Cherry Crumb Tart

4 Aug

I’m not sure what possessed me to decide baking on a 100+ degree day was a good idea, but because cherries are nearing the end of their season here in Oregon, this was my choice for dessert today.

I began by doing all the prep work yesterday (OK, yesterday was the 100 degree day, today merely upper 90’s). I followed Dorie’s suggestion of using a chopstick to push the cherry pits through to remove them. It worked fairly well (had the cherries been softer, it would have been the ideal technique), although messy. (My nails and cuticles have dark-cherry red stains that will be remedied by a shower later this morning.) However, never having pitted cherries before, perhaps messy is just what happens! I used both vanilla extract and almond extract in my streusel – l love cherries and almonds together! – thus breaking my own rule for following the recipe exactly the first time through. Oh, well!?!

The actual tart went together surprisingly easily – and I love the directions of “45-minutes or until the filling is golden….bake it another 30 – 35 minutes or until the streusel is the color you like – you can’t over bake the filling. Dorie is a genius! The hardest part has been waiting for it to cool enough to cut into.

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Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta

29 Jul

Vanilla Mango Panna CottaWho knew panna cotta was really this easy? I needed a quick dessert for this evening; friends coming over on a Monday – now there’s a novelty – and this one just fell into my lap. The fact that I don’t have to heat the kitchen to make it is just an added bonus.

So, I don’t have the cute jar/bowls that Dorie has, but you know what works? 1/2-pint canning jars! Practical and inexpensive!

I loved the creamy top, not so much the mango puree. I’d like to try it again – this time with peaches.

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!
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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!

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