Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TWD: Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

My aunt is in town from Memphis and my parents brought her over Sunday for a visit. I thought it was the perfect time to make this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe, Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding.

This recipe was surprisingly easy to whip up. It was much more challenging for me to find Challah or brioche bread on a Saturday afternoon. I went to three bakeries in my town. One has turned into a cafe and no longer sells loaves of bread. The second only sells Challah on fridays, which makes sense. And the third had only three small individual brioches. Not enough. So I decided that after I did the rest of my grocery shopping, I would look up a recipe when I got home and make my own. No need. Trader Joes had both Challah and brioche bread. Score!

I like bread pudding a lot, so I was looking forward to making this. I've never had chocolate bread pudding. I thought it was good, but I prefer it without the chocolate. (gasp) This coming from someone who thinks everything is better with chocolate. Maybe it's because I'm used to the other version.

I served it while it was still warm, which I also preferred to room temperature or cold. I decided that in order to give it a fair review, I should try it all three ways. ; ) Dorie thinks it tastes better at room temperature or cold. C'est la vie. Maybe I would have liked it more with the chocolate sauce or creme anglaise topping. I took the lazy way out.

This recipe stands up to company, but is simple enough to make as part of the family dinner. My family liked it!

We have Lauren to thank of the Upper East Side Chronicle for this week's recipe. Thank you Lauren! I love making recipes that I've never made before and this is one of them. Surf on over to her blog and see how she liked it. You can see what the other bakers did here. And for over 300 delicious recipes all in one book, get yourself a copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Lucy (my red Kitchenaid stand mixer) is feeling neglected. Her services haven't been needed for three weeks now. I think I'll make some cookies this week and show her a little love.

Next week: Chocolate Cream Tart - Yum!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TWD: 15 Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte

This week's recipe is called the 15 Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte. That's quite a mouthful, isn't it? The name of this dessert alone creates high expectations. Chocolate. Amaretti. Torte. Magic. All in 15 minutes. Tell me more.

A torte is a slim European style cake that is based on ground nuts instead of flour. In this case, almonds are the nuts of choice. Ground amaretti cookies are also part of the recipe. I had never heard of these cookies before. They're an italian almond macaroon. Luckily, I was able to find them at my local italian market.

All of the ingredients go into the food processor and voila, you have your cake batter. Pour it into a cake pan, bake for 25-30 minutes, cool, pour on glaze (which you can make while the cake is cooling) and you're done. Magic!

It's rich and delicious! A little too rich for Jeff, but not for me. It definitely fulfills a chocolate craving. I love the gritty texture from the ground nuts, and chocolate and almonds together are one of my favorite combinations. And because it has almonds rather than flour, it's a healthy cake, right?

Thanks goes to Holly of Phe/Mom/enon for picking this week's recipe! I've never made a torte before and now I have. Head on over to Holly's blog to see the recipe. And see how the other bakers liked this week's recipe.

I'm going to have to send this over to my parents, or else trouble will ensue. Chocolate overdose, anyone?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TWD: Banana Cream Pie

Is it possible for a pie to hold a grudge? A banana cream pie to be exact? That's how I felt as I made this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Now, I'll confess upfront. Pie and I don't have a love affair going on. It's not my favorite dessert. I much prefer cake. And cookies. And ice cream. But there are some pies that I like. I love french apple, and I make a great cranberry/apple every Thanksgiving that is my all-time favorite. It has a cornmeal crust that compliments the filling to perfection. And yet, I've been having such a good time making recipes that I wouldn't normally make, that I went into this week's selection with much enthusiasm and hope. The pie was not fooled.

My first inclination that trouble was brewing was with the crust. I did not take Dorie's advice and chill the rolled out dough before attempting to place it in the pie plate. My bad. I was in a hurry and wanted to get the pie done. I had rolled it out between parchment paper and the dough got too soft making it almost impossible to remove the parchment paper. There were rips and tears (both of the holey and weepy variety). So I decided to do some patchwork, figuring it would still taste the same.

So I baked my crust and look at what happened. I guess my patchwork didn't hold. sigh

Still, I was not deterred. It was going to be okay. It would still taste good even if it wasn't the prettiest pie ever made. Don't get worked up Annette. Calm down. It's going to be delicious.

I had chilled the custard while the crust was baking. When the time came to assemble the pie, I vigorously whisked the custard as Dorie told me too. I have to say, I was surprised at how gelatinous and gloppy it was. I was expecting it to be much more creamy, almost pudding-like. Maybe I wasn't vigorous enough? Maybe I should have whisked it in the stand mixer. Did anyone else have this problem? It almost wasn't spreadable.

See what I mean?

While spreading the custard, gently I might add, the crust came right up!

At this point, I almost threw in the towel and gave up. I had been beaten down in the kitchen. By a pie. It's not often that my confidence is shaken in the kitchen. Seriously. But I didn't give up. I had invited my parents over (they love pie), they were on their way and I didn't want to disappoint. And it would still taste good, even if it turned out to be a spoonful of pie instead of a nice pretty slice. So I finished it up the best that I could. Thankfully, the whipped cream topping was easy and didn't give me any trouble.

The end result? My parents really liked it. They loved the crust! We thought the custard could be a little sweeter, and I think creamier. Maybe I over cooked it? It wasn't half bad for pie. I only had a few bites and I sent it home with mom and dad where it would be much more appreciated (I was still bitter).

I have Amy of Sing for Your Supper to thank for choosing this week's recipe. Thank you Amy! You've provided me a challenge. I will master the pie.

I'm off to see how the other bakers fared this week and see if I can gather any tips for improving my crust and custard. Suggestions are welcome! If you want to put your own pie making skills to the test, you can find the recipe in Dorie's delicious book and over on Amy's blog.

Happy baking!