Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rosemary Cherry Squares

This week has been crazy for me as we prepare for our Spain vacation (yay!) but I really wanted to baked this week with Club:Baked.  I've always found baking relaxing so I found a little escape from the crazy to make this sweet treat.  The only problem was that my local grocery store didn't have dried apricots :(   So I decided to use the dried cherries in my pantry instead of running to each grocery store.  Overall, I really enjoyed the shortbread and topping, but my cherry filling was too sweet for me.  I'll try these again when I find some apricots :)  Check out the other results from the bakers at Club:Baked.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Malted Waffles

Since I live a few states away from my parents and the rest of the extended family, when I visit I try to make every second count.  To fit in more time with my niece and nephew, I invite them to stay over my parents with me for a sleepover to watch movies and catch up.  And, of course, with any good sleepover, there must be a breakfast plan. Since my parents have a waffle maker (and I do not) AND my dad is a malt powder fanatic, I knew the malted waffles from my Baked: Explorations cookbook would be a great fit.

I don't have kids of my own, so maybe when I do I will not be able to affirm the following sentence: I love cooking with kids! Maybe not all kids are like this, but my niece and nephew love to help in the kitchen.  They can't wait to measure out the flour and pour it in the bowl.  And stirring- well that is the best to them. 

We had a great time making the waffles.  It's a pretty simple recipe, so we didn't have any problems.  We used my parents Belgian waffle maker, which made huge, fluffy waffles.  They had a good taste, and the kids loved putting unnecessary toppings on them (check out the blueberry whipped cream waffle!).  I would definitely make them again if I had a waffle iron and malt hanging around my house.  My nephew was very impressed with the waffles.  Whenever visits my mom, he asks if they can make waffles like the time with Aunt Jen :)

Check out the other waffles from the online cooking team at Club:Baked.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Orange Creamsicle Tart

I've always been a fan of the orange creamsicle- the cool citrus exterior melting away to the creamy center.  My favorite treat on a hot summer day!  When I saw the orange creamsicle tart recipe in the Baked Explorations cookbook, I was excited to see these wonderful flavors come together in the form of a tart.  So when it was time for me to choose a recipe to host for Club Baked, I knew it was time to finally try it out. I decided to make the tart for a dinner party I was hosting.  Since the recipe calls for lots of down time for the filling and crust to sit in the fridge, I started early in the morning.  There were a few ingredients I needed to buy before I could start, so I went out to the grocery store (or as my husband calls it, "the food library").  I couldn't find orange cream soda in my grocery store, so I decided to buy and orange soda and a cream soda as a last minute substitution.

The first step of the recipe is to prepare the filling. After the zesting, mixing, heating and whipping, the filling sets in the fridge for 4 hours.  Plenty of time to clean the mess in the kitchen and prepare the crust :)
The next step is to prepare the crust, which also included the zest of one orange.  Since I was also in the process of preparing dips and appetizers for the dinner party, I did something kind of lazy, but also kind of innovative: I used a heaping tablespoon of the zest mush that was sitting the strainer left over from the filling.  I smelled wonderful and looked usable, so why not?  I mixed it in with the crust dough and let the crust set in the fridge before rolling it out.  The resulting crust turned out wonderful and had a great flavor!  If I ever made the tart again, I would probably use re-use the zest again instead of using a new orange.  I should also add that my laziness was coupled with my band-aided finger.  While zesting the first time, I caught my finger- ouch!  The acid from the lemon didn't help :(

After rolling out the tart crust and baking it in the oven, I decided to go with the suggestion of spreading white chocolate to the crust.  I'm glad I did- it prevented the crust from getting soggy!  The crust was nice and firm even after day 2 in the fridge.

When I placed the prepared crust in the fridge to set, I noticed my filling was still very liquidy- if I moved the bowl the filling swished back and forth. It did not look set at all.  The recipe doesn't indicate how set it should be, as the next step is to whisk the filling and let it set in the crust for another hour.  I let the filling set for an additional 4 hours and while it wasn't as bad, it wasn't set.

I waited until last minute to make the whipped topping and serve the pie to allow for extra time for the filling to set.  While the pie was ok to cut, the filling still wasn't as firm as I thought it should be.  It tasted wonderful though, but looked messy on the plates.  The crust was delicious and the whipped cream was the perfect topping to balance the crisp orange filling.

I'm not sure why my filling didn't set properly- my best guess is that I didn't let the soda and orange juice reduce enough, though the mixture was sticking to the spoon before I whipped it with the butter...

I hope the other bakers of Club Baked had better luck with their tarts :)   See the others at:  Club: Baked Orange Creamsicle Tart Links

Here's the recipe from Baked: Explorations:

1/2 cup (1 stick) Unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
Zest and juice of 2 medium lemons (2 Tablespoons of zest and 1/4 cup juice)
Zest of 3 large oranges (3 Tablespoons zest and 1 cup juice)
1 cup Orange Cream Soda
3 Large Eggs
2 Large Egg Yolks
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick)Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Sugar
Zest of 1 orange (2 Tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Large Egg
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Orange Cream Soda

Make the Orange Cream Filling:
Place the butter in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a wide bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the lemon juice.
In a medium saucepan, stir together the orange juice and soda. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook until it is reduced by half. Turn the heat to low and whisk to release excess heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon and orange zest, eggs, egg yolks, and sugar and pour the mixture into the saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, whisking constantly, until a candy thermometer reads 180 degrees F, or the curd easily coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the gelatin mixture. Whisk until the gelatin is completely combined. Pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve directly onto the butter. Whisk the mixture furiously until it has increased a bit in volume (the faster you whisk, the more voluminous it will be). Cover the top of the curd with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto the curd’s surface to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Make the Orange Tart Dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, zest and salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and beat just until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, add the flour all at once, and beat just until the dough comes together in a ball.
Remove the dough from the bowl, shape it into a disk with your hands, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
Dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 10 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. 
Gently guide the dough, without pulling it, into a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and lightly press it into place. Roll the rolling pin over the pan to trim off excess. Place the tart in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill it three-quarters full with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack to cool.
Assemble the Tart:
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the curd on high for 5 minutes, then spoon it into the tart and level the filling with an offset spatula. Refrigerate the tart for 1 hour to set completely.
Make the Orange Whipped Topping:
Pour the cream into a chilled metal bowl and beat it with a chilled whisk for about 1 minute. Sprinkle the sugar and orange cream soda on top and continue whisking vigorously until soft peaks form. (the whipped cream can be made in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment). Also, if you prefer, you can substitute simple whipped cream for the flavored topping).
To serve, gently push up on the tart bottom to release it from the pan. Top the tart with orange whipped cream.
The tart tastes best if eaten within 24 hours but can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Baked French Toast

I love breakfast! but.. I'm usually too lazy to make something spectacular in the morning.  That's what I love about this french toast recipe- you do the majority of the work the night before, so you can't back out of making breakfast in the morning :)  Since there's only two of us, I halved the recipe.  I cut my pieces a bit thicker than the recipe called for and added more cinnamon and almonds. They puffed up beautifully, but I'd probably scale back the size of the slices next time.  The raspberry sauce was sweet, but tasty.  I served this along with fresh cut mixed fruit.  It was a great Sunday morning :) 

Aunt Sassy Cake

When I first saw the Aunt Sassy cake in the Baked book, I couldn't wait for the perfect occasion to make it! I love pistachios, and the honey vanilla butter sounded devine!  When my birthday rolled around, I decided it was time to bake this 3 layer beauty. The instructions are pretty straight forward, and the cake smelled delicious when I pulled them out of the oven.  The frosting came together just fine, though I was a bit concerned that the frosting took on more of a yellow hue than white as it looked in the book (but after 3 sticks of butter, what else should I expect?).  The frosting was also my favorite part of the recipe. Very light and fluffy with the sweetness of honey.  While the cake was delicious, I was disappointed that I couldn't really taste the pistachio. Maybe it was because I used shelled pistachios that had been opened the week before (though the pistachios didn't seem to lack flavor when eating one after shelling).  It tasted like a basic vanilla cake.  I really want to try to make this again with pre-shelled fresh pistachios and see if the results are different. 

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

I enjoy baking for others, so I offered my husband's World History students the chance to pick any recipe out of the Baked Explorations book for me to bake for their end of semester party.  They chose Chocolate Whoopie Pies which was a great choice (especially for transportation and serving!).  The kids loved them, and I thought they were good, however, I had a few notes that I think could make them better.  I didn't think the pies were as chocolaty as they could have been (maybe it was the quality of the cocoa powder I used).  I also thought the filling was too buttery.  I would have almost loved the marshmallow icing (AKA Angel's Frosting) from the Devil's Food Cake recipe.  Other than that, I enjoyed baking these.  I used a tablespoon scoop with a release mechanism to make measuring the pies AND scooping the frosting.  I highly recommend investing in one- I use it frequently for scooping cookie dough quickly on the pan as well as measuring the peanut butter mixture for buckeyes.  Another thing about this recipe: it made a lot more than I expected (I used 1 tbs for the pies) It made around 20 small pies.  I also had lots of filling left over (note: don't overfill the pies because the soft filling will squish out on the first bite). I can't wait to try the red velvet whoopie pies!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Devil's Food Cake with Angel Frosting

Happy New Year!  For the first recipe of the year, Club Baked is doing the Devil's Food Cake which can also be made as cupcakes.  I chose the cupcake route to share with our guests on New Year's Day.  When looking through the ingredients, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I already had all of the ingredients for the recipe (score!). 

I was able to get 20 cupcakes out of the batter (I think I could have stretched out the batter to make up to 24). Since we only use skim milk, I used skim instead of whole milk for the cupcakes, and they still turned out very chocolaty and moist. 

The frosting is a marshmallow fluff that works well with the deep chocolate cupcakes.  Alone, the frosting is very sweet and sticky.  The cupcake balances the sweetness.  I'm very novice in my cake and cupcake decorating skills, and don't have any fancy tips.  To decorate the cupcakes, I used a spatula and worked the frosting up as much as I could without it going over the sides.  I had a bunch of frosting left over (since I followed the directions and ingredients for a 2 layer cake).

 My guests were very impressed with the shiny frosting.  I really like this recipe, and the frosting was a nice change from a rich buttercream. Check out the other creations from my fellow bakers at Club Baked.