Sunday, December 19, 2010

Duck Sugar Cookies

At the last minute a friend asked me to make some cookies for a baby shower. I frantically dug through my box of cookie cutters and couldn’t find one “baby” related cutter. WHAT!!!! I didn’t realize my collection was so deficient.

In the end I had to settle for an Easter Duck cutter that I thought looked a little baby-ish.

Not too bad...

They don’t scream “baby shower”, but the mother to-be didn’t seem to mind.

Friday, November 26, 2010

TWD: Caramelized Apple Shortbread Cake

A few days ago I discovered Dorie Greenspan's Cranberry Shortbread Cake, and I like it so much I decided to make it again, this time with apples.

First I caramelized the apples with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I wish you could get a whiff of the smells coming from this skillet. Warm, spicy and oh-so Fall-like. Happy, happy, days.

After the apples had cooled, I grated my frozen shortbread cake dough into the pan and topped it with the apples. Yes, grated. I read somewhere that grating the dough creates a lighter, more delicate crust and it is true. Next time give it a try, you won't be sorry. Just watch those finger-tips!

A layer of Apple Butter...

And the rest of the grated shortbread dough. Note: I used too much dough on the bottom, so the top layer looks a little bare.

And if it wasn't sweet enough I topped the finished cake with cinnamon glaze. Can anyone say sugar coma? But hey, what a way to go.

Caramelized Apple Shortbread Cake

Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours pg 208-209 & 408

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • With an electric mixer beat the butter on medium speed until soft and smooth.
  • Add the sugar and continue to beat until the sugar dissolves into the butter.
  • Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the eat, beating until it is absorbed.
  • Beat in the vanilla.
  • Add the flour mixture and using a sturdy rubber spatula mix only until it is incorporated.
  • Divide the dough in half, pat into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until solid.

For the Caramelized Apples:

3 medium apples, cored, peeled and sliced
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Ginger

1/4 - 1/2 cup Apple Butter (optional)

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat melt the butter, then sprinkle the sugar over the melted butter.
  • Cook the butter and sugar for 1 minute or so. You want the sugar to caramelize but not burn.
  • Add the sliced apples and spices to the skillet and toss to evenly coat the apples with the spices, and butter/sugar. Cook until they are tender but not soft, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the apples and buttery liquid to a plate.

  • When the dough is frozen solid, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Line the bottom and 2 sides of a 9 x 5" loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing 2-3 inches to extend over the 2 sides. Lightly butter the parchment paper and non-covered side of the pan.
  • Remove one ball of frozen dough and grate into the prepared pan. Distribute evenly.
  • Spoon the caramelized apple on top of the bottom layer of dough.
  • Cover the caramelized apples with the Apple Butter (optional).
  • Grate the other half of the dough on top of the apples.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is lightly golden brown.
  • Cool for 20 minutes. Run a blunt knife on the two sides of the cake not covered by parchment paper. Lift the cake from the pan using the parchment paper sides as handles.
  • Add a glaze if desired.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TWD: Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake

I just got back from vacation ( a Carnival cruise but thankfully not the one that was stranded at sea with no power and water), so I had to scramble to get this week’s assignment finished on time.

Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry (Blueberry) Shortbread Cake

This week’s TWD selection was made by Jessica of The Singleton in the Kitchen (click here for recipe). Way to go Jessica, you made a delicious choice.

Because of my late return I didn’t have time to go to the store and get cranberries, so I had to raid the refrigerator and use what was on hand. The only non-moldy fruit I could find in the frig was some slightly expired blueberry fruit spread. It wasn't too, too expired so I decide to take a chance. (I'm such a rebel.)

Like many other TWD bakers, I grated the dough instead of trying to roll it out to the correct size. The grating was a lot easier but also a lot messier.

So how did it taste?

Pretty darn good.

Kinda like a cross between a sugar cookie and a scone. Crunchy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside. Not too sweet, with a little tartness from the fruit. In the book Dorie also suggest using caramelized apples instead of cranberries. I think I’ll give that a try for Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TWD: Pea-NOT-tiest Blondies

I made my last Houston-New Orleans commute on Friday, October 29th and the next morning I pulled out my pans and started BAKING. Yahoo! An almost two month exile from my kitchen and my weekly Tuesdays with Dorie fix was finally at an end.

And what was I fortunate enough to get to bake?
Peanuttiest Blondies.
Lucky Me. One of my favorites.

This week’s selection was made by Nicole of Bakeologie. The recipe can be found on page 119 of Dorie Greenspan’s book: BAKING From My Home to Yours, or on Nicole's blog site.

Now I’m a great lover of Peanuts and Peanut Butter, but my family falls more on the “great hater” side of the Peanut Butter fence. So I had to make some minor adjustment to Dorie’s fabulous recipe. I subbed Almond Butter for the Peanut Butter and replaced the peanuts with a medley of four nuts: almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and pecans.

It was yummy. Moist, chewy and oh-so nutty... So my version my not be Peanuttiest Blondies, but they are certainty the Nuttiest Blondies.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

TWD: Double Apple Bundt Cake

I've been MIB (missing in baking) lately due to my temporary relocation to beautiful, exciting downtown Houston. Every few weeks I make the 5 hour drive home, and on my last visit I actually managed to bake something.

Yummy, yummy Double Apple Bundt Cake. Many thanks to Lynne of Honey Muffin for selecting this delectable, apple delight for Tuesdays with Dorie's weekly baking assignment.

In her recipe, Dorie, mentioned that the grated apples might make the butter look curdled, so I didn't worry when my mix looked like this...

Kinda gross, huh?

But I've learned to trust Dorie, and as usual everything turned out fine.

I only have two more weeks in Houston so hopefully I can get back to my regular baking schedule soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TWD: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

This week’s TWD selection was made by Jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine and her choice was Peanut Butter Crisscrosses. Thanks Jasmine, Peanut Butter Cookies are one of my favorites.

But as usual I ran into some technical difficulties: this time with the crisscrosses. Those little suckers just wouldn’t stay put. I push my tines deep into the cookie dough, but the baked cookies showed hardly a hint of a PB’s cookie signature mark. Anyone else have this problem? I wonder if my dough was too soft, or if I should have refrigerated the cookie dough after making the tine impressions??? Who knows... Life is a mystery. But with the marks or without, these were some darn good cookies.

I also made a batch with mini chocolate chips. They were good, but not as good as the “classic” version.

Update on the job front: Today is my first day at the new job! Yeah! I can’t wait to get started. The last few months (since the layoffs were announced) have been traumatic and depressing. I lost a lot of hair from the stress, gained 15 pounds, and had constant headaches that bordered on migraines. The last six months have not been fun. But hopefully all my “angst” is over and life can get back to normal. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TWD: Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie was selected by Donna of Life’s Too Short Not to Eat Dessert First.

Now I’m not a fan of coffee flavored desserts, but these weren’t half bad. A little less coffee/espresso and a little more sugar and these chocolate shortbread cookies would have been perfect for my coffee-adverse taste-buds.

And I was really WOWed by the tip about rolling out the stick dough in a zip-lock bag. Why has it taken me 40+ years to learn that trick? Thanks Dorie, I’m always learning something new from you.

Update on the job front: Only one week till I start my new job!!! Yea!!!

I’ve been working as a “temp” since I was laid off in June. It is/was a good job except for the fact it offered no benefits. And being uninsured really had me worried. I must have had a hundred nightmares about getting into a car accident and having to pay hospital bills out of pocket! Yikes! Come on September 7, I need a good night's sleep.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Katrina: 5 Years Ago Today

August 29, 2010. A rainy, gloomy kinda day in New Orleans, so much like that faithful day five years ago that it is eerie. I feel like I should do something to mark the 5 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, but what? I’ve been watching videos on You Tube, talking to friends and family, and flipping TV channels watching all the documentaries on “The Storm”.

It is so strange to think that five years ago I was trapped in a hotel room (with 15 other people, 5 dogs, 3 cat, a rabbit, and a hamster) knowing that my home, my job, my life were being washed away…

Here are some photos I took along the way...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

TWD: Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart

This week’s “Tuesday with Dorie” selection of Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart was made by Rachel of sweet tarte (how appropriate).

Now I’m not a fan of custardy desserts, but this tart made a convert out of me. It was delicious. Delicate fruit, creamy custard, crunchy topping, and a flaky crust. The “flaky crust” part is not true to Dorie’s recipe which called for a “Sweet Nut Tart Dough”, but I was lazy and just used a ready made crust instead of making my one. Sorry Donna. Sorry Dorie.

Here are the tarts about to go into the oven. Not knowing if I would like the tart, I cut the recipe in half and made four mini tarts instead of one big tart. I also just diced the peaches instead of making the elegant “fan pattern” that Dorie suggested. I know, I know, I’m a lazy bum.

Here are the tarts just out of the oven. That mess you see on the pan is from the streusel topping that accidentally slid off the tarts (what a waste of good topping). Dorie suggested leaving the pan in the oven as you sprinkle the streusel on top of the tart, but this didn’t work for a klutz like me. I burned my hand in two places reaching into the oven, and I also lost some of the prize streusel as it slid off the mounds of peaches. Poor streusel.

Any here is the final product. Ta-da. Sweet peaches, creamy custard, flaky crust, and crunchy almond topping. What more could a girl ask for?

Side note on the job front... I got a job!!!! I'm starting on September 7th. I have to go to Houston for 2-1/2 months of training, but then I'll be back home in time for Thanksgiving. To celebrate I went on a shopping spree this weekend, buying things that I have been putting off for months: a new garbage disposal (the old one broke a few months back), a new vacuum cleaner (the old kept spitting things back at me), new tires and windshield for my car (need to be safe on my trips back and forth to Houston), and a new purse (just because). Hopefully now my life can settle back into a normal routine. Looking for a job was extremely stressful and VERY frustrating, and I hope to never have to do it again!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pound Cake Love

I’m a lover of all things Pound Cake, and this recipe is by far my favorite. It is a combination of two excellent recipes I found on (formerly Elvis Presley’s Favorite Whipping Cream Pound Cake and Five Flavor Pound Cake.

Both cakes are excellent but in different ways. The Elvis cake is dense and rich and simply melts in your mouth. It has that crunchy-sugary top that is the hallmark of a great pound cake. The Five Flavor cake is lighter and fluffier, and has a heady mixture of scents and flavors that fill your nose and mouth and make you snatch up slice after slice. It is additively delicious.

So in my quest for the ultimate pound cake I combined my two favorites. The dense, richness from the Elvis recipe and the "explode in your mouth" flavors from the Five Flavor recipe.

Here is “Pound Cake Love” ready to go into the oven. I cut the recipe in half and made a it in a single load pan.

Just out of the oven. The sides were a little burnt and tough, but just look at that crunchy, sugary top. No glaze needed here.

In the end I sliced away the overcooked sides and bottom to expose the soft, moist underbelly of the pound cake.

Yumm. I’m in Pound Cake heaven.

Pound Cake Love


• 3 cups sugar
• 1/2 lb butter (2 sticks), softened
• 6 eggs, room temperature
• 3 cups cake flour, sifted twice
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 cup whipping cream (heavy cream)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon butter extract
• 1 teaspoon coconut extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 teaspoon lemon extract
• 1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
• 1 teaspoon pineapple extract (optional)


• DO NOT preheat the oven, this cake goes into a COLD oven
• Butter and flour a 10 inch tube pan
• Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Sift a second time and set aside.
• In a measuring cup combine the cream and 1 teaspoon of each of the 5 (or 7) extracts.
• Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).
• Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
• Mix in half the flour mixture, then the whipping cream, then the other half of the flour mixture.
• Pour into prepared pan.
• Set in COLD over and turn heat to 350 degrees F.
• Bake 60 – 70 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted in the cake comes out almost clean. Do not over bake or it will come out dry, if anything err on the side of undercooked.
• Cool in pan for 5 minutes, and then remove and set on a wire rake to cool completely.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

TWD: Chewy, Chunky Blondies

Nicole of Cookies on Friday picked this week’s Tuesday with Dorie selection: Chewy, Chunky Blondies.

Chewey, gooey, and oh-so sweet, but sadly not my favorite “Dorie” recipe. I prefer more “cake-like” brownies/blondies so the gooeyness of these blondies made me a little sad. Sad that I had to eat the whole pan and not enjoy it only little bit. NOT one bit I tell you.

I did love the look and taste of the uncooked cookie dough. Yumm…

Side note on the job front… My 30-day temp job was due to end on July 30th, but today I was added as a speaker for an August 6th meeting??? I’ll have to ask my boss tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe I’ll be getting a paycheck for a few more weeks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TWD: Brrrrr-ownies

This week’s TWD selection of “Brrrrr-ownies” was made Karen of Welcome to our Crazy Blessed Life.

According to Dorie Greenspan, Brrrrr-ownies are as frosty as a nor’easter thanks to the handful of York Peppermint Patties that are added to the mix.

Now I had planned on following this recipe to a “T”, but somewhere between my grocery cart and my Sunday afternoon baking marathon the peppermint patties DISSAPEARED. I’m not accusing anyone of being a peppermint pattie thief. But just to let you know, Matthew, your minty fresh breath gave you AWAY!!!!

So what is a Brrrrr-ownie with peppermint patties? I guess just an intensely rich piece of bittersweet chocolate heaven.


Side note on the job front… My last day of work with ENI Petroleum was June 25, 2010, but a friend got me a 30+ day temp job (at another oil compnay) filling in for someone out on maternity leave. So I have another few weeks before I officially join the ranks of the unemployed. Hopefully I’ll find something permanent in the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Emeril: Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze

I wanted to bake something with apples for the Fourth of July, and I found a recipe for Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze by Emeril Lagasse. The cake looked and sounded yummy, and because it had a 5 star rating (among 176 reviewers) on the Food Network I decided to give it a try.

Here is the finished product, and I’m definitely in the minority because I didn’t care for this “cake” AT ALL.

It had a nice flavor, but it just didn’t "taste" like cake. It had no distinct crumb or texture, and had a squishy, spongy feel in my mouth. It reminded me more of bread pudding. I also didn’t like the color. All the components: the cake, apple and topping, all had a grayish-brown tint so everything just merged into one big mass. You couldn’t tell the apple from the cake from the topping. It didn’t look appetizing at all (unlike Emeril’s picture).

The cake started out with such promise. Here it is being mixed...

And spread into the pan...

With the crumble topping...

And just out of the oven with it's warm brown sugar glaze ...

So I guess I must have done something incorrect because all those reviewers on the Food Network can’t be wrong.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TWD: Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie baking assignment was chosen by Amy of Amy Ruth Bakes.

I’m a lover of all things chocolate, so I had such high hopes for this cake. The batter mixed up like a dream: thick, creamy, and very, very tasty.

But I missed judged the time needed to make the cake ( the cake came out of the oven at 11:15 am and I had to be at our Father’s Day party at noon), so I sliced and frosted the cake while it was still steaming hot. Of course the frosting melted on contact with the hot cake and the suddenly liquid chocolate oozed all over the place.

And the taste?

Well, honestly, I was a little disappointed.

I found the cake bland and the bottom and sides of the loaf were very hard. Maybe I cooked it too long -- I probably cooked it too long. -- I have a very bad habit of doing that :(

Here is a peek at the inside. My cake may not have been the best tasting thing at the party, but I just loved the look of all that warm chocolate oozing out and dripping down the sides. Ahhh chocolate.

Side note on the job situation: Only three more days till the pink slips come out! I wish Friday would hurry up and get here cause I keep swinging from deep depression at losing my paycheck to overwhelming joy at finally getting away from a job that was slowly killing me. I guess this emotionally roller coaster is normal????

So what should I do on my first Monday of unemployment? I think I may go back and start baking all of the TWD recipes I missed!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TWD: Raisin Swirl Bread

Before this week I was a Raisin Bread virgin. I had never tasted a slice in all my (shhh 47) years on this earth.

I was missing so much, so very much. Just take a look...

Soft, tender-crumbed sweet bread with a swirl of cinnamon sugar and plump, juicy raisins. Many thanks to Susan of Food.Baby for selecting such a great baking project.

Job update: Only 8 days till the pink slip arrives. I bought an individual health insurance policy yesterday because COBRA was just too expensive! My work policy ends at midnight on June 30th and the new policy start at 0:01 am on July 1st. Is that cutting it too close? I guess I should have overlapped them by a day but I didn't think about it at the time. Oh well, next time I'll know better.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TWD: Tender Shortcake

Cathy of The Tortefeasor chose Tender Shortcakes for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Strawberry Shortcake is one of my all time favorite summer treat. Sweet biscuits, sweet berries, and sweet cream. Sweet.

Still in a funk about my impending job loss. 13 more days till I join the ranks of the unemployed. Oh well, at least I will have more time to bake and blog. Everything has a silver lining.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with so-so Chocolate Frosting

My brother's annual crayfish boil was on Saturday, and for this year's party I decided on Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting. Yummmmm. My favorite.

I scoured the listing on RecipeZaar and decided on:
Sue B's Chocolate Cake and
Courtly's Chocolate Frosting.

The Sue B's cake turned out amazing. It was dense, moist and as black as midnight. It had a melt-in-your-mouth texture, and you could really taste the cocoa and rich buttermilk. It was truly scrumptious. Just take a look at that color and extra moist texture...

Now the frosting, well.... That was not such a success.

The frosting had a light, airy consistency that was really appealing. BUT light and airy goes hand-in-hand with soft and unstable. Below are the steps involved in making the frosting. 1) beat together the butter, sugar and cocoa. 2) pour in the cream and whisk. 3) add the melted chocolate (cooled to room temp). 4) whisk until smooth and shiny.

Well the frosting came out smooth and shiny, but it was so soft and runny it kept oozing down the side of the cake. I finally had to place the cake in the refrigerator just to keep the frosting from sliding off.

I also didn't care for the color: I thought it looked a little anemic (especially when placed next to the deep, dark chocolate cake).

So I whipped up a batch of ganache and poured it over the top of the cake. Much better looking, or at least I think so...

But in the end the ganache wasn't enough to hold the soft, airy frosting in place, and a mini catastrophe ensued. The cake was inside the house, but the 76 degree temp was still to much for the frosting to handle. By the time I had slice up half the cake the frosting was oozing off the sides and the top layer of cake kept sliding off (note to self use dowels next time).

So if you want to use this frosting (which really tasted good) only risk it when the temperature is less than 70 degrees.