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March 30, 2010

Throwdown Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been quite a while since I last made chocolate chip cookies. I have a few recipes ear marked because they have been deemed the "Best Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe, and this was one of them. I'm a fan of Food Network's Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and after reading some of the reviews of this recipe, I went for this. The recipe can be found here.

I seperated the dough into two batches, throwing toasted walnuts into one and baked for 13 minutes. I baked the ones with no nuts for 12 minutes. The one with the nuts was AMAZING!!! I loved it -- it was a nice & chewy cookie. I might have baked the ones without nuts 1-2 minutes too long because they came out really crunchy -- something I was not looking for.

The one on the right has the walnuts.
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March 28, 2010

::SMS:: Pavlova Peach Melba

Before joining SMS, I've never heard of pavlova, which according to wikipedia, is:
a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Ánna Pávlova. Colloquially referred to as "pav", it is a cake similar to meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner.

Pavlova is made by beating egg whites (and sometimes salt) to a very stiff consistency before folding in sugar, white vinegar, cornstarch, and sometimes vanilla, and slow-baking the mixture similarly to meringue. This makes the outside of the pavlova a crisp crunchy shell, while the interior remains soft and moist. Pavlova is traditionally decorated with a topping of whipped cream and fresh fruit.
Patty of Birding Blossoms and Baking decided that we should make pavlova this Sunday... and so we did. I cut the recipe in half because hubs was NOT going to eat this. I used the ring of a 4" springform pan on my silicone baking sheet as my template because I didnt have anymore parchment paper.

I only had to bake it for about an hour and then I let it cool in the oven for about 45 minutes.

For the fruit: I dont like raspberries so I went with strawberries. I even made the strawberry sauce that's featured in the book on page 210.

I enjoyed this! This was so easy to put together. I'm definitely going to make this again, except I'll make the full recipe for gatherings. For the pavlova recipe, head over to Patty's blog.

Here's the super-easy recipe for Fresh Strawberry Sauce:
Makes about 1 cup sauce
1 dry pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbs cold water

In a food processor or blender, puree the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth. Strain the berry mixture into a clean bowl and discard the seeds. Stir in additional sugar, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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March 21, 2010

::SMS:: Caramel Apple Pie

Today's SMS recipe was chosen by Susan of Baking with Susan. Susan has a great blog and I didnt know this til recently, but runs her own baking business... You Go, Susan!

Double-crusted Caramel Apple Pie... the name of it sounds luscious, doesn't it? I LOVE apple pie. I made fried apple pies once and to my dismay, totally cant find the recipe anywhere now! If anyone has an awesome recipe for fried apple pies, please pass it over my way, cause I miss them dearly.

If you've been following me for awhile (and for those of you that know me personally), you know by now that i HATE HATE HATE making a pie crust. Three weeks ago, our Sunday recipe was Sugar Cookies, which was a sweet pie crust recipe cut into cookies. That didnt work! The ONLY time that it did work for me was the chocolate pie crust... but that one looked icky.

And here we are with another pie crust recipe. This one is made with a food processor which actually started out great. Then I popped it into the fridge. And here comes the part where it all goes down the drain -- the rolling. The dough was sticky, then it fell apart... and forget about making it round. I was trying to make it larger than my pie plate... *sigh* it JUST wouldn't work for me. I gave up... tossed it, KAPUT!
Luckily, I keep frozen ones on hand in case of emergencies like this!
I picked up some Pink Lady apples at a farmer's market and couldn't wait to use them here --- the vendor said that pink ladies have the perfect tartness & sweetness for a pie. The caramel sauce came out easy; as did the apples. I added some cinnamon to the apples. Tossed the apples with the sauce and tossed all that into the pie crust.

(WARNING: these photos were taken late at night.)

Covered with another pie crust and baked for one hour and 15 minutes.

THE RESULT: I thought the caramel sauce was TOO sweet. Pink Lady Apples are on the TART side. This was best eaten with ALA MODE! My mom and brother thought the apples were too sour, too. Next time, I'm going to follow the recipe and use granny smiths like Melissa suggested.

Thanks for hosting, Susan! Head over to her blog for the recipe and be sure to check out what other SMS Bakers did.
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March 15, 2010

{MSC} Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

This month's MSCupcake was chosen by Megan from My Baking Adventures. I love all things lemon and I couldn't wait to bake these! The only thing that turned me off was the meringue frosting. I baked these cupcakes on the same day that I made carrot cupcakes. I made orange cream cheese frosting for those; I made lemon cream cheese frosting for these! Then I adorned them with a lil sugar flower -- what a way to welcome Spring! These were delicious!!!

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March 14, 2010

::SMS:: Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting


Do you have a recipe that you swear by? I do, and it's carrot cake (click here for my recipe & "story"). Julie of A Little Bit of Everything chose this Sunday's Sweet Melissa recipe. I almost opted out of this weekend's bake-along, cause like I said, I have a recipe that I swear by.

Compared to Melissa Murphy's recipe, I use more carrots, cinnamon, nuts, baking soda & baking powder, and LESS sugar.

I made a cake last week and opted for cupcakes this week, using really cute baking cups. I have so many baking cup papers that I can't keep track of where I bought what. The thing I love about these papers is that I pour the batter right into the cups (no pan necessary!) and bake right in it! Cool, right?

Aside from looking really cute, these tasted pretty good and very close to the recipe I use. Eaten without the frosting, there's something missing -- I can't pinpoint it or compare it to my recipe because I havent had a chance to make mine again. I LOVED the orange cream cheese frosting! Thanks, Julie for a great pick! Be sure to see what other SMS bakers did this week!

Come back tomorrow for MORE (MS) cupcakes!
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March 07, 2010

::SMS:: Roasted Pecan Cake

One of our newest members, Leslie of Lethally Delicious, chose this Sunday's recipe. The long winded name of the recipe says it all — Roasted Pecan Cake with Caramel Orange Marmalade and Burnt Orange Buttercream — sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, sort of.

For the cake:
I halved the recipe, toasted up pecans, process them in a food processor. Beat SIX egg whites into a meringue. I'm so glad I always have some frozen for a time like this. Fold in and bake. Then I made caramel peach marmalade (with some fresh oj). The last step is the Burnt Orange Buttercream. By this time, i was exhausted and just made fresh whipped cream (lightly sweetened) with some orange zest.

Half the recipe made a really cute 2-layer 7-inch cake, that was delicious!

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March 03, 2010

Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Cake

My family knows me so well. I love shopping at Williams-Sonoma.... and so does my aunt. She got me the Cookie Cake Pan for Christmas and I finally got to use it this past weekend... for a friend's birthday cake. I used the recipe that was on the box, but I'm sure any cake recipe would work. This was a huge hit!

My cake is not as photo perfect as the one on the WS site but I will surely work on it.
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