Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD: Rosh Hashana

So, instead of making a creamy, crunchy creme brulee, I did some other cooking.  Ready for dinner Tuesday night:  chicken soup, kreplach (kind of like a won ton or dumpling), carrot coins in maple syrup, apples and honey, pomegranate (your good deeds for the year should equal the number of seeds), potato kugel, salmon, and orange honey spice cake.

You may notice a lot of sweet items.  It is very symbolic to fill the table with sweet foods to help bring a sweet year.  Honey is especially prominent on the menu.

I love the new year.  According to the Hebrew calendar, we are starting 5769.  It's a time of renewal and hope.  It's a reminder to stop, look, and appreciate.

L'shanah tovah umetukah.  May you have a good and sweet year.

L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi.  May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

Some wonderful recipes have been picked for October.  I'll be back in full baking force next week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

Whew!  A break from cookies!  This week's recipe was chosen by Michelle of Bake-En.  We were all pleased, at my house, to have something a little different.

I found these adorable little plums at Trader Joe's called Sugar Plums.  They are about the size of, well, a small plum.  I dutifully read the other baker's notes and proceeded to screw up anyway.

The batter came together easily.  Because my plums were so small and cute, I was able to use the eight that were called for.  I gently and carefully laid them in the pan.  I baked it for exactly 40 minutes.  My kitchen smelled fabulous!  I tested it with a cake tester and a knife.  I put it on the cooling rack for exactly 15 minutes.  That's when I noticed that the center was a little sunken in.  Ok, maybe more than a little.  I decided to flip it out of the pan anyway.


Totally fell apart.  Totally.  And see, I had been warned.  A few people mentioned that it didn't always hold together around the plums.  In this exact state, I threw it back in the oven.  It baked a little longer, or maybe it just dried out a little.  Regardless, it was really really tasty.  This is absolutely a recipe that I would make again.  I'm very glad I bought the cardamom.  It added a wonderful flavor dimension.

I think that the next time I make this, I'll use cut up apples.  Although the plum flavor was nice, the large pieces make it a little dangerous.  Plus, the skin on the plums added a little odd taste.

Doesn't this view make it look like an alien?

Don't look for Creme Brulee here next week.  Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake has chosen a perfectly wonderful recipe.  However, we're out of town this weekend (Homecoming!  Go Hawkeyes!), and Rosh Hashana starts Monday evening.  I'll be happy to show you my homemade chicken soup, kreplach, and apple cake.  Plus I'll be baking for the tailgate and Cpt. Daleske.  Yes!  I'm full of excuses!  Regardless, I'll be back with Dorie in October.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chunkers

Claudia of Fool for Food (which, by the way, is really cool because it's in German) continued our cookie baking trend of the last few weeks and chose Chocolate Chunkers.  I'm glad for the cookies, because cookies tend to be easy.  I love easy.  While this recipe wasn't difficult to make, it did require many ingredents.  I don't usually post the process, I'm more of a finished baked goods kind of gal.  But this I had to post.

We start with cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder.

Then move on to unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, and butter.

Sugar, eggs, and vanilla are also involved.

And then, there are the mix-ins.  More bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, toasted almonds, and a dried fruit mix.  (I substituted the almonds for peanuts and the dried fruit for raisins).  I skipped the white chocolate because, well, it's not chocolate.

There was a lot going on in this cookie.  I did discover that this is one of the few Dorie cookies that does not benefit from a little trip to the fridge.  Since the "dough" is largely chocolate, it made it difficult to scoop.  You'll notice the quotes around the word dough because there was little if anything holding all the mix-ins together.

Here is a finished cookie.  It was good.  It was also very rich.  This was not a snacking cookie.  And it definitely required milk.  Truth be told, it was on the expensive side as well.  I made more cookies than the original recipe stated, but I'm pretty sure I made them smaller than Dorie called for.  I don't think I'll rush out and make these again any time soon.  I just wasn't that into them.

Up next week:  Dimply Plum Cake chosen by Michelle of Bake-en.  Much as I've loved all the cookies, I'm excited to do something else.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rained out

I had such high hopes for this weekend.  My family and I were going to go apple picking.  I had dreams, people.  I was going to make apple sauce, apple pie, apple butter, apple cake, and apple cinnamon ice cream.  I was going to make more dulce de leche just for dipping apple slices.  I bought a new jar of peanut butter.  Ok, I needed that anyway, but still.  I was going to go apple picking.

I had this lovely vision of my family walking through the orchard, smiling and laughing as we picked.  More laughter as we shared apple cider doughnuts fresh from the bakery.  And more laughing as we took a tractor ride through the trees.  Be quiet.  This is my fantasy.  No where was there any whining from my children.  Or husband.

What did I get?  Rain.  For three days straight now.  Rain.  A little drizzle?  That I could handle.  But this has been road closing, basement flooding rain.  Mind you, I'm grateful I'm not in Texas.  They have RAIN down there.

Rain out the back door.  Rain out the front door.

Rain on the patio.  Rain in the garden.

Lots and lots of rain.

Next weekend?  Next weekend my apple picking will happen!  Unless it rains.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

So excited for the next round of the Baking Gals!

The nephew of one of my best friends in the whole wide world is going to be a recipient.  It was pretty special to be able to bake and know that I was making someone happy.  To know that someone is even more special.

If you aren't familiar with the Gals, check out the site.  I'll be baking for CPT Christopher Daleske.  He, and all the other service people, are very deserving of our treats.

The post office makes it pretty easy to ship.  You can go online and order free boxes designed especially to be sent overseas.  And they only charge a flat rate of $11.

Check it out!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops

I had some seriously high hopes for these cookies (see my previous entry).  And these are good cookies.  Very good.  I will make them again.  I just know what to do and what not to do next time.

I love Whopper candy.  I steal it out of my kid's Halloween baskets.  Shhhh.  Don't tell.  There has been a container of Whoppers on my counter just waiting to be baked into cookies.  I just want you all to appreciate my will power.  Thank you.  I bought malted milk powder just for the occasion.  I made some minor substitutions and made one small.... mistake is too big a word.  Just one thing I would change for next time.

The cookies used a minimum of dishes and came together pretty easily.  I didn't have whole milk, so I used skim.  I didn't have bittersweet chips and used semi-sweet instead.  Neither made a difference, I think.  Where I erred was being just a little too enthusiastic when it came time to smash up the Whoppers.  I put them in a freezer bag and just whacked the bejeesus out of them with my rolling pin.  Ooops.  Many of the other bakers recommended leaving them a little bigger.  Oh well.

I dropped them out on the cookie sheets.  No chilling time!  I didn't use the full recommended baking time.  I like my cookies a little chewy.  They turned out very chewy.  I really enjoyed the chocolate taste with the malted milk tang.  The chips added just a little richness to round out the flavors.  They are not very pretty cookies, but who cares about pretty when they are so tasty.

Mmmmm.  Malty, chocolatey, cookie goodness.

Here's a close up of the deliciousness.  See the little, and I do mean little malt pieces?

Funny side note:  I said that I liked my cookies chewy.  After they had cooled, I carefully put them in a jar.  I filled it to the top and was made sure not to smush any of the cookies.  When I came back a few hours later, there was about three inches of open space at the top of the jar.  I was ready to scold my husband when I looked really closely.  My chewy cookies had collapsed into each other.  Eating them was fun.  You didn't grab a cookie so much as you grabbed a hunk of cookie.  They still disappeared.

See the space on top of the jar?  That was full of cookie a few hours ago!


Thanks to Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart for helping me to discover a new favorite.

Next week:  Claudia of Fool for Food has chosen Chocolate Chunkers.  The cookie celebration continues!

Monday, September 01, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

I have to say, I'm liking the trend of cookies.  Cookies are good.  Cookies are generally easy.Cookies tend to use fewer dishes.  Cookies are nice little bites that make me feel less guilty than when I eat a whole piece of pie or cake.  Of course, that only works when I don't eat half a dozen cookies, but I digress.

When I looked at the recipe (chosen by Stefany of Proceed with Caution), I thought it looked familiar.  I couldn't remember if I had made them previously.  I hoped that I hadn't, because these sounded really good, and I wanted them to be memorable.

Turns out I had made them before.  I tend to write in my cookbooks.  Hey, they're my books.  This one was "just ok" according to my notes.  I played around a little more this time.  Or at least I meant to.  I cut the recipe in half.  That usually messes with me a little.  According to some of the other TWDers, there was too much cinnamon.  I meant to cut it in half.  However, that would have meant half of the half I had already cut, and I didn't do it.  I substituted dark chocolate m & ms for the chips.  (On a side note:  I really like dark chocolate m & ms.  They are really good.  Really good right out of the freezer, too)

The cookies are good, but they aren't great.  If they are called "peanut butter cookies", I expect more peanut butter taste.  I don't know that I'll make these again to play around, but perhaps some peanut butter chips might improve things.  And definitely less cinnamon.  It's the predominant flavor.

I do have two "versions" because I used two techniques.  For some of the batch, I rolled the dough into balls.  For the rest of the batch, I dropped.  No difference.  The rolled ones are neater.  I just got lazy.




Up next week:  Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops chosen by Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart.  I have been ANXIOUSLY awaiting this recipe.  The Whoppers have been on the counter for a couple of weeks.  My children look daily to see if the container has been opened.  I even went and ordered malted milk powder from King Arthur Flour just to make these cookies.  That's quite a build up.  Stay tuned!