Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Low and Lush Chocolate Cheesecake

So these aren't the prettiest pictures ever, but I had to show one of only two cheesecakes ever that haven't cracked! I'd always heard not to beat the cream cheese too much, but I think maybe I've always been afraid of that so never mixed it enough. I'm not sure, maybe I'll only make this cheesecake from now on :)

And here's a slice the next morning. Again, not a great picture or great cutting, but a very tasty piece of cake!

Thanks to the Tea Lady of Tea and Scones for this week's pick!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Gingerbread Truffles

I wanted a chocolate to go with the little holiday plates for the neighbors, and my fudge didn't work, so I tried going for truffles. I used the Gingerbread Truffles on epicurious. The reviews were very helpful, the ganache sets very firm, so they're a bit tough to roll. I wasn't ambitious enough to temper the chocolates, so I just rolled in a mix of cocoa powder, powdered sugar and nutmeg.

I loved these! My husband and his friend thought they'd be great without the gingerbread flavor. But these were my favorite treats this year!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Puppy Cookies

We have a fantastic neighbor who is so good to our kids, so I wanted to make a little something for her "kids" for Christmas. I'd made a recipe from the vet many times before, but that cookbook's packed up already, so I looked online and found DogTreatKitchen.com. Such a fun site! I tried the
Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits, and they worked great! The dough was very easy to work with, and I liked that it didn't have any dairy or egg. I don't know if it's true, but I'd think these might have a longer shelf life. It is more like a roll or bread dough than a cookie dough, so the bigger cutters seemed to work better. The trees were great (the reindeer's antlers didn't work so well :) ). This one's so easy - definitely a keeper!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Molasses Spice Cookies

So I kind of cheated, in that I made these as drop cookies and just chilled them on the sheets in the fridge for 15 min or so. But they turned out great! Nice and soft and great flavor! Thanks to Pamela of Cookies with Boys who selected this week's recipe!

Things have been a little busy here. We've a friend who's staying with us for a while, and we're probably moving mid-December, only a few blocks away, but a different town and (obviously) house. And then all the regular life stuff :) I'm hoping to still keep up with at least two of the Dec recipes - Dec looks to be a fantastic month!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cran-Apple Crisp

A few years ago, I first tried a cran-apple pie and really, really liked it, so I was looking forward to this week's pick! I made just one big crisp, which didn't even need more baking time. This was a great, homey dessert. I liked the combination fresh and dried cranberries. I'd like to try this combo for a pie filling - maybe for Thanksgiving!

Thanks to Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef for selecting this week's recipe!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

After having some surprisingingly good tacos and some enchiladas that used up most of our zucchini, I needed to hide some of it. I started with an epicurious search and ended up adapting this recipe. They turned out pretty well! I didn't notice the zucchini much, they were nice and moist, and not too sweet. I used chopped chocolate since it's what I had on had, but next time, I'll try chocolate chips or maybe mini chips for the cupcakes.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
2 1/4 c ap flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk
2 c grated zucchini
6 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate

Sift together dry ingredients. Cream together butter and sugars, add oil. Add eggs and vanilla. Add buttermilk and zucchini. Add half of chopped chocolate. Divide in muffin cups, sprinkle with remaining chocolate. Bake at 350 for about 30 min.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lattice Apple Pie

My next effort with the apples! I've done a few apple pies in the past, but don't really have a favorite. They've usually turned out a little runny, so I figured a lattice would help some. I used the Lattice Apple Pie with Mexican Brown Sugar
from epicurious, with the brown sugar and molasses substitution.

The crust turned out great! It's been really exciting to start to get flakier crusts this past few months. The sugar on top was fun, too :) The pie was pretty good, strongly flavored with the molasses, but not as much from the spices. It was best still warm. The next day, I could taste the flour which wasn't super pleasant. I'll keep this in my epicurious box to maybe try again, but I'm also looking forward to trying more pies!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Tart

The family went apple picking last week, and we went a little crazy picking two bushels. We'd already gone once earlier, and the kids had gone through that bushel plus all the extras from farmers' market. So I figured get two bushels and either it'll be just right or they'll decide they're sick of apples and won't eat another one for two months. We ended up getting cortlands, mcintosh, honeycrisp, golden delicious, red delicious, spartans and jonathans.

For my first baking, I had a batch of tart dough in the freezer, so I adapted this epicurious recipe for Apple Tarts.
I used a springform pan this time, which seemed to work well.

Apple Tart
1 batch tart dough
4 apples (I used two huge Cortlands and two Golden Delicious)
1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Roll out tart dough to pan and refrigerate. Peel apples. Add skins, 6 TB sugar and water and bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Let stand 10 minutes, add vanilla. Strain out solids. Arrange apples in tart and brush with syrup. Sprinkle on remaining 2TB sugar. Bake at 400 for 20 min. Reduce heat to 375 and bake another 20 min. While baking reduce remaining syrup to about 1/4. Let tart stand for a few minutes and brush with remaining sugar.

Ling's Brownies

Another brownie recipe :) Ling's Brownies were really good brownies. Not quite as wet and a little darker than the Baked brownie. These are by far the tallest plain brownies I've ever made. And I used an 9x9 pan, which I'm pretty sure is bigger than the round pan called for. They were quick to pull together, and they'd be great for the potluck/work type of sharing.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I can't seem to find my pictures of these, and to be honest I don't remember taking the picture, I was just assuming I had. We had them warm with dinner, and the sweet potato flavor wasn't super noticeable. The next day, though as Dorie wrote, when cold they were much more sweet potato-y. I think I liked these best of the family, warm with a little butter, they were great!

Thanks to Erin of Prudence Pennywise for this week's pick!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Allspice Crumb Muffins

These muffins were like little coffee cakes - very cute! I think we mostly ate them for the streusel :)

Thanks to Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table for selecting this week's recipe!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Plums and Watermelon

I've still been drawn to preserving. With the 13lb of plums, we ate probably half. So even though I wasn't sure I'd like it, I made plum jam and plum jelly. They both are pretty good. A lot more peach-like than I'd thought. The jam is just plain plum from the Certo pack, the jelly was vanilla plum or cardamom vanilla plum. The jam is good, though nothing outstanding. The jellies taste great, but I overcooked them while testing, so they're a little rubbery. I'm learning :)

Vanilla Cardamom Plum Jelly
Cook down the plums with water to cover and approximately 8 green cardamom pods for every 4 lb plums. Strain the juice. Use 3/4 c sugar to 1 c juice and boil til it sets, then add 1 tsp vanilla for every 4 c juice.

I also made watermelon candy/watermelon pickles because I'd heard that my grandma used to make them. They never got great reviews in the retelling. But then I heard they were mentioned in one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and that made them seem even more romantic. So I tried these. Who knows what I may have done wrong, but for all the sugar in them, they just were not great. My two-year-old liked them enough to eat a few pieces (again, all the sugar). The five-year-old wouldn't touch it (I couldn't blame her). And my husband who is crazy generous in the reviews said,"It tastes like a kind of candy, but I can't place it. It's not something you get in a store." (ha!!) Funnily enough as I was looking at the jars in the condiment aisle the other day, they actually had watermelon pickles in stock. Amazing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Split-Level Pudding

I'm slow with this one, just finishing this afternoon. I did 2/3 vanilla and 1/3 lemon (about 1/8 tsp of lemon extract for about 1 c of the pudding, a cheater's version). I've not tried the vanilla yet, but I like the lemon (I've been loving lemon and chocolate this year). I was thinking there was hardly any ganache in each bowl, but it's perfect! And now the rainy day photo that I couldn't get the camera to focus on the pudding instead of the bowl, but anyway.

Thanks to Garrett of The Flavor of Vanilla for this week's pick!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Caramel Apples

The caramel apples I've made before have all been the Kraft kind, so I was excited to see in the Baked cookbook a recipe for caramel apples.

It didn't work perfectly, but it was all manageable. My first issue was that the recipe calls for a small pot. I'm thinking 'That must mean a saucepan. But it's caramel, it's going to boil over. But the directions say a small pot and to tip the pan to cover the apples, so there won't be that much caramel....' Anyway, I started with a saucepan and then transferred to a dutch oven when that boiled over.

I didn't have a vanilla bean, so I subbed in a tsp of vanilla and added it at the very end. The recipe also calls to bring the temp to 245, but I only got to 242.5 and it looked like the bottom of the pan was going to burn soon, so I quit then. I also realized when taking the photo that I should select apples not only for size but by how they stand. The second row's a little rough.

They turned out great! The caramel is a nice, light caramel, not too sticky, covered well for eating. Definitely will be making these again!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart

I loved Gilmore Girls, and I'm not sure how I got there, but I found a site of Gilmore Girls chocolate quotes. I think this one is pretty illustrative of my baking experience :)

SOOKIE: [giggling] It was so funny. Oh God! Do you remember?
LORELAI: I remember.
SOOKIE: What was Rory, eight?
LORELAI: I believe she was.
SOOKIE: Oh god, that mud pie fiasco haunted me for a year! I mean, hers looked just like mine. Of course I used you know, homemade chocolate cookies, bittersweet ganache and she used well, mud. You know, but they did look damn similar.

I don't have a tart pan, so I made a pie and subbed toasted pecans for the peanuts, but otherwise kept to the recipe. This was an incredibly rich tart - I can't remember the last time I had such a candy-like dessert! Thanks to Carla of Chocolate Moosey for selecting this week's recipe!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Apple Turnovers

I was really excited about this week's selection - the start of fall, apple picking, and apple turnovers! We went apple picking over the weekend - and picked plums, too (a little overboard on the plums - 13lb! I'd love any suggestions for using up the plums). For apples, we got gingergolds and macintosh. I was really excited about the macs, we always seem to go too late for those.

I'm not great with pie crusts yet - I think I undermixed trying to not overwork it. The five-year-old was helping with putting these together, so I didn't brave the egg wash and sugar :)

These were delicious! And I love the make half, freeze half size of the batch. We'll be having these again! Thanks to Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen for this week's pick!


We have a little crabapple tree in the front yard, and I've remembered reading about crabapple jelly and decided to finally try making some this year.

My salad spinner of crabapples :) This ended up being just over 7 lb. The 7lb of crabapples ended up making 1 little 4oz jar of jam and 8 c crabapple sauce. It wasn't super productive.

The first batch I used 2 qts of crabapples, and that gave me about 1 c of juice. For the jelly, I added 3/4 c sugar and cooked it til it tested that it would set.

The second batch I don't know what I did wrong (not that I got much juice from the first batch), but it was much too thick to get any juice. Maybe I didn't add enough water or I cooked too long. Either way, I did try it in a jelly bag for a few hrs, then gave up and cooked it into a crabapple sauce. Since I only had a few jars, I just did the turn upside down (instead of the water bath), and they're being kept in the freezer anyway, but I was excited that the seals seemed to work with that method.

Crabapplesauce :)
3 lb crabapples, cooked and through a food mill
2 c sugar
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the Baked Brownie

So when I should have been making the chocolate souffle but had my days mixed up, I was making a pan of the Baked brownies. I was a little horrified at the 11oz of chocolate, 5 eggs and 1 cup of butter. I used Trader Joe's 72% for the chocolate - and the chocolate really comes through. I couldn't really taste the cocoa powder (not that they were fantastic cocoa powders -1 each of Ghiradelli and Hershey's Special Dark, wanting to use up the Ghiradelli and then seeing it wasn't very dark and trying to compensate).

The brownies were really good. I really liked the thick enough, dense enough to hold together, not cakey quality. I need to reread, they're almost a little salty to me (1 tsp?), I used fine sea salt and unsalted butter, I think I'd cut back salt by a half. But we don't really use much salt here, and maybe try cutting 2-3 TB of the butter. I don't know how frequently I'll make them, they're a little over the top :) But I think they'd be a good standard brownie recipe to bring to work or potlucks.

Sometime I need to try the Spiced Up version , though the sweet and salty or pb sound even better. First I want to try that Sweet and Salty Cake, and I need to try the Vanilla Bean Caramel Apples after we go apple picking. And the Millionaire's Shortbread sounds amazing. And the truffles look pretty good, too...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Big Dutch Babies

Big Dutch Babies were a weekend lunch growing up. Since getting a bing cherry-fresh mint syrup instead of a jam, I've been thinking it'd be great with one.

Some recipes call for using a cast iron skillet, but my mom always used a 9x13 metal pan. She also used salted butter, too, and I loved the saltiness of the crispy edges (they're not really salty, just a little - great with maple syrup!).

1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 eggs
1 c milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 TB salted butter

Heat oven to 425, let pan heat for 5 min. Whisk together all ingredients except butter until smooth.
Remove pan from oven, add butter and swirl around pan until melted. Add batter and bake about 20 min.

I'm not sure how I managed it (my mom's never did this), but mine rose and split in the middle - it looks like a mouth!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Black Pepper Brownies

So the Espresso Chocolate Brownies for last week's TWD got me in the mood for brownies! For a while, I've been wanting to try Maida Heatter's Black Pepper Brownies from her Book of Great Chocolate Desserts. They're a thick, dense brownie with a tsp of black pepper for an 8x8 pan. I really liked the texture of the brownie. I didn't really taste the black pepper until the very end, it was a little rough texture-wise at the end. I'd like to try these again but sub cayenne.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

I was expecting a stronger brownie feel to this recipe, but it seemed very even - cheesecake vs brownie. Clearly I didn't add the sr cream topping, I'd read on another blog about adding a ganache topping - that sounded really good. But we got into to these before I got the ganache made :)

These were good, though I think I overbaked a bit. My favorite for this style of brownie is still Maida Heatter's Santa Fe Brownies, more brownie to cheesecake.

Thanks to Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell who chose this week's recipe!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Creamiest Lime Pie

I was really excited about this week's pick! I'm not great with meringue, so I subbed whipped cream. I made some little pies in a muffin tin (bad crust). I thought with the currants they looked like little storybook cakes.

I used up the leftover lime curd and whipped cream with some of Dorie's sables. This was my favorite. The red currants were really nice, especially with the extra richness of the whipped cream. Very tasty!

Thanks to Linda of Tender Crumb for the great pick!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Peach Jams

I've really been enjoying trying to do some preserving this summer. Lately, I've been on a peach kick: Honey Peach with Cardamom, Peach with Lemon Verbena and Raspberry-Peach with Mint. I also made a plain Honey Peach, but no photo, it pretty much looked the same as the cardamom one above.

The Honey Peach Cardamom was based on Ferber's Lavender Honey Peach, but using a local honey and cardamom. The Lemon Verbena was Ferber's, too. I really like the way her jams set (when they've set for me!).

The Raspberry Peach Mint started as Topp's recipe, but it was not setting, so I added more raspberries, a little more peach and just made the recipe in the Certo package and added the mint. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't taste the mint, but maybe it'll be more obvious in the ones that got to set. It's a good jam, but trying this next to Ferber's, it just couldn't compete.

I'm hoping to get some more Honey Peach done for family before the season's over. And then I'm excited about the apples and pears! I tried a Caramel Applesauce, generally based on Ferber's Caramel Apple jam. It was really tasty, though I used yellow transparents (the first apples at our farmers market so far!) so the color was really unattractive - so no pic :) Anyway, I'm really looking forward to trying more apple jams and jellies and some pear preserves!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bing Cherry Granita

I've been buying cherries like crazy but no one in the house was really eating them anymore, so I tried a granita. I used Peggy Fallon's recipe as a base, but I used less sugar and more water.

about 1- 1 1/4 pounds Bing cherries
3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c water
1 TB lemon juice

Boil cherries with water til soft, press through chinois or sieve. Freeze and stir/scrape periodically til frozen.

It still ended up quite sweet - I liked it quite a bit paired with a lime granita. It was also pretty good with the chocolate flakes - kind of like chocolate covered cherry.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brownie Buttons

I really just like plain brownies, so I didn't do the frosting, so these weren't very photogenic. I tried "piling them in a bowl" as Dorie wrote, but that didn't end up as an appetizing picture. So here's just a loner on a plate (still not the prettiest). Whatever they looked like, these were tasty, and they would be great for snacking!

Thanks to Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen for this week's pick!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Red Currant Tart

So now with my red currant jelly, I was finally able to try a tart! I still don't have a tart pan (let alone a mini), so I just cut rounds and used a muffin tin. This go around, I just made a baked custard tart, topped with currants and then the heated currant jelly as a glaze. It was a little messy, but very tasty. I'm hoping to try the recipe from the Pie and Pastry Bible before the currants run out!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Red Currant Jelly

Since I was so thrilled to find red currants, I thought I'd try to make jelly. I've made lots of freezer jam before, but only a couple cooked jams. And as far as I can remember this is my first jelly. I used my grandma's china cap (anyone know another name for this that doesn't sound like a slur?). I decided to try Christine Ferber's recipe from Mes Confitures. Basically it's
1.5 kg currants
1 kg sugar
200 g water
juice of 1 lemon

Weighing out my currants (the kids helped clean, and it
still took 2 hrs!).

Ready to make the juice:

After the boiling:

What I didn't know about making jelly was how long straining the juice takes. At first I left my water bath going thinking I'd be putting the jelly jars in right after the 5 min on the stove - ha!

Here's about 1 minute's worth of straining, a photo about every 5 seconds or so.

I don't know if you can really tell from the pictures, but that was 2 drops a minute.

It was just laughable. It took about 4 hours for the juice to strain. Part of the issue was pressing too much on the fruit in the china cap. And I didn't have a jelly bag so I used a flour sack set up, and then when I saw how long it was taking, I also put a coffee filter in the china cap and about 4 coffee filters in another strainer (propping them up against each other). Honestly, after this, I couldn't believe that people really used to make jelly every year. I was so discouraged and couldn't believe I wasted my time on this....until the jelly actually set....

and it looked so pretty - even on the kids' crooked picnic table. :)