Limoncello Cupcakes

4 Apr

So, I skipped the entire month of March – who knew a month that in the past, for me, seemed to be a 90-day endurance test, flew by in about 72-hours!

But, I’m back with April. These cupcakes were the very first thing I baked out of this book on the day it arrived! And, they are delicious! And, baking them on Passover/Easter weekend seems absolutely appropriate.

You’ll note that I use larger baking cups – I’ve always hated the look of a cupcake or muffin spilling over the top of the muffin paper (uh, thus the unflattering term for tummies falling over the top of blue-jean waists: muffin-top!), so I buy baking cups just a might taller. (This also allows for a slightly larger muffin when I bake them.) In the case of these cupcakes, it allowed for the syrup to be slightly more contained. I also dusted them with sanding sugar. My intent was to use yellow sugar and you’d think that being an Oregon Duck fan, I’d have tons of yellow – nope – nearly every other color, but no yellow! So, I settled for white.

Since I have a different dessert planned (and made) for Easter dinner, I’ll be delivering these to neighbors.

Happy Passover/Easter, everyone!

Limoncello Cupcakes

Marquis au Chocolat

1 Mar

Yeah, I know – only about two weeks late. I have a really good excuse (I hear all you teachers out there!) – my mixer was being repaired! Oh, and a word to the wise: if any of you use a flexible paddle beater with your KitchenAid mixer, know that if it’s not an authorized KitchenAid product, you are setting yourself up for burning out your mixer’s insides. The repairman said that was the issue – because the flexible scrapers were on both sides of the paddle there was too much stress on the sides of the bowl, translating to too much stress on the gear mechanism. So, I’ve discarded the flexi-paddle and bought an authorized KitchenAid model.  Now she’s good to go (after a complete rebuild of her insides) and she works wonderfully. But, back to the Marquis.

It was delightfully easy to put together – and the end product is among the most decadent things I’ve ever made! In addition to Dorie’s recipe, I have a recipe by Thomas Keller of Bouchon – amazingly similar. I served the Marquis last Sunday with creme anglais and pistachios. (Did you know last Thursday wasMarquis au Chocolat National Pistachio Day?)

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Gateau Weekend

27 Jan

Let me first say, that I love, love, love the idea that French home-bakers bake cakes in loaf pans. I know, all you cake aficionados love a beautiful layer cake, but the truth be told, I’m just not any good at them. But a cake in a loaf pan? I am all over that!

My vanilla beans are a little old, so I made mine with the scraped vanilla bean and two-teaspoons of vanilla. My version of compromise! To brown the butter to the shade of honey, I placed my honey bear right beside my stove so I could compare. My butter came out just a slight shade darker, but not black – and I really can see how that could happen if you weren’t paying attention (“…the difference between brown and black is measured in seconds.”). And, I do love the smell of butter browning!

I served this with a little ice cream and raspberry sauce, just to fancy it up a little. And, I have to say, it was delicious!Gateau Voyages

Granola Energy Bars

12 Jan

First let mGranola Energy Barse say, “It’s game day!” University of Oregon meets Ohio State University for the first ever National Collegiate Football Championship (uh, that would be American football, for all of the international readers). Go Ducks!

And, for those of you wondering about my KitchenAid mixer saga – NO! – it is not fixed! I called the KitchenAid Hotline and after being instructed to turn the screw that’s used for adjusting the bowl, the dough hook hung up again on the bowl! In the middle of mixing calzone dough…for tonight’s game-time dinner! Thank goodness for a backup mixer! The big girl is now at the authorized KitchenAid repair shop having, as my husband referred “her screws adjusted”.

But, thankfully, granola bars need no mixer – WOOHOO! My only difficulty with this recipe was finding brown rice syrup. But I found it! And, I hope my family and friends like these bars, because the smallest jar appears to have enough for two or three more batches. I tasted this syrup, and I’m not sure I like it right from the jar (I think I prefer sorghum molasses), but I must say, they smell heavenly baking. I also opted for using an 8-x-8-inch pan rather than going to buy another baking dish, so mine will likely be a might thicker than Dorie’s.

So, it appears that these might be gluten free – am I right in this? I checked with a number of websites and it appears that the only iffy ingredient might be the oats, since they apparently are often processed alongside gluten products. If true, I may have a few friends happy that I can finally send treats to them.

OK, so, they’re out of the oven and sufficiently cooled – and my personal verdict is while they are are a pretty bar, I don’t think I’m a fan. I can’t tell if it’s the unique taste (even cooked, I find the brown rice syrup an odd taste) or the texture (I think I’ve mentioned before I’m not a fan of dried fruit). So, no, these weren’t my cup of tea and it’s doubtful I’ll make them again, but if everyone liked the same thing, there would be one recipe and we’d all be happy with it!

Addendum: Turns out they were a great hit with friends! To quote, “Hey, what’s the calorie count on these bars – we’re wondering if eating the entire box would blow our diets out of the water…” For the record, mine turned out to be about 172 calories per bar (18 bars to the batch).

Gingerbread Buche de Noel

26 Dec

A little preface to the baking post this time…To a baker, what could be worse than your stand mixer (in this case a Kitchenaid mixer) developing problems less than a week before Christmas? Oh, perhaps the oven dying, but that’s probably it! And, yep, halfway through the beating of the eggs and brown sugar for this beauty, the balloon whisk began hitting the side of the bowl. Then it hung up completely! I tried adjusting that little screw they tell you to adjust, to no avail. Luckily for me, I have two Kitchenaid mixers, but this larger 6-quart professional is really my go-to anytime I need to beat eggs. So, into the smaller one the nearly beaten eggs went and I really do think I watched them deflate. So began my Buche de Noel adventure.

I’m really not one to be deterred (I once “workshopped” angel food cake recipes six times in one day in order to bake the perfect angel food cake), so I decided to complete the cake part with these eggs. (I could always make another one, if the cake didn’t turn out, right?) And, I think the cake part turned out “OK,” if a bit flat – but it’s going to be rolled, right? Thank goodness Dorie mentioned that on the initial rolling not to be concerned if the cake cracked, because mine did!

I was a little concerned about the filling not having any sugar, but I also believe in “trusting the recipe”. The only change I’d make the next time is to perhaps make a little more filling. I managed to spread filling over the entire cake part, albeit a thin coating – not exactly what I would refer to as “filling”.

And then the frosting. Let me begin by saying I love Dorie Greenspan. And, Dorie seems to love Italian meringue – particularly for frostings. I, on the other hand, have a love/hate relationship with these frostings. I love how beautiful they are, that they are light and don’t take away from flavor of the cake, and how much they make! However, I have an almost irrational fear of the whole hot sugar syrup aspect of them. Somewhere in the primitive part of my brain is a little voice that says, “You’re going to burn yourself….” Thus, the hate.

And, to finalize my “love affair” with Dorie Greenspan, never have I had recipes that so consistently turn out looking  just like Dorie’s pictures!
IMG_1045

 

An afterthought: I did watch the video that was posted in julessomeone’s last post. And, it seems that the mixer fiasco I wrote about at the beginning of this post had no bearing on the cake’s outcome. My cake looked remarkably like the one that Dorie and Melissa flipped out of the baking sheet – for some reason, I thought it was supposed to be a puffier cake!

The Rugelach That Won Over France

7 Dec

A couple of rules I should let everyone know that I have regarding recipes and baking:

  • The first time baking a recipe, follow it to the letter.  Can you really evaluate a recipe maker’s recipe if you make changes? (Well, there is the caveat that if you know your oven runs hot or cold to adjust for that, but that’s not what I mean here.)
  • I force my husband (or other outside party) to sample the finish product. Just like a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich is better if you haven’t made it yourself, eating your own baked goods right after you’ve spent the time to prep and bake them is, for me, something of a let down. I’ve been known to throw out batches of baked goods because I didn’t like them only to have friends say, “Really? You didn’t think to have an unbiased person give you feedback?”

With those rules in mind, I’ll probably make this recipe again. I loved working with the dough and I loved the flavor of the dough. Since I’m not a big fan of dried IMG_1038fruit, next time I’ll skip the dried fruit. I’m sure that on some level this is heresy for rugelach, but I really get no pleasure from it. I’ll double the melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture or, better yet, substitute a nice jam or marmalade. Hey, that could be the fruit part, right? Loved the nuts, coconut and chocolate. I did have a few mini-chocolate chips that I used as part of the chopped chocolate and those worked very well. They may not be the highest quality chocolate, but they were pretty darned tasty in these. I froze them overnight (full disclosure – I was going to bake them after dinner last night but shared a bottle of wine with the husband referenced above and lost all ambition!). I did have a tough time slicing them – the roll kept falling apart. But, I only baked half the recipe – I still have two rolls in the freezer. I’ll try them later and see if I have more success. Oh, and the pesky little things kept falling over in the oven – but that’s not a deal breaker.

Hmmm…it just occurs to me that a spread of orange marmalade sprinkled with nuts and chocolate chips could be a Christmas Eve delight!

Cranberry Crackle Tart, part deux

25 Nov

I promised a second post to talk about how it tasted. Delicious! The entire family was expecting something very tart or bitter, and we were all pleasantly surprised. (I wasn’t entirely certain those firm, bouncy little fruits would actually cook – again, pleasantly surprised!)

I would definitely make this again – relatively easy to make (and, yep, I’ll add one additional egg white next time) with an impressive presentation.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.