Sunday, April 21, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings: Black & White Cookies

This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection is Black and White Cookies.  I had made black and white cookies one time before; I think it was from a David Lebovitz recipe.  My husband remembered that I had made them before and sounded a little surprised that I was attempting them again.  You see, last time the cookies were very delicious, but I got very frustrated with frosting - it was super-runny and the colors blobbed together.   Very disappointing.  Anyway, this time I was careful to make sure the frosting did not get too drippy and took the excellent tip in the book to use a piping bag to make them look nice and neat.
Although the cookies did not turn out quite as perfect as ones that you see in a bakery (and I totally did not notice the instruction to frost the flat side of the cookie), they are about a million times more aesthetically pleasing than my first batch.  And once again, very delicious.  Since it was several years ago, I don’t remember exactly what they tasted like, but I think this recipe is a bit cakier and I like it!  You can find the recipe here and view the other bakers’ links here.
I also made last week’s Sunrise Key Lime Tarts, then somehow my Sunday slipped away from me and I didn’t get around to posting them.  I have made key lime pie many times (it happens to be one of Josh’s more requested treats) and thanks to Cook’s Illustrated, I make a pretty good one.  I was happy to try the Baked version and we loved the pretzel crust – I am plotting more dessert ideas to make with it.  You can find the recipe here.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings: Aunt Sassy Cake

Did anyone watch Lisa Kudrow’s post “Friends” show, “The Comeback?” I’m assuming not too many people did since it was on HBO and only lasted one season. It was definitely not a binge-watching type of comedy, as it is slightly uncomfortable to watch (I feel the same way about “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia”), but I thought it was pretty funny. Anyway, the premise is a reality show about Lisa Kudrow playing a D-List actress making a comeback on a new televisions series (show within show within show) and her character on that show is the constantly humiliated Aunt Sassy.  I thought of the show when I saw the name of this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection, Aunt Sassy Cake.

This lovely white cake is enriched with finely ground pistachios (plus a few chunks) in the batter and frosted with a honey vanilla buttercream. The recipe notes point out that this is not a simple throw-together cake, and I have to say, it did produce an impressive number of dirty dishes (I think any time you have to get the food processor out, the dishwashing time increases). We like big fluffy cakes, though, so it’s well worth it. I have made the “Baked” buttercream a number of times and for some reason, this particular batch was not too impressive in terms of texture. I am not exactly sure where I went wrong, but it was a bit gloppy. Chilling it did help and it tasted great.

Please stop by the Baked Sunday Mornings site to check out the recipe and to see how the rest of the group fared.

Oh, and I haven't posted for several weeks (so I guess this is my comeback) because I hadn't made the selected recipes, but I did make a couple of Baked treats in celebration of Josh's birthday.

I made him Monkey Bubble Bread, which is quite possibly his favorite Baked recipe of all time.

I didn't make him a cake until the following week since we celebrated with his family and his mom made him a chocolate cake, plus there was leftover cake from his office celebration, but when I did it was the Lemon Drop Cake from the first book.   I found a link to the recipe, which has not yet been made by the group.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings: Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies

A number of years ago the on the first day of Daylight Savings, I showed up at the end of an exercise class. It was just slightly embarrassing. Today I managed to make it to a race this morning (I thought that running a race the night after we lost an hour of sleep was a little iffy, but luckily it was at 9 AM and only half a mile from my house) and to a power yoga class on time later in the day, but I am yet again late for my Baked Sunday Mornings post. Of course, since this happens on a regular basis, I can’t really say it has anything to do with the time change. One of these days I will actually manage to post on Sunday morning. (Posting at all is an improvement from last week where I had baked the recipe a whole week ahead of time, then didn’t get a photo before it was consumed.) 

This week the group baked Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies, which despite their beige appearance, were surprisingly tasty. Josh assumed that since the cookies had malt, they also had chocolate. Little does he know that there is an entire chapter in Baked Elements devoted to malted milk powder and not all them have chocolate! After years of frustration, we got a new oven a few months ago. This was the type of cookie that would bake very unevenly in the old oven, so I’m still pleasantly surprised when treats bake up in the amount of time the recipe specifies. The recipe says that these cookies should be kept at room temperature, but we found that keeping them in the refrigerator was good to firm up the filling without compromising any texture of the cookie. 

The recipe can be found here on the Baked Sunday Mornings site and you can see how the rest of the group fared via the roundup.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Baked Sunday Evening: Malted Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème

This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection was Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Budino, which is essentially a fancy name for pudding. However, I did not make it. Instead, I made another dessert in the pudding/custard family that I had missed back in January, Malted Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: desserts that do not pair well with ice cream are generally not requested by Josh, so I do not make too many of them. Of the two, I thought the pots de crème may be better received. I can’t say for certain that Josh wouldn’t have liked the pudding, but I can say that these creamy cups of chocolate decadence were quite a hit here.

This recipe called for milk chocolate, and with very few exceptions, such as m&m's, we definitely prefer dark chocolate and I almost always sub a darker chocolate for milk. I think the Baked boys may have me sold on milk chocolate in the appropriate contexts, though, as the pots de crème were just perfect. It probably helped that I used a high quality chocolate (they had one ounce bars of Valrhona chocolate at Trader Joe’s and I bought two to make a half recipe of the pots de crème).

You can find this fabulous, not to mention both easy and impressive, recipe here on the Baked Sunday Mornings site and this week’s actual pudding recipe can be found here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings: Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies

I have been looking for ways to fit more hours into a day. Unfortunately, since that is seemingly impossible, I have taken it upon myself to make the most out of the twenty four hours a day we have. I had always been an evening exerciser; however, I have been transitioning to morning workouts (though I do still like to run with Josh and Eloise some nights). As a result, I have more time in the evening to make dinner and hang out with Josh and Eloise, which is awesome. Another result? I wake up early almost all the time now, and when I woke up at six on Saturday morning and didn’t need to be to Spin class until eight, I decided it was a good time to make the dough for this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings treat, Chocolate Ginger Molasses Cookies. I halved the recipe, which has gotten easier to do since I measure most ingredients in grams these days. When I saw how crumbly my dough was, I was concerned that my early morning brain had miscalculated an ingredient or two because the dough did not look good at all (I checked and it sounded like the other bakers had similar issues). I also generally do not love chocolate and ginger together, so I had pretty low expectations for this recipe. 

I was pleasantly surprised on two counts: the dough rolled out easily when I went to make the cookies yesterday evening and they were very tasty! I think I don’t like when a heavy chocolate base is saturated with ginger, but the flavors where well-balanced in these cookies. They were also nice and light in texture, perhaps as result of the shortening. I haven’t had a chance to make the glaze and decorate them yet - perhaps later today. I doubt I would make these again, but it’s nice that the recipe was not a total wash. My dad and sister always give me fun Christmas gifts and the squirrel cookie cutters were actually part of a dog biscuit set. I may not use the dog bones or fire hydrants for human treats, but squirrels are cute enough for human use. 

For the recipe and to see how the other bakers’ treats turned out, please visit the Baked Sundays Mornings site. And have a great Sunday!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings (Evening): Cheesy Focaccia with Carmelized Onions and Sauteed Spinach

I’m super late with this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings post!   (And last week’s for that matter, which I made but didn’t post about since I was busy making another cake last Sunday and I wasn’t all that excited about how it turned out – the cake or my photos.  It looked like a big piece of toast with Nutella on it.)  This week’s selection was Cheesy Focaccia with Carmelized Onions and Sauteed Spinach.  We have pizza for dinner almost every Friday here.  We didn’t this week, though, since in an attempt to see a few of the nominated films before the Oscars, we actually went to see Silver Linings Playbook (really good) on Thursday and I had to bump a planned dinner to Friday.  So this is my long-winded way of saying that we lucked out that this week’s recipe was rather pizza-esque and we essentially got to have pizza this week anyway – yay!

A while ago I decided the most difficult aspect of yeast breads was timing.  I’m usually pretty good at finding ways to work around rise times so I’m not just sitting around waiting, but I kind of felt like the focaccia (anyone else always mix up where the double-C is supposed to be in that word?) took over my afternoon.  I possibly misunderstood the instructions?  It seems like I could have done the final rise in pan while the oven heated, which by that point felt like it took forever.  Anyway, once I took the bubbling bread out of the oven and tasted the bread, I totally forgot about my frustration – it’s that good.  I have to say, although the bread is covered in two of my favorite toppings, I almost think it would have been better without them.  Next time!

I made the bread yesterday, and then I warmed it up in the oven and served it during the Super Bowl.  It reheated beautifully and everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.  I am looking forward to checking out more cheesy goodness via the roundup on the Baked Sunday Mornings site.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Baked Sunday Mornings: Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins

After missing a couple Sundays, then having somewhat of a recipe fail last week with the banana fritters, I was happy to see Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins on the schedule for Baked Sunday Mornings this week.  Why?  Because I had made them right after I got Baked Elements and loved them!  In fact, this rarely happens with baked goods, but I think I may have eaten more of them than my husband. 

I don't always like the grittiness of cornmeal, but I think it works really well in these muffins with the combination of ground-up pistachios in the muffins and the larger chunks of nuts on top.

These muffins are definitely worth a try, especially right now during citrus season.  You can find the recipe here on the Baked Sunday Mornings site and click here to see if the other bakers liked these muffins as much as I did.