Thursday, July 31, 2008

As You Wish...

Someone in the house, ahem, Glenn, has been whining for a week now about not having any chocolate in the house. Boohoo. I have been busy baking things with fruit. That is why these are now called As You Wish Brownies. I only wanted to please the one I loved. Gotta love Princess Bride. Whatever.

Anyway, the Fresh & Easy by our house FINALLY opened yesterday so of course we had to stop by. It was so packed! It was awesome though, I love that store, and I also got mucho compliments on my super cool recycled grocery bag totes.

The main point about the F&E side story is that I found Mascarpone cheese there. I can't find it anywhere, maybe I am looking in the wrong places, but I found it anyway. I was so excited I squealed a bit and I did a mini dance in the aisle. Why mascarpone cheese you ask? Well, I came across this recipe a while ago and it looks SOOO heavenly. I finally made it last night. The results? Absolutely sinful. These brownies are so thick that when you add the layer of ganache, they will come all the way to the top of a square Pyrex pan. They are so thick and rich and fudgy and... oh I could go on and on. Just make them. I promise you won't be disappointed.

By the way, I only have one picture because I just couldn't stare at it without digging in.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

The time has come to post the Daring Bakers Challenge of July which was, drumroll please... A Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. This recipe can be found in the book Great Cakes by Carole Walter chosen by Chris of Mele Cotte. To sum it all without boring anyone, this cake was very nutty, expensive to make, and very time consuming. A few of the components were stellar on their own, especially the ganache. All together though, I think this cake is overwhelming.

Obtaining ingredients for this challenge was certainly a challenge all by itself. Filberts, also known as Hazelnuts are not cheap by any means. Finding a pound of them without breaking the bank was an adventure. I hit just about every major supermarket before deciding that I wasn't going to find them in a normal grocery store. After consulting the message boards I decided to try and find a Whole Foods Market by me. Hey, guess what? There are no Whole Foods Markets close to me! A Google search later and we found ourselves in front of an abandoned Wild Oats Market about 15 minutes from home. Argghhh... Finally we gave up and drove about 2o minutes to Tempe and procured a pound or so of Hazelnuts at about 1o bucks a pound. Ouch!

Then I was introduced to the world of mini-bottles that sits by the registers at AJ's. I find these mini liquor bottles to be the most fascinating things, but I do have a weakness for all things mini, except for dogs. I perused the ample selection there and found a couple bottles that were to my liking and purchased them. I made the rum sugar syrup and put it in a container to keep in the fridge. A few days later when I go to grab something, I notice the bag is soaked, and alcoholic. Grrr... my container had a leak in it. I had to make more rum sugar syrup. This time, we were going out near a BevMo so we went in and had fun looking through their extensive selection of mini-bottles, bought a few and went home. What a funny fascination I have with these tiny bottles of liquor and I don't even drink!

Changes I made to the recipe: I used high quality white rum instead of dark rum, I made a raspberry glaze instead of apricot, I omitted the whipped cream layer in the cake, and I made my own buttercream (a simple powdered sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, and alcohol variation) instead of the one in the recipe.

Anyway, when it all comes down to it, I didn't like this cake very much, if at all, but I was glad that I tried it and I learned some things along the way. I also learned that Grand Marnier is wicked good in baked goods! Beware though, this cake will turn your kitchen and sink into a war zone.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise

Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.

Swiss Buttercream
4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.

Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.

Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.

Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.

Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.

Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake

**Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.

Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.

Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.

Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.

Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.

To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.

Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TWD: Summer Fruit Galette

This weeks TWD was much much less of an adventure than the last one. Apparently Dorie's definition of summer fruit involves peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums. PASS. I would actually call this recipe the Cheap Fruit Galette because when I was at the grocery store I looked for the cheap fruit and bought a considerable amount of it. One pound of strawberries for $1? Check. Two mangoes for $1? Check. Four kiwi for $2? Check. Awesome. I also grabbed a bag of sweetened coconut for good measure and that was pretty cheap too. Apparently I went for some sort of tropical theme here.

I had all of the fruit for this at the beginning of last week, but something in me was reluctant to start making it. Before my strawberries molded over I gave them copious amounts of sugar in a nice Rubbermaid container and then a nice big shake. They were perfect come time to bake. I suppose this was a fairly easy recipe to make, the pie dough is very easy, I just used a pastry blender*. I do have to say though, mangoes are a PAIN to cut, or maybe it was just the one I had. Anyway, I enjoyed this recipe and had no real issues, although it was much prettier pre-bake. I would like to know when I will start assembling heavy, fragile desserts on the pans instead of on a bare counter. Last time, for the Danish Braid, I made it on the counter and had quite a predicament when it came time to lift that heavy thing to the pan. Again, I assembled my galette on a bare counter, but thankfully I had an almost big enough pancake spatula to save me. In any event, thank you to Michelle of Michelle in Colorado Springs for picking a fun recipe that is very easy to play with according to the season. This weeks TWD in one word: Fruity.

* When I first got married and moved in with Glenn I found this very strange utensil in one of the kitchen drawers that I had never seen before. The best we could come up with is some strange kind of potato masher. I didn't even find out until like a couple of months ago that the strange contraption was a pastry blender. Ever since then I have been excited to use it for stuff, I don't know why though. Kind of a lot of work that a food processor could do for you.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Chocolate Fixation Anyone?

Thanks to my wonderful husband, I have been getting loads of help in the group creation/blog development department. Glenn has been toying around on Photoshop creating all sorts of fun logos and we are working together to decide what the overall look of the blog will be.

I have ironed out most of the details, I think, for the group.
-First things first, the name is Chocolate Fixation.
-Posts will be done on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of every month. (Fixation Fridays)
-Recipes can come from anywhere but MUST contain chocolate (white "chocolate" can count)
-Challenge recipes will be emailed on the 4th Friday of the month so there is time to prepare.

I hope this sounds good to other people besides myself. Once I get the site all taken care of, I will post it. In the meantime, if anyone wants to help moderate, please let me know. I would really like to have one other voice helping me out. Also, if this sounds fun to you, email me with your name, email, and blog and I will make sure to add you as a member... hmm, I need a clever name for members. Anyway, I hope others will join me, it will be fun. Happy baking and blogging in the meantime.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Aha! An Inspiration

I have to admit, when I started gathering ingredients for this week's TWD, I looked at the biscuit topping and went "ugh, that looks so... plain," but I was good and didn't change it. Well, I added raw sugar to the top, but that isn't really changing it. Anyway, after I tasted it, I thought it was delicious and I thought that they would make great scones.

In fact, they do make great scones. I tweaked the recipe here and there, but not much. Here is my interpretation of the biscuit top on the cherry rhubarb cobbler that turned into some tasty morsels.

Brown Sugar Pecan Scones (makes 8-12 scones)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch squares
1 cup milk (whole is best)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
raw sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

together everything but butter, milk, vanilla, and pecans. (I like the inconsistency a fork gets over the uniformity of a whisk.)

Cut the butter into the dry mixture using a pastry blender (pinching with your fingers works well, as does mashing a sturdy whisk into it and turning but be careful not to overwork the dough.)

Add the milk and vanilla and give it a few stirs with a sturdy wooden spoon. Add in the chopped pecans and stir until everything is incorporated. (It is best to stir as little as possible)

Shape dough very gently into whatever you want and place on a baking sheet. Generously sprinkle raw sugar over the scones and press down gently.

Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on how soft or crumbly you want them. I think they are best at 18.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Group Creation Update

Okay, well I have a couple of votes for anything and everything PB & C, but I worry that may get limiting. To accommodate my love of PB & C, and many others, we could do one post a month that has to do with PB & C and then another post that is any other type of sweets, but no limitations, just sweets. Another idea that came up, from Glenn, is that we can discuss/vote on a specific cookbook to work out of, and follow along the guidelines of TWD.

It seems like the guidelines for the group would be like this so far:
- 2 posts a month, one being PB & C, the other being anything else sweet
- completed posts will be made on a specific day agreed upon by the group (probably not Tuesday)
- recipes can come from anywhere ( or from a specific cookbook should we so decide)
- at least one post must be made a month (except for special circumstances etc...)

I suppose a vote should be taken via comments. If doing one PB & C post a month along with another post on a different type of sweet sounds good to you, say so. If you like the idea of just working through a specific cookbook, respond accordingly. Or, if you have any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated. Any combination of these could work as well, but I think two posts a month would be ideal.

Finally, what on earth should this group be called? I'm in full-on blank brain mode and cannot think of anything. Also, if there is any person who is very active in their blogging and would like to help me found this, make sure you let me know and I will set it up so that person can help me maintain and moderate the blog once we get it running. Fingers crossed and we should get this together soon!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

TWD: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

Hmmm... well this was an adventure to say the least. First of all, cherries are quite expensive around Arizona. Second, Glenn makes a big deal about how good Rainier cherries are every time we see them, and those are even more expensive than normal red cherries. Third, rhubarb is near impossible to find here. First we checked Target, because we always shop there, then we went to Fry's since we were right by one at the time, then off to AJ's where they had one lone stalk, then to Trader Joe's where we wanted to get all American Psycho style on all the self-righteous hippies, and FINALLY to another AJ's where we found about a pound of rhubarb at last.

I have to say, this was all a bit ridiculous. Everything was easy to prepare and the dough for the topping came together wonderfully and tasted delicious pre-bake. Before I baked it all, I sprinkled a generous amount of raw sugar over the top, which worked out beautifully. However, there are a few changes I would make to the recipe (out of respect of Dorie Greenspan and the copyright laws I won't post the actual recipe). In my opinion, there is too much rhubarb in the cobbler and the next time I would do about 3-4 ounces less and do an equal amount more in the cherries. I would also cut the rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces as opposed to the 1 inch pieces the recipe calls for. I like my rhubarb more mushy than crisp. Oh yeah, and I halved the amount of ginger in the fruit mixture and added a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Muy bueno. This really was a fun pick because it was SOOOO easy and it made me think twice about what otherwise seemed like a boring biscuit like top.

As for the end result, Glenn and I both enjoyed it. However, it doesn't photograph well (at least not for me). We agree that the rhubarb should be cut much smaller. I also underbaked the cobbler by about 4-5 minutes. Overall, this was a challenge to get everything together, but it was super easy to make and yummy in the end. Before I forget too, I must credit Amanda from Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake for choosing such a great and easy recipe. This week's TWD in one word: simple.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mmmm Mmmm Good

I love PB&C so much that I could never possibly put into words the extent to which that love radiates. Dramatic, yes. Over-exaggerating, no. Anyway, as I was browsing Amy's blog, South In Your Mouth (I will never look at that blog name and not giggle) and I found a work of art. Amy calls it a rut, but I call it delicious.

This lovely dessert consists of a cookie crust bottom, a cream cheese peanut butter layer, followed by some yummy Reese's Cups, topped with a fluffy chocolate pudding, and finally adorned with more crushed cookies. Well I decided to change things up a bit for a couple reasons. My first was that Glenn and I hate Oreo's and even more so when they are in crust form. I asked him to pick some cookies when we were in the cookie aisle at Target, and since the Sausalitos were too pricey, he settled on Market Pantry chocolate chip cookies (the crunchy kind). Good choice love. The second alteration was due to a mistake on my part. I forgot that Cool Whip comes in two sizes and silly me, I bought the small one. Thus, my dessert was a little less fluffy in parts, but in my opinion, that made it better. Here is my version of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Dessert:

24 chocolate chip cookies (the crunchy kind)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 8 oz tub of Cool Whip
20 miniature Reese's Cups
1 cup cold milk
1 3.9 oz package instant fudge pudding

Crush 18 of the cookies into fine crumbs and combine with melted butter until it holds shape when pressed together. Press into an ungreased 8 x 8 pan.

Beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and 1 cup powdered sugar in a bowl until very smooth. Gently fold in 1/3 of the Cool Whip. Spread evenly over the crust.

Chop 15 of the Reese's Cups and sprinkle over the peanut butter layer.

Beat the milk, pudding mix, and powdered sugar in a bowl until smooth. Fold in the remaining 2/3 of the Cool Whip. Spread over the peanut butter layer and candy layer.

Top the dessert with the remaining cookies and candy all chopped up or left whole, however you please.

Enjoy! I know we did.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Call Me Crazy...

I have fallen in love with these online blogging communities of bakers from all around the world. It truly is an amazing thing to see so many people come together over a recipe. Whether it be the Daring Bakers or the Tuesdays with Dorie group, bakers everywhere can come together and learn from each other and share each other's experiences.

Maybe I am crazy, or selfish, or just attention hungry, but I really want to start my own community like those. It may not make headlines or be anything great, but I would love to have a group to call my own and start with a few faithful fellow bloggers. Anyone else share my sentiments? I have no idea where to start, but maybe with some like minded baking bloggers we can produce brilliance.

Call me crazy, but I think it could be fun. What do you think?

Possibilities: I was thinking, well my sweet tooth was thinking, that the group could be all baked goods sweet (forget the savory crap), maybe all things chocolate, or even better, all things peanut butter AND chocolate. I like sweets and if I am going to make a group it's going to be something I like right? I am desperate for ideas, and desperate for anyone that would like to join me.

TWD: Chocolate Pudding

Hooray! My very first TWD post (Tuesdays with Dorie)! Alas, the Daring Bakers have not been quenching my thirst for challenges that I might not otherwise conquer without a little pushing. That led me to convince Glenn to run out to Borders and buy me the Dorie Greenspan book, Baking: From My Home to Yours for only $8! What a sweet deal, I couldn't pass it up. As soon as I got it I immediately requested to be added to the TWD group. This leads me to my first challenge. Chocolate Pudding!

I've been reading lots of other people's posts about this and it seems like no one likes pudding! That is absolutely ludicrous if you ask me, but thankfully, this delightful recipe has been changing many minds. It is super rich, wonderfully smooth and creamy, and most of all it has the perfect amount of chocolate. I must say thank you to Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen for picking this yummy recipe.

As for the experience, it was so easy. I didn't feel like making the whole recipe so I easily halved it (with the exception of halving an egg: awkward) and it really didn't take very long. I only got nervous because I have a super mini food processor (3 cup capacity) that doesn't have one of those feed spouts. I was worried the hot milk would sit on the egg for too long without blending, but everything turned out fine. I am considering getting a bigger food processor seeing how much the lovely Ms. Greenspan seems to love hers. This weeks TWD in one word: smooth.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Worst. Recipe. Name. Ever.

I bought a container of buttermilk so I could make the Blueberry Crumb Cake the other day, and I am now left with entirely too much buttermilk. Unfortunately, the diversity of recipes including buttermilk is pretty much pancakes, waffles, and biscuits. Then lo and behold, I found this recipe for Molten Buttermilk Brownie Goo (seriously disgusting sounding, but quite descriptive) and decided to make it.

I found it on grouprecipes which is a really cool site and I recommend checking it out if you haven't already. It was really easy to make because instead of following the recipe, I just dumped everything together and stirred it. I've never made a dessert quite like this before, so I thought it was really weird pouring something the consistency of water over the thicker batter. I also found it easier to just double the recipe and put it in an 8 x 8 pan since I have no idea what a quart sized pan looks like.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Yummy Biscuits

For some reason, I always have a craving for biscuits. I'm not sure if it is the sweet honey goodness of Popeye's biscuits or the rich buttery taste of KFC. Either way, I always want biscuits, but every recipe I can find online seems to contain at least one ingredient that I don't have on hand.

I wake up this morning and I am STARVING. I decide that since I just got my wonderful Baking book by Dorie Greenspan, I would try the biscuit recipe that I actually have all the ingredients for. It was super easy, very quick, and in about 20 minutes I was eating insanely good flaky biscuits. It is certainly a no fail recipe that I will probably find myself making again and again.

As a special bonus to myself, and because I always want something sweet for breakfast, I decided to try and mimic Popeye's and I made a 1:1 ratio of butter and honey into a pre bake glaze for the biscuits. It gave them a beautiful golden color with a slight crunch and a delicate sweet flavor. Yummy!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

What They Say Is True

After seeing a few too many TWD (Tuesdays with Dorie) posts and only getting to participate in one challenge a month from DB, I decided that I too needed to belong to the TWD group. Anyway, when Glenn and I were at Borders a week or so ago buying an EReader to occupy us on the trip to Boston, I saw the Baking From My Home to Yours cookbook by Dorie Greenspan on sale for only $8! Wow! It's normally $40 so it was quite a steal. After some convincing, I got Glenn to go and get it for me since I am stuck at work and Glenn is on summer break.

I haven't started TWD yet, but I have practically read the entire 500 or so page book with great enthusiasm. I have mentally devoured each and every recipe in the book, but I found one that interested me in particular. It's a little out of my normal repetoire, but it is now a wonderful new addition. The blueberry crumb cake looked absolutely fabulous to me, so I decided to try it. We had recently made a trip to Target, where the berries were on sale for $2.99 a pint, so I bought some raspberries. A couple days passed, and before I was able to make this, my raspberries had molded. Boo! Off to Target we went again and this time raspberries were no longer on sale, so I stuck with what the recipe called for and I hauled out of there with a pint of blueberries. Aside from the fact that I turned off the oven timer for some reason and had to guess the amount of time left on the crumb cake, this turned out FANTASTIC! It was perfectly moist, just sweet enough, and the crumb topping was ridiculously good. I seriously suggest buying this book, it has too much good stuff to pass up.

I Got Your Crazy