TwD BCM: Nutella Buttons

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As you may recall, during last month’s Tuesdays with Dorie posting, I wasn’t able to taste the assigned limoncello cupcakes because of a cleanse I was doing. Although the cleanse is over, I must confess that I didn’t taste this week’s assignment either. It’s been so long since I’ve had any real sugar that when I had an almond petit four last weekend, I almost got a sugar-rush headache. So, even though I like Nutella, I had to pass on the fruits of my baking labor to my co-workers at the firm yesterday. Here are some of the reactions:

“Liked it. But a little dry.”
“They left an aftertaste, but that’s to be expected from Nutella.”
“Is that what Nutella is? Okay, then I realized I don’t like Nutella.”
“These were tasty!”
“Oh, these are good, but it’s hard to tell the difference between the Nutella and the ganache.”

While making the buttons, or as the French say bouchées for “mouthfuls”, I will say that the mini cupcake batter smelled very good mainly due to the drop of pure almond extract that was suggested we use. However, because these were mini cupcakes, it was somewhat painstaking to drop teaspoonfuls of batter into each mold, then drop 1/2 teaspoonfuls of Nutella, and then top each mold off with more batter. And, then to hand-dip each cake in the chocolate ganache? Sigh…these took a lot of time with very little payout given my co-workers’ mixed reviews. Although, I don’t think I would’ve minded the work so much if they were regular sized cupcakes. I probably won’t be making these again.

These Nutella buttons were made as a part of Tuesdays with Dorie. If you’d like to join our baking group, pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and bake along!

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TwD: Limoncello Cupcakes from Baking Chez Moi

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This week’s assignment, limoncello cupcakes, incorporated the popular Italian liqueur throughout three parts of the dessert: the cupcake, the syrup, and the frosting. Although I’m not a huge fan of lemon, I am always a fan of liqueur!

Making these cupcakes was simple enough, as each step brought its own little thrill. I will say that I’ve zested plenty of lemons and rubbed the zest into sugar numerous of times before, but this time I could actually smell the lemony fragrance permeate through the air when I stirred the lemon sugar. It was pretty snazzy. I also decided to go ahead and do the optional orange marmalade cupcake centers. I hadn’t planned to do so, but I was already at the store buying Greek yogurt for the recipe, and I thought, “Why not?” The soaking of the cupcakes immediately out of the oven was kind of nifty because I could hear a sizzle of the syrup against the hot pan with each stroke of the pastry brush. I’m not sure whether I was supposed to do this, but I had enough syrup to do a double pass over each cupcake. Hopefully, they were appropriately soaked.

I say hopefully because I’m in the middle of a cleanse and was unable to taste these cupcakes myself. However, I did bring the entire batch to a select few co-workers at the firm. Their reactions varied as follows: “There’s orange AND lemon marmalade?”, “I keep saying ‘yummy'”, “That was on point!”, “I will be having another cupcake, so get ready.”, and just general muffled approval while eating. It may have also helped that I made a double amount of frosting, so there was plenty to add to each cupcake. Obviously, these were a hit! I can’t wait to try them myself or at least drink the rest of the limoncello once my cleanse is done!

These limoncello cupcakes were made as a part of Tuesdays with Dorie. If you’d like to join our baking group, pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and bake along!

TwD: BCM Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars

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In Dorie’s introduction to this week’s assignment, crispy-topped brown sugar bars, she said her friend described these as what “Rice Krispies Treats would have been had they been born in France.”

After tasting these bars, I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. Leave it to the French to take something has simplistic as Rice Krispies Treats and make them fancy enough to serve at a party with their brown sugar cookie base and bittersweet chocolate topping layer. However, Dorie herself suggested that the Rice Krispies be caramelized for an added flourish.

To be honest, I was going to skip the caramelization part because I’ve never had great luck with caramelizing anything. The first few steps were easy enough, but when it came to browning the sugared Krispies, my Krispies looked white, dry, and like they weren’t even going to stick together. Then the magic happened. I noticed a few Krispies here and there start turning a beautiful brown color. Pretty soon, all the bits were brown and sticking together. Voilà! After topping the bars, I had enough caramelized Krispies left over to sprinkle over a small bowl of vanilla bean ice cream. Definitely worth it.

These crispy-topped brown sugar bars were made as a part of Tuesdays with Dorie. If you’d like to join our baking group, pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and bake along!

TwD: BCM (Not Really) Lemon Madeleines

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I’m no stranger to making madeleines. These tasty little cakes that are scalloped on one side and super-humpy on the other have appeared on my blog six different times featuring six different flavors.

In this week’s Baking Chez Moi assignment, Dorie took the madeleines a step further by adding a lemon and powdered sugar glaze to the domed sides. Well, I didn’t have any powdered sugar to make the glaze and didn’t feel like running out to get any on Sunday when I made these. I suppose I could’ve picked some up on Monday, but I had to cover the Bulls-Grizzlies game that same evening and knew I wouldn’t have the discipline to not eat these cakes until then. So, instead, I brought them to work to share with a select few co-workers sans glaze on Monday, which still turned out to be a hit!

Although these were supposed to be lemon favored from the glaze, that clearly didn’t happen in my case. I was also out of honey and again refused to make a trip for an item I only needed a tablespoon of, so I used organic agave nectar instead. These madeleines were still tasty nonetheless. I’d definitely make them again. And maybe I’ll try out the glaze next time.

If you’d like to join our baking group, pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and baking along with us!

TwD: Baking Crème Bruleed Chocolate Bundt Cake with Dorie

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This week’s assignment, crème brulee chocolate bundt cake, turned out to be a huge hit at my office Valentine’s Day potluck last week. Everyone was thoroughly impressed with my plated “sample”. But, needless to say, the most fascinating aspect of the cake’s assembly was the use of my kitchen blowtorch that I brought from home.

Because Dorie indicated that the cake be served immediately once assembled, I had to set up everything separately because my colleagues were going to eat the potluck main dishes first. This meant I had to cute a slice of bundt cake, spoon on the crème brulee cream, sprinkle the sugar, torch the sugar, and garnish with fresh rapsberries every time someone was ready for dessert. But, it was worth it because everyone enjoyed the “presentation” when I was done. (Btw, I thought it best to skip the Chambord on the raspberries since I was serving this dessert during work hours). The nicest compliment I got all day was that this cake was “to die for”. That’s some serious cake love!

As for the preparation of the cake and the sauce, both parts were fairly straightforward. However, I did have to bake my cake an extra 10 minutes because the cake was still liquidy when I did the toothpick test. I also appreciated the fact that I could make both parts in advance, seeing as I was covering the Bulls game the night before the potluck and had no time make anything then.

If you’d like to join our twice monthly baking group, pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and baking along with us!

TwD: BCM Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

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I’m back! No, I am really back this time. After a whirlwind 10 months of a new job, a new side hobby, and traveling, I’ve come back to start 2015 on the right foot with multiple resolutions! (In case one of them falls at the waistside, I still have motivation to keep going with the others.)

That being said, my three resolutions are 1) limit my beef and pork intake, focusing mainly on fish. Chicken is acceptable when absolutely necessary. 2) Re-start my Rosetta Stone lessons to learn Tagalog. 3) Post at least once a month for ffwD and TwD. So far, I’m doing well on all three, and I still have one more week to get my January ffwD post in!

Now, as for this brown butter and vanilla bean weekend cake, it was a breeze to put together since the butter was melted and browned on the stove. I’m always fond of cakes that don’t require “room temperature butter”. I’m pretty impatient when it comes to waiting for butter to soften.

The cake itself was tasty but slightly dry in my opinion. I brought some slices to work, and the reactions ranged from the silent devouring of an entire slice in one or two mouthfuls to “amazing” to “it’s a little vanilla-y”. But, overall, I think it was a hit. However, next time, I’ll probably serve it with some berry compote or alongside afternoon tea instead of standing alone.

If you’d like to join our twice monthly baking group, pick up a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and baking along with us!

TwD: Baking Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes with Julia

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It’s good to be back with Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia. I’ve missed a few recipes, but luckily, we’ve got a rewind week coming up! Anyway, I really enjoyed making these oven-roasted plum cakes. They were very tasty. The cake was just sweet enough where it didn’t overpower the juicy plum or its wonderfully thick syrup. These were amazing warm, and I can only imagine how great they would be with ice cream. Am I wrong, or are these cakes similar to a fruit buckle made in a cast iron skillet?

My only qualm with the recipe is that I think I should have let the cakes cool longer than the recipe’s suggested 10 minutes because I tried unearthing one from its mold, and it fell apart! I tried to unmold one more, and getting the same result, I figured my friends could just eat the cakes in their own individual ramekin/custard cup. As you can see, I got varied amounts of cake coverage baked over the halved plum, with none of the cakes actually showing the full sliced surface. However, it was kind of a cool surprise spooning out the purple-skinned fruit from underneath the golden cake.

If you’d like to try your hand at these oven-roasted plum cakes, pick up a copy of Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers and join the bi-monthly baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie, where we choose recipes to collectively bake each month!

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