Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Bake 52 Week 28: Fresh Fruit Tart

July 11, 2012

We skipped last week due to the holiday.  A few die-hards made 4th of July desserts, but I enjoyed the week off :).

We’re picking back up this week with a fresh fruit tart, which looked sooooo yummy to me!  I’ve never made a tart before, so I was excited to try this recipe out.

The day I was planning to bake was HOT….triple digits hot…and my A/C froze up on us, so I couldn’t bear the thought of turning my oven on when my house was 85°.  I waited until late that night when it cooled down some to whip up the tart crust and get it in the fridge, hoping that the A/C would thaw out overnight and I’d be able to bake the next day.  Thankfully it did!

The recipe said to take the chilled dough out and let it sit for about 10 minutes before rolling it out.  I learned quickly that if you’re not fast with working with tart dough, it will make your life miserable.  After the 10 minutes were up, it was still a bit firm and difficult to roll….but less than a minute or two later, it was so soft that it kept cracking and tearing while I attempted to roll it out.

I did lots of patching to fill in the places where the dough had torn or pulled away.  I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal in the long run because it would be filled with yummy goodness after it’s baked anyway.  I didn’t get a picture of the unfilled, baked crust, but it turned out just fine.

Aside from my struggle with the crust, the remainder of the tart went together quite easily.  I was unable to find either apple or red currant jelly at the store, so I just used the raspberry preserves I already had in my fridge.  I think the point of the jelly is to give the fruit a nice sheen, so probably anything you have on hand would work.

This tart isn’t a quick dessert to make, due to various cooling/chilling times needed, but the end result is REALLY pretty!  And I’m sure glad that I bought an extra package of raspberries, because Emmy and I nearly consumed an entire one ourselves after assembling the tart!

If nothing but the presentation of this recipe counted, it would score a 10!  See what I mean?  PRETTY!

Since presentation isn’t everything, we of course had to dig in for a taste.  28 weeks into this project, and I think it’s probably one of my favorite dessert recipes yet!  It was SO yummy!  The crust was like a delicious, crispy sugar cookie….the cream filling was perfectly sweet….and the berries were divine!  I was pretty full after one piece, but Emmy gobbled up two big ones in no time flat!  Even Ryan, who has become my least willing to try new things, liked his (with the exception of the raspberries, which I knew he didn’t like anyway).

Amanda was this week’s host and she hit a homerun at our house….check out her blog for this awesome recipe!




Bake 52 Week 17: Baklava

April 25, 2012

This week’s post comes to you from the the nation’s capitol!

I wasn’t sure I’d get this recipe done, as I’m on vacation visiting my sister.  She’s a fellow Bake 52’er, but she also just moved in the last week, so I wasn’t sure her kitchen would be put together enough to do any baking.  It was though, so we spent Sunday night making Baklava.

I knew right from the start that I wouldn’t even be taking a small taste of this recipe.  I do not like nuts, and since that makes up the bulk of baklava, it doesn’t entice me in the slightest.  That’s probably a crime considering I grew up in Carbon County, where the Greek Festival is a BIG deal every year and little old Greek ladies make mass amounts of baklava (I’m sure completely from scratch….no cheating with phyllo dough).

It was a somewhat labor intensive recipe, though not really hard. We started off with making the sugary syrup, which Em worked on…

…while I worked on clarifying the butter, which started out like this…

…and ended up like this.  You skim the foam off the top and then carefully pour the separated butterfat off the top.  Kind of a cool trick to know, though I’d never know when to use it unless a recipe specified it.

Em zested the lemon.  I just love lemons.  They smell and taste so wonderful!

We failed to read the directions on the phyllo, so we didn’t realize that it would need to thaw for at least 2 hours on the countertop.  Given that it was getting late, waiting for it to thaw wasn’t really an option.  So, we worked with torn sheets of somewhat dried out phyllo dough. This was my first experience working with it, and as it started to thaw it reminded me of skin from a peeling sunburn.  Not the most appetizing comparison to make!  As we worked, we layered the phyllo sheets and added the nuts.

While cooking, the baklava smelled like butter.  Lots of butter.  Stomach-churning amounts of butter.  Kind of like the palmiers we made a few weeks ago.  Blech.  Check out the sheen on this baby, pre-baking.  There’s that and more under all those layers.

In spite of our rushed use of the frozen phyllo, the baklava came out of the oven looking quite pretty.  It was pretty late at that point, so we left it to cool overnight and didn’t have a chance to dig into it until after dinner the next day.

I, of course, just watched everyone else partake.  For me, there was nothing appetizing about the way it looked or smelled.  Those who did eat it said it was good.  I don’t know how it compares to traditional baklava, but Nick ate two pieces, which I suppose is a good sign.  Em dropped some off to a neighbor, who later called and left her a message RAVING about how good it was.  She apparently used to live near some people from the Middle East who made baklava frequently.  She said that she’s never found any to rival what they made, but this one did it for her.  Extra good sign!  This is definitely not a repeat recipe for me, but it was at least fun to be able to make it with my sister this week!

Talesha was this week’s host….check out her blog for the full recipe and directions!

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Bake 52 Week 15: Chocolate Blackout Cake

April 11, 2012

Wow! Can you believe we are 15 weeks into the year? I can’t. I also can’t believe that I have baked something every week for 15 weeks straight….that’s more than I’ve baked in probably the last 5 years combined!

This week’s host was Courtney, and since I know that she doesn’t really care much for chocolate either, I know I won’t offend her when I say that my excitement level to make this cake was non-existent. When you add my distaste for chocolate to the fact that I don’t really love cake much either, this week’s pick left me sorely lacking motivation. But, being the stalwart that I am, I made it anyway.

I knew that the only day I had to make this week’s recipe was Tuesday. The busiest day of my week. The day that I had to get Emmy to ballet, eat lunch at school with Ryan for Birthday Table, attend two IEP meetings, and go to a parent’s meeting for the spring track season….all in between the everyday duties of being a wife a mother (I only accomplished one load of laundry, unfortunately).

I did have time late Monday night to make the pudding. Turns out that the most important ingredient for me that night was burn cream and a bandaid. The recipe said to bring the pudding to a simmer, but for me it went from no hint of a bubble to exploding boiling without any warning. And my arm took the brunt of that explosion. Ouch! Thankfully this burn cream is amazing and I was out of pain in no time flat and there will be no blistering.

The cake was fairly simple to whip up. It was a pretty runny batter, but the recipe specified that it should be, so I knew I was on the right track. I don’t have any 8-inch cake pans, so I improvised with my 9-inch springform pan. My layers are a little thinner because of that, but it worked just fine.

One thing I was grateful for with this cake is that it is covered in cake crumbs. For me, that meant covering up my botched frosting job. My pudding was a little lumpy and I would love to know the secret of frosting a cake without having the cake go crumbly….I have yet to master that art!

The crumb topping made for an interesting presentation….not sure I really found it pretty, but it was definitely interesting to look at….kind of like the cake was fuzzy.

As for flavor…it was chocolate overload. The recipe called for a cup of coffee to bring out the chocolate flavor. On principle, I substituted water instead, so maybe that altered the taste some, but I can’t imagine it being any more chocolatey than it was. I actually do enjoy chocolate pudding, but the pudding in this recipe didn’t really wow me….it wasn’t quite sweet enough for my taste buds. I was able to eat one little bite and felt that met my chocolate quota for the next 5 years or so.  My kids gobbled up their slices in under a minute, so they are either seriously chocolate-deprived, or the cake was actually good.

If you are a chocolate-lover, I would bet that you’ll love this cake.  I was anticipating a much more difficult recipe to put together, but it really wasn’t too bad, nor was it as expensive as I thought a chocolatey-chocolate cake would cost.  If you want the recipe, check out Courtney’s blog.


Bake 52 Week 14: Tres Leches Cake

April 4, 2012

First off, I must apologize for my lack of pictures with this post.  Sometimes my house seems like chaos when I’m trying to bake and picking up the camera for a picture or three would simply put me over the edge!

Even with my limited Spanish, I knew right off that this cake was going to have plenty of milk in it. After reading the recipe, I figured there was a good chance that it would be too rich for my taste buds, but the whipped topping sure did look yummy!

I wish the recipe would have suggested using a saucepan to make the milk mixture. My sweetened condensed bubbled up and overflowed in the microwave, making a HUGE sticky mess. An hour or so later, my sister called with a question on the recipe and said the same thing happened to her. I think it would have been just as effective to do that step on the stove and MUCH easier to monitor!

The cake itself turned out quite nicely. I’ve not had the best luck in the past making homemade cake, so I was a little apprehensive this time too. It took the full 35 minutes for mine to bake all the way through, but it didn’t fall flat or look weird when it was done.

The cake smelled sooooo yummy when it came out of the oven and it kind of pained me to pour the milk mixture over it. But I did it anyway. And then gagged a little over how soggy I was sure it would be when it came time to eat.

After 3 or so hours in the fridge, I pulled the cake out for our FHE treat. While the kids played “Mother May I?” I whipped (and whipped, and whipped, and whipped….2 minutes was NOT enough to get the soft peaks the recipe called for) up the topping and spread it on the cake. We cut up some strawberries to top each slice.

I was a bit apprehensive about the soggy cake, but I was excited about the whipped topping. As it turned out, the cake was delicious (a little soggy in parts, but overall not bad) and the whipped topping made me want to puke. I did NOT care for it….and I’m not sure if it was the recipe itself or an issue with my cream (afterall, it took more like 10 minutes to whip up right). I would have been happier with Cool Whip on top! The cake was rich, so I couldn’t finish an entire piece, but everyone else ate 2, with moans and groans about how good it was.

Joseph took the remainder to work the next morning and by 10:00 I had the following text: “Your cake is being hailed as your best dessert yet :)”.  So I guess it was pretty good.  One of his co-workers spent some time in Guatamala and had eaten authentic Tres Leches cake several times and said that it’s too soggy for her taste in South America, but this cake was just right.  I’d call this one a hit…and simple enough to make over and over!

Amanda stepped up to the plate and hosted this week even though it wasn’t her turn….thank you Amanda!  Check out her blog for the yummy recipe!


Bake 52 Week 13: Crème Brûlée

March 28, 2012

I’ve been excited about this week for a while for three reasons.  First, one of my favorite movies of all time is Amélie, and one of her favorite things to do is crack the sugar on Crème Brûlée (I would have included a clip here, but everything I found on youtube included inappropriate scenes….the copy we watch is edited).  Second, I’ve never eaten it before.  And third, I have a friend who received what she thought was the lamest gift ever in a kitchen torch and set of ramekins, and she gladly handed it over to me when I said I could use it.  Otherwise, I’m not sure I would have invested in a torch, so it was fun to have the right tool for the job.  After last week’s bomb, I hoped that this week would be a success.

Overall, the process of making crème brûlée is fairly simple and it didn’t take long to stir the custard up.  I skipped the authentic vanilla bean and went for extract instead….I have a hard time justifying paying so much for a jar that holds two beans! I don’t have a large roasting pan, so I had to use a 9×13 cake pan instead, which meant I didn’t have room for all of my ramekins and had some custard left over.  Aside from the space issue, using the cake pan didn’t affect the overall outcome.

Having never made custard before, I was a little unsure how they should look coming out of the oven, but I think I got it right this time.  After some cooling, we broke out the torch, sprinkled raw sugar on top, and started up the flame.  I wasn’t sure how brown to let the sugar get, so I was glad to let Joseph handle that part.

As for the final product, I think it turned out pretty.  I wish I’d had a strawberry to garnish the top.  For what I think of as being a rather high class dessert, there really wasn’t much to making the crème brûlée and I think I’ll probaby make it for a dinner party sometime down the road.  I’m sure it will come as no big surprise that I’m not a huge fan of custard (a little bit due to taste and a lot due to texture), so I was satisfied after a small bite or two, but Joseph’s co-workers were once again thankful for my participation in Bake 52!

Jen C. was this week’s host and the recipe can be found on her blog.  Thanks for such a fun recipe Jen!


Bake 52 Week 9: Babka

February 29, 2012

I was kind of dragging my feet when it came to making this recipe…for some reason, it just didn’t look that good to me (probably that silly nut issue again).  Had I only known how yummy it would be!

I did leave the walnuts out of about 1/3 of the roll, just so that I could at least enjoy a little bit.  And I’m glad I didn’t leave them out of more because I would have eaten the entire two loaves in one sitting if those walnuts hadn’t been there to deter me.  Joseph took the rest to work……….

One downside that could be seen as an upside to this recipe is that the dough has to chill for 10-24 hours.  At first I thought that was a pain, having to stretch the process out so long….and if you need a dessert quick, then it is a pain.  But, it’s also kind of nice to know of a recipe that you can start ahead of time.  The assembly didn’t really take that long or make a very big mess, so day 2 of work wasn’t that bad.

For those of you concerned about heart attacks, be warned that this recipe calls for 2 full sticks of butter.  Really, how can anything with that much butter taste bad?  But it did kind of turn my stomach to see it all mush together in my mixer.  However, all of those thoughts were long gone by the time the babka came out of the oven.

The recipe instructs waiting for 2 hours for the babka to cool before serving, which I think is a crime.  This is the sort of thing meant to be eaten warm out of the oven!  My initial taste was from the heal of the loaf.  It was a little dry and crumbly, and quite frankly, disappointing.  But my next bite was a little bit of heaven.  YUMMY!  The overall effect is similar to cinnamon rolls, but this bread is heavier and sweeter and just downright delicious.  Joseph proclaimed that he liked it better than cinnamon rolls and I might have to agree with him.

Michelle was this week’s host….hop on over to her blog for a recipe worth trying!