Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte

I've been having an aversion to ice cream for a while, and thanks to this week's recipe, that has allll changed. Amy with Food, Family, and Fun chose this weeks recipe. Like the last couple of choices, this was a cinch and incredibly delicious! This was a perfect project for my last Friday off because I could do all my chores and errands while the layers were freezing. Basically, this ganache dictated my whole day, but I didn't really mind :-) I cut the recipe in half and made it in a mini 4" springform pan and went with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream to go with the chocolate ganache.

My first ganache! This was so easy (and DELICIOUS). I finally got over my intimidation of the word "ganache," and a double boiler. The ganache is even better when it freezes and makes the perfect soft consistency for an ice cream cake. Someone expressed concern for the raw eggs in the ganache, and I actually got really concerned. Completely unlike me, since I have a reallly bad habit of over-indulging in bowl/spatula/spoon batter. I didn't see any pasteurized eggs at the store so I tried Egg Beaters, and they seemed to work just fine.

This was surprisingly easy to get out of the pan with Dorie's warm towel suggestion and I think I did a pretty good job making my layers even! I agree with some of the other Tuesday With Dorie'ers that this was an incredibly hard recipe to photograph for the blog. It was so A. Melty. B. Sticky. and C. Irresistibly Lickable. You can find the recipe on this week's host, Amy's blog.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lemon Bar Love

The lemon bug has definitely been going around this summer. First, we made the lemon cake for a contest in baking club at work, and the lemon yogurt seems to be in scarce quantity at the grocery store. Then, when I was catching up with one of my bestest friends, and roommate from Freshman year of college, Mrs. SMGR, she was telling me about the very first thing she made with my parents wedding gift: the Cuisinart food processor. She was describing the lusciousness of the lemon bars she conquered, using the Cuisinart to whip up the crust and how she will forever think of my family when she gets to use it. She is such a sweetheart and rocks my face off. Example: uh...what other bridesmaids get to rock Converse??

So, it was my lucky weekend the other weekend...my old roomie flew out for a wedding and I had her to myself for a whole weekend! It's reallly rare to get one-on-one time with this girl so we seized the day! We started at Pajama Baking Company; a bakery/coffee shop/Market on Old South Pearl I'm obsessed with (Their peach scones are out of this world and everything else they make looks divine.) Then we headed back to my place to make, da-dah, lemon bars.

Since I'm a single girl, and therefore don't have all the kitchen essentials for lack of a wedding registry, I didn't have anything to make the crust with. No Cuisinart; not even a pastry cutter. What to do?? Go to Williams and Sonoma and spend some of those wedding gift cards, or course! Sarah very generously bought me my first wedding present, with her her, uh, wedding present gift cards.

We whipped up those lemon bars, which were just as amazing as she described and now I will think of my very good friend every time I'm getting my dough on with my fancy pastry cutter, just as she will think of me and my family everytime she's getting her Cuisinart on.

Mrs. SMGR accidentely ran off with the recipe, so I will have to have her send it to me for future lemon bar ventures. It comes from her favorite bakery in Santa Cruz that she remembers from growing up and always makes a visit to when she's in town.

Catching up with another college roommate at the close of the weekend, she tells me, "Guess what I did?? I made lemon bars!" I had one for breakfast this morning and they give mine and Mrs. SMGR's a serious run for our money.

Lemon fever, I tell you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Granola Grabbers

I really debated doing this week's Tuesday's with Dorie. I've been feeling pretty desert-ed out after licking so many bowls and spatulas with all the baking I've been doing (fulfilling my mom's orders for her work meetings with batch after batch of blueberry muffins and biscotti). Also, thinking of all the ingredients that I would have to buy and my complex about the amount of baked goods I bring in to work. But I had an afternoon off due to a sick-day and remembered all those cute scoop bins of ingredients at Whole Foods I never dig into because they overwhelm me. So, I bucked up and made me some Granola Grabbers! (I should have taken a picture of all my cute little Karleen-half batch of cookie sized baggies of ingredients.)

Because it's Dorie, and we just met I stuck to the ingredients exactly, even though I was very tempted in that isle of deliciously-filled scooping bins. I used nutty granola, raisins, peanuts, pecans, coconut, and wheat germ. I think next time I'll definitely go for some vanilla or pumpkin granola and dried cherries or strawberries rather than raisins.

All lined up and ready for the oven!

Did anyone else's cookies bubble like a mad-scientist experiment?? Next time I won't pat them down like Dorie suggests.

Ta-DAH! I really like these cookies because they're still sweet, but in a very subtle, edible way. They turned out much better than oatmeal/wheat germ-ish, "healthy" cookies I've tried in the past. They're not my favorite, but totally addictive. Mine taste like peanut butter, oatmeal cookies and I never thought I would have loved whole peanuts in a cookie. I will have a lot more fun with this recipe in the future thanks to all the yummy possibilities I found at Whole Foods. Maybe vanilla granola with yogurt chips and dried cherries?? Kudos to Michelle from Bad Girl Baking for choosing this fun, healthy-ish recipe :-)

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Experiment in Biscotti Making

My mom has started commissioning me to bake things for her: last week I made a few dozen blueberry muffins for volunteers at National Collegiate's for ice skating and this week she's got a kick-off breakfast meeting for her job. I'm going to make the blueberry muffins again since they're out of this world. I got the recipe from my high-altitude baking class and I promise I'll get it posted. But I also wanted something else. I was flipping through Dorie's book and ran over the biscotti and knew I had to make some of those too. Who doesn't love dipping cookies in coffee and tea?? It's pretty much my favorite coffee accessory, but I've never tried them from scratch. I'm going to make the almond biscotti, but decided to try the chocolate almond recipe as a tester before I committed to the idea.

These probably got the best reaction out of anything I've brought to work. My boss even yelled out, "You did not?!!" when she got the announcement e-mail. Now I know what to bring her when I ask for something, mwahaaha. Since I cut the recipe down by 75% I was afraid of burning them and I think I ended up under-baking them so they were more soft than crisp, but it was an experiment and that's what experiments are for.

Biscotti Experiment #1: Success!

And since I'm obsessed with pastries, here are some pics of the dessert we had last night at the Denver Aquarium for my dad's b-day:

Key Lime Pie

Raspberry Cheesecake with sorbet and a fish cookie

These desserts gave me a stomach ache. And so did this:

My brother and his fiance. I heckle them in my head, "Ok, you're in love...we get it already!"

Tuesdays With Dorie: Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

I LOVE making ice cream and I never knew it! If I had known how easy this was I would've started making ice cream a loooong time ago. I only had to wash three (!) dishes. Lucky for me my roommate has an ice cream maker so I could be good and lazy.

Sometimes I dream of baked goods. Actually, most nights I dream of baked goods and one night last week I dreamt about ice cream cakes and knew I had to make a mini-ice cream cake this week. I worked at an ice cream store for one month after college for a filler type of job and it was the best job I have ever had. We used to make the ice cream cakes we sold and I loved packing the tins with rich Cherry Garcia and crumbled Oreos. I started researching ice cream cake methods online when I saw the recipe to finish August for TWD: the ice cream tart. I decided I better wait on the cake idea, so I did the next best thing....ice cream cookie sandwiches!

I like to pretend I'm British and had a whole package of McVitte currant shortbread biscuits on hand to dip in my Earl Grey tea. (I loooove cookies and tea!) But there just isn't time for biscuits and tea when I have to take my tea to go as I'm running out the door in the morning, so I thought they would be much better applied to blueberry ice cream. There really couldn't have been more of a perfect cookie/ice cream pairing.

From what I read I was afraid there was going to be too much of a sour cream taste, but I didn't notice. To me it was a smooth combination of fruity and creamy; perfect for a summer ice cream. To try it out before fall arrives find the recipe in our host Dolores' blog Chronicles of Culinary Curiosity .

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Black and White Banana Loaf

This week is my first Tuesdays With Dorie post and holy bananas this was a delicious way to start things off! One of the reasons I'm trying to taking my baking obsession more seriously is because it forces me to be patient. I've always been bad with patience in general, but it's gotten to a new extreme. I always want to go, go, go, and these baking projects are forcing me to pay attention to the little things again and to take my time. It's a really hard challenge since I can't even sit still for more than 15 minutes at a time anymore. This week's post is definitely a testament to my struggle with patience. And this was just banana bread.

I made a few adjustments to the recipes, just because of a lack of ingredients. We were out of dark rum, but there was plenty of Malibu in the apartment! I wasn't sure about the coconut flavor, but I didn't really notice it. We were also out of Nutmeg (my roommate made some pumpkin bread last week, so I'm pretty sure that's where it went). I know this is a big part of the recipe, but I had to substitute with cinnamon and cloves. They were all we had left in the spice cabinet. It still had a really nice flavor.

I was going to add extra bananas for a more intense flavor, but when I read the other Dorie blogger's experiences with their batter not cooking through I kept to using two small ones. I left the bread in the over for about an hour and fifteen minutes with the foil tent and then about another fifteen without. It was perfect: not gooey or undercooked at all. It was moist and soft and had a very distinct banana flavor. I'm glad there was more white than black because the chocolate flavor was almost too intense.

Now the part about the patience: I didn't want to bother buttering the pan thoroughly and just sprayed some cooking spray on it. Also, I didn't let the bread cool before I tried to take it out of the mold. Two huge mistakes that led to this:

If I had just taken my time and waited for all of that delicious smelling goodness to cool my loaf would not have broken into two very unattractive pieces. At least this gives a good visual of the marbling.

It all worked out in the end. The bottom half of the loaf which stuck to the pan stayed with me and soon after into my tummy, and the rest I cut up into bite size pieces that I took to a BBQ. All ended well in banana bread world, and I will try and remember more patience for next week's ice cream.

You can check out the recipe on Ashlee's blog, http://www.ashleescooking.blogspot.com/, or in "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan.

On a side note I also brought bluberry pasta salad with feta dressing (from eatingwell.com) and puppy chow to the cook-out. One girl had about 20 helpings of the pasta and my other friend exclaimed, "Wow-you're a really good cook!" That was one of the best compliments I've gotten considering back in college my idea of cooking dinner was defrosting frozen fries and microwaving Spaghettios