Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TWD: Honey Whole Wheat Cookies

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Honey Whole Wheat Cookies, the wheat coming from wheat germ rather than whole wheat flour. As someone born to hippie parents in the late seventies, wheat germ was common in our kitchen. I remember eating it with yogurt and bananas, and I’m sure my mom snuck it into other stuff, too. Wheat germ found its way into my current kitchen a while ago and everything I’ve made with it I’ve enjoyed; these cookies are no exception. Since I greatly enjoy the combination of honey and wheat, I was worried the addition of lemon would be disruptive, but it was subtle and added a nice contrast. I’ve been trying to avoid bringing baked goods to work for snacks, in favor of things like fruit and trail mix, but I managed to convince myself these are healthy enough to indulge in. As Josh aptly put it, “you don’t feel sinful eating them.”

We rated these cookies a 7.5 for Deliciousness and a 2.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 3, very good. Many thanks to Michelle of Flourchild for a fun selection. You can find the recipe here on her site – it sure looks like they had fun making the cookies at her house – and see what the rest of the bakers thought of these treats by visiting the TWD blogroll.

Oh, and I know I had said I would have my cookie taste-off results up by today, but I just haven’t really had the time to write a detailed post. Hence the fact I didn’t even get around to photographing these cookies until 8:30 PM and posting at close to 10 PM on Tuesday.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

SMS: Strawberry Lemonade

Neither the rainy weather we’re having in Northern California nor the not-quite-ripe strawberries I found at Whole Foods were exactly convincing me it was the perfect day to make this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays selection, Strawberry Lemonade. I skipped last week, though, and I love lemonade and it looked quick to put together, so I went ahead and made it. The recipe instructed to stir the sugar and hot water together, but on the Problems & Questions section of the Sweet Melissa site, Tracey suggested making a simple syrup. I figured it was a lot “simpler” to let the ingredients sit on the stovetop on low for a few minutes rather than whisk furiously to get the sugar to dissolve.

The recipe is from the “After School Snacks” section of the Sweet Melissa Baking Book; coupled with the brownie bites I received from Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook for the February round of Secret Baker, the lemonade did make an excellent afternoon snack. Despite the dreary weather, I managed to go on a long run today and it’s nice to have a refreshing beverage around. I thought the lemonade was a little on the sweet side, so I cut it with some sparkling water and it’s quite good that way. I also think it might be nice spiked with some vodka or limoncello. I rated this recipe a 7 for Deliciousness and gave it a 2.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.8. Many thanks to Jessica of My Baking Heart for a break from baking this weekend. You can find the recipe here on her site and visit the SMS blogroll to see what the other bakers thought of this treat.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TWD: My (Dorie's) Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesdays With Dorie has its second classic in a row, this week it’s: My (Dorie’s) Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. Even though the recipes are posted well ahead of time, I pretty much never end up baking the TWD recipe until the Saturday or Sunday before (or occasionally the Monday or Tuesday of) the posting date. However, one night at the end of January, Josh asked if we had any cookie dough in the freezer and we didn’t. Actually, it’s possible somewhere in the very back there might be a tiny stump left, since we are not always great about frozen baked goods. Anyway, of course the one time I bake ahead of schedule, I didn’t manage to take any pictures, so I had to make them again. This wasn’t a huge sacrifice since chocolate chip cookies are quite easy to make and Josh had declared Dorie’s cookies his new favorite, or a close second to the Ad Hoc at Home Chocolate Chips Cookies. But here’s the thing: I’m really beginning to think his “favorite” cookie is whatever I have just handed him straight out of the oven and he’s eating when I ask. I even sometimes try to remind him how much he liked previous treats, based on prior Deliciousness ratings. I decided the best way to figure out what Josh’s actual favorite cookie is was to put several kinds of cookies head-to-head in a blind tasting for him.

Unfortunately, since it’s late on Tuesday night and Josh actually needs to use the computer for work, I’m going to have to keep this post short and post the taste-off results later this week. Definitely before next Tuesday. A lot of bakers reported that Dorie’s chocolate chip cookies were incredibly thin and crispy. Mine were thin, but nice and chewy. Since Josh has an extreme preference for chewy cookies, I generally take them out a little earlier than the recipe specifies and this was no exception. In her description, Dorie presents them as being of the Tollhouse kin, and they do have that classic chocolate chip cookie taste. The first time I made them, I used pre-cut chocolate chunks, then this time I cut up a Valhrona bar and I love how the uneven little bits spread throughout the entire cookies.

Josh rated this cookie a 9 for Deliciousness and I rated it a 2.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 3.6. Many thanks to Kaitlin of Kait’s Plate for giving us a chance to try a new chocolate chip cookie. You can find the recipe here on Kaitlin’s site and visit the TWD blogroll for more cookies.

Gratuitous photo of Josh’s ice cream bowl: CCC, a morning bun I made last weekend, and melted chocolate. He resisted adding a cake pop, since that would be over-the-top.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's a Party in the North Bay

Happy Valentine’s Day! I am hoping to make (and post) this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe, Easy Chocolate Mousse, selected by Spike of Spike Bakes at some point today. I have been busy with other Valentine’s treats, such as these cake pops. A lot of Josh’s friends have cute little offspring and one of them is having a birthday party today. I made cake pops for her brother’s birthday last summer, so it would only be fair if I brought something special this time.

If you’ve never made cake pops before, they consist of a cake mushed with frosting balled up and dipped in candy melts or chocolate (I made some unpictured chocolate ones this time and they’re awesome). You can find out all you’ll ever need to know about making them on Bakerella. Since it is Valentine’s Day, I made them with Red Velvet Cake. I was going to use the Sweet Melissa recipe from last week, but one of my fellow bakers did a red velvet comparison and the recipe from Southern Cakes came out on top, so I tried that one. You can find the recipe here on Lulu the Baker. And I agree, it’s excellent cake.

Josh rated the chocolate-coated ones an 8.5 and the candy-coated ones an 8 for Deliciousness. I gave them a 4.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 1.88 or 1.77.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

TWD: Rick Katz’s Brownies for Julia

Since I’ve been a member of Tuesdays With Dorie, a handful of brownie recipes have been selected and I haven’t loved any of them. I mean, they’ve been okay, but nothing I would make a second time. Except maybe the Chipster-Topped Brownies, those were yummy. There are a lot of brownie recipes in Baking, though, and I figured that eventually one would be a hit for us and the one selected this week, Rick Katz’s Brownies for Julia, was. The brownies turned out soft and chewy and perfectly chocolaty. There were a lot of reports on the Problems & Questions section that they were extremely gooey in the center and difficult to cut, but I baked a quarter of a recipe in a 5-inch pan, so there was no real “center.” I also put them in the refrigerator to set, so that may have helped too. I decided brownies this wonderful deserved an equally excellent accompaniment, so I made David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream to go with them. (And you can see Josh added some Red Velvet Cake to the mix, too.)

For some reason, I had to read the recipe a couple times to understand how the sugar and eggs were divided and mixed, since part of the mixture is beaten separately, but other than that it was a pretty simple recipe. These brownies rated an 8.5 for Deliciousness and a 2.5 for Effort, giving them an EDR of 3.4. Many thanks to Tanya of Chocolatechic for selecting this great recipe. You can find the recipe here on Tanya’s site and visit the TWD blogroll to see what the other bakers thought.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

SMS: Red Velvet Cake

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe is Red Velvet Cake. What a fun way to begin the month of February! I had never had red velvet cake until about four years ago, when I made it myself. The first time I made it I frosted it with chocolate icing, which people thought was a little strange, but I stand by my decision – it’s yummy. This time I went with the traditional cream cheese frosting, though. Since I am attempting to cut back my sugar intake (nothing drastic, just trying to have there be more days that I don’t eat treats than days I do), I made the majority of the recipe into cupcakes and sent them to work with Josh. He said they went pretty fast, so I would take that as a sign they were a hit. There was enough batter to make two little 4.5-inch cakes, so I made a mini-layer cake for us to eat at home (there was an extra layer that we just ate plain).

I thought this was delicious red velvet cake: fluffy and moist, and I enjoyed the hint of cinnamon along with the cocoa. In fact, I liked it so much I may make it again and turn it into cake-pops for a birthday party next week. This recipe rated a 9 for Deliciousness and a 4 for Effort (mainly ‘cos I was exhausted when I baked it and made a mess piping frosting on the cupcakes), giving it an EDR of 2.25. Many thanks to Rosy of Rosy Lips and Lavender for a great selection. You can find the recipe here on Rosy’s site and visit the SMS blogroll to see what the rest of the bakers thought of this cake.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

TWD: (Not So) Mini Milk (61%) Chocolate Bundt Cake

This week’s Tuesday With Dorie recipe is Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes. Since joining Tuesdays With Dorie, I have amassed quite a few baking pans (I’m not sure which is worse: cookbook addiction or the pan habit), but sadly, a cute mini-bundt pan is not part of the collection. It’s already hard enough to open and close the cabinet where the pans are stored, so I decided that mine would be a not-quite-as-cute six-cup Bundt. Though there are some exceptions, such as M&Ms, we are not big fans of milk chocolate in this household, so I used 61%, which I thought was perfect. I did not see very positive reviews of the chocolate glaze that the cakes were to be coated with on the TWD Problems & Questions section, so I asked Josh what he would like instead of chocolate glaze and he suggested marshmallow. Between him baking and coming up with yummy ideas, I hardly have anything left to do for this blog.

Here is the recipe for the Marshmallow Sauce, adapted from Yankee Magazine:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated milk
about ½ cup of marshmallow fluff
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
a handful of mini marshmallows

Combine all of the ingredients except the vanilla and stir over a medium-low flame until blended and sugar has dissolved. Remove from the flame and add the vanilla. Cool slightly before using.

The glaze was delicious with the cake and reminded me of hot chocolate in cake form. It’s an excellent afternoon cake with coffee, though after last week’s Cocoa-Nana Loaf, Josh now seems to think any chocolate cake is fair game for breakfast. This cake rates a 7.5 for Deliciousness and a 3 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 2.5. Many thanks to Kristin of I’m Right About Everything for a fun selection. You can find the recipe on Kristin’s site and visit the TWD blogroll to see what the other bakers thought of this cake.