Thursday, October 1, 2009


After taking a licking the last couple of TWD recipes - I was ready for something that I consider a "success"...... whatever that means! LOL

In the interest of keeping my options open for other desserts later on - I choose to make a half-batch of this dessert. Out came a ramekin and a 4+" springform pan (which ended up being my favorite presentation).

I paused for a moment at the "make the caramel" step thinking back to my many caramel failures and thought about resorting to my fail-safe method but decided to give it a go.... SUCCESS!!!! DELICIOUS SUCCESS!!!

The honey roasted nuts were a great addition and have become a pantry staple.

The crusts were over-baked just a little - I liked Dorie's comment that they tended to hold up better - but that really didn't matter.... they were eaten before it became an issue!

I didn't get a nice clean finish on the crust - but nobody complained.....

The only complaint was "why isn't there more?" - and I got my "success".......

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I am calling surrender on soft/sticky doughs... No matter what I tried - these just didn't work for me.

They were chilled for three days and then repeatedly during the rolling/cutting process - they still stuck to everything...

They were pasty white; an egg wash didn't even give them a a nice brown finish...

They didn't puff - not one...

There wasn't even one that was worth taking a photo of.....

They were still on the plate this morning....

I think it is time for a tart.....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Congratulations Tonya!

Tonya was named "Employee Of The Year" and will be representing the clinic in the statewide "Employee Of The Year" competition.

This called for a celebration and celebrations call for cake!

  • Two 9x13 layers of Yellow Layer Cake from Baking Illustrated was a terrific starting point - it was very moist, dense and delicious.
  • Caramel Buttercream Frosting between the layers from a cookbook called "cupcakes" by Shelly Kaldunski - this could become one of my new favorite frostings!
  • Vanilla Buttercream Frosting from seriouscakes on YouTube - this is definitely one of my favorites (it pipes and holds up well without being too sweet)!
  • Homemade caramel was drizzled between the rosettes and in the small rectangle in the center of the cake.
  • A few milk chocolate chips topped the rosettes and added just a little bit of color.
My thought was that this would be a great afternoon snack - there was only one piece left by 11:30.....

Good luck Tonya on the statewide competition - I'm thinking another cake will be in order.....

Wilton Cake Decorating Class - Fondant Cake

Having been on the fence re: taking this class - I decided to give it a go and see what happened....

The last class was about royal frosting (which I really really don't understand - it's just not good to eat). This class is piping, fondant and 80's style stacked (very useful technique though -I think - right?!) cakes.

First cake of the class - the "Package Cake".....

  • I actually enjoyed working with the fondant.
  • It was a challenge though - the white fondant shows/picks up EVERYTHING!
  • The flowers were easy and "fun" (note - I am not using the word "cute")...
  • I learned how to "marble" the fondant - I think it looks very cool...
I decided to play on the back half of the cake - after all, how many flowers do you need to cut out for a practice cake?

  • Once again - a little Cornelli Lace...
  • A little better picture of the "marbled" bow...
  • I actually think this looks sort of cool and very 2000's... ha ha ha
This is fun process and I am looking forward to working with it some more - like this race car for a friend's baby shower cake.

Blue = copy of the invitation

Yellow = practice version

Monday, September 14, 2009


This was a love/hate/love project for me....

I loved the idea of apples in "crust" of some sort - this screams fall, football and comfort. The weather Saturday was perfect for the mood.... gray, dreary, breezy, random rain showers..... Fall was in the air!
The idea quickly turned ugly when I started working with the dough. I had nothing but trouble rolling and working with the first batch. It was very sticky and seemed to tear every time I tried to move it...... ugh!

Taking a break - I had (what is in my world anyways) an inspiration and did a couple things differently with the second batch of dough. A little flour on the bottom sheet of waxed paper and letting the dough set a few minutes before rolling made this batch much easier - I would almost say "fun".... almost - to work with. While it wasn't quite love yet, at least we were back on speaking terms...

The first batch was pretty much by the book.

The second batch had some very stiff home-made caramel gobbed on top of the apple mixture.

I was quickly back in love..... the buttery flaky crust was delicious and would be great as Dorie suggests with any variety of fresh seasonal fruit! Toasted nuts would be a tasty addition too!

A little bit of left over dough and apples made a tasty - if not pale - tart that complimented a scoop of carmelized bacon caramel ice cream....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good + Good + Good <=> Great (or even Good)

I was cleaning out the fridge/freezer - again (it seems like I do this way too often)...

What to do with a frozen Queen Of Sheba cake, milk chocolate ganache, white chocolate ganache, almond swiss butter cream and a small amount of orange marmalde?

Combine them expecting something great - of course!

Slices of cake split with marmalade between the layers.

A little bit of icing went a long way...

Tight/closed borders are very important when filling an area with chocolate glaze...

A successful attempt at a pastel frosting color. I like the brown/blue combo.

You can't hide an unsteady beginner's hand with that glaze!

These were way too sweet - the combination of cake, frosting and marmalade was too much for all of us!

The same cake, glaze and marmalade but no frosting. It was still a little sweet, but much better!

That is a little ganache piped around the base - but it was easy enough to pick around...

The consensus was that this entire project was a waste of a very good cake - it is too good to bury under frostings, fillings and glazes...

Other than the glaze I made for this project - I wonder what I will find in the fridge in a couple weeks?!

Baby Shower Cake

Some of the girls "at the office" have asked me to make a baby shower cake for a co-worker.

I didn't want anyone to be disappointed - so I made an approval sample...

The cake was Classic White Layer Cake from BI baked in a 9x9 pan (left over batter was used for cupcakes).

I cut the finished cake into 4" wide strips so they would fit on that cool rectangle plate.

  • White chocolate and milk chocolate ganache was striped onto the first layer.
  • They were suppose to taste like caramel - they didn't.
  • The texture and flavor were good
  • The white chocolate ganache found its way into some ice cream - this was not so good.

  • A swiss butter cream frosting with almond flavoring.
  • The Cornelli Lace technique is from class - I like the look but need to refine it...
  • I think all the borders "over-accessorize" this cake - I seem to do this often...
The cake got the necessary seal of approval - a final version is needed on September 25th.

NOTE - the cupcakes mentioned above were not too popular. They were very very soft and had no body (they actually did not get eaten.....). I don't know if that was a user error (ie - me) or the particular batter. The texture of the cake was, however, excellent!

"Easy" French Bread

We love bread and eat more than our fair share.

I came across this french bread and had two questions.....
  1. Would it be "easy"? (I am a skeptic)
  2. Would it be "good"? (More important than "easy")
Using two small pans I experimented with a couple different finishes....

Kosher Salt

Sesame seeds and "Sicilian Seasoning" (I don't know what "Sicilian Seasoning" really means - it was in a jar in the back of the cabinet....)

Other than the shape - I am not sure this is technically correct French Bread but it is easy and good.... there were no leftovers!

1 package quick-acting yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
4 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup water - add to sifted flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Add second cup of water (dough will be sticky).
Cover and set bowl aside to let rise until doubled.
Punch dough down and knead twice. Place on greased loaf pan and cover.
Let rise until reaches top of pan.
Brush lightly with melted butter (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc can be added here)
Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes until crust is golden brown and loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Note: I thought this dough was too sticky so added about 3 teaspoons extra flour. I might try it next time without this addition.


The word soufflé is the past participle of the French verb souffler which means "to blow up" or more loosely "puff up" (thank you Wikipedia) - I never knew this but it makes sense...

Even though I've had the opportunity to travel many places and eat at many "fine" restaurants - I've never eaten a souffle. I'm not sure why...

Saturday's French-food-theme (Country French Stew, French Bread, Cabernet) needed this dessert so the timing was perfect. I was surprised how easy this mysterious dessert was to make (even if it didn't come out quite right).

I was hoping that it would raise more - a few things might have contributed to this...
  • milk chocolate took the place of bittersweet chocolate,
  • egg yolks were added after about 1/2 the whites were folded in (why were they across the kitchen near the coffee maker?!) and could have caused some over-mixing,
  • maybe the rim wasn't clean and they "got stuck",
  • powder sugar was added before baking.
Unfortunately, nobody really cared for these immediately out of the oven - maybe because of my mis-steps? There was, however, a fight for the leftovers - especially with some Creme Anglaise poured over the top!

I will try these again - just for the leftovers if nothing else!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An interesting thought.....

Once upon a time - I came across what I thought was a word (starting with a "t" for some reason) but have since discovered that it is really a phrase.......

mise en place

[MEEZ ahn plahs]

A French term referring to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to combine up to the point of cooking.

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION

What a great concept!

Based on this definition - I think this is how it should work...

This is how I feel it works in my kitchen...

I have a new goal that doesn't begin with a "T" - ha ha ha!

NOTE: These are not my pictures and I would give credit where it is due - if I could find the sticky note that had the information.......

Monday, August 31, 2009


What's not to love about these brownies? Chocolate, espresso, sour cream - sounds pretty good to me except for one word.... "cheesecake". I can not recall any incident(s) that would create irrational feelings, but that one word just doesn't do anything for me - even after eating some cheesecakes that I would have to say are very good (does that make any sense????).

Thinking about skipping - I decided to humor others around me and give this a go. My compromise was that there would only be a half-batch......

The end result was actually much better than I thought/hoped it would be. There was a tasty combination of flavors that worked very well together with none of them being overpowering.

With a couple adjustments - this was pretty easy although there was a lot of cooling time.
  • I didn't have espresso powder so I used a cup of left over morning coffee and added a tsp of instant coffee to it. This gave a lot of coffee flavor and without being bitter.
  • No bittersweet chocolate in the pantry so milk chocolate made its way into the batter.
  • A panic attack (what would really happen if the knife were "plunged" into the brownie layer - yikes) kept me from making the swirls.
Being somewhat over-indulgent - I ate my piece with the last scoop of chocolate peanut butter toasted coconut hot fudge ice cream..........

Did this change my opinion of cheesecake - probably not, but I have decided to be open minded enough to make it again!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Suggestions..... please

I was in the baking mood the other day and was looking for something (eventually settling on Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut cookies).....

It dawned on me that I only have two baking books (not counting BH&G) -

While the internet is great and full of wonderful ideas - I like to use a book, turn the pages and plan/scheme. It dawned on me - my library needs to be expanded and I would appreciate any/all suggestions. So far - I've received:
  • Simple Art Of Perfect Baking - Flo Braker (why doesn't B&N have any of these available?!)
  • Tartine


Thank you!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Seems like just a couple days ago - I was passing on making a Creamy Lime Tort because there were "too many" sweets in the house?

Monday morning (should that not be enough of a reason to want to do something pleasant) passed and I "needed" to do something productive. I decided to bake something even though there were apple bars, vanilla caramel cupcakes and brownies all setting around, waiting, getting dry.

The answer - Chocolate Coconut Cookies......

  • Oatmeal cookies with a 50/50 blend of semisweet and milk chocolate chips
  • White chocolate "frosting"
  • Toasted coconut
Delicious with a tall glass of cold milk... even better with a bowl of peanut butter/chocolate ice cream!

All this begs the question.... can there really be too many sweets in the house???

Wilton Decorating Class #2

I have decided to learn how to decorate cakes. The Wilton courses seemed like a good and inexpensive way to take the first step. Having finished Course #1 early this summer - I boldly went for #2 which wrapped up Monday night.

Being one of the two token males in the group (the other being a 14 year old young man who was very passionate and quite talented) we got lots of attention. You would think the others had never heard of Keegan Gerhard, Chef Duff or Buddy!

My moto for the class was "Come on - guys can decorate cakes too - right after we gut that armadillo found along the road" (my sense of humor wasn't always appreciated.....).

The end result (after qualifying that I really don't "do cute") was kind of - well - "cute". Since I was there to learn technique - I did the project but put my own spin on the colors.

  • Royal frosting flowers but not in nice pastel colors - the brighter the better!
  • Blue birds were going to be deep purple (another way of saying I added way too much coloring). They broke after falling out of the cabinet. I settled for this version made in an earlier class.
  • Those orange things in the upper left corner are daffodils - they were a lot of fun to make!
  • Gotta love classic white frosting - even if it is a little stiff and flaky!

  • Basket weave! While it looks a little rough - I like the look and the process of putting this finish together.

  • Rope border - the easy way! We did the "Wilton" way first - then learned a easy motion to speed up the process. The "easy" way gave me a much more consistent pattern.

  • Clever trick for getting some extra height on a project. This puts it almost eye-level while seated and takes a lot of strain off the back. That really cool "tackle box" was a gift but I think it was intended more as a way of saying "get all this stuff off the counter and out of bowls in the cabinet".

I am debating whether or not to take Course #3 - fondant........

Monday, August 24, 2009


The morning I made these - my first thought when I stepped out the door was "did I miss the lazy hazy end of summer"? It was about 62 degrees, rainy, calm and - well, beautiful! School started the next day, football season was only a week away and there was no humidity. I guess I could have missed a couple weeks since anything is possible.....

It was a perfect day for an apple bar - fall, comfort spices and apples and of course "glaze". I realized it was meant to be when I remembered there was applesauce in the fridge just waiting....

For some reason - I was expecting the bar have more "crumb"

No raisins for me (long and complicated story). I also doubled the spices to enhance the flavor.

Doubling the glaze was a perfect way to top these! Replacing the vanilla with rum (actually doubling the rum to 2 teaspoons - yum!) was a delicious touch and added another layer of flavor.

Making two smaller pans of bars left me with some extra batter which became mini-muffins.

Fresh out of the pan - I actually was a little disappointed. But - the next morning, this bar (which I came to think of as more like a bread similar to banana) was delicious. The flavors blended and mellowed and the glaze was a nice touch.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The little cupcake that almost couldn't......

Seeing mini cupcakes everywhere - made me hungry. I am not sure why but think that is is something about the cake/frosting ratio and yes - frosting is usually my favorite part of any cake.....

Peanut butter and chocolate sounded like a great combination. Being out of peanut butter (not really a surprise - LOL) I made a trip to the store. One thing the local big box does right is they put Nutella right next to the PB - both ended up in the cart.

The plan changed to Nutella and chocolate mini-cupcakes - this plan didn't work.....

I am not sure what this was all about!? The oven temperature was right so I tried again some remaining batter - same result...... could it be the Nutella?

Second attempt was to follow the recipe and use peanut butter. Hmmmm - what is this all about?!

I thought about making some caramel to fill the wholes but the texture turned me off to that idea....

What is happening here?

It was time to break out the old standard - Baking Illustrated - and get something that we could eat (hopefully)...


I made some Blueberry/Lemon Cheesecake Ice Cream earlier in the day so the frosting HAD TO compliment that... A combination of some Blueberry and Raspberry Jam gave the frosting a subtle flavor (but left the color a little "drab").

What was suppose to be stars ended up as a sort of psychedelic flower!

And even better - the left over Valentine's Day sprinkles are gone..... finally!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Not really being in the mood to cook last night - I thought I would shock everyone who eats with an advance notice of what we were having for dinner. You know - a "you can't say I didn't tell you" sort of thing that I could do easily and quickly with one little e-mail....

I had two goals:
  1. have someone offer to pick up something (pizza, burgers, chicken - it really didn't matter),
  2. have a little fun (and it may seem like a very little bit of fun, but.....)
I was pretty sure it would work after I sent this picture....

Not to disrespect any culture or culinary style - but - I just couldn't get my hands around anything in this dish except the ear of corn (which did come into play.... read on).

There never was an intention of making this.....

The plan sort of worked......
  1. With the exception of "one" - everyone was a little surprised but very polite in their "thanks, but no thanks" responses,
  2. the "one" son was completely put off and didn't even try to be polite,
  3. everybody settled for leftovers from the fridge (no take-out, but no cooking so I consider this a a lose/win outcome)!
But I did have a surprise - a real surprise inspired by that ear of corn...

... homemade Sweet Corn Frozen Yogurt complete with a sprinkling of bacon crumbles!

How could this be anything but delicious?
  • Frozen yogurt - check!
  • Fresh sweet corn right off the cob - check!
  • Bacon - check!
Surprise - this just didn't work! Separately, everything was great and delicious! Unfortunately something happened in transition...... ugh.......

My advice - don't try this yogurt at home and enjoy the corn with butter, salt & pepper!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer lovin'.......

Summer vegetables are hard to beat. They're great from the local farmer's market - but even better if they're from the back yard!

Home grown --- green beans, yellow squash, zucchini
Local market --- onions, garlic

I even splurged on whole wheat pasta and a "gourmet" parmesan/romano cheese blend; these ingredients are - after all - the best summer has to offer...

The leftovers made a great salad mixed with some warm-off-the-vine Beefsteak Tomato wedges...

Surprisingly, the meat wasn't even missed...

Monday, August 10, 2009


Gotta love brownies - especially if they're tasty, delicious and sort-of bite size! While the orange zest sounded good - I skipped this step so I could say that I had everything I needed to make this recipe without going to the store... YEAH!

We don't do "dainty" around here (or tea for that matter) and so that description just won't work here... I had to beef them up a little bit. The word "buttons" was actually a stretch too.

I got 9 "brownies" instead of 16.

Batch #1 - these lasted about 10 minutes - the caramel drizzle version went first.

Batch #2 - looked really good. Looks can be deceiving though - unsweetened baking chocolate DOES NOT MAKE GOOD BROWNIES!

They kind of boiled while in the over - that should have been a clue. They quickly went into the trash...

Batch #3 - perfect brownies, the embellishment should have stopped.... The "who shot the brownie and why wasn't the bleeding stopped" comments didn't help them stay around for very long! I guess I should have stopped with just adding a blueberry which actually looked pretty good...

Friday, August 7, 2009

For the love of bacon.....

Is it a cake or a bread? Is it a meal, snack or dessert?

I don't know - too many decisions involved in those two questions. The simple answer is, "who cares" LOL?! Speaking from experience - it all of these and delicious to boot!

Pineapple pound cake
Pineapple glaze

I forgot to poke holes so the glaze would ooze into the cake....

Yes - bacon!

Best served at room temperature or slightly warmed!

Next time - mini-loaves would be a good choice.....

I wonder what sort of jam would go well??? Maybe a better question is what sort of jam wouldn't go well!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Who ate the cake?

*** 8/07 - changed frosting type to "cream cheese frosting"; I had originally described it as butter cream..... sorry for confusion.

I was cleaning ice out of the freezer (over time - it had gone everywhere) Sunday morning and found two frozen white cakes. Not surprisingly - one was 6" and one was 8", but they were both white and that larger cake could easily be put in its 6" place. YEAH - I was in the mood for a slice of cake after dinner!

After being outside most of the day - I forged ahead. I got a little lazy (and tired) towards the end so it's not so pretty, but it apparently tasted good...

First of four layers. This one was filled with homemade caramel.

Layer #3 filled with caramel. Layer #2 and top were frosted with almond cream cheese frosting.

Is that caramel oozing from layer #1?! It's starting to get ugly...

"Dirty" iced and heading to the fridge to chill a bit before covering with almond cream cheese frosting.

And yes - that is caramel oozing out......

"Finished" - sort of. That clever band around the "middle" (I obviously was not thinking clearly - ha ha ha) was intended to keep caramel in place.... it really didn't work.

By the time it got to this point - I didn't want a piece of cake anymore...

The remains Monday morning... I guess someone - several of them actually - really didn't care how it looked!

I'll take that as a compliment...

Monday, August 3, 2009

I love original Oreo cookies!  Plain ol' Oreos and a glass of cold milk.....  yum!

Home alone Friday night - I wasn't in the mood for TV or a movie and couldn't find anything to read (requiring a trip to B&N Saturday).   Looking around the junk drawer for twisties - I found a recipe for homemade Oreos wadded up at the bottom......   I was sure this was an omen and so got busy!

15 homemade "oreos" with creamy fluffy white filling...

Left over Valentine's Day sprinkles add a little sparkle and fun...

I think we will need some more milk......