{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia Pecan Sticky Buns (Whew)

Whew!  I have to say I feel like I just ran a marathon after making these Pecan Sticky Buns.  It’s a good thing though, that these take so much time and effort to make because if it were easier I might be tempted to make them more often and that would not be good for my thighs.

The recipe for these buns (which was contributed by Nancy Silverton – love her) begins with making a brioche dough, which in itself is a fairly complicated and time consuming process with lots of rising and chilling and rolling.  Then once the dough is made, it is made into buns with a lot more rolling and chilling and rising.  And a lot of butter.

Even though there were a ton of steps in the recipe, they were all very easy to follow and really caused me no problems.  And the end result was the best sticky bun I have ever put in my mouth, with super flaky layers of dough and a nutty caramel topping.  Definitely worth the extra effort.

If you are tempted to try your hand at making this recipe you can visit this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia hostesses, Lynn of Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole of Cookies on Friday.

Drumroll Please Shortbread Shortbread

It would seem logical that one should be able to find a recipe for shortbread on a blog named Shortbread, right?  Possibly even in the very first post one might think.  Well, it just didn’t quite work out that way here.

I suppose the reason is mainly that I wanted to make sure that if there was a recipe for shortbread, that it would be the best one I could give you.  So (drumroll) here it is!  I give you my favorite Shortbread recipe that is buttery, crumbly, and perfectly sweet.  I know, it’s about time.

Shortbread’s Shortbread

makes 16 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) granulated sugar, plus extra for top
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) corn flour or fine semolina*
  • 1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sift flours and salt (if using) together into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar with a stand or hand mixer until creamy.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture and blend just until it comes together as a dough.
  5. Dump dough out onto a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface and divide into two halves. Gently shape halves into discs and press each into two 8-inch round tart pans or cake tins. (Alternately, shape all the dough into a rectangle and press into a 9×13 inch baking pan.)
  6. Using a fork, either prick holes all over the dough or press the tines around the outer edges (or both).
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes until pale golden all over.
  8. Remove from the oven and dust top with sugar. Cut each into 8 triangles (or 16 squares) while still warm, then let cool completely before removing from pan.

*I use Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour. If you can’t find or don’t have corn/semolina flour, the recipe will still work using just all-purpose flour.

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{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia Lemon Loaf Cake

Alright, this post is going to be short and sweet – not unlike this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia pick, Lemon Loaf Cake contributed by Norman Love.  By that I mean that this cake couldn’t be easier to put together, and the result is a nice little lemony pound cake with a dense crumb that takes well to toasting, piling up with strawberries or peaches, or just eating as is.

No need to dirty up your mixer, this cake is made the old fashioned way with a whisk and a sifter.  It only uses lemon zest, so if you’re after an extra shot of lemon flavor I would add in a little juice too.  And it just begs for a little lemon glaze.

Please visit the blogs of our lovely hostesses, Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life for the recipe.

{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

Today it’s Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Julia and this week we baked David Ogonowski’s Chocolate Truffle Tartlets.  They’re made with a dark chocolate tart crust and a filling of butter, bittersweet chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar.  White chocolate, milk chocolate, and biscotti chunks are added to the filling before baking to push these tartlets over the top.

The recipe makes six 4 1/2 inch tartlets, but I only had four pans, so instead of trying to do some complicated math or only making three and risking a fight amongst the children, I halved both the dough and filling recipes and divided them up into four portions.  I had to roll the dough a little thinner but it still puffed up nicely when baked and made a significant crust.  The recipe also instructs you to remove the bottoms from the tartlet pans, but I left mine in (’cause I was scared) and they came out just fine.

The filling didn’t completely fill up the shells either, but once I tasted the end product I was kind of grateful that they weren’t any thicker.  These babies are RICH.  I would describe the texture of the filling as a kind of brownie/fudge hybrid.  They came out of the oven with that papery top you get on the best brownies and the inside was soft and a little fudge-y.  I almost didn’t add the biscotti to them because the idea just sounded wacky, but in the end I did, and I almost think that is the best part.  The whole thing is just so dang chocolatey that the biscotti adds that little bit of relief from chocolate overload.

I must admit that these tartlets had mixed reviews at my house, being deemed “too chocolatey” by the person who picks the chocolate chips out of the chocolate chip cookies (husband), and thoroughly enjoyed by another who was in the throes of some serious chocolate cravings (me).  Ultimately, I think this is the perfect recipe for a true chocolate lover – someone who doesn’t simply enjoy a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar but who also really digs the deep dark 70% and higher chocolate.

Our hostesses for the week are Steph, Spike, Jaime and Jessica, just click on their names to check out the recipe or you can get this fabulous book yourself by clicking here.

TENDER AT THE BONE Artpark Brownies {The Kitchen Reader}

For the month of May, The Kitchen Readers read Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, by Ruth Reichl.  She is the well known restaurant critic for The New York Times, and in her book she shares the experiences growing up that she feels led to her great appreciation of food.

With her mother suffering from bouts of manic-depression, Reichl must intervene in her cooking “experiments” to keep her from making guests sick.  When her parents are often absent, she finds herself cooking for others to make friends and keep from being lonely.

When she is then surprised by her mother enrolling her in a French school far from home, Reichl makes friends with a schoolmate who’s father introduces her to the joys of fine food.  She spends much of her young adulthood traveling abroad experiencing the foods of the regions, and then joins a co-op restaurant as part owner where she learns about the restaurant business and acquires her first stalker.

It seems that Ruth Reichl naturally moved through her life on a path paved by food, as if it was destiny that she would eventually find herself surrounded by people like James Beard and Marion Cunningham.  Tender at the Bone is filled with humorous, self-effacing stories that make this book fun and easy to read.  And if all the recipes included are as tasty as these rich, fudgy brownies, that’s an even greater bonus.  I strongly recommend serving them with a scoop of ice cream.

Thanks to the sweet and talented Jill of Jill’s Blog for this month’s book selection.

Artpark Brownies

from Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

makes 12 brownies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened, best-quality French chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sifted flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler, over boiling water. When melted, add vanilla and set aside.
  4. Beat eggs and salt in mixer. Add sugar and beat at high speed for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture is quite white.
  5. Add chocolate and butter mixture and beat at low speed, just until mixed. Add flour and combine quickly, until there are no white streaks.
  6. Pour batter into baking pan and put in oven. Immediately turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes. (The normal toothpick test will not work on these brownies, but if you want to try pricking them with a toothpick, it should come out not quite clean.) Do not overbake; these brownies should be fudgy.

In Your Dreams Whole Wheat Chocolate Croissants

 

How do you know when your kids are watching too much Disney Channel?  That would be when you have a dream you’re a teenager and friends with the Jonas brothers, at a party at their house, and the girl who plays London on The Suite Life (Brenda Song) is trying to pick up your boyfriend.

I would probably be a little more worried about my mental state if I wasn’t going through a period in my life where I dream crazy dreams all night (or at least it seems like it).  So, sadly enough, this isn’t the most disturbing dream I’ve had lately, but at least I can laugh about this one.

I’m sure I’ve dreamed about Chocolate Croissants before, because I LOVE THEM.  I know I’ve daydreamed about them.  In the past I’ve made chocolate croissants with store-bought puff pastry and later with homemade puff pastry.  But this time I used King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Classic Whole Wheat Puff Pastry, from their giant tome, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.

Their recipe uses a combination of whole wheat pastry flour (usually found at a natural food store like Whole Foods or Earth Fare), and bread flour and is then made in a similar way as traditional puff pastry.  The result is a dough that bakes up flaky and flavorful, with almost as much flakiness as that made from all regular flour (and perhaps a little less guilt?).

One batch makes enough for 24 croissants, but I divided mine into fourths and froze three parts for later.  It’s a very nice thing to have in the freezer when you feel the craving for some pastry coming on, or if you start dreaming about them.

Chocolate Croissants

from Shortbread

makes 9

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe Whole Wheat Puff Pastry (see below for recipe)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips, chocolate pieces or 9 chocolate batons
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
  2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Cut into thirds lengthwise, and then into thirds across to make nine 4 x 6 inch rectangles.
  3. Place about 2 tablespoons of chocolate or one chocolate baton in the center of each rectangle. Fold the rectangles like a letter and place seam side down on the baking sheet, pressing gently to seal.
  4. Cover the croissants with plastic wrap or a towel and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  6. Uncover and brush the tops of the croissants with the egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until the dough is deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

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Whole Wheat Puff Pastry

adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

makes 3 3/4 lbs dough, enough for 24 croissants

Making the Dough

  • 3 cups (10 1/8 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) nonfat dry milk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (13 ounces) water, room temperature
  1. Whisk together both flours and the dry milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and mix with the paddle attachment until the mixture resembles oatmeal (or cut in with a pastry blender). Add the salt to the water and stir until dissolved, then pour into the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together into a rough ball and pulls away from the sides. Add more water a tablespoon at a time if there is still flour at the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead using a dough scraper to help lift it until it becomes smooth, about 2 or 3 minutes, trying not to add too much more flour (the dough needs a little extra moisture for the wheat to absorb).
  3. Pat the dough into a square about 1 inch thick and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Preparing the Butter

  • 2 cups (4 sticks, 1 pound) unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
  • 1/3 cup ( 1 1/8 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • all-purpose flour for dusting

In a mixer or food processor, or with a spoon, combine the butter and pastry flour until smooth. Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap and place the butter/flour mixture on it and pat it into an 8 inch square. Wrap the butter completely with the plastic and refrigerate on a flat surface for at least 30 minutes.

Rolling and Folding

You will need:

  • all-purpose flour for dusting
  • rolling pin
  • ruler or yardstick
  • pastry brush
  • small bowl of water
  1. Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a 12 inch square.  Unwrap the butter and place it in the center of the square at a 45 degree angle. (with corners pointing up and down and side to side).
  2. Moisten around the edges of the dough with a pastry brush dipped in water. Pull the corner flaps of the dough over the straight edges of the butter until they meet in the middle, and press to seal the edges together, smoothing out any air pockets before sealing the last seam. Dust the top with flour, then turn it over and gently tap it with the rolling pin into a rectangle, adding more flour underneath if the dough starts to stick.
  3. Continue to roll the dough into a 20 x 10 inch rectangle. Turn the dough so the short edges are at the top and  bottom and brush off any excess flour from the top of the dough. Lightly wet the edges. Fold the bottom short end of the dough up 1/3 to the middle of the rectangle, and then fold the top short end down to line up with the bottom edge of the dough, like a business letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees to the right, so it looks like a book = First Turn.
  4. If the dough feels warm or springs back when you roll it, cover it and return it to the refrigerator for 20 minutes. If the dough is still fairly cool and relaxed, repeat the previous step of rolling and folding = Second Turn.
  5. Make two dents in the dough with your knuckle to record how many turns you have completed, then wrap and return it to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (if resting more than an hour, let dough sit out 10 minutes before rolling again).
  6. After an hour, roll and fold dough twice more = Third Turn & Fourth Turn. Rest dough in refrigerator another hour or more, then roll and fold two more times = Fifth Turn & Sixth Turn.
  7. At this point you can use the dough to make any type of pastry you wish, or divide it into portions, wrap it tightly, and freeze.

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Snowball Coconut Cupcakes {Barefoot Bloggers}

I’m not really that outdoors-y.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy being outside – I love to sit outside in the sun, to take leisurely walks, read on the porch – you’re getting the idea, right?  When it comes to hiking through the woods or sleeping in a tent, I’m just not into it.

I have similar feelings about snow.  I think it’s beautiful and love to watch it falling and walk through it, making the first tracks afterward.  And I might throw a few snowballs and help build a snowman, or even sled down the hill a few times, but by that time I’ve had my fill and I’m done.  I’m happy to go inside and make the hot chocolate while everyone else runs around for hours on end.

When we lived in NC, it actually snowed often enough that I could get away with not going out every time, but here in SC we only get snow like this every, I don’t know, 7 or 8 years.  So I get guilt-ed into staying out longer than I’d like.  Sometimes you’ve gotta ‘take one for the team’, I guess.

I know a lot of you are really tired of looking at this:

Hopefully it’s melting, like this did the next day, and the worst is over.  If you can stay in at all from the snow, make your way to the kitchen and bake these Coconut Cupcakes from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook – they’re like little snowballs themselves, but taste way better.

Unlike other coconut cupcakes I’ve tried that have coconut flavored cake and icing, these have real coconut baked into a vanilla/almond flavored butter cake with cream cheese icing.  “How good does that sound?”, as Ina would say.  Let me just say, “Soooo good!”

Barefoot Blogger Jamie, of Jamie’s Green Kitchen was responsible for encouraging us to make these ridiculously delicious cupcakes, and you can get the recipe for them on her blog, or at the Food Network.

Did I say how ridiculously good these are?  Oh yeah, I just can’t help it.

Let Someone Else Clean Nutella Swirl Pound Cake {World Nutella Day}

Apparently, there is a holiday for just about everything.  Bell Bottoms Day, Cheese Fondue Day, Zipper Day, Cow Chip Day, closely followed by Freak Out Day.  My personal favorite: Let Someone Else Clean Day.  If only I could talk the husband into that one.

I didn’t have to talk anyone into observing today’s holiday, World Nutella Day, once I starting baking this delectable Nutella Swirl Pound Cake.  The aroma from the oven was enough to make everyone a believer.

Nutella, a heavenly spread made from ground hazelnuts and cocoa, was first made in Europe, but has now gained popularity throughout the world and has thankfully made its way down to the Southern US.  And what would be a better way to use it than adding it to a buttery, rich pound cake (other than just eating it from the jar)?

The recipe for this pound cake comes from Lauren Chattman’s Cake Keeper Cakes cookbook. The cake bakes up with a dense crumb and a lovely crust on top (my favorite part of a pound cake).  I did find that I had to bake the cake a lot longer than the 1 hour and 15 minutes called for, more like 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Also, most of the Nutella sank towards the bottom of the cake resulting in really only one layer of spread.  So, the next time I make this I will just put 2/3’s of the batter in the pan, spread only one layer of Nutella over that, and then spread the other 1/3 of the batter on top.  Then I’ll give it a good swirl up and down and side to side.  Does that make sense?  I hope so, ’cause it is very important that you try this cake.

I’m here if you have any questions.

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman

makes one 9×5 inch loaf cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • One 13-ounce jar Nutella

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.
  3. Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not over mix.
  4. Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.
    *The pound cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Lovingly organized by Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso.

No Substitution Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

There are just some things that cannot be substituted or duplicated.  Like ranch dressing, hazelnut spread, cherry pie filling, or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Try as you might, it’s just impossible to make some things at home that work as well in recipes or taste the same as certain foods, whether you like it or not.

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{Tuesdays With Dorie} No Substitution Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

There are just some things that cannot be substituted or duplicated.  Like ranch dressing, hazelnut spread, cherry pie filling, or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Try as you might, it’s just impossible to make some things at home that work as well in recipes or taste the same as certain foods, whether you like it or not.

Another example of this is sweetened condensed milk.  This tooth-achingly sweet version of milk in a can makes so many recipes taste fabulous and they just aren’t the same without it.  Can you make it at home?  Most likely.  Would it taste the same?  Probably not.  But I’m willing to have someone else do the work for me in this case.

If you happen to have some of that fabulous milk on hand, you probably also have  the rest of the ingredients to make this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars.  These bars are composed of an oatmeal cookie-like layer on the bottom, a rich fudge center, and are dotted with more oatmeal cookie dough on top.  Mine were made without the peanuts and raisins to increase their chances of being eaten at my house, but I know they would be great if you like them at yours.

Give Lillian a visit at Confectiona’s Realm to see the recipe or find it in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Happy National Bundt Day Hazelnut Espresso Coffeecake

hazelnut bundt

With today being National Bundt Day, I have to share this wonderful Hazelnut-Espresso Coffeecake I baked from my newest cookbook, Whole Grain Baking from King Arthur Flour.  I was inspired to make this cake by Mary of The Food Librarian, who has been celebrating the Bundt for thirty days by baking a Bundt each day.  Yes, I said a Bundt each day.  Now that is some Bundt love.

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Whew! Creme Brulee {Barefoot Bloggers}

 

What mistake do you make in the kitchen most often?  Omitting ingredients, forgetting to preheat the oven, or maybe not setting the timer?  I’ve made all of these more than once, but I find the thing I do more than these is trying to cut a recipe in half, and forgetting by the end of the ingredient list that I’m halving the recipe and adding the whole amount of the last two or three things.  Sometimes it ends in disaster.  Sometimes not.

I almost made the same mistake with this recipe, Creme Brulee from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris.  I decided to divide it in half, since I only had a pint of cream.  So I mixed together one egg and two egg yolks with half the sugar, heated half the cream and mixed it into the eggs, and then proceeded to add a whole teaspoon of vanilla instead of a half.  Then I thought to myself, I don’t really think the family will be crazy about this if I add a whole tablespoon of Grand Marnier (the original measurement), so I’ll just add . . . a teaspoon, I guess.  Lucky me, that I didn’t go ahead a put the whole thing in, I mean, extra vanilla usually can only be better, but I have a feeling all that orange liqueur in just a half recipe would have resulted in some faces being made at the dinner table.

Instead, this turned out to be the best Creme Brulee I’ve made yet.  It was so smooth and creamy, and the flavor was just perfect.  Everyone in the family finished theirs off.  I just wish I’d had enough ingredients to make the whole recipe.

Creme Brulee is actually a fairly simple dessert to make and can be done ahead of time and burlee’d right before serving.  If you don’t have a kitchen torch, just broil the desserts in the oven.  Here’s my suggestion for the best flavor:  Take them out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving so they will be cool, but not cold.  Much tastier that way.

Thanks to Suzie of Munch + Nibble for choosing this Barefoot Bloggers recipe, which you can print here.

 

Whew! Creme Brulee

bb creme brulee

What mistake do you make in the kitchen most often?  Omitting ingredients, forgetting to preheat the oven, or maybe not setting the timer?  I’ve made all of these more than once, but I find the thing I do more than these is trying to cut a recipe in half, and forgetting by the end of the ingredient list that I’m halving the recipe and adding the whole amount of the last two or three things.  Sometimes it ends in disaster.  Sometimes not.

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{Tuesdays With Dorie} Out Of The Mouths Of Babes Cran-Apple Crisps

Oh, children and the things they will say.  Like “My mom says you can’t come over ’cause you’re a bad influence” to a friend’s daughter.  OH THE HORROR.

So after eating some crow, I barely had room for dessert.  But I had made these Cran-Apple Crisps for Tuesdays with Dorie and I had to make room, and I’m glad I did.

These lovely crisps are made with fresh apples and fresh and dried cranberries.  I used a mixture of Granny Smith and Honey Crisp (my new favorite) apples.  The only change I made was to use walnuts in the crisp mixture instead of coconut, which I thought made a great substitution.

The sweet apples and tart cranberries were very tasty together in these crisps, and a scoop of ice cream added just a little more sweetness.  I highly recommend it.

 

This Tuesdays with Dorie pick was brought to you by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef and you can find the recipe there.

Strawberry-Shortcake Cookie Fusion – Cookie Carnival

cc strawberry shortcake cookies

Craving some strawberry shortcake, but not in the mood to spend too much time in the kitchen?  Well, here’s your answer – the ultimate fusion of strawberries, cream, and biscuits – Martha Stewart’s Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies.  Like a scone in cookie form, these are sweet and tender with a crunchy sugared top.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Parisian Apple Tartlets

twd apple tart

Have you ever been to Paris?  If so, what is the one thing that made the biggest impression on you?  Whenever I think about my trip to Paris, the thing that sticks out the most in my mind is that the women walked around the city in heels.  Even the tour guides that took us on trips to gardens and museums wore some kind of shoe with a heel. Granted most wore very worn-in looking heels, but it was impressive nonetheless.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Cinnamon (And Chocolate) Squares

twd cinnamon square

My husband’s sweet great-grandmother is 91 years old. Until very recently she would still cook and bake her favorite recipes. One of the things she’s famous for is her chocolate pie, made with homemade pie crust and a fudgy filling.  Everyone loves them, especially my sister-in-law.  Last Christmas she sent over a couple of pies for everyone to enjoy, and when my sister-in-law took her first bite she made a funny face and said, “What’s wrong with this pie?”  My mother-in-law tried a bite and said, “It tastes like cinnamon.”  It soon became obvious that great-grandmother had mistaken the cinnamon for the cocoa powder.
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Ina’s Pork Loin And Barefoot Bloggers OUTRAGEOUS Brownies

BB Picnik collage

Once while in college, my boyfriend and I and another couple had gotten together to grill some steaks for dinner.  After my friend and I chatted and had a drink or two, the guys brought the finished steaks inside.  As I was cutting into mine, I spotted something green on the steak.  “What is this…grass?”, I asked.  After a lot of man-laughing, they told me they had dropped one of the steaks on the ground.  “Why’d you give it to me?”, I said.  Of course, the gentlemanly thing would have been for one of them to eat it.  But what did they do?  They just wiped it off and put it back on the grill and let whoever get that one.  I took my boyfriend’s steak and gave him the grassy one.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Chipster-Topped Brownies For Friends

bb chipster brownie

I miss my Friends.  That is one of the funniest shows ever, in my opinion.  I still catch a re-run every once in a while and just literally laugh out loud.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a truly funny comedy that doesn’t make fun of people or just make you feel dirty.  Especially since I was around the same age as the ‘friends’ when they were on, I could really identify with their characters.  They were just plain funny.

Making this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection from Beth of Supplicious (click for recipe), Chipster-Topped Brownies, made me think of this:

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Tuesdays With Dorie Tiramisu Cake(wreck)

twd-tiramisu-cake-2

Today’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Tiramisu Cake, chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures (click for recipe), turned out to be a little bit of a ‘cake wreck’.

I made half of the cake recipe and baked it in a springform pan, to make it easy to remove and hopefully easier for us to finish!  The cake baked up nicely and came out of the pan with no problems.  When I started to cut it in half, though, it broke up into a bunch of pieces.  Waah!

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Tuesdays With Dorie Chocolate Cream Tart(lets)

twd-choc-cream-tart
Yesterday was one of those days, you know the kind, where everything you do takes 5 hours longer than it should.  I had set some lofty goals for myself around the house and in the kitchen, including hanging bathroom hardware, washing and folding the 50 loads of laundry that had mysteriously piled up over the weekend, spending 30 minutes on the treadmill, baking the Chocolate Cream Tart for Tuesdays with Dorie, carving and cooking a country ham, and making homemade pizza for dinner.  In my mind this seemed quite achievable.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

twd-chocolate-bread-pudding

Okay, tell me you know what I’m talking about.  That look when the cashier who’s checking your groceries picks up some unusual item you’re buying and reads the label – MEXICAN DRINKING CHOCOLATE – raises their eyebrows, and gives a little shrug.  Sometimes they might even say, “What is this?”.  “A citrus reamer”, you answer sheepishly.  Yes, I’m thinking, I know it’s beyond your comprehension why someone might need two popover pans, but I do!

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Tuesdays With Dorie 15 Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte

twd-amaretti-torte

Last night my husband was watching a show on the Golf channel called The Haney Project where Charles Barkley was trying to learn to become a better golfer.  Charles says at one point something like “I just know I’m going to be the one who goes through all this and still sucks.”  I can relate.  I started taking tennis lessons with some girlfriends recently, and I can just see myself being the one who still sucks after it’s all over.  I always wanted to play tennis, but it never came naturally, and no one wants to play with you if you can’t hit the ball back.  I even took tennis as a course in college, but it soon become apparent that everyone else already knew how to play, and were just doing it for the A.  Well, that’s not what I got.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Banana Cream Pie

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Ever since my daughter could express herself, she has been an animal lover.  She used to stop people walking by our house with their dogs and ask if she could pet them.  Her book choices at the library always include at least one animal book.  Horses, whales, hedgehogs, naked mole rats – you name it, she wants it as a pet.

But she can’t stand monkeys.  I don’t even know when her dislike for monkeys started, but the first time we went to the zoo she told me in no uncertain terms that she did not want to see the monkeys.  “You know I hate monkeys, Mommy,” she said.  I do??  Monkeys have been very popular on kid’s clothes lately, and she was completely freaked out by this.  At her school one of the third grade teachers had decorated her room with all kinds of fun monkey stuff.  It would have been very traumatic if she had turned out to be my daughter’s teacher.

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Cookies Revisited And A Thank You

cookie-collage

To wrap up Cookie Week here at Shortbread, I’d like to revisit a few of the cookies I’ve waxed poetic about in the past.  If you’re new here, or if you’ve been visiting a while, I’d just like to re-introduce the melt-in your mouth Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies, the over-the-top Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, and the blog-tastic World Peace Cookies.  A little something for everyone.

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Don’t Wake The Dogs Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

kitchen-sink-cookies

It amazes me how a dog can be sleeping so soundly, snoring and chasing squirrels and catching birds, and as soon as a single chocolate chip drops to the floor, he’s awake and in the kitchen scooping it up.  The way their supersonic ears can pick up the sound of a bag of chips being opened from the other side of the house just blows my mind.

Really, I can’t even walk into the kitchen without our dogs being in there under my feet waiting for something to hit the floor.  And the fact that I can be a little clumsy works to their advantage.  But sometimes I would like them to just STAY ASLEEP so I don’t have to worry about them while I’m trying to concentrate on a recipe.

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Always Trendy Thick And Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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You know you’re getting old(er) when trends start to reappear from your childhood.  Like skinny jeans, legwarmers, and (gasp) shoulder pads.  Some say you should only follow a trend once in your lifetime.  Sometimes, however, a trend returns with such popularity that eventually you just have to embrace it.  Like wide-leg jeans, leggings, and big sunglasses.  I remember thinking I would be glad when the capri trend passed – that’s what my mother wore when she was young – and now they are a fixture in fashion.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Coconut Butter Thins

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I am a procrastinator baker.  If there is dusting to be done, I bake cookies.  Pictures to be hung?  I make bread.  Toilets to cleaned?  I must find a use for those browning bananas.

So this weekend when the floors desperately needed to be swept and mopped, I found myself in the kitchen once again baking up this week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie selection, Coconut Butter Thins.

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Inaugural Tuesdays with Dorie Blueberry Crumb Cake

blueberry crumb cake

There’s a boy in my son’s second grade class who is constantly making up stories.  And my son, bless his heart, believes every word he says.  Most recently, my son reported, this boy made up a new crayon color, sent it to Crayola, and they are going to start putting in their box of 64.

I had to explain to him that sometimes other people don’t always tell the truth.  “You mean he LIED??”, he asked, horrified.  “Well, this is more like a tall tale”, I told him.  So now he’s never sure he wants to tell me the latest from the tall tale teller, ’cause he knows I probably won’t believe him.  Bless his heart.

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Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Brownie Pudding

brownie pudding

It really just blows my mind when I think about the number of books in the world.  I feel like I’m in a race to read as many as I can before I die.  There’s just not enough time.

That’s how I feel about recipes, too.  I have tons of cookbooks (and keep buying them!), piles of recipes I have clipped or printed out, a computer file of saved recipes, and a list of my own recipe ideas.  JUST NOT ENOUGH TIME!  I think I need some kind of a plan of action to help me tackle some of these recipes and gain a little sense of control in my kitchen.

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Dear John Buttermilk Pound Cake

brown sugar pound cake

Dear Williams-Sonoma,

You are one of my favorite places to shop.  I love to look at your great selection of gourmet kitchen accessories and food products.  The recipes from your catalog and website are always exciting and delicious.  I have really enjoyed building a relationship with you.

It hurts me to say, however, that there is one thing that bothers me about your store that I just can’t get over.

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Barefoot Bloggers Meringues Chantilly

meringues chatilly 3

I can’t remember my mother or grandmothers ever making any kind of meringue when I was growing up.  They didn’t put meringue on top of their banana pudding, or make divinity.  In my foggy memory I think I might have made some kind of meringue dessert since I have been married, but it doesn’t stand out in my mind.

That should have been a hint…

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Coffee Love Yogurt Cake

yogurt-cake

I first started drinking coffee in college to help me stay awake at night so I could study longer.  I discovered, however, that it only helped me to sleep on the couch with a book in my lap longer.  I do love it still, especially the smell of freshly ground beans – I probably could just snort it right out of the coffee grinder!  (Maybe that would have worked better in college.)

I have heard all the health benefits that come from tea drinking, and I like hot tea, but it just can’t replace a fresh, hot cup of coffee in the morning.  I figure I’ll just get my ‘tea vitamins’ from ice tea.

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Valentine’s Day Don’t Be Late Pink Velvet Cupcakes

pink velvet cupcakes

When you live in a small town, often that means one road from your house to where ever you’re going.  And that often means you’re most likely to end up driving behind someone going at least five miles under the speed limit when you are running late for something, be it work, school, doctors’ appointments, karate lessons, whatever.  So it doesn’t help to be someone who is always ten minutes late for everything.

Unfortunately, that is the situation I find myself in quite often, therefore resulting in a lot of cussing (silently, so the children can’t hear) at those who left in plenty of time to get to where they’re going.  I have dreams of becoming one of those people, and I haven’t given up.

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Peace

World Peace Cookies

In honor of the Inauguration yesterday, I baked up a batch of World Peace Cookies.  If only baking cookies could solve the problems of the world…

Our new President has a hard road ahead and I, like everyone, hope he is what America needs to get us through.  In the meantime, bake some cookies for you and yours and spread some peace in your own corner of the world. Continue reading

Not Your Ordinary Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Even though it’s origins are in New York, cream cheese is something the South has embraced as one of it’s favorite ingredients to elevate a recipe from really good to heavenly.  Think carrot or red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, or any other kind of layer cake, cupcake or sheet cake for that matter.  Think cream cheese pound cake, brownies, or pumpkin roll.  Think cheese balls and cream cheese dips of endless variations, and meat or vegetable casseroles.  Even cream cheese fruit and jello salads.  Throw some cream cheese in it and call it DUUN!

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A Tale Of Two Toffees

Two Toffee Brownies

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

It could have been much worse of course, but the wind storm we had really made a mess of my car.  A tree fell and the top half flew onto my car.  Crazy.  Lots of dents and cracks and broken things.  I hope falling trees are not going to become a pattern.

The question is, what does one do when such a depressing, frustrating thing happens?  Go for a jog?  Do some yoga?  Scream at the top of one’s lungs?  Well, I chose to bake brownies.  Not just one, mind you, but two kinds of brownies to help ease my mind. Continue reading

You Say Peecan and I Say Pahcahn Shortbread

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread

It’s the most famous nut in the south, with the most variations on how to pronounce its name.  I tend to change the way I say it depending on where I am.  With my family in NC – PEECAHN.  With my family in SC – PEECAN.  With the girls in the Junior League – PAHCAHN.  It’s all the same to me, and the pecan is probably the nut I choose first for my recipes.  They are so good just off the trees in the fall, and they freeze well, too.  And when you toast them, it takes them to another level. Continue reading