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August 29, 2011

:: SMS Recap :: My Top Ten

I have quite a few cookbooks but I'm proud to say that I've baked thru most of the recipes in this book --  The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy, owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie.

Two years ago, I started baking religiously... and then blogging.  I found a baking/blogging group that was baking through the book.  Since then, I've baked along with other groups and started my own group.  Through blogging, I met a few fantastic bloggers. 

To bid "farewell" (but not forever!) to this group, here's a recap of my top ten recipes from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

1. Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream - of course, this would be my number one!  One of the gifts I received during my bridal shower was an ice cream maker and I couldn't wait to make this recipe!

2. Snickerdoodles - who wouldn't love a cinnamon-sugar cookie that is really easy to make? I've made these countless times.

3. Honey Beescotti - I didn't make these the first time with the group.... but when I finally did, I regretted not making them sooner.... these were delicious!

4.  Mom's Banana Apple Bread - Now, a family favorite!

5Caramel Apple Turnovers w/Sweet Ricotta Filling -So easy & delicious.

And rounding off the list are:
6.  Guinness Gingerbread

7.  Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie

8. Hazelnut Truffles

9. Fresh Peach Muffins

10. Sticky Buns
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August 21, 2011

:: SMS Finale! :: Hot Pepper Gingerbread Muffins with Orange Maple Butter

Shame on Me! Shame on Me! I haven't baked with Sweet Melissa Sundays since October of 2010!

Many of you know I had another baby. With one infant and a toddler I didnt' have much time to do anything except tend to them. So I felt it was only fair to my fellow SMS Bakers that I bake and host the last recipe of our baking adventure. And what an adventure it has been! My first bake along - The Brooklyn Brownout Cake - was back in April 2009! Here we are a little over two years later with Hot Pepper Gingerbread Muffins with Orange Maple Butter.  So many SMS bakers have come and gone and I'd like to THANK ALL who have participated!

The muffins were very gingery and the cayenne pepper kicked in for me later on.  These were different!

Makes 12 muffins

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2½ teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 large eggs
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons freshly grated gingerroot
2/3 cup strong boiling hot coffee

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon fine salt

Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with muffin papers (or butter and flour the cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray).

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, dry mustard, cinnamon, cloves, black & white peppers, cayenne and cardamom.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs, brown sugar, and granulated sugar (on medium speed) until thick (about 4 minutes). In a slow, steady stream, add the molasses and oil. Stir in the ginger.

3. On medium speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the hot coffee and mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups. (If you like, refrigerate overnight at this point.) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, zest, syrup, and salt until smooth. Serve the muffins with the orange maple butter. The butter keeps refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Allow to soften to room temp. before serving. When soft, the butter may be rewhipped, if necessary.
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August 15, 2011

Club BAKED: Sunday Night Cake

Before I started this group, I contacted BAKED co-founder, Matt Lewis, to let him know I was going to start a baking group for his cookbook.  He was honored and he also told me that Sunday Night Cake was his favorite cake.  I knew I had to try this immediately.  As I write this post, I wonder why I didn't pick this for our first recipe.  I was so happy when Julie did!

When I first read a recipe, I always like to see how many eggs are in a recipe... to know how I will divide it.  The number of eggs in this recipe was 3 -- which is what I divided by.  The batter came together very easily -- I didn't even have to pull out my mixer -- and it all fit in a 7" round pan.  I went with the simple dusting of confectioners' sugar at the end.

My additions/changes to the recipe:  instead of sour cream, I used honey-flavored yogurt; instead of the granulated sugar, I used honey; I added in a 1/4 teaspoon each of vanilla and almond extracts.

The use of yogurt & honey was a great idea on my part.  The cake had just the right amount of sweetness.  The vanilla & almond extracts brought out the cinnamon in this cake too.  The cake was very light, airy and moist.  If I made the full recipe, I would have easily eaten it all by myself!

Visit Club: BAKED for more information on joining and to see how others did.
Check out Julie's blog for the recipe.
Our next BAKED recipe:  Boston Cream Pie Cake
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August 03, 2011

ABC ~ Congo Brownies

This month's Avid Baker's Challenge Recipe was Congo Brownies.  Basically, it's two brownie layers (blondie & chocolate); and in between is a layer of nuts.  I made half the recipe (again) and used my 8x8 baking pan and went with chopped pecans.  In my haste of baking a few things over the weekend, I completely forgot the baking powder in the blondie layer and as you can see from the photo... that layer didnt rise at all.  But I didnt forget it in the chocolate layer and it baked up nicely.  I omitted the glaze because there was just too much chocolate in the house.  See my post below, I also made chocolate mint cookies!

These were good.... loved the chocolate layer!

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August 01, 2011

Club BAKED: Chocolate Mint Thumbprints

This week's Club: BAKED recipe was chosen by Jamie of Random Acts of Food
I'm becoming more and more notorious for making half the recipe and I did it again for these cookies, which were very rich & chocolaty, as well as minty.  I love chocolate & mint.  Half the recipe gave me one dozen-tablespoon-sized cookies.  I'm not sure if the white cholate mint ganache was suppose to set (& harden).  I refrigerated the cookies overnight and the ganache was still wet.

Would you like to join the Club?  Visit Club: BAKED for more information and to see how others did.
Check out Jamie's blog for the recipe.
Our next BAKED recipe:  Sunday Night Cake.
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