Daring Bakers – Maple Mousse in a Pizzelle Bowl

I promised another Daring Baker’s post soon!

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

I’m late for the contest, but I’m posting anyway, because these were delicious, and relatively easy, too! The maple flavor was prevalent but not overwhelming, and the texture of the mousse was divine.

I made the maple mousse (recipe here) and put it in an almond pizzelle bowl. I tasted the two of them together, and decided that both were pretty sweet and needed something salty to balance the flavor. I remembered the candied pecans that I have made before. The Official Taste Tester can’t eat pecans, but he can eat almonds. So I topped it with spicy, salty, slightly sweet almonds. The result was pretty, if I do say so myself.

If I were to make these again, I would probably try to cut down the sugar a bit in the pizzelles. However, these were still really tasty as is. While some of us used utensils to eat our mousse bowls, others couldn’t wait that long.

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Daring Bakers – Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

So I’m a little behind.

And by that, I mean I’m a lot behind.

Allow me to explain. There are a few reasons: 1) I have been trying to graduate. I’m almost there (yay!) but not quite. Once the impending graduation date occurs I will be able to devote myself more to things I love (like baking, taking pictures of things I bake, and writing about them) rather than writing code and other project-related things. 2) I have been cooking for a lot more people than usual recently, and haven’t really had time to take pictures of the things I’ve been cooking before a hungry throng is ready to chow down.

I promise to get on a more regular schedule once item 1 is addressed. Which is soon. Which makes me nervous. But, luckily, I have a couple of daring bakers recipes to post that are more than qualified to help me overcome my anxiousness in a wave of pure deliciousness.

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

I am very glad they did.

This coffee cake was absolutely delicious. Next time I would probably up the amount of filling, which I chose to be chocolate chunks, dried cherries, and cinnamon-sugar. Even so, the cake was wonderful.

You can find the recipe I used at Life’s a Feast. All I changed was to substitute dried cherries for the nuts.

The cakes even looked pretty as they rose!

I will post the April Daring Baker’s challenge asap… then I have plans for some non-DB recipes! Soon!

Lemon Blueberry Bread

So I don’t know about you, but we have been having really strange weather the past couple of weeks. One day will be sunny and 60 degrees, then the next day we will have inches of ice and snow. Then it will melt and repeat.

I am getting tired of the inches of ice and snow part, but I am loving the 60 degree days. I can get out and walk to the grocery store without freezing, open the windows, and generally enjoy the sun that I haven’t seen enough of in a while.

To celebrate these fleeting glimpses of spring (and an aunt’s birthday), I made one of my most popular desserts. The bright lemon and juicy blueberries inspire feelings of spring even on the snowy days.

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This delicious lemon blueberry bread can be made in loaf pans, but for special occasions I like to bake it in my Bundt pan, making for a more beautiful presentation.

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The bread itself is moist and bright. The icing, however, really “makes” it. I always put some of the icing on the bread and reserve the rest of it to spoon over each serving.

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Daring Bakers – Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

This is my first time doing Daring Bakers, and it definitely was out of my comfort zone! I had generally overlooked panna cotta as something I wouldn’t really be that interested in. I was completely wrong. We were encouraged to play with flavor combinations, so I layered Bailey’s panna cotta, coffee gelee, and chocolate panna cotta with delicious results.

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In addition to the panna cotta, we made Florentine cookies. These were not my favorite cookies on their own, but combined with the panna cotta they were quite delicious.

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A word of warning: even with using unsweetened chocolate, the chocolate layer in the panna cotta was almost unbearably rich. This may be remedied by cutting back the sugar or chocolate content, but at this point I would probably just look for another recipe. I’ll let you know if I find one that I like. If you choose to use this chocolate panna cotta recipe, try to keep the portions small.

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We had friends over to help us taste test (this made a lot of panna cotta, so four of us only ended up eating half of it). The consensus was that the chocolate was really rich, the Bailey’s panna cotta was good, and the coffee gelee was actually the star of the evening. Put together, the flavors worked very well.

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Double Chocolate Waffles (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

I have a confession: I love frozen waffles. They are so convenient to pop in the toaster oven and have ready for breakfast in just a few minutes. I tend to be picky about the waffles I get at restaurants, because they’re usually doused in powdered sugar and whipped cream. Not that powdered sugar and whipped cream are bad, just sometimes I want a simpler approach. Until recently, I didn’t have a waffle iron, so frozen waffles were my only choice.

Now, I may never go back.

These chocolate-chocolate chip waffles are quite rich, and if I were going to have them for an everyday breakfast, I would probably eliminate the chocolate chips. But it’s Valentine’s day; what better day to give yourself the gift of rich, chocolaty goodness? Oh, and did I mention they were easy to make?

I highly recommend these waffles topped with fruit. We tried them with cherry pie filling left over from mini cheesecake topping (pictured above) and fresh blackberries, both of which were delicious. The Official Taste Tester liked them with pure maple syrup, but I didn’t find the syrup to be necessary.

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Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Warning: this bread is incredibly addictive. My husband and I had it every morning for breakfast… and then I had to make more as soon as it ran out. We went through three loaves in a much shorter time period than I care to admit.

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I have been looking for a while for a really good cinnamon raisin bread recipe. I usually found recipes for enriched bread with a raisin and cinnamon swirl, which, while delicious, were never “cinnamony” enough for me. About a year ago, however, my in-laws gave me Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I like that Reinhart explains the science behind the bread baking, and I have used the book extensively.

This bread is chock full of raisins, cinnamon, and sugar. It is perfect toasted or not, with a generous smear of butter.

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Coconut Cupcakes with Pandan Frosting

During my undergrad, I didn’t live in the dorms. First off, I started taking classes as a high school student, so naturally I lived with my parents. By the time I would have moved in as a “real” student, I was a Junior. I was at a different course level, all my friends were upperclassmen, and I hadn’t heard many good stories about the dorms anyway.

Oh, and living at home was cheap.

There have been times, though, that I wished I would have had the “dorm experience”. Not the tiny rooms, the smells, or the drunk people down the hall. What I felt I missed out on was having friends one door away, friendships that often lasted through college and beyond. There’s something to be said about proximity helping relationships form in their early stages.

But I didn’t stay in the dorms. I commuted, and then, when I got married, I still commuted. But when I got married, my Official Taste Tester and I purchased an multi-unit building. We started out with tenants that were strangers, actively avoiding having tenants that were our friends, worried about how it would affect our relationship.

Last year that all changed. Our friend, who had lived with Official Taste Tester before and was very responsible, was looking for an apartment and our empty unit fit the bill (he was later joined by his wife; we are close friends with both of them). Then, my cousin moved into another unit that opened up. I found myself getting the “dorm experience”, but with more privacy, fewer smells, and much better food.

One of the great things about our friends living upstairs is that we like to share food. We will leave treats for each other in a common space, passing baked goods back and forth.

A few days ago, we had brunch with these same friends and they served green pancakes. Yes, green pancakes. The secret ingredients were pandan, a flavoring used widely in southeast asian cooking (our friend likened it to Vanilla), and coconut milk. The pancakes were amazing, and even better, I went back downstairs with a bottle of pandan, and plans to make cupcakes using a common pandan-and-coconut pairing.

The Official Taste Tester doesn’t like overwhelming coconut (nor do some of his coworkers, who helped finish off the batch of cupcakes.) I created these cupcakes to be dense and moist, with a sweet but mild coconutty flavor. The star, however, is the green buttercream frosting with pandan and more coconut. Even those who were hesitant about the coconut polished off the cupcakes without a problem.

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Giant Molasses Cookies

These are giant cookies. Really, really large cookies. They are sweet and slightly spicy… and huge.

They’re perfect.

This is the first time I made these cookies with sorghum molasses. It’s what they call for, but I have never been able to find it. But this summer at the farmer’s market I saw a stand selling sorghum molasses and I had to get some. It is pressed amish-style and made from local produce. I wish I had bought more.

If all you have is regular molasses, by all means make these cookies. They will still be wonderful. However, the sorghum takes it to a whole new level.

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These are perfect cuddle-up-by-the-fire, stay-inside-out-of-the-snow-with-a-cup-of-coffee cookies. You must try them with coffee.

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Pumpkin Rolls

I love pumpkin. I love pumpkin soup, pumpkin lasagna, pumpkin bread, and of course, pumpkin rolls! Growing up, my family would always buy a few pumpkin rolls from the same baker. The moist, spongy cake was delicious, but I would always eat in a spiral until I reached the center where I found a generous amount of the sweet cream cheese filling, by far the best part.

Last year was the first time I made these rolls. I was convinced that they would be difficult, that I would crack the cake when I rolled it or the thin cake would get dry too easily. They are actually quite easy to make. I’ve made a few adjustments, including adding allspice to the filling. It adds some complexity and helps keep the filling from being too sweet. You can omit it if you want, but I strongly suggest you give it a try.

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These rolls are perfect for fall occasions, like thanksgiving, when pumpkin puree is on every supermarket endcap. But they’re also perfect for Christmas, New Years, or anytime. Continue reading

Merry Christmas! Stained Glass Cookies and Gingerbread Houses

Merry Christmas!

We tend to have our more elaborate Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve. We go to church, gather with the extended family for dinner and conversation (and the traditional white elephant exchange), then open presents with the immediate family. Usually the festivities wrap up after 2:00 AM, so on Christmas Day we sleep in and relax.

Throughout all these festivities there are always plates of cookies set out for nibbling. We have the obligatory frosted sugar cookies, of course. But next to these cookies, are unassuming gingerbread cookies. Unassuming that is, until you hold them up to the light.

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These beautiful cookies serve just as well as a decoration as food. But don’t let that fool you… the cookie is a delicious gingersnap, with hints of cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. The sweetness of the hard candy that forms the stained glass center provides a compelling contrast.

These cookies take a little bit of time, but are well-worth adding to your christmas repertoire.

As a bonus, the dough can double as the walls of a gingerbread house!

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