SMS – Chocolate Peppermint Meringues

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Me and meringues apparently don’t get along so well.

On pies, my meringue wants to either set on fire, smoke up my kitchen and become black as night in quite literally 5 seconds after placing it underneath the broiler.

It seems as if my meringue cookies are cursed as well. You see I believe that these were supposed to be chewy and semi-soft… mine were, well here let me show you:

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Yah. I think that about says it all! They were HOLLOW! And crunchy. Almost inedible. Almost. And even if you dared to take a bite, you’d end up with crumbles all over the floor, your mouth, hands, shirt and the cat. Not that I’d know anything about that. I’m just assuming……

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I think the culprit was that I must have whipped my egg whites for too long. It’s the only thing that I was unsure about. Also, my chocolate ‘powder’ was 50% tiny chocolate chips cus I was too chicken to let the processor stay on for too long for fear of ending up with a gritty form of ganache. So, in turn I have beautifully speckled, hollow meringues. And I’m ok with that.

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My second batch did come out a tiiiiiny bit better. I refrigerated the meringue ‘dough’ for 24 hours and baked for a shorter time. They were a bit more chewy but not much different. If there’s a next time, I’d whip less and bake for MUCH less time in the oven.

But all hollowness (and bitterness) aside, they sure do take some pretty pictures.
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A thank you goes out to Kelly of Sweetgrass Sensibilities for choosing this recipe, even if it didn’t want to work out for me. Head on over to her blog for the recipe and make sure to stop by the other bakers’ blogs to see what they are supposed to look and taste like.

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Up next week: Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Torte.
If this is ANYTHING like the soft chocolate raspberry torte that I’ve already made, I KNOW I will love it. And you will too!

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SMS – Toasted Almond Lemon Bars

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When life gives you lemons, make lemon bars!
I vote that this be the credo of all bakers across the globe, who’s with me?!

Lemon bars are a perfect treat if you covet one that doesn’t taste fussy and interfere with its true star: the lemons (of course).

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Sometimes a simple treat with only one true star to steal the show is refreshing. You don’t have any diva’s trying to get into the mix and steal the spotlight from all the other unsuspecting stars. Because then they break out into a fight and you have a spurt of this here and some of that there and the next thing you know, your tongue is throwing in the towel and you have a headache.

Who needs THAT?

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Although the lemons are the star of the show, the crust is delicious. It is crumbly and simply delightful, a perfect base for these bars. I had a few problems with the process of these bars. The dough was fuuuuuuussy. It came together quickly and easily but it was so soft that it was impossible for me to press it into the pan without my hands getting covered in the dough. Then when I DID finally get it into the pan, I removed the foil and pie weights (read: rice) and baked some more to brown it and managed to create cracks in my dough. Melissa says ‘NO CRACKS’ so I admit that I panicked a little. But forged ahead. I filled the cracked crust with super runny filling, said a prayer to the baking gods and placed my lucky rabbits foot on top of the oven.

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And boy, oh boy. Was I rewarded. That’s not a question… that is a blunt in yo face statement that should make you RUN, not walk to your nearest kitchen and get to squeezin those lemons that life gave you!!

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A giiiiiant thank you to Rebecca of Indecisive Baker for choosing these bars and pulling me out of my fear of conquering lemon squares! Head on over to her blog for the recipe.

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I semi-apologize for the picture heavy post. It’s a rarity that I can’t decide between a few pictures. These bars were beautiful to photograph, so I thought I’d share that with you! I hope you enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

Up next week: Chocolate Peppermint Meringues

SMS – Chocolate Walnut Brownies

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I feel like my life has been flooded with brownies. BROWNIES EVERYWHERE!!

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad. By ‘life’ I mean ‘last week’ and by ‘everywhere’ what I really mean is ‘in my kitchen.’ I’ve baked *counts on fingers* 4 batches of brownies plus one batch of blondies. Whew that’s a lot!! For me at least.

But they were tasty and well received. So in all honesty, I’m not complaining!

These will most likely become one of my go-to brownie recipes. I have found my ALL TIME FAVORITE RECIPE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD (I’ll have the recipe up soon, pwomise!) but it involves Nutella, so when I run out of it I can always fall back on these.

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This is a simple, straight forward recipe. No frills, no gimmicks. Just good, fudgy, nutty brownies. You can add chocolate chunks, chopped up peanut butter cups, or go sans-nuts. This is a great canvas to tweak and alter them to your tastes.

Thank you to Tiffany of A Spoonful & a Heap for choosing this simple recipe for a very hectic week! Head on over to her blog for the recipe.

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Up next week: Toasted Almond Lemon Bars. Yum yum, these will be my first homemade attempt at lemon bars. I have high hopes for these!

SMS – (Sour) Cherry Almond Biscotti

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I used to hate biscotti.

A crispy, crunchy, crumbly, plain, bland cookie… no thanks. I did not belong in the ‘I friggin love biscotti camp.’ I was more part of the soft, chewy, round, chocolate chip studded camp.

I was a snob, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

But I have changed my ways, scout’s honor.

Once I started baking many different types of cookies that were outside my comfort (and personal taste) zone, I became much more open minded to all different kinds of cookies: spicy cookies, cakey cookies, cookies with jam, cookies that resemble poo, even square cookies!

I’m a changed gal with much broader views of the world… erm… of cookies. One step at a time people.

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Biscotti are quite possibly the most forgiving cookies one can make. As long as you don’t burn them to the point where they resemble chunks of coal, you’re good to go! Throw everything together, chill the dough, divide and roll into logs, bake, cut, bake and cool. That’s it!!

These really are delicious and beautiful cookies. Almond scented, studded with bits of dried fruit and nuts that pair perfectly with your favorite tea. The flavor is subtle and not over-powering and the texture is a beautiful crunch and crumble.

They would make a wonderful gift for that biscotti lover in your life.

I only wish I would have given them to my mom in a pretty box with sparkly tissue paper instead of a ziplok bag. But she received them just as well ๐Ÿ™‚

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Thank you to Tracey of Made by Tray Tray for choosing these biscotti and making my mom a very happy woman ๐Ÿ™‚ Head on over to her blog for the recipe!

Up next week: Chocolate Walnut Brownies. Yum.

SMS – Northfork Peach Raspberry Pie

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Happy Fourth of July everyone! I hope you are all enjoying hamburgers and hot dogs and apple pies. Root beer floats and cakes made to look like the American flag!

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J – What was the last thing you ate?
Laura – Calzone.
J – What time?
Laura – Lunch.
J – Spinach?
Laura – Mushroom.
J – You need pie.

You get brownie points if you can guess the movie.

I love pie. It feels like I’ve stated this fact a bajilion times + 3 but I really do love it. I mean, what’s not to love about a buttery, flaky crust encompassing juicy, gooey fruit that falls all over your pie plate as you try to neatly cut a slice? Its heaven in a slice of bubbly fruit.

I never really made pie before this whole baking bonanza took over my life. And I never knew the joys of homemade pie crust. What a sad little life I had growing up.

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But, feel no pity for me as I am now in control of my yummies and I am happy to report that I will never buy another store bought crust again. I won’t jinx it, but I think I’ve got the hang of keeping it cooooold and working quickly. Rolling it out and shaping it…. ehh… that’s fodder for another day.

BUT IT DOESN’T MATTER! I have mastered pie crust. I feel complete. For now. Until the next time I attempt caramel. *scoffs*

Anywho, please don’t judge my photos this time ’round because… well let’s not sugar coat here, there’s enough of that on the pie… they are horrible. We are getting the aftermath of Hurricane Alex and that means dark as night skies and rain rain rain. Which ALSO means natural light? Nil. Honestly I don’t think that sunlight would have saved my pie anyhow seeing as it resembles… you don’t want me to go there… but it just doesn’t look appetizing.

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I followed the recipe as it except I made the all butter pie crust instead because I have great luck with that one (and ran out of shortening because I buy it like, once a year. Ick.) And I added a bit more sugar to the top of the pie crust. Cus you know, life is sweet and all that jazz. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you to Rebecca of Beurrista (how witty) for choosing this recipe! Head over to her blog for the recipe! Just make sure not to use slightly mushy white peaches as it will end up looking like…..

Oh yah, you don’t wanna know ๐Ÿ˜‰

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SMS – Gingersnaps

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Sometimes I wonder if I’m just a dunce, or if my taste buds aren’t fully matured. I have never had that aha! moment when something tasted SO refined, SO intricate and complex that I feel fancy. I have tried many different cookies and brownies and most of them, have tasted the same to me. I can’t seem to tell much difference when it comes to flavor.

These cookies are a perfect example. They are ‘gingersnaps’ but what makes them so different from gingerbread cookies? Or Dorie’s Molasses cookies? Is it purely the texture? Or is it flavor too?

I can’t tell.

And honestly I really don’t mind. At the moment. It just drives me nuts sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚

Just wondering if taste- bud-ignorance really is bliss?

These cookies are good. Not ‘OMG this is the only cookie I’ll ever eat’ good… but good. They are actually a bit too spicy for me, but I did use black pepper instead of white. Underbake them just a bit for a chewy cookie and bake them a minute or so more for a crispy cookie.

My first thought was to make them into a crust for a lemon cheesecake. And I did. But you’ll have to wait for that one.

I’m cruel, I know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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For the recipe, head on over to Gloria’s aptly titled blog The Ginger Snap Girl.

Up next week: North Fork Peach Raspberry Pie. Peaches. Raspberries. I think the co-workers are going to be quite the happy lot, myself included ๐Ÿ™‚

SMS – Chestnut Honey Madeleines

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I. Love. Madeleines.

I love them so much that they are my go-to treat with my coffee at Starbucks. That I daydream about different flavor combinations. I love them so much that I named my kitty after them. Everyone say hi to Madeleine ๐Ÿ™‚

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Wanna know a little secret? I didn’t own a madeleine pan until a few weeks ago. Oh, and I have never made them before now. To be honest I didn’t think I could do these delightful cookies justice.

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But the only push in the right direction that I needed was to read the word “honey.” It was all down hill from there.

You see, honey is another infatuation of mine. My breakfast on most weekdays consists of one whole wheat tortilla, 1/2 spread with peanut butter and the other 1/2 with honey. So. Good.

Anyway, madeleines + honey = pure bliss.

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These baked up a bit darker than I imagined they would but other than that… they are perfect. Soft to the touch, slightly dense but tender crumb, wonderful honey flavor. Perfectly paired with an afternoon tea or coffee. Sprinkled with powdered sugar or glazed with pure honey… not that I know anyone who did that……..

My only regret: only making a dozen. Doh!

A BIG thank you goes out to Debbie of Cafรฉ Chibita for choosing these!! Head on over to her blog today for the recipe. And be sure to check out the other bloggers who baked along this week.

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Up next week: Ginger Snaps!

SMS – Butterscotch Pralines

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OMG!! I’m posting ON TIME, with pictures and everything. Today must be a good day ๐Ÿ™‚

I happened to have everything I needed on hand, the recipe came together SO quickly and easily that I’m convinced that it’s fool proof!!

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These were great!! My only gripe is that they were too sweet for me.

I know, I know. Don’t drop dead. Me…. find something too sweet? Is that possible? Well…. sadly, yes. 3 cups of sugar tends to do that. ย But I will try crumbling half of one over vanilla ice cream just because that sounds so tempting in itself.

Next time I’llย coarsely chop the pecans, I’d like the pralines to be a bit chunkier in texture.

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For the recipe, head on over to Tess’s blog Cookin’ Chemist.

Up next week: ย Coconut Custard Pie.

*I must apologize for the pics. They were rushed and the sun kept peeking out and then going away. So just pretend they are awesome shots ๐Ÿ™‚

SMS – Peanut Butter Truffles & Orange Blueberry Muffins Two-Fer!!

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Yes, I have been slacking. No, it’s not because I don’t love you. Or the goodies. Or posting.

It’s just been hectic. I keep telling myself tomorrow, tomorrow. But tomorrow never comes. Isn’t that a song?

Anyways… I’ll be a woman of as few words as possible so I can type up another blog and put it on the back-burner.

Peanut Butter Truffles
For the recipe, head on over to Mara’s blog Love Your Mother.

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These were gooooooood. Sinful, even. They are easy to throw together and yield such wonderful, creamy deliciousness. My only complaint is that the peanut butter wasn’t as pronounced. I halved the recipe so that may be the culprit. I melted some bittersweet chocolate and dipped half. I also didn’t have peanuts so I chopped up some salted cashews and rolled the other half in that. Still good!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble
For the recipe, head on over to Chaya’s blog Sweet & Savory.

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The muffin base for this recipe has given me trouble time and time again. I’ve tried nipping and tucking it until it was barely recognizable and quite honestly, it isn’t worth the effort anymore. They are borderline dry, really heavy and quite dense. The blueberry flavor didn’t stand out (my fault because I used frozen) but the orange flavor was bright and sunny. I would try this combo again with a different muffin base.

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Up next week: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel-Rum Raisin Sauce. That’s aaaaall going to my mom. The lover of all things bread pudding ๐Ÿ™‚

SMS – Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie

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Sometimes when I decide to tinker with the recipe, I forget that there is a different effect to everything I change. Take for example this pie filling: I read two cups of strawberries and two cups of rhubarb and think to myself “thats it?” So, I roughly double the strawberries and don’t bother to think about what that’ll do to the pie.

Just in case you didn’t know, strawberries have a HIGH water content. So high, that when you double the amount of strawberries called for in a recipe, you should expect nothing less than strawberry soup.

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Don’t get me wrong, this pie was SO delicious that I didn’t mind that I had to pourย a bitย GALLONS of the extra strawberry hued water out or that it made my pie crust soggy, no. I didn’t care because it was sweet and tangy and the biscuits were tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Pie heaven!

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Now if only I could have taken more appealing pictures of this pie. I really hate struggling for natural light ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I used fresh berries and frozen rhubarb. Houston doesn’t seem to like rhubard. Which would explain the hordes of stores I’ve gone to in order to find fresh rhubarb. With none to be found.

Update: I FINALLY found fresh organic rhubarb…… at $6.99/lb. No thanks. I’ll keep searching ๐Ÿ™‚

A huge thank you to my friend Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures for choosing this recipe and finally getting some of that frozen rhubarb out of my freezer. Head on over to her great blog for the recipe and mass amounts of foods that’ll really get your mouth watering ๐Ÿ™‚

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Up next week: Peanut Butter Truffles