FIVE OTHER RECENT DESERTS

If you’ve been paying close attention to the blog, you may have noticed that there are some gaps in the numeration of recipes. I’ve been baking – still not at a sufficiently high rate – but not getting the blogs written. In this single posting, I want to fill you in on a number of things, five to be more precise.

  1. ASD PROFESSIONAL LIBRARY INVITATION – Two Magnolia recipes.
    1. #62, Chocolate Drop Cookies with Heath Bars, Vanilla Chips, and `Pecans
    2. #63, Peach Cobbler (instead of “Nectarine”as in the Magnolia cookbook)
  2. SOMEONE’S BIRTHDAY
    1. #64, Raspberry Crumb Squares
  3. A BABY SHOWER
    1. #66, Devils Food Cupcakes
  4. ST. VALENTINE’S DAY
    1. Alfajores Peruanos

ASD PROFESSIONAL LIBRARY INVITATION

#62, Chocolate Drop Cookies with Heath Bars, Vanilla Chips, and Pecans

“These cookies have white chips in a deep chocolaty cookie, with toffee and pecans added to make them extra rich. Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

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RECIPE LINK

Lots of stuff to be stuffing inside of a cookie. Left to right: Heath Bars (coarsely chopped), Pecans, Vanilla Chips. IMG_1311 Too flat! Again! Never thought that drop cookies would give me such a hard time. I’ll keep trying. It seems to be all about the butter, how soft and warm it is, how well it’s been “fluffed” with the sugar.

#63, Peach Cobbler (“Nectarine” in the Magnolia Cookbook)

“A lovely, not-too-sweet summer dessert that’s equally delicious with peaches.” — and so I did.

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

As it turned out, there were fresh nectarines in the house, but I didn’t realize it when I began to bake. Perhaps I simply had my memory sticks set on peaches in a cobbler – THE kind of cobbler I always had as a child. There was a can of peaches on the shelves and I wanted to use them and knew that I could. Even the cookbook gave me free reins to substitute the nectarines with other fruits…. I obliged.

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RECIPE LINK

IN THE LIBRARY

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Cobbler in a cup!
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Have a bite and a book!

SOMEONE’S BIRTHDAY

#64, Raspberry Crumb Squares

“This scrumptious bar is a perfect blend of fruit and crumb.”

Excerpt From: Jennifer Appel. “The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/idq2G.l

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RECIPE LINK

This did not turn out well. Too much butter?

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I double-checked the amount of butter and I had it right. Still, the bottom shortbread crust would not firm up. It would just kind of melt – even after hours in the fridge.

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Looked like all was going well. I need to revisit this recipe before too long. I need to do some research about that crust.

After all, it ought to taste as good as this looks.

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A BABY SHOWER

#66, Devils Food Cupcakes (with Caramel Frosting – not)

How embarrassing! I ought to have pictures of a beautiful set of cupcakes for such an occasion, but I have none. The occasion was a small affair with colleagues and was a pot luck lunch as well. I made a meatloaf as well as the cupcakes.

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Click on this photo for a wonderful cupcake idea.

RECIPE LINK

MAKING DO and TWISTING THINGS A BIT

Even though I didn’t get any pictures of this batch of cupcakes, I did manage to pull off some YUMMY FUN.

  1. USING LEFTOVER STUFF– I didn’t make the caramel frosting (that’s the second time I’m making excuses for that) because I had leftover chocolate buttercream and cream cheese icings in the fridge. Having those icings ready to go was part of the reason I made the cupcakes.
    1. To the leftover cream cheese icing I added another 8 ounce block of cream cheese. I had never been satisfied with the earlier results. It wouldn’t stiffen up. The addition made a nice difference – a bit more tangy and stiff enough to stay on the cupcake.
    2. To the leftover chocolate buttercream I added more chocolate. I melted 4 oz of unsweetened block chocolate and stirred it into the existing frosting. YUM! I ended up with a darker, richer, chocolatier frosting.
    3. I took the cupcakes unfrosted to school and asked some students if they thought they had the willpower to frost the cupcakes knowing that they couldn’t eat any of them since they were intended for a baby shower. The power of chocolate and sugar in the air got them to accede to this pleasant suffering – and I decided that the baby shower wouldn’t miss a couple of cupcakes. 🙂
  2. KISSES and Cupcakes – I put a Hershey’s chocolate kiss inside each cupcake. All you need to do is put the chocolate kiss on top of the batter in the paper cup before putting them in the oven – and gently press down just a bit. The cupcake with rise up and cover the kiss. It makes a fun surprise.

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ROUTINE CHALLENGE

The morning baking routine I had before Christmas has got to change. In fact, a change HAS occurred to which I have not adjusted – a morning commute to work that did not used to be a part of the equation. I can no longer rise at 4 AM and have something baked and blogged in time to then make breakfast and get everybody up and out the door. I love the early morning, THEREFORE, I don’t want to rush through it toooo much.

ST. VALENTINE’S DAY

Alfajores

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RECIPE LINK

These were not red or made in the shape of a heart, but they were made WITH heart for my Peruvian girl. These cookies hold a place in our hearts whenever we think about our family in Peru and the AMAZING food culture that is there. These are VERY delicate cookies and worth the practice it takes to make but not break them.

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I almost threw the batter away to begin again because it was just TOO soft and sticky when trying to roll out the dough (like a sugar cookie) and then cut them. Instead, I re-floured my table, reformed the dough in a ball and put it back in the fridge. In the end, it worked. There are enough cookies here for 8 Alfajores.

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I am using store-bought dulce de leche here, but have since learned how to make my own. Next time I make these, I’ll explain that bit. Anyhooooo, this is going to be a sweet, milky, caramelly cookie sandwich.

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Powdered sugar for the final touch.

WE HAD A SWEET DAY!

Merci, Saint Valentin.

#43 Pecan Pear Cake, p. 29

“The cake can also be made with sweet or tart apples and with or without the glaze. You won’t be disappointed with any version.” (p. 29)

RECIPE LINK

Let’s start at the very beginning.

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Oh. Let’s begin again.

But wait !!! Oops. I almost forgot. Here’s the first step to take before working in the kitchen.

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Hit it, Doc!

Now. Chop chop.

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You may notice a can of “Baker’s Joy” resting inside the cake pan. Flour and oil ready to spray on the pan. Now there’s a reason to sing. “Doe, a deer…..”

This cake requires no big equipment to make. No mixer or blender or food processor. Just a whisk, a spoon, and some fancy handiwork.

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Put it all together and pour it in the pan.

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Lookin’ yummy. Chunks of pear and pecans everywhere.

BAKER’S JOY: A few notes on this production. The Baker’s Joy is so nice. Easy to use. The release at the end was perfect. That said, I actually enjoy the pre-industrial technique of adding the flour to the pan myself and bumping the pan all round. It feels like a little work of art each time.

DETOUR: I added more pecans than called for in the recipe. Why? I had a cup full of finely crushed, roasted pecans left over from an earlier recipe. I added that to the 1 cup of coarsely chopped pecans in the recipe. I think the results were lovely. I LOVE pecans and I LOVE the way the cake came out so nutty inside and out. Yes, “out”. The surface of the cake took on a real crunch that I find lovely. I hope those who eat this treat find it likewise so.

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See what I mean?

The finale with the glaze.

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And a couple of slices for the taste test.

DESTINATION?

High School teachers with hall and dining hall duty this week. See Mrs. Beck for details. ALSO and ALWAYS – Blog followers are automatically included in this gift. Just knock on Mrs. Beck’s door – and be nice.

HAVE A SWEET DAY!

#40, White Chocolate Pecan Drop Cookies

Two of Allysa’s favorite ingredients—toasted pecans and creamy white chocolate— together in what is definitely the most often baked cookie at her house.

RECIPE LINK

These cookies were baked to keep a birthday promise for some of my French 3 students. We had an unusual class that day, spending the entire period playing a series of games in French (Monopoly, Scrabble, Guess who) and putting together French jigsaw puzzles (Mont St. Michel, Astérix). The cookies added to the festive atmosphere.

What about these cookies? Nothing really new discovered, but an old problem revisited.

“SOFTENED BUTTER” – No doubt that the temperature of the butter can make a big difference in the way a cookie turns out.

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Guess which ones started out to warm?

The cookies on the left went straight into the oven after mixing. They taste great, but they are more difficult to control in terms of baking time. A bit too little, and it tastes not quite cooked and falls apart. A bit too much and they get hard and brittle quickly.

The cookies on the right came from batter that spent about 10 minutes in the fridge after mixing to allow them to firm up a bit. I also chilled the cookie sheet to help keep the cookies keep a better shape. A better cookie, I think, especially to offer to someone else.

#26 Vanilla Pecan Brownies

This fabulous square is a double treat for vanilla lovers, with vanilla chips melted in and plenty sprinkled on top. The pecans lend a delightful crunch.”

RECIPE LINK

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Photo from http://www.adahliavolk.com

I chose to bake this brownie on the same day as the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies. It looked like a simple recipe, and I was right. I am providing a link to another blog that made this same brownie and took very good pictures of the process. I failed to take my own pictures when making the brownie myself. Indeed this LINK is a good representation of what I saw unfold in my own kitchen.

This recipe really is for vanilla lovers. It fills the house with the aroma of vanilla. The batter is the most golden I’ve ever made – due mainly to the 6 eggs in the recipe.

WONDERING: Why call this thing a brownie? It isn’t chocolaty brown. I guess I was a little disappointed in the outcome. As I’ve said before, I like very dense brownies and shy away from the cake-like variety. I may have cooked this a minute or two too long. It was good, but not great (by my way of thinking). I’d like to make it more dense and a little chewy. Any ideas out there?

#25, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies, p. 58

“For those of you who can’t resist adding peanut butter to deserts.” (p. 58)

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Always begin with a vision – or – Planning by Backwards Design

What’s the good word?

PECANS!!!!

I’ve been baking all recipes so far this fall using walnuts where pecans were called for. Why? Because there were no pecans in Doha at the time. But times have changed. Pecans are in. Dare I tell you where? Ok. Family Foods. I left a couple of bags for the rest of Doha. So, hurry if you want some.  I did learn that walnuts are great in just about any baked treat where pecans are called for. But I know that only goes so far. You can’t build a southern US pecan pie with walnuts. I’d be accused of being a liberal New Englander – equivalent to a special curse out of Harry Potter for someone coming from Texas. But enough of that. What have I done with this newfound treasure?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

RECIPE LINK

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Step 1: Toast the coarsely chopped pecans for 15 minutes (10 I’d say) in a 350 degree oven
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Get everything else ready to go.
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Definitely zoom in on this one.

NOTE: Notice that there is a metal spatula in this dough. Actually, it’s an Italian gelato scoop. I have three great silicon spatulas to use. So why use the gelato scoop? Because the dough is so dense and the amount of STUFF I’m forcing into that dough is SO MUCH that I needed a no-compromise tool.

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Another ice cream scoop for cookie perfection.
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Yum.

DETOUR: My cookies are all larger than called for in the recipe – but I will not abandon this size. It creates a great cookie IF, IF, IF, you adjust the cooking time. The cooking time for this cookie was 10-12 minutes. My cookies needed at least 14 minutes. The first batch was not fully cooked –  even though gooey good for people like me. The 14 minute batch turned out better.

Gotta run! Next story is about Vanilla Pecan Brownies