Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh No! That's two weeks in a row with no TWD!

This is the first time I've ever done this. And I feel bad. But I don't feel as bad as the boy who was home all day today with a 104 degree fever. So my plan for making this cake to send with the girl to her pool party went right out the window.

Instead, I'll show the crazy that was the boy's birthday cake. The Lego cake. Actually, the eight small Lego cakes. Crazy. It was a whole Lego party, so we needed a Lego cake.

I will admit to completely cheating and using a box mix to make each 13 x 9. (One vanilla and one chocolate, because there needs to be choice) I also used canned frosting. I used a very simple idea from Betty Crocker. Gotta love Betty. In essence, you take your cakes, cut them into two rectangles and two squares, frost them, frost some marshmallow halves, and stick the whole thing together. It's not a hard concept. It's not even a hard thing to do. But by the sixth or seventh cake, I just wanted to be done.

Here's the first set of marshmallows. When it was still fun! I was very pleased with my solution for storing the marshmallows.

Here's the blue cake with the little marshmallow knobs on it. They were tricky to get off the toothpicks, but I finally figured out a system.

Here's the green version. Now there's eight of them!

And the green cake all done.

This was the first night's work. Four down, four to go.

Here's the full finished set of cakes. I will admit to getting a little sloppy at the end. I just wanted to be done.

The good news is that the boy loved it. I can't say that I would do this again. I don't think he'll have a Lego party again so I'm off the hook anyway. If you want to try this, and I do think you might, I have one big hint. Freeze the cakes after they have been cut. It makes frosting them much much easier.

Next week, I promise I'll be back with a Dorie recipe. In the meantime, go visit Carol's blog and see what a Perfect Party Cake looks like.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Not a TWD. Instead, I show my Cupcake Bites

My daughter's birthday was in April. She was having a small party this year -- just 12 girls. She had a painting party at one of those "do-it-yourself-ceramic-painting-objects-you-will-never-use-but-you-have-to-paint" places. (The girl painted a butterfly. I rest my case.) Since that was going to be the party favor, I didn't want to buy anything else. Hmmmmm. But I could make something..... And these popped into my head. Of course! Bakerella's Cupcake Bites!

First order of business: Find candy molds and candy melts. Check! Sort of. I used foil mini cupcake cups because I couldn't find the right candy mold. Next was to bake a cake. I went with the suggestion on the site and used boxed red velvet cake. It's very red. It cooled. I crumbled. I mixed in some canned frosting. I made small balls. I kept reading about how it made hands very messy and frequent washing was in order. Sidestep! I used my food safe rubber gloves! The balls were covered and put in the fridge.

Red cake crumbles in the bowl.

See! Messy gloves but clean hands!

48 small balls on this tray. 24 larger ones frozen for later use.

I decided to do a test with just one. I wanted to make sure they were going to come out before I put in the time. I melted some pink melts in a plastic bag in the microwave. I filled the foil cup about half full. I added a cold cake ball. Then I melted some yellow melts. I covered the top half of the cake ball. I added sprinkles.

Ta dah! A cupcake! So cute!

Since it was for the girl's birthday. She got the first taste. Mmmmmm. She liked it.

My niece, who is a wonderful baker in her own right, came to help me with the actual assembly of the 48 that we needed for the party. I had four colors of melts, so we started with twelve foil cups and one color. We used the next color for the top of those cupcakes and for the bottom of the next twelve and so on. There were a few different sprinkles this time around.

Four to a bag.

The party girls were thrilled. I would certainly make these again. Especially if I had my niece around to help me. Truth be told, I couldn't get myself to eat one of these. The idea of candy melts sorta weirds me out.

Sorry I don't have Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise here to show you. But if you go to Andrea's blog, she'll have a recipe and fabulous example for you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pssst. I have a secret.

I've stopped updating my TWD blogroll. There. I've said it. In a previous post I noted how Google Reader overwhelmed me. I want to be able to respond, and yet I get into gridlock. And now there are even more members. I am taking the ostrich approach. I have my fingers in my ears and I'm singing "I can't hear you" over and over.

So if you are new and wondering why I haven't ever commented on your blog, it's because I don't know you're out there. Yes, I feel guilty. And yes, I'm still not updating. A girl's gotta cope.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TWD: Honey Peach Ice Cream

I was glad for and nervous about this week's recipe. Glad, because us making ice cream signals summer at my house. (Last year, we traded who got to pick that week's recipe) My canister has been in the basement freezer sad and lonely waiting for a call to duty. But I was a bit nervous because it's not quite peach season. I can find some California peaches around here that are pretty good, but I'd rather use a fruit that's really in season. And I'm not a big fan of honey. There are few, if any, recipes that I use that call for honey. Still, I was going to trust that Tommi of Brown Interior knew what she was doing when she chose this recipe. (Check out her blog for the recipe. Or go buy the book already!)

So there I am at the store the other day. I found some peaches. They smelled pretty peachy. I took it as a good sign and bought them. I left them on the counter for a few extra days to get a little more ripe. Dorie called for four peaches that equaled half a pound. It took me six peaches to get there.

This recipe called for peeled peaches to be cooked with the honey and then pureed. It actually called for half the peaches to be cooked and added to the base and half to be added when the ice cream was being churned. We are not fans of chunky fruit in ice cream in our house. Too icy. So I cooked it all. I think it was a good decision. It mellowed out the honey flavor so that it was an accent and not overpowering. I made the custard yesterday. My custard came together pretty fast; faster than I think it was supposed to, but I didn't notice any ill effects. I added all the peach puree and then put it in the fridge to ripen overnight. Side note -- if the taste of the custard is any indication, this is going to be good ice cream!

I made the ice cream today. This made a very generous 1 1/2 quarts. It looked like the ice cream was trying to push its way out of the canister. More for us!

This ice cream was a big hit. The peach flavor was just right. The honey was subtle and added a nice sweetness. I used my homemade vanilla (read - alcohol based), so the ice cream stayed a nice scooping consistency. I absolutely think this is a recipe I would use again. I can see this being made with other fruit purees as well.

I used the immersion blender to puree the fruit. It was a good choice because it left little bits of peaches. You can see the peachy flecks.

Ice cream for everyone!

I've chosen next week as my skip week. I'll try to make something fabulous from another cookbook. As if there is such a thing...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

TWD: Parisian Apple Tartlet

I heart Jessica of My Baking Heart. I really really heart her. Dorie and her recipes are fabulous. I've tried many new and wonderful things. I've created many many dishes that the husband has to wash. Many dishes. This week's recipe was simple beyond belief. And not only was it simple, it was good. Really good. And versatile.

I needed four things to make this recipe. Four. The dishes? A knife, a cutting board, and a spoon. Four ingredients + three utensils + delicious = a total keeper.

Delicious like this.

And this.

It's frozen puff pastry topped with a few apple chunks, some brown sugar, and a bit of butter. Heaven. I will say that there are a few on the blogroll who couldn't leave well enough alone and made their own puff pastry. I say when there is Pepperidge Farm, why bother. The original recipe does call for a round pastry. If it's possible to be any lazier in this recipe, I found it. I cut squares.

Puff pastry, apples, brown sugar, butter.

I did mess around a little bit. I wanted to see if other toppings would work as well as the apples did. I have some lovely strawberry/vanilla/rhubarb compote in the fridge.



Also completely delicious. The butter on this one was unnecessary.

And here's one that was just brown sugar and butter. Before:


Very very good. Though I did lose a bit of the caramel. The good news was it stuck to the bottom of the pastry and I got to eat it anyway!

This is a recipe I can see myself making over and over again. It was simple beyond belief. My only note would be to cut the apples a bit smaller. I was afraid to let it bake much longer, and the apples had a bit more crunch than I would have liked.

I usually have puff pastry in the freezer. It would be a snap to pull it out before dinner, let it thaw during dinner, and then assemble the pastries while the table is being cleared and coffee is being made. Instant amazing dessert warm from the oven.

Thank you Jessica! Have I mentioned that I heart you? Next week is honey peach ice cream. The boy and girl are very excited about that one!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

TWD: Cinnamon Squares

I have been eyeing this recipe for a long time. I love cinnamon and chocolate together. The husband is not such a fan. So until is was required for me to make it, I just waited patiently.

This is a very cinnamon-y cake. Very. For me, that's a good thing. There's something like three tablespoons of cinnamon in the whole thing. It's only an 8 x 8 pan. It's a cinnamon cake layer, a layer of cinnamon-sugar and chocolate, and then more cake. The Dorie fuss factor was low. I lower it by using dishes for more than one thing (the measuring cup for the milk was also the bowl for the liquids). Other bakers reported problems with baking this in a glass pan. I only had a Pyrex pan in this size, so, choices were limited. The cake came together easily and spread easily in the pan.

Here it is all sprinkled with chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, and espresso powder. Mmmmm.

It smelled amazing when it was baking. I love the smell of cinnamon. It took about ten minutes more than the recipe called for. As it cooled, I could see it sink a bit in the middle. I was a little worried, but it wasn't gooey. Then I flipped it over out of the pan to cool. I had a slight inkling that something wasn't right. I could see spots of chocolate on the bottom. The chocolate was in the middle, right?

So, it cooled. I made the frosting. I know I did something wrong here. It's chocolate and butter. Not many steps involved. Somehow, though, my frosting was not creamy and whipped looking. It was heavy. Like a slightly pliable chocolate bar.

Then it was time for eating. I cut into it. Hmmmm. No wonder there was chocolate on the bottom of the cake! It all sank almost to the pan. Not the layered beauty that was featured in the cookbook for sure.

I brought the cake to a family dinner the next day. The group mostly liked it. The frosting was a little more solid than I would have liked. It actually started to bloom a little on the edges. I really liked the flavor of the cake. One person suggested replacing the chocolate in the middle with pecans and making a brown sugar glaze. I think I might just do that. Or, I was thinking of tossing the powdered ingredients with the chocolate instead of layering it on top of the bits.

I'm pretty sure I'll try this cake again. I think it would be great for a brunch. Thank you Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures for picking this cake. My patience was starting to wear a bit.