Tag Archives: baking

Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake

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The recipe I made this week for Tuesdays with Dorie presented me with both a challenge and an opportunity. Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake calls for peanut butter and chopped peanuts. You may recall that I recently discovered I am allergic to peanuts. Thus, the challenge.

I am experimenting with different nut/seed butters for both eating and cooking. I currently have some cashew butter in the refrigerator and sunflower seed butter waiting in the pantry. I have tried the cashew butter on toast and apple for snacking, and I used it for a Thai “peanut” sauce. It’s pretty good, but still not as good as peanut or almond butter. But it definitely works.

I hadn’t had a chance to use the cashew butter for baking until the Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake recipe came along. I substituted it for the peanut butter and topped the cakes with roasted cashews, but otherwise did not make any other changes (other than my “altitude adjustments”).

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The verdict? The cashew butter worked! The texture of the cakes seems slightly different than expected, but that may or may not be caused by the change in nut butters. Also, my cashew butter is unsalted, and I feel that my cakes would have benefited from a pinch more salt. I am pleased that I will not have to completely give up on baked goods that call for peanut butter.

Altitude Adjustments

Living in a dry climate at 4500 feet, I often have to adjust my cake recipes to account for my higher altitude and low humidity. I made two small adjustment for Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake: 1) I reduced the baking powder by a rounded 1/8 teaspoon; and 2) I added a tablespoon of milk.

The recipe for Sunday in Paris Chocolate Cake can be found on page 72 of Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book, Baking Chez Moi
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Granola Cake

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Hello! I’m back for another installment of Tuesdays with Dorie. Yay for sticking with my self-imposed schedule! This week we make a tasty treat called Granola Cake.

I am not quite sure why Dorie calls this a cake; I thought it was more like a cookie bar or blondie. Whatever you want to call it, it was delicious!

The secret ingredient in Granola Cake is…granola! Dorie recommends homemade granola, but I went the store-bought route this time. I actually had a tough time finding the perfect granola for this recipe. You see, I recently found out I am allergic to peanuts, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. And of course, all the granolas that sounded best to me contained one or more of these nuts. Walnuts and almonds are particularly hard to avoid in granola. Darn allergies!

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Other interesting ingredients in Granola Cake are finely chopped bittersweet chocolate and shredded coconut (sweetened for me, but unsweetened works too). Cinnamon and nutmeg can be added if the granola is not spiced (mine wasn’t).

I really liked this one! It has the perfect balance of chocolate and oats and is not too sweet. The texture is both tender and chewy and the cake keeps well. It made a nice after school treat for my daughter, and I enjoyed snacking on it too. I will definitely be making this one again!

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If you would like to give Granola Cake a try, you can find the recipe here, or in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking Chez Moi
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Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind

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Well hello! It’s been a while since I’ve done a Tuesdays with Dorie post. I have baked a few things over the last few months, but never got around to writing about them. In honor of today’s TWD Rewind Week, I though I would briefly tell you about each of them.

Edouard’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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At first glance, this looks like a pretty basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but the addition of a generous amount of almond flour takes these up a notch. The almond flour adds so much flavor and a nice chewiness.

I did find that the cookies are best on the day they are baked. While the flavor is still wonderful the next day, they get a little too crunchy. I recommend freezing the scooped out dough so you can bake just enough to eat in a day, whenever inspiration hits!

These cookies were a big hit! So delicious, and perfect for the quintessential after school snack.

Custardy Apple Squares

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I was really looking forward to this recipe! So simple, but it sounds so good. Thinly sliced apples were tossed with a simple batter made from flour, baking powder, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, whole milk, and a bit of melted butter. Pour into a baking dish and wait patiently while it bakes and cools.

Luckily, the reality lived up to my expectations! This was a delicious treat that both my daughter and I enjoyed. It’s a perfect snacking cake for any day.

Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping

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I made this delicious tart for Thanksgiving dessert.

Dorie’s delicious Sweet Tart Dough was filled with lightly caramelized pears, and topped with a crunchy topping made from almonds, egg whites, and confectioner’s sugar.

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Everyone loved this tart! The Sweet Tart Dough recipe is one of my favorites and I am always happy to make (and eat) it. The filling and topping were simple but flavorful. My pears were perfectly ripe and full of flavor, which added to the deliciousness. Can you tell I liked this tart? It was the perfect ending to Thanksgiving dinner.

If you are interested in trying any of these delicious baked goods, you can find the recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s book, Baking Chez Moi.

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Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind!

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It’s rewind week at Tuesdays with Dorie. That means we can try a make-up recipe, or remake an old favorite. I am choosing to catch up on a couple of recipes I made over the last month but haven’t had a chance to write about yet: Cornmeal and Berry Cakes and Esquimaux Pops for Grown-Ups.

Cornmeal and Berry Cakes

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During a particularly stressful week early in the month, I decided to take a break and bake Cornmeal and Berry Cakes. It was very therapeutic to get out some flour, sugar, and eggs and bake something! And these sunny little cakes are just the thing to brighten one’s day.

These cakes are are simple olive oil cakes, gussied up a bit with fine cornmeal, lemon juice and zest, and berries. I made two small changes: I made cupcakes rather than the 4 small loaf cakes Dorie suggests, and I used blueberries instead of raspberries.

Cornmeal and Berry Cakes are delicious little snacking cakes. Mine turned out a little heavy, but I think it’s because I did not adjust for altitude at all (I usually do when making cakes). I always enjoy the flavors of lemon and blueberry together. I froze half the cakes for future snacking, and they froze well.

Esquimaux Pops for Grown-Ups

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When Esquimaux Pops for Grown-Ups showed up on the Tuesdays with Dorie schedule, I knew I would be making them! These are fudgy little ice pops with flecks of dark chocolate. What makes them only for grown-ups? The addition of liqueur!

To make these pops, we first made a chocolate mousse, mixing in tiny bits of chocolate at the end. I used Dorie’s favorite crème de cassis as my choice of liqueur because I had some on hand, but Kahlua would be wonderful as well. The mousse is simply spooned into popsicle molds and frozen until solid.

Yum! My husband and I have been enjoying these adult treats each night after my daughter goes to bed. They are the perfect size: a sweet treat that leaves you wanting just a tiny bit more. I will definitely make these again and it would be fun to experiment with different liqueurs.

If you are interested in trying either of these recipes, you can find them in Dorie Greenspan’s delicious book Baking Chez Moi.

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Cook the Book Fridays – August Recipes

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Happy Cook the Book Friday Tuesday! My daughter is back to school, so I hope to be back to more regular blogging, at least for now. The next few months will be pretty hectic for my family, so my blogging may be sporadic for the rest of the year. I’m OK with that, but I hope to keep up with my Cook the Book Fridays cooking. We do have to eat after all!

The last couple of weeks I have struggled to get it together enough to make consistently decent meals. I blame the change in our after school schedule. Last week was particularly bad. I have always been a meal planner (I usually plan a week at a time), but last week I just didn’t plan well. I failed to fully appreciate just how little time I would have to cook on Wednesdays now, so I resorted to a box of tomato soup. Also, two of my planned meals relied on cherry tomatoes from the garden, but the tomatoes did not cooperate, so I had to wait until I had enough. Hence this late post for the the Cherry Tomato Crostini.

Before we talk about the crostini, let’s discuss the first CtBF recipe for August:

Apricot Crumble Tart

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Apricot Crumble Tart is a wonderful recipe! I loved the technique for making the pastry dough; it was more like making a cookie dough than pastry. And the crumble topping is fantastic! I have a fondness for crumble toppings, and this one may be the best I have ever had.

Rather than making a giant tart, I used my 6″ springform pan. I used half the pastry dough and froze the rest. I cut the filling and crumble topping parts of the recipe in half. It worked out perfectly!

That photo up there of my apricot tart looks delicious, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. My apricots were not very good, and they were super tart, ruining the rest of the dessert. My Mom had good luck making the tart with peaches, so I took the extra pastry dough out of the freezer and remade the tart with peaches. Much better!

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I may just make this with peaches from now on.

Cherry Tomato Crostini with Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese

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Cherry Tomato Crostini with Homemade Herbed Goat Cheese it a great way to celebrate the best of summer tomatoes.

The cherry tomatoes were roasted simply with olive oil, garlic, herbs (I used rosemary and thyme), salt, and pepper. I allowed them to sit for most of the day to concentrate the flavors.

The homemade herbed goat cheese was fun to make! I found a wonderful, semi-locally made, whole goat yogurt that was thick and creamy. After draining it for 24 hours to thicken it even further, I mixed in herbs (chives, thyme, and basil), minced shallot, garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt. The result was delicious!

The combination of flavors here is fantastic. The sweet, rich tomatoes, against the piquant goat cheese was delicious. I was very impressed by the homemade goat cheese. It was good on it’s own, and I even scrambled a couple of tablespoons with eggs to make a tasty breakfast.

All in all, August was a delicious month! September looks like it will be pretty good too. If you would like to join in the fun, check out the September recipes: September Schedule.

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Rose Fraisier

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who likes to bake their own birthday cake. I don’t get many chances to make a big cake, so when the opportunity arises, I consider it a birthday gift to myself. This year it was extra fun because I went over to my sister’s house and she helped me make the cake.

This month, Tuesdays with Dorie presented me with the perfect cake for our family birthday party. Rose Fraisier is a grand cake with exotic ingredients. The secret ingredients are rose extract and rose syrup.

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Rose Fraisier is not the easiest cake to make. I don’t believe the average home baker could end up with the picture-perfect result shown in the book without special equipment. My sister had a cake ring, which helped with lining up the strawberries and piping in the filling, but we still had imperfect results and a near disaster.

After assembling the cake, we debated whether to remove the cake ring or leave it on while the cake chilled. We were concerned the cake ring would be too difficult to remove if we chilled the cake first. So, we took off the ring. The filling and strawberries immediately began oozing out the sides of the cake! While I held in the filling with my hands and an offset spatula, my sister got the brilliant idea to wrap the cake in waxed paper to hold everything in. The cake chilled with it’s waxed paper collar, and when it was time to serve we removed it. Crisis averted!

I partly blame myself for the oozing filling. I had some problems with the gelatin (my own fault!) and not very much made it into the pastry cream mixture. But I mostly blame the challenging recipe.

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All that effort and angst was worth it! The cake was super delicious and it was a big hit at the party. The rose flavoring added just a hint of unexpected flavor, and I absolutely loved the pastry cream filling. Would I make it again? Probably not, but I would consider a simplified version because the flavors were so good.

My dad and niece photobombed my cake:

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If you are interested in trying your hand at making Rose Fraisier, Dorie Greenspan has posted the recipe on her blog: Rose Fraisier Recipe. You can also find it in her book, Baking Chez Moi.

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Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches

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I have been participating in Tuesday with Dorie somewhat sporadically. I decided when the Baking Chez Moi project started that I would not try to bake every recipe. Just the ones that sound good to me. This week’s recipe, Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches, is one that I couldn’t resist. Not only is it chocolate, but it is also grain-free, so my grain-free, chocolate-loving husband could enjoy it too.

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Meringues are fun to make. Sweetened egg whites whipped to stiff peaks are transformed to lightweight, crunchy treats in the oven. In this case, cocoa and finely chopped almonds are gently folded into the egg whites before baking. The finishing (decadent) touch is the ganache sandwiched between two meringues.

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One thing I appreciate about Dorie Greenspan’s dessert recipes is that they (for the most part) do not make huge amounts. For the Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches, this was especially helpful as they really are best eaten the day they are made. The recipe only made 8 sandwiches, with was the perfect amount.

My family enjoyed this little treat!

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TWD: Chocolate Teacup Cakes

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Hello! Welcome to a new installment of Tuesdays with Dorie. Except it’s Wednesday. Yesterday turned out to have more errands than expected, so my post is a day late. But it was worth the wait! (Well, this dessert would be worth the wait anyway…)

The two February recipes from Baking Chez Moi are both chocolaty treats that my cutting-out-grains-and-most-carbs husband will eat. This one, Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes, was served as the grand finale to our Valentine’s Day dinner. Quick confession: This dessert was not completely grain-free. The ingredients did include a tablespoon of cornstarch, but my has husband has OK’d ingredients like that, as long as they are used in small quantities.

Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes are Dorie’s take on a chocolate lava cake. A simple chocolate batter is spooned into individual ramekins or teacups, with a secret chunk of milk chocolate placed in the middle. The cakes are baked until the bottoms and sides are set, but with the middle still soft and gooey. Serve the cakes warm, and enjoy the melty chocolate!

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One thing that bothers me about this recipe is that the instructions require you make them from start to finish just before you are ready to serve them. After a nice dinner, the last thing I want to do is head to the kitchen to make dessert. I was wondering if these could be assembled earlier in the day, then baked when ready to serve. So I did an experiment. The night I served these, I sucked it up and made the cakes after dinner (even after my daughter went to bed). But I only baked two of them. I covered the other two and put them in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I baked the other two. It worked! But, the refrigerated cakes required quite a bit more baking time. In fact, the cake in these photographs wasn’t quite cooked enough. Conclusion: These cakes can be assembled ahead of time, but expect a longer baking time and considering bringing them to room temperature before baking.

These little cakes were wonderful! Perfectly-sized single portions that were rich and delicious. I will make these again for sure.

I had hoped to have the second chocolate recipe for the month done by now, but instead I will be making it this weekend to celebrate my husband’s birthday. Stay tuned!

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Tuesdays with Dorie – “Tambourine” Cake

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It feels like it’s been awhile since I did a Tuesdays with Dorie post (or any post, for that matter). My last one was only a few weeks ago, but considering I had done the baking for it a month or two prior, it feels like longer.

Yesterday I baked Fluted Carrot-Tangerine Cake. Except I like to call it “Tambourine Cake”. Here’s why:

Lately my daughter has taken an interest in helping me read the list when we go grocery shopping. She likes to read the list before we leave, then check it with me at the store. She carries the list for me, and helps me find the items. This is a big deal because we have struggled to interest her in functional reading outside of specified “reading time” at school or home.

Carrot-Tangerine Cake

The downside to having her help me read the list is that if the store does not have a particular item, she gets a little sad because her expectations were not met. Even though I assure her I can find the item at another store, she kind of obsesses about it until the item is in our possession. On Sunday, the store we were at did not have tangerines. So she asked me about it for the rest of the day, making sure I would be buying them the next day while she was at school. The cute thing is she pronounced tangerine as “tambourine”.

Yesterday when I picked her up from school, sure enough the first thing out of her mouth was, “Did you get tambourines?”. When we got home I showed her the tangerines I bought. I also showed her the tangerine cake I made with them. She liked her piece of cake as much as I liked mine.

Carrot-Tangerine Cake

The other Tuesdays with Dorie recipe for January was Lemon Squares, French Style. While I don’t have photographic evidence, I did make them in November for my mom’s birthday. They were a huge hit and probably the best lemon bars I have ever had. I will definitely be making them again!

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TWD: Catch Up!

Happy New Year! I realize I’ve been a missing-in-action the last few months. I have been having trouble finding my blogging rhythm ever since French Fridays with Dorie ended. I have plenty of ideas about what I want to share with you, but so far the execution has not happened. Maybe in the new year?

In the meantime, here is a quick and dirty catch-up of the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes I have made over the last few months.

Apple Pielettes

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What a clever idea! Little mini pies baked in muffin tins. I cut the recipe in half and made six pielettes. My only issue with these was that my filling did not entirely “fill” each pielette. They sure were tasty though!

Chocolate-Covered Toffee Breakups

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There is only one word to describe this toffee: Wow!  It was SO GOOD! It’s a good thing I gave most of this away, because I may have eaten it all within a day or so if I hadn’t. It was very addictive.

A Note About Making this at High Altitudes: To make the toffee, you have to bring the sugar mixture to 300° F. At higher altitudes, since the boiling point is lower, you need to bring the sugar mixture to a lower temp, otherwise it will burn. I took mine off the heat at 292° F and it was perfect. To find the appropriate temperature for your altitude, check out this site: http://bakingwithaltitude.com/high-altitude-candy-making-tips/.

Stained Glass Cookies

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My daughter and I made these together a few days before Christmas. It turns out we aren’t very good at filling the holes with the crushed lifesavers. I like the way they look though; kind of like water colors. These were fine, but I wasn’t wowed by them. I would make them again as a fun Christmas activity, but otherwise I would skip the lifesavers and make basic vanilla cookies, maybe with a sprinkling of colored sugar on top.

I hope 2016 treats all of you well. See you in the new year!

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