Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Be kind, rewind

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Crème Brulée, selected by Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake. Mari's blog is one of my favorites, so I'm particularly sad that I didn't get to make what she chose. But I don't have a torch, and I wasn't up to dealing with the broiler. Fortunately, our gracious leader Laurie gave us the option to make a past recipe that we missed. I joined with the Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake, so I only missed half a dozen recipes.

My first plan was to make the Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte from week three. I even bought the cream cheese and cottage cheese for it (so stay tuned, it may be coming soon). But I worked all day Saturday and my children were not cooperating at all on Sunday, so it just didn't happen. While I was at work on Monday, I started thinking about which of the other options I might be able to pull off Monday evening. I ultimately settled on the Perfection Poundcake from week 4, which was chosen by Laurie.

I've been in the mood for fall, and the weather here is finally cooling off some. Which means that it's only getting up to about 90 during the day. =) But hey, it got down into the 50s this morning, so we're making progress. Much of what I associate with fall is the spices--cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg... And that's what I used to modify the poundcake. I thought about just mixing them into the batter, but then thought that making a marbled cake would be more fun, not to mention more photogenic. =)

Making the cake was pretty straightforward. A stand mixer is helpful, since creaming the butter and sugar and beating in the eggs takes a while. To make the marble, I took half of the batter and mixed in my spices. Then I alternated the two batters in the pan and swirled the top a bit. Plan ahead, since the baking time is pretty long--up to 90 minutes for a smaller loaf pan.

The verdict? The flavor is really good. The spice part is a nice complement to the plain vanilla part. But my cake came out a little dry. I baked it for 80 minutes, but maybe I should have taken it out a bit sooner. Also, I used a Pyrex pan. I don't usually bother to lower the baking temperature, but maybe for this recipe I should have. Another option would be to brush the cake with some sort of simple syrup when it comes out of the oven. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy mine with some tea.

Be sure to check out all the other wonderful bakers on the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll. There's sure to be a lot of great crème brulée posts as well as other rewinds.

Marble Spice Pound Cake
(adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan or an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pan (I used Pam for Baking). Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other. (I did put mine on a baking sheet, but just a regular one.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater and reduce the mixer speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each egg goes in. As you're working, scrape down the bowl and beater often. Mix in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated - don't overmix. In fact, you might want to fold in the last of the flour, or even all of it, by hand with a rubber spatula. After the batter is fully mixed, transfer half of it to another bowl and gently blend in the spices. Alternate large spoonfuls of the light and dark batters in the pan, then run a kitchen knife in a zigzag pattern through the batters to marble them.

Put the cake into the oven to bake, and check on it after about 45 minutes. If it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. If you're using a 9x5 pan, you'll need to bake the cake for 70 to 75 minutes; the smaller pan needs about 90 minutes (I baked mine for 80 minutes). The cake is properly baked when a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 30 minutes.

Run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and turn the cake out, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


This month's Daring Bakers challenge comes to us from Natalie of Gluten a Go Go and Shel of Musings from the Fishbowl.  They chose Lavash Crackers, from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  (Yay, a cookbook I own!)  Now I've made crackers before, but this challenge had a twist--we had to make it either vegan or gluten-free (or both).  And Natalie and Shel requested that we come up with a dip to serve with our lavash that was both vegan and gluten-free.  So there was lots of opportunity for creativity with this one!

I decided to go with the vegan option, since I wasn't sure how much time I'd have to play around this month, and the recipe was already pretty much vegan.  There was a tablespoon of honey in the original recipe; I substituted Lyle's Golden Syrup for that.  I've had a jar of it in my pantry for a while but I didn't open it until this challenge.  Boy, is that stuff tasty!  The texture is similar to honey, so I thought it would be a good alternative, and I double-checked their website to make sure it was vegan.  Other than that, the dough is just made of flour, salt, yeast, oil and water.  

The dough was very nice to work with.  I kneaded it by hand, something I don't do all that often.  (It made sense, due to the texture and small quantity of the dough.)  After rising, the dough was quite easy to roll out.  Unfortunately, I didn't get it as thin as I would have liked.  Next time I'll divide the dough in half to make it easier to roll out very thin.  Or try running it through my pasta machine, a suggestion from some of the other Daring Bakers.  I topped part of my dough with sesame seeds and another part with kosher salt.  The sesame seeds didn't really want to stick, though, even though I went over them with the rolling pin to work them into the dough.  The salt worked great, though.  I did one large sheet, and broke it into individual crackers after baking.  I had to bake my dough longer than the listed time because it was a little thick, but the crackers finally turned out pretty crispy.

For my dip, I went with a variation of a dip I've made before.  It's mainly white beans with some roasted garlic and rosemary.  I usually use some chicken broth in it, but I just thinned it with water to keep it vegan.  I also discovered at the last minute that I didn't have any lemons in my fridge, so I used lime juice instead.  I tried to list quantities for the recipe listed below, but to be honest, I just kind of wing it.  =)  

The verdict?  Everyone here really liked the crackers with salt.  I do want to try again to make them thinner.  The dip ended up quite tasty with the changes I made.  Want to give these crackers a try yourself?  You can find the recipe here or here, or check out Peter Reinhart's book for yourself.  And my dip recipe can be found below.  

Garlic & Rosemary White Bean Dip

1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed (I used Great Northern beans)
4 large cloves roasted garlic
2-3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
one lime, cut into quarters
2-3 teaspoons water

Place the beans and garlic in the bowl of your food processor.  Drizzle them with the olive oil.  Add the salt, pepper, rosemary and the juice from a couple of the lime quarters.  Pulse the mixture until it's smooth.  Add some water to thin the dip if it seems too thick.  Add additional salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good intentions

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Dimply Plum Cake, chosen by Michelle of Bake-en. Unfortunately, although I had every intention of making this with plums, my usual grocery shopping venues didn't cooperate.  Had this been a month ago, it would have been no problem, but the few plums I saw didn't look all that great.  No good peaches, either, and I don't like cherries.  Since we're finally heading into fall, I decided to go with apples, one of my favorites anyway.  It sounded like a good idea....

My mistake was in not going with my gut.  My favorite apple variety is Macintosh.  While I was in PA last week, I actually thought ahead and called my grandmother before she headed down from upstate New York.  She was able to stop at her local orchard and bring me a couple pounds of apples.  Three remain in my fridge, waiting to be eaten.  =)  Sure, I can get New York Macs here, but they're a lot farther from home and taste like it.  Not bad, but just not the same.  Anyway, I usually use Macs for baking, even in recipes that say not to (they tend to get very soft with cooking).  But I was thinking in terms of apples that I could fit on top of the cake without as much slicing, and went with some small Granny Smiths (Central Market calls them "lunchbox apples" because they're the perfect size for kids' lunches).  

Big mistake.  Even cut into quarters (pretty small ones at that), the firm apples simply didn't have enough time to cook through.  And oddly enough, even though the cake was overbaked and dry around the edges, it was gooey around the apples.  Which is a shame, because I thought the cake itself was very tasty--when I was making the batter, I thought it reminded me of my favorite blondie recipe.  My taste testers agreed--good cake, but bad apples.  =)

That was Gillian who completely ate around them.  =)  I definitely want to try this recipe again, to see if I can find a way to make the apples work.  I also thought about omitting the fruit all together and just topping the cake with nuts or streusel.  I'll let you know what I come up with.  In the meantime, head over the TWD blogroll to see how others fared this week, or try it yourself.  You can find the recipe on Michelle's blog.  

Sunday, September 21, 2008

End of summer

Where has this year gone? I can hardly believe that it's already the last day of summer. I'm ready for fall, though. It seems like this has been one of the hottest summers we've had in the ten years I've lived in central Texas. It was really nice being in Pennsylvania for a week--much cooler weather, for the most part.

I was still on vacation for a couple of days after we got back from PA. Thursday, I didn't do much of anything, since I wasn't feeling all that great. I seem to have caught whatever Gillian had for the first couple days of our trip (just a cold, I think). On Friday I did get out, because I really needed to take my car in for some routine maintenance. While that was being taken care of, I had a chance to go do some window-shopping. Borders, Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma--all fun places. =) I actually got out of all three without buying anything (though I did some pricing of kitchen torches in anticipation of the upcoming TWD crème brulée).

Our Williams-Sonoma store used to be a lot smaller.  In fact, when I first moved to Austin, I was surprised that a city this size didn't really have a good kitchenwares store.  Not too long ago they expanded it to about three times its previous size.  Coincidentally, that was about the same time that Sur la Table opened up. =)  I shop both, but one thing I like about Williams-Sonoma is that they often have samples out in their store.  You can tell they're into fall already, since the stuff I tasted on Friday had an autumn theme.  But while Friday started off pretty nice and cool (well, relatively), it still got up to almost 90.  So even though I'm more than ready for some fall desserts, the weather really isn't cooperating yet.  What to do?

Make pumpkin ice cream!  I love pumpkin desserts.  Well, not pumpkin pie (it's a texture thing for me), but pretty much anything else.  I checked online and found a recipe (from Williams-Sonoma, as it turned out) that I used to make changes to my usual vanilla ice cream base.  The end result is smooth and creamy and tastes very much like frozen pumpkin pie.  

Pumpkin Ice Cream
(inspired by this Williams-Sonoma recipe)

1 cup + 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup 1% milk (what I usually have on hand--other milk would be fine)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspooon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 oz pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk together one cup of the cream, the milk and the brown sugar in a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks until smooth. Whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup cream along with the cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg. Still whisking, drizzle in about a third of the hot liquid to temper the yolks. Then whisk the the yolk mixture back into the remaining liquid in the double boiler. Heat, stirring frequently, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. The temperature should be between 170 and 180 degrees F. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl (to remove any stringy bits of pumpkin or eggy bits--it's kind of a pain, but worth it for the final texture).

Refrigerate the custard until well chilled, at least 3 to 4 hours. Churn the mixture into ice cream following the instructions for your ice cream maker. Makes about 3 1/2 cups (slightly less than 1 quart).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Notebook on the road

This week my notebook is in Dad's kitchen instead of Di's. I knew that we'd be here in Pennsylvania for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie, and while I could just skip this week's recipe or put it off, I thought I'd give it a try despite the unusual venue. This week's Chocolate Chunkers come from Claudia of Fool for Food. I figured cookies would be fairly easy to pull off in a somewhat unfamiliar kitchen, and wouldn't need a lot of odd or difficult to find ingredients. What these cookies did need was chocolate, and lots of it. And me without my chocolate stash... =)

Before we left for our trip, I looked online and was able to find a number of people that had made the recipe before and posted it, so I didn't worry about copying the whole thing from my book. A couple nights ago I looked at the recipe and figured out what I'd need to buy. Bittersweet chocolate topped the list--I bought a bag of Ghirardelli 60% chips. (I melted half the bag for the dough and mixed in the rest for the chunks.) I also picked up a bar of Ghirardelli white chocolate--only four ounces, rather than six, but I'm not overly fond of white chocolate anyway. A tin of Hershey's regular cocoa jumped into the cart, and I picked up a new can of baking powder, since Dad's was dead (a use-by date of sometime in 2006, I think; I tested it and it barely fizzed at all). I thought I needed unsalted butter, but Dad had frozen some left over from when I was here in March. The one thing I missed was unsweetened chocolate, because the recipe I looked at didn't have it in the ingredient list. But I improvised with a bit more cocoa (1/3 cup instead of 1/4) and a bit more butter (four tablespoons instead of three). Raisins were on hand (unlike a lot of people, I love raisins and chocolate together), but I left out the nuts, since I know my kiddos don't like them much.

This is not the kitchen I grew up in. But many of the tools in it are familiar. Mixing bowls that I've used many times before, for instance. And a few newer things--like an unopened roll of parchment paper; my dad had no idea what it would be used for. My mom wasn't able to do much baking in recent years, though she used to do a lot. I remember the cheesecake phase quite well. =) And my dad isn't one for baking, though he tries... There was the birthday cake he tried to make for my mom one year when he didn't realize that the oven was set to broil instead of bake. Mmm, black on top and raw in the middle. =)

The cookies were pretty easy to mix up once I found everything. I'm not used to working without a scale, though. And I missed my favorite cookie scoop. Fortunately, when making dinner Sunday night, I figured out that the oven here runs hot and was able to adjust the temp down to 325 degrees F for the cookies. They took about 10 minutes to bake. I let them cool for a few minutes on the pan and then moved them to a rack. They didn't spread much, I assume due to the fact that there actually isn't a lot of butter in them (though the chocolate more than makes up for that). Brianna and Gillian woke up from their nap right when I was putting the first tray of cookies on the rack. Gillian immediately tried to help herself and was quite unhappy to be told that they were for dessert, later.

The verdict? Wow, there's a lot of chocolate in these! Yes, that should be obvious, but just looking at the recipe doesn't completely convey how much. Definitely have a tall glass of milk handy for these. Or a short one, if all you can find is a jelly jar glass like the one pictured above. =) (Another nostalgic find in the kitchen.) Everyone loved the cookies. My dad's favorite is regular chocolate chip, but he still managed to eat several of these. Brianna even liked the "chocolate covered" raisins. I'll be making these again. If you'd like to give them a try, you can find the recipe here on Claudia's blog.

For those who may be interested, my sister's wedding was beautiful, and everything went quite smoothly. The girls were both adorable. Gillian did manage to throw up on her dress a bit at the reception, no doubt because she'd been running around like a maniac. I don't have a good picture of them in their dresses, so the one above is from the park on Monday. They had a blast. I think my dad is more worn out than they are, though. It's been a good trip, though somewhat bittersweet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Cookies for everyone

This will have to be a quick post.  I'm in the middle of making cupcakes for my boss's birthday tomorrow (I'm writing this Monday night), and I have way too much other stuff I still need to get done before we leave for our trip on Thursday morning.  (My youngest sister is getting married on Saturday!)  

This week's TWD recipe is Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops, chosen by Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart.  I admit, I wasn't too sure about this one.  I love chocolate, but I'm not a big fan of malt.  And this recipe has both malted milk powder in the cookie dough and chopped up Whoppers thrown in.  But I knew that Jamie would really enjoy them, and odds were good the girls would eat them too.  Plus, Brianna has been asking me if I could make some cookies for her to take to her teacher.  With that in mind, I decided to make the whole batch. 

The ingredients...  Jamie found the Carnation malted milk powder for me.  I pulled out the Scharffen Berger cocoa that I've been using quite a bit lately.  I didn't use actual Whoppers; I found chocolate covered malt balls in the bulk section at Central Market.  They were huge--lots of chocolate coating.  And for the chips I used some Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chips. 

The cookie dough came together quickly.  It was softer than I expected.  I used my trusty #40 disher and ended up with a total of 38 cookies.  I baked them for 11 minutes.  The finished cookies were also rather soft--I had to let them cool on the baking sheets for a bit before I could transfer them to a rack.  

The verdict?  Jamie liked them a lot.  I thought they were okay.  The malt flavor didn't seem as pronounced in the finished cookies, except for the whopper bits.  I sent half a dozen to school for Brianna's teacher, half a dozen for the after-school program teachers, and took a dozen to the daycare.  And of course, put one in Brianna's lunch.  The rest went into a tin on the kitchen counter.  When I tried to take some out for some more pictures, I found that they were rather stuck together, which was kind of annoying.  I'm not sure if I'll make these again, since there are lots of other cookies I like better.  But I'm glad I gave them a try.  If you'd like to try them for yourself, check out the recipe over at Rachel's blog.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


When I went to the library on Thursday, one of the cookbooks I found was Whole Grain Baking from King Arthur Flour.  I've seen recipes from it on a number of blogs and seen it at the bookstore, so I wanted to take a closer look.  I have two other KAF cookbooks, and I've been thinking about adding this one to my wishlist, but I don't do a lot of whole grain baking.  Of course, that's part of why I picked it up--I know I really should work more whole grains into our diet.  

I'm still reading through the book, but so far I like what I see.  And it inspired me to pick up a bag of white whole wheat flour while I was shopping today.  I had already planned to do some bread baking today, and figured I could substitute it for some of the bread flour.  I had my eye on a recipe for white bread from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice.  The past couple times we've had hamburgers (not something we do all that often), I tried my hand at homemade buns.  One I've blogged about; the other I haven't gotten to yet...  So I figured I'd use half the recipe for buns and make a loaf of bread for lunches with the rest.  

For this first attempt, I just subbed the white whole wheat flour for about a quarter of the bread flour in the recipe.  Other than that, I pretty much stuck to the recipe as written.  In my kitchen, the rising times tend to be on the shorter end of the ranges, so the whole thing took maybe 4 hours, start to finish.  The buns and loaf bake for different times at different temperatures.  I baked the buns at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, at which point they were nice and golden brown.  Then I lowered the temp to 350 and baked the loaf for 35 minutes.  When I checked its internal temperature, it went right on by 190 degrees F, so it was definitely done.  The higher initial oven temperature may have had something to do with that.

The verdict?  Everyone liked the hamburger buns.  Jamie said he wouldn't have guessed that there was whole wheat in them if I hadn't told him.  Gillian and Brianna are already used to eating some whole wheat things, like tortillas, and they seemed to enjoy these.  How can you go wrong with fresh baked anything? =)  As for the loaf of bread, I cut it for pictures, but no one has eaten any yet.  The real test will be when I pack it in Brianna's lunch tomorrow.

Somewhat Whole Wheat Bread
(adapted from White Bread Var. 2 from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart)

5 ounces white whole wheat flour
14 ounces unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg, slightly beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 ounces 1% milk, at room temperature

Mix together the flours, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Add the egg, butter, and milk.  Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the flours are absorbed and the dough forms a ball, adding more milk or flour if needed.

Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed (I used about 3) for 6 to 8 minutes.  Add more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, supple and tacky but not sticky.  The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl or rising container and roll it to coat with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it in half for sandwich loaves, into eighteen 2-ounce pieces for dinner rolls, or twelve 3-ounce pieces for burger or hot dog buns.  (My dough weighed about 38 ounces, so I used 19 ounces for the loaf and six 3-ounce pieces for the buns.)   Shape the pieces into boules for loaves or tight rounds for dinner rolls or buns.  Mist the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap.  Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.  

For shaping the loaf, flatten the piece of dough with your hand, folding in the edges to make an even-sided rectangle about 5 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches long.  Working form the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension.  The loaf will spread out as you roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8 to 9 inches.  Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.  Rock the loaf to even it out; do not taper the ends.  Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top.  Place the loaf in a lightly oiled pan, 8 1/2" by 4 1/2".  The ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise.

For rolls or buns, line 1 or 2 sheet pans with baking parchment.  Rolls require no further shaping.  For hamburger buns, gently press down on the rolls to form the desired shape.  Tranfer the rolls or buns to the sheet pans. 

Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel.  Proof the dough at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F for loaves, or 400 degrees F for rolls or buns.  Bake the rolls for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and register just above 180 degrees F in the center.  Bake loaves for 35 to 45 minutes.  The tops should be golden brown and the sides, when removed from the pan, should also be golden.  The internal temperature of the loaves should be close to 190 degrees F, and the loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.  When the loaves have finished baking, immediately remove them from the pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour.  Rolls should cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Test-drive a cookbook today

I love libraries.  We moved around some when I was little, and one of the first things we did in a new town was find the library.  (Heck, even as an adult, that's one of the first things I've done after moving.)  To get a library card, you had to be able to write your name.  I can remember my younger sisters practicing, so they too could have library cards.  We'd go about once a week, and if I was lucky, my 10-book limit would last that long.  In high school, I even worked in the reference department of my local public library.  As a grown-up, I still love libraries, but I don't get there as often as I'd like.  And I don't take my children as often as I'd like, either.  I really need to do something about that, but as a working mom it can be hard to find the time.  Not that anyone in this house lacks for books--my husband is a bit supporter of Half Price Books. =)   And we spend some of our time and money at Borders, as well.  There are books by certain authors (cookbooks and fiction) that I know that I'll buy without a second thought.  But for other books, the library is a great way to decide if I want to spend my money.  

So where am I going with this?  =)  One of the blogs I enjoy is The Food Librarian.  Yesterday she had a delicious-looking post about Magnolia's Raspberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Buns from a cookbook that she borrowed from her library. I love just about anything raspberry, and I love baking breakfast foods.  The timing was great, since today is my day off.  So I made these for breakfast.  I made half the recipe, which made nine standard sized muffins.  To keep the buns from sticking, I used some Pam for Baking on the muffin cups, which worked quite well.  I topped the cream cheese batter with some of my favorite raspberry butter and swirled it around.  Since my buns were smaller, I only baked them for 20 minutes, which was just right.  

The verdict?  Wow, these are awesome.  The cake part is delicious by itself, but it's fantastic with the raspberry swirl.  I ate two (hey, mine were only half the original size!) for breakfast and am tempted to have another one for lunch.  I should save them for my other taste-testers, though.  You can find the recipe here if you want to try them for yourself.  

I already checked, and unfortunately neither of my nearby libraries has a copy of More From Magnolia.  But they do have some others (such as David Lebowitz's The Perfect Scoop) that I've been meaning to check out (ha! library pun! =) ).  So along with my other errands for this afternoon, I'm off to the library!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Going, going, gone

I actually had to put peanut butter on my shopping list for next week.  I'm not really sure how long I've had the jar in my pantry.  I know I used some of it for the Peanut Butter Torte back in May, but the jar was open before that.  The only other things I know I use it for are chocolate-peanut butter no-bake cookies, and peanut butter swirl brownies.  I can't remember the last time I made either of those.  It's not that I really have anything against peanut butter, it's just not the first flavor I go for.  And when I do go for it, it's pretty much always in combination with chocolate.  Despite my love of all things dark chocolate, though, I prefer milk chocolate with my peanut butter.  Think Reese's--the cups, of course, but my favorite is actually the eggs they make at Easter time.  To my taste, they have the best ratio of filling to chocolate.  

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters (does that win for longest recipe title yet?), chosen by Stefany of Proceed with Caution.  I actually made these twice (a half-batch each time), with some variations.  For one, the only peanut butter I have is smooth, not crunchy, because I don't like crunchy.  In both batches I omitted the cinnamon, although I kept the nutmeg.  And I chopped up some milk chocolate (El Rey Caoba 41%, for the most part) for the chips.

Other than those changes, the first batch was made according to the recipe.  I mixed these up last weekend as something to take to our monthly dance.  Cookies always make good finger food.  =)  I didn't have a lot of time, so they didn't really get to chill in the fridge.  I scooped the dough out onto baking sheets, flattened the dough balls just slightly, and popped them in the oven.  The cookies came out very flat.  I underbaked them a bit, since I wanted them to stay a little chewy.  I had to let them cool on the baking sheet for a while before I could transfer them to a rack.  

The verdict?  Wow, were they a hit!  I liked them quite a bit myself, but I was still surprised to see how quickly they disappeared.  One person asked if I would email her the recipe as soon as I got home (which I did, or I probably would have forgotten, the way last week went).  Usually when I take something to a dance, there's at least a little left over for us.  Not this time!

So for the past week, I've been thinking about making more.  I finally had a good reason on Labor Day, since we were invited over for dinner with some friends (sort of surrogate grandparents to Brianna and Gillian).  One thing that stuck with me from the first batch was that the taste and texture reminded me of the no-bake cookies I mentioned above.  So for my second batch, I added in 1/4 cup cocoa powder (Scharffen Berger) with the flour.  I also had time to chill the dough for a few hours while I attempted to take a nap (not easy with children conspiring against me).  

Verdict #2?  I like these even better, and they were very popular with everyone after dinner.  I left some with our friends, but still have quite a few for us.  Brianna already asked if she can have one in her lunch tomorrow.  =)  These cookies weren't quite so flat, I think because the dough was chilled.  I can definitely see myself buying more peanut butter just to make more of these.

Want to try them for yourself?  You can find them in Dorie's book, of course, or head on over to Stefany's blog for the recipe.