Sunday, October 28, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings: Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle

 It’s been years since I’ve been in school, but I still manage to have anxiety dreams about not knowing I was enrolled in a class and not having my homework done for the class every now and again. I had one last night, which may or may not have had to do with getting this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings post up. You see, last week I managed to make the recipe, but then due to various factors, did not get around to posting. However, even though I did not pre-write my post ahead of time, this is the first Sunday morning in weeks that I haven’t had a long run or a race on my agenda, therefore; barring any computer problems, which are entirely possible these days,I would have plenty of time to write about this week’s selection, Toasted Pumpkin Seed Brittle. (And there are my Joe Froggers from last week below.) 

 I hadn’t made any sort of brittle in a long time and thought making candy was a fun selection for Halloween week. As I was patiently waiting for my sugar mixture to become “almost clear,” I decided to look at the group’s website to see if any of the other bakers had perhaps mentioned how long this might take, as it seemed to be taking a while. I decided to just push up the heat a little, since low on my stove is really low. I also decided to break out the candy thermometer to make sure the sugar got to 300 degrees, which took eight minutes after the butter melting, which is how long the recipe said it would take. I just get way too nervous about burning caramel, so I like to have the extra insurance of the thermometer rather than just visual cues. 

I thought the brittle was excellent. I had thought the total amount of salt in the recipe seemed high, but it ended up being perfect. In addition to the cinnamon, I added a pinch of cardamom, and think it perhaps could have done with a bit more spice. I am more inclined to snack on treats of the nutty/seedy variety than Josh is, so I am thinking the majority of this brittle will probably need be taken to one of our offices tomorrow. You can see how the rest of the group fared with this treat by checking out the other bakers’ links on the Baked Sunday Mornings site.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings: atmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones

Over the past five years I have run numerous road races. There have been a few that have been not so great (usually involving hilly streets in in San Francisco), many that I have enjoyed and/or learned something from, and one particularly spectacular day in 2010 that involved completing a marathon and a proposal. There are a few common factors that pretty much all races I run have: Josh is with me, Rihanna is on the playlist, and I eat a Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Clif Bar before the race. This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection, Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones, is basically the awesome pastry version of my pre-race fuel of choice, so naturally I felt pre-disposed to like it. 

These scones did not disappoint. I mean, seriously, peanut butter and chocolate chips for breakfast? No complaints here. Other than the chocolate chips, there really was not an excessive amount of sugar in the recipe - I have definitely made more decadent scones. I gave one to Josh warm out of the oven and he pronounced it “ridiculously good.”  (And went on to have a second shortly thereafter.)  I had made some healthy-ish muffins for his breakfasts last week, and he ate them, but these are definitely a step up in the breakfast department. 

You can find the recipe here on the Baked Sunday Mornings website and check the other bakers’ links here.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings: Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum (Vanilla) Frosting

I tend to be a very indecisive person. Sure, this is fine for major decisions, but my husband frequently has to remind me that cookbooks I am buying will not be the last I ever purchase when it takes me five days to place an Amazon order or that I will have another treat tomorrow when I agonize over whether I want a cookie or an ice cream cone. Yesterday morning I was having a hard time deciding what to make for dinner that night (it had to be good - I always make something nice on Saturday, not to mention it was the first night of National League baseball playoffs). The upside to last night’s meal? I knew no matter what I made for dinner,* we would have a fabulous dessert, as I had already made this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection, Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum (Vanilla) Frosting, from Baked Explorations

Bundt cakes are naturally beautiful, as you make them in a pretty pan, and rarely have more than a light glaze or dusting of powdered sugar to decorate them. This one had both a generous layer of frosting and a garnish, which borders on being a little gaudy and over-the-top sugary (I am trying not to think about how much sugar was involved - let’s just say it’s a good thing we buy ten-pound bags of it at Costco), but it works in both aesthetics and flavor. The cake in the book is very dark, which made me worry I didn’t cook my caramel mixture long enough. I was happy when I bit into it and tasted a nice carmelly cake with a nice sturdy crumb, rather than just a plain sugary cake. I almost wonder if the cake in the book was made with brown sugar. 

Two weeks in and we are very pleased with the selections for this group! You can find the recipe and see how the other bakers fared on the Baked Sunday Mornings site.

*Dinner ended up being exceptionally good, too, meaning the only disappointing part of the evening was the Giants losing. I made Pork Shoulder Ragu with Papparedelle, from Dinner: a Love Story (DALS), which is quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks and has generated a handful of go-to recipes in the past few months. You can find the recipe for the pork ragu on the DALS website, here.