Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TWD: Chipster-Topped Brownies

I have wanted to try a recipe like this for a while. I mean, a layer of chocolate chip cookies over brownies... what could be bad? Certainly not these.

This started out as a slightly fussy recipe, but I lowered it considerably. First, I cut the recipe in half. I used an 8" Pyrex pan, which ended up being a good choice. The brownie layer calls for melting chocolate in a saucepan with butter. I stuck mine in the microwave. Worked like a charm. In a very unlike me move, I added the walnuts. I tend not to like nuts in brownies, especially walnuts, but I wanted to stay fairly true to the recipe. I used regular cooking spray to grease the pan.

Then I started in on the chocolate chip cookie layer. Now this is going to mess with some of you. I used the very same bowl for the cookie layer that I used for the brownie layer. I didn't even wash it. I happen to have mad scraping skilz. And, I'm lazy. I also figured it was all ending up in the same place, so, no washing. I didn't want to mess with half and egg and half an egg yolk that the original recipe called for, so I just used one egg. I cut the amount of chocolate chips in the cookie layer. Adding walnuts, cutting the chips, what's wrong with me this week? I thought that the brownie layer was chocolate enough, and I wanted to try to lessen the chocolate impact so the flavor of the cookie would come through. I used a teaspoon and a finger to put small dollops of dough all over the brownie batter. My favorite small offset spatula made quick work of smoothing the dough,

It went into the oven (not on a baking sheet, though Dorie calls for one) and baked for about 25 minutes. Even with just a spritz of cooking spray, the bars came right out of the pan. I cut the whole thing in half to see if I could differentiate between the layers. I could!

Here's the golden brown top.

And here is a view of the layers. The chocolate chips all sunk to the bottom of the cookie. I wonder if a sprinkling of flour would keep them more in the cookie batter.

Here are a few sliced and stacked.

I liked this recipe, but I'm not sure that I'm rushing out to make it again. The brownie flavor pretty much cancelled out the flavor of the cookie. Perhaps a peanut butter cookie dough might be more of a contrast. Surprisingly for me, I liked the walnuts.

Thanks to Beth of Supplicious for choosing this recipe. Go check out her blog if you'd like to see the recipe. Get this -- all of June is chocolate free! I know a couple of people who are pretty excited about this. I'm kinda looking forward to it myself.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TWD: Mango Bread

In a convergence of "how the hell did this happen?", I actually had all the things I needed to make this bread in the house. I know! I was excited, too!

I was looking forward to making something "everyday" from Dorie's book. Don't get me wrong -- I love the cakes and tarts -- but it's nice to make something that I feel slightly better about eating at three in the afternoon just before my little darlings come home.

On the Dorie scale of fuss, this was fairly low. It's a pretty standard sweet loaf bread/cake. There were some flavor additions that made it more interesting. It has a generous amount of ground ginger in it. The recipe called for golden raisins. I substituted my favorite Trader Joe's blend of dried fruit (golden raisins, blueberries, cherries, and cranberries). And there was fresh mango. My kids love the stuff, and it happened to be on sale last week (50 cents each!), so there it was in my fridge.

It only took two bowls, and I stirred by hand. I measured three different loaf pans until I finally found the right size. It took a long time to bake. And when I make something like this, I tend to err on the longer side. I've have more than a few loaves of something be less than done in the center and very done on the edges. I did have to tent this one to slow the browning.

It did make my kitchen smell wonderful. I was less enamored with the taste. For me, the overwhelming flavor was ginger. And not that that's a bad thing, but I would have liked for the flavors to be more balanced. I think that while the mango added moistness, it didn't bring much flavor to the table. The girl especially loved it. She had it for breakfast and snacks for two or three days. The husband enjoyed it as well. The boy was more on my side. I don't think I'm rushing out to make this again. I have other sweet bread recipes that I like better. Ah well. It was a good experiment.

Here's the loaf out of the oven. I was worried that it wasn't done in the middle and kept looking for it to sink.

Here's a top down view of the sliced loaf. Nice color!

I really like the way the dried fruit looks against the loaf. And you can see the mango chunks.

Thank you Kelly of Baking With the Boys for getting me to try something new. If you'd like to give it a try, go check out her blog for the recipe.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Delicious Saturday night

The husband and I have some really wonderful friends. This past Saturday, we got together with six of them. I like these people. We always have a great time when we hang out with them. The other big bonus -- we always have great food as well.

We haven't had a dinner with them for a couple of months. Then I saw this recipe. And I knew I had to make it. I sent around an e-mail with the link to get everyone else drooling. We picked a date. I counted down to said date.

We usually do a "first come first served" dibs system. I wanted to make the torte and a pound cake I've been eyeing. One couple provided the house and an amazing smoked pork shoulder. (He uses Alton Brown's flowerpot smoker) Another brought prosciutto and parmesan wrapped green beans and truffled macaroni and cheese also with prosciutto. The third brought a wonderful simple green salad with walnuts, goat cheese, and dried cranberries and a sangria. Do you now see why I really like these people?

The recipes I chose were spectacular. The feta torte was crispy on the outside and creamy and tangy on the inside. I could have eaten so much more than I did. I wanted to. I just knew what was coming and forced myself to walk away.

This is what the finished torte looked like.

And this is a cross section.

I could easily see myself making this again. I've thought about doing it in my mini bundt pans and adding spinach for a brunch. I will warn you that this recipe is not for the faint of heart. It contains three sticks of butter, one pound of feta cheese, three eggs, and one and a half pounds of cottage cheese. It is soooooo worth all the calories, though.

Along with the appetizer, I made the dessert. I've had the book Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor for a while now. In keeping with my earlier vow this year to use more of my cookbooks, I decided to pull it out. The recipe for Brown Sugar Pound Cake caught my eye a while ago, but I've never had an occasion to make it. Tonight was the night. It looked simple to make. And it, too, sounded fabulous. It was easy to make. I should warn you that this recipe loaded up the calories as well. This one called for three more sticks of butter, eight ounces of cream cheese, one and a quarter cups of ground almonds, and six eggs. I served it with some rhubarb strawberry vanilla compote that I had made earlier in the day.

Here is my jar of compote.

Mmmmm. Ruby red goodness.

Here is what is left of the cake. It did not last long. Actually, there is nothing left of the cake. It makes me sad. We brought a bit of the cake home for the kids to try. The boy and girl gave it a huge thumbs up. Though, seriously, what's not to like?

It was a wonderful evening all around. Great company, delicious food, and some keeper recipes. Hope everyone else had some great food as well.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TWD: Tartest Lemon Tart

I love a good citrus dessert. You put lemon, lime, or orange into a dessert, and I'm eating it. I especially love lemon. Lemon cake. Lemon pudding. Lemon sorbet. Lemon bars. Lemon cookies. I love me some lemon.

I was intrigued by this recipe because it calls for a whole lemon. Well, you should take out the seeds first.

The crust couldn't have been simpler. It's basically a cookie crust that gets pressed into the tart pan. Dorie recommended the almond version, but I went with the regular version.

I'd read that some of the other bakers found the tart to be too bitter because of the pith from the lemon. Some recommended blanching it. I peeled my lemon into fairly thick slabs. Then I cut away a decent portion of the pith and followed the rest of the recipe from there. To finish it off, I dusted it with powdered sugar.

The end result was very good. It was just lemony enough with a touch of sweetness. I'm pretty sure that this will go into rotation. I wonder what it would be like with an orange or a lime instead....

Here it is cooling and unadorned.

And here is the finished tart.

Mmmmm. Don't you just want some? Here's your slice.

Thank you to Babette of Babette Feasts for choosing such a bright, summery dessert. Go check out her blog for the recipe. Or better yet, go buy the book and bake along!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Hope it's a day full of joy and love. Spend it with your mother. Spend it with someone else's mother. Spend it with your kids or grandkids.

Being a mom is tough. Being a mom is wonderful. The things I think are casual conversation now astound me. I rarely even blink when I hear a crying child in a restaurant let alone snark on the parents.

They make me laugh and cry. They are smart and funny. They are adorable and infuriating. They take my stuff and never put it away. They run to see me when they get off the school bus. They roll their eyes as if I know NOTHING. They ask me a million questions about everything. They are my pride and joy.

It's fitting that the photo has the kids munching on some of Dorie's Granola Grabbers.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Not a TWD: Instead, I bake seven cakes in 14 days

April is birthday month in these parts. The girl celebrates on the 18th and the boy on the 29th. What it means for the kids: cake and presents. What it means for me: baking.
We have a really fun tradition in our house. On birthday morning, we have cake for breakfast. The husband usually goes for a coffee cake or fruity cake of some sort.
The girl wanted yellow cake with peanut butter frosting.
Cake #1
For her party she chose mini cupcakes with chocolate or vanilla frosting.
Cake #2 (or just lots of cupcakes)
We have a family party the weekend in between the birthdays. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents come to share a meal and eat some cake.
The boy chose carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
Cake #3
The girl wanted a Heath bar coffee chocolate whipped cream cake .
Cake #4
The boy's breakfast cake was banana with peanut butter chocolate frosting.
Cake #5
The boy's party had a Lego theme this year. You know what's coming.
Cakes #6 and 7
It's two cakes cut up and frosted to look like Lego blocks. (I'll have a "how I did it" post soon. I don't have one on why I did it, but that's a whole other thing)

What all this really means is that I just did not have it in me to make Dorie's Tiramisu Cake. I'm sure it was delicious. I feel especially bad because Megan of My Baking Adventures has become an internet friend of mine. Sorry, Megan! I promise I'll try it another time! Go check out her blog to see the cake in all its wonderful glory.

Oh, and if baking all those cakes wasn't enough, it's Teacher Appreciation Week. I'm on the committee. That means a breakfast casserole for Monday morning, Buttered Rum Meltaways for Tuesday lunch, and Ginger Cheesecake, chocolate dipped bananas, lemon lime frosted cookies, and browned butter brown sugar shortbread for lunch Thursday. WHEW!

I'll be back next week for an amazing sounding Tartest Lemon Tart.