Wednesday, December 30, 2009

TWD: Low and Lush Chocolate Cheesecake

Here's the deal...I made this cake in plenty of time to post yesterday...but then the flu struck and it all went to h-e-double toothpick.

I made this for our Christmas Eve family get together and it was a huge hit.

I piled on the whipped cream and raspberries and then shaved some milk chocolate over the top.

Very rich, very lush, very delicious.

Here's where the problems start again.

I was in a hurry to get to my cousin's house on Christmas Eve so I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the finished product prior to leaving.

There were a lot of other dessert there so I knew that mine wouldn't get eaten entirely...that's fine, I only needed one slice to take home for a picture.

When we left that night I had about 3 slices of cheesecake left so I knew that would be perfect for photographing the next day. etc. No time to photograph. Someone had a slice for dessert and I assumed they cut a wedge to enjoy.

I was wrong.

They scooped a bunch out of the middle of the cake and I no longer had any wedges.

Oh's what I had left.

Top view

As I said, it was delicious....and I'm not a cheesecake lover.

Here's a little wedge I was able to salvage.

This was super easy to make and there are lots of ways you can dress it up.

Thanks to the Tea Lady over at Tea and Scones for her choice of this yummy dessert for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie.

Don't forget to stop by here to see what the others have made.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

TWD: My Favorite Pecan Pie

Probably my favorite now too....

Tuesday's with Dorie this week is brought to us by Beth over at Someone's in the Kitchen with Brina.

I've only ever made one pecan pie before and that was when we were living in Australia. It was Thanksgiving time and a friend of mine really wanted a pecan pie. Being the only American within a 50 mile radius I said I would make her one.

Bad idea....I ended up baking it for something like an hour and a half and the thing was like a hockey puck..a super sweet hockey puck but nonetheless, she ate it and then thanked me!

Never again....I'll bake pies that are easier to gauge when are done.

Then came this pie. Not so sweet and easy to bake. I took Dorie's word for it that the pie would be done when puffed and not jiggly and you know what? She was right!

My crust got a little crispy and brown and lost it's crimping but still tasted good.

I omitted the chocolate and espresso powder in this pie because this was a Thanksgiving dessert and I was also bringing the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake to the Thanksgiving feast.

A little brown sugar whipped cream does a body good.

This pecan pie is a simple, flavorful pecan pie. What a pecan pie should look and taste like! And Dorie's right, you can taste the pecans.

Don't forget to stop by over here to see what the other bakers' have created.

Thanks for stopping by.

Here's hoping everyone has a very Merry Christmas!!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Still on a quest for the best...

...cranberry sauce.

I have a thing for cranberry sauce. Always have. I am the one to bring the sauce to the Thanksgiving feast, wherever we happen to be. I love trying out different recipes, adding different spices, ingredients etc. I don't think I've made the same sauce twice.....ever. I love how you can combine a bunch of ingredients with whole cranberries and after turning to mush after cooking for a while, it still ends up tasting great!

So when I saw this recipe over at Noble Pig, I had to try it out. This sauce uses canned mandarins, a chopped up apple, orange marmalade, raisins and curry powder among other ingredients. (These are just the ones that you might not find in every cranberry sauce recipe.)

It sounded intriguing to me.

So..I used 4 fresh mandarins instead of the canned. I live near the foothills of Northern California and it is mandarin season around would have been sacrilege to use canned! I left out the raisins and used dried cranberries instead (out of raisins) and I chopped up a Pippin apple picked from a friend's tree.

After combining with the rest of the ingredients, bringing to a boil and simmering for about 45 minutes...I had a yummy sauce.

I'm not sure if this is the ultimate sauce for me. I will continue on my quest. In the meantime, enjoy this version and let me know what you think.

And while I was there, I saw this recipe for Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue Topping. I am so making that next.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cranberry Crumb Bars....AKA Something everyone will like when you bring it to their house on a moment's notice

Trolling through the food blogs I found this recipe here.

Since it's cranberry season and I have cranberries in my freezer just waiting to be used, I decided to go to the grocery store and pick up a few more bags!

Hey, they're on sale right now. At least that's how I am justifying my purchase to myself.

This is so easy to put together and tastes so good. The fresh cranberries are left whole so there is no need for chopping. There is a crust on the bottom and a crust on the top (from the same dough mixture, the topping just has some added cinnamon) and a beautiful cranberry filling.

I didn't have any oranges for the fresh juice so I just poured in some Tropicana.


Go make your own right now!

Monday, December 7, 2009

TWD: Sables

Update: Added some pictures for your viewing pleasure :)

I wanted to get this up on Tuesday so I'll add the photos tomorrow. No light today and I refuse to use flash :) We did get snow though!

Bungalow Barbara chose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection. These tasty little cookies can be found on pages 131 - 133 of Dorie's book. The nice thing about these cookies is that they can be made sweet or, with a couple of omissions and additions, savory. I think I'm going to try those next.

The dough comes together quickly and once you roll it into logs and chill for a couple of hours in the fridge, it's good to go.

I doubled the recipe so that I could use the cookies for Christmas give aways. I also changed up the original recipe by using the playing around spice version. I added cinnamon, ginger and freshly grated nutmeg.

The dough chilled for 3 days in my fridge.

Once I brushed the logs with the beaten egg yolk, I sprinkled one with green sparkling sugar and the other with red and white. Sliced them up and baked them for 17 minutes exactly.

They turned on really nice. Crisp and buttery....spicy with a bit of crunch from the sparkling sugar. I'm afraid I could eat and eat and eat these and not realize what was happening until they were all gone. Perfect for teacher gifts.

Have a look over here to see what the others baked up.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

TWD...late: Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

I debated about even posting this as I am so late...but my pictures were pretty and the cake was so very good.

Thanks to Katya of Second Dinner for choosing this cake. Perfect to take to a dinner with friends.
Found the chestnuts at Whole Foods.

And the vanilla sweetened chestnut cream

It did take me 3 days to stages....but it was the centerpiece dessert for Thanksgiving and being not too terribly sweet, it went over very well.

I didn't have a 9" square pan. I used a 9" round and made 3 cupcakes with the extra batter. Good thing I did, the cake rose right to the top of the pan.

They're little chestnut cupcakes filled and iced with the chocolate caramel and then the glaze (ganache) on the top.

I didn't have any problems with the glaze not firming fact it firmed up to SPREADING consistency in about 2 hours. I spread it on with a spatula.

I dusted the chestnuts with some gold dust (edible) and then flicked it across the top of the cake. You can't really tell in the photograph, but it's there.

All in all a complete success. Don't forget to stop by here to see what the others baked up.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisp

So easy, so good, so TART!!

The recipe for this weeks TWD, chosen by Em from The Repressed Pastry Chef, was really easy to throw together. Most of the ingredients I keep around so this could be something to make up at a moment's notice.

I threw in some extra fresh cranberries so I could use the last of the bag. Right now I think I have a total of 5 bags of fresh cranberries in the freezer. I tend to stock up on them at this time and then use them throughout the never know when you might need cranberries!
I also subbed in half whole wheat flour. I threw all the topping ingredients into the food processor and pulsed for the full minute. I thought I blew it at the beginning when the topping started to resemble powdered sugar but I kept it on and it all came together to form large clumps. Does anyone else think their food processor is more trouble than it is worth. Anyone?

I made my crisp as one large one in my beautiful red Martha Stewart baking dish. Very festive. I assembled everything and then brought it over to some friends' house for dessert. I baked the crisp when I got there and it made the whole house smell like the holidays.

We served it with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Wow...this thing packs a pucker punch! Everyone loved it...not too sweet and just the right amount of crunch in the topping.

This is all that was left the next day.

I ate it for breakfast because it had oatmeal and fruit in it. :)

Don't forget to stop by here to see what the others have made this week.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mixed up TWD: All in One Holiday Bundt Cake

This month TWD is all mixed up....As I have a PTC meeting to attend tonight I chose the beautiful All in One Holiday Bundt cake which Britin at The Nitty Britty selected. If you don't have Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours yet...go out and pick it up! It's a wonderful baking book and this recipe can be found on pages 186-187.

I love bundt cakes and have been following Mary from The Food Librarian as she makes one bundt a day during the month of November for National Bundt Day on November 15th. Some of hers look absolutely wonderful.....wonder if she'll make this one?

This sure lives up to the All in One Holiday part of it's name...pumpkin, fresh cranberries, apples and pecans not to mention cinnamon, ginger and fresh nutmeg.

Here's what I used:

I was going to roast my sugar pie pumpkins but decided to use those for a pumpkin pie so I can get the full pumpkin flavor.

I used apples from a friend's tree:

I used the one on the left...the smaller ones are perfect kid-size!

Dropped them down the side onto the counter.

Chopped up some frozen cranberries.

For some reason I had been thinking that this recipe used dried cranberries and even stocked up on some this weekend at Trader Joes. Good thing I had some fresh in the freezer...but I bet it would be fine with the dried.

I left the pecans out of the cake...not sure all the parents like nuts.

Mine took 54 minutes to bake.

Naked bundt:

Fancy dress bundt:

I used the maple glaze Dorie mentions and sprinkled some chopped pecans on the top. They can scrape those off if they don't want them. :)

Perfect for a holiday table....or classroom table....either is fine.

Don't forget to stop over here to see what the others came up with.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

As Michele put it...Autumn Deliciousness!

My friend Michele, she of the persimmon, lemon, fig trees, and I made apple cider donuts at her house last Sunday.

It was an experience.

I found the recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog. The dough came together very easily. We doubled the recipe to make more donuts, if you can imagine. The reducing of the apple cider is not a step to be missed...both in the donut batter and the glaze for the topping.

Remember to keep you donut dough/batter? not sure which one to use here...cold prior to cutting and frying. Ours got a little soft and we couldn't cut the donut shapes.

Also...frying just 3 at a time in a small deep fryer works best. We couldn't turn the donuts over if there were more than 3 in there at a time.

I like the cinnamon/sugar topping the best and they are heavenly when eaten warm!

Thanks to Michele's mom for finding us the fall plate. :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some cakes

I have been busy again! I love it and would never complain....I'll show you what I've been working on:

4 dozen chocolate and vanilla cupcakes frosted with vanilla and chocolate frosting. Simple fall colored decorations. These were for a wedding rehearsal dinner. :

A fun cake for a 16th birthday party. Alana's mom gave me a photograph of what she wanted and I went from there:

Bottom tier is a 9" vanilla cake with fresh strawberries and vanilla SMBC. Top tier is the same but filled with lemon curd. All decorations are homemade marshmallow fondant except for the "16" which was made from gum paste. (Wires weren't edible) Please excuse the quality of the photograph, I was in a hurry to deliver!

A Dora cake for a little girl turning 4:

10" chocolate cake with vanilla SMBC and homemade MMF decorations. Store-bought Dora candle.

2 dozen mini chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting for a birthday celebration at school:

2 dozen s'mores cupcakes for a Halloween party.

Love the ghostly faces

A Jack Skellington cake for a birthday close to Halloween:

9" vanilla cake with lemon curd filling and lemon SMBC. Fondant face. I do believe my smooth icing is improving!

Isn't that the cutest cake you've ever seen? :)

Thanks for stopping by!