The Fabulous Baker Girl

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TWD: Split Level Pudding October 6, 2009

I have to confess that I really haven’t been baking lately.  I don’t know if it’s a combination of being busy or lazy or if it’s because in an effort to lose a few pounds I’ve just been staying away.  Or maybe it’s because my pumpkin doughnuts were just so darn good I can’t top them.

Whatever the reason, I still had my Tuesdays with Dorie to do.  I missed lack week I was busy and didn’t really manage my time well.  Since I don’t want to get kicked out, I figured I”d better get baking.

The Bottom Level

The Bottom Level

As it turns out, this weeks recipe doesn’t need to be baked.  Garrett of Flavor of Vanilla (http://theflavorofvanilla.blogspot.com/) picked Split Level Pudding — a nice vanilla pudding on top of a layer of chocolate ganache.   Mmmmm…I think I can handle that.

I just finished making these puddings.  They are really quite fun but I do think that the vanilla pudding was a bit fussy to make.  First you have to blend the eggs and sugar and then add the hot milk and then put it all back on the stove to thicken and then back to the food processor to blend in the butter and vanilla.  It just seemed to me that there had to be an easier, less fussy way to do this.  As my head is in a bit of a fog right now, this was not the time for me to find out.  No experimenting for me — just the straight up recipe as written by Dorie.

I was a little worried about the pudding not being thick enough.  Actually…I am still worried, as I have yet to actually try this pudding.  I did taste it while it was warm (yum!) but it seemed a bit loose.  I am hoping that chilling it will firm it up a bit.  I’m really quite excited about trying this tonight.  I think that the hidden gem of ganache underneath will really complement the vanilla pudding.

I hope I can wait that long…

The Top Level

The Top Level

A little extra vanilla pudding I saved for the girls

A little extra vanilla pudding I saved for the girls

 

Tuesdays with Dorie: Classic Banana Bundt Cake August 4, 2009

Solar oven and banana cake 017

Classic Bundt Cake with a drizzle of powdered sugar glaze

For those of you who don’t know, Dorie Greenspan is the author of Baking From My Home to Yours.  There is a group of organized bakers who choose recipes from the cookbook to try every week and then post about them on their blogs every week.  You can find them all at http://tuesdayswithdorie.wordpress.com/.  I recently noticed that they were accepting new members so I decided to ask if I could join.  I haven’t heard word back yet about whether or not I was accepted, but on the chance that I am, I baked up this weeks recipe:  classic banana bundt cake.

To be honest, I had mixed feelings about this recipe.  On one hand, I had a bunch of overripe bananas that were destined for the freezer if I didn’t use them.  Not mention, banana bread is one of my very favorite things in the entire world.  On the other hand, this was not banana bread and I’ve never really understood the idea of banana cake.  Like I said, I love banana bread especially all warm and oozing with melted butter but this doesn’t seem to pass as dessert.

In any case, I was still enthusiastic to give the recipe a try.  When I looked at it I was relieved to see it was quite simple to put together.  The perfect thing to whip up while my soup was cooking.  I was joined in the kitchen by Melanie, my 4-year-old.  She likes to help when I bake.  She was particularly intrigued when I told her what we were making, but then again she thought we were making “butt cake”.  I’m still laughing at that.

As I said, this recipe was easy to prepare.  The only problem I had was that I didn’t have a bundt pan so I used a regular cake pan.  I probably should have used two but it all turned out okay in the end.  I loved the banana smell that filled the house.  It’s such a warm and comforting smell.

Not surprisingly, my three girls didn’t want banana cake for dessert.  Nothing but ice cream for them.  However, after my little one was asleep and my oldest one was up reading with Dad, Melanie asked me if she could have a piece.  She said she had “forgotten” to brush her teeth so she could still eat something.  She sat on my lap and ate a slice.  It was a very big hit.  She made all the “MmMMMmmmmm!!!!” sounds you could imagine and said it was “Delicious!”.

I have to agree.  It was delicious.  Even without the proper pan, the cake baked up moist and surprisingly cake-like with a rich but not overpowering banana flavor.  It was just the right amount of sweet.  Even though Dorie says that it tastes better the next day, I ate two slice while still warm from the oven.  I’m not sure how it could get any better.  I guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

I’d have to say that this first Tuesday with Dorie was a success.

Although I do have to admit, to me, like I had predicted, this is much more of a snack cake.  You won’t find me serving this cake for dessert anytime soon but I think it may just find it’s way onto my breakfast table.  Or my snack plate.  Or my lunchbox.  Or…most notably, in my stomach.

 

Chocolate Cupcakes and a Birthday Celebration August 2, 2009

Filed under: Cakes,Chocolate,Dessert,Marth Stewart — amynb2008 @ 11:11 pm
Tags: ,

Ella's birthday party 017Ella’s birthday was a while ago but  just now got around to having a party for her and her friends.  She settled on an art theme.  Seven other girls invaded our “art studio” to make about five different art projects.

Of course, my very first question before deciding on what these projects were going to be was “what kind of cake do you want?”  Right away she settled on cupcakes.  I figured she’d go for a simple vanilla cake as she does not share my love of chocolate.  She surprised me though and asked for chocolate cupcakes.

And what my daughter wants….my daughter gets.

At least when it comes to chocolate cupcakes.

She also requested purple frosting with mini art palettes.  Easy enough to do.  I simply made the palette shape out of royal icing and then added the “paint” by painting on watered down food coloring.  I was going to add paint brushes but I didn’t have enough powdered sugar in my second batch of royal icing so it was too runny and they didn’t dry in time.  Oh well.  We perched the palettes  atop the chocolate cupcakes with purple frosting.  Very cute.

If you are anything like me and love chocolate, cake, or chocolate cake you’ll appreciate these cupcakes.  They are made in one bowl and are super easy to make.  The recipe says it makes two dozen but I get 2 1/2 dozen nice-sized cupcakes from it.  When I can get away with it, this is my go-to recipe any time I need a cake because they always turn out perfectly.  These are the cupcakes I gave Melanie for her first birthday (although not Ella — I wasn’t a baker yet and used *gasp* a box mix…please note my head is hung with shame).  They’re the easiest to make and always turns out moist and delicious.  Just my kind of recipe!  Thank you Martha Stewart!

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powdered (I’ve used regular with good results)

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large whole eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (do not forget the 2 tablespoons, they do make a difference)

1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cup warm water.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Into the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  (I usually just run the mixer on the lowest speed for a few seconds.)  Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the eggs, yolk, milk, oil, vanilla, and warm water.  Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.  Bake, rotating pans halfway through, for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one cake comes out clean.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool slightly.  Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Eat as is or add frosting (see my post Congratulations Salli for a good recipe).

 

Let’s Add Apple Crisp to the List June 8, 2009

Filed under: Crisps and Cobblers,Dessert,Dorie Greenspan,Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 1:49 am
Tags: , ,

I’ve notice that my last few entries have been a bit long.  I guess it’s no secret that I can be a little long winded.  I

Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

promise that I’ll try to keep this one short.

Friday was the last day of school.  My daughter’s last day of being a second grader.  I promised myself I wouldn’t cry but as I watched her walk in the building a second grader knowing that when she came out again she’d be a third grader, I got a little bit teary eyed.  These kinds of moments are always bittersweet.  I am so in trouble when she graduates.

To celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, I asked my daughter what she wanted for dinner.

Let me tell you a little bit about her.  She loves food.  She doesn’t just like to eat.  She loves food.  She’s a huge fan of the Food Network (and is eagerly awaiting the premiere of “The Next Food Network Star” tonight).  She loves watching the Challenge shows, particularly the cake ones.  She likes the show “Chopped”.  She’s a big help in the kitchen and can even help cut up soft things.  Her favorite food is shrimp.  She  is probably the only 7-year-old I know who knows what cilantro is.  Knowing all this, I was pretty sure we weren’t going to have hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese.

And I was right.  She wanted steak, potatoes, and green beans with Apple Crisp for dessert.   She has impeccible taste.

Apple crisp is not in my usual repoitre so I had to look it up.  The first one I found was from “Baking From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan.  It was actually a cran-apple crisp but it was easy enough to throw together with ingredients that I had mostly on hand.  I left out the cranberries and just stuck with the apples.  I also added peanuts to the topping.

The recipe was straight foward: peel and slice the apples, mix with sugar and flour, stick all the topping ingredients into a food processor and pulse.  Easy peasy!

I stuck it in the oven and soon, despite it being early June, the scent of October wafted through my house.  I may not be into fruit as dessert but the scent of cooked apples is just heavenly.

The crisp finished cooking shortly after we sat down to dinner.  By the time we were ready for dessert it had cooled off enough for it to be pleasantly warm.  My husband and I usually eat our dessert after the girls go to bed in order to get maximum enjoyment our of it but as per our daughter’s request, we ate with the girls.

I took a bite and thought, “Well…this isn’t bad.”

I took another bite and thought, “Hmmm…this is pretty good.”

I took another bite and said aloud, “Hey…this is really good!”

My husband looked and me and said, “You sound surprised.”

The truth is, I was.  I wasn’t expecting it to taste so satisfying and comforting, and just plain delicious (especially since I got distracted and forgot to add the cinnamon and ginger to the topping).  I used 2 granny smith apples, 1 fuji, and 1 golden delicious.  This was a really nice combination of flavors and textures.  It wasn’t too sweet and the consistency of the thickened juice was just right.  The topping was equally nice.  It had a nice crunch to it but wasn’t so overwhelming that it took over the apples.  The peanuts, while not doing much for flavor, added a nice bit of texture here and there.  Since  I forgot to add the cinnamon and ginger to the topping when I made it, I sprinkled just a little cinnamon on top.  To be honest, I really didn’t think it needed anything else.  There was just a faint hint of the cinnamon so it wasn’t overpowering at all.

All in all, I have to say that this was a success.  I definately have to add it to my list of acceptable fruit dessert — please see “Pineapple Upside Down Cake” to see the short, but complete list.

Apple Crisp

based on the recipe for Cran-Apple Crisp from “Baking From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan

Filling:

4 medium apples (I used 2 granny smith, 1 fuji, and 1 golden delicious), peeled, cored, and sliced

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Topping:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/2 cup peanuts

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces.

Cinnamon, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

The original recipe calls for buttering 8 ovenproof 1-cup bowls but I used one big, stone baking dish.

Toss together apples, sugar, and flour.  Pour into your baking dish(es).

Pul all of the topping ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture forms big curds.  (This can be prepared 3 days ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight bag.)  Sprinkle topping over the apples.  You will have extra of the topping.  Since I left out the cranberries, there wasn’t as much filling as in the original recipe but I didn’t adjust the amounts in the topping to this.  Next time I would.

Bake the crisp for about 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filing is bubbling away.  Let rest for a few minutes (at least 10 for individual crisps and 15 for one big one) before serving.

 

Nigella is a Genius! April 6, 2009

Filed under: Chocolate,Dessert — amynb2008 @ 9:00 pm
Tags:

 

Chocohotopots

Chocohotopots

Nigella Lawson.  She’s my hero.  My husband always teases me that I have a girl-crush on her.  I think it’s true.  I mean, how can you not love a woman who eats like that, looks like that and makes no apologies for anything.  

 

I have most of her cookbooks and I have found some true gems in them but none more gem-y than the Chocohotopots.  Named by her son, these little pots of joy are beyond perfection.  The best way I can describe them is that they reminiscent of a half baked brownie — only better.  They are warm and gooey and…and…and…words escape me.  Really.

Not only am I lucky enough to have access to this recipe.  I have a husband who actually makes them for me.  Yes, I am the luckiest woman in the world.  Nigella really has nothing over me.  He usually makes it when I need a chocolate fix or have had a hard day or just wants some of my attention.  This is bound to get it my attention away from anything.  It just so happened that these particular Chocohotopots were made by me.  Hey, men like chocolate too!  

These are so easy to make and yet so impressive.  Perfect in their simplicity, they require no other accompaniment.  You just can’t go wrong with these, no matter what the occasion.  I highly recommend them.  They are good after a nice romantic meal.  They are good when you want to impress someone.  They are good for company.  You name it — these are the way to go!

Try this one.  If you do nothing else.  Try this.  These won’t let you down.

Nigella Lawson.  She’s a genius.  Genius, I tell you!

Words escape me...

Words escape me...

Chocohotopots

from Feast by Nigella Lawson

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (60% cocoa solids, I use Ghiradelli)

2 eggs

3/4 cup superfine sugar (just use regular)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white chocolate chips or morsels (we usually just use regular chocolate chips)

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.  Butter four 2/3 cup ramekins.  Either microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate then set aside to cool a little.

In another bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and flour (you can use a whisk).  Beat in the cooled butter and chocolate mixture.  Fold in the white chocolate.  Divide batter between the four buttered ramekins.  Bake in the preheated oven on the preheated tray for about 20 minutes.  The tops will be cooked and cracked — like a macaroon — and they chocolate grungy and gooey underneath.

Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve.  Be careful — they will be hot.