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.