My wonderful friend Sarah is visiting this weekend from Vancouver. So far we have done a dessert tour through Georgetown, met Dave Grohl, rescued a lost dog in my neighborhood, saw The US Constitution, Julia Child’s kitchen and the Hope Diamond, and have basically eaten our way through many delicious spots around DC. Sarah is one of my oldest friends, and she’s also makes some of the best cakes I have ever had. She was very excited about checking out my copy of Baked Occasions, and immediately zeroed in on the Sweet Potato Tart with Gingersnap Crust and Heavenly Meringue.
I am so glad she picked that recipe, because it is incredibly delicious. We still have half of it in the fridge and I am already thinking of making it again. I’m also brainstorming other recipes I can put the Heavenly Meringue topping on, because we were just eating it by the spoonful. Toasting it was a bit of a challenge. I used my husband’s new butane cigar lighter until it ran out of fuel, and a regular lighter really doesn’t cut it. I think I might actually have to buy a real blow torch.
I had to bake my tart for quite a bit longer than the recipe called for, but other than that it was easy to make. And it is very easy to microwave sweet potatoes, and will save you a lot of time over roasting them.
This tart would make a really excellent Thanksgiving dessert, because it is a great twist on sweet potatoes with mini marshmallows that is such a weird staple at many Thanksgiving meals.
So this week, Candy Bar Cookies. The basic idea is to wrap chocolate cookie dough around a smooshed bit of candy bar, and then add an artful topping of more chocolate and sprinkles. (I went for the Jackson Pollock technique in my white chocolate application.)
The good news is that these were really tasty, and my co-workers really liked them! The bad news, these were a disaster to make. I heard warning bells right off the bat when I read the instructions and saw “the dough will look sandy.” That usually ends well.
I was hopeful that the hour spent chilling would help the dough stick together a bit more, but alas, it was not to be. My attempts at rolling and cutting the dough into well ordered circles was quickly abandoned for the much better technique of grab, smoosh and roll. I committed wholeheartedly to making a mess out of myself and my kitchen, and thankfully, unlike many baking experiments where you abandon a good portion of the recipe, it worked out just fine.
The recipe suggested using miniature Peanut Butter Cups, Mounds Bars, Rolos and Three Musketeers. I went with a mix of Snickers, Caramel Milky Ways, Mounds and Three Musketeers. By far the most delicious result was the Mounds. Something about the coconut texture and the dark chocolate just worked amazingly well. The other three were just overly sweet, and ones including caramel resulted in more caramel melted outside of the cookie than inside.
I don’t know if I would make these again. I do like having smaller cookies to take to the office, and they are a fun treat. However, it was tedious assembling everything together.
This Banana Caramel Pudding with Meringue Topping was delicious, and not too difficult. I decided to start making it at 9:30 last night, which meant that I was spooning on meringue topping at midnight. (But it was well worth staying up late for, and I’m a bit of a night owl anyway so I doubt anyone will be surprised that I spent a Saturday night making a fancy dessert.) Custard recipes always strike me as sounding a lot more difficult than they are, when really it’s not much more complicated than stirring hot milk. My caramel was basically bits of hard caramelized candy floating in cream, which was a surprising result. I decided to just go with it, and thankfully the solid bits of sugar gradually dissolved into the rest of the custard as it cooked.
If I decided to make this again, I would skip the meringue. It’s a great idea that didn’t hold up well in the fridge. I expected it to have a bit of crunch, but it turned very spongy overnight. Someone in the comments mentioned that they were excited to eat their puddings for breakfast, I don’t think I can emphasize how much I thought that was a great idea. (I have, on occasion, been known to replace proper meals with dessert, though rarely with breakfast. In this case though, I feel like I could make a strong argument that bananas, eggs and milk are already halfway to being a so called proper breakfast.) I tucked these away in the fridge around one, looking forward to a seeing how well they paired with a nice cup of coffee.
All in all, they are a great way to start a Sunday morning.
This is recipe for Bourbon, Vanilla, and Chocolate Milk Shakes and Simple Chocolate Syrup is incredibly easy, and very tasty. I’ve been making a lot of ice cream lately, so it was a cinch to whip up a batch of vanilla. I usually use the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream recipe. If you’re interested in trying your hand at making your own ice cream, I highly recommend her cookbook. I’m a Columbus, Ohio native, so I have a soft spot for Jeni’s, but her cookbook is indeed easy to follow and has a lot of interesting and unusual flavor combinations. The chocolate syrup was really easy too, and turned out to be surprisingly thick and fudgy. I’m not a huge fan of chocolate syrup, I find most recipes taste like sugar, and not at all like chocolate. I added a pinch of instant coffee to the mix hoping it would intensify the flavor, but it still ended up overly sweet for my tastes.
All in all, this was a delightful treat for a hot summer day.
I’ve never made an angel food cake before, though it is one of my favorite desserts. Generally cakes are my some least favorite things to make. I find them to be really fussy to get right, and I have too often been left with dense, dry textures or frosting that won’t set right. Though angel food cake may require a ridiculous amount of egg whites, a specific pan, and the strange instruction to invert the whole thing immediately after removing from the oven, I found it to be surprisingly easy to make.
It mainly involves whipping egg whites with superfine sugar and flavoring until they form stiff peaks, and then gently folding in flour. It reminded me of making marshmallow fluff, and come to think of it, angel food cake does have a light, fluffy, sticky quality akin to marshmallows. And, it is wonderfully, delicious. I substituted almonds for the pistachios called for, and thought it was an excellent topping with the lime glaze. The cake was supremely moist, and lightly sweet. I used barely any of the lime syrup, since I didn’t really care for it when I tried it, but I do think they small amount that I used was plenty to add a refreshing sweet tartness.
I look forward to making more angel food cakes in the future, though I would recommend skipping that flavor combination unless you are crazy about limes.
I was a bit flummoxed by the superfluous egg yolks. I decided to try my hand a vanilla frozen custard, as I don’t use my ice cream maker nearly enough. I used Alton Brown’s recipe, if anyone else needs ideas on what to do with ten extra egg yolks. It is very tasty!
Bale Bars-you can’t go wrong with peanut butter and pretzels generally, and combining them with some sugar, butter and white chocolate to form a bar cookie is just genius.
These were delicious and very quickly devoured. I really should have cut this recipe in half and made it in an 8 inch pan.
I did find them a bit difficult to cut. I ended up with many delicious crumbly bits left over, which I was thinking would have made a great ice cream topping, but in the end we just scooped them up and ate them plain.
I don’t know if I can ever make these again because they were too dangerous to have around our house!
Next week: Lime Angel Food Cake
I think this Chocolate Whiskey Tart may be one of my favorite recipes from Baked (the Whiskey Pear Tart is my absolute favorite, clearly I have a thing for boozy tarts). It is really easy to make, and is seriously delicious if you like chocolate.
I did skip the whipped cream, since I was bringing this to a friend’s house and didn’t think that it would travel well. I think it would be delicious with a whipped topping, but it is really great with just the chocolate filled tart as well. The whiskey flavor was not overpowering, and mostly added depth to the chocolate. I would recommend omitting the salt from the crust, but other than that this was spectacular.
Did I mention that it’s really really tasty?
Next: Bale Bars
Eh…I was not crazy about this recipe. I omitted the lime completely and cut the recipe in half, which neatly used up a single miniature bottle of champagne. Considering how much I love champagne, it was a relief to not have to waste much of it. If you like sorbet, snow cones or slushies, you will probably like granita. Unfortunatley for me, most frozen desserts that aren’t ice cream just make me wish that I was eating ice cream.
Pros-this is really easy to make if you’re planning on being near your freezer for a six hour block of time, and lemon and sugar are always delicious together. Negatives-this tastes very strongly of wine, and well, it’s just ice.
I had absolutely no desire to eat more than a spoonful. It would have been better without the champagne, or with vodka instead perhaps! Like a limoncello. Come to think of it, I just wish I had made limoncello.
Next week:Whiskey Chocolate Tart
I adore panettone, it’s one of those things that pops up every Christmas, just like how suddenly everything is pumpkin flavored in October, and then peppermint flavored in December. I’ve never had homemade panettone, in fact I don’t know anyone who’s ever even attempted it. My experience is limited to a co-worker who brings the boxed version into work every year around the holidays. This Chocolate-Chip Orange
version is glorious, and such a wonderful variation on the traditional flavors. I had most of the ingredients on hand, except for the iconic panettone wrapper. Baked Elements mentioned a few alternatives, such as a metal coffee can (now that is an experiment for another day), but I found my local Sur La Table selling the wrappers for only a dollar.
This recipe called for homemade candied orange peel, something that I have never eaten, much less made. Luckily they were very easy, basically just boiling orange peels, and then boiling them again in sugar syrup. They turned into something similar to gummy candy, and the leftover syrup was really nice in tea. I used clementines because I had some on hand in my fridge and figured this would be a great recipe to use them up.
The texture didn’t turn out quite like I expected, a bit more like a cake than bread. I may have over baked it a touch. I waited until the thermometer reached the specified temperature, but I think it would have been better to take it out earlier. Luckily it was still really delicious, and a great combination of flavors, I love citrus anyway, and the orangey flavor of the cake combined with the sweetness from the chocolate chips is supremely tasty. Happy holidays!
Next week: Lemon Lime Champagne Granita