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I owe you

3 Feb

I owe my one faithful reader (you) a post of apology with a large dose of contrition.  I have been a bad bad blogger. Not writing, not reading, not participating.

I have only two excuses (weak ones at that)

1. I have an internet net connection about two days a week – at my “old” job and they keep me so busy I have no time to read….I could write if I got my act together and crafted posts out side of work and hit the dang post button here, but, obviously, that is beyond me probably because of reason 2.

2. I am working 7 days a week right now and have been since last September. While the holiday rush is over at the bakery, the wedding preparation season is in full swing. Given the fact my boss will be on maternity leave during the height of summer, I need to step up my game and prepare, prepare, prepare. So this leaves little time for writing or experimenting on the baking front.

All the excuses aside, I miss blogging. I miss reading and being engaged. So I am going to try to carve out some time to craft and write (maybe by reducing my time playing Marion Galaxy on our new Wii).

I have decided to take a hiatus from daring bakers (hopefully they’ll let me back in) and spend some time with daring cooks.  While I don’t have the time or drive to play with sweets…a girl’s got to eat dinner now and again.

So, look out here I come (again)….at some point….soon….I hope…..

Falling in Love

28 Oct

I love Fall. I love apples and the brightly colored trees and the chill in the air and this year I am adding a love for Mulled Spice French Macaroons.

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Light and crisp (just like the air outside) with a hint of warmth and softness in the middle (like  a warm sweater on the night of the first frost)….french macaroons are amazing.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macaroons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I wish I had time to write more about my experience with these macaroons but time is a luxury these days. I will say that while I tried the Fleming recipe it did not work for me and I switched to the one on cannelle et vanille’s site, which worked like a dream.  I spiked the meringue with mulling spices and made an apple compote/curd with the left over egg yolks for the middle. Divine!

Poofless Puff

7 Oct

I am a few days late on my DB challenge and a little underwhelmed.

It did not go well. I made the dough on Saturday night but put off the laminating until Sunday…

Maybe the dough was to warm, or I missed a turn, but my puff seriously lacked poof.

It was an interesting experience though, and I had fun with it in my own way. I took my poofless puff and  tried out three recipes: cheddar squirrels, banana/dulce de leche puffs, and palmiers.  The palmiers were awesome as were the cheddar squirrels…the banana puffs in the DB challenge vols-au-vents left something to be desired. They tasted awesome but vols did not vent so they were short but flaky.

So here is what I did ….

Cheddar squirrels.

P1010236If you have the Martha Halloween special magazine, I used the recipe for flaky pumpkins – spreading mustard and cheese on the one layer of puff covered it with a second layer and brushed it with paprika butter. Cute and tasty – grilled cheese for grown-ups.

Banana Dulce de Leche puffs.

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I blind baked the vols-au-vents  for 10 minutes and then added a dollop of dulce de leche and a slice of banana rolled in vanilla/cinnamon  turbanado sugar and continued to bake them for another 10 minutes. The puff never materialized but the caramel banana was awesome especially with a “hat” of whip cream.

Dulce de Leche Recipe ( Martha Stewart, Halloween Magazine 2009)

14 0z can of sweetened condensed milk

place sweetened condensed milk in a heat resistant bowl over a pan of simmering water (a double boiler) and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes or so for 2 -3 hours until the milk turns to caramel.

Dulce de Leche Palmiers

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I had some dough scraps and left over dulce de leche so I made my favorite puff pastry treat….palmiers.  Maybe it was the extra day of rest but the palmiers puffed up lovely and they were golden, crisp, and flaky.  This was the best of the three.

I still have half of the puff dough in the freezer, so I think I will try some other puffy treats and may even try the vols-au-vents again just to see if a few days rest will make a difference.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Her site will give you all you need to know on making puff pastry that I have neither the patience nor the inclination to do on this site.

Thanks to Steph for the challenge, to Lisa for posting the comment that encouraged my to complete this challenge,  and to DB for pushing the limits of my baking skills.

Wait for it….

30 Sep

I have been so busy these last few months…

It is not an excuse, just a reality.

Baking 4 days a week (well actually cake decorating) while working my corporate job 2-3 days a week has kicked my a**. I LOVE the (baking) work, but it is a whole new ball game for me with a bit more of a learning curve than I was expecting. Ah well the rewards are worth it (  I hope).

On to the DB challenge. I have all necessary ingredients in the fridge…ready to go… just waiting for me to put them together, bake them off, photograph them and post them here.

I have set a goal for this Sunday. I want to do this, I have to do this. The DB challenge is what keeps my creative juices flowing. It makes me happy and forces me to engage with the world.

I will post, I will, I will, I will!!!

Mallow Cupcake?

27 Jul

This months DB competition was just brilliant. I am working on honing my marshmallow skills and this project left me with lots of practice.

I decided to play with the concepts a little and added some cherry margarita curd to lighten the mood. It was a perfect treat for a friend’s 50th birthday party and the cakes held up well on our 2-hour midsummer Casco Bay boat ride.

Mallow 3

Mallow 4

The recipe yielded 4 dozen treats and as such my “taste tester’s” co-workers also had a chance to sample these delights.

This time I stayed true to the recipe. Following the cookie, marshmallow, and chocolate guidelines to a tee. I did shape the cookies and baked them in mini cupcake pans (next time I think I’ll cut down on the baking powder and baking soda to keep the dough from rising). After baking the cookies I filled them with cherry curd and topped them with a pipe of marshmallow. After everything set up I dipped them in chocolate.. and viola light fluffy, sweet and tart….perfect summer treats.

For more photos see my flickr account and view the army of mallowcakes we had on hand….

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Follow the break for the recipes…

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apfel strudel revisited

27 May

I am not a huge strudel fan.

Being German, I think this is a sacrilegious statement. But since I am from up north, I think I can get away with it.

So when this month’s DB challenge was a strudel I was apprehensive and uninspired and when I saw how much work it was going to entail I almost backed out.

But in the end I decided to suck it up and give it a try…

Thinking about the dough and seeing it posted next to the philo in Joy of Cooking an idea was formed.  I would treat strudel dough like I would philo dough and work in layers.

I broke out the pasta maker and got to work…

I made mini apple and cranberry cream cheese strudel. Forming strips of dough adding a little cream cheese filling and topping either with dried cranberry or with a mix of apple, almond, and cinnamon and rolling them up.  They were light and flaky, not too sweet….a great breakfast treat.

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With the other half of the dough I made a tart base brushed with a mix of honey, pistachios, butter, and cardamom ala baklava.  After baking I topped it with an orange panna cotta….it was a light and lovely dessert.  I did have a fight with the panna cotta and as such it was a bit “lumpy” but the taste was great.

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Bacon

2 May

Need I say more?

I know there is a bacon craze these days.  You can buy bacon in every form from a breakfast slab to bacon salt (not quite sure how it is vegetarian or kosher but the “concept” sounds intriguing) to bacon candles (this site is literally dedicated to bacon from food to jewelry).  There was even a time when you could have a slab a bacon magically appear on your screen, just in case you have a bacon craving in the middle of the day and there is (gasp) no bacon in your lunch.

This is all a bit much, in my humble opinion. But who am I to deny the love of bacon.  In these awful days of swine “flew” is it not time to remember the happier side of the hog.

So I guess it is not so odd that I have had such a great response to bacon cheesecake.

In my last post I didn’t provide recipes….mostly because I was lazy. But now I will share the one for PB Bacon Cheesecake, just for you.

Start with Abby’s Infamous Cheesecake and add some peanut butter, chocolate chips, and candied bacon.  It is that simple.

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