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.