Banana-Chocolate Chaussons

 

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Chaussons are simply what the French call turnovers..they have a passion for them.  We are told in our recipe intro that these are too easy to make to go with the status quo and use apples, we should mix it up and go for a favorite filling of Dorie’s…banana and chocolate.

These look pretty fancy, but surprisingly aren’t too difficult to make.  We are told to be careful and seal the edges with the tines of a fork so the filling won’t seep out.  Some how even being careful, I think all of mine burst.  So discouraging…see for yourself though…seems tight enough right haha!

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Since it is once again Lent, I needed to rely heavily on my tasters to see what they think of this latest bake…my son and his girlfriend loved them!…my friend and her family loved them!…all of them enjoyed the different filling, liking that it was different from the traditional apple turnover.  They thought they were delicious.

Even though I love bananas, I was thinking the apple filling sounded perfect…my parents agreed.  Although they really enjoyed the Chaussons, they said the filling wasn’t their favorite…sometimes traditional is ok…a good old fashioned apple turnover I think would have been perfect….next time I think I would do both! 🙂

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Almond Stripes

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Well as you can see I don’t have piped cookies…

I will be curious to see how others faired on this one.  I did have a soft dough and tried to pipe with a star tip but it just was too thick…too thick and dry to even use the bag without the tip.  That is when plan b came into motion haha.  I ended up rolling balls and cooking for 15 min.  I had intended to dip the piped cookies with chocolate as the option we were given, so instead I gave the cookies their stripes with chocolate ganache.

Interestingly as I was waiting for the last batch to come out, I tried a chocolate one and thought the chocolate overpowered the cookie.  I left the last dozen unstriped…the almond and cinnamon flavor came through much stronger.  We thought these tasted similar to a snickerdoodle.

Since it was a nice rainy day when I was baking, I went ahead and did the Dark Chocolate Mousse the same day.  My tasters thought the two went perfectly together…like they were meant to be served together.  🙂

Dark Chocolate Mousse

 

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We are told this is “everything a mousse should be: creamy, full flavor and rich, without seeming heavy…impossible to resist”.  It did not disappoint.

This is a technical bake, a pro’s recipe we are told and I am reminded how far a lot of us home bakers have come since starting this adventure.  I have been watching “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix lately and boy…we have done MANY of the technical bakes they are required to do.  It is really fun to watch and makes me think as we are finishing up our 2nd cookbook, how much of an education we have gotten by just baking away.  You really do learn as you go. It has been so fun!

This mousse has 4 main steps…whip the cream, melt the chocolate, whip the eggs, and make the cooked sugar syrup….paying close attention to the temperature.  The only difficult part is streaming the syrup into the beating eggs.  Somehow I ended up with some of my syrup solidified on the bottom of my bowl…the bowl must have cooled it too rapidly.  It didn’t seem to change my outcome but next time I think I would try to aim more into the eggs and hope they don’t scramble. 🙂

This was loved by all…everyone commented how rich it was, but that they couldn’t stop eating it and finished all that I had sent them.  It really did have a beautiful texture which made you want to just keep eating it.  I had made the Almond Stripes the same day.  My tasters all thought they went brilliantly together…like I planned it! I think the mousse was perfect to combine with some cookie crumbles.  All of it was gone!  I would say they both were a success.

Chocolate-Coconut Tart

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I told my coconut-loving husband this recipe was created to resemble the Mounds candy bar…with a shortbread crust.  He loves Almond Joy and Mounds so I figured this one would be a success. 🙂

Not only was it a success, but he says it is his “All Time Favorite” of all of the recipes we have baked on this baking adventure!  I was like, “what?…over all of them?”.  He said, “I just can’t think of anything else while I am eating this…it is that good!”  What a recommendation haha!

I got similar reactions from everyone who tried this one.  They absolutely loved it…every part of it.  “The tart was soooooo good!!!! I loved it!!!  Every part of it was delicious!”

What I liked, being the non-coconut lover, was that it was a pretty easy recipe to get that kind of reaction.  We have made this crust so many times, that is easy and then the coconut pastry cream was pretty easy as well.  Top with chocolate ganache…chill and you are ready to go.

Seeing as this has been called an “All Time Favorite”, I am sure I will be making this one again!  This is definitely a keeper!

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Saint-Pierre Poppy Seed Cake

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Here we are…our first post for 2019!  Crazy how fast the time seems to be going these days.  Hope you all had an wonderful holiday season.

I don’t have much experience with poppy seeds…eating or baking.  I am not sure why, other than there are always other choices I would rather have….you know like, hmm…do I want the lemon poppy seed or the chocolate?!!  No contest there haha!  I just had to laugh when Dorie says you should always taste your poppy seeds before using and I was like, I would’t know what they are suppose to taste like haha!

This was a pretty straightforward recipe.  I didn’t achieve the classic crack down the middle but the loaf was still a success.  I think my tasters would classify this as a middle of the road kind of dessert.  It was ok…not bad and not great.  There just isn’t a lot of flavor but I am sure it is perfect with coffee or tea.

I loved that this recipe used an orange and I could go out and pick my own in my backyard.  They are just delicious this time of year. 🙂

 

Alsatian Christmas Bread

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Christmas Bread….this one sounds perfect for this time of year but I had some serious doubts that my tasters would enjoy this one… a dense log full of nuts, dried fruit, and spices, but no butter, wheat flour, sugar, or eggs and left to ripen for days to months after it is baked. Hmmm…

I decided to halve the recipe and make only one log.  Our recipe tells us the only real required dried fruit is pear and the rest are interchangeable with what you may have on hand or prefer.  I went to my local produce store and looked in the bulk bins to see what options I had.  No pears to be found.  I was about to go with what I could find but happened upon a pre-cut and packaged variety of dried fruit right about the size I needed.  It ended up being perfect.  It had the required dried pears, and also apricot, peach, and apples.  I omitted the raisins and added cranberries.

The dried fruit is left to macerate in a warmed up mixture of apple juice, anise, cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom and black pepper.  Once the fruit is drained fully, the almond flour is added to bind it together and allow you to shape it into a tight roll.  It is then baked, cooled, and set on the counter wrapped in parchment and foil to ripen for as long as you prefer.  I let it sit for 2 days and then sent out the text that it was ready.

Mixed reviews, but honestly I am surprised that some did really enjoy it.  It is rather bland with there being no sugar in it, so most suggested it would taste great with something with it…jam, jelly, whipped cream.  I think we are all glad I made it and they had the opportunity to taste it, but as some said…it wasn’t going to break into the top 10 haha!  I don’t see myself baking this one again, but thankful for the chance to give it a try.

Merry Christmas!

Speculoos

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Previous to my baking experience with this group, my knowledge of Speculoos would be contained to hearing about cookie butter at our local Trader Joe’s market.  It is apparently quite the rage…although I have not tried it.    I haven’t made these cookies before, but I feel like they are very similar to other cookies I do make.

Basically, these are Christmas in a cookie…brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.  They smell heavenly while they are baking!

Our directions give us two options, to shape the dough into logs and cut round cookies or to roll and cut out with cookie cutters.

My first log I cut rounds, coating them in egg wash and sanding sugar.  They tasted fantastic but I wasn’t thrilled with the look…so the remaining two logs I rolled out and used my Christmas tree cookie cutter and topped the cutout with sugar.   I didn’t get as many cookies that way, but I was much happier with how the cookies looked!

Since I had so many cookies, I sent out the text to my usual tasters but I also had enough to bring to bible study the next day.  These were a hit all the way around.  Friends at bible study were asking who brought them and then, where I bought them so they could buy them for their holiday gatherings.  If that isn’t an endorsement for the recipe, I don’t know what is!

This one is a keeper!

Merry Christmas and Happy Baking! 🙂