcome of the cake. No adjustments at all for altitude and it came out perfectly. Just a little domed in each pan, with a beautiful, moist texture. The frosting was a little too grainy and sweet for my taste, but she also has a Swiss meringue buttercream that she uses a lot, so I might try that soon. Just for comparison with the BAKED boys buttercream. She also has about a million other recipes that I want to try. Everything she posts looks so beautiful and delicious.

TGIP Rating--Lemon Drop Cake/Cupcakes--KEEPER. I might try the regular cake sometime, with lemon curd in between layers. Sounds delicious.
AND--Vanilla Birthday Cake--KEEPER. But mainly for the cake. The frosting wasn't my favorite.

Next up: Wow, I just have no idea. Things are a little hectic right now, so I may not even have time to bake until September. When I'll probably want to start in on fall-ish things. Although...these look delicious and not too difficult. Or maybe these. Maybe for a Sunday morning...sometime soon. Maybe I need a friend to come over and bake with me on one of my infrequent evenings off. Any takers?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Buttermilk Pie and an Amazing Woman

So, Buttermilk Pie. I had honestly never even heard of the stuff until about a year and a half ago. That's when my friend Teresa told me about it. This is her (on the left):

First, let me tell you about Teresa. You know how you have a favorite sister (I said you, not me), and a favorite aunt (again, you, not me), and a best girlfriend, and those times when you're so thankful your mom is around, even when you're a grown-up, and that elementary school teacher you'll always remember because you just felt comfortable around her, even when the rest of the world made you feel awkward?  All those women rolled into one beautiful package--that's Teresa. I was lucky enough over the course of a journey with one play to have Teresa on stage with me as my sister, my mother, my boyfriend, THE GODDESS. And next weekend I get to play her wife. In this. LUCKY ME. She is one of my favorite actors to watch and to be on stage with. And she is one of my very favorite people in the world. Passionate and smart and funny and hard-working and unbelievably talented. And, aside from my blood relations, she is the woman I look up to and respect more than any other. And I trust her. To give me good pie recipes. Like this one.

Buttermilk Pie *click here for printable version*
recipe courtesy Teresa Sanderson

1 stick butter (melted)
1-3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbls. flour
3 eggs (beaten)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (or nutmeg, depending on tastes)
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk ingredients together and pour into a 9 inch pie crust (I prebaked my crust and was happy with how crispy it stayed, but you don’t have to). Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes.

Serving suggestions: warm with vanilla ice cream, or chilled with your favorite berries.

Such a simple recipe. Such unassuming ingredients. And you would honestly be surprised at how sweet (but not overly) and creamy and completely delicious this is. She told me last night that it's her grandmother's recipe. Her grandmother who cooked for 25 ranch hands daily, and sometimes didn't have enough fruit for a pure fruit pie, so she made this and put fruit on top. Perfect.

One thing: when I cut into it, it wanted to leak. Like so:

Just the first piece. After that it seemed to, I don't know, reabsorb it's own liquid? Did I do something wrong Mama? It tasted good, does it look right?

Also, baby version (in the back with smashed raspberries on top:

Or, as certain tv characters call it, a cup-pie.

TGIP Rating--Buttermilk Pie--KEEPER. Now I know what to do with all my leftover buttermilk. Seems like I'm always buying a quart of buttermilk for a recipe that only requires 1/3 cup. Also, I think it might be good with sliced peaches on top. Will have to make it again to be sure.

Next up: I'm working on a production of Romeo and Juliet. I'm playing the Nurse, and in the unedited version of the script, the Nurse says that Juliet will be 14 "on Lammas Eve at night". Lammas is August 1, so Juliet's birthday is July 31! Cool thing to know, right!? And, even though she is a fictional character, I'm going to make her a birthday cake (well, probably cupcakes). Something lemony. Seems like what a 14-year old in Verona in summertime would want.

P.S. Reporting on hand pies: I made some cherry pies (bottom right in the picture above), but only got one bite, so I don't really know that I can report on how they tasted. More tries to come...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Bundt

Sometimes I decide at the last minute to make a thing. And it's so easy that I end up putting it together between setting a pot to boil on the stove and throwing the pasta for dinner into said pot. And since I'm making dinner and a cake at the exact same time, the last thing on my mind is taking pictures.  So this is all you get:

Basically, what I'm saying is, yes, there are some cakes that are so easy even YOU can make them.  And you know who you are. Here's the recipe.

The cake itself is super moist and delicious. The lemon gives it a little brightness that I like. I used only raspberries and blueberries because I don't love blackberries (most of the time they're too tart for me) (unless I've picked them myself in the wilds of Washington, blissfully unaware of the spider problem the bushes reputedly have) (*willies*). And I guess I forgot that I also don't love baked berries. AND, the icing was SUPER sweet. Which, have you met me? Not usually a problem. So, this is a recipe I'd definitely like to try some other options with.

TGIP Rating--Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Bundt--TO BE TWEAKED. I'm thinking I'd like to make this with halved cherries, and maybe just a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Next up: What is it with me and the hand pies? Next Tuesday, July 24, is a Utah holiday--Pioneer Day. Those of us who have less of a pioneer connection like to call it Pie-and-Beer Day. I'm seriously going to spend the day baking pies. Lots of things in mind. Mainly, miniature cup-pie versions of buttermilk, and fresh strawberry pie, and cherry hand pies. I'm doing it. Nothing can stop me. Except exhaustion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Midweek Surprise: Cherry Chocolate Focaccia

My PLAN had been to NOT cook last weekend. Give myself an opportunity to do something else (clean, nap, get my hair done). But then I ran across this recipe. And there was no turning back. Another recipe containing all the things I love.

Perfect for Sunday breakfast. I whipped it together Saturday night (not difficult), left it on the counter overnight and it was ready for us to eat as soon as we rolled out of bed.


TGIP Rating--Cherry Chocolate Focaccia--KEEPER.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chocolate Mousse Pie with Caramel Whipped Cream

This recipe is in progress. It was good, but too rich. Even for me. Which means it's certainly not for the faint-hearted or those who can't eat chocolate after 7 pm because it disturbs their sleep. I'm dialing back the chocolate, decreasing the amount of mousse, and increasing the amount of caramel whipped cream. Stay tuned. And if you live near me, prepare to be invited over to be a guinea pig. When I get the recipe right, I think it will have been well worth the testing.

TGIP Rating--Chocolate Mousse Pie with Caramel Whipped Cream--IN PROGRESS. I already have notes on the recipe about what to change.

Next up: I bought myself this dear little book. I'm doing it. I'm making handpies.

Friday, May 4, 2012

French Macarons (chocolate)

You probably won't believe me when I tell you these are easy to make. Those "crinkled feet" (that's what the book calls them--cute, huh!) on the flat side of each cookie--don't they look like there's some ancient and extremely difficult process involved?

Something that French people are raised knowing how to do, but that would be beyond our (my?) American abilities? THESE COOKIES ARE EASY TO MAKE. I don't even know how those crinkled feet happened. I followed the directions, and they appeared. So, I'm saying that's all you need to do too: follow the directions.

I used a recipe from this:

What I like in this book is that it starts with some basic recipes for both cookies and fillings, and then presents more exotic flavors with tons of suggestions for yummy-sounding cookie/filling flavor combinations. It makes it seem like there are ONE THOUSAND kinds of macaron I could make. Which I like. I like it when my dance card is filled with recipes I want to try. And these are so delightful they may end up my new obsession. Here's what I like about them:
  • easy to transport
  • small enough that a "serving" doesn't kill your diet (especially if you make chocolate cookies with chocolate filling, which I did--so rich and delicious that ONE is ENOUGH)
  • look fancy and pretty without much effort
  • kind of surprising--they're so lightweight you think they'll explode like a meringue when you bite into them, but they don't;  they collapse in on themselves and reveal a chewy center that is completely unexpected
Also, they are "trending" right now (yeah, I just said that), so there are a million and one books devoted to the mighty macaron out there. Full of pretty. Dessert porn. I don't think we'll see "Macaron Wars" on the Food Network anytime soon, since the batter should sit on the pan for at least 15 minutes (ideally, longer) before baking.

BUT. Maybe we'll start seeing bakeries devoted to them?

The food processor is my friend.  Regular sugar with a bit of a whizzing around becomes superfine sugar. Add cocoa and a few other ingredients=macaron batter.

TGIP Rating--Chocolate Macarons--KEEPER. Lots more to learn. Lots more options to try.

Next up: A rework of an old recipe. mr. wants Chocolate Mousse Pie for his birthday. So I'm going to throw together a little of this and a little of this and a little of this and see what happens.