Monday, December 31, 2007
This is what I made for Christmas at my Grandma's House. It's always an issue to figure out what to make to take there. Obviously, I want to take pictures and blog about the dessert. And that's fairly easy to do when you're only making 4-5 people wait on you (like in my immediate family gatherings) to take 31 pictures of your dessert, but when you've got 25+ people gearing up to hit the dessert line, it's a little harder to snap so many photos. So, I got smart this time. I decided to make a bar cookie. That way, I could cut them out, take pictures of them at home and then transport them to grandma's. Perfect!
These are good. Not WOW good. But, good. I opted to eat other things on the dessert table... pecan pie, white chocolate covered peanut butter cracker sandwiches (mmmmm.. I gotta make those), brownies. But, I did eat one of these while I was cutting them and plating them and they are good, rich cheesecake bars. I think they need a little more pizazz. Like some chocolate chips or nuts or fruit or something. But good for times when you just need something basic and creamy.
I did get a few compliments on them though... and they were even competing against a whole other cheesecake on the buffet line!
Savannah Cheesecake Squares
(What makes these "savannah" cheesecake squares instead of just regular cheesecake squares, I have no idea. I guess Savannah just sounds better).
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
When I saw this recipe on her site a few weeks ago for Pecan Pie Cheesecake, I knew I had to try it for my family's Christmas Dinner. My favorite pie (maybe even dessert) is a pecan pie. And so this cheesecake immediately spoke to me.
Every Christmas, my family has a cheesecake. It used to be a turtle cheesecake that my mom bought. But for the past couple of years, I've been making the cheesecake. This year, I wanted to try something a little different... A little more special than your typical cheesecake and this fit the bill.
This cheesecake is absolutely amazing. I think I overcooked the pecan pie filling on the stove, because it turned out REALLY hard to eat. It had an amazing flavor, but it was just soooo hard and chewy. Next time (and yes, there will definitely be a next time) I will cook that filling less. But the texture and flavor of the cheesecake was delicious. I am also going to try this cheesecake as just a plain cheesecake sometime, without the pecan pie part. The filling is just so rich and decadent, I think it's the brown sugar. I had never made a cheesecake with a vanilla wafer crust, either and found it to be awesome, also!
This cheesecake was so good, that even those non-sweet eaters in my family were raving over it. Oh my god. Go out and make this cheesecake immediately. You will not be sorry.
I can't even write a coherent post because just thinking about this cheesecake makes my head spin.
Thank you, Jennifer.
Friday, December 21, 2007
It is delicious! So moist! So chocolatey! So rich! Yum. And, it's pretty forgiving, too. I left out a full cup of sugar and didn't realize it until I had already poured it into my two baking pans. I happened to taste the batter before I put it in the oven and I thought... hmmm.. that isnt very sweet at all. So, I referred back to the recipe and realized... I only measured one cup! Yikes! So, I put a half cup in each pan and stirred it around in the pan. I was a little nervous that it wouldn't dissolve very well, since it hadn't been mixed with the mixer. But, you couldn't tell!
Now, that's my kind of recipe.
The only change I made was I used buttermilk in the cake instead of regular milk.
Hershey's Especially Dark Chocolate Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (I think some people use hot coffee)
Especially Dark Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 inch baking pans.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes.
Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared Pans.
Bake 30-35 minutes (I think I only baked mine for about 25 minutes, so start watching it at 25) or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely and frost. Serves 10-12
Especially Dark Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup Special Dark Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk (might need more)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to a spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups of frosting.
Thanks Jason for the photos!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I mean, I loved making the cookies and the brownies, but when you have recipe after recipe not turn out the way you wanted... you get a little depressed and then you realize you don't have time to be depressed, because you've got to make another kind of cookie for the party and ASAP.
Enter Homemade Oreos.
Screw the fruit cookie, let's make something kitchy instead. Right?
Luckily, my friend Steph came over the night that I finally gave up on the Rugelach Pinwheels and I think she probably just had the intention of letting me borrow some of her cookie sheets, sitting down at my bar and cracking up at me covered in flour, lamenting about the woes of baking. Little did she know... she was going to help me make Homemade Oreos. And by "help" I mean, measure all the ingredients, mix them and put them on the baking sheet while I supervised.
Fellow bakers shouldn't be so slim and cute and have cute victoria beckham haircuts, right? Right.
So, she really helped me out that night. I was at my wits end and I just finished putting a whole batch of those pinwheel cookies down the disposal when she got there. It was nice, because she helped me just kind of have a "who cares?" attitude and not worry about wasting all that money and time on those damn cookies that I screwed up.
We had fun. She's one of my oldest and dearest friends and it's nice to get to spend a tuesday night baking with your best friend.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I volunteered to make the baked sweets and made, Homemade Oreos (post on those to come later), Rich and Dark Brownies, Hidden Kiss Cookies, and I also put out the leftover Razmatazz Bars (which, incidentally, were a big hit) and a few of the Raspberry Lemon Thumbprint Cookies.
The rest of the menu included:
Pulled Pork BBQ
Spinach Artichoke Dip
There were probably other foods but I can't really remember.
All-in-all, it was a big hit. Even with the rain and the threat of snow, they still had about 70 people there.
My dad looks a little frazzled here, but it was a long day... Pictures of the table...
The Sweets Table...
And yes, even more food...
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
But, this recipe... this recipe is just one of those recipes that I just couldn't get right.
It all started with my parents christmas party (which is this weekend), I offered to make all the sweets for the party. Along with brownies and hidden kisses cookies, I felt like we needed a fruity, festive cookie. This decision has haunted me for weeks.
I tried Lemon Thumbprints, I tried Razmatazz Bars, and finally I decided that this rugelach pinwheels recipe with cherry preserves and dried cherries would be perfect.
And they would have been.... had they turned out.
I found the recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. Don't they look so pretty on her site? Perfectly rounded, perfectly filled, perfectly photographed....
Wanna see how mine turned out?
This was the best looking batch. Seriously. I tried about 5 batches of these cookies. I tried them thin, I tried them thick and they always came out spread way all over the pan and looking like a mess. I still have one log and one batch of the dough still chilling in my fridge. I dont know what to do with it. I attempted to make two batches of these, because of all the chilling time, etc, I didn't want to run out of time to make them. Oh, and I had one batch completely stick to my greased non-stick pan and had to dispose of them down the garbage disposal... so, there's that, too.
Now, they taste REALLY good. But seriously... if you saw these sitting out on a platter at a party... you'd run far, far, far away.
So, I bagged them up all in a ziploc and I thought they'd make a good ice cream topping.So, this christmas party will be without a fruity, festive cookie and after all these bad cookies I've made... i'm done with fruity and festive. Well, at least till next Christmas.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Socialize. Three people does in fact constitute a tailgate party, in case you were wondering. (two, definitely not, but three is acceptable).
Discuss the possible outcomes of the game. i.e. compare and contrast team players from each position. (Actually, we didn’t do this… we tried to come up with new catch phrases and ways to use them).
Drink. (Even if you are lame and only drink one beer, it counts dude, it totally counts).
People Watch. This includes making fun of the following types of people: those who listen to REM at a tailgate (buzz kill) and fans of the visiting team.
Eat yourself into a coma.
Sunday, April and Greg and I went to the Titans v. Chargers game. All our games are noon starts, so the tailgating must start early. Very early considering you didn’t get to bed until 3:30 (I’m too old for that crap, dude).
We had some good grub… including cheese dip, breakfast casserole and about 6 different bags of chips.
And I also decided to make some new chocolate chip cookies. These are a recipe from Cooks Illustrated that I snagged from Recipezaar. They were pretty good. Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Drinking my one beer... Officially a tailgate.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
April is my oldest friend. We met way back in 3rd grade in Mrs. Pomeroy’s class. She and I were pretty good friends off and on throughout elementary school and then I don’t think we really had any classes together from middle school until about Junior year of high school. Our Junior year, we had a few classes together and that's when the friendship really took off...
Let me just tell you the kind of relationship we have… in high school English, we would sit beside each other and everyday, I’d look at her at some point and I’d say… “April, I feel like I might have a fever… do I feel hot to you?” and she’d put her hand on my forehead and reply with whatever EVERYONE wants to hear in response to that question (and which incidentally, our moms never replied back to us)… “Wow, you do feel hot, I think you do have a fever!” And she’d say to me… “I’m not feeling too well either… how do I feel to you?” And I’d put my hand on her forehead and immediately say… “Oh yeah, you’ve definitely got a fever.” And then we’d crack up. It’s silly, but it kind of tells you something about our friendship. We trust each other and we always know what to say to make the other feel good.
I have so many great April stories, I couldn’t even begin to go through all of them… from going to see the midnight showing of the Exorcist (re-released) with winter scarves on (it was like 60 degrees outside), to making up ridiculous drinking games to sporting events… “ok, everytime they show Lou Holtz: Amy drinks and everytime they show Philip Fulmer: April drinks!” to riding around West End with finger puppets. Oh and the drinking…. Ohhhhhh the drinking we’ve done together.
And now, as adults we are closer than we were even in high school. She is my running partner (check out our running blog! 26point2ers), one of my very best friends and just a really good person. She’s someone that everyone likes. I mean, seriously, I’ve never met someone that knew her that didn’t like her.
Her birthday was November 17, but I didnt get to celebrate it with her until this past weekend. Finding a dessert to make her was a pretty easy decision. She, like me, basically likes anything and everything sweet and chocolatey. But, I knew that German Chocolate Cake was one of her absolute favorites. Now, it’s not easy to travel 200 miles with a big ole cake and with her husband not liking coconut, it wasn’t really practical to leave her with a whole cake to herself, but my mom had this recipe clipped from a magazine from forever ago for a German Chocolate Pie, so I decided to make it!
Honestly, I was less than thrilled. I envisioned a more fudge-y like pie and it turned into a more pudding-y type of pie. Which sucks, because with a great friend like April, you want it to be perfect… but I’m pretty sure she forgives me…. She’s cool like that.
April, lover of german chocolate, coconut, and pink ponies.
Happy Birthday, Ape!!!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Well, I wanted to repay them for their kindness (remember they also bought me Betty the kitchenaid mixer and mixing bowls, too!!) so I decided to invite them over for dinner last Thursday night. The menu was basic (I mean, no need to get crazy on a Thursday night, right?), but I wanted to make a dessert, too.
So, I found this pie recipe.
It’s very simple to make and apparently pretty forgiving, since the grocery store was out of regular vanilla pudding and I had to use French vanilla. One note though, it makes enough filling for 2 pies. I mean, seriously. You can easily cut this recipe in half to make one pie. I had a ton of filling left over.
I ended up putting the leftovers in the freezer and am anxious to try it frozen. I think it will be more like an ice cream pie. But, it’s very good. The only changes I made was that I used an oreo cookie pre-made crust, the French vanilla pudding, and I also added andes mints on top.
Monday, December 3, 2007
So, since I love malt... i've had this recipe printed out for awhile now. It's originally from Dorie Greenspan and I've seen it made on a couple of my favorite blogs (cookie madness and foodbeam) And I've had whoppers since halloween... but I hadn't been able to find the malted milk powder at my grocery store. I knew that Harris Teeter would have it, but the last time I went to harris teeter, I had a flustering encounter and totally forgot to pick up the malt powder. So, I made a special trip the other week, because I was craving chocolate-y, malt-y goodness.
Turns out... these cookies aren't that great. They could be more chocolate-y and more malt-y.
I was really disappointed with this recipe.. especially after all the build up. But, oh well... there are plenty more recipes to be made!