Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chockablock Cookies (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet: Chockablock Cookies. They're chocolate cookies sweetened with molasses, then chock full of chocolate chips, nuts, oats, and dried fruit!

I have to say that I wish I had seen the comments from the other bakers before I made these because I'm not really a big fan of shortening. Apparently a lot of bakers just used butter in place of the shortening without any problems. I would have preferred to have done that, but of course did not think to.

These cookies were just okay to me. I don't particularly care for chocolate cookies, so I think that was the main reason. The molasses and chocolate combination was just fine in my opinion (there were reservations among the group about this).

Thanks Mary, for hosting this week. If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed this sweet, chocolatey treat! Also, don't forget to enter my $100 gift card giveaway while you're here :)

* Recipes notes:
- For tips from other TWD bakers, click here.

Apple Steamed Pudding with Sticky Toffee Sauce (DB)

If you're here for Tuesdays with Dorie, check back later today for my post about Chockablock Cookies! Also, don't forget to enter my $100 gift card giveaway while you're here :)

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

Suet is the hard but flaky fat found on the inside of a cow or sheep around the kidneys and that area of the body. Now, I am well aware that many good things are made with fat, or even lard for that matter. But I am one of those people who believes that ignorance is bliss. I can enjoy something made with lard as long as I don't know that there is lard in it :) So, even though I am sure that traditional British pudding made with suet is delicious, I simply could not bring myself to make anything with it!

Thankfully, Esther gave us the option to make a pudding without suet. The only requirement was that it be a steamed pudding. So, having discovered my love for sticky toffee pudding while vacationing in Grand Cayman, I decided that I would make that for this challenge :)

It seems to me that most recipes for sticky toffee pudding are baked in the oven, so I had to do some real searching before I could find a true pudding. I finally found a recipe on BBC Good Food - I think it's like the British version of epicurious :) This recipe was slightly different from traditional sticky toffee pudding in that it included apples instead of dates, but I love anything with baked apples, so I figured it was worth a try. (Plus I had apples in my fridge and no dates in my pantry!)

For this challenge my rice cooker came in really handy. You see, it comes with a steamer insert that made steaming my pudding a piece of cake (no pun intended). The only problem was that the steamer is fairly shallow, so I couldn't put a large bowl in it. So, I decided to use ramekins and make mini versions instead. In the end, the ramekins simplified things for me, as I didn't have any string on hand so I had to improvise. Instead of using string to seal the foil over the ramekins, I used rubber bands.

Here's how my pudding looked after it was done steaming!

I was a little worried about how this would taste, as I am fairly certain that every sticky toffee pudding I've ever tried was baked, not steamed. I am not sure why, but the thought of eating a dessert that was steamed just seemed weird to me. Luckily, I found my concerns to be completely unfounded - this was delicious! My husband even told me to hide the rest from him because he's trying to lose some weight and didn't want to eat all of it!

I've included the recipe I used below, though I apologize to those who do not have a kitchen scale. I intended to measure everything out so I could include it with the recipe but was rushed and did not get the chance to do this. You may want to use this link to figure out the conversions.

Thanks Esther, for hosting this month's challenge. I'm sorry I wasn't "daring" enough to make a pudding with suet, but I did challenge myself to try steamed pudding. Make sure you check out the Daring Bakers' Blogroll to see how everyone else enjoyed this traditional British dessert.

Apple Steamed Pudding with Sticky Toffee Sauce
from Olive Magazine as seen on BBC Good Food

175g unsalted butter , softened
4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2cm chunks (I used Fuji apples. I also added some cinnamon, to taste)
130g golden caster sugar (called superfine sugar in the US - if you don't have any, just put some sugar in your food processor and make your own)
50g walnuts , toasted & roughly chopped (I don't like nuts so I omitted these)
3 eggs , beaten
150g self-raising flour

Toffee Sauce:
175g light muscovado sugar (unrefined brown sugar)
125g unsalted butter
200g crème fraîche

Melt 25g butter in a large frying pan, add the apple chunks and cook until just tender and starting to turn golden. Add 1 tbsp sugar and continue to cook for a couple of minutes until the apples start to caramelize. Cool and add the walnuts.

To make the sauce, tip all of the ingredients into a saucepan and cook until the butter and crème fraîché have melted. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Tip the apple and walnut mixture into a buttered 1.5 litre pudding basin. Pour a third of the toffee sauce over, set aside.

Beat together the remaining butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, mixing well between each addition. Fold in the flour with a pinch of salt. Carefully spoon the mixture on top of the apples and spread level. Cover with a pleated sheet of baking parchment and foil, tie securely with string and trim off any excess paper and foil. Put the bowl in a large saucepan and pour boiling water around the bowl so that it comes halfway up the sides. Cover with a lid and steam for 1-1/2 hours, adding more water to the pan halfway though if needed.

Rest the pudding for 2 minutes before turning out into a dish and serving with the remaining warm toffee sauce.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Big Giveaway Announcement

I'm excited to announce that I'm giving away a $100 gift card!

To find out where you'll be able to redeem the gift card, and details on how to enter to win, click here. You have until 5pm (PST) on May 26th to enter. Good luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sweet Cream Biscuits (TWD)

First, let me say that I've got a BIG giveaway coming up on my blog! You'll have to keep coming back to check over the next few days to find out what it is, but I promise it's something you don't want to miss out on! :)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Melissa of Love At First Bite: Sweet Cream Biscuits. But wait you say... it's not Tuesday! It's Saturday, and basically almost Sunday! Ok, ok, you're right. I'm super late this week with my post, but better late than never right? Really I have no excuse for posting late this week, especially when the recipe takes just minutes to prep... but, seems like I hardly have any time for baking these days :(

At first I thought I had made a mistake when I realized I had not put any butter in these biscuits. It's no mistake! These biscuits have cream instead of butter in them. I wasn't sure how they would turn out but they were surprisingly very similar to traditional biscuits.

If you look closely in the photo, you'll see that my biscuits were flower shaped :) That's because I used a cookie cutter to make my biscuits since I don't have a biscuit cutter. So how did these taste? These aren't as sweet as the name implies, and I think I may miss the nice buttery taste that comes with traditional biscuits, but if you're making biscuits at the last minute and realize you're out of butter, then these would make a great alternative.

I enjoyed my biscuits with some wild raspberry honey that I won from Blake Makes courtesy of Bee Raw. They say that the flavor of the honey comes from the flowers that the bees have pollinated and it's so true. The floral raspberry flavor in this honey is subtle, but definitely there. I really enjoyed it.

Thanks Melissa, for hosting this week. If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed this breakfast treat!

* Recipes notes:
- Make sure you add enough cream to get the dough moist enough to stick together so it doesn't crumble when you roll it out, but not too moist to where it's too sticky to work with.
- For tips from other TWD bakers, click here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Swedish Apple Cake (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Nancy of The Dog Eats the Crumbs: Swedish Visiting Cake. I guess this is the kind of cake you throw together when you have unexpected company, because it takes about 5 minutes to throw together and tastes pretty great! Maybe that's why it's called a "visiting" cake? :)

Since I didn't have any sliced almonds around (probably because I don't like almonds anyway), I opted to make the Swedish Apple Cake that Dorie adapted from Ann Brettingen. The longest part of this recipe was peeling and slicing the apple!

I need to measure my cast iron skillet because I think it's probably a 10-inch one, not a 9-inch, so my cake came out a tad thin. Regardless, it still tasted great. The only change I made to the recipe was to add 1/8 of a teaspoon of cinnamon because you can't have apples without cinnamon! I would have added more, but with only 3/4 cup of flour in the cake, I didn't want the cinnamon to be overpowering. In the end, I think it was just perfect.

Thanks Nancy, for hosting this week. It's a great go-to recipe for last minute entertaining! If you would like the recipe for the Swedish Visiting Cake, you can find it here. Otherwise, I've posted the recipe for the Swedish Apple Cake below. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed this simple treat!

* Recipes notes:
- My cake was done after 35 minutes, probably because I baked it in a larger skillet.
- Add 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients to complement the apples.
- For tips from other TWD bakers, click here.

Ann Brettingen’s Swedish Apple Cake
adapted by Dorie Greenspan

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt (optional)
1 extra-large egg or 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 to 1 1/2 apples (I used Fujis), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
Apple, quince or ginger jelly or preserves, for glazing the cake (optional)

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. (345°F if your oven will do that.) Generously butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate or a similar sized cast-iron skillet.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, if you’re using it, and keep at hand.

3. Working in a mixing bowl with the whisk, beat the egg(s) and sugar together until thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla, if you’re using it, and then the melted butter. The mixture will be smooth and shiny. Stir in the dry ingredients and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Top with the apples, making a spiral pattern. Leave some space between each slice, so the batter can puff up between the wedges – it looks much nicer with the puffs.

4. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack.

5. If you want to glaze the cake, warm a few spoonfuls of jelly and a splash of water in a microwave oven (or a saucepan) until the jelly liquefies. Brush the jelly over the hot cake.

6. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes, or wait until it reaches room temperature, before you cut it into wedges to serve.

Yield: 6 Servings.

Storing: Cooled and covered, the cake will keep overnight at room temperature, but it’s best served shortly after it’s baked.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coconut Tea Cake (TWD)

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was actually the Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake, but in the spirit of Easter, our leader Laurie let us swap weeks and we were allowed to make the Coconut Tea Cake from last week, chosen by Carmen of Carmen Cooks.

Time was short, and this recipe was a breeze to whip up. I made the coconut lime version, with the use of lime sugar and rum in the batter. The lime flavor was subtle, though I could definitely see pretty little flecks of lime zest in the finished product. As for the coconut, I could recognize the bits of shredded coconut in each bite, but I was hoping that the addition of coconut milk would lend a stronger coconut flavor.

Still, the cake came out pretty moist and we all enjoyed it on Easter. I had intentions of making a nice glaze or a coconut cream cheese frosting for this cake, but time got away from me and I had more fun taking pictures of my dear daughter (she'll be 5 months next week already!!!) and her first Easter instead :)

Thanks, Carmen, for hosting this (last) week. If you would like the recipe, you can find it here. Make sure you check out the TWD Blogroll, to see how everyone else enjoyed this coconut-y treat!

* Recipes notes:
- Take the cake out just as it begins to turn a nice golden color. Leave it in too long and it will dry out. Mine was done right around 60 minutes.
- For tips from other TWD bakers, click here.