Cocoa Crunch Meringue Sandwiches

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I finally got them done!  Two days late, but I did it.  :)  I knew they would be good since I had seen postings from fellow bakers, but had some trouble scheduling cookies that take 3+ hours.

I will keep it short and sweet…

These were not hard to make, but the meringue cookies do take some time in the oven.  These are then sandwiched with chocolate ganache.  They are an interesting combination with the crunchy, wafer cookies and the fudge-like filling.  They were loved by all.  I made a double batch to make sure I had all my tasters covered…I mean 8 cookies per batch is not a lot. Even at a double batch, I only got 13 cookies out of it.

Not sure these would be a go to recipe  for me since I was maxed out in my oven at 26 cookies on my two baking sheets…it would be 3 more hours to make any more….but they were delicious and a hit with everyone!

 

 

Jammer Galette

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Jammer Galette…fun name; fun desert.  The “Jammer” is a vanilla sable topped with jam and circled with streusel…simple but fancy and delicious at the same time.

This is a recipe to play with, so the possibilities are endless.  I happened to have blackberry jam and orange marmalade from previous recipes we have made..and couldn’t decide which to make…so, I made two!  I figured with all of my tasters, one might not be quite enough anyway, so two seemed perfect.

I didn’t have two tart pans so I used one tart and one springform pan and it worked out beautifully.

This is the kind of recipe that would work out great for a gathering…simple, but seems like a fancy dessert.

  1. Make the crust; chill
  2. Make the streusel; chill
  3. Assemble and bake
  4. Dust with confectioners’ sugar

Seriously easy!

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This recipe was loved by all…and interestingly everyone loved both but at the same time had a favorite…which was mixed.  There was no clear winner.  I am guessing any jam you choose to use would be a hit.  I personally liked the orange marmalade one best.:)

After my parents had theirs with coffee, my dad sent me a text and said he will now be using a “top 20” list because there are too many great ones to contain to a top 10.  :)…and after over 4 years of baking with this group…we do seem to be on a roll with this new BCM cookbook!  Fun times and fun memories!  I have loved every minute of it and I believe my tasters have too!:)

 

Matcha Financiers

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This recipe is a perfect example of why I have loved my last four years participating in this TWD group.  If I had been flipping through a cookbook on my own, I would have never made this particular recipe.  I didn’t know what matcha was, or a financier for that matter and the picture of a green mini muffin would not have been enough to arouse my curiosity….BUT…now in this baking group, this is exactly the type of recipe that gives me, and my tasters an adventure.

Because of this recipe I now know what matcha is, I have been to Teavana, experienced the kindness of genuinely nice worker, and can now say I have tasted matcha!

So what is matcha?…a Japanese powdered green tea; one that we are told is bold, expensive, and not readily available.  I looked at my local stores and didn’t have any luck.  I was asking around and a friend of mine suggested going to Teavana in the mall.  Not being a tea drinker, I had never heard of this place.  I headed over and right away found the matcha, but only in a $25 canister (which probably held a cup) and then a box of 10 individual packets sold for $19.  So, neither were a good choice as we only needed a tsp.  I chatted with an employee asking if I could buy just a teaspoon worth of the matcha.  She told me they didn’t sell that one in bulk.  Such a bummer I told her, as I am in this baking and blogging group and only needed the amount that would be in one of the individual packets sold in boxes of 10.  She looked at the display, which had a box open showing the packets and said here, take a few.  I was so happy and asked what I should pay her for them and she replied, nothing…since it is a display, we will have to throw them out anyway.  I am glad to be able to help with the baking.  HOW COOL IS THAT??  to come across someone so genuinely kind that they just make your day!!  It seriously did make my day.  I love when you come across people who are just kind!!

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I was more energized to get to the baking after scoring the matcha…baked them on St. Patrick’s Day quite by accident but that was totally appropriate and I think people were more willing to try something green that day.:)

The actual recipe was super easy.  You mix up the ingredients until you have a “pea green batter with a sheen to it”

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The batter now needs to chill for a minimum of an hour.  Then onto the baking.  I opted to add the chocolate.  I figured chocolate makes anything taste better so since I was a little concerned with everyone liking this one, I went for the surprise inside.

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They baked right up and off they went to my tasters.  No one had tasted matcha before, so everyone was interested in seeing what it was like.

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My tasters loved these, although they all said they didn’t think they could really taste the matcha!!??  What?? So interesting right.  The girl at Teavana said this matcha was imperial quality and strong.  The recipe said to use baking matcha but I had to go with what I had..and still used the 1 tsp in the batter.  Hmm…wonder why it was a subdued taste?  They were still very good and everyone loved the chocolate surprise in the middle. I would say these are a keeper but not sure when I would ever make them again since I wouldn’t have matcha on hand…but such a fun adventure for sure!

 

Odile’s Fresh Orange Cake

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This one seemed straight forward and simple enough, or so it seemed, but those darn simple ingredients got me this time.

I have the orange tree out back so those were not a problem…and take a look at those oranges!!  We are experiencing a severe drought here in California…restricted watering days and all.  Can you even believe the size of these monstrous oranges???  They have gotten very little water and yet, my tree is loaded with oranges and many of them are this huge.  So strange to me…and they are super juicy and delicious too!

I got busy baking one afternoon…too late for my liking but sometimes you just have to go for it.  The recipe seemed simple enough, I didn’t even check to see if I had everything.(BIG mistake)  I mean, being “baker”, I usually have most all of the basics on hand.

Got started on this one and ugh…can you even believe I had no sugar..of all things.  I kept looking in my cabinets and pantry expecting the new bag of sugar to appear or something. I still can’t believe I didn’t have any.  So I call my dear friend up the street, also one of my tasters:), and ask if I can borrow some sugar…for the dessert they will be having that night haha.  SHE does not have any sugar either…says maybe a cup but that was all.

I had been debating about doing the optional poached oranges on top, wondering if the cake would save very well that way, and here was my decision.  Her cup of sugar was not enough for the poached oranges, but it was enough sugar to finish this cake I had started.  I could have run to the store but ugh, who wants to do that right about dinner time if you can avoid it right??

The cake is actually very easy to put together, especially if you have all the ingredients on hand haha.  It is a very simple cake…probably would have enjoyed having the poached oranges on top if for nothing else to make it a bit fancier.  My husband “liked” it but said it reminded him of corn bread?? maybe by the way it looks or the consistency, I don’t know…but the rest of my tasters all loved it even with just the orange syrup on top.   I didn’t get to try it so I can’t really weigh in on this one but, I would say majority rules and this one is a keeper.

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Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta

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The most common reaction I got from this dessert…”I had to stop myself from licking the cup”. If that doesn’t sum it up, I don’t know what would!!   I didn’t actually get to have one of these, since once again it is Lent and I gave up desserts, but…from what I heard, these were amazing!

I was very surprised these went over so well since the Vanilla Mango Panna Cotta was a hit or miss sort of thing.  I think half of my tasters liked that one and half didn’t care for it at all.  It seems the “Hot Chocolate” part, made all the difference.  :)  Everyone reported back this was more like a mousse than anything…and…light and not too sweet.

These were super easy to make and…I like that when thinking which of these desserts would be good to use for entertaining.  As my Dad said…we have been on quite a roll with good recipes lately!!  Onto the next ones!!

Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes

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The recipe calls these “Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes” but here where I live, we call them Chocolate Lava Cakes….whatever you want to call them, they were delicious!

Here is what I learned:

  • I had no ovenproof bakeware so I bought some…4 of them at 4oz.  Slightly smaller than the 6oz the recipe calls for.  Interestingly enough, the 4oz was a perfect size to eat and some of us even shared this size.  With the leftover batter I used one of my mini individual tart pans which worked just fine.  I will buy 2 more of the 4oz so I can make 6 at a time.
  • Yes to “adding the teensy bit of crunch”…of course, given the option,  I dusted the interior with some granulated sugar and even if you can’t taste it, it was pretty.:)
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  • I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips for the cake batter and some of the baking bar for the molten lava.  Super easy to melt and delicious.
  • We all agreed these were chocolately but not overly sweet.  It was the perfect combination with a delicious result.
  • I baked mine for the full 12 minutes making sure we didn’t have runny insides.  It was perfect, the cake was set and the chocolate melted.

My tasters LOVED this one.

Per my dad…

  • “Wow! That lava cake just shot up to the top 5.  Love the chunks of chocolate hidden in the cake. Another keeper”
  • Did you heat it or eat it at room temp?…
  • “I couldn’t wait, I ate it at room temp”

My tasters ate it a variety of ways: heated, room temp, with whipped cream, plain, with ice cream.  It didn’t seem to matter…everyone loved it and said it was a total keeper.

 

 

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My daughter was home to enjoy the baking…she had it with whipped cream:)

I do enjoy the baking regardless of the outcome, BUT I would have to say it is that much sweeter when everyone loves it!:)

Lemon Squares, French Style

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It was funny.  Lots of people were asking, “What is the next recipe?” and I would reply, “Lemon Squares, French Style”.  Every single person said, “What does French Style mean?” and at the time I said I had no idea what to say other than they had a type of streusel on top….but I saw the best comment when reading through our last blog roll.  The more I thought of it the more it cracked me up.  I wish I had paid better attention to whose blog it was at the time, so, sorry and thank you to whomever this comment belongs too….

She said something like, French Style just means made with lots of butter.  Now that I have made these lemon bars I think she was absolutely correct haha!

To say these use a lot of butter is an understatement, but the way I look at it, out of a 9×13 pan I had one lemon bar.  Who cares if there is a lot of butter if you have one and share the rest.  :)

These lemon bars were a total hit.  I think they were better than any lemon bars I have had and it seemed all of my tasters concurred.  Sometimes lemon bars can have a slight undercooked feeling and I liked that these were more cooked and set up.  Everyone also loved the addition of the streusel and almond topping.  These were decadent and over the top but boy were they delicious, like something you would buy at a bakery!  I could totally see myself making these for a summer party.  They would be so refreshing.

The only thing I thought was a little difficult was the timing of it all.  I made the lemon curd the night before so it had time to chill and then made the bars the following afternoon.  The recipes states the bars are to sit for 2-6 hours (which was odd I thought) but I let mine sit so they had a chance to firm up.  I was aiming for 2 hours but they ended up about 3 and it worked out just fine.

Just to give you an idea, here are a few “butter” pictures

Two sticks in the lemon curd…

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Two sticks in the crust

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We enjoyed the thickness of the lemon curd.  It was so delicious!

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