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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TWD: Dulce de Leche

This weeks TWD was chosen by Jodie of Beansy Loves Cake. She chose Dorie's Dulce De Leche Duos on page 161 of her Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook.

Last year, I learned how to make my own dulce de leche by boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk (which I always have in the cabinet). I had done two cans and had one of those cans left over. I had been trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it, so when this recipe was chosen this month I knew that this was one of my weeks I would be baking. This recipe, like a lot of Dorie's recipes, was easy to put together. I scooped my cookies with a small scoop(apprx. 2 tsp. I think) and I got 72-74 cookies.

I put melted bittersweet chocolate on half of the cookies and made a buttercream with the rest of the dulce de leche to put on the chocolate after it hardened(I just stuck them in the fridge to speed up the process). I sandwiched the cookies with the plain cookie and we were good to go. These cookies were soft and chewy with a little crunch from the chocolate. Surprisingly enough the cookies were not extremely sweet like I though they would be since it had sugar plus dulce de leche. Then again, maybe us sweet tooth people don't realize sweetness because we eat so much sugar that we wouldn't know it until the cavity or diabetes comes.

I wish I had measured my buttercream ingredients to give you a more accurate recipe, but I didn't. I know that it included 1 stick of room temperature butter, the rest of the can of dulce de leche, a little shortening(to help it be able to stay at room temp w/o melting), enough powdered sugar to the consistency you want your buttercream to be, a little milk and some vanilla extract. If you know your cookies won't be sitting for long you can omit the shortening and add a little more butter. With the shortening, this buttercream stays like the oreo cream.

Run, don't walk to your kitchen and make these cookies, because they are just that good. Check out Jodie's site for the recipe, or just buy Dorie's cookbook so you will be able to bake some of her other great recipes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Anniversary cake

This cake is covered with MMF with gumpaste flowers around the bottom and RI flowers on top. I have had crimpers for over a year and finally decided to use them. I also had a stencil that I bought 2 years ago at the Mid Atlantic cake show in Wesminister that I finally opened up and used.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome to the JUNGLE

I had leftover fondant from the Roses Cake that I decided to do a baby shower cake. I wanted to get some practice with modelling characters and this would be the perfect cake for it. As you can see I definitely need lots of practice, but I can say the elephants are almost there.

Thanks for looking and if you have any suggestions or modelling tips please feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Roses and poker

Oh, and mint chocolate ice cream too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March Daring Cooks:Risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

The MUST in this challenge were to make your own stock and risotto base. After than your creative imagination could take control.

I decided to toast some spices and add those into the stock recipe. I didn't have a whole chicken in my freezer at this time so I just used chicken wings. I made a smaller amount because I only had about 1-lb of the wings and didn't want to purchase extra food just for this challenge. My "stock" turned into more of a broth, but it was still tasty.

Preparation time:
Stock: 20 minutes prep time, 3 hours cooking.

Equipment required:
• 5 Litre stock pot, or other large pan
• knife
• chopping board
• tablespoon
• teaspoon
• sieve
• ladle
• hand blender (optional)
• wooden spoon or other stirring implement
• grater
• saucepans
• measuring cups
• scales

Chicken Stock


1 large chicken 2-3 pounds about 1 kg
chicken bones 2-3 pounds 1 kg
2 onions, roughly diced
1 medium leek - white part only, roughly diced
2 sticks celery, roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, halved
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. white peppercorns ( Any type of whole peppercorn will do)
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried, it doesn't matter.)
peel of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. allspice


1.Wash the chicken and bones and places in a 5 Litre pot, cover completely with water and bring to a boil

2.Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface

3.Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil

4.Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours

5.Carefully lift out the chicken, set aside. The chicken meat can be removed from the chicken, shredded off and used for other things like soup!

6.Simmer the stock gently for another hour. At , at the end you should have around 2 Liters

7.Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. 
The stock is now ready for use. Freeze what you don't need for later use.

My chosen risotto recipe came out of necessity. I had 1 extra cup of mashed sweet potatoes after making some Sweet Potato Biscuits for my sister's birthday. I had already been trying to come up with ideas for this challenge and this helped me settle on something. I had frozen corn and a cabinet full of spices and herbs, so why not sweet potatoes and corn with some curry? Instead of the white wine called for in the initial recipe I used some marsala.

Since I pretty much changed the recipe, I won't post the one from the challenge. Instead, I will post my version.

Sweet Potato and Corn Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
10 ounces risotto
3 1/2 cups broth
1 tablespoon marsala
8 ounces sweet potatoes, mashed
4 ounces frozen corn, thawed
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch of pepper
sprinkle of nutmeg
sprinkle of cinnamon

Heat olive oil and butter, then add onions. Sautee until translucent. Add risotto and stir constantly for 5 minutes.

Add about a cup of stock at a time to the risotto and stir until each addition is absorbed. Once all stock has been absorbed add the marsala, sweet potatoes, and spices. Stir until everything is well blended.

Serve immediately
This recipe has the sweetness from the potatoes, but not enough heat. Personally, I would kick up the heat with more chili powder, but if you don't like spicy foods this would be perfect.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

TWD : Thumbprints

This week's was chosen by Mike of Ugly Dude Food and he picked Thumbprints for Us Big Guys on page 164. Thanks Mike for this selection because I have always wanted to make thumbprints during the holidays and hadn't.

These cookies are easy to put together unless you're like me and have to shell and toast your hazelnuts before grinding them down. I didn't cracked enough hazelnuts so I added almonds into the mix. When the cookies were baking and it was time to turn them around, I noticed that I had to re-indent the center because it puffed up. Other than that minor situation, there's nothing to these cookies. The flavor...phenomenal! I chose strawberry and peach jam and orange marmalade to fill the "prints" for a little variety.

These cookies will definitely be a make again, especially for a nice little get together.

Monday, March 8, 2010

March is...

March is green, think St. Patty's Day and beginning of spring which brings more green. Green grass, green leaves, money (hey landscapers are getting ready to make lots of it and let's not forget the theme parks and resorts).

Oh, did I forget March starts with the letter M. Mint, creme de Menthe, Mmmm Mmmm good, which brings me to round 2 of Daring Baker's tiramisu. The first time making this I of course went the traditional way Just Heavenly. This time around it was with great admiration for the next best combo, mint and chocolate. The Girl Scouts and Andes mints understand this so well. They get the feeling that goes through you when eating this combination.
For this version I just substituted creme de Menthe for the Marsala and used 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in place of the cake flour. Since the creme de Menthe turned the zabaglione green no food coloring was needed. I chopped Andes mints and put it in and on top of the tiramisu. All I can say is "A mint chocolate lover's dream"!