Dienstag, 29. November 2011

TWD: Sour Cream Pumpkin Tart

This week was the end of my attempts to avoid baking a tarte by choosing the other recipe on the schedule. As Judy of Judy’s Gross Eats opted for the Sour Cream Pumpkin Pie/Tart (to be found on p.324 in Dorie's book or on Judy's blog) and Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures picked the Normandy Apple Tart (pp 304-305) - I had no choice but to opt for a tart :o]

I took the pumpkin tarte because up to now I only had good experiences with pumkin desserts. Not that I made so many - only the two that were on the TWD-list since I joined. But these, the Caramel Pumpkin Pie and the Butternut Squash Pie were just great.

Baking tartes and pies horrifies me, because the tart dough never works out for me. It takes me two days for making them. I am never able to fit them in the form, it always breaks. And it always always gets too dark before the tart is halfway baked. Even if I put a foil tent over it.

This time I reduced pre-baking so much, that at least the tart shell didn't get burnt. But it took me still two days for preparing with all the chilling needed. But this time I erred with the quantity. I made a double crust and did wonder, where I should spread all this dough in my form... Tart dough and me - we will never be a good pairing. But at least I tried.

The tart filling is more than easy. I made the pumpkin purree myself, and despite of that you only need some dairies and spices.

The tart is interesting, because it is not at all sweet and therefore more like a snack than a dessert. I wish I would have used more spices because I thought the tart is a bit boring in taste. But my colleagues just loved it! And that's (almost) all that matters!

Dienstag, 22. November 2011

TWD: Snickery Squares (rewind)

This is one of the recipes I always wanted to try since I opened the book. I love peanuts, and from all chocolate bars you can buy in the store, Snickers are for sure my favourite. I can't imagine that I had my first when I was already 23 years old! We didn't have them in Vienna before Austria joined the European Union. No, Austria never belonged to the Eastern block. But we just did not put so much emphasize on consumption when I was a kid. I definitely neither belong to the "small is beautiful" nor to the "simple things are best"-section. More is more. Period. But food and edibles are maybe the exception to the rule.

Anyways, I had my first Snickers when a german friend I met during my exchange year in France gave me hers, because she couldn't believe I never had one. As I love peanuts and also caramel, and the chocolate is not too dominant in it, and shortbread, sigh - shortbread.... it easily became my favourite disobeyance by the very first bite.

To me it doesn't come as a surprise that Snickery Squares was chosen as one of the first recipes back in March 2008. You can find the recipe on pages 120-122 in Dorie's book or here on Judy's blog "Judy's gross eats". (Funnily, she will also be our host next week, again.)

The Squares are easy to make but hard to cut. You either chill them, so the Dulche de Leche in the middle has the right consistency - but then the chocolate-peanut layer on top is very hard, and so is the shortbread-bottom. Or, you let it come to room temperature, but risk the caramel getting very, very soft and almost liquid.

And these were extremely sweet. Next time, I would definitely not caramelize the peanuts (toasting should be fine) and use unsweetened chocolate. I also would do a bigger cookie-layer and use much less Dulche de Leche. Like that, they should be perfection!

Despite the sweetness I liked the taste a lot, but judging by how much there was left when I left the office, my colleagues felt not quite the same - too sweet, and only eatable in small pieces.

But in the end: Now I can do marshmallows, every kind of icecream, shortbread and Snickers by myself. Wow. Seems I will never have to buy sweets again!

Dienstag, 15. November 2011

TWD: Bittersweet Brownies

The very last Brownies - and maybe the best (at least of the brownie recipes since I joined TWD)
They are fudgy, but not too much, and pure chocolat delight.

I followed the recipe exactly as written in Dorie's book on p.90. If you don't have the book (you should!!) got to Leslie's blog Lethally Delicious. She picked the Bittersweet Brownies for this week's TWD.

As we have double-hostings in this in the following month, Jessica of Cookbook Habit chose Alsatian Apple Tart (page 314 in the book). As I am horrified by tarte-doughs I didn't dare to do it. But I am a bit sorry for it, because I spent my exchange semester in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace. And as much as I am afraid of doing tartes, I like eating them equivalently. Have a look here how it did turn out for all the other bakers!

PS.: Sorry, I have absolutely not a single good picture of them. Just imagine wonderful, soft, chocolate-ey brownies and you got a picture :o]

Dienstag, 8. November 2011

TWD: Depths-of-Fall Butternut Squash Pie

This week we had the option between two of my biggest challenges: Madeleines, which are hard to handle for me, as I have no Madeleine-mold, and they just do not turn out as they should in Callisson-molds or anything else. And - when I made them for the first and only time in my life they didn't get fluffy and soft as they should. I am no Madeleine-Master....
The second option was a challenge as well, as I am physically not able to do a decent pie/tarte crust. No idea why. I just always always always have troubles with them.

Nevertheless, I choose the Pie. I love pumpkins. And when we first made a pumpkin pie for the TWD-group I was more than thrilled by the result. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving round here, therefore it never came to my mind to make something sweet with pumpkins - although now it seems so evident, because they naturally bring a sweet taste with them.

Besides the crust, which was an, uhm, let's say adventure, as always - the filling and baking was very easy. I had to cover the pie with foil very soon (after about 15/20mins) and did bake it slightly longer. For the optional dried fruits I voted for cranberries because it seemes more interesting than rasins and more thanks-giving-ish. Instead of the nuts I used pumpkin kernels and it worked out perfectly.

I can only say that I love this pie! The pumpkin and pears and cranberries match perfectly. If you haven't already - go and try it! It's just what I imagine Thanksgiving should taste like in my humble european view!

For the recipe you can go to Valerie's blog "Une Gamine dans la Cuisine". She did pick this Fall Butternut Squash Pie for us this week. Or have a look in Dorie's book on pages 328-329.

For the Mini-Madeleines, look here how they turned out for my fellow bakers. The recipe can be found on Di's blog "Kitchen Notebook" or on page 172 in "Baking".

Dienstag, 1. November 2011

TWD: Honey Nut Scones and Far Breton

Far Breton was actually the recipe I thought I would chose when my turn arrives - but in the very last moment I made up my mind and picked the Fig Cake from last week. The more I was glad when I read that the Far is on the schedule just one week later. And as I made it now, I am very, very glad I didn't choose it as "my" selection, because I managed to completely ruin it. And as I have no idea what went wrong at which stage I guess this is just not made for me.

In the end, both recipes for this weeks TWD turned to very very delicious - the Honey Nut Scones, chosen by Jeannette of the Whimsical Cupcake, were awesome. And the Far Breton, chosen by Nicole of Cookies on Friday, was completely not what it should have been, but spooned out of the mold stil very, very tasty.

I love scones in any way, but this scones recipe is definitely a keeper. I made only half the batch and had them for Sunday breakfast with some goat cheese. Just won-der-ful! Nothing else to say about the recipe that can be found at Jeannette's page or in Dorie's book on p. 31. Baking time was maybe slightly shorter, but despite that - just stick to the recipe and you will end up with a perfect breakfast treat.

For the Far, I made also only half the recipe. This recipe is written down in Dorie's book on pp. 202-203 - or have a look at Nicole's page. The first problem arrived when I filled two mini spring forms with the batter. It just ran out. The recipe calls for lining the bottom of the springform with parchment, what I did. But obviously this is a translation problem or just my lack of understanding of baking. The parchment left a mini leak in the form, so the batter ran out and made a massive mass in the oven. I quickly realized the problem and arrived and saving some of the batter and transfering it to another (porcellain) form.

Then the Far became very brown on the top very quickly. Covering the form with foil didn't help a lot. When the top was already burnt at the edges - the batter was still almost liquid in the middle. Then I decided to take it out of the oven and make a spoon-dessert of it. Like that it did taste very good. I like prunes a lot and the batter is very tasty. But from my time in Paris I know what a Far should be - and this was not similar in any way.
I took a picture, just to show I made it, but will spare you from the rest of the ugly pics...

I'm not sure if I will have the guts to try it again. But the scones will be on my Sunday-breakfast-table soon again!