Wednesday, January 25, 2012

BFMHTY: Almost Fudge Gateau

I apologize for the picture above... don't even get me started on my digital camera and its "food setting." Last night for dinner, my dad and I decided to make a special meal for my mom. Chocolate is her favorite, so I looked through the way-too-long list of recipes I haven't made from BFMHTY. Like I said earlier, I no longer have the goal of finishing the book, but I like the recipes from it and maybe it's something I'll want to do someday. I think it would be a fun summer project (although it might last two summers - seriously, the length of this list is depressing).
Anywho, I chose the almost fudge gateau. That name makes it sound delicious, and I love the little story before the recipe about Dorie's friend who gave up television to sit and watch her oven for half an hour while the cake rose. This cake was fairly simple (you know, for a master baker like me. yeah right, this is the girl who managed to make whipped cream into butter). Haha no, it is not a complicated recipe and is fairly quick.
The cake is, like the description says, moist and dense. It is very rich and chocolaty, and delicious! I recommend it. The recipe can be found in BFMHTY.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mini Cheesecakes and a new plan

This is another recipe I made for our New Year's party. I loved it! It's super simple and anyone (I mean anyone, even if you NEVER bake) can make it. It starts off with mini cupcake wrappers. You put a nilla wafer in the bottom of each one. I have made these like this before with success, but this time I just put some cookie crumbs in the bottom of each one because I wanted to make them gluten free, and I couldn't find gluten-free cookies that small. Over the "crust" comes a simple mixture of cream cheese, eggs, vanilla, and sugar (of course. what blog do you think you're reading??). They are baked for a few minutes and then topped with some sort of sweet deliciousness. I have made them with canned cherry pie filling like the recipe calls for, but this time I put a dollop of raspberry jam on top. They were delicious, and my best friend and I had fun making them. They are a great project to do with little kids, or just for a quick dessert. Enjoy!!

Mini Cheesecakes (from Allrecipes)
1 (12 ounce) package vanilla wafers
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line miniature muffin tins (tassie pans) with miniature paper liners.
Crush the vanilla wafers and place 1/2 tablespoon of the crushed vanilla wafers into the paper lined miniature muffin tins.
Cream together with an electric mixer the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Fill each miniature muffin liner with this mixture, almost to the top.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 minutes. Cool and then top with a teaspoonful of cherry (or any other flavor) pie filling.

Now for the new plan. Remember when I was in Tuesdays with Dorie? I loved being in that group, and it motivated me to bake new things more often. Last year I had to drop out due to lack of time, and I just heard that they are starting a new book. I'm joining in again, SO here's my new plan:
I want to keep baking from BFMHTY. Sometimes. I love that book and it has been something I do for the past 2 years, but I realized that since I joined so late in, I'm not even halfway through with it. I love the recipes from it but don't want to have the goal of finishing it anymore. Maybe someday!
I bought Baking with Julia. I joined the new group! I'm not sure how far this will go - doing one every two weeks is definitely more manageable, so I think it will work out better this time. I'm excited to start from the beginning of a book with that group.
I may try to take up Daring Bakers again. I will keep looking at their challenges each month (somehow they still haven't kicked me out - I guess they don't check who posts each month), and I'll try to do them sometimes. I think this way I'll learn how to make things I wouldn't have otherwise. But no pressure on this one - baking new things isn't something I want to feel like I have to do.
So that's my plan. I hope you keep reading my blog, and follow along whatever crazy baking adventures I go on. <3

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sea Salt Caramels and a cute appetizer

Happy New Year!! Last weekend we had a small party at our house on the 31st. We decided to make dinner be a whole bunch of appetizers instead of having a big sit-down ordeal, and it worked out great. I was in charge of dessert and decided to keep with the theme of bite-sized food and make various little sweets. I made a variety, and these were probably the most popular; sea salt caramels. I had never made caramel before but it was something I always wanted to try, so I was glad to have the chance. The recipe says that it will take about ten minutes for the sugar to turn a dark honey color, but mine took about eight, so I guess it depends on the stove/pan. I cut them just as soon as they were cool and they were EXTREMELY chewy and could pull out a tooth, but once it was time for dessert a few hours later they had softened and were perfectly chewy and delicious. I had no flakes of sea salt so I used regular table sea salt (less than a tablespoon though) and they were a bit too salty - I would stick to the flakes. Either way everyone loved them, and they were a definite hit!
Homemade Sea Salt Caramels (source: Baking Bites)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 – 2 tbsp sea salt (rec. Maldon brand)

Lightly grease a 9×9 -inch glass or pyrex baking dish with butter or a thin coat of vegetable oil.
In a large saucepan, combine water, corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then continue to boil until caramel turns a deep honey color (10-14 minutes).
While sugar cooks, combine cream and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 1-2 minutes on high heat, until butter is melted. Set aside.
When sugar is a deep honey color, pour in cream mixture. Caramel will bubble up vigorously. Stir until bubbles subside slightly, then stir in salt. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and continue to cook, stirring regularly with a silicone spatula, until caramel reaches 260F (5-10 minutes).
Pour caramel into prepared dish. Allow caramel to cool completely, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt.
Cut caramels into small squares or rectangles with a warm, sharp knife.
Caramels can be served immediately or wrapped in small squares of wax paper. Caramels will keep for a few weeks at room temperature.
Makes about 3-4 dozen, depending on the size of your caramels. <-- i cut mine into 36 and they were pretty large

This was one of our appetizers, and I thought it was such a cute idea. You just put little balls of fresh mozzarella (we couldn't find them so we just cut chunks) and cherry tomatoes on toothpicks, and set them out with a bowl of pesto for dipping. We made it ourselves using this recipe, which was delicious, and we added a little extra oil to make it thinner for dipping. (The little bowl is garlic-free for a friend who's allergic). Yummy!