Jump to content
mktye

Dessert - The Polyphonic Dessert Blog

Recommended Posts

A lot of folks around here go out to HH on a whim, I tend to bake on a whim...

I recently tried out the Apricot Walnut Bars from the April issue of Gourmet. Quick and easy, just make sure to bake them long enough. I underbaked mine a bit (I wanted to sit down to dinner) and they suffered for it.

Yesterday, I made of a batch of Pate a Choux from an interesting recipe I ran across few months ago. The recipe includes a bit of sweetened, condensed milk and makes the tastiest puffs I've ever eaten. Not sure if the difference is noticable once they are filled, but they are quite irresistible straight from the oven. biggrin.gif

To stuff the puffs, I made two batches of coconut filling. One batch was made as written from the recipe JoeH posted in the "Coconut Cake" thread and the other batch made using unsweetened, dried coconut instead of fresh coconut. As much as I wish it did not make a difference (cleaning fresh coconut is a pain), the filling made with fresh coconut was considerably superior to the one with the dried coconut.

And I am still on a quest for the perfect yellow cake. I had been following a thread on eG where they were looking for one, but it has fizzled out and I am not satisfied with any of the recipes posted. However, I have two new recipes to test and plan to make at least one of them this afternoon.

What are you all baking these days?

---

[The following posts have been split into separate threads:

Grilled Peaches (xochitl10)

Páte Brisée (ktmoomau)]

Edited by DonRocks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I consider myself quite the baking hack in that I don't always follow baking recipes to a T once I've made them a few times.

One recipe that we make quite frequently in our house is Gale Gand's molten chocolate cake recipe (with freshly whipped cream instead of the mint sauce) from Epicurious. I love it because it lends itself to scaling down to 2 or 4 servings fairly nicely, and has not suffered from me changing it to 3 whole eggs for four servings instead of two whole eggs and two egg yolks. The batter even bakes up quite well in my daughter's tiny little muffin pan, staying just molten enough for her to enjoy it but not so much that we get a chocolate covered 2 year old.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/104604

The other standby in our house is Mark Bittman's chocolate mousse recipe. We recently celebrated three birthdays in April and I made a three layer yellow cake with two layers of mousse for each of them. The first cake had to be transported to PA in warm weather, so I baked the cake in a springform, reassembled it with the mousse layers back in the springform, and froze the whole thing overnight for transport. Glaze, carried separately in a container, was half bittersweet/half semisweet mixed with enough heavy cream for a good consistency and a bit of corn syrup for gloss. Assembling the cake in the springform was great for people like me who lack finesse when it comes to baking. The only potential downside is that each cake made about 20-25 very rich servings, and after three of them, we're a bit moussed out for a while.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, what is the last thing you want to do after making crackers and baguettes all week and then attending a fabulous picnic and over eating? That's right -- come home and bake some more! :)

However, my part of an intensely-negotiated treaty which bans trans-fats from the diet of residents of our household requires me to provide trans-fat-free snacks for other members of the household take to work. And upon returning from the picnic, I realized there were no appropriate goodies in the house (the ~2 million homemade crackers leftover from the picnic where deemed "not filling enough"), so it was time to make some bar cookies.

DATE OATMEAL BARS

makes ~24 rwtye-sized bars or 36 regular-sized bars

12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.

1.5 cups packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1 cup chopped dates

1.5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (toasted and cooled, if you have the time and energy), optional

Cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla and mix in thoroughly. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate, oats, dates and coconut (if using). Spread dough in a 9"x13" greased & floured (or lined with parchment paper) pan and bake at 350 degrees until the top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. Do not overbake the bars while watching a tivo'd episode of "The Soup". Cool in pan to room temperature before cutting into bars (or cut a few while still a bit warm and go to bed, leaving the rest to be dealt with in the morning).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And upon returning from the picnic, I realized there were no appropriate goodies in the house (the ~2 million homemade crackers leftover from the picnic where deemed "not filling enough")

The crackers I brought home were instantly devoured while being exclaimed over, and they disappeared in a flash. I wish I had taken more! I know that I will be making some soon, so thanks for posting the recipe. Absolutely fabulous!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an old recipe from BA or Gourmet for 'double chocolate pudding' that I love and made recently. It's surely available at Epi, but I'm not sure I have the name right. It's made with whole milk, chopped bittersweet and a few tablespoons of cocoa (plus other ingredients, I'm just mentioning the ones salient to me). For something made with only (!) whole milk (no creme, etc.) it tastes quite rich, it's really chocolatey, and the serving size is two, which is perfect for me and the +1 (after the +0.5 goes to bed!).

I've never tried to make chocolate pudding from any other recipe. They could all be this yummy (or even yummier!), I don't know. But goodness, do I like this one.

The ancilliary benefit? This was the second time recently that I've 'realized' I need a better saucepan. I also made turtle brownies from a recent CI, and fighting the scorched hot spots in my caramel (combined with scorched spots in pudding) made me realize i really need (not want, need) a good quality pan. [FYI, the turtle brownies were quite good. I had none of the nuts called for so subbed in hazelnuts, which were delicious.]

Anybody want to recommend a good quality, won't kill me to pay for it, won't have @#$@#$$^ hot spots sauce pan?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have an old recipe from BA or Gourmet for 'double chocolate pudding' that I love and made recently.
Is this the recipe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anybody want to recommend a good quality, won't kill me to pay for it, won't have @#$@#$$^ hot spots sauce pan?

FWIW, the klutz in me was never able to set a custard without curdling the bottom until I bought some All-Clad seconds. Now I don't even bother with the double boiler...and I'm cooking over electric. (Using an infrared thermometer gun also helped, but that's another story.) Pick up one of their sauciers and you'll wish they offered sets with sauciers instead of just saucepans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anybody want to recommend a good quality, won't kill me to pay for it, won't have @#$@#$$^ hot spots sauce pan?
You might want to look at this:

Cuisinart

I bought two different sizes (for even less money at amazon a few months ago) and I just LOVE them. No hot spots and they clean up beautifully.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is this the recipe?
Yep, that's it! I used Callebaut bulk chocolate that I bought at WF and Penzey's dutch cocoa. To be honest, I think that using good quality ingredients makes a huge difference in something like this. The recipe can be just ok, or reasonable, but with really good quality chocolate, everything else just seems only kinda-sorta important (at most). All just my humble opinion.

Thanks for the sauce pan recs (particularly the saucier--that's the style I had been leaning towards). Have you been happy with the service from cookwarenmore, ol ironstomach?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the sauce pan recs (particularly the saucier--that's the style I had been leaning towards). Have you been happy with the service from cookwarenmore, ol ironstomach?

Sorry, I can't say I've used them myself. I picked mine out at the Williams-Sonoma outlet in Leesburg, which let me decide which pieces had dings or lamination flaws I didn't want. CW'nM was mentioned in another thread here, and their product link was handy...perhaps modthinglet could share a personal shopping experience?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I decided to take a flyer on cookwarenmore and just ordered an All Clad 2 qt saucier with lid. While I would prefer to choose one with my 'dings of choice', there's no way I'm going to have a chance to get to an outlet to give them the once over. It's got the same allclad guarantee, and I can return it if I'm not happy with whatever imperfection there is, so I decided to give it a go.

I look forward to unscorched caramel in my near future, not to mention custards of perfection!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To be honest, I think that using good quality ingredients makes a huge difference in something like this. The recipe can be just ok, or reasonable, but with really good quality chocolate, everything else just seems only kinda-sorta important (at most). All just my humble opinion.
I agree and, as I recently discovered, it can be surprising where it does make a difference...

The first time I made the date/oatmeal bars I posted about up-thread, I used up the last of some Ghirardelli white chocolate chips. I didn't have time to search for more Ghirardelli chips for the subsequent batch and just used Nestle chips that I picked up at the commissary. I figured there would not be much difference in the white chocolate chips and all they really add in this instance is a bit of sweetness and some textural interest (and calories!).

However, rwtye came home from work the first day he took cookies from the non-Ghirardelli batch and told me they were still good, but not as good as the previous batch. :unsure: My initial response was "how could they be different -- I made them the same!", but then I remembered that I'd used the different white chocolate chips. I guess it shows that even in a rather minor role, a higher-quality chocolate can make a noticeable improvement in taste.

(But rwtye is still going to get cookies made with the Nestle chips until I run out of those. :P;) )

And, smokey, please let us know how the pan from cookwarenmore works out for you! B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last night's baking whim was raspberry streusel bars from a Cook's Illustrated recipe. I used to have another recipe for raspberry bars that I preferred but it seems to have gotten lost in my move and I just can't remember the source. Bummer. Of course, that didn't stop the bars from being quickly eaten by my office.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Last night's baking whim was raspberry streusel bars from a Cook's Illustrated recipe.
Do you think using fresh raspberries as called for in the CI recipe was worth the hassle and cost?

My favorite ones are the Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars from Gourmet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Do you think using fresh raspberries as called for in the CI recipe was worth the hassle and cost?

My favorite ones are the Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars from Gourmet.

The recipe I used didn't call for fresh raspberries although I do recall seeing a recipe on their site that did. These were just basic bars with jam. I saw that Gourmet recipe when I was searching for the other raspberry bar recipe and had flagged it to try. I figured it would go well with the whole Florida thing. I also thought a cocunt apricot variation would be good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After eating one of the salted caramel chocolates from Artisan Confections yesterday, I had a hankering for a hunk of caramel.

Made Fleur de Sel caramels from Epicurious. I made this a couple of times last winter and they were delightful. Tonight, they were still delightful, but much softer given that my house is currently 10 degrees warmer than it was in December.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made the chocolate and cocoa nib cookies from a recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini here. I used semisweet instead of bittersweet chocolate because I like a less dark-chocolatey cookie. The cookies are cakelike in texture and not very sweet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The cookies are cakelike in texture and not very sweet.
Speaking of cakey...

Last weekend, I was once again needing to bake some "healthy" snacks for rwtye to take in his lunch. I had just whipped us up some smoothies with two of the four very, very ripe, very, very black, very, very soft bananas sitting in the fruit bowl... Ah-ha! Banana cookies! After a bit of searching my cookbooks and the internet, I realized that banana bar cookies are not a common item. :unsure: So, armed with my favorite bar cookie recipe and a couple of others printed out from online, I decided to wing it...

Well, they came out fine, but a bit too cakey for rwtye's tastes. I'm thinking about decreasing the flour and upping the oats next time.

Does anyone have a good recipe for chewy banana cookies?

Here is what I ended up making:

CHUNKY MONKEY BARS

makes ~24 rwtye-sized bars or 36 regular-sized bars

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 very ripe bananas

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup chopped toasted walnuts

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla and mix in thoroughly, then add the bananas and mix in thoroughly. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate, oats, walnuts and coconut. Spread dough in a 9"x13" greased & floured (or lined with parchment paper) pan and bake at 350 degrees until the top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown, ~30 minutes. Cool in pan to room temperature before cutting into bars.

(Edited to update recipe with changes to make chewier cookies.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyone have ideas for a no-bake (relatively easy) dessert? My oven has decided to take a vacation from working and guests are coming over tonight. I was planning a citrus tart sort of thing, so I've got cream, limes, lemons, etc. on hand and normal pantry supplies. Might be able to squeeze a quick trip to the store in if necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyone have ideas for a no-bake (relatively easy) dessert? My oven has decided to take a vacation from working and guests are coming over tonight. I was planning a citrus tart sort of thing, so I've got cream, limes, lemons, etc. on hand and normal pantry supplies. Might be able to squeeze a quick trip to the store in if necessary.

Probably too late to help, but try making panna cotta and serve woth berries. If unflavored gelatin is a normal pantry supply, that is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At long last, today I made surprise cookies a la mktye. She's right -- they are a pain in the butt to make. But they taste wonderful. Chocolate sugar cookies with a hint of almond in the dough with an almond butter center. You can use any combo of nut butters and if I lived someplace where variety were readily available I would have liked to use cashew butter. They will be thank you gifts for the people in personnel who jumped through hoops on Friday to help me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're having a going away dinner party tonight for some friends, so there are 4" white cakes (recipe from the KA Baker's Companion) baking in the oven, syrup for italian buttercream heating on the stove and buns (for the BBQ) rising on the counter.

The guests of honor could not agree on the dessert -- he wanted Joe H's coconut cake and she wanted yellow cake with chocolate frosting since she hates coconut. So it will be individual cakes, torted into three layers, some with the coconut filling from Joe H's recipe and frosted with vanilla buttercream (I thought I already had some buttercream in the freezer but it turned out to be a mystery coconut-tasting, fluffy concoction that I have no clue as to its origin :unsure: ), some of the cakes filled & frosted with the chocolate ganache frosting from the April '06 issue of Cook's Illustrated and the last bunch done with leftover chestnut buttercream (my favorite flavor) and using some Frangelico in the simple syrup brushed on the layers. That should make everyone happy, with the exception of rwtye who wanted pie for dessert. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
chestnut buttercream (my favorite flavor)

Would you mind posting the recipe in the Cakes and Icings thread? Pleeeease?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Would you mind posting the recipe in the Cakes and Icings thread? Pleeeease?
Sure (although there is not much to it). :unsure:

The chestnut buttercream also pairs very well with chocolate cake or a white cake filled with a chocolate ganache layer.

Finished cakes:

post-24-1151063337_thumb.jpg

post-24-1151063350_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×