Sunday, January 15, 2012

pecan tassies

I don't like crust. Not a big fan of pie or tarts. I'll happily eat the filling and leave the pastry behind. So I wasn't overly excited by this week's Baked Sunday Morning recipe. I considered skipping it, but I thought my husband would really enjoy these, so I made them.

Turns out, if I had a choice between making mini tartelettes like these, or a full pie, I'd make pie any day! Although the dough isn't complicated to make (butter and cream cheese creamed in the mixer, add a tiny amount of sugar and some flour, done), the process of dividing the dough between the wells of a mini muffin tin sucked. I have no patience. But I eventually got the hang of it, using the handle piece of my mortar and pestle to press a ball of dough up the sides of the molds.

The filling is just as simple, mixing eggs with brown sugar, vanilla and some salt. I couldn't find my vanilla (probably in a toy box somewhere, as the baby loves to steal the bottle), so I scraped the seeds of a vanilla bean in the mixture. Now I followed the recipe where it said to add half the nuts to the filling, and to sprinkle the remaining nuts in the pastry shells, but next time, I would totally put all the nuts in the pastry shell, put my filling in a squeeze bottle and fill the tartelettes that way. Would have been so much neater!

I was surprised to see the final result out of the oven. I guess I didn't expect the sugar to crystallize like that. I don't think I left them in the oven too long, as the crust was *just* cooked. I wish there was more gooey filling inside, but I have to admit that they were really good. Not so pretty, but they go from platter to mouth pretty quickly, so it doesn't matter much.

Interested in seeing what the other Baked Sunday Mornings members thought of this recipe? Head on over to the site for their takes on the tassies, and for the recipe!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

raspberry pretzel delight

This falls into the category of perfect desserts. It's creamy, crunchy, salty and sweet, fruity and cool... It has everything! Unless you are craving cake and/or frosting (many, many options on this blog), or something chocolaty, in which case, I recommend this dessert. But when you have a pan of this stuff in front of you, it's the perfect dessert. And it's in part why I made it in small tins... automatic portion control!

It's not a very challenging recipe. In fact, it's pretty easy. Especially when you already have crushed pretzels. I usually run an entire bag through the food processor, so when I need them for these, or these, or the aforementioned perfect chocolaty version of this dessert, there's one less step involved. I don't make this dessert very often mainly because it relies on boxes of stuff, and cans, and tubs... but I should, because everybody loves this!

In any case... A layer of crushed pretzels, butter and sugar, pressed in a pan, and baked, then cooled. Then, a creamy layer consisting of sweetened condensed milk, water, vanilla pudding mix, and whipped topping. And on top, canned pie filling, in this case, wildberry, because apparently, according to my husband, there's a shortage of raspberry pie filling in our area. They had everything but raspberry. Wildberry did just fine... It was delicious!

I have the recipe written down in a recipe journal, so no idea where it came from, but when I did a quick google search for it (because I was too lazy to find my copy of the recipe), I found it easily.

Raspberry Pretzel Delight

1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

1 (12 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup water
1 pk (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
1 3/4 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 (21 oz) can raspberry pie filling

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; mix well. Press into ungreased 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes; cool.

In a large bowl, combine condensed milk and water; blend well. Add in the pudding mix and beat for 2 minutes. Refrigerate 5 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Spread on cooled crust. Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 1 hour.

Spoon fruit topping over filling. Cover; refrigerate until serving time. Store in refrigerator.

I guess it would be a dessert more appropriate in the summer, but we had it new year's eve after a dinner from hell, probably the worse dinner in 2011. So glad that's over! Looking forward to a great 2012.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

stump de noel

I've had my eye on this cake ever since I opened Baked Explorations. The picture is so pretty! I wanted to make it then and there, but then I read the recipe and found out it's not simply a 3-layer cake decked out like a tree stump, but rather two pans of sponge cake, cut into four strips, coiled together to make the stump with some malt buttercream holding the whole thing together, and chocolate buttercream covering everything. It seemed too complicated at the time, but since it was on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule, I happily obliged, especially since I skipped the past two recipes...

I had planned to make the stump over a few days, since there are a few components and it has to set for at least 8 hours, but I ran out of time and made it all in one day.

Although there is two kinds of frosting, it's made in one batch, then divided into two and flavored separately. I was so happy that the buttercream turned out ok! It's always 50-50 for me. I don't know what I do to mess it up, and when it does work, I don't know what I did differently that it works out! I have to admit that the Baked recipes are really well written, so I'm sure that helps! For some reason, the buttercream has to be chilled, then taken out of the refrigerator and brought back to room temperature before being used.

The cake part was pretty straightforward, the only part I found weird was adding the dissolved espresso powder to the melted chocolate... It made my chocolate seize up and was a bit difficult blending it into the batter. I wish I had added the chocolate first, then the espresso... Oh and also... cake calls for 12 eggs! plus the 5 egg whites that went into the icing with the entire pound of butter... yeah! friggin rich cake!

I have almost no experience making sponges or roulades, so I wasn't sure when the cake was done... It might have been a bit overbaked because when it was time to assemble it, it cracked pretty much everywhere. I was losing patience but decided I had nothing to lose and finished rolling it. I was worried that it would unravel, but the malt buttercream kept everything together nicely.

I had just enough chocolate frosting to spread on the outside of the stump, and had to steal some from the sides to cover the top. I like that the look of the finished cake was supposed to be rustic, so no pressure to make it perfect! Once frosted, the cake had to set overnight, but since I was running out of time, I finished decorating it before letting it set in the garage overnight.

We were supposed to make meringue mushrooms, but I was running low on fuel by then, so since I had a batch of white royal icing leftover from class, I used that to make the mushrooms instead. My icing was really thick, so kinda hard to pipe clean mushroom caps, but it make for very stiff stems. As soon as the caps were dry enough to move, I set them over the stems and let them finish drying. A quick dusting of cocoa powder and those were done. I still had some poinsettia leftover from the poinsettia cake, so I added some of those for color, and piped in green leaves with the leftover royal icing.

Overall, I was pretty satisfied with the look of this cake. After a huge Christmas eve dinner, not many people had room for a piece, but hopefully it got eaten at my sister-in-law's family's house!

For the recipe and to see how the other Baked Sunday Mornings bakers fared with their stump, click on through to the Baked Sunday Mornings webpage.

There's been a lot of cake in my life recently. And although I'm taking a break from the cake decorating classes, we're celebrating two birthdays in January, so I won't be spared. It's a good thing I like cake!