Every month, the Daring Baker's recipe provides me with a new challenge. I don't usually fret about whether or not I can actually make a recipe, though when sometimes is a worry, but I might fret about certain aspects of the recipe: will my gelatin bloom? will my dough rise?
Or in this case: will I have any cheesecake left to turn into pops or will I have to remake the entire recipe?
You see, I love cheesecake. I really do. No fancy sauces or toppings for me, I like plain cheesecake with a graham cracker crumb base.
So when Elle of Feeding my Enthusiasms and Deborah of Taste and Tell presented us with our April Challenge, Cheesecake Pops from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor, I was both excited and nervous. Yippee, I get to make cheesecake ! Oh dear, I get to make cheesecake.
And they want me to what? Turn them into little popsicle like balls with chocolate and candy on them? What?
That was my first thought. My second was... OMG! How many packages of cream cheese? FIVE!!! I have never seen a recipe that used that many packages. And the author expects it to fit into a 9x9 pan? No way.
I have to say, I still seriously think that has to be a typo. I don't have a 9x9 pan, so I used a large corningware and it barely fit. Think I should have gone with my 9x13 and hoped for the best.
And speaking of typos... 35 minutes? Mine went more like 80 minutes. And I'm sure it could have gone at least 5 more but I did not want to over cook my cheesecake.
However after the worry came the fun part. I melted down a pound of Callebut milk chocolate candy chips, allowing me to skip the oil or shortening needed to make the chocolate have a nice snap to it, set out bowls of candy toppings, and called in the children.
Then I had a little fun myself with a cookie cutter.
I didn't want too many pops, and the recipe was supposed to make 30-40 2 oz pops, so I continued on with the ice cream theme. Sure looks like an ice cream sundae, doesn't it?
Ice cream sandwiches are a favorite thing of mine to make in the summer (we like chewy oatmeal raisin cookies with vanilla frozen yogurt), so how could I resist making a few "ice cream" sandwiches with the remaining cheesecake and chocolate? I personally did not eat one of these but I have it from a good authority (as in the person who ate the most of these) that these were Mmmmmmmm.
In the end, this challenge was fun, though a bit expensive in cream cheese and chocolate (and time consuming in baking, chilling, scooping, freezing, decorating, chilling). Thanks Elle and Deborah!
And in case you didn't know yet - the Daring Baker's have gone public with a brand spankin new website and forum! You have to be a Daring Baker to get into the private area where we discuss the challenge before it's reveal, however anyone is welcome to come join in the public forum, where baking questions are always welcome (as are answers!) Considering there are at least 900 of us now, that's a pretty large group of bakers to turn to if you need help or just want to share something amazing!
Finally, many, many thanks for Ivonne and Lis for their ongoing leadership of our "little" baking group, as well as for the great new place for us all to hang out and chat!
Every month, the Daring Baker's recipe provides me with a new challenge. I don't usually fret about whether or not I can actually make a recipe, though when sometimes is a worry, but I might fret about certain aspects of the recipe: will my gelatin bloom? will my dough rise?
Obviously things did not go well earlier in the week, when I had hoped to get back much sooner to Dorie's Carrot Cake. Instead of Wednesday, it is Saturday, and I am only now posting about last week's TWD selection, having finished making and decorating it only minutes ago.
Since I had made the cake previously as written, minus the nuts, I decided this time to make cupcakes, much to the thrill of my assistant chef, my five year old son. We gathered our ingredients out on the counter, he pulled up his chair and dug right into helping. The grin on his face as he pushed down on the plunger of the food processor and saw the carrots zoom down into shreds in the bottom is one of the reasons I encourage him to help me. Because, yes, most times, it is easier, and quicker, and oh my, cleaner, to do the baking alone.
Not this time though - I measured, he poured. He sampled plain cinnamon (and said yuck), he turned on the mixer, after being careful to lock it, and watched anxiously for the sugar and oil to mix together. He hovered between eggs, ready to add the next one, and reminded me several times that he wanted to help with the icing too!
Having read several other carrot cupcake posts this week (and I'm sorry I did not comment on most of them this week, again, my bad!), I knew not to over fill my little paper cups. Which is why I was extra careful filling them, being sure not to go over 3/4's full, or even a little less.
Which did me no good what so ever....
Yes, that is indeed 24 carrot cupcakes, each and every one of them, over flowed and a mess.
I managed five that did not over flow. But only because they didn't fit on the first cookie sheet, giving me time to go back and scoop out some of the batter into one more cup.
Note to self, already written in my book - do not fill cupcakes more than HALF full!
All was not lost, though. The icing, which I could eat with a spoon if I weren't exhibiting amazing self control right now, is plentiful, and the cupcakes, though a mess, are still moist and flavorful.
I managed to salvage them by carefully cutting them out of the paper cups and placing them into regular cupcake papers, topped with a generous piping of that wonderful cream cheese icing. Except the one that I turned into a mini layer cake. Which still leaves me with alot of carrot cupcakes, which will be happily shared out among the neighbors tomorrow.
Amanda, our hostess for this past week, from Slow Like Honey, made a wonderful choice. No matter how you manage to bake it, this is a great carrot cake and I was glad of the excuse to remake it. Even if it took me alot longer than I had planned on.
Next weeks' choice, however, leaves me in a bit of a quandry. Caitlin of Engineer Baker has chosen the Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake, found on pages 200-201, a cake which I will not be able to convince the rest of my family to even try, though I'm curious. I wonder if I can make only 1/4 of the recipe?
No carrot cake for us this week. Not because I didn't want to - I did! This is the same cake I made for my dentist not long ago, tall and moist and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting. Yummy!
However baking and a nasty cold that knocks you out for a 3 1/2 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend, well, let's just say they don't mix.
If all goes well, I will make the cake tomorrow and post about it then, a bit late.
Hope to see you back for it!
My email inbox is filled with emails that are unread.
Most of them from me.
You see, I like recipes. I collect them, you might say. I see a blog with a recipe I'd like to try, I email it to myself. And hope I get to it before I forget what it was.
So here are a couple of desserts that I emailed myself that I actually made right away!
Lis is one of my online friends that I wish I could meet up with one day and have as a real life friend. Plan to meet up with. She always makes me laugh, and is not afraid to laugh at herself if something goes wrong. What a great way to look at life, don't you think?
When she made this Apple Caramel Self Saucing Pudding, it was just what I needed to drive away the chills of a cold day, and treat myself to some comfort.
After our winter, I needed the comfort. So I doubled the recipe.
Warm, caramelly, appley (yes I get to make up words, it's my blog afterall!), and very easy to make. And very good for breakfast.
This one was just fun - hot chocolate cake, made together with my 9 year old, one cold and yucky night. Can you think of a better way to end the day than by warm chocolate cake, drizzled with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, topped with whipped cream and bits of toffee? No? Well we couldn't either, so when I saw this recipe on Peabody's site, I could not resist making it right away!
A great online friend, she even answered me right away when I emailed her asking what kind of hot chocolate she had used for her cake, as ours did not look nearly as dark and decadent as hers did. But it sure tasted mighty fine!
Now if I was smart, and had lots of time, I would start going through my emails and pick a new recipe each day to make. I bet it would be awhile before I ran out of recipes! Maybe the smarter thing would be to make one a week.
For now, I wish I had a few apples on hand. Despite being a beautiful 25C outside today, I am being dragged down by a mean and nasty cold, and could really use the comfort of that apple caramel pudding. Lis, any chance you can deliver some? :-)
Marvin has been with me for several months now, having been born in January, not because I was dying to try sour dough, but because a friend had asked me if I knew how to make sour dough bread, and learning it needed a starter, I was intrigued. Intrigued enough that my starter has been around, happily, and baked with many times, whereas the friend who wanted it to begin with... well her starter, a cast off of Marvin, made it into her fridge and has likely died a cold death there.
Marvin has made me muffins. He has made pancakes for my children. He has made several loaves of bread, though I still have not quite figured out how to make a boule with him. His bread has made us sandwiches and croutons, as well as bread pudding.
Cinnamon buns, slathered with icing, hinted with flavors of orange, were everyone's favorite. Soft and gooey. Yum.
Time goes on, and despite the neglect to which I've shown him lately (feeding every other day instead of every day, ack!) he lives on. Thrives.
This week was a busy week for Marvin. While he bubbled after a feeding, a muffin "cake*" cooled right from the oven. Dough for cinnamon raisin bread rose in another bowl. And he looked on at products of his work and smiled.
I was lazy. I like the muffins that come from Marvin, but do not like scrubbing out that silly muffin pan of mine! Instead, I made a double power starter, 1 cup of starter, 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of water, and mixed it up like muffins, but then baked it in a 9x13 pan instead. This particular cake had chopped fresh strawberries, as well as chopped bananas. Baking time is about 45 minutes, instead of the usual 20 for 6 muffins.
Muffin flavors I've tried:
blueberry, fresh and frozen (like frozen better)
with and without orange and lemon zest
mixed frozen berry
banana and strawberry (both sliced)
banana and blueberry (my favorite, the bananas mushed instead of chopped, with fresh blueberries)
cheddar and green onion
cheddar and herb (for these, omit the sugar)
I'm sure there are more, I just can't remember them all right now!
Now to figure out how I got this, and more importantly, how I can do it again. But better.
For those wanting to know, I took this picture with my Olympus Evolt-500, on manual, at 1/25 F22 ISO 400, holding it manually up to the eye piece of my husbands telescope. No idea what lens he was using, and by now, not sure he'd know either.
The warmer weather here (23C today!) has meant the melting of alot of snow. Alot of snow. No understatement, no exclamation marks, just fact. There was alot.
Hogsback Falls is one of my children's favorite places to go for a picnic or just to stand for a few minutes and watch the falls.
Right now it is a little dangerous to be too close to the bottom edge. Water levels are just a wee bit high.
Hope those trees know how to swim!
However, with all that melt come the signs that tell you spring is really here!
Like the first sprouts of rhubarb coming up in my garden.
Nice to see green after seeing nothing but white for months.
Well, what do you think you do with them?
When Judy, of Judy Gross Eats, said marshmallows, I did a little woop! Homemade marshmallows have been on my to do list for this year, and this was just the little push I needed. Plus I could mess with the flavors of a basic marshmallow (which I didn't actually do much of!)
These come together very quickly, or as quickly as sugar and water can get to 265F, so about 10 minutes. Sure, they aren't exactly pretty and smooth the way a store bought marshmallow is, but they are so much fresher and tastier that they are worth the minimum 3 hours of setting time!
Plain, yes, they were good, but why leave them plain when you can play with different variations? Hot chocolate, yes, but of course I had to make s'mores with them! (And it turns out I did not like either of the types of milk chocolate I had in the house for these.)
And last but not least, Rice Krispie squares! Think my rice krispies were stale though, which wouldn't surprise me based on the way my children like to close cereal boxes. Kinda takes away from the gooey vanilla-ness of the marshmallows when your krispies won't krispie, but the kids will eat them anyways.
Last night I decided to make chocolate ones as well, which we haven't really gotten to yet. I tried a bit, they are soft and marshmallowy and chocolaty, so that means the are good!
Many thanks to Judy for a good choice for last week!
Next week we are making that carrot cake that my dentist office liked so much. Do I hope they aren't reading right now so I don't have to share it with them?
I knew I couldn't leave it alone. I knew that I was going to remake this recipe as many times as I needed to in order to have it come our right.
Isn't it nice that it only took once?
And if I had read ahead in the book, or remembered from when I read the entire thing from front to back, I would have seen the orange tart, seen the gelatin added into the cream. Would not have had blood orange soup. Here is the picture I kept being asked about. Not a bad picture but, ugh, would you want to eat that?
Many thanks to those of you who let me know about the lack of pectin and the need for gelatin. And the need for food coloring if I ever make something blood orange again!
Yes, I made it again. With lemons, following the exact recipe as written. Except that I still could not get it to heat to 180F. Could not get above 168F, but the cream had thickened and the whisk was leaving trails, so I strained it into the blender, let it cool and then made a huge racket by running my blender for a long time. (My kids love it when I do that, complaining that it is too noisy, but I always smile at them and remind them that they picked the blender for me, so if it is too noisy for them, well they have no one to blame but themselves!)
I made mini tarts this time, instead of a full sized tart. Six little tarts, filled with a lovely yellow cream. Tiny little flowers made from the scraps of the dough. And enough left over cream to have two little pots of cream and berries, enjoyed by those who aren't overly fond of pastry. Everyone was fond of the cream itself. Silky and rich, decadent with a hint of tang.
Obviously I did not have the same problems with the redo as I did with the original. Isn't it pretty? So pretty, that lemony goodness, that I have decided to make this my entry into this years LiveSTRONG with A Taste of Yellow, hosted again by Winos and Foodies Barabara.
Don't forget to get your own entry over to Barbara, you have until April 19th to do so. And check out her photo contest as well, part of this years A Taste of Yellow.
After months of busy schedules, I was finally able this week to meet up with BC from Beans and Caviar, and have coffee and cake. A chocolate and hazelnut cake that was light and fluffy, but not too sweet!
One of the things BC and I talked about was the recent price increases in flour. I had recently been shocked to see the 10kg bag of Robin Hood flour go up in price from $8.99 to $13.49 a bag! And not only go up in price, but there have been alot of empty shelves where the huge bags of flour normally sit at my grocery stores.
Now Marvin goes through alot of flour. At least 1/2 a cup a day, more if I am making something, and muffins have been ongoing for awhile now and show no sign of taking a break. Add in pizza dough, bread, cinnamon buns, pancakes, heck alot of baked goods, and that's alot of flour!
BC had a great idea over on her website, which you can see here, but I will share in part: What is the price of a large bag of flour in your area? And what type do you use? I personally am fussy and will not use some of the other brands around, even at a cost savings, which isn't a big difference, but I may have to ease up on that flour prejudice if my brand keeps going up in price!
10kg bag of Robin Hood for $10.49 at Loeb. I bought one bag but will likely go back and buy more.
For the first time pretty well ever, there is no picture to show what I made. I took a few. I won't show them though. Bad is an understatement.
I have to start out by saying this: Dorie, I still love ya! I'm still very open to being adopted by you, or at least being one of your nieces, who gets to visit alot! And this recipe had me frustrated and scratching my head in confusion. It can't have been you, I must have either done something wrong or my large eggs were very different from your large eggs.
Yes, I had problems. Several problems.
First, I can't read, so my plan to make it Saturday for friends coming over for dinner did not work. Forgot to include the 4 hours of chilling time in my calculations. That was the minor problem.
My next problem was the cream. I started the cream yesterday morning, all my ingredients out and at temperature, my thermometer, my blender, my strainer at the ready. Even the plastic wrap for chilling was ready. Dorie's instructions said about 10 minutes or so until the cream reaches 180F and will begin to thicken. I had decided to go with a blood orange cream instead of a lemon one, so had this beautiful dark red juice ready to go in with my eggs and sugar, then to be whisked over a double boiler. Forty minutes later, whisking the entire time, I still had not reached 180F, and that cream was not thickening!
Another 10 minutes, with me still not dressed, needing to have been out the door 15 minutes before hand, I gave up and walked away. Threw on some clean clothes so I was not driving the husband to work in my pjs and got ready to leave.
At the last second I decided to check the temperature of the cream and, a miracle! It finally reached 180F! Though it didn't seem that thick to me, I strained it into the blender and left it to cool while I drove. Came home and blended in the butter, not really liking the color anymore. That bright, vivid red? Not so much. More like bleh, light brown, not appealing looking at all!
However, it was alot of work to get it to where it was, so I set it into the fridge for an over night chilling and went about my day. Today I tackled the tart shell, which I had my doubts about as I was trying to press it into my tart pan (which is not a removable bottom, had never been used before, and may not get used again!) The tart, though, came out golden and beautiful!
One of my last problems was trust. I did not trust myself, as I looked at the cream in the fridge and thought, "I should just put it into wine glasses and top it somehow with the tart crust. Make cookie spoons, or crumble the tart into it and make a parfait." No, I ignored those thoughts and instead poured a very loose cream onto my tart shell. No smoothing needed at all, it ran all the way out to the edge of the crust! And ran right down into the pan when I attempted to cut a piece for serving!
Like I said, I love Dorie, I'm sure it was me. Though I do hear there were others who had problems as well - those aren't my fault though.
My husband just nodded his head when I told him that now that I've tried and failed, he knows I will try it again until I get it right.
No blood oranges next time though - not only did they not look good at all in the cream, I did not like the flavor. The crust was great, nice and crisp, with a buttery crumb, but the cream was just not right for me. It was good for my husband, who had three slopping helpings of it, despite the appearance.
Next week's recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie was announced earlier, and I'm so much more looking forward to this one than I was the lemon cream. Hey, maybe next time I'll actually make lemon cream!
Don't forget to go see our hostess for this weeks recipe, Mary of Starting From Scratch. I bet she has pretty pictures to look at!
I always plan to make alot more from my feature cookbook than what I eventually end up making. This month is no different. Lots of yellow post it notes sticking out of Rachel Ray's 365: No Repeats: A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners.
Yes, I own a Rachel Ray cookbook. Actually, I think I own three. Not sure, have to check my shelf. This one I think I actually bought myself, whereas any other ones I own were chosen for me by my children as gifts. I like cookbooks as gifts, even if I never make anything from them, because I like to read cookbooks.
This month I set out to make a few recipes from this book, but decided in advance to skip all the silliness of Yum-O, and EVOO, and sammies. Ugh. Those kind of things, plus the excessive hyperness, are part of the reason I stopped watching her shows. But I have made a few recipes from them, with a fair bit of success, so wasn't worried about a high failure rate for this cookbook. In the end, though, I only managed to make 5 recipes from the book of 365. (Guess those two road trips and life took over the month of March.)
Let's start with Mega Meatball Pizza, from page 6. This recipe tastes alot better than what it looks like. Though it doesn't look so bad that the kids argued about eating it. Instead they both dug in with no problems or complaints. Served with a fruit salad, it was a good meal.
I plan to make this again, but will be decreasing the ground beef by a bit, and increasing the tomato paste . I had used my homemade pizza dough for it, and would do that again as well. Maybe make the pizza bit bigger than a round though.
Btw, do you really get 3-ounce cans of tomato paste in the US? Our small sized cans are 5.5 ounces .
My next recipe was pretty as could be: Citrus-Marinated Chicken and Orange Salad, from page 19. It allowed me to introduce my kids to a few new salad greens as well, arugula and radicchio, both listed in the recipe, as well as endive, not in the recipe but I added it in anyways. I was complimented on the dressing and the chicken by both children, and both the husband and I enjoyed the entire salad. I wished there had been a bit more of the salad than there was, even with my adding in the extra endive, and would increase it the next time I make it. I think this would be a great thing to make in the summer for company. It does plate up on a platter very nicely and looks impressive.
Which is not something I can say at all about this next recipe, Smoky Turkey Shepherd's Pie, found on page 2. Again, this tasted better than what it looked like. Though its flavor was very mild, unlike the smells it gave off, which was mouth watering.
I had to make a small change or two to this recipe. I took out the two cups of frozen peas and replaced them with corn. Not only does corn make more sense to me, but peas are not universally enjoyed in this house. I didn't want to eat the full batch of pie myself! I also had run out of sour cream (think I used it for a cake actually) so had replaced it with a touch of cream instead, to give the creaminess, and increased the flour a bit. Despite the increase in flour, however, the sauce never did thicken up much and was very watery.
The general agreement was make again, but with another change or two. Cutting the turkey bacon smaller and making it crispier, cooking the celery and carrots a bit longer, staying with the corn, and increasing the amount of mashed potatoes. The potato layer was very thin. Either that or I had alot more filling than I should have.
Oh, and increase the spices some as the flavors were very, very mild, essentially too mild.
One extra note about this one - It made alot, so both my husband and I had some for lunch the next day, reheated. I don't know how he felt about it, I forgot to ask, but I found it had tasted much better the first time and was not nearly as enjoyable the second day.
I think this next recipe was the only one of the five that I would not make again, Island Bird: Pineapple-Rum Chicken, found on page 86. This one looked better than what it tasted, and in the pot, it did not look very good at all. I ended up taking the liquid out of the pot with the chicken and adding it to another pot, trying to reduce it (alot) before adding it back in. Sure, I wanted sauce with the chicken, but not soup!
The adults ate this, grudgingly, but the kids, including the extra one I had that night, picked at it. One ate all the chicken, one ate the pineapple only and the other complimented me on my rice and noticed the green pieces looked like leaves. Yes, they were parsley leaves, which I guess he had never seen before.
The fact that there was alcohol in the recipe gave it the "wow" factor for the kids, getting them to try it, but frankly I think that is all that did it. This last one was on my plan ahead list alot. I seem to have one of those every month so far, one recipe that I plan to make, then remove from the list, put somewhere else, remove from the list, move somewhere else, repeat, repeat, repeat. And this month the Sausage and Spinach Pastry Squares, on page 44, was the recipe.
A few changes: I skipped the salad part. I actually made this at the same time I was making homemade turkey soup, which the kids had for dinner, while the husband and I had the squares. Or rectangles I should say, as that is how mine turned out. I also did not put the sage in. Not only did I not have any, fresh or dry, but I had accidentally bought medium Italian sausages instead of sweet, so we wouldn't have been able to taste the sage in it anyways.
These were okay, nothing special, but not horrible either. A good hand meal as I did not need a knife and fork to eat it, just pick it up and nibble from it. Be prepared for puff pastry crumbs on your clothing. They would make a good appetizer, in small format, and probably would taste better that way.
Lots more recipes in the book to try. Heck, I never even got half way into the book with my post-it notes before I ran out of time! I could probably use the same book for the next few months and not repeat anything. Yes, I know that is the intention of the book, but there are plenty of recipes in it that I would never bother to make in the first place, which reduces that 365 by a significant number.
No idea yet what book I am going to look at for this month, despite it being the second of April. I plan to pull out a few options in the next day or two and make a decision then. I had been thinking of doing the Moosewood Cookbook, lent to me by a friend, but so far in reading it over, nothing really appeals to me. The recipes seem fine but every day, standard recipes, not try something new recipes. I'll figure something out.
A few notes, not related to my cookbook choice of the month, but related to food, of course.
Notice a few new little tags on the side of my blog with my links? One of them is for the Foodie Blogroll, run by fellow foodie Jenn, the Left Over Queen, as a way for us bloggers to get to know each other a bit better. As I told Jenn, I was sure I had done earlier, like back when she first started it, but that was awhile ago and I could be confusing it with something else. When you have time, go check it out, and then sign up yourself.
The second one you might notice is my FoodBuzz Featured Publisher badge, which will link anyone who clicks it over to FoodBuzz. Feel free to drop in there as well, vote me up if you'd like, add me to your friends list or peruse the multitude of other blogs that are also shown there. And notice the little picture of me on my profile, or of my camera actually, taken by my five year old actually. He is quite proud of the picture and is on his way to being a budding photographer.
Well it is my second week with TWD (That's Tuesdays with Dorie for those who live under a rock, one with no food near it.) I was a bit more prepared for this one, not rushing at the last minute. Or theoretically not rushing at the last minute. Reality was a bit different.
This week the choice was made by Leigh over at Lemon Tartlet. Her choice was for the Gooey Chocolate Cakes, found on page 261-262. A good choice, but then, really, is there a bad choice to be made from Dorie?
So I had a full week to do this, and planned to do it as dessert on Sunday night. Then my bbq was unsnowed (isn't that a nice thing to do for your wife?) and I ended up having a bbq for dinner that night, baking two loaves of sour dough bread and making the cakes at the same time! So in the end I was running, running, running, from one thing to another, with all the stuff ready to go for the final mix and then into the oven while we ate dinner.
I admit I don't understand the point of the finely chopped chocolate on top before baking the batter, as it didn't sink into the batter but only left an extra trail of chocolate. But what the heck, how can more chocolate hurt?
Now I had planned on making these either with creme anglaise, or ice cream, but ran into more time confusion. I didn't read through the sauce recipe long enough to catch the 24 hour rest period, until about 30 minutes before I put the cakes in the oven. And I had been in such a tizzy over the price increase to flour that I had refused to spend $8 on a carton of good quality ice cream to go with the cakes, thinking I was still going to make the creme anglaise.
Instead we had to eat them with whipped cream, such a hard ship to us all!
So far I've seen a number of variations on this, from mini ones, to those involving caramel. I will have to revisit this recipe, make it for company, maybe with milk chocolate and caramel. And plan ahead this time so I can make the creme anglaise, which I still haven't done!