Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TWD: All in One Holiday Bundt Cake

Hey folks! I feel like I need to issue a serious apology for not having posts of any real substance these days. It's been a serious lack of posts or "here's the recipe, see you later" around here lately. Sorry! Hopefully I can get my act together after the holidays.

Anyway, for this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe, I made the All in One Holiday Bundt Cake which was chosen by Britin of The Nitty Britty.

This puppy is going in the freezer until Saturday when our family gets together for Thanksgiving. I'll also add the cream cheese icing glaze then (ooooh, can't wait!).

For now, I tried an unglazed piece so I could report on the taste. As I suspected, it is VERY good. Mostly, the pumpkin and spice flavor come through, but every now and there there's a little tart cranberry surprise. I grated half of the apple and cut the other half into tiny little pieces so there were no distinct hits of apple. But I'll bet it helped add to the moistness of the cake.

All in all, I'd call this cake a success.

OK, if you'd like to try this yourself, check out the recipe at Britin's blog, or better yet, get the book "Baking, from My Home to Yours", by Dorie Greenpspan.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake

We had a special guest in the kitchen this week.

An ingredient never before seen in these-here parts.

All the way from France... please welcome Chestnut spread, ladies and gentlemen!

For this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe, I made the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake chosen by Katya of Second Dinner.

Let me tell you about this cake. First up was the chestnut spread-filled cake, soaked with a brandy-brown sugar syrup. Next was the caramel chocolate frosting/filling. Then the jarred, chopped chestnuts. Finally, the whole kit-n-kaboodle was to be topped by a chocolate glaze.

For various reasons that I won't bore you with, I only made the cake and the caramel chocolate frosting.

The chestnut cake was very good on it's own. However, I'm afraid the moist and tasty cake was upstaged by it's supporting cast, the chocolate caramel frosting. Here it is, fresh from the mixer.

After cooling in the refrigerator and a healthy whipping in the stand mixer, the silky smooth frosting turned airy and fluffy. And delish!

I'll definitely make the frosting again. I'll bet it would be sublime with white cake. Although the cake was very good, I don't imagine I'll be making it often due to the cost of the chestnut spread. I ordered it online from The Frenchy Bee. It arrived in two days, but at $12 (including shipping), it's a bit pricey for an everyday cake.

OK, over and out until next week, folks! Be sure to check out all of the TWD bakers to see their delectible delights. For the recipe, stop by Katya's blog, or better yet, check out the book "Baking, from My Home to Yours", by Dorie Greenpspan

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisps

Nope, those aren't onions hiding behind this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe, Cran-Apple Crisps (chosen by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef... thanks, Em!). They're tulip bulbs.

The cool thing about tulips is that you plant them, you enjoy them for a number of years, then you dig them up and find that where there was one tulip bulb, there are now many tulip bulbs. They multiply! Kinda like rabbits.

Another cool thing about tulips is that a crisp fall afternoon spent digging them, separating them, and replanting them is a perfect excuse to indulge in a little afternoon snack like apple crisp. And if the apple crisp is chock full of the surprise ingredient, cranberries, well that's just bonus points as far as I'm concerned.

For the Cran-Apple Crisp, I followed the recipe exactly, except that I used dried cherries in place of the raisins, and I used a 1-1/2 quart dish and two ramekins. Some folks on the TWD forum mentioned that the crisp was a tad sweet, so I used a higher proportion of tart Granny Smith apples than the Fuji and Red Delicious apples. I thought it ended up a nice balance between sweet and tart.

I *really* liked this dessert.

A lot.

OK, folks, gotta run. "Somebody" still has tulip bulbs to plant.

Thanks so much to Em for a great pick. If you'd like to see the recipe, stop by Em's blog, or better yet, check out the book "Baking, from My Home to Yours", by Dorie Greenpspan.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TWD: Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies & Caramel Corn

Whew! I'm a day late for Tuesday's with Dorie this week. I've been running around like a chicken with it's head cut off for the past week!

I collaborated with my brother-in-law on the mother-of-all-Halloween-costume-paper-mache-projects. (I'll give an atta-boy to anyone who can guess what this is supposed to be. I know, it's kind of obscure.)

Then there were two batches of caramel corn to make. (By the way, it's so good and completely addictive. I'll share the recipe below.)

Throw in a 3rd grade concert...

... and school Halloween parties,

... and last but not least, my 30-foot long former weed patch. This is the last chance I'll get to work some organic matter into our lovely clay soil before winter, so I've been digging, digging, digging.

Among other things, I need a home for my strawberry plants that I foolishly thought I could contain in pots. I started with two plants, which multiplied to at least twenty. (Any and all strawberry growing tips are welcome as I obviously don't know what I'm doing.)

So anyway, that's my big long list of excuses why I'm late getting my Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies posted. Thanks so much to Pamela of Cookies with Boys for picking an easy recipe. Also, thanks to Laurie for allowing the Tuesday's with Dorie bakers to bake the recipes out of order this month. Pamela's pick isn't until later in the month, but it was the easiest one for me.

In a word, these cookies were fantastic! If you like molasses and fall spices, that is.

I really liked the method for making them too. I've never turned out such a perfectly uniform batch of cookies!

First, we were to chill the dough. Then cut into uniform sized pieces and roll into balls. A bath in sugar prepped them for the pan, where a (go Bengals!) glass was used to smoosh them down.

And voila! perfect cookies!

I will definitely make these again (and again). If you'd like to see the recipe, please check out Dorie Greenspan's book, "Baking, From my Home to Yours" or check out Pamela's site.

Caramel Corn

I would rate this at a medium difficulty recipe due to the hot caramel mixture.

3 quarts popped corn (I popped kernel corn on the stove. I'm not sure if this would work with microwave popcorn, but if you want to try, I wouldn't recommend a buttered version.)
1 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. dark or light corn syrup (I used dark)
1/2 C. margarine (I used 3 oz. butter and it was fine.)
1/2 tsp. salt
chopped nuts or peanuts (optional... quantity is to taste)
1/4 tsp. baking soda

Butter a 9" x 13" pan. (Note, I doubled the recipe and used a 12" x 18" pan.)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Pop your corn and spread evenly in the pan. Sprinkle nuts over top, if using. Have it nearby and ready when the sugar mixture is done boiling.

Bring the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the baking soda. Stir well as it froths up.

Pour sugar mixture evenly over the top of the popcorn. Stir the popcorn as best you can, but don't worry if the caramel mixture isn't evenly spread over all popcorn. It will distribute as you bake and stir later on.

Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Use a wide wooden spoon or spatula when you stir. Try to scrape up any fallen sugar from the bottom and turn over the popcorn. If some of the sugar sticks to the spoon, try to scrape it off and lay over any dry looking areas. Stir gently as the popcorn wants to spill out of the pan.