Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No TWD this week. Vacation!

Sorry, folks. Nothing to see here. Just got back from vacation today. And as much as I love lime desserts, I didn't get my act together to make it.

I'll be back in full swing next week.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Theory vs. reality

A few months ago, I discovered these cookies through cookie carnival. It was love at first bite. I made a batch. We ate them within days, and I made a new batch. I think this is a fabulous cookie with just a little bit of everything I love.

Fast forward to this summer. The kids and I have been going to a farmer's market every Wednesday. They have some great items, and the kids have become mascots of sorts. They have their favorite vendors and their favorite samples. One of the places that has both is a booth where a lovely woman sells toffee. Homemade, rich, buttery toffee. We chat a bit each week. I told her about my new favorite cookies that contain toffee. I wondered out loud about using her toffee instead of the Heath bits that I had been using for these cookies. So we struck a deal. She would bring me some toffee chips, and I would make her my cookies. Woo hoo!

Last Wednesday I got the chips. This past Tuesday I made the cookies.

Disaster. There is a huge difference between toffee made with simple ingredients (butter, sugar, vanilla, cream) and the Heath stuff. Here's the thing, though, the Heath stuff bakes up better. The homemade toffee melted all over, and the cookies spread to nothing. I cannot adequately explain how thin these are. I tried to take a picture, but it didn't work so well. They also stuck like you can't believe to the pan. Only one or two came off the baking sheet resembling a cookie.

From the top they look delicious.

From the side? Thin. Thin. Thin.
I played with the oven temperature. The recipe calls for 350. I tried a batch at 325 and one at 300. I used convection. Nothing. I refrigerated the dough and tried the different temps. Again, flat nothing. I think the butter from the toffee spreads into the dough and messes with it.

That's the underside of one of the cookies. Not quite done.
They still taste really good. They are extra chewy this time around, again from the butter and sugar in the toffee is my guess.

So here's the lesson I learned. Bake with Heath, eat the homemade stuff straight up.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

I was really looking forward to making these bars. Truth be told, I was going to pick them when it was my choice next month. And then Karen (of Something Sweet by Karen) beat me to it. Ah well, as long as I get to make them.

Easy easy easy recipe. I did it all in one saucepan. I chose to bake it in a 9 x 9 pan instead of the called for 13 x 9 pan. I liked the idea of this more as a cake than a bar. I just needed to add a few minutes to the baking time. I did stick to the rest of the recipe, mostly. I'm not usually a fan of raisins or nuts in cakes, but I was trusting the recipe. I also added the rum. I didn't put on the glaze. It seemed very rich and moist without it. It was a good choice. I thought it was sweet enough.

Here it is just out of the oven and cooling. Golden brown!

Here's a cut piece. See how moist it looks!

This was a good cake. I liked the chunks of apples, and I didn't mind the pecans and raisins. The rum had a fairly pronounced flavor, but I it added to the overall taste. I think I needed to be in more of a fall state of mind. It was hard to eat when it was 85 and humid. Ok, not hard. Eating cake is not hard. I think I'm still in a berry/stone fruit state of mind.

I can't say for sure that I'll make this again. Though talk to me again after we go apple picking. I'll be looking for just about anything to do with them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to the bacon

A while ago, I posted about curing my own bacon. (Not even worth linking to the post. It was that short.)

I used this recipe. The procedure was very easy. I have a great local supermarket with a fabulous butcher. I called. He got me slab pork belly. I think I've mentioned The Spice House before. It's a local shop with an amazing array of spices, dried herbs, and house made seasoning blends. I make excuses to to there. This was one such time. They had everything I needed. Woo hoo! Did you know that curing salt is pink?

I am lucky to have an old coffee grinder to use as a spice grinder. I put everything in and whirled away. The slab pork belly is a bit disconcerting. From the side, it looks just like bacon. But the skin is very.... skin like. And it was a little creepy. Anyway, I took my spice blend and rubbed it all over the belly. It went into a freezer bag, into a pan, and then into the fridge for a week's rest.

Meat side.

Skin side.

Cut to a week later. You take it out of the bag and rinse thoroughly. Then it goes back into the pan for a 24 hour rest in the fridge. This recipe calls for a slow bake instead of smoking the pork. It went into a low oven for about two hours. As soon as it hits the right temperature, out it comes. The skin needs to be removed very promptly or it is hard to cut off. I saved the pieces for future soup/stew flavoring.

This is what it looked like when it was done. It looks like bacon!

Side view. Again, looks like bacon!

Here it is cooked. I cut it pretty thick.

It had an interesting taste. It wasn't so bacon-like. It was more corned beefy. Which, given the spices in the cure was not unexpected. I'll certainly try this again. It was a relatively cheap experiment. The bacon was about $10 for four pounds. The spices were about $2. Next time I think I'll try adding maple or brown sugar and perhaps a bit of liquid smoke.

Give it a try yourself and let me know how it turns out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons

I've seen that some TWD bloggers are limiting themselves to one sentence today. I'm not that good. But I'll be brief. These were good. VERY easy, especially for a Dorie recipe. One saucepan. One mini muffin tin. Ingredients that I had on hand.

The original recipe calls for these to be dipped in white chocolate. I said no. In the end, they were brownies. Easy brownies. Tasty brownies. But brownies. I'll keep them in mind if I need brownies in a hurry.

Today was National S'mores day! I made brownie s'mores. I cut marshmallows in half and let them melt in a little, then I sandwiched the brownie between two graham crackers. Pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.

These look almost like Oreos.


Thank you to Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen for this week's recipe. Go and buy the book already! Ok, or go to her site to see the recipe.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

TWD: Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Hello! I am back! And baking things on a Tuesday that actually have to do with Tuesdays With Dorie!

This week was, as the title will tell you, a classic cake. It was a simple (one bowl. ONE bowl!) cake to make. The recipe halved easily. I jumped right on the mini bandwagon and got to use my under-used mini bundt pan. Truth be told, I have a favorite banana cake. But it bakes in a 13 x 9 and calls for chocolate chips and buttermilk. This one has no chocolate (GASP!) and uses sour cream or yogurt. Really, when I compared, there wasn't much difference. Hmmmm. Other than making these mini and halving the recipe, I didn't change anything.

Whenever we forget about our bananas, I put them in the freezer to use at a later date. Here are said bananas:

RIPE and ready for baking. The white is frost not mold.

This is just out of the oven. Mmmm.

I decided to go with a simple sprinkle of powdered sugar.

The boy thought a shot of the inside was good.

These were a hit at our house. This was a lighter textured cake than my standard recipe. The husband really liked these because he liked the ratio of brown outside to the lighter inside. The boy and girl enjoyed them as well. I liked it, too. But I think I'm still partial to my favorite. I just may have to try it in a bundt pan.

Thanks Mary of The Food Librarian for picking such an easy, sweet recipe.

Edited to add: I'm starting to think that I missed something in the recipe. Mine wasn't nearly as moist as everyone else's. They were more muffin like than cake like. Perhaps I'll have to try this again...