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 – 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 πŸ™‚

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. πŸ˜‰

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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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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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 CafΓ© 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 – 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 pourΒ a bitΒ 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 😦

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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Up next week: Peanut Butter Truffles

SMS – Pecan Shortbread Cookies (no sweet potato bread)

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Better (waaaay) late than never, right?

I don’t know how it happened but I managed to forget to post about these. I baked them and photographed them on time… I just didn’t remember to blog about them. Woopsy! I must have been hella busy because baking and my assignments are usually on my mind.

Anyway, these were good. Not GREAT but good. I had to dunk the cookies in powdered sugar THREE times to make sure that I didn’t end up with another case of the missing powdered sugar.

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I much prefer my go-to pecan sandies over these.

Speaking of powdered sugar… I never quite know what to call it. Powdered sugar? Confectioners sugar? They are the same thing but I noticed that I flip flop between the two. What do you call it?

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Thank you to Lara of The Lab for choosing this recipe. Click here for the recipe and here to see the other SMS bakers and their lovely renditions of these cookies.

Up next week: Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie (which, I’ll have you know, I’ve already made and photographed! Now to blog it, before I forget again)

SMS – Completely askew Double Crusted Caramel Apple Pie (Minis)

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“I’m going to make minis” I say. “I won’t eat an entire apple pie anyhow. Ok… I SHOULDN’T eat an entire pie” I say. “Pie crust hates me anyhow” I say. “My pie crusts always come out slightly crappy. I’ll half the pie dough and make minis” I say.

Sometimes I wish I would just learn to keep my big trap shut. I decided to make minis mainly because my pie crusts have always been nothing short of disappointing. Always. Not one instance where my pie crust has turned out flaky and delicious. Well, until now. OF COURSE!! I swear the baking gods hate me sometimes.

I can chalk my pie dough up to actually taking care to follow the steps and to put everything in the freezer before it was to be used. Cold butter, cold shortening, cold flour even. I used the maximum amount of water that was listed and although I though I needed more, I stopped. Rolling it was a bit of a pain because it wanted to crack on me BUT I didn’t really care because I thought it would suck anyhow. Psh.

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On to the caramel. HA!! The god bless me once and damn me in the same pie. I tried THREEEEE TIIIIIMES (persistent little thing, aren’t I?) to caramelize my sugar and water. And THREE TIMES it seized. It just wouldn’t stay liquidy. I have NO IDEA what I did wrong but I threw the pot in the sink, added cinnamon (1TBSP), nutmeg (1/4 tsp), and allspice (1/4 tsp) to my apples (left out the zest and upped the sugar 2TBSP extra) and went about my pie making.

Halving the recipe left me with 4 ramekins full-o-pie. These are goooood! Eat it waaaaarm and delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and be quickly transported into apple pie heaven. There is simply no other way πŸ™‚

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Thank you to Susan of Baking with Susan for Choosing this recipe, how’d you know that I have a weakness for baked apples? But honestly, why didn’t you warn me that I should have made an entire pie? πŸ˜‰ Head on over to her blog for the recipe and be sure to head on over to the other bakers’ blogs to see their (complete) pies.

SMS – Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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First and foremost…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEY PIE!!!

I fully expect each and every one of you to sing ‘happy birthday’ to the fiance. At least in your heads πŸ˜‰ He will be working for the majority of the day/night which makes me sad but we celebrated his birthday on Saturday.

Anywho, this… was my first homemade carrot cake. I’m used to the cloyingly sweet frosting and the fakey taste of the ones you find at your Randall’s bakery section.

With that being said, it got rave reviews from everyone who tried it, took it to work this morning and its almost gone, the cake is fluffy and moist, the frosting is creamy and delicious. The only thing I have an issue with is that it didn’t taste much like carrot cake to me. It was actually more of a spice cake than a carrot cake. But good none-the-less.

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I suck at frosting cakes. Not to mention it was getting late and I had zero patience left. BUT I’ll hopefully be taking some classes this year, so look forward to non-crumby, smooth frosting in the future! πŸ™‚

I know the cream cheese frosting didn’t sit well with some people, so I was hesitant in making it myself, but I couldn’t leave the cake unfrosted, so I took the plunge. And boy am I glad I did. My mother (read: hater of all sweet frostings and overly sweet confections) LOVED the frosting!! She wouldn’t stop sticking her finger in my frosting bowl πŸ˜‰ It did make more than I needed so I sent the leftovers home with her in a bowl to eat at her leisure.

Things I changed:
I added one small can (8oz, I think) drained to the carrots
omitted the orange zest from the frosting
baked in two 9″ cake pans (my layers were very thin as a result)
omitted walnuts

All in all, it was delicious. Simple to throw together and yields a fluffy very moist cake if it isn’t overbaked.

Thank you to Julie of Little Bit of Everything for choosing this recipe and making me take the plunge on this frosting. Head on over to her blog for the recipe and a laugh or two πŸ™‚

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SMS – Strawberry Lemonade

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How lovely is it to make something for a baking group without it actually having to be baked? I mean, there’s no baking time in the oven, there’s no waiting for it to come to room temperature… or to come to a temperature that won’t burn your mouth at the very least. It has its pleasant upsides.

This week’s SMS is Strawberry Lemonade.

One thing this recipe made me realize is that I really should invest in a juicer. Even if its just one of those rinky-dink, plastic, bright yellow, handheld ones. I loathe squeezing lemons because I have no strength in my arms. At all. So it was a chore getting an entire cup-o-juice. But I made it. Mostly unscathed.

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I followed the recipe only changing one thing: I didn’t de-seed the strawberry sauce. My mesh strainer managed to hold back all the thicker strawberry sauce and let seeds in the strained batch anyway. SO I said to heck with it and tossed it all in. A few seeds won’t hurt.

Well, at least until that jungle begins to grow out of your tummy. Then you might have some trouble. πŸ˜‰

I wouldn’t say this is the most impressive lemonade I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t bad. I do have the insatiable urge to put the lemonade into popsicle molds, tossing in a few chunks of strawberries and freeze them for quick treats. Yum.

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Thanks to Jessica of My Baking Heart for choosing something daring for this weeks challenge πŸ™‚ Head over to her blog for the recipe.

SMS – Easy Chocolate(chip) Mousse

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Happy Valentine’s Day/Happy Single’s Awareness Day… either way… Happy day πŸ˜€

Ever wonder “what are those three little words that women swoon upon hearing?”

Easy. Chocolate. Mousse.

I kid you not. Say it to any chocolate lovin’ chick and she’s all yours. This is perfect for a quick valentine’s day dessert. Just add a tablespoon or two of Kahlua into the cream mixture, make some raspberry sauce to go with it and you are all set!!

This was seriously easy. I made 1/3 of the recipe (which made for very small amounts of ingredients, which made it tougher for me) and it yielded 2 pretty red ramekins full of a delicious chocolate (chip) mousse.

I think I didn’t let the chocolate cool down enough because once I mixed the first bit of egg whites into the chocolate, the chocolate seized on me and turned curdly looking. Not appetizing. Needless to say I panicked and popped it in the microwave for 30 seconds hoping for a miracle. No miracle, but I pressed on figuring I’ve already gotten THIS far. I added the rest of the ingredients and they melded a bit and I ended up with a chocolate mousse studded with little round balls of chocolate chips. Not bad. πŸ™‚

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I was going to add Kaluha (I forgot) and make a raspberry sauce but I didn’t have the time. I was also making brownies, sugar cookies (which I will post about soon!), marinating dinner for the next night and making dinner all at once. Whew. But there’s always a next time πŸ™‚

A big thanks to Spike at Spike Bakes for choosing this recipe. I’ve never made mousse before and I’m glad that I had this learning experience! Head on over to her blog for the recipe and be sure to check out the other bakers’ results.

Please excuse the pics, I was in a hurry πŸ™‚

SMS – Red Velvet (cup)Cakes

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I’ll start this post by telling you a little embarrassing baking secret (I sure have a lot of those, don’t I): up until a few years ago, I always thought Red Velvet was the flavor of the Red Velvet cake. I never knew it was just chocolate cake dyed with red food coloring. Don’t laugh… too hard. When you grow up in a world where everything has a different name and you aren’t taught the in’s and out’s of baking… things can get confusing. I guess I was just enamored with the beautiful red cake to notice that it was just red chocolate cake.

Well, my cake isn’t very red. It’s more of a burnt reddish color. Mental note for next time: add more red food coloring!! I also had to improvise on some ingredients due to lack thereof. Read on:

buttercream… check
red wine vineagar… red wine vinegar?! Who buys this crap?!?!” *mumbles in futility*
*sniffs buttercream* “BLEGH! How long has that been…” *checks expiration date, gasps, chucks buttercream*

SO, I subbed equal amount of sour cream for the buttercream and just left out the red wine vinegar. I had regular white vinegar but something told me that it wouldn’t do as a substitute. I pressed on, praying to the baking gods for an edible cake-like substance.

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I didn’t have an occasion to bake a cake or a million cupcakes (according to other bakers, this recipe yielded a LOT of dough) so I made 1/3 of the recipe and still ended up with 31 mini cuppies. And OH BOY were they adorable!! I tried one two and they tasted like a moist chocolate cake… with an oddly not-quite-red-not-quite-brown tint to it. I sent them off to work with the fiance and they were gone before lunchtime… which is how I happen to measure my baking success πŸ™‚

A big thank you to Rosy of Rosy Lips and Lavender for choosing this recipe, as it was the first time I’ve made red velvet cake from scratch! Check out her blog for the recipe and the other bakers to see how they made out with this recipe.

And please, save me from my embarrassment and tell me something embarrassing in YOUR baking life. πŸ™‚

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