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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Madeleines

In an old house in Paris all covered with vines
A short chubby girl baked some fresh madeleines...

choc madeleines
Ok, so I'm not in Paris, I'm not that chubby, and I know that's not how you pronounce 'madeleine.' I did, however, once-upon-a-time (or maybe twice) bake some madeleines. Maida Heatter shares an unconventional recipe for chocolate madeleines which is both ridiculously easy and yields absurdly tasty results. Forget everything you know about pre-packaged madeleines that you purchase "fresh" from your local coffee shop - if you aren't eating them within 15 minutes of coming out of the oven, you have no idea what you're missing.

choc madeleines
Light as a feather, these cookies literally dance and melt upon your tongue.

choc madeleines
I might have eaten more than one portion of these. How much is a serving, anyway? A whole pan?

I then decided to try getting creative and modify the recipe a bit - I made vanilla and lemon variants. It's been over a year since I made any of these (sorry, haven't really been paying attention to this blog...) but I recall that the non-chocolate variants, while delicious, also turned out a bit more dense than their chocolate counterparts. Guess that means I just have to try, try again!

choc madeleines
choc madeleines
After all, we wouldn't want that specialized pan to go to waste, would we? =P

Thursday, January 31, 2013

F.B.I. Chocolate Layer Cake

My husband and I don't usually do much to celebrate New Year's Eve. You're more likely to find us cuddling on a couch in pajamas, holding a private Battlestar Galactica marathon than packed into some posh club with overpriced drinks and ridiculous cover charges. When you also take into account that I'm still dealing with a broken foot (recovery takes a really long time when the bones drift apart rather than growing back together..=\) it's not surprising that we didn't feel like doing too much to celebrate this year. We were invited to a (thankfully low-key) house party and had a grand time playing games, sharing good food, and welcoming 2013. The event would have been fun, regardless, but it was even better since I got to spend the hours leading up to the party making a cake!



This cake is ridiculously easy to make, and so very tasty. It has a drier crumb, subtle flavour, and fantastic aroma; the gently flavoured whipped cream is the perfect compliment to this cake. Mmmm....



The only problem* I ran into is that I needed to get the cake *to* the party. Using public transportation. Did I mention that I don't own a cake caddy? This cake is beautiful - tall layers, fluffy whipped cream...but it's not particularly sound of structure. I fretted and fussed and finally landed on a successful solution -- springform pan! Stack and frost the cake on the base, then drop the rest of the pan around the cake, fasten the latches, wrap whole thing in plastic wrap - voilá!
*(Baking this cake was my first time ever using the gas-powered oven in our condo. I didn't have any indication of the oven temperature other than the gas dial setting - you can see how the cake layers baked unevenly. I have since purchased an oven thermometer. =))



The only error I made is in not making an outer layer of aluminum foil or some other opaque covering -- I had to protect my cake from hungry passengers on the train!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Sugar Cookies

When I moved into my current apartment, I discovered a large popcorn tin tucked away in the back corner of the pantry. It was half-eaten and I was completely disgusted (and annoyed that the previous tenant would leave stale popcorn for me to dispose of!) until I noticed the tin's design - A Christmas Story! I quickly dumped the old popcorn and scrubbed the can; clearly the only logical thing to do was to bake a variety of cookies to fill the tin and spread Christmas cheer at work.

How awesome is this can??

Christmas Story 1

Christmas Story 2

Christmas Story 3

I decided on 3 different cookie recipes (to mimic the butter/cheese/caramel popcorn combination that normally fills the tin). "Walnuttoes" from Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen mystery series (chocolate walnut cookies), "Scotchies" from Milk & Cookies by Tina Casaceli (butterscotch oatmeal cookies), and Old-Fashioned Chocolate Sugar Cookies from (of course) Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.

Christmas Cookie Variety

Christmas Cookie Tin

I opted to make the sugar cookies as icebox cookies (they're just so darn convenient!!) since I don't have enough counterspace to even think about rolling out cookie dough. They turned out crunchy, crumbly, and delicious, and I suspect they are the type of cookie that would maintain their texture and flavour well over time (note to self: send someone a care package with these..!).

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Sugar Cookies

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season - one full of love, warmth, and (of course) delicious goodies! I did manage to take some time off work and do a little more baking recently -- eventually I'll even get around to sharing the photos with you. =)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chocolate Nut Icebox Cookies - Survivors of Tragedy!

My apartment recently suffered a tragedy of epic proportions. I had been out of town for several weeks and returned to discover a moldy swampland where once had been a cozy home. The apartment upstairs had developed a leak which spread, unchecked, throughout my entire ceiling. The drywall in the bedroom ceiling had come down in entirety, and sections of the living room ceiling were well on their way to losing the battle with gravity. I was devastated, but despite my broken foot spent a difficult and emotional day sifting through everything I owned, determining what could or could not be saved.

A couple weeks before this hideous discovery, I threw together these ridiculously easy icebox cookies: Chocolate Love
(I apologize for the horrid lighting!)

Icebox cookies are magical - once they make it to the freezer, they're as easy to bake as those Pillsbury slice-and-bake cookies -- without tasting like packaging peanuts. Someday, when I am living in a more permanent residence (I am starting to feel like that will never happen!), I intend to have a few rolls of various icebox cookies in the freezer at any given time so I can play at being the ideal hostess who always has fresh baked goods to share with guests. It really doesn't get much easier than these cookies, and they keep beautifully. When I first tried this recipe, I only baked half the recipe and stored the rest in the freezer. After the flooding mishap, I rescued the frozen dough from the freezer. This cookie dough traveled with me to multiple temporary residences until I finally again had access to an oven (almost 2 months after original preparation!). I sliced and baked the cookies, brought them into work...and nobody could tell that they had been through as much as they had! Dark chocolate, toasty walnuts - these cookies are bites of warm, crunchy love. They were rapidly devoured (some in the form of peanut-butter sandwiches, I'm told) and garnered a number of compliments. Magical Survivor Cookies FTW! =D

Nom nom...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Colorado Cowboy Cookies

Given my penchant for commencing spontaneous dance parties for one in my kitchen, it is probably not too surprising to hear that I also enjoy dancing in public -- despite having been told that I resemble a Peanuts character while doing so. (Yeah, I know, I'm super-cool!) This past weekend, I ventured out to scope a bar in my new neighborhood where a live band was playing everything from Guns n' Roses to Johnny Cash. When they decided to feature their electric violin player in an Irish Jig, I decided that I absolutely must dance to it. (Nevermind that I have no idea how to actually dance a jig!) I proceeded to take over the empty dance floor and 'wow' everyone with my version of Irish stepdancing...until I rolled my right ankle. I had previously rolled that ankle earlier in the evening while out for a run, so it was already a little tender. As a fairly athletic person, I didn't think too much of it and thought I'd be able to walk it off. I danced a few more songs before leaving the bar and walking home. I figured I would ice it before bed and everything would be fine in the morning...Boy was I wrong.
It turns out that during my little Irish jig, I managed to break my foot. I am now more or less a prisoner of my apartment as I cannot run, can barely walk, and cannot drive (go figure, I would hurt my right foot!) -- and to make matters even worse, I am completely out of eggs, which has put quite the damper on my baking plans. Humph!

While I wait for vital baking supplies, let's look at photos of Colorado Cowboy Cookies (which is super-secret code for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies!).


These cookies are not particularly special, although they are, of course, infinitely tastier than their sneaky doppleganger - the oatmeal raisin cookie.  Bleh!!


I was excited to share these cookies at work as it was the first opportunity I had to show off my new octopus-clad "goodie box." My coworkers quickly figured out that my arriving at work with this box means there are delicious baked goods in their future!


(The other treats in the photo are lemon-lavender shortbread cookies, which were made using an interpretation of this recipe.)

I look forward to filling the "Octobox" with more scrumptious treats in the future. Now if only I had some eggs...

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chocolate Chip Wheat Germ Cookies

wheat germ cookie zoom

I have a friend whose weakness is fresh chocolate chip cookies. In the middle of a hard-charging diet and exercise program, all resolution will be out the window if chocolate chip cookies are even mentioned. When he heard I was going to try this recipe, he got a little sassy, repeatedly asking me why I would bother with a recipe that uses wheat germ in a cookie recipe. He mentioned over and over again that "true chocolate chip cookies" have none of the "superfluous" ingredients involved (wheat germ, oatmeal, coconut...). I told him that he wasn't required to try the cookies, but we both knew that he wouldn't abstain - ha! My response to him through all his whining (and this is especially true now that I have tried the cookies!) was that "Maida Heatter knows what's up." 'Cause she does.

These cookies are HUGE (almost 5 inches in diameter!), delicious, chewy, crunchy around the edges, and extraordinarily comforting. Ms. Heatter says that they are great for a cookie jar "if it has a wide mouth" and I think she is absolutely correct; this cookie recipe makes me want a huge glass jar for my kitchen counter so that I can keep a supply of these cookies to share with company. Hrm, maybe that would necessitate having people over...I'll have to figure that one out!

wheat germ cookies

In any case, I brought these into work, wrapped individually in aluminum foil, and spent a jolly day handing out packets of love to my delighted coworkers.

foil-wrapped love

One final thing -- I had never before baked with shaved coconut. I find it infinitely tastier than shredded since it doesn't get that strange, stringy texture, nor do pieces of coconut get stuck in your teeth. Coconut flakes for the win!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dolly's Crisp Toffee Bars

Toffee Bars

I actually made these cookies (and took these photos!) over 8 months ago. I have absolutely no excuse as to why I am such a slacker. Turns out that this is not the only "lost" recipe, although I don't remember enough details about the other recipes to do a retroactive post. I remember that they were delicious, however, so I look forward to making them again in order to share some photos and thoughts with you!

I have actually moved twice since I made Dolly's Crisp Toffee Bars and I *finally* have access to a kitchen that may lend itself to baking again. Things are looking good for my baking future, friends!

Anywho...
Toffee Bar on Glass

Dolly's Crisp Toffee Bars are easy to make and extraordinarily addictive. When I first reviewed the recipe, I was skeptical as to how good they would be. I needn't have worried. These bars are buttery, crunchy, chewy (how are all three of these adjectives possible all at once!?) and I think it's a very good thing that I have promised to only eat one serving of each recipe since I think this is one I easily would have wanted to consume myself!
Thankfully, however, I have made such a promise, and my coworkers are glad of it as well, since it means I occasionally share these goodies with them!  I know it's been a long while since I made these, but my mouth is watering as I remember...I just want to pour a glass of milk and chew, chew, chew on some of these toffee bars!
Toffee Bar on Glass