Not Your Usual Lemon Meringue Pie

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This baking with two cookbooks is getting a bit tricky with the scheduling…especially with some of the recipes having an “eat when assembled” direction.  It is hard to pull it off with my baking and then the texting to my tasters. :)  Thankfully, everyone was on board with probably picking this one up about 8pm.

This recipe was a pretty easy one actually…made in three parts: the lemon curd, phyllo crisps, and then the meringue.  My tasters were all very intrigued by this one and anxious to try it…even driving over at 8pm haha!

It did not disappoint…I think their texted responses say it ALL:

“That was out of sight.  It’s my number 1 dessert so far!  I liked the crunchy part!  FANTASTIC”

“Wow!! That was sooo good!  We really enjoyed every bite!!!”

“Very good!!!  Love the crunchy pieces and the lemony filling is really refreshing…like a crunchy lemon bar”

My husband ate his piece and agreed with my Dad, his #1 dessert we have made in over 3 years…up there with the Tropical Napoleans!  We were already trying to figure out when I could make this again and for what gathering!

So, based on the ease of this recipe, and everyone’s overwhelming love of this recipe, I can say pretty confidently it will be made again…This One Is A Keeper!!

Creme Bruleed Chocolate Bundt Cake

So, before the Creme Bruleed Chocolate Bundt Cake…a word about Marquise au Chocolate!

Baking has an interesting way of bringing out personality and character traits that you may or may not know about yourself.  This past week we were assigned the recipe, Marquise au Chocolat.  It sounded so good…very chocolatey…and so easy.  The problem I had with it, was it used raw eggs.  I am one of those people, rare as we are, that don’t use raw eggs.  I don’t eat cookie batter, I just don’t eat raw eggs.  When I tried to think really why I don’t, I think it really comes from having a mom who was in the medical profession and being the first born that I am, I follow what was ingrained into me at a young age.  I guess the fear of getting sick was worse than being daring.

Anyway, I sat out for the last recipe and then took a look at all the blog posts last week and was so disappointed to have missed this awesome, amazing dessert.  Apparently, there are a lot of people who aren’t worried about raw eggs haha!  There were those few though, who had my fears but cooked the yolks and had a great experience with the dessert…so thanks to those few bakers I took on the chocolate mousse…with cooked yolks…and it was as amazing as everyone posted!!  I added oreo cookie crumbs on the bottom which were good but didn’t quite stick as well as I had hoped…but tasted great.

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The consensus on this one was it was terrific…definitely a keeper so I am glad I tried it!! :)

I made the Creme Bruleed Chocolate Bundt cake a week or so ago.  I was so excited to make this one..because it was chocolate: something I like and also because I would be able to try a new skill and torch the custard!!  I picked up my parents creme brûlée torch they happened to have…my dad made sure I had enough butane in it and I was ready.

The cake and custard were both easy enough to put together and the cake turned out light and chocolatey.  My problem was with the custard.  I stirred and stirred and it didn’t seem to want to thicken….at least not thicken as much as I had expected.  I was hopeful that once it sat in the fridge that would do the trick…but not so much.

I went ahead and tried to use it on the cake but it just seemed too runny to stay on top of the cake in order to torch it and get that true creme bruleed look.  This is the best I got…which was disappointing!

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I mean, it was candied, but I had visions of a beautifully torched topping to this cake and it just didn’t happen.  What I did instead was give my tasters some custard to drizzle on their pieces when they got home.  The custard tasted fine, just wasn’t thick enough to stand on top.

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This was one of those recipes that was good…everyone enjoyed it but it just didn’t seem to be what I expected and probably not one I would try again.  There are too many really good recipes out there…but hey, once again fun to try!!

Browned Butter Weekend Cake

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The recipe says the cake is best if it can sit after baking and be eaten the “next” day…even stretching it out over a weekend.  Well, it probably helps if you don’t have a lot of people wanting a slice but I can say it was eaten promptly with no leftovers. :)

The general consensus from my tasters was that everyone expected it to be a more typical pound cake but it just wasn’t.  It was a lot more moist and had more flavor.  Two people commented it seemed like a “vanilla wafer cake”.  Interesting analogy but I totally got it.

The best part about this cake, besides everyone loving it, was just how easy it was.  I think the only thing that was a little daunting was getting the “browned butter” right and not ending up as Dorie states on the other side with “blackened butter”  I watched it very closely and had no problem.  I would totally make this again…easy and delicious!

Granola Energy Bar Update…seeing as some people got crunchy and some people got chewy granola bars, I took the advice from fellow bakers and tried these again!  This time I used regular corn syrup instead of the brown rice syrup and got a much chewier bar….more of what I was expecting.   I also added the mini chocolate chips after the other mixture had cooled and they stayed whole!  They tasted much better…I am glad I tried these again, so thanks for the encouragement! :)

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Granola Energy Bars

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Since I am a granola/granola bar eater, I was looking forward to this recipe.  It is one of those recipes that you can alter any of the ingredients as long as you keep the amounts consistent.  I opted to keep it close to the original using almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkins seeds and dried cranberries.  The only thing I changed was to substitute mini chocolate chips for the coconut. :)  Dorrie had commented that using brown rice syrup is the key to binding all the ingredients together. I thought that would be hard to find but my local produce store carried it.

Super simple recipe; heat the syrup and butter and mix all ingredients together.  I don’t know what I was thinking but I had pictured my bars looking like the Quaker granola bars with the mini chocolate chips all intact.  Mine melted…

I was expecting a chewy bar with mini chocolate chips and it turned out more like a crunchy, chocolate looking granola bar.  Maybe they were over cooked but I followed the recipe.  I will be curious if others had a chewy or crunchy bar.  I was really hoping these would be great, but they fell short for me.  Such a bummer…but oh well, onto the next recipe!

Inside-out Upside-down Tirami Su

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The recipe describes this one: instead of a soft cake soaked in warm espresso syrup, this one is all crunch and chill; little “pillows” caramelized with sugar and ginger layered with a cappuccino granita and mascarpone sabayon.  What…you don’t know what granita or sabayon is???  Me either ;)

Granita: a semi frozen dessert, somewhere between a sorbet and a sno cone.  It is made from a sweetened liquid, placed in a shallow container in the fridge.  Using a fork or spoon you scrape it up to form the “granita”  In this case, the liquids are: cold brewed espresso, skim milk and a simple syrup

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Sabayon: an Italian dessert or beverage made with egg yolks and sugar.  It is a light custard whipped to incorporate a large amount of air.  It is customarily served with berries or peaches in a champagne glass.  It can be finished by adding whipped cream.  In our case we will be adding a whipped cream and mascarpone filling to the mixture.

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Always cool to learn something new!

Basically, this dessert seems really fancy and there is a few steps, but nothing is very hard.   I did make a couple of adjustments based on what ingredients I had at home: I substituted a strongly brewed coffee for the espresso and also used a puffed pastry bottom.  I had some phyllo dough in the freezer, I couldn’t have had it very long but as I was looking at the use by date, it said better if used by 12/13… I am sure it probably would have been fine, but me…when in doubt, throw it out.  So we had puffed pastry bottoms.  I actually think this might have been a great modification and you only need one on the bottom instead of a top and bottom of the phyllo.  Here they are with the caramelized sugar on top.

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Make the granita

Cook up the sabayon/add in the whipped cream and mascarpone

Cook your phyllo “pillows”

Assemble and Voila!

The only thing that was difficult for me was the timing to get this dessert out to my tasters! I didn’t want the granita to melt!!  My dad drove over, I assembled the two for my parents and he took off.  This is his text to me later:

“Got home in 10min.  Ate the dessert in 15 seconds.  Really good!  Definitely a keeper!”

Gingerbread Buche de Noel

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OH MY this one was fun to make, and what a beauty too!!  I feel like this baking group is pointing out what a sheltered life I have led!!  I have never tasted a yule log, let along bake one.  The whole thing was a new experience and wow did this recipe have some new and challenging tasks…it was so energizing to take it on!

Basically you have 4 steps: this yule log is a gingerbread cake rolled up around a praline and cream cheese filling with a marshmallow frosting topped with pralines.  The whole thing is made from scratch and the only item needed that wouldn’t be found in most kitchen’s is a candy thermometer which I had purchased some time ago for another recipe we baked.

Make the praline:

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Make and roll the cake:

This had an interesting step, not quite like using a double boiler, you whisk eggs and brown sugar in your stand mixer bowl while sitting IN a pan of simmering water until the mixture is very warm to the touch and then return to the stand mixer and whisk until thick and pale and doubled in volume.  It is a very light and airy batter and cake.

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Make the filling and assemble the cake:

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Make the marshmallow frosting:

This was a new experience: mix the sugar, cream of tartar, and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cover for 3 minutes.  Uncover and attach a candy thermometer.  When the mixture reaches 235 degrees, begin beating the egg whites which are waiting in the stand mixer.  When the sugar gets to 242 degrees, add to the mixer which is on medium and whisk until the frosting cools to room temperature and you have a shiny marshmallow frosting.

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Frost the cake:

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I unfortunately don’t have a picture of the whole thing with pecans on the top as I sprinkled it as I cut it and gave it to my testers.  But this is what a piece looked like :)

2014-12-12 20.07.14I have to say, this would be a very impressive dessert to bring somewhere!  It is beautiful and very festive for the holidays!!  Everyone who tried this, which was a bigger group this time since it was so big, absolutely LOVED this…they RAVED about it!!…me not so much but what is new?!!  I loved baking it so that counts for something right haha!!  My husband’s comment was that it was the combination of all the parts that made this amazing…each piece was just good but together it was over the top. It would be a keeper!

Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps

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With all the baking we are doing with two cookbooks now…and Thanksgiving dinner, it was nice to have an easy one to fit in when I had the time. These are basically cake’ish chocolate cookies that are sandwiched together with a chocolate ganache.  If that wasn’t enough chocolate, you add a swirl of chocolate ganache on top to form a “nightcap”.

In all honesty, these weren’t anything too special…they look like they should be, but they were just ok….good, but ok.  I personally wouldn’t make them again.  You can make the parts ahead of time and then assemble the cookies when you need them, but I am always thinking, “if I was taking them somewhere or having people over, how would this work for me?”  They were a bit fussy for my liking…especially without the “wow” factor.  There are better recipes.