Malted Crisp Tart

I made the Sweet Potato Tart last year and loved it, so I decided to make an alternate that I missed when the group was working their way through Baked Explorations, the Malted Crisp Tart.  I love making tarts, and this one has been on my ‘to bake’ list for awhile.

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I decided to try making mini tarts in a muffin tin a la this post by the Great Bake Company.  I was a little worried that they wouldn’t come out of the pan, but thankfully they slid right out. I’ve made caramelized rice krispies once before, for Dorie Greenspan’s Crispy Topped Brown Sugar Bars, and I think they are wonderfully versatile.  I keep meaning to make a batch and adding them to ice cream (chocolate malt crunch ice cream anyone)?

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There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but nothing terribly difficult.  The tart crust was buttery, and you layer ganache and malt vanilla pudding on top with the crunchy rice krispies. Assembling everything together was easy, and I thought the tartlets came out looking adorable.  They made a delightful two bite treat.

Baked Sunday Mornings

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Olive Oil Orange Bundt Cake

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My friend Sarah recommended this delicious cake recipe after she tried it last week. I missed it on the schedule the first time around, which is a shame, because I think I would have made it a dozen times by now. It came out with a perfectly moist texture, scented with fragrant oranges. Easy to make too, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. The only problem I’m having is whether I’ll be able to save any to take to work tomorrow.

It’s a paste….

I was trying to figure out what to title this post, because I don’t feel like “Chocolate Hazelnut Spread” accurately describes what I ended up with. Have you ever looked at a recipe and thought “Wow, this is going to be so easy! And it will only take like twenty minutes! And will be amazingly delicious!” I may have jinxed myself with my over optimistic attitude. I have never made nutella before. I was expecting a creamy, chocolate frosting like spread.  Instead, what resulted was kind of a disaster. I found hazelnuts at Trader Joe’s, sadly with the skins on. I tried the baking soda boiling water bath method to loosen the skins, as recommended by a fellow baker, but unfortunately for me I still had a lot of trouble.  I wound up sitting over a bowl of nuts rubbing each one to individually get the skin off…after about half an hour the futility of my efforts seemed ridiculous, so I gave up and moved on to toasting the nuts as is.
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I placed the result in a food processor, expecting everything to turn into a delicious looking nut butter. Unfortunately, after a few minutes it did not look like it was going well.  I decided to move on to adding the rest of the ingredients, at which point my food processor started to protest. We have a house guest staying with us this week, and we had an amusing conversation standing over my food processor full sandy looking nut dust. “Maybe you should add more oil?” “Or some milk, maybe?”  I ended up doing both, resulting in sandy looking nut paste. All of the would be ok if it actually tasted like Nutella, unfortunately it just tasted kind of bland. Not very chocolatey and oddly quite a bit more like almonds than hazelnut. Maybe I should have toasted the nuts longer?Spread
I actually looked at a different hazelnut spread recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, which sounded like it would work a lot better. It had the line “Grind the nuts in a food processor until pasty (the nuts will be stuck to the sides of work bowl)” , which sounded exactly like what happened to me. And then you add chocolate chips, condensed milk and honey, which also sounded like it would have produced a creamier and more delicious result.
At the end of all this my husband wondered into the room and asked what we had made.
“It’s a paste.” My friend said.
“Does it taste like Nutella?” he asked.
“No.” I said, bemused.
Then my husband scooped out a spoonful. “It’s… interesting.” he said, taking a bite. That pretty much sums it up. I may try to whip them up into some brownies and see what happens, at this point I don’t think I can make it worse.
Til next time!
Next week : Alfajores

Sunrise Key Lime Tarts

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Sunrise Key Lime Tarts, what a delightful name. This tart could easily be called a margarita tart. Salt, tequila, limes and triple sec, a delightful summer cocktail, and a delightful twist on key lime pie.  Full disclosure though-I actually hate key lime pie.  One of my husband’s happiest birthday desserts was the year my dad made him a key lime cheesecake, which ironically combined the only two desserts I generally cannot stand, but that my husband adores. This is not to say that I do not love citrus, I do! But generally I prefer a generous helping of sugar to cut their tartness.  So I wasn’t expecting to love this recipe, but wanted to try it since I knew that my husband would love it.  Bonus, the instructions seem really easy.

Pretzel crust, where have you been all my life.  Long ago I concluded that graham crackers for crusts pale in comparison to practically every other cookie-vanilla wafers, oreos, ginger snaps, short bread, I could go on. But never had it occurred to me the possibilities of pretzels. I think that a vanilla wafer pretzel combination crust might be ideal. The pretzels went into a food processor for a spin, then added to melted butter and a bit of sugar. Pressed into mini pie pans, they were then baked for about ten minutes.

The custard bit was also easy to put together, lime zest and juice, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk.  The recipe called for a bit of tequila, but I used cachaca, a Brazilian rum, since that’s what I had on hand. It’s featured in a lime cocktail called a caipirinha so I knew that it would go as well with the recipe as tequila. It didn’t seem like I had nearly enough liquid to fill the pie tins, so I ended up with relatively flat tarts.

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I was a little worried about their appearance when I put them in the oven. The lime zest and the yellow custard looked a lot like quiche with green onions. I’m not really sure how I could improve upon that, except to completely cover the top with whipped cream.

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My husband enjoyed these, and I would probably make them again for people who really like key lime pie (or margaritas, I’m looking at you Mom.) I had a couple of bites to taste test, and well, it tastes like key lime pie. The sweet tart combination with the pretzel salt was really refreshing actually, but those two bites were enough for me. Have a good week everyone!

Next week:Black and White Cookies.

Baked Sunday Mornings

Carrot Coconut Scones with Citrus Glaze

I decided to forgo this week’s recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter fondue. It sounds amazingly delicious, and I am generally up for any sort of sweet treat, but apparently I draw the line at making myself a pot of what amounts to melted peanut butter cups. I think I will save that recipe for the lucky guests of a future party. So instead, I did a make up recipe that everyone raved about when they made it a couple of years ago-Carrot Coconut Scones with Citrus Glaze.SconesThese were amazing. The texture is light and airy, almost like a little cake. The carrot element is not too pronounced, though I did get some pretty flecks of orange from my lazily mashed carrots. I am crazy for coconut, but the real star of this recipe is the citrus glaze. It adds such a wonderful sweet/tart punch, while also keeping them very moist. I love making scones, and I have found that a simple powdered sugar glaze can make a so-so biscuit into a delicious, moist pastry. Especially if allowed to sit overnight to really let the glaze sink in a little bit. I also usually cut my scones into smaller sizes so there’s more to share.

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Have a great week everyone!

Next week:Cheddar Corn Soufflé | Baked Elements.Baked Sunday Mornings

Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Budino

PuddingThis week’s recipe is for Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Budino. If you’re like me, you might be unfamiliar with the term ‘budino’. A quick google search reveals that a “Budino is a sweet Italian dish, usually rich and creamy like a custard or pudding.” Well that sounds delicious. It is also very easy. Corn starch and eggs are used to thicken milk and cream, and then cooked at boiling temperatures for a few minutes. Then the hot mixture can be added to whatever flavorings strike your fancy, in this case, half a chocolate bar, vanilla and whiskey. It doesn’t take long at all to make, but it does it require a 2 hour chill. It would be a great make ahead dessert for a get together. IMG_2164 1The vanilla and chocolate are layered prettily on top of each other. I remembered how little I liked the “milk chocolate pots de creme” from a couple of months ago, so I decided to try dark chocolate instead of the milk called for in this recipe.  I really liked the change. The chocolate layer tasted very rich, like mousse. IMG_2162 1If I were to make this again, I think that I would go all chocolate. One layer with dark chocolate, one with milk chocolate. Chocolate shavings or some crushed up cookies would also be really tasty on top.  My husband and I have both been under the weather all week, so this was just the recipe to revive our appetites.

Have a great week!

Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies

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This week’s recipe was for Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies.  Since starting this blog I have come to the realization that I really don’t like molasses, so I almost skipped this week entirely.   Even the smell of molasses makes me wince, so when I see a recipe that features it I hesitate. With that in mind, I decided to forge ahead with a few changes. I googled “molasses substitutions”  and found that you can just as easily use honey, corn syrup, or maple syrup. So I cut the amount of molasses in half, replacing the rest with honey. The batter seemed a bit dry when it was finished, so I actually added a small amount of water until it seemed to hold together. I also added some chocolate chips to the batter. I left the dough chilling in my fridge for a few days, and decided to roll them out and bake them early Thursday before I had to leave for work. I put the dough in the microwave on defrost for about a minute, and they were very easy to roll out and cut. Since my cookie cutters were a bit smaller than the 4-5 inches called for, I baked for 1 minute less than recommended. Finally,  since I was in a chocolate chocolate chocolate kind of mood (which is pretty much every day), I skipped the called for frosting and simply drizzled a bit of melted chocolate over top. Though I don’t usually do much baking at 7am, I must say that I highly recommend it. I was in a fantastic mood for the rest of the day. It might also have been the chocolate cookie breakfast that had such an wonderful impact on my mood. 
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And I LOVED these cookies. The texture is great, very moist, and I highly recommend added chocolate chips or some finely chopped chocolate.  I wish I had upped the amount of ginger, but otherwise I would make these again with my changes. In fact I might make more for Valentine’s day next week.

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I took most of the cookies to a “No Boys Allowed” Magic Mike viewing party my friend called Galentine’s Day. Everyone seemed to really like them. And if you don’t know what Magic Mike is, it’s…well, it’s a lot of this-

It made for an excellent girl’s night movie. While I am tempted to leave an in depth review of the plot here, let me just say that if that gif strikes your fancy you will probably enjoy the movie.

Have a great week everybody!

Baked Sunday Mornings

Sunday Night Cake

Cake!This week’s recipe is for something called Sunday Night Cake from Baked Explorations. It’s a simple one layer yellow cake with a dash of cinnamon thrown in for a bit of spice. When a recipe calls for cinnamon I usually double or triple the amount, because I am crazy for cinnamon, but in this case I decided to follow the recipe as written. The cake was very easy to mix together, not even requiring so much as separating an egg. I guess that is what makes it an ideal “Sunday night cake.” The cake rose beautifully while baking, and after 45 minutes looked ready to come out of the oven.

While the cake was baking I worked on the frosting. I’ve never made a chocolate frosting like this one before, and I must say I was very impressed. It was quite easy and came out rich, thick, and easy to spread. I can see it becoming a standard frosting recipe in my repertoire.  Next time I make it I might use bittersweet instead of unsweetened chocolate, because it did taste quite dark. I would also add a bit of espresso powder or Kahlua, depending on what sort of dessert it would be paired with.

Overall I feel like the cake is just ok. There’s nothing wrong with it exactly, and I enjoyed a slice for breakfast with a cup of coffee, but I feel like it’s lacking in something. It is moist and has a good light texture, but I think it would be improved by jazzing it up a bit, adding in other flavors, like vanilla, bourbon, nutmeg or citrus. I even think it would be great with a handful of mini chocolate chips thrown in. I am crazy about the frosting though, and would definitely make that again.

Slice.Had a bit of trouble typing this morning with my Boston Terrier snoozing on my arm.Dog.

Have a great week everyone!
Baked Sunday Mornings

Classic Shortbread, and a Holiday Cake with Eggnog Buttercream

ShortbreadsThis was a great shortbread recipe. I love shortbread, but it is something that I rarely eat. Since it usually lacks a chocolate component, it is way down on my list of preferred desserts. However this is definitely a recipe that I would make again (maybe with a ganache drizzle on top). I think the first time that I made shortbread was for the Coconut bar recipe that we made several weeks back. I was impressed then at how easy it was to throw together, and this recipe is no different. Rice flour was a bit of a mystery ingredient, but I managed to track it down at a local grocery store this morning. I also didn’t have fleur de sel. After a quick google search I discovered that places like William Sonoma sell it for $14.95 for 8.8 oz., and while the loving descpription of “Fleur de sel, literally “flower of salt,” has been gathered on the island of Ré, off France’s Atlantic coast, since the seventh century,” was enticing, I just couldn’t bear the price when I had the same day purchased 26oz of Morton’s for 87 cents. I did, however, have Trader Joe’s sea salt. That, and a dash of some sugar crystals I had in the cabinet, made a deliciously savory and crunchy topping. I’m glad I cut this recipe in half, since my husband and I are steadily inhaling them. I think we would be comotose if I had made the full batch.ShortbreadI actually made the Holiday Cake a couple of weeks ago for my husband’s work party. I thought that I would have time to finish its post over the Christmas break, but in the midst of various holiday parties, traveling to Ohio to visit friends and family, and making a million fun recipes with mom (Bourbon balls, beer cheese bread, coconut cream pie, pecan pie, sweet potato souffle and many other delicious holiday foods,) I just ran out of time! On the bright side, the cake was delicious and fun to make. I would like to make it a yearly tradition. I love the description in the cookbook, especially the line about it being a cake for “a festive party drenched in champagne.” I’ve never whipped eggs by hand before, and thought that the note of “2-3 minutes” for soft peak was hysterically optimistic, but did resolve into the correct consistency eventually. I appreciated the little pep talk assuring us bakers that we could do it. The blend of spices and molasses smelled heavenly. I think that the cake, without adding the spice mixture, would make an excellent all purpose vanilla cake. It could even be the base for a lot of delicious flavor combinations.HolidayCake1

The frosting, however, was a disaster. I let the cream mixture cook for the recommended period on the stove.  It seemed to thicken some, but I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to thicken a little, or to solidify quite a bit. I wish the instructions had been clearer. I also wasn’t sure what the purpose was to whip milk/cream for an extended period of time  to let the mixture cool. Why not just put it in the fridge for ten minutes? I let it mix with ice packs against the mixing bowl, until to felt cool to me, and then added the butter, rum and the rest of the ingredients. My frosting looked right for approximately 20 seconds before it started to look curdled.HolidayCake4 I was left with a soupy, oily looking mess. Only saving grace was that it was actually delicious. However, also completely unusable. I had a nice pout on the couch for a few minutes over wasted ingredients (so much butter!) before deciding to scrap the frosting recipe.  I just went with the old stand by of mixing soft butter, powdered sugar, and a some liquid (in this instance, rum and egg nog). Hasn’t failed me yet. Added in spices, and it was delicious.HolidayCake5

After re-making the frosting I thought the cake was great. I would consider trying the original butter cream recipe again sometime, but I’ll need some time to get over the great buttercream disaster.

HolidayCakeI hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday break, and have a wonderful New Year!

Ginger Molasses Rum Cookies, Joe Froggers

I’ve never had “Joe Froggers” before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from them. I was hoping for something like a giant ginger snap. Unfortunately, I think I may have under-baked them a bit. They seemed done, and I baked them for a full 10 minutes, but they are really soft and sticky. It’s not bad, but I think I would have preferred a crisper cookie.  I cut the recipe in half, so it’s definitely possible that I mis-measured an ingredient here or there. I also skipped rolling them out and just scooped and flattened them into a disc. I was surprised at how much mine spread. Usually cut out cookies hold their shape pretty well. 

I really liked the first cookie that I ate, but the more I try the less I enjoy them. They taste very strongly of molasses, it’s overwhelming actually. I can taste a touch of ginger but the molasses flavor cuts through strongly. They remind me of historic baking samples that they hand out at tourist destinations like Colonial Williamsburg. It is certainly interesting to try, but I am thankful that current American desserts trend towards chocolate.
Baked Sunday Mornings