Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Nanaimo Bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

These ought to have been easy, right? Believe it or not, I messed up every layer! First, I didn't make my own graham crackers. We were supposed to make them gluten free, and I really wanted to do it, but as I don't bake gluten free at all, I couldn't justify buy expensive flours I would never use again. And I'm lazy, it was easier to just use graham crackers from the cupboard.

Second, I followed the recipe exactly for the second layer, but the texture was like sand. I had to add more cream, but when the mixture was finally soft, it was also starting to separate.

Third, I ruined two batches of chocolate (death by seizing) before giving in and making a cream ganache topping (instead of mixing the chocolate with butter.)

See, all these things should not have been so difficult. This is why I make souffle, not chocolate chip cookies.

They are pretty sweet, lots of sugar, but I took them to work the next day and all my students and professors loved them! Great challenge!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cherry Chocolate Cake

When you're a kid you don't get tragedy. Personal pain, yes, but the stuff on the news, the stuff that makes your mom cry, it doesn't really inspire emotion. Or maybe that was just me. But I think I'm only just starting to feel other tragedies, instead of just see them.
And then I was thinking,what are the statistical probabilities that I would be born in poverty, live through a natural disaster/war, or both? I imagine the're pretty high. I remember hearing once that if you make more than $25,000/year, you're richer than 95% of the world. It blows my mind, I'm so used to seeing just one way of living. All this around me seems normal. But in reality, only 5% of the world's population understands "living" the same way I do. It's a little overwhelming. Just do the best we can, I guess, and send what I can to Haiti.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter Tea Party

Well, now I know. Apparently by January it's no longer apple cider season. I was pretty disappointed in the only cider I could find, but better than nothing. And hopefully the cider was overshadowed by the meringue mushrooms, my favorite part ;) Buon anno! (Two month count down!)

Mulled Cider
1 gallon cider (not apple juice)
3 T orange juice concentrate
1/4 c brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 T cloves

Steep the cider with the other ingredients for an hour, or to taste.

Caramel Panna Cotta
Panna Cotta (from David Lebovitz)
4 cups (1l) heavy cream (or half-and-half)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
6 tablespoons (90ml) cold water

1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan or microwave. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

2.Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.

4. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups, then chill them until firm, which will take at least two hours but I let them stand at least four hours.

180 grams heavy cream
1/2 t vanilla
45 grams sugar
60 grams egg yolks

Bring the cream and the vanilla to a boil. Reserve.

In the meantime, make a dry caramel with the sugar. Deglaze the cooked sugar with the heated cream. Be careful because it will bubble over if all the cream is added at once. Whisk so all crystalized sugar has dissolved. Pour this caramel over the egg yolks and whisk. Return this to the pan and cook for 1 minute.

Meringue Mushrooms from Martha Stewart