Friday, March 29, 2013

Whole Lemon Tart

Only picture. So sorry. 

Anyway, this was an attempt to wipe this from my memory. And it worked! This was probably the easiest tart I've ever made. Crust--all in the food processor. Filling--all in the food processor. The crust was utterly perfect. I've adopted it as my new go-to tart recipe and I am already thinking of all the things I can fill it with. The filling was lovely, it had texture and tartness and sweetness and all in just the right combination.

If you have a food processor and a tart pan, you should add making this to your weekend plan. You can thank me later. Perhaps by inviting me over for a piece.

TGIP Rating--Whole Lemon Tart--KEEPER. Especially the crust. A note: there is no baking time on the recipe for the filled tart. I baked mine for about 35 or 40 minutes.

Next up: Coconut Bread. I need Spring to come apace, I keep thinking tropically-tinged baked goods will encourage it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Salted Whiskey Caramels and "Irish" Bread

They look promising, right? Well. Okay. *heavy sigh* I give up. I vow to never make candy again. It will save me the frustration and you the boredom of having to read about it.*another heavy sigh* I'll just say a couple of things about these caramels (just in case you are a braver man than I am, Gunga Din):
  • It is not easy to get parchment paper to stay in any form other than flat. I resorted to duct tape. Even that didn't really work.
  • These were delicious for about 5 minutes. I think I could have cooked the sugar portion longer to make them darker and they would have been even better. THEN, for reasons I can neither explain nor understand, the sugars re-crystallized. I've never heard of such a thing. But it happened. See?

In fact, more crystallization the longer they sat. It's a thing that could only happen to me, I'm confident. Candy-making is for greater bakers/confectioners than I. A true candy-maker would not have to spend SO MUCH TIME with a thermometer that refused to move.

A true candy-maker would also know how to wrap their candies when finished. 

BUT, I did have success with something else last weekend. What you see below is mr.'s Irish Nana's recipe for Soda Bread (she calls it "Irish Bread"), in her own handwriting. His mother (Nana's youngest, also Lucy) passed away last August and when we were going through papers and photographs at her apartment (like you do) we found this. I knew I had to make it for St. Patrick's Day this year--last March she came to visit and it was the last time we all got to spend with her.

So. Delicious. Simple. Perfect. A little sweet, crispy crust, tender crumb.


This recipe will be framed and hung on my kitchen wall. And I will make it every year for St. Patrick's Day with a grateful nod to both of the Lucys who made my husband the man he is.

TGIP Rating--Salted Whiskey Caramels--EPIC FAIL. Never again. No candy. Ever.
--Lucy's Donahue's Irish Bread--KEEPER. Forever.

Next up: Ran across this and it seemed like the perfect way to usher in Spring. Whole Lemon Tart.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies

You know, I had never even attempted making sandwich cookies until about 2 years ago when I made these. Which were amazing. Probably my favorite sandwich cookie EVER. I don't know why I'd never thought to try them before. They seem like something that can only be done in a factory? With very exact equipment so all the cookie halves turn out exactly the same size? I don't know, but it turns out they're really easy to make at home. I mean, REALLY EASY.

And if you end up with some flaws (like different-sized cookie halves), it doesn't matter at all. They're time-consuming, sure. I generally avoid making rolled cookies because they take so much time. But the only real difficulty I had with this recipe was figuring out what combination of dough thickness and baking time was going to give me the result I wanted: slightly crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside. That's especially important with homemade sandwich cookies because the filling is so soft and fresh it will squidge right out if the cookies are too crispy.

Trial and error got me there with delightful results.

Prima isn't a huge fan of the malt flavor. She said tonight that it tastes like chicken. Um. I think what she's getting at is that it lends an intensity to the overall flavor that she's only experienced with meat. If that makes sense. I understand why she finds that odd in a sweet. And, if I'm being honest, the baked cookies on their own have a flavor that is a little off-putting.

But the whole combination, with the lovely flavor and texture of the filling, is just perfect. Sweet, but not too. Rich, but not too.

Unusual and interesting and, much like the Salt-N-Pepper cookies, so packed with flavor and punch, I didn't feel the need to eat a plateful in order to feel like I'd had a treat.

TGIP Rating--Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies--KEEPER.

Next up: It's almost St. Patrick's Day. So, you know, whiskey is in order. I'm making Salted Whiskey Caramels. Wish me luck, candies and I don't get along terribly well. Also, I'm going to try a recently-discovered Soda Bread recipe, handwritten by mr.'s Irish grandmother.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread

Banana bread is a "treat" at our house, also known as a "special breakfast" which normally only happens on the weekends. Is it a sign of our deprivation or our down-to-earthiness that something so simple is prized? Of course we often add chocolate chips. And some of us toast our slices and add butter. Or whipped cream cheese. Hence the treatiness.

Anyway, we've been working with the same Fannie Farmer Banana Bread recipe for a while. mr. even uses it, and he doesn't bake much. It's so reliable and easy, that I've been hesitant to try anything new (haven't even tried this one yet, as tempting as it is). But, you know, I have a thing for those Baked boys, so I had to try their recipe (plus, *whisper* I just happened to have all of the ingredients in my pantry).

My impressions: I liked it. We all liked it. It's equally as easy as our Fannie Farmer standby, but has a slightly different flavor. I like the honey.

(Although it can be complicated to stir honey into a recipe, it likes to stick to itself. Obvs.) I like the poppy seed.

I like what they bring to the party individually and together. What I'm not so sure about is the texture. And the baking time. I had to bake mine almost 15 extra minutes to get to a point where I wasn't seeing batter on the tester. And that might have affected the texture. I like my banana bread a little crispy on the outside (I usually bake it the night before and leave it out overnight instead of putting it in plastic, so the outside can have that almost-stale crisp to it). This looked promising,

but the outside ended up almost chewy. Which I didn't love.

My theory: I used frozen, thawed bananas. And you know, bananas don't freeze super well. They have a lot of liquid. I think, even after I strained that off there was still too much liquid for the recipe to handle.

My solution: I think I have no choice but to bake another loaf. With better bananas. And update this next week. Because, I know those Baked boys like a tender bread as much as I do.

TGIP Rating--Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread--taste is a KEEPER. I need another crack at it before I can decide whether the texture gets my vote.

3/7/13 Update: Made it again last night with fresh (but ripe) bananas. Lesson learned. Cooking time was spot on and the bread was much more tender. This is definitely a KEEPER. The honey flavor=so so good.

Next up: Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies from Baked Explorations. Another Baked Sunday Mornings project.

Friday, March 1, 2013


I have no idea where this cookie recipe came from, I only know that it was one of my favorite childhood treats. And they are the easiest cookies in the world to make. And they only require a few ingredients. AND, they are the best meringue cookies in the world. Oftentimes, store-bought meringue cookies are too hard or they're tender but turn to dust (and sometimes chalky dust) when you bite into them. These are tender, yes. They crumble/shatter when you bite into them. But rather than turning to dust, what's left is this chewy, light, amazing cookie.

They're not too sweet, because the chocolate chips add a teensy hint of bitterness. And they're only about 70 calories per cookie!

Here's the recipe:

Snowcaps  *click here for printable version*
Yield: 2 - 2-1/2 dozen cookies

Beat until soft peaks:
2 egg whites
½ tsp vanilla extract (or other flavoring)
⅛ tsp cream of tartar
dash of salt

Gradually add until stiff peaks:
¾ c. sugar

Fold in 1 c. chocolate chips.

Spoon onto parchment paper-lined baking pan and bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes.


Allow to cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Best no more than 2 days after baking.

In those pictures above, I had used the organic sugar I always use, which has crystals that I think are slightly larger than regular granulated sugar. It seemed really noticeable to me, so I made a second batch using that sugar after running it through the food processor to make my own "superfine" sugar. I also used 1/4 tsp peppermint extract and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, rather than all vanilla. Oh, and I used mini chocolate chips, just to see how that would turn out. For reasons that I'm still not clear on, the batter didn't get to the "peak" point that it should. The cookies were kind of flat.

But they still had that marvelous texture and lots of chewy caves inside. And we all liked the mini chocolate chips better, more even distribution, I guess.

(I always think these cookies look like the inside of the Matterhorn)

TGIP Rating--Snowcaps--KEEPER of course. Already an old reliable.

Next up: Honey Banana Poppy Seed Bread. Another Baked Sunday Mornings project.