Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TWD: Coconut Tea Cake

The last Tuesdays With Dorie recipe for the month of March is Coconut Tea Cake. There seem to be a lot of people who don’t really like coconut. Josh will eat coconut if there are enough other ingredients in the recipe to mask the texture and flavor and doesn’t seem to mind coconut in curry, but since he is pretty ambivalent about coconut desserts (the tarts from the beginning of the month? unfinished), I rarely bother to make them unless it’s baking group assignment. Luckily, I saw my family this month and I knew they would appreciate coconut cake.

I made the plain version, with the optional rum. I used light coconut milk, and since I didn’t think it had a very strong coconut flavor, I increased the amount of shredded coconut in the recipe from ¾ cup to one cup. I also reduced the sugar from 2 cups to a cup and a half since I used sweetened coconut. A lot of bakers reported that their cakes were moist, but mine was on the dry side. Not so much in a bad way, more like a light and very airy way. I was happy to have a chance to use my Kugelhopf pan, admittedly for only the second time. The first time was when I made a recipe from Baking for All Occasions, which has foolproof instructions for preparing pans with intricate designs: a layer of shortening (I used butter), a coating of nonstick spray, and a dusting of flour. It does seem a bit overly cautious, but it works.

My parents both enjoyed the cake. My mom said it is “the type of cake you can eat any time of day,” which is pretty much exactly what Dorie said in the recipe notes. I tried it plain and thought it was good, though I wouldn’t have minded a bit of fruit sorbet on the side or a light glaze. This cake gets a 7.2 for Deliciousness and a 3 for Effort, for an EDR of 2.4. Many thanks to Carmen of Carmen Cooks for selecting this yummy cake. You can find the recipe on Carmen’s site and visit the TWD blogroll to see what the other bakers thought.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TWD: Dulce de Leche Duos

Even though I am constantly baking, we can never resist ordering a few boxes of Girl Scout cookies –there’s the novelty that they are only available for a brief time each year and it’s comforting to have your favorite childhood treats. Last year we even saw the Girl Scout we buy the cookies from trying to help a cat, so we know she’s a good Girl Scout. Anyway, this year we were enticed by a new flavor, Dulce de Leche. Josh tried them and informed me that they were Dulce de Disappointing. I decided to take his word for it and left the cookies in the kitchen at my office, where they did disappear. This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Dulce de Leche Duos and these cookies are not disappointing at all.

The recipe says that Dulce de Leche is readily available, but I don’t believe I’ve seen it at any markets around here. I suspect if I had, it would have made its way into my grocery cart somehow. The Problems & Questions section of the TWD site came through with several recipes, though, and I made my Dulce de Leche using David Lebovitz’s method, which consists of sprinkling some sea salt on condensed milk and letting it cook in a water bath. When I removed the Dulce de Leche from the oven, it looked really lumpy and curdled, but a short spin in the mixer did wonders for its texture and it tasted fantastic. Oh, and the chewy, caramelly cookies were superb. I thought they were good enough to eat without the filling.

This recipe rated a 9 for Deliciousness and a 3 for Effort, for an EDR of 3. Many thanks to Jodie of Beansy Loves Cake for picking this delightful recipe. You can find the recipe on Jodie’s site and visit the TWD blogroll for more cookies.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

SMS: Double-Crusted Caramel Apple Pie

Around here it’s a good week if I have made my Sweet Melissa recipe by Friday, but I actually made this week’s selection, Double-Crusted Caramel Apple Pie, last month. Between Tuesdays With Dorie and Sweet Melissa Sundays, there were a lot of dessert-desserts (you know: pies, cakes, tarts) chosen for the month of March, so back when the Sweet Melissa group made lemonade in February and I had a little free baking time, I gave Josh a choice of recipes and he, not surprisingly, chose apple pie. This worked out perfectly since his annual Boyz Trip was this weekend, and Eloise and I went to visit my family. (I’m sure my family wouldn’t have minded me bringing an apple pie with me. Instead they got an upcoming cake that I knew Josh wouldn’t be interested in).

I don’t fear caramel nearly as much as I used to, but have had enough mishaps to make me slightly apprehensive when a caramel recipe comes up. I used a 10-inch shallow skillet to make the caramel and I’m happy to say that this one came together in exactly the amount of time the recipe specified – awesome! For the crust, I tried Melissa’s all-butter pie dough for the first time. I made the dough by hand with my pastry blender and thought it was having a little trouble coming together, so I added the maximum amount of water the recipe suggested, which made it a little sticky to roll out. The crust baked up fine and tasted excellent, though. However, I have no idea how this happened:

Okay, maybe some idea: I probably could have been more careful trimming the sides. On a semi-related note, the recipe said to bake the pie for an hour and forty-five minutes, but I checked it around an hour and it was done just a few minutes later. Josh enjoyed this pie quite a bit and it took him back to his single days: now he has a constant influx of homemade baked goods of different varieties, but before I came along, store-bought apple pie and ice cream was his favorite post-run indulgence when he was marathon training. This recipe rated an 8 for Deliciousness and a 4.5 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 1.77. Many thanks to Susan of Baking With Susan for selecting this yummy pie. I bake along with Susan in both baking groups and always enjoy visiting her blog. You can find the recipe here and visit the SMS blogroll to see what the rest of the group thought of this pie.

Look who ghosted over when I was trying to photograph the pie.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

TWD: Soft Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Soft Chocolate and Raspberry Tart. I must admit that I used to get slightly annoyed when my fellow bakers would select recipes containing out-of-season fruit, but I’ve relaxed my stance for a couple reasons: 1) You should really pick whatever you desire when it’s finally your turn to choose a recipe and 2) There’s invariably a multitude of other ingredients you can substitute in any given recipe. Dorie gives a few suggestions in the “playing around” section of this recipe and the Problems & Questions section of the Tuesdays With Dorie site also had some excellent ideas. I used frozen raspberries in my mini-tart, since I had a bag of them in the freezer. I left a handful of the berries in the refrigerator this morning before I went to work and they were a little gloppy when I returned, so the filling of the tart ended up a little more like jam than whole berries. I lucked out that this was a pretty fuss-free tart, seeing as I didn’t get around to making it until Tuesday night. The recipe called for a mixture of bittersweet and milk chocolate, but I used semisweet, mainly because I had Guittard wafers, which melt beautifully and involve no chopping.

We thought this tart was pretty good, but not great. Maybe if I’d used fresh berries, it would have been better, but I don’t think this one will get a repeat performance here. The tart rated a 7 for Deliciousness and a 3.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2. Many thanks to Rachelle of Mommy? I’m Hungry! (cute name) for hosting this week. You can find the recipe here on Rachelle’s site and visit the TWD blogroll to see more tarts.

Ice cream bowl shot: we have too many desserts right now and I told Josh he needs to finish them all before he leaves for his annual Boyz Trip weekend on Friday.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SMS: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I am totally behind in my Sweet Melissa posts and once again it’s 11:00 PM on Sunday night. I could go on with my excuses, but really, it’s more poor time management. Anyway, today’s recipe is Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. We have been eating tons of cake around here lately: in addition to last week’s Sweet Melissa selection, Roasted Pecan Cake with Caramel Orange Marmalade and Burnt Orange Buttercream, I made a raspberry-almond cake for my mom’s birthday two weeks ago, and today we had chocolate cake in celebration of Josh’s birthday (that one was made by his mother, though a large chunk came home with us). I hadn’t made a carrot cake for years, though, and couldn’t resist the opportunity to bake one. Besides, I had been buying large bags of carrots to make soup all winter, and with the warmer weather last week, I didn’t make any and had lots of carrots on hand.

The carrot cake was simple enough to make; the only laborious part of a carrot cake is shredding carrots. I do own a food processor, but the recipe said to shred them “medium fine,” so I used my box grater. The recipe called for a tablespoon and a half of cinnamon, which sounded like a lot of cinnamon, but I went with it, plus a small shake each of ground ginger and cloves. I made a mini cake in my 4.5-inch springform pans and the rest into cupcakes. Oh, actually muffins, since I didn’t end up frosting them. Josh left my cupcake courier at his office last time I forced my baked goods on his co-workers and they’ll be easier to transport unfrosted. For the cake, I used a different cream cheese frosting than the one in the book. My bloggy buddy Tracey has raved about Martha Stewart’s Cream Cheese Frosting (click here for the recipe), so I decided to give that one a try this time for the mini-cake. The proportion of sugar to butter and cream cheese in this recipe is much higher, which in my opinion makes it much yummier. It was also much fluffier, which is a good attribute for frosting.

This cake rated an 8.5 for Deliciousness and a 4 for Effort, giving it an EDR of 2.125. Many thanks to Julie of a Little Bit of Everything for giving us a chance to eat more cake! You can find the recipe here on Julie’s site and visit the SMS blogroll to see what the rest of the bakers thought of the cake.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

SMS - Behind!

I went for a long run tonight, then had to watch the season finale of "Big Love" and (an abbreviated version of) the Oscars. And now it's almost eleven and I'm too tired to type, so more details on these Sweet Melissa Desserts later.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

TWD: Toasted-Coconut Custard Tart

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Toasted-Coconut Custard Tart. This week was the first time in months that I actually contemplated skipping TWD, since I was mildly stressed and felt like I had a lot of things to do besides bake a tart that Josh would not be terribly enthusiastic about and I would feel guilty eating myself. But then I decided it’s very important to spend time doing things I enjoy and that baking a tart would relax me, so I forged on. Besides, I had tart dough (leftover from last week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays that I didn’t get around to posting) patiently waiting in the refrigerator. I baked the dough in a four-inch tart pan this morning and it totally shrunk, the shell had no walls!

I remembered I had some chocolate pie dough in the freezer, which was also leftover from a Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe I never made (I’m really sounding like a slacker), so baked a mini-pie shell with that in order to properly house the coconut custard. I’m glad I did, ‘cos when I gave the tart to Josh to taste, he said the chocolate part was the best part of it. Overall, I thought the tart was pretty tasty; I liked the mild flavor of rum and the texture the coconut added to the custard.

We rated this tart a 7 for Deliciousness and a 3.5 for Effort, for an EDR of 2. Probably not something I’d attempt again, but I had fun making it this week. Many thanks to Beryl of Cinemon Girl for hosting this week. You can find the recipe here on her site and visit the TWD blogroll to see what the rest of the bakers thought of this treat.