Sunday, December 21, 2014

Wintermint Cake- sort of!

Not a mint fan, so what to do with an assignment that is ALL ABOUT mint? I bake the same cake base, different filling and frosting flavor. 
OK, so I know you're going to say - but what's the point? That's what this cake is all about! True, true; guilty as charged, but I just couldn't bring myself to bake a cake that I knew no one ( at least no one I know) would eat.  I'm sure the cake is amazing for those who enjoy that flavor but it is such a distinct flavor - not a subtle hint kinda thing.

So a few weeks ago was my birthday (ouch! last one before the new number!) and I wanted to bring a cake to work. Seemed easy enough to just make this cake in advance. I switched the flavoring of the frosting and ganache filling to one of my favorites - coconut. 

I was actually more interested in trying the design that is in the book Baked Occasions. I do a lot of cake decorating and this looked simple enough. Elegant, straightforward......WRONG! At least for me. Just couldn't get the hang of making those beautiful gradations of color- separate they were fine, but when I tried to do it on the cake... well they just sort of mushed together. Guess it takes a lot of practice. Just because it "appears" easy, certainly doesn't make it so.

On top of my frustration with that, I made the cake at night and just quickly took a picture of it with my iPhone. Not that the cake looked like anything to begin with, but the photo is really lame.
Apologies for that! Next time... and there will be a next time. The cake itself is wonderful, with a rich, chocolaty flavor. Had a bit of trouble with the frosting consistency but managed. 

This is the way it's SUPPOSED to look!

Not very similar to my result!

You can give it a try yourself- here's the recipe!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Date Squares

When I think of dates, I think of the Middle East. And that's where I live. Date palms all around, both natural and on farms that grow dates for both local and export use. The varieties are great and each type has its own qualities regarding size, moisture, taste and sweetness. The most popular and my favorite are the medjool dates. Plump and meaty, they are rich in flavor and are good for just munching or cooking. So many possibilities  for using dates, both in baking and cooking.

Here, you can get dates by the box, by weight in the open markets as well as in spread form and chunks of date paste all ready to use. Below is a kilo block of date paste which I sliced into and used instead of cutting up whole dates. Makes life much easier!

I tried this recipe a few weeks ago and it was so so. Felt like it needed an upgrade. I was looking for a thicker crust , more cookie like.

Some of the changes and addition I made : 
1. A smaller baking pan and used less than the called for amount of dates. It was too thick for me last     time.
2. Added a touch of salt to the date mixture and much less sugar. The dates are so sweet to begin             with, the extra sugar just overpowered it. I also added some orange zest and two tablespoons of o.j.     to the date mix. Just brought it up a notch!
3. Added a touch of cinnamon to the crumble mix as well as an egg. This made the crust more cookie     like and crispier.

The end result is much more to my liking, but of course taste is such a personal thing. These are easy to make, easy to store, for a quick snack or even for freezing so you can take them out as you wish.
Yummy in the tummy!

Here's the link for the original recipe on Baked Sunday Mornings.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Campfire Cookies

Girl Scout camp, outdoors, bonfires- all a reminder of times long past, but the taste of the famed s'mores remains forever in my memory ( or in my mouth , for that matter!)
Graham crackers ( which, by the way are very difficult to find here, and if you're successful, then they cost half a monthly salary), half a bar of chocolate and gooey marshmallows, all wrapped in tinfoil and roasted over an open fire. How can you go wrong?

These cookies have all those ingredients and don't disappoint. I went for the whole deal and made homemade marshmallows. Once you taste a homemade marshmallow, it's hard to go back to the store-bought stuff. No comparison- not even close! Given that, using store-bought marshmallows in this recipe would be just fine.

Since graham crackers are so hard to come by, I substitute Biscoff cookies in almost every recipe that calls for them. They add a different taste to the results but just as good if not better. A definite cinnamon flavor, gooey marshmallows that sometimes make for a not so pretty cookie, and yummy melting chocolate chips. They are very sweet and I might cut back on a bit of sugar next time- oh yes, there WILL be a next time! If any one wants to send me a package or two of graham crackers.............

You can find the recipe here at Baked Sunday Mornings. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Election Palmiers

This is the first selection from the new book Baked Occasions  After looking through the book, I can say that I am looking forward to some of the recipes- others, I'm not so sure about.

These cookies are familiar to me as "elephant ears" and usually are made quickly and simply with store-bought puff pastry. This was from scratch and the dough comes out melting in your mouth. They really are delicious, but I don't know if I would go through the somewhat drawn out process for such a simple cookies. That being said, the box they are in, is quickly emptying! The addition of the cayenne pepper ( I used ancho chili powder - that's what I had in the house) is a nice, subtle addition that adds an extra zing to the cookies.

You can find the recipe here at Baked Sunday Mornings. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

S’More-Style Chocolate Whiskey Pudding

Let's start with the end. Above you see the end result of this week's (and last one of the book!) assignment. Some of the comments: "This is a restaurant dessert!" , "so rich",  "sweeet! 
It really was all those things. 

Here's what it looked like before the spoon hit it. The s'mores effect on the marshmallow topping came out sort of funny looking but the idea and taste were certainly on spot. Rich, creamy chocolate pudding with a dash of brandy( no whiskey in the house at the moment). In  the middle a crunchy layer of crushed, baked lotus cookies ( can't get decent tasting graham crackers here, just off-brands and not worth it). The lotus or Biscoff cookies added a wonderful flavor.
 I didn't have any dessert cups ( now on the list of "need to buy") so I used wine glasses. Nice idea- wrong size glass. These were way too big. This dish is so rich and sweet that it really calls for a much smaller portion. OK, at least now I know what to look for when I shop for the dessert cups..
 Halfway through and shared by more than one!

What a sweet way to end the journey through "Baked Elements"! On to "Baked Occasions" ( as soon as it arrives in the mail...ergggg , it takes so long to go over the ocean!)

Get the recipe here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin is good. In anything. With anything. In any form. That's just me though. Th earthy flavor goes so well with the spices- cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger. 

I'm not sure exactly what the issue is, but these come together a bit too soft for proper rolling. I had to use a lot of flour to be able to get it out of the bowl and then roll it on a heavily floured surface. Not that it affected the taste. They are scrumptious! Next time (which there definitely will be), I will do a few things differently than called for in the recipe. One; I think using a dough hook instead of the paddle attachment might be better- we'll see. Two; bake it a bit longer than I did- the middle was JUST done, but could have been even more so. It was hard to tell until I cut into it.

waiting to go in the oven

Hot out of the oven!

pouring on the icing

wish I knew how do make a gif file

Worth the effort! Give them a try; the recipe's here at Baked Sunday Mornings.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes


Ok, so I think there are times when some things are better left unsaid. Like the name of these cupcakes. It's fine for the baker to know, but the eater? Well, I can tell you that every person I mentioned the name to, made that scrunchy nose face. You know, the one that says "eych, what did you say? Not for me, thanks."  I have cooked and baked many a dish with odd combinations of food and when asked about the ingredients , I make out like it's some big secret that I prefer not to reveal. Yeah, right, like since when do I hold back on recipes? There's the chicken drenched in maple syrup 
(for some that might not be appalling at all but there are those that can't imagine sweet with their chicken)- I mean, maple syrup's for pancakes and french toast , right? I have a few others like that which don't come to mind at  the moment, but this cupcake recipe definitely falls into the same category. 

Not to worry though. These can be presented simply as chocolate cupcakes- or rather the BEST chocolate cupcakes EVER! If you think about it, mayo is simply eggs and oil. So in this recipe, thats where the eggs and oil come from. The consistency of the mayonnaise makes for a moist, delicious cake that doesn't crumble and just melts in your mouth. Nice and chocolatey with a simple, yet delicious chocolate frosting. So good!! (as I write, the hubby just inhaled one and said he has never eaten such a delicious chocolate cupcake!!)

Couldn't resist the adorable cupcake plates. Too perfect... so me!

You can find the easy recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings. Two more recipes to go before we finish book number 3. I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of book number 4 ,"Baked Occasions" ,which promises to be just as amazing as the previous 3!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Pumpkin Harvest Dunking Cookies

MIA- missing in action.... that's what I've been lately as far as this blog is concerned I couldn't believe it when I saw the date of my last post! Actually, I've made a lot of the recipes from the list, just never had time to photograph  or write a post. Vacation, school starting, blah, blah , blah.....

Fall seems to finally be finding it's way to Israel (slowly and with many days of sharp reminders of the hot summer) and that cool evening breeze makes me long for the falling leaves and autumn colors of Upstate New York. None of that here.

So these cookies, called Pumpkin Harvest Dunking Cookies ( in my opinion, a long name for pumpkin oatmeal cookies) were just the thing to get back into the swing of writing. Simple, quick to prepare (I used canned pumpkin- not the pie filling, just pure pureed pumpkin) and delicious enough to eat unbaked (for me that is!)

The addition of chocolate chips was an option but .. hello, who would leave out chocolate chips when they are an option!?
Not the most elegant looking cookies in the world but just right alongside of a cup of tea or coffee- to dunk in, of course!

You can find the recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Easy Candy Bar Tart

Weight Watchers always says "keep enemies out of the house". This is DEFINITELY  an enemy, but to keep it out of the house would be a crime! The recipe calls for making it into a regular round tart, but it really is a candy bar so I decided to wrap each little piece individually and keep them in the freezer. Anything frozen is better!

The process is very easy- 15 minutes and the whole thing was ready to go. I just chilled it in the fridge, cut it into bars, then in half and wrapped each little gem.

 Freeze 'em, eat 'em and ask for more.

 Instead of a chocolate cookie base, I used Biscoff cookies-I'm hooked on those little things!
 I also substituted pecans and pistachios( that's what I had) and the taste is just great.

 You can find the recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Banana Whoopie Pies

"Whoopie Pie"- strange name for a dessert- or anything for that matter. The word whoopie reminds me of either:
Whoopie Goldberg  

                                     or the "whoopie cushion" 

But whoopie, in this case, means pies(or cookies or cakes or cookie cakes- whichever suits your description). The official definition of a whoopie pie according to Wikipedia:

The whoopie pie (alternatively called a black moon, gob (term indigenous to the Pittsburgh region), black-and-white, bob, or "BFO" for Big Fat Oreo. (Also recorded as "Devel Dogs," and "Twins" in 1835[1]) is a US baked good that may be considered either a cookie, pie, or cake. It is made of two round mound-shaped pieces of chocolate cake, or sometimes pumpkin or gingerbread cake, with a sweet, creamy filling or frosting sandwiched between them.[2]

There is a lot of controversy as to the true origin and history of the whoopie pie, but whatever the case is, the basic whoopie pie has been developed into a variety of flavors and combinations. 
I love the texture of the soft cake but in a cookie form. 
The recipe here calls for a swiss meringue chocolate filling, which I'm sure is delicious. I had so many fillings and frosting leftover from previous projects that I decided to combine a few and use that instead. I ended up with a vanilla-cinnamon filling that worked beautifully with the lightly banana flavored cake. I also reduced the amount of bananas in the recipe since I didn't want an overwhelming banana bread taste. It all worked really well.

Nice and puffy like they should be
not the epitome of elegance- but damn good!
the lone leftovers (consumed shortly after this was taken!)

I loved the fact that these were easy to make, quick and didn't even need a mixer! Yay, less to wash!
Give these a try- you can find the recipe at Baked Sunday Mornings.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

"Potchky" is a Yiddish word I heard as a kid. I don't know if this is the correct meaning, but in my house, it referred to something that required a lot of small steps and fussing around to make. These cookies were a lot of  "potchkying" but worth every little second.
I made them for one of the many desserts for my granddaughter's 4th birthday and they went over really big! More with adults than children( this is the cake i made for the kiddies), but well received with the young ones as well.
The "potchkying" steps were making the dough, chilling, rolling into balls, dipping in egg whites, rolling in chopped pecans (had to toast them too, so that's another step), making a thumbprint indentation, after 8 minutes in the oven, making the indentation again, baking another 4 minutes, removing from the oven and making the last thumbprint impression to hold the filling. More "potchkying"- make the caramel filling, fill the thumbprint and top with a whole, roasted (another step!) pecan on each.
It may sound like I'm complaining, but understand- I'm not. I love the whole process. It's just not the same as mixing a batter, pouring into a pan and shoving in the oven. These babies require a bit extra attention and TLC, but are exquisite when done. Worth every second of effort!
You can find the recipe here, at Baked Sunday Mornings! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Poppy Seed Pound Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

 I made this cake ahead of time since I knew I would be very busy for the few days before it was to be posted. Froze it; took it out this afternoon to thaw and make the glaze fresh tomorrow morning and shoot the pictures. Sitting out on the porch, surfing the net and suddenly I see him with a piece of cake in his hand ( a piece? more like half the frickin cake!) and mouth stuffed with his first bite. SCREAM!!!! What are you doing, who told you you could eat that? It's not ready, I haven't taken any photos yet.....scream again ( mainly out of complete and utter frustration). 
Calm down, relax, keep your cool ( after I screamed of course). At least he gave me something to write about.  Look at the glass half full- not half empty. There is always a positive side to things. Not the end of the world , I know, but frustrated and amazed at how something like that can go over someone's head; or through it; or around it- whatever.
the evidence- at least you can see the beautiful poppy seed filling lacing through the cake!
Anyhoo- on with the task. This cake is wonderful for afternoon tea (coffee) or a light after dinner dessert. I love the fragrant hint of orange , both in the cake and glaze. Worth the effort for sure!

You can find the recipe here, at Baked Sunday Mornings.
Some exciting news for Baked fans- Matt and Renato are coming out with their fourth book!
It promises to be as amazing as the previous three. I already have it on pre-order from Amazon and can't wait!
Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations
Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations