The Fabulous Baker Girl

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TWD: Cottage Cheese Pufflets…Don’t let the name fool you! September 22, 2009

When I saw that Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes ( chose Cottage Cheese Pufflets for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  For some reason, I was thinking maybe they were a pancake of sorts.  Little did I know that these are actually cookies.  What a pleasant little surprise!  And they aren’t just any cookie.  They are filled cookies that look like a lot more trouble than they are.  The kind where people’s jaws drop open upon discovering that you actually made them.

cottage cheese pufflettes 007The most interesting thing about this recipe is that it does, indeed, have cottage cheese in it.  And butter.  A lot of butter.  The pastry dough is exceptionally easy to put together.  Just cream the butter, sugar and salt, add the cottage cheese and vanilla and process until completely smooth.  Then, pulse in your flour.  Done.

Unfortunately, the ease of making the dough itself is a bit offset by the difficulty the dough is to work with.  It requires a lot of chilling.  The recipe calls for three hours of chill time before rolling out, cutting, and assembling but you’ll find that it’s easier to chill, roll, chill again, and then cut.  The key to working with this dough is to work in small batches and keep it cold (and it does warm up quickly — at least it did for me because when I made these it was very hot and humid).

The recipe calls for the dough to be filled with jam.  I didn’t have any that I was happy with so I tried to figure out what I could use instead.  The obvious answer was chocolate so I went with that.  I whipped up some ganachecottage cheese pufflettes 008 and let that chill too so it was nice and firm.  Since I really liked the half-moon shape of the apple turnovers from last week, I decided to cut the dough into circles instead of the prescribed squares.  This did mean I had leftover dough, but we’ll deal with that later.  Because the dough isn’t very sweet and neither was the ganache, I topped the pufflets with some raw sugar.

My first batch turned out so pretty and they tasted pretty good too but now I was curious what they would be like with the jam.  That’s when it hit me that I had bought some dandelion jam on a whim at the farmer’s market over the summer.  I broke that out and gave it a try.  For those of you who have never had dandelion jam, it tastes a lot like honey.  Mine was also very sweet so I didn’t top these with any sugar.  I found the jam much harder to deal with.  The jam kind of oozed out of the sides as I tried to seal the cookies and I wasn’t left with much on the inside.  This version turned out much different from the chocolate version.  With the chocolate ganache, the cookie and filling remained separate while the dandelion jam pretty much melted into the dough and became a sort of glaze rather than a filling.  Both version were equally delightful though, so no complaints here.

As for the dough I had leftover…well, I knew that the pastry wouldn’t be as tender once it had been rolled out but I didn’t want to waste it.  Last week in my pastry class, I made some various things from puff pastry.  One of those things were palmiers which is fancily rolled puff pastry that is rolled in sugar, cut into slices and baked.  I decided to do the same thing with my leftover dough.  I covered my work surface with raw sugar and rolled out my dough.  I made sure both sides with covered.  Then I rolled the dough into a spiral.  After chilling, I cut them into slices and baked.

I think that these actually turned out to be my favorite.  Like I knew, the dough wasn’t quite as tender, but the sugar melted and gave a very nice, subtle caramel flavor.  I’m thinking I may make this again just do all of it like this.  Or I may try nutella.  Such tough decisions!

cottage cheese pufflettes 005


TWD: The Lime Pie that had Better be Worth it! August 25, 2009

Lime Cream Pie before covering

Lime Cream Pie before covering

So this for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, Linda of Tender Crumb decided on Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie.  After reading the recipe, I knew it was going to take some time to make.  I had planned to make it over the weekend, but that just didn’t pan out.

Instead, I made it yesterday and recruited the help of my daughter.  She loves to grate and juice.  This was the perfect recipe for her!  As she did that I made the graham cracker crust.  Things were cruising along and I figured this would be easier than I expected.


I don’ t think I’ve ever been so frustrated trying to bake something in my life!

The recipe says that bringing the lime cream to temperature would take about 10 minutes.  Well…it took me more like an hour and it still didn’t come to 180 degrees.  Near the end it finally dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, there was something wrong with my thermometer.  I stuck it in a glass of ice water so I could calibrate it and, sure enough, the temp was way off — the wrong way.  So I thought my cream was at 150 degrees but it was actually at 145.


I finally just gave up and took it off the heat anyway.  By the time it had cooled slightly, it was so thick that I had to force it through the strainer to get rid of the lime zest.  I almost skipped that part.  I had a hard time incorporating the butter while blending.  By the time I was done, I had lime cream all over my my kitchen, on my shirt, and in my hair.  At this point I’m not sure why I’ve gone through all this trouble for something that isn’t chocolate.

Lime Cream Pie 015

I miss chocolate.

According to the recipe, the lime cream is supposed to be refrigerated for four hours before you put it in the pie crust and then another three hours after you add the meringue.  Seriously?  After all that work I have to wait?

I don’t think so.

Since my cream was so thick to begin with, I just added it straight to the crust and let it chill for awhile.  Then, since everyone was so anxious to eat it, I ended up adding whipped cream to it to cut the tartness instead of the meringue.

I know it’s not the exact recipe but by the end I was so exhausted (who knew standing at the stove constantly stirring for an hour could be so tiring?) that I am perfectly okay with that.  We all like fresh whipped cream better anyway.

As for whether or not this pie was worth it…well…it was good.  The texture was phenomenal.  So beautifully creamy — like butter (probably from the 2 1/2 sticks in the cream) — and perfectly tart.  I’m glad I took the trouble to strain the zest out because that would have ruined the lovely texture of the lime cream.  We all agreed that the whipped cream was a nice touch, adding a bit of sweetness to the whole thing.

I’m glad I made this pie.  I know my family enjoy trying new things and chocolate, as hard as it is for me to fathom, is not everyone’s favorite.   So, even though this wasn’t my particular favorite (still liked it though), it was worth it just to make my family happy.  If you are lime-lover, you’d be happy to make this too.  Just make sure your thermometer works.

To see the recipe for the Creamist Lime Cream Pie with Meringue, visit Linda at

Lime Cream Pie 016


TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars August 18, 2009

If you have ever read any of my blog, you will know that fruit is not really my thing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a nice, crisp, coldrock cakes, baked eggs, and applesauce bars 011 apple or a juicy peach or plump, sweet grapes.  But fruit to me is…well…fruit.  It doesn’t belong in sweets.

Yet, time and time I seem to prove myself wrong.  Both banana bread and blueberry muffins are about as delicious as they come.  I was delighted with Nigella’s pineapple upside down cake and Dorie Greenspan’s apple crisp was fabulous.

And now Dorie has done it again.

This week Karen from Something Sweet by Karen ( chose Dorie’s Applesauce Spice Bars.  When I made them yesterday, I was feeling a little out of sorts.  I had just come home after being away for a few days so I guess I was just trying to get back in the swing of things.  I felt like I was trying to think of a hundred different things at the same time and not concentrating on any of them.  That was my state of mind as I approached this recipe.  The one day I needed chocolate I get stuck with apples.

Thank goodness it was so easy to prepare.  The hardest thing to was peel and chop the apple.  Which I forgot to do until I was ready to add it.  Oh well…no harm done.  I made myself follow the recipe to a T.  I’m not big on raisins but I added them anyway.  I used golden raisins which I find sweeter and nicer than regular ones.  I’m not a huge fan of nuts in baked goods like this but I put them in.  I’m not a drinker but I happened to have some rum on hand, which I added in lieu of the applejack (which I always figured was a cereal).

The batter for these bars is prepared in a saucepan after melted butter and brown sugar are mixed together.  I like that I didn’t need any special equipment, no electric mixer.  It was just me and the ingredients.  I started to relax a little.  After all how can melted butter and brown sugar be bad?

After the bars baked, I poured on the glaze (more melted butter, brown sugar, and, this time, cream) and waited for them to cool.  When it was time to make dinner, I snuck a bite.  They were still slightly warm but I discovered, to my delight, that they were pretty good.  After a few more minutes, I tried another bite.  They were really moist and good.  Before dinner was quite ready, I tried them again.  Wait a minute…I actually like these!  Before I knew it, I had nibbled away a whole end of the pan.  Luckily, it was the short end.  There aren’t a lot of raisins in so I hardly noticed them.  When I did, they just added a nice sweet plumpness.  The nuts were a nice contrast in texture that I didn’t mind a bit and you can’t taste the rum at all.

These are really a nice little snack bar — a great after school snack, or a sweet ending to lunch with friends, or a nice, light dessert after a heavy dinner served with a bit of vanilla ice cream.  I’d say these bars are a hit.  I guess I’m beginning to change my mind about fruit.  Maybe it can be a dessert.

Don’t get me wrong.  Chocolate will always reign supreme in my book, but a change can be nice too.

To view the recipe for Applesauce Spice Bars please visit Karen at


Tuesdays with Dorie: Brownie Buttons and Tempations August 11, 2009

Brownie Rounds 013

My second week with Dorie and imagine my delight in getting to make something chocolate.  Brownies, no less.  Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen, who chose these little gems, must really know her stuff.

Note to self:  peruse Jayma’s blog (!

I was excited to try these Brownie Buttons even though I am the self-proclaimed best brownie baker in the world and have the best recipe imaginable (hey, Howie agrees with me)!  Still, I am open-minded and love trying anything new.

Seeing that these were little bit-sized brownies reminded me of a cute little pan I saw.  It was made for brownies and was just like mini-muffins, only square-shaped instead of round.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to make an investment of this pan.  Especially since I had a 50% off coupon for Michaels.  I got the kids in the car and started to go.  Only I got to thinking.  Do I really need this pan?  Will I use it enough to warrant its use of my precious cabinet space?  Or would it too end up in my garage sale pile next to the Popsicle-shaped cake pan and the Twinkie-shaped pan?  Hmmm….alas, I decided it was not worth it and very reluctantly turned my car around and went to do some other shopping that actually was necessary.  Uh…that was hard but even at 50% off it seemed like a waste.  Of course, I still have that coupon and now I’m bhaving second thoughts.  Let’s hope I can stay strong.

But I’m off the subject now…let’s get back

These little brownies are so easy to make and come out just adorable using a plain old mini-muffin pan.  Ella decided to help me make them.  You may remember that she’s my chef, not my baker, so I a bit surprised she wanted to help.  I think it was her way of apologizing for being a bit, um,  shall we say…difficult when we were at the store earlier.  She was a huge help and other than melting the chocolate could probably have made the whole recipe without me.

The recipe calls for adding orange zest.  I did not plan for that so I didn’t have an orange.  Funny, since I almost bought one at the store the other day.  I must have been trying to tell myself something.  Luckily, this was optional and I don’t feel like I was missing anything by leaving it out.  Although Ella, who loves to grate and zest things, was a bit disappointed.  The recipe also called for bittersweet chocolate which I also didn’t have so I used 2 ounces of semisweet and a half of unsweetened.  As far as I could tell this didn’t affect the outcome at all.  The brownies turned out nice and moist and just the right amount of sweet and a whole lot delicious.

These are the perfect little sweet treat for after school or for dessert after lunch with friends.  Perhaps you have company for tea and want a little something sweet — these are just the thing.  Dipping the brownies into white chocolate dresses them up a bit and makes them extra special.  They definitely seem like more trouble than they are — which is such a nice thing.  It’s good to have easy little treats like these that still seem like something special in you repertoire.

So even if these Brownie Rounds did present me with a tempation or two (considering I probably shouldn’t eat anymore of them since I’ve already eaten most of them by myself), they are totally worth it.

Note: I’m new to Tuesdays with Dorie, so I’m not sure whether or not I’m supposed to post the recipes.  If you’d like the recipe for Brownie Buttons, please click on the link above for Two Scientist Experimenting in the Kitchen.  Thanks!


An International Affair March 20, 2009

Irish Soda Bread 


Irish Soda Bread


This was a busy week.  St. Patrick’s Day just screamed at me to make Irish Soda Bread.  Tuesdays with Dorie called and, of course, I had baking class.  Oh…so many things to bake.  So little time.  


My daughters and I had a playdate on Monday.  A friend of ours had a little St. Patrick’s Day lunch.  I offered to bring the Irish Soda Bread.  A group in my baknig class had made this last week and I loved its yellow hue and tender crumb.  If you’ve never had soda bread, it’s a bit like scones only bigger.  It’s not very sweet but the raisins offer a nice contrast to this.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a bit of a sweet tooth.  That is precisely why I added a nice dusting of sugar on the top of my loaf.  It added a subtle crunch as well as a little sweetness.  Personally, I could have used even more sugar on top.  I found this recipe to be a little too bland.  A few more raisins would help too.

Normally, I would post all the projects we made in baking class but I forgot my camera.  Our group made bread this week.  We made olive oil bread, a fabulous recipe created by our lab assistant.  It’s a soft, squishy bread flavored lightly with olive oil and molasses.  Fresh out of the oven, it is brushed with an olive oil, salt, and garlic mixture.  Oh…it is a thing of beauty.  We also made foccacia topped with carmalized onions, tomatoes, and olives.  This stuff is amazing.  It’s my new favorite.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it!  Lastly, although not bread, we made biscotti.  Dipped in chocolate.   Again…dee-licious!  I had actually never had biscotti before.  I’m not a fan of hard cookies, but these were really good.  They were studded with pecans, cranberries, and white chocolate.  Very nice.

So…this brings me to Tuesdays with Dorie.  The selection for the week was French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze.  This sounded good to me.  It wasn’t chocolate, but it seemed like a nice choice.  It was super easy to make.  I would

French Yogurt Cake

French Yogurt Cake

venture to guess even a novice could make it.  It didn’t require any fancy equipment and, all except for the lemon marmalade, the ingredients were pretty common.  I whipped this cake up in the midst of kitchen chaos.  A mini tornado in the form of a 19-month-old girl who decided to empty out my baking cabinet.  Somehow, I managed to bake it up without breaking anything.  


When the cake was done baking, it was a deep brown.  I was worried it might be too dry if I overbaked it.  While still warm, I brushed it with orange marmalde (couldn’t find the lemon).  The top turned all glisten-y and inviting.   Sitting on my counter, it still drew a lot of attention.  I could barely control my desire to just break off a piece.  One of my daughters cleaned her plate to make sure she got a piece.  That’s a feat in and of itself.

Dessert time came.  I whipped up some lightly sweetened cream to top off the cake.  I served it up to my three girls first.  All three of them devoured it and not just the whipped cream.  Another feat!  My husband thoroughly enjoyed it as well.  As for me?  Well…let me tell you a little story.

Today after lunch, I wanted something a little sweet.  On my counter was the last remaining peice of French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze and a 3-pack of Ferrero-Rocher chocolate hazelnut candy (my favorite!).  I reached for the candy.  My intention was to only take one piece…but, alas…I decided on the cake instead.  That is how good this cake is.  No — it’s never going to replace chocolate but it is a nice change.  It’s not too sweet and the marmalade glaze made a sticky goodness that I loved.  The cake was actually moist and even though it was a deeper shade of brown than I expected, that added a nice change in texture from the cake itself.  It’s the kind of desset that doesn’t seem like a dessert at all, but is still satisfying.

I think this one is a keeper!

with Fresh Whipped Cream

with Fresh Whipped Cream











French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze

from Baking From My Home to Yours

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 ground almonds (or just use 1/2 cup extra flour)

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used an orange)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 1/2 cup flavorless oil, like canola or safflower

 For the Glaze

 1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained (I used orange)

1 teaspoon water

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter an 81/2-x-41/2-inch loaf pan and place pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and zest in a medium bowl and rub the zest in the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Add the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla.  Whisk vigorously until the mixture is well blended.  Still whisking, add the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula adn fold in the oil.  You’ll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen.  Scrape batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan.  It should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan.  Unmold and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Put the marmalade in a small saucepan or a microwave-safe bowl.  STirl i nthe the water adn heat until the jelly is hot and liquefied.  Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.


Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake March 16, 2009


Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

Some of my friends and I get together every year for St. Patrick’s Day.  We’ve been doing this for years now.  We’ve lost track exactly how long, but we estimate about 9 years.  Every year we threaten to keep notes because inevitably, we always try to figure out when something or other happened.  The tradition is to go out to dinner at Bennigan’s and then come back to our house for dessert.


This  year I felt a little pressure to make something fabulous.  Everyone knows I”m in baking school, so how could I make something second rate?  After careful deliberation, I decided whatever I made had to be chocolate.  All right, I didn’t really deliberate at all.  I always knew it would be chocolate…but what?? 

Of course, I began to look through Baking from My Home to Yours.  And this is what I found…Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake.  Who…I ask you…who could resist that?  (Besides someone with a peanut allergy…)  

A full page photo of the cake showed a rich chocolate cake drenched in caramel and topped with peanuts.  It looked amazing.  I knew this was it!

The cake was very easy to make.  Not much to it really, just a basic chocolate cake recipe.  In fact, it was so basic, I was a bit disappointed.  Not at the ease of it.  Gosh, no…I love ease.  The problem was that it seemed, well, ordinary.  It was a dry and not as chocolatey as I had hoped.  I also thought the name was misleading.  It didn’t really resemble a brownie.  All of that could have been my fault.  I am notorious for overmixing my cakes.  I was really careful though so I don’t think it was.

The caramel topping, on the other had was fabulous.  FAB-U-LOUS!  There is nothing like homemade caramel.  You just can’t buy that stuff in a jar.  The peanuts were stirred into the caramel and were completely covered with the gooey stuff before the whole pot was poured over the cake top.  The caramel oozed over the sides just a bit.  The peanuts sat on top in all their glory.  It was a beautiful cake to look at the.  

And it tasted good.  Don’t get me wrong about it being dry and ordinary.  It still tasted good.  The caramel and peanuts made the cake though.  Without them I wouldn’t have wanted to serve it.  The peanuts gave it a nice, yummy crunch that was a nice contrast to the cake.  The caramel firmed up and was just a touch chewey which gave the whole thing a bit more complexity.  

Everyone like it.  I don’t think anyone didn’t.  But I didn’t get the WOW factor I was hoping for.  Oh well…I guess there is always next year.  

Just a slice

Just a slice


Lemon Cup Custard March 12, 2009

It seems that anyone who loves baking knows about Tuesdays with Dorie.  This is a group of bakers who take turns

Lemon Cup Custard

Lemon Cup Custard

 each week choosing recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours.  After they all make the recipe, they share it and their comments on their own blogs.  I had been eyeing this cookbook in the book store for awhile now, but I as I notoriously never look at the author (terrible of me, I know, after all the work they put into them), I didn’t know the significance of this particular book.  As soon as I put two and two together, I ran out to get it…okay I waited for a 30% off coupon from Borders , but still…


Although I am not a member, I have been wanting to try the recipes from Tuesdays with Dorie and now that I have the book, here’s my first attempt: Lemon Cup Custard.

I had read on other blogs that the custard was eggy and not very lemony so I made a few adjustments.  First, I decided to half the recipe.  I wasn’t sure of how successful this would be so I didn’t want to waste any.  I didn’t half the lemon zest.  I kept that as is and added 1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract in hopes of making the custard more lemony.  I also steeped the zest for much longer than the 30 minutes it called for in the recipe.  Also, I decided not to strain out the lemon zest when adding the milk.  Although I was worried what this might do to the texture, I was really hoping to add some zing to the custard.

The results, in my opinion, are mixed.  I didn’t think it was very eggy at all.  Maybe it was because I expected it to be or maybe because it is a custard and custard is supposed to be, well, eggy.  The texture was very smooth and creamy, although, like I feared, this was disturbed by the zest.  Luckily, though, most of the zest rose to the top.  Unfortunately, despite all my efforts, it didn’t turn out very lemony at all.  My husband actually liked the subtle lemon flavor.  I would have preferred more tartness to it.  So, I guess my conclusion is that the execution was successful.  The custard itself was good and a super, super easy recipe to make.  If you’ve never made a custard before, this would be a good one with which to start.  The book offers a few different variations and you could definately come up with your own.  Personally, next time I make this, I will definately add more extract or something to bring out that lemon flavor more.

Lemon Cup Custard

From Baking From My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

2 1/4 cups whole milk (I used skim and it turned out fine)

Grated zest from one lemon

4 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

Pure lemon oil or lemon extract (I used 1/4 teaspoon for half this recipe)

Have six 6-ounce custard or coffee cups at hand.  Put the milk and zest in a saucepan and bring just to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Cover and set aside for 30 minutes so the zest can infuse the milk with its flavore.  Reheat the milk before mixing the custard.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels and put the custard or coffee cups in the pan.  Have a fine-mesh strainer at hand.  Fill a teakettle with water and put on to boil.  When the water boils, turn off the heat.

In a 1-quart glass measuring cup or a heatproof bowl, whisk the eggs adn sugar together until well blended.  Still whisking, strain in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk little by little — this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won’t curdle.  Whisking all the while, slowly strain in the remaining milk.  Discard the zest remaining in the strainer.  If you’d like a stronger lemon flavor stir in a few drops of lemon oil or extract into the custard.  Don’t go overboard — 1/8 teaspoon extract, less if you’re using oil, is about all you’ll need.

With a spoon, skim the foam off the top of the custard, then pour the custard into the cups.  Very carefully slid the roasting pan into the oven, then pour enough hot water from the teakettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups.

Bake the custards for 40-45 minutes, or until they jiggle only in the center when you tap the cups lightly.  Transfer the custard to a reack and cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.