Tuesday, December 27, 2011

TWD: Kids' Thumbprints

In order to stay positive and motivate myself to get through the week, I try to think of little things to look forward to each day of the week. For example, Josh often picks me up from work on Mondays, and on Wednesdays we run six miles together, eat Chinese food, and watch “Top Chef.” Tuesday’s thing is obviously Tuesdays With Dorie and it makes me sad that this is the very last TWD with this incarnation of the group. In February 2012, we will start a new book, Baking with Julia, but Kids’ Thumbprints are the very last recipe in Baking.

I have always enjoyed baking, but since joining the group I have greatly expanded my repertoire and attempted many desserts I otherwise would not have tried. There was a point when I was so enthusiastic about the book that I thought I would bake every single recipe in it. Though I greatly admire those who have, I realized that was not a practical option for me at this point in my life. Josh (who has gone from boyfriend to fiance to husband since I began baking with TWD) would keep tabs on my baking to-do lists and help me edit based on time and his ability to consume the output. I do hope someday I have more time to take photographs and blog (I do seem to manage to bake plenty of treats). The very best part of TWD is definitely reading about the other bakers’ experiences each week. Not surprisingly, people who enjoy baking for others are incredibly nice and I am happy to have been introduced to such an amazing community.

So the thumbprints? I brought them to work and they disappeared before I had a chance to try one. Luckily I had left a few at home so I managed to have a taste and they are super-yummy, not to mention a perfect treat to make during the holidays. We rated them a 7.5 for Deliciousness and I gave them a 3 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.5. We are lucky enough to have the lovely Dorie herself hosting this week; I hope you enjoy reading her post as much as I did. Many thanks to her and all the other bakers for giving me something to look forward to on Tuesdays. I can’t wait for the fun to continue in February!

P.S. The cookie jar featured in this post was a gift passed on from Josh's mom shortly after Josh and I moved in together. Josh has since purchased a very cute retro-style owl cookie jar for me, but I love picturing Josh as a little towhead grabbing cookies from this one!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TWD Rewind: World Peace Cookies

For the penultimate Tuesdays With Dorie, we were given a rewind option. Josh’s office had its annual cookie exchange last week. I had lofty plans to try a new recipe, but my limited spare time made me go with the more practical option of making a tried and true favorite: World Peace Cookies. World Peace Cookies were one of the few recipes I had made before I joined the group and I have probably made them more than any other recipe in Baking. Josh said they were a hit and several of his co-workers complimented my baking when I saw them at their Christmas party on Saturday. I didn’t get a chance to photograph them (and though I am too lazy to check for sure, I think I have erased my old photos), so that is why I am posting photos of my dog in a scarf. I don’t think I’ve ever posted them before and even if I had, I think it would be worth rewinding to. I promise I will manage to bake and post (hello, vacation!) our very last TWD recipe next week. To see what the other bakers rewound to, check out the TWD site.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TWD: Earl Grey Madeleines

Tuesdays With Dorie is doubling up on recipes this week and the one I made was Earl Grey Madeleines. My apologies to Kayte of Grandma’s Kitchen Table for not getting to the Honey Almond Fig Tart. I had assumed I wouldn’t be able to find fresh figs. Since they were hard to come by in October, I assumed they would be impossible to find in December. Funnily enough, I did just see some at the store tonight, though well after the other recipe, Earl Grey Madeleines had been made and mostly consumed. We are not what you’d call tea drinkers in this house. We like coffee - strong black coffee. It’s one of the few things we buy in bulk at Costco, along with ten-pound bags of sugar (surprise!) and economy-size boxes of generic milk bones for our voracious eater. However, Josh was required to dress up as a mummy for his office’s Halloween party (he claims there are not any pictures of the mummy crew from the party, a fact I may be verifying when I see his co-workers at their Christmas party next week). He put a great effort into his costume, researching the best way to get the soiled look, and had bought Earl Grey tea to dye the mummy wrappings. Lucky for me, not all the bags got used and I was able to utilize them in this recipe.

I have now made all the Madeleine recipes in Baking, and they are all delicious and fairly easy to make. My one qualm was that when I strained the tea-infused butter through the recommended layers of cheesecloth, I think I lost more of the butter than I would have liked, because the Madeleines were not quite as buttery and tender as others. Many thanks to Nicole of Bakeologie for a lovely selection. You can find the recipe here on her site and visit the TWD site to see what the other bakers made this week.

Friday, November 25, 2011

TWD Rewind: Granola Grabbers

This week Tuesdays With Dorie has a Rewind week, which means we could choose any previously chosen recipe. We were also later told we had permission to post later in the week, in order to bake for Thanksgiving. I had already baked and photographed my selection by the time this announcement was made (and had my Thanksgiving desserts planned). I hadn’t written my post, though, and was happy to have one less thing on my to-do list before the holiday break started.
The recipe I selected was Granola Grabbers! Not very seasonal (the photo in the book shouts back-to-school fall recipe), but I had wanted to try these cookies forever. I hadn’t because I knew that this is exactly the type of cookie I love and that Josh “forgets” about and I try to not be the one who consumes the majority of the cookies in this house. In fact, as I was making them, I tried to think of another name that did not involve the world granola that might make them sound more enticing. I didn’t come up with anything. And I was totally right: I have eaten way more of them.

These cookies are packed not only with granola, but also additional nuts and raisins. They are pleasantly sweet and very hearty. They kind of remind me of Kellog’s granola, which I like but never buy anymore. I rated them an 8 for Deliciousness (Josh gave them a 7) and a 2 for Effort, for an EDR of 4. You can find the recipe here and visit the TWD site to see what everyone else selected this week.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

TWD: Mini Madeleines

After ambitiously making both of the recipes selected for Tuesdays With Dorie last week, I am back to just one today: Mini Madeleines. I honestly cannot remember the last time I used my mini madeleine pan - probably right after I bought it three years ago, if at all. And they’re so tiny and adorable! A dozen of these cuties fit on one salad plate. I learned that mini madeleines bake really fast. The recipe said that they would take between eight and ten minutes; mine were very brown after eight minutes, so I baked the subsequent batches at seven and a half, and as evidenced by the color (not so sneakily disguised with powdered sugar), they probably would have been fine at seven minutes. I also learned that you really don’t need more than one teaspoon of batter per mold; they didn’t seem full enough, so my first batch ran over a bit.

I noticed the rest of the madeleine recipes in Baking all require using a mixture and these were just made with a whisk. I was curious what the texture would be like and they were perfectly cakey. Josh rated the madeleines an 8 for Deliciousness and I gave them a 2.5 for Effort, for an EDR 3.2. Many thanks Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook for giving me an opportunity to dust off the madeleine pans. You can find the recipe here on her site, and visit the TWD site to see what the other bakers concocted this week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Twosdays With Dorie: Honey Nut Scones & Far Breton

After my lackluster participation in October, I was quite pleased with myself for making two Tuesdays With Dorie recipes this week. In order to complete the book by the end of 2011, we are doubling up on recipes this month - with the option to make one or both. You can stop by the Tuesdays With Dorie site to see what the rest of the bakers decided to bake.

First up are Honey Whole Wheat Scones, selected by Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake; you can find the recipe here on her site. Josh has not had great breakfast treats the past couple weeks, they have been homemade so they haven’t been that bad, but nothing special. I am happy to say that these scones break the boring breakfast streak. Since these scones are just lightly sweetened, with two tablespoons of honey, I resisted sprinkling sugar on the top in order for them to maintain their wholesomeness. The only minor modification I made was mixing the nuts with the rest of the dry ingredients in order to work the dough as little as possible. I loved the bit of crunch the nuts added, and though they weren't sweet, we did not think they needed any extra accoutrements.

The second recipe selected was Far Breton, by Nicole of Cookies on Friday; the recipe is posted here. I had no idea what to expect with the breton; the batter reminded me of crepe batter, and the flavor and texture kind of reminded of bread pudding without the bread. For something with a fancy name, it was quite simple to make. I made the batter (a half recipe) in the two-cup container that came with my immersion blender, which made the clean-up very easy.

I did have trouble telling if the breton was done, so I erred on the longer side, and the texture was fine. This recipe kind of reminded me of my early days with Tuesdays With Dorie when it seemed like we were constantly making things I hadn’t heard of. It’s very satisfying to think of how my baking skills and repertoire have improved in the past three years.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TWD: A Fig Cake for Fall

In the past month, I managed to bake three out of four Tuesdays With Dorie recipes, photograph two of those three, and wrote a post (but didn’t publish) one. I also managed to bake one of those recipes (the apple cake) without any butter. Seriously, I didn’t notice until Josh asked me what the “extra butter” was doing sitting on the counter. Somehow I just couldn’t get my act together this month. I decided this would finally be the week (okay, I had told myself that the previous week as well) and here I am with this week’s recipe, A Fig Cake for Fall. I have always loved figs. When I was a kid I would devour fig bars, particularly the whole wheat variety sold at health food stores. My dad, who shares my enthusiasm for figs, makes a hearty fig pudding every Christmas. I don't think my brother appreciated the pudding until we were adults, but I was a fan from day one.

Naturally, I had high hopes for this cake. I think its resemblance to some other upside-down cakes I’ve made made me think the fruit would be a bit more caramel-y and the cake a bit moister. It wasn’t an outright disappointment, just not fig perfection. Since it is not terribly sweet and contains fruit, I told Josh he could justify eating it for breakfast - sans the boozy sauce, of course.

We rate this cake a 7 for Deliciousness and I gave it a 3.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2. Thanks to Ursula of Cookie Rookie for a nice seasonal selection. You can find the recipe here on her site and see how the other bakers fared by visiting the TWD site.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TWD: Classic Brownies

Over the past few years, I have amassed quite a collection of recipes from various blogs and cooking websites. Until recently, these recipes were in a big messy pile, with no semblance of organization. I finally sat down and organized them into three categories and put them in folders, which Josh labeled A, B, and C. Folder A contains recipes that I have made many times (or if they are recent additions, ones I want to make again ASAP) and we really like; Folder B contains recipes that I’ve made and would possibly try again; and Folder C is full of recipes I still need to try. As soon as Josh sampled this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie treat, Classic Brownies, he told me to “put it in the A Group.”

These brownies have a deep chocolate flavor and are nice and fudgy, without being gooey. I also loved that they were a truly one-bowl recipe - awesome! The recipe says that they are best eaten within the two days, and that has not been a problem. I made them on Sunday and they are almost gone. These brownies rated an 8 for Deliciousness and I gave them a 2 for Effort, for an EDR of 4. Many thanks to Anne of Anne Strawberry for selecting this yummy recipe. You can find the recipe here on her site and visit the TWD site to see how they turned out for the other bakers.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

TWD: Chocolate Spice Quickies

Happy Tuesday! This week the Tuesdays With Dorie Bakers made Chocolate Spice Quickies. I don’t think she made anything specifically called “quickies,” but the name of these cookies reminds me of something from my mom’s seventies-era cookbooks – there seemed to be a lot of goofily named recipes in them. I don’t know if I’ve ever made cookie dough in my food processor before, but Dorie is right: it is quick. This dough seemed a lot less crumbly and easier to form into logs (and subsequently slice) than other sable-esque recipes, which was quite nice.

When Josh saw the cookies lined up on the baking sheet, he commented that they looked like World Peace Cookies. They do resemble the sublime World Peace Cookies, but these are a much milder, softer chocolate cookie. They are still yummy, though. They do not have the crave-worthy quality that many cookies have, so I would probably not make them again. This batch certainly will not go to waste, though. This recipe received a 7 for Deliciousness and a 2.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.8. Jessica of My Baking Heart was our hostess this week and you can find the recipe here on her site.

Also? I just couldn’t get excited about last week’s TWD selection Cornmeal Fruit Loaf and didn’t make it until last Wednesday, due to my lack of enthusiasm. Funnily enough, I ended up loving it and couldn’t stop eating it! You can find the recipe for the Cornmeal Fruit Loaf here on Engineer Baker.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

TWD: Golden Brioche Loaves

This week the Tuesdays With Dorie bakers made Golden Brioche Loaves. I used to live near a lovely bakery that sold mini brioches and remember being how surprised at how delicious such an unassuming little treat was, as it didn’t have cream or chocolate filling like many of its bakery counterparts. However, now that I have made brioche several times, I know the secret: butter, lots of it. Worth every bite, though. The dough came together easily and the first rise went well, but then when I shaped the dough the next day for its second rise, it didn’t get very puffy. Despite the fact it’s August, it is not very warm here, so that could have been a factor. Anyway, after nearly three hours, I decided the dough was not getting any bigger and went ahead and baked my loaf, and it turned out fine.

I recently learned that brioche dough lasts a very long time in the freezer. I had stashed half a batch of brioche dough in our freezer months ago, thinking that I would get around to making another treat just a couple weeks later. Somehow that didn’t happen. I don’t like to see food go to waste, so I took a risk and used rather old dough (it looked fine, no freezer burn or anything), which baked up fine and tasted great! I definitely plan to use the other half of my dough much sooner this time, but it’s nice to know that it stores well. My husband has threatened to clean out the freezer this weekend and I will have to make sure the brioche dough does not make it into the garbage when he does his purge. I am a little scared of what else he might find, though.

We give the brioche a 9 for Deliciousness and I rated it a 4.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2. Many thanks to Margie of Tea and Scones for a delightful selection. You can find the recipe here on her site and visit the TWD site to see more golden, buttery goodness.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TWD: Tropical Crumble

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie selection is Tropical Crumble. This is one of those delightful always/never in-season recipes, since the fruit (bananas, mangoes, and in my case pineapple) does not grow around here. The selection totally makes sense since it is winter where this week’s hostess lives! Once again, I made mine at the last minute, which I blame on Josh this week because he bought a sampling of delicious cupcakes from Kara’s Cupcakes for us to enjoy over the weekend and we didn’t need extra dessert.

Fortunately, this recipe comes together really quickly, and I didn’t experience some of the problems (runny fruit, over-buttery topping) some other bakers had. I halved the recipe, but for the crumble topping, I left the entire amount of flour, which I think gave it just the right amount of butteriness - I mean, you don’t really want to see a big pool of oil on the top of your dessert. Josh was wondering why this recipe hadn’t been selected yet and I think maybe it has to do with the fact there are cooked bananas in it, which seems a bit odd. Intriguing, but odd.

The preparation and combination of flavors made for an excellent dessert. I generally think fruit desserts are best warm with ice cream - and this one certainly is great that way - but Dorie suggests serving leftovers cold, so I sampled it that way when I was photographing it this evening and thought it was wonderful that way too. We rated this recipe an 8 for Deliciousness and I gave it a 3 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.66. Many thanks to Gaye of Laws of the Kitchen for hosting this week. You can find the recipe here on Gaye’s terrific site and visit the TWD site to see how the other bakers fared.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TWD: Spiced Carrot Muffins

I had been looking forward to the release of the Miette cookbook for a long time. Miette is a gorgeous bakery in San Francisco with exceptional cookies and cakes. I happen to work near the location in the Ferry Building and sometimes it takes great willpower to not buy their treats (or pretty cake stands). I was ecstatic when I received my copy of the book and could start baking through it - the book is as pretty as the store and has all their amazing recipes, including scones that are no longer available.

The first thing I made from the book was lemon shortbread, which I sent to my sister and she said she loved. The second thing I made, or rather attempted, was carrot cupcakes, which were intended to go to work with me. I say attempted, because the cupcakes didn’t exactly turn out as planned. I overfilled the pans and they ended up looking much more muffin-like than the cupcakes they were intended to be. I had also made a mini-loaf and dropped it on the ground, much to the delight of a certain Weimaraner. I got over the aesthetics of the cupcakes - I mean really, no one is going to care if the cupcake is a little big. However, the cream cheese icing I made totally did not turn out. For some reason it was completely thin and when I tried to pipe it on the cupcakes, it just ran off. I assume this must have been user error: I used reduced fat cream cheese rather than full fat.* At this point I was totally frustrated and decided the cupcakes would not be going to work.

Since the cupcake/muffins did not end up going to work with me, Josh and I ended up deciding we could call them muffins and ate them for breakfast for several days. Okay, so I’ll finally get to the point of this story: this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Spiced Carrot Muffins, and since the failed cupcake incident and subsequent carrot muffin overconsumption was just a couple weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if Josh would be up for another round of carrot treats. Luckily he was, so I went ahead and made them.

I forgot to buy carrots when I went grocery shopping last weekend and didn’t get a chance to make the muffins until tonight, therefore I am unable to give them a rating, as we have not had an opportunity to try them yet. I will say they did not stress me out nearly as much as the last carrot treat. I have high hopes, though, and we still have a couple of the last batch in the freezer, so we might have an opportunity to taste the difference between a carrot cake and a carrot muffin. Many thanks to Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs for hosting this week, you can find the recipe here on her site and visit the TWD site to see what the other bakers, who may have actually tried the muffins, thought of the selection.

*I take full responsibility for the errors I made with the carrot cupcakes from Miette, but if you are considering buying this book, I would recommend waiting until October. I received an email (actually Josh did, since the book was purchase from his Amazon account) apologizing for the errors in the book and saying that I would receive an updated version when it has its second printing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TWD: Creamy Dark Chocolate Sorbet

There are just a handful of ice cream/frozen dessert recipes in Baking and it’s always a nice surprise when one appears on the recipe schedule. This week we made Creamy Dark Chocolate Sorbet. I don’t make sorbet nearly as often as I make regular ice cream because Josh doesn’t typically eat it and it takes me a while to make it through a whole container myself. I figured that since this particular sorbet recipe included nearly half a pound of chocolate, rather than fruit, Josh would happily help me eat it. I was right; as I type this, he is consuming a healthy portion of it.

I was thinking a pound cake would be a nice accompaniment for the dark chocolate sorbet. When I mentioned this, Josh pointed out that I had not made a Bundt cake in a while (totally in a “I like Bundt cakes and we haven’t had one in a while” way, not in a “if you insist on cluttering our cupboards with way too many pans, you should use them once in a while” way); I ended up making a splendid whipped cream cake from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes to pair with the sorbet, and it is an excellent combination. We somehow got backlogged on homemade ice creams - really, a rarity - and we found that the sorbet is also wonderful eaten with buttermilk ice cream.

This is one of those recipes that definitely exceeded my expectations. I did not use exceptionally good chocolate (70% from Trader Joe’s) and was a bit concerned that might be a mistake, as the recipe has so few ingredients; however there were no problems - the sorbet was still delectably rich and uber-chocolaty. I did add a splash of vanilla to the mixture, but made no other changes to the recipe. This recipe rated a 9 for Deliciousness and a 2 for Effort, for an EDR of 4.5. You can find the recipe here on Steph of a Whisk and a Spoon’s site and visit the TWD site to see how the rest of the group fare.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bakery-Style Berry Muffins

A number of years ago (yikes, it makes me feel old that I can write phrases like that and have them be true), I spent an afternoon taking a vegan cookie workshop. I lived in Santa Cruz at the time, so it was not an atypical way to spend a weekend afternoon. The class was a lot of fun and the cookies we made were fantastic! But then every time I tried baking vegan cookies in my own kitchen, they turned out terrible - flat, thin messes. It could have been a number of things: the class was a pretty casual affair and we just jotted down the ingredients and instructions, so I could have been off. It could have been my crappy apartment oven. I’m not really sure. I decided butter was better and didn’t look back. Until recently when I picked up a copy of Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar (and, I will also admit, its companion book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World). I have not had any problems with the cookies from that book - other than the fact that it’s almost too easy to make chocolate chip cookies - one bowl, no bringing butter to room temperature - and they all have been fantastic.

I saw a copy of Vegan Brunch at the library recently and decided that I’d try expanding my butter-free baking repertoire into breakfast baked goods. Whenever I check cookbooks out for the library, I put them into one of three categories: 1) I don’t think I would use the book much and won’t end up buying it; 2) Something I might want to have in my collection someday; you know, probably when I need something to get free shipping on an Amazon order or see it discounted; and 3) I “need” it in my collection ASAP. This book falls into the third category, as all three recipes I have made so far have been successful and tasty. I made wonderfully crisp waffles and some excellent pancakes, neither of which Josh would have guessed were vegan if I hadn‘t told him. And I didn’t until after he ate them and said they were wonderful.

Enough about my cookbook habits and recipes I’m not blogging about, let’s talk about these muffins. The only ingredient this recipe included that I don’t normally have around is soy yogurt, which was not hard to find and is surprisingly good. They are called bakery-style due to the high amount of sugar in them, making them almost like cake. :) I proceeded to make them even more sweet by topping them with crunchy coarse sugar. I did sub some whole wheat flour for about a quarter of the all-purpose, so I think it evens out. I was tempted to use my giant muffin tins to make them even more bakery-esque, but resisted and made them normal size. These soft fluffy muffins definitely brightened up breakfast around here for a few mornings, and were very easy to make. Yay vegan treats!

Bakery-Style Berry Muffins, from Vegan Brunch

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup soy yogurt
1/2 cup almond milk (or your favorite nondairy milk)]
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yogurt, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Fold in the berries.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin; it should almost fill the entire tin. Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or butter knife inserted through the center of the muffin comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the tin, then transfer muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Stracciatella Gelato

A couple years ago I was making and blogging about so many different ice creams, I almost thought I should start an all ice cream blog. My enthusiasm for making ice cream has not lapsed, I just have gotten delinquent about posting new flavors (and pretty much anything I make). Also, there have been many flavor repeats. I took advantage of the holiday weekend last week to spend some extra time in the kitchen - seriously, even Josh had trouble keeping up with the output - and one of the things I made that I was particularly excited about was Stracciatella Gelato.

I think I had assumed that since Stracciatella is difficult to say, it would also be difficult to make. Luckily that was not the case at all. It was made with a basic gelato base and then melted chocolate was swirled in at the end. The recipe gives you the option of mixing it by hand or adding the melted chocolate as your ice cream machine is churning at the end, and I opted for the latter. I did need to give the ice cream mixture a couple good stirs after I turned off the machine though, just to ensure the chocolate was well-distributed. There are only two ounces of chocolate, but this method ensures you get crisp bits of chocolate in every bite. This gelato is wonderful on its own, but I will say it is also good paired with really stellar chocolate chips cookies, if you are so inclined. :)

Stracciatella Gelato, from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto

Plain Base
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a heavy-bottomed, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185 degrees. Do not bring to a boil. [Note: I needed to turn the burner to medium-low, rather than low, as it was taking a very long time to reach 185 degrees.]

Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every five minutes or so. To cool the custard quickly, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water and placing he bowl with custard in it; stir the custard until cooled. Once completely cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least four hours or overnight.

Gently whisk the vanilla into the base. Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according the manufacturer’s instructions.

While the gelato is churning, place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water; the bottom of the bowl should be just above the water, not touching it. Stir until just melted. You’re working with a small amount of chocolate, so it will take only a few minutes to melt. Watch closely so it doesn’t overheat, which can cause the chocolate to break up and start to burn. Remove from the heat and cool until just warm, not hot (about 100 degrees). Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave: Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for twenty seconds, then stir. Repeat once or twice as needed until almost all the chocolate is melted; the last bits of chocolate will melt just by stirring.

Just after the gelato is churned, drizzle the melted chocolate in a thin stream over the top and using a rubber spatula quickly fold it into the gelato to create ribbons of chocolate. Alternatively, drizzle the chocolate into the gelato two minutes before the churning is completed.

Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least two hours before serving.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TWD: Cream Scones

Tuesdays With Dorie is definitely ensuring that we have a least a few wonderful breakfasts this month: last week we had the divine Chocolate Chunk Muffins and this week we made Cream Scones. Not only do they have cream, they also have butter, yum! And I confess, mine also have a little bit of extra sugar; I actually doubled the sugar (it’s only a quarter cup total) because I thought Josh would like them better a bit sweeter. It worked: he’s worried he’s consuming them a bit too fast. Hey, better that then they go bad.

This week on the Problems & Questions there was a brilliant tip to grate the butter. Due to my fear of running out of baking supplies, I happened to have butter in my freezer, so it was extra-cold and easy to grate, and required very little mixing. The scones turned out marvelously soft and rich. My dear husband gave me this darling mini-scone pan ages ago and for some reason I had never gotten around to using it. I decided I better start, mostly out of fear that if I didn’t, he may never permit me to obtain another superfluous pan. The pan worked beautifully, baking the scones in exactly twenty minutes.

This recipe rated a 9 for Deliciousness and I gave it a 3 for Effort, for an EDR of 3. Many thanks to Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu for a splendid selection. You can find the recipe here on Lynne’s site and visit the Tuesdays With Dorie site to see how the rest of the bakers liked these gems.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

SMS: Plum and Raspberry Pie with a Sweet Almond Lattice

I haven’t participated with the Sweet Melissa Sundays group in months, but when I saw that my blogging buddy Gloria of The Gingersnap Girl selected Plum and Raspberry Pie with a Sweet Almond Lattice as this week’s recipe, I decided to bake-along. Who can say no to a pie at the height of summer fruit season? Also, making a lattice-top pie has been on my to-try list for a while. Unfortunately, making a pretty one still is!

I was really proud of myself early yesterday morning, thinking I was getting the hard work out of the way by making both the base pie dough and the lattice dough. Little did I know, that even after several hours in the refrigerator, plus another twenty minutes or so after I cut the strips, the lattice dough would be a crumbly mess to work with. I made two mini pies with a half recipe, which I thought would make the elusive lattice top a bit easier and in this instance, I was definitely wrong. I got lazy and ended up just haphazardly placing the strips on top of my mini pies.

The pies aren’t beautiful, but they definitely make up for it in taste. Gloria had said this recipe pairs perfectly with Melissa’s Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream, so I decided to make it to have with the pie. (I’ve made this ice cream many times since it was originally chosen two years ago and it’s always a hit.) I’m glad I did, as the pie was a bit tart and it was nice to have something sweet to complement it. The pie rated a 9 for Deliciousness and I gave it a 5 for Effort for an EDR of 1.8. You can find the recipe here on Gloria’s site and visit the Sweet Melissa site to see how the other bakers fared.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TWD: Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Josh and I celebrated Independence Day by getting up early to run a 4-mile race. There are a lot of road races on the fourth and it has become an unofficial tradition to run one before we consume copious amounts of holiday food. I have been fighting an injury for months, so I was especially happy that I am finally healed enough to run (short) races. Anyway, after the race we still had several hours before it was barbecue time and I had the chance to make this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie selection, Chocolate Chunk Muffins, as a mid-morning snack.

By not making the muffins until Monday, I benefited greatly from the Problems & Questions section. The consensus was they needed more chocolate and Leslie suggested subbing in a couple tablespoons of oil for the butter in order to prevent dryness (which seems to be pretty common with chocolate muffins), and with these two minor modifications, the muffins turned out excellent. I don’t think a “healthy” sprinkle of crunchy sugar hurt either. Yes, I know I just made a breakfast food even more sugary and decadent than it was supposed to be and I’m not sorry. I must comment that the batter seemed a little strange looking, almost sponge-like, but luckily that was not a problem once the muffins baked. Josh came into the kitchen when I was photographing the muffins and decided they would also be a good afternoon snack and he gives them a big thumb’s up.

We rated these muffins a 9 for Deliciousness and I rated them a 3 for Effort. Thanks to Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles for a terrific selection. You can find the recipe here on Bridget’s site and see if the other bakers enjoyed them as much as we did by visiting the TWD site.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TWD: Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Cookies

I don’t know exactly how many recipes are left, but Tuesdays With Dorie is getting pretty near the end of Baking. (And seriously, how sad will it be when we’re done?) You would think that we’d be at the at dregs of the book. It seems that every week, though, we’re like, “how was this amazing treat not selected already?” Until this week, when Josh saw what I was making, Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Cookies, and said something to the effect of, “I can see how that is one of the last recipes to be picked.” They just don’t look or sound very exciting. Luckily they have a nice cakey texture and are pretty tasty. It sounds like a lot of the other bakers filled the cookies with frosting or ice cream, which I’m sure would be awesome, but they’re getting eaten without any extra accoutrements (aside from the chocolate chips I added to the batter), so I’m happy.

Josh rated the cookies a 6.5 for Deliciousness and I gave them a 2.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.6. Many thanks to Spike of Spike Does Stuff for hosting this week; stop by her fun newish site for the recipe!