TWD – Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

10-20-08 541 copy

First things first: do you enjoy/love/savor/crave/obsess/need the flavor of espresso? Great, you’re in the right place.

Now, grab your cup of coffee with your left hand and one of these cookies in your right hand and follow these EXACT instructions:

Step 1: With your pinky up, gently nibble the first corner of the cookie. Chew and swallow. Audibly moan ‘mmmmm.’ Take a sip of coffee to wash the cookie down.

Step 2: Bite off the second corner of the cookie. Che…wallow. ‘MMMMmm nom’ Take a quick swig of coffee.

Step 3: Chomp off the third corner of the cookie. Swallow. At this point you’re much too impatient to chew anyhow. ‘OMG-get-in-my-belly!’ Chug
some coffee and nearly drop the cup trying to get to step four.

Step 4: Dump the rest of the cookie into your mouth along with three more (how did you get those…?) and inhale, careful not to choke. Forget the coffee, grab more cookies.

Sigh, smile, and repeat. The repeat might be mandatory if you still have coffee left ;)

1 2

These were easy-peasy to make and have a wonderful flavor. I must admit to a slight disappointment, which is completely MY fault… for some reason I thought they were sables, so I expected them to have that signature fragile sandy crunch. Instead it was sturdy and not sandy at all. But that’s my own fault for not registering the ‘shortbread cookie’ in the title.

Once I moved past that (with the flavor of these, that didn’t take long) I could truly appreciate these cookies. And promptly inhale one…er  four.

Please inhale four right now, that way I’m not alone in my cookie gluttony ;)

I baked the first batch for 15 mins on a silicone mat and found that this yielded soft cookies. Delicious. Then I baked the second batch for 17 mins directly on the cookie sheet and it yielded a much more firm cookie with ever-so-slightly golden brown edges. Also, delicious!

10-20-08 551 copy

A big thanks goes out to Donna of Life’s Too Short Not to Eat Dessert First for choosing this FAB recipe. Head on over to her blog for the recipe and check out all the other bakers’ awesome cookies!!

Up next week: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses. These are already getting rave reviews!! Time to stock up on peanut butter!!

SMS – The worst plum clafoutis ever known to man

10-20-08 491

I’m quite certain that my flop was my own fault so don’t let me deter you from picking up your cast iron skillet and whipping this up.

By then end of this, I just wanted to whip someone WITH my cast iron skillet. But I digress…

The idea was great in theory: sauteed cinnamon-sugary plums enveloped in a soft cakey batter. While visions of sugar plums danced in my head… Instead I was given scrambled egg scented, curdled batter that after 45+ mins (I stopped counting after 40) was still underbaked (although it tested done, mind you) and all I could think about was that the ONE time that I find BEAUTIFUL, ripe black plums that don’t cost an arm and a leg… they go to waste. Mainly because I wasn’t going to salvage them from their curdly doom.

10-20-08 492

Well, that and the whole mess fell onto my counter and floor while I tried to flip it onto a cake stand. See?

10-20-08 484

Hey, cast iron pans area heeeeeeavy.

I might try this again someday. After I find out what the hell I did wrong. It would have been so pretty too. I artfully arranged the plums and everything!! Not that you can tell…..

10-20-08 494

I find it important to share the flops and fails as well as the winners. It builds character, don’t you think?

Thanks a ton Michelle for choosing this recipe. It sounded SO great and I wanted it to work SO badly as this was to be a little birthday cake for my mom BUT alas… no dice. Head on over to her blog for the recipe (posted on Sunday.)

Up next week: Mom’s French Pancakes AKA ‘Crepes’ AKA ‘the most delicious vehicle to your mouth, I promise!’

TWD – Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart

10-20-08 501 copy

There are only a few things I’m good at. I know, I know. Me, the master of the universe? Knocks your socks off doesn’t it ;)

Among those few things are: managing my time wisely, folding laundry, cooking gourmet meals everyday, resisting the call of Starbucks, and making a killer tart crust.

Looks like we have a winner, folks!

dh ddsh
ftj fyj

And this is most certainly a winner. A sweet, crumbly tart dough (or pâte sablée, if you’re fancy) filled with fresh sliced peaches (or blueberries, in my case) and a ridiculously simple custard topped with brown sugar/nut crumble. It’s a doozy.

I made the whole tart crust recipe (ample amount for 4 mini tarts, 5 if you make the crust a bit thinner. But this… simply wasn’t an option for me.) I used half of one peach for 3 of the mini tarts and a handful of blueberries for the last tart. I kept all the other amounts the same and it worked perfectly! I used pecans to top the blueberry tart because Emily made it sound irresistible!

1 2

I ate an entire mini tart alone. As did my mom. And my coworker. There’s only one left. We might have to fight for it. True story.

A biiig thanks goes out to Rachel of sweet tarte for choosing this recipe (that I almost didn’t make, psh). Head on over to her blog for the recipe and some beautiful photos. Head on over to the other bakers’ blogs to see the many different variations on this amazing tart!

10-20-08 522 copy

Up next week: Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

SMS rewind – Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

10-20-08 488 copy

I’ve been doing so well lately. Baking all the ‘assignments’ and actually posting them on time. I was on a roll!

Then I dropped the ball with this one.

There’s really no excuse. It was a combination of ingredients and not having an excuse to bake TWO cakes this month as I am planning to bake my mommy a cake for her birthday.

I know you’re all here for the Sweet Almond Cake with Lemon Curd and Lemon Mascarpone Frosting but instead you get a rewind of a recipe that the Sweet Melissa baking group baked up before I joined: Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies!

10-20-08 489 copy

These are SOOO easy. So delicious. Definite crowd pleasers.

I was a little sad that mine were so thin, but they were still chewy so no real complaints here. Plus, I half expected it because I have the flat cookie curse.

These are chewy, flavorful and adaptable. A great base for ice cream sandwiches. Find a way to incorporate jelly with these cookies and call me over for some desert ;)

Until then, head on over to Stephanie’s blog for the recipe! It’s a keeper!

10-20-08 485 copy

Up next week: Sweet Plum Clafoutis With Almonds. I had plums all ready for this one but some fiancé who shall not be named, ate them. ;)

TWD – Oatmeal Breakfast Bread

10-20-08 528 copy

This bread is deceptive in every way. The name isn’t particularly appealing (unless you’re an oatmeal FREAK) or eye catching (I would have skipped right over it). The ingredients aren’t anything special, just your run-of-the-mill staple ingredients plus the addition of applesauce and oil instead of butter. It tricks you into thinking that this bread is nothing short of plain jane.

Wrong-o!

1 2
3 4

This bread is PHENOM! It is wonderfully aeromatic: spices that waft together to remind you of that snowy day during Christmas season. It is moist and keeps well. And the flavor OH THE FLAVOR! So simple yet divine. But the star, was the simple addition of pecans and brown sugar pressed atop the loaf prior to baking. It makes ALL the difference.

I subbed apple butter for the applesauce (which gave it a little extra kick in the spice department) and I added rum soaked raisins, just cus I could.

You should try this bread. I promise, you won’t be sorry.

10-20-08 527 copy

A big thanks goes out to Natalie of Oven Love for choosing this delightful recipe. Get the recipe here. I will be making this again and again.

Up next week: Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart — I’ll be scaling way down as peach desserts pretty much hate me, but I am excited about this one!

SMS – Cherry Almond Granola (with a few changes)

10-20-08 521 copy

I never thought of myself as a ‘crunchy granola’ type of person but lately granola is all I can think about. Sweet, crunchy fruit studded granola. Oh my.

I get bored so easily with my breakfast foods but my go-to combo of greek yogurt, strawberries and granola hasn’t failed me yet! So this granola came in extra handy come breakfast time!

1 2

I’m sad that I didn’t save any to make cookies with but then again, this recipe is simple enough to throw together any night.

I halved the recipe and still got an entire baking sheet worth of granola. I skipped the powdered milk and dried fruit because I didn’t have any on hand. I added pecans because: hello? toasted pecans! And I subbed the maple syrup for more honey because well, I didn’t have that on hand either. Who doesn’t have maple syrup in their house? Apparently this looney toon right here.

10-20-08 514 copy

I only baked for a little over an hour because my granola started to turn brown rather quickly and I didn’t stir the granola every 15 mins because I wanted nice big clusters! The texture was crunchy and the flavor was smoky and sweet. I loved the bursts of flavor that I got from the nuts although I missed the tart flavors of the dried fruit. I won’t skip out on that next time.

All in all this was a good granola recipe. I don’t think that this is the one I would want to marry, if one could marry such things, but it was good none-the-less.

10-20-08 523 copy

Thank you to Wendy of Pink Stripes for choosing this recipe. Head on over to her blog for the recipe and check out all the other bakers’ crunchy granola!

Up next week: Sweet Almond Cake with Lemon Curd and Lemon Mascarpone Frosting

Ps. This is my 100th post!! I’ll be celebrating next week with a little giveaway to all of my lovely readers :) Stay tuned!

MSC – Triple Citrus Cupcakes

10-20-08 407 copy

Upon reading the title and the recipe I wondered if the lemon would overpower the lime and orange flavors, but they didn’t.

They lived in harmony. Moist and tender crumb, beautiful flecks of zest peeking through the tops, an inviting aroma, lightly sweet and flavorful, these were a stunner. Now that’s what I call a happily ever after.

10-20-08 398 copy

The texture was more muffin like to me so I only glazed one for show and left the rest plain to give away as a breakfast treat. I halved the recipe and used the zests of one lemon, one lime and one clementine. These were VERY well liked by the fiancé’s coworkers. They disappeared in no time, and I can understand why.

Another winner Martha. You don’t disappoint.

10-20-08 408 copy

Thanks to Marthe from Culinairy Delights for choosing this recipe. You’ll have to get Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book for the recipe.

Up next month: Cookies and Cream Cupcakes. These are great!

TWD – Chocolate Ganache Ice Cream

10-20-08 458 copy

It might come as a surprise to you that I’m not one of those gals that go gaga over ganache.  I don’t coo at the ganache topping on a cupcake. I don’t hide in the closet in my ninja outfit eating it by the spoonful. And I don’t daydream about skinny dipping in a vat of it. I won’t give up my hypothetical first born for it.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be extremely delicious in a tart perhaps. Or as truffles. It just isn’t my favorite thing in the whole wide baking world.

But this ice cream is something else entirely!! Or at least I have convinced myself that it is.

10-20-08 467 copy

Although ganache is naturally smooth, thick, rich and creamy usually draped over some unsuspecting cake… I expected this ice cream to just be a fancy name for plain old chocolate ice cream. No big whoop right?

Wrong-o!! It is beautifully rich and decadent. It’s full bodied chocolate flavor with the smoothest texture ever. And boy, oh boy… it is CREAMY as all get out!!

No, seriously… get out so I can go have some more and not have to share ;)

I followed the recipe except I used David Lebovitz’s method for making ice cream without an ice cream maker. As I have not been gifted one for my kitchenaid yet (Ahem) and I only changed a small thing. Instead of putting the custard into a deep baking dish, I put it in my food processor bowl. I covered it with foil and placed in my freezer for 30 mins. Then I scraped the sides down with a rubber spatula and pulsed a few times until it looked creamy again. Repeat every 30-45 mins for 2-3 hours. The longer you do it, the creamier your ice cream will be.

10-20-08 460 copy

Don’t forget to throw your add ins into the mixture while it is still soft and creamy to help with ease of mixing.

My add ins: marshmallows, graham cracker bits, and chocolate chunks. But feel free to completely lose your mind with add ins: caramel, nuts, peanut butter cups, bits of fresh baked brownies, oreos, toffee bits, andes mints (junior mints or any minty chocolate), fruit, sprinkles, hot fudge syrup, a splash of Kahlua, crushed peppermints, etc. This list is only limited by your imagination!!

10-20-08 469 copy

A GIANT thanks goes out to Katrina of Baking and Boys for choosing this recipe. I will be making this one again and again and again. Head on over to her blog for the recipe!

Up next week: Oatmeal Breakfast Bread

SMS – Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Torte

10-20-08 444 copy

I knew this would happen. This aaaalways happens.

I prep to make a and notice that it is damn near the same thing as something I have previously made, save for a few slight differences. Then it happens…

MATCH TO THE DEATH!

The winner gets my unconditional affections. The loser, well… quite the opposite. If they fought, this might be how it plays out:

Contender number 1: Melissa’s chocolate raspberry truffle torte. Contender number 2: Dorie’s soft chocolate raspberry tart.

10-20-08 450 copy

Round 1: #1 and #2 stare each other down. #2 strikes with the delicate creamy texture against #1′s average texture. #1 hesitates…

Round 2: #2 strikes with the ease of preparation and hands on assembly. #1 takes a devastating hit due to the egg whites and tempering. #1 stumbles…

Round 3: The gloves come off and #2 strikes the last blow with the perfect balance of fruit and creamy filling. KO!!

So you see, I prefer Dorie’s version over Melissa’s. To be fair I’m only comparing the filling. In my opinion, there was too much fuss with not enough reward. The results were similar but since both filling textures were that of a truffle, I’d choose Dorie’s based on ease, ingredients used, and final product. Melissa’s has potential, I think I’ll mess with it one day and see what I can come up with.

10-20-08 454 copy

Thank you to Jennifer of The Rookie Baker for choosing this recipe. Head on over to her blog for the recipe.

Up next week: Cherry Almond Granola. I am excited about this one but some ingredients really need to be swapped for me to make this, so nips and tucks it will be!

Friday Lovelies

I’m just going to be the slightest bit cruel and leave you with some pictures to drool over. Cus honestly, when is random food porn NOT welcomed??

10-20-08 413

10-20-08 427

10-20-08 414

10-20-08 422 copy

I made these back in January with the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group.

Back before I got a handle on my awesome digital camera. Back before I learned about the beauty of natural light. Back before I re-named them ‘legal crack bars.’ Back before I made them a million times and forgot to photograph them.

But I remembered and I would just like to share the improved pictures with you.

Cus you’d appreciate them. You’d love and care for them like they were your own. Wouldn’t you?

I knew you would. Thank you.

- Cupcake