Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TWD: Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte

This week April from short+rose made an exquisite choice for the group: this delicious brownie torte. Melted and chopped Scharfen Berger chocolate, dried cherries cooked in kirsch and a touch of fresh ground pepper combine forces in the brownie base. If that's not enough, the topping is a delightful whirl of cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, vanilla, and heavy cream. Trust me - it's even more decadent than it sounds.

Having a Trader Joe's nearby was really helpful in acquiring a few of the ingredients at a reasonable price, since I splurged on a good bottle of kirsch. Thanks to Margot at Effort to Deliciousness, that's where I found the dried cherries. While I was there I found mascarpone cheese for $2.99 for 8 ounces, too. This was one pricey endeavor, but I have no regrets.

I enjoyed working on this project over the course of three days, especially since I had a few other cooking projects underway. At one point I had beans soaking on the counter, apple chutney simmering on the stove, and a chicken trussed and ready to be baked as soon as the brownie was done. I figure if I'm in the kitchen, I might as well dirty every pan.

Some of my baking buddies had problems getting the topping to set, but I had the opposite situation. Dorie describes it as pourable mousse, but mine was so thick that it denied Gina, my decorating recruit, the opportunity to make some fancy chevrons. We had a few laughs trying to get the piping bag to cooperate, then attempting to carve in the design with a bamboo skewer. (God, I hope Dorie never reads that...) All I know is if Gina can't do it, it can't be done, so in the end I just smeared the preserves over the top and dusted each serving with some cocoa.

This is a great special occasion dessert, one that would be well received by any hostess. I got it out of the house as soon as possible before it could do too much damage. Needless to say, I had plenty of willing tasters between school and Moore Brothers. Perhaps my greatest compliment came from Rafael, an 11th grade student at Bodine and a professional baker. (yep, you read that right) He picked up a slice on his way to lunch, and halfway through my dreaded 9th period class walked by my door sporting a big thumbs up. Thanks for making my day, Rafi!

Monday, October 26, 2009

TWD: Sweet Potato Biscuits and the Phillies

Last week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe coincided with the Phillies' return to the NLCS, and we treated ourselves to tickets to Game 1. Perhaps I should begin by saying that baseball is a pretty big deal around here. Of the 162 games in the regular season, I bet we saw 150. We count down to the day when pitchers and catchers report to spring training and freeze our butts off on opening day. In fact, the two things that will lure us off our vacation deck on St. John are a tropical storm and a Phillies' game.

Now that we've reached the postseason, we've started our lucky rituals. First, there was the pre-game sign making that once again made me wonder how I ever got out of kindergarten. I managed to burn up a few seconds of my 15 minutes of fame at the game when my made-with-love (if not talent) sign made it not only to the Jumbotron, but also to a TV montage that featured the posterboy of the postseason, Bon Jovi. (That noise is not your computer. It is the thumping of my born-to-be-your-baby heart...)

Then there are the lucky shirts. I've been wearing two at a time, so that's a lot of laundry. John actually has a ritual that involves turning a shirt inside out if things look shaky, but I can't give any other details about that because, well, it may be bad luck. As Sunday night approached, the weather report indicated that lucky clothing, long underwear, and blankets would be in order.

What does all of this have to do with biscuits, you say? Well, I was right on schedule for an on-time post, didn't have the strength to write. It's tough cheering for your team into the wee hours, along with working, baking, AND blogging!

When John and I were recalling childhood biscuit memories, we realized our mothers used the same recipe: Pillsbury. A few months ago I was re-introduced to them when my mom insisted that I take some home with me. She had quite a stash of those tubes of refrigerated dough and was eager to share. Well, that's one convenience food that 21st century technology has really improved. We put aside our disdain for all things processed and devoured them.

Dorie's biscuits, however, are the real deal. The sweet potato kept them from rising too much, but they were delicious anyway. I loved another baker's suggestion to serve them with butter and honey. The mascarpone cheese left from this week's recipe would be divine with them.

A big Philly thank you to Erin of Prudence Pennywise for choosing the recipe. She put barbecued shredded beef on hers. Erin and her blog persona, Prudy, have a lovely playlist to accompany their budget-conscious culinary adventures. Go give her blog a look and a listen.

I wonder if she'd add "You Give Love a Bad Name."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD - Allspice Crumb Muffins

With all due respect, this post may be rather irritating.

I know it's tough to believe that the photogenic little flying-saucer-of-a-muffin smiling coquettishly at you may be evil. But according to nutritiondata.com, she's packin' a good 12 Weight Watcher points. It's a nightmare!

I personally found this week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe to be fairly unique. At this moment in time, muffins have become another food item Americans shouldn't of stuffed with too many ingredients. Dorie's allspice crumb muffins, however, are pleasantly pure and wonderful, with a moist cake center and a delicate, crunchy topping. Mmmm! I can't imagine why one of my fellow bakers described these as "too buttery." Whatever.

Are you annoyed yet? You should be. Absolutely.

A big baking thank you to Kayte of Grandma's kitchen table for choosing such a great recipe! Check out her website for all of the details, and adorable pics of Homecoming 2009. Teenage romance - it is what it is.

Muffin making isn't rocket science. In fact, you could make this recipe 24/7, if you got up early enough. I made the topping the night before so I could send my husband to work with hot muffins for his co-workers. He didn't wait. Whatever. At the end of the day, it's all good.

A shout out to Oxford University's list of the most annoying phrases for making allspice muffins a lot more fun. I've added a few of my own favorites, too. My apologies, Mr. Safire.