Honey-Yogurt Mousse

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This one is hard to talk about…such mixed reviews.  The recipe itself is fairly easy, just some mixing and chilling.  I went ahead and made the cocoa crumbs that were suggested as a suitable topping for the mousse. Those also went together easily.

I made up a double recipe so I would have 8 individual cups for my tasters..and got these results:

  • 2 really liked it…”We both really liked it with the cocoa crumbs…tasted tart and sweet and a little salty all at once.”
  • 2 wanted to like it…”It had our palate curious, however it left us unfulfilled and not wanting another bite or to finish it”
  • 2 didn’t like it…”wasn’t our favorite…tasted bitter to us”
  • 2 didn’t get eaten…and I didn’t try it…not my type of dessert…although I did try the cocoa crumbs and those were good!

ALL of my tasters were glad for the opportunity as usual.  It is a fun little game we play twice or more a month with the baking and tasting.  We have had some great recipes and some great surprises but I would have to say this one wasn’t a winner in my book.

I do find it so interesting how different taste can be…the same recipe and 3 very different reactions from 6 people in 3 families…and the reaction was consistent in each family.

As always…thankful for the baking experience but onto the next one! 🙂

Christmas Spice Cookies

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I wasn’t sure I would get these done, but I was able to squeeze them in!   This recipe starts with a “Do Almost Anything Vanilla Dough” as the base and then you add in the Christmas spice…being cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice.

I have to start by saying everyone loved these!

I think they were intriguing to my tasters.  They appear to be sugar cookies but they are so different which catches you off guard.  These cookies are light, crisp, and bursting with spice.  I was afraid I would miss the icing since they seem like sugar cookies to me but surprisingly you don’t! There is enough flavor for them to hold their own.  (notice I found another use for my Swedish Sugar from our Tarte Tropezienne :))

The only downside I came across was dealing with the dough.  It is sticky.  You chill it either an hour in the freezer or 3 in the fridge before cutting.  That takes some timing but still doable.  The problem I came across, and would be curious if others of you had the same problem, was that as I was cutting out my shapes, the dough was quickly coming to room temp…like really quickly.  The first batch I did I couldn’t complete the cutting of my first rolled out dough.  I got smarter though afterward and worked very quickly on each batch.

I also cooked these for half the time recommended…more like 10 minutes.  All in all, I would have to say these were a sweet surprise and a nice addition to my cookie platters sent into work.

Chocolate Truffles

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This week we made chocolate truffles…ganache bonbons made of a basic mixture of chocolate and cream.  We are told they are often rolled in cocoa powder to resemble the soil that clings to the freshly dug fungi.  I did try that…honest…but after seeing what they looked like, went a more festive approach. :).

(BTW…the mini chocolate chip one was the unanimous favorite!)

I have to tell you, although the recipe was easy, as I was rolling these truffles in my hands trying to battle quickly before they melted any worse, I was thinking to myself…I will never make these again.  I mean they were messy!…and that was after chilling them for 5 hours instead of only the 3 suggested.

On the flip side of this conversation in my head was me after sharing them…well, I guess it wasn’t that hard.  I could always chill them 24+ hours before rolling and see if that helps.

Obviously something changed my mind…

The recipe makes 36 truffles…truthfully I think you could make them even a bit smaller and get more.  I made these the night before my bible study luncheon figuring the recipe makes enough for my trusty tasters AND a luncheon.  Always a bit risky taking a new recipe somewhere before you have tried them out but I figured how could I go wrong with chocolate right?!

People RAVED about these truffles…those at the luncheon and my tasters.  They couldn’t get enough of them which is strange since they are so, so rich.  They loved them…told me they were quite possibly the best thing they had ever eaten…really??  Wow, I was starting to think maybe I will have to make these again.  After my husband had a second one, he said…are you really not going to make these again?

It looks like I am being forced to go back on my decision…I mean, how can I deprive these people of something they loved so much.  I see me rolling chocolate again in the near future…they are being requested for Christmas 🙂

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Pfefferneusse

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Pfefferneusse…which is German for “peppernut”…are a traditional spice cookie found at Christmas time. They can have an optional chocolate glaze or be sprinkled with powdered sugar.   These cookies are loaded with spices, chopped nuts, citrus zest, and freshly ground pepper.

I am not exaggerating with the spices:

  • cinnamon
  • cloves
  • nutmeg
  • cardamon
  • pepper
  • dry mustard

I don’t think I have ever made cookies with dry mustard in them. The recipe tells us that it has the effect of making all the other spices sparkle.  🙂

I made half a batch of these cookies, which was plenty to share.  I think I came out with 2o.  They were easy to make and had me looking for new ingredients which is always fun…and what this is all about.  I opted to make the cookies with both toppings to see which we would prefer.  One was the simple dusting with powdered sugar and the other with the chocolate glaze.  This however is no ordinary glaze.  You start with bittersweet chocolate and then add to it the butter, but you continue adding…espresso ( I used instant coffee flakes) and then the option is to top the dipped cookies with freshly ground peppercorn.  If you look closely at the picture you can actually see it. I can’t recall ever adding pepper to a glaze on a cookie.

I couldn’t wait to try them out and also see what everyone else thought. Everyone loved the spice cookie…preferred the dusting with powdered sugar BUT everyone had something to say about the chocolate one.  It was SO interesting and different…very complex flavor with many levels to the experience.  It was weird and good at the same time.  You could really taste the chocolate and coffee flavors and then the pepper would hit you with a zing…literally!  So strange, but at the same time intriguing.  Most everyone thought they weren’t sure they liked it but ended up eating the whole cookie and changing their mind about it.  THIS is what I love about this baking group…trying out new things!!  It just never gets old! 🙂

Caramel Tart

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I decided to add this recipe to my Thanksgiving dinner so I didn’t make last week’s blog role  Thank goodness for the extra rewind Tuesday this month. 🙂

I did have some trouble with this recipe…

  • Although this sweet tart dough is easy enough to work with, I am still having trouble with cooking it in my oven.  I lowered the temp to 375 this time AND tented and it still over baked in my opinion.  I couldn’t release the tart from the pan.
  • I skimmed the froth off of the caramel before pouring it in and after, since others had issues with it changing the look of the final product.  After my tart cooled I went to cover it with plastic wrap, and right away it fell to the middle and appeared to pull up the center.  I was like…OH NO…. Interestingly though, it was pulling up the froth layer that did in fact bake on top. So I continued to pull up the rest which revealed this nice caramel filling.  The only problem was, I couldn’t get it ALL pulled up…especially right along the edge of the crust.  I was already making the chocolate sauce to go with this so I thought what would be the harm of adding mini chocolate chips along the edge of the crust…it would add some flavor, add some interest and texture, and solve my problem haha!
  • My tart took longer to cook than the 24 minutes suggested…more like 34.

None of these issues were really bad or impactful to the final product but trouble nonetheless…especially the day before Thanksgiving as I was very busy with preparing the meal.

The reviews on the tart were sort of varied.  Everyone loved the addition of the mini chocolate chips and said they would have preferred them over the whole top.  They also said the flavor of the tart seemed to grow on them the more they ate…at first bite, not so sure they liked it.  To me, the caramel tasted a little like butterscotch.  All in all, everyone enjoyed trying it but in the end I think it was unfair of me to put it up against the classic Thanksgiving desserts…those being pumpkin and apple pie in our house.   🙂

Peanut Butter Change-Ups

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Here we are again…I am not sure I will be able to keep up this pace with weekly baking/blogging.  Thankfully I made these when I did the apple crumble last week.

These were good, everyone enjoyed them…regular peanut butter cookies with a twist.  They are not flattened and criss-crossed as your traditional cookie, but rather rolled in a ball and left alone.  This makes them crispy on the edges but more cake-like in the center.

This recipe packs a strong peanut butter punch!!  It not only has peanut butter, but you also add a cup of chopped peanuts as well.  To me, the cookies seemed to be begging for chocolate, so I added some chocolate chips into the last part of the batter.  Surprisingly, you couldn’t taste the chocolate at all…the peanut butter flavor was that strong!!  I guess I should have left things alone haha!

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Apple Speculoos Crumble

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Speculoos…you might wonder…what is that??  They are a type of spiced shortbread.  My only connection to the word was that I had read about cookie butter with it at Trader Joes.   They did taste familiar when I tried them, so maybe I have eaten them without knowing what they were.

I took Dorie’s advice and looked for the Lotus/Biscoff brand of speculoos cookies at my local grocery store…not even a specialty store…and surprise, surprise there they were.

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I have never seen these, or tasted them…until now.  They do remind you of Christmas time and are very good.  I could see myself buying them again to eat plain. 🙂

This recipe is actually very simple, two steps really.

  • Prepare the apples…peel, core, and cut and then mix in sugar
  • Prepare the crumble…break and crush the cookies and then mix with softened butter  and shape into a ball

It is literally that easy.

Spoon the apples into the pan and top with broken off pieces of the cookie “ball”.  This smells so good while cooking.

While everyone loved this, we were all a little surprised at the consistency of the apples.  Most all of us were expecting firm apple pieces and in fact there were some, but there was also some that became more like an applesauce filling.  Not sure if that had something to do with the apples I chose, or if that was intended in the baking.  Either way, we all enjoyed this one…my Dad even requesting the recipe! 🙂

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