Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Spiced Honey Cake

This week I baked Dorie Greenspan's Spiced Honey Cake from Baking Chez Moi.    It's a loaf cake that begs to be tweaked and, since I had neither lavender flowers nor Szechuan peppercorns, I had to make do!  I used some regular peppercorns and upped the ginger.

The cake will be different every time, depending on the honey and spices.  This time, my honey was from a beekeeper, organic farmer near Portland, Oregon.  Next time, I'll use honey from a beekeeper and farmer in Ithaca, NY.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Spice Cookies

It's the right time of year for  Christmas Spice Cookies!  In Dorie's new book, Dorie's Cookies, she is clearly inviting and encouraging her baking fans to experiment.  For example, there is a basic recipe for "Do-Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough" which is a lovely, soft dough to which various spices and flavorings can be added.  The Christmas Spice Cookie version has cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and all spice.

I mixed the spices into and the dough smelled (and tasted) terrific.  Once I baked the cookies, however, I wished I'd used even more of the spices.  I wanted more oomph.  Lucky for me, when I bake these again I'll be able to double or even triple the spices, tweaking the recipe until it is just perfect for me!

Here they are, ready to go into the oven.  Sorry, no pictures of them out of the oven since they were packed up and given away before I got my camera out!


Monday, December 12, 2016

Chocolate Truffles

I've never made truffles before and now I wonder "Why not?!"  Dorie Greenspan's recipe in Baking Chez Moi makes it an easy task.

I served these to folks attending a meeting at my house.  One person commented, "These are really good.  Are they chocolate and butter?"  To which I replied, ". . .and cream."  That's basically it.  I enjoyed cutting up the chocolate (notice my chocolate designated cutting board!)  The hard part, if there was a hard part, was rolling the truffles into  reasonably smooth spheres.  I ended up squishing and pinching them to form a sort-of ball, then rolling them in my palms.

Quite yummy and I'm sure I'll try some variations in the future.

Smushing the butter

Stirring the butter into the chocolate
Finished truffles, fancied up in their own little paper holders.

Check out what the other Tuesday with Dorie bakers baked this week.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


It's marathon cooking baking today as I promised to supply ten dozen cookies to an open house of a local conservatory tomorrow night!  How lucky that I have Dorie Greenspan's new book, Dorie's Cookies.   

One of the recipes I am making is Pfefferneusse, cute little rounded spicy cookies that are dipped in some slinky chocolate.

Here are three of them by the gingerbread house I made this year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Caramel Tart

This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers baked non-chocolate goodies.  I baked the Caramel Tart which seemed very easy to me, until I realized that the ease in baking is all because of Dorie.  Having baked through her Baking from my Home to Yours, and halfway through Baking Chez Moi, I've learned a great many techniques.

This tart has a lovely sweet tart crust which I chose to pat in rather than roll.  It did make it a bit thick, but it is so tasty that no one complained.  I found the flavor of the caramel filling to be wonderful:  not overly sweet, not overly delicate, in other words it was just right.

Looking at what other bakers said last week, I carefully skimmed off the foam (which I ate and it was tasty!).  The tart was lovely on its own, however I decided to add just a little chocolate sauce.  How long can I go without chocolate?  Not very long apparently.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Peanut Butter Change-ups

I like peanut butter cookies and so of course I liked this new version by Dorie Greenspan.  The dough was lovely and soft and I took her advice and used my cookie scoop to form the cookies.  This made a lot of cookies, but they didn't last long!

I think when I make them again, I might try drizzling a bit of chocolate on top, or going whole hog and dipping them in chocolate.  Maybe with some crushed peanuts on top of the chocolate.  Yummy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Apple Speculoos Crumble

I love Dorie's Speculoos recipe and so the thought of having crumbled cinnamon cookies on top of baked apples seemed like such a great idea.

I made the Speculoo dough and weighed it out, baking only what I needed.  No surprise, the cookie dough weighs more than the baked cookies, but I had figured that in when I was deciding how many cookies to bake.

Dorie says to break up the cookies with your fingers and to be careful so that they don't turn into teeny, tiny crumbs.  I had the opposite result:  mine were rather chunky.  I debated whether or not to roll them out a bit, but finally decided to go with chunks--I mean, what's the problem with eating cookie chunks in your apple crumble?

My apples are Northern Spy, the best variety, in my opinion, for pies and crisps.  They have fantastic flavor and they soften up when baked but they don't turn mushy.

The result was yummy and my husband's opinion is that he prefers the speculoo cookie topping over my more traditional brown sugar/oats/flour/butter topping.  I'm sure I'll be baking this again!

To see the results of other Tuesday with Dorie Bakers, check out this link.

Speculoos in the bowl

Mixing--sort of--the chunky speculoos and butter.
Northern Spy apples

Out of the oven

With ice cream

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

I am so very excited to be baking cookies out of Dorie Greenspan's new book, Dorie's Cookies!  I baked three different recipes within days of when the book arrived and they are each unique and wonderful.  I'm so used to baking recipes from her other books, that I usually only need to look at the ingredients because I have internalized the instructions.  But what a pleasure to read and try these new recipes!

One of the first batches of cookies I baked was Chocolate Sandwich Cookies.  The dough is very easy to work with chocolate dough, made with cocoa.  Dorie had some great hints about rolling out the dough but since I haven't bought spacers yet, I just rolled it out as evenly as possible, stuck it in the freezer and cut the rounds when I was ready to bake.

They baked up perfectly--I was surprised at how well they held their shape.

The filling is simple, spreads well, tasted great and was just the right amount.

I took these to a potluck pig roast and they were much enjoyed by all.  One woman asked about them before she tried them and took just one.  Soon she was back for another ...and another ...and another!  I think I'll be making these again and I look forward to "playing around" with them.

We're off to a good start with Dorie's Cookies!  Check here to see what the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers baked this week.

Mixing the butter and confectioner's sugar

The dry ingredients:  cocoa from Mexico, flour, etc.

An artistically stacked pile of cookies

Easy to eat three at time

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping

It's apple and pear season and so this week the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers baked another apple-y/pear-y dessert.   Last fall, I baked the Pear Tart with Crunchy Almond Topping recipe, but the pears I had on hand were brown and icky on the inside when I cut them up so I ended up using mostly apples.  It was delicious, but this year, I was luckier in my pear selection.

The tart is Dorie's basic sweet tart dough for a base, with a filling of diced pears that have been sautéed in butter with a little sugar added to caramelize them and a little brandy to add some kick.  The tart is topped with a very simple topping of sliced almonds, egg whites and confectioner's sugar.

One of the many reasons that I am a fan of Dorie Greenspan and her cookbooks is that the fun she has when baking is apparent in the way she writes her recipes.  She tells you, for example, that the best tool for mixing the topping is to use your fingers.  How wonderfully satisfying it is to play with food!

Everything went together well and we enjoyed this delicious tart with a little scoop of ice cream.

Check out the blogs of other Tuesday with Dorie bakers here.

And one last thing:  I would be completely remiss if I didn't mention that yesterday UPS delivered my copy of Dorie's Cookies!  I am absolutely grinning with excitement as I anticipate baking all of the wonderful recipes in her new book.  Yayyyy!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Custardy Apple Squares

The local apples are just coming in and they seem especially delicious this year.  Or maybe I'm forgetting that here in upstate New York we have absolutely terrific apples.  At any rate, I'm happy to be baking with them.

This week I made Dorie Greenspan's Custardy Apple Squares.  It's sort of a cake however there is very little cake batter and lots of thinly sliced apples.  The only tricky part is slicing the apples but this time I used a madeleine so it wasn't tricky at all.

Here are the ingredients, all assembled.
(I did add rum, which didn't make it into the photo!)

And the final product, out of the oven and ready to serve.

My husband was hosting a meeting at our house last night and this was perfect:  seasonal, not too heavy, pretty to look at, and went well with tea.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Apple Tarte Flambé

The apples are just beginning to show up at the farm markets and I am reminded how much I enjoy them.  This week I had the chance to bake something new from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi: Apple Tarte Flambé.

It's a yeast dough rolled very thin, topped with a mixture of cream cheese, yogurt, cream, and sugar, with a layer of thinly sliced apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.  An apple pizza!

Along with apple season, we also get cooler weather.  It was hard to find a warm place for the dough to rise but my son told me a trick he uses when baking bread.  On his advice, I heated a mug of water in the microwave. I left the hot water in the microwave and put my bowl of dough in, too.  Without turning the microwave on, I just left the dough in there for a couple of hours.  Actually, it was more than a couple of hours, but the dough had risen perfectly by the time I was ready to roll it out.

Dorie suggests that both the baker and the dough need to relax.  So I rolled, covered it up, rested, rolled again.  I probably did that three times, getting it as thin as I could.  I slid it into a hot oven onto the baking stone and baked for one minute.  Dorie suggests heating the oven as high as it will go which for me was about 500 degrees.  Hotter is probably better.

Here are the only pictures I took:

The apples sliced paper thin.
Filling spread on the crust.  A layer of apples were added next.

The finished tarte, ready to eat!
I chose to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and this is how it turned out!  It was delicious!

Check out what other Tuesday with Dorie bakers baked this week!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies

It has been a while since I posted with the Tuesday's With Dorie group, even though I've been baking regularly.  True, I have been away for a month during the summer (once to Massachusetts and another  time to Seattle/Portland/Chicago), but part of the reason I didn't bake from the book and post about some of the summer choices has been because our season here in upstate New York is late so when everyone else had strawberries, then blueberries and peaches, we were still anxiously anticipating these lovely fruits.

But chocolate is always available so this week I made Edouard's Chocolate Chip Cookies found on page 298 of Dorie's Baking Chez Moi.  I once did a series of tests about chocolate chip cookies, baking two batches a week for about 15-20 weeks in a row.  I served them to guests and asked them to rate and describe the cookies.  What I discovered was that everyone has a personal notion of the "perfect" chocolate chip cookie.  Some folks like soft and others like crisp.  Some like semi-sweet chocolate and others prefer bittersweet or even milk chocolate.  Some people think the cookie can't be perfect unless it has pecans and others think that nuts of any kind ruin their chocolate chip cookies.

Edouard's cookies have ground almonds which give them a bit of heft and a lovely flavor.  When I served them to my guests at a recent music party, they were completely consumed, even though there were home-made Swedish cinnamon rolls, zucchini bread, and a healthy assortment of veggies from which to choose.   People begged for the recipe and told me that these cookies were so good that it was impossible to stop eating them.

Even thought I'm one of those people who prefers pecans in her chocolate chip cookies, I very much enjoyed this version of a standard American favorite.  To see what other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers made this week, look here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tarte Tropézienne

While this tarte appears amazingly sophisticated, it is actually not all that hard to bake.  Just a tremendous exercise in patience, planning, and allowing plenty of time.  Maybe I had extra confidence in my ability to bake this because when Dorie Greenspan was on a book tour in September 2014 with Baking Chez Moi, I was lucky enough to see her in Seattle.  And this was one of the wonderful samples that we were able to taste!

Dorie speaking in Seattle

My sample Tarte Tropézienne with the book that Dorie later autographed.

I didn't take many pictures when I baked this time, but here is the beautiful brioche dough, the lovely--albeit not perfectly round-- cake out of the oven, and the finished product.  I loved using the pearl sugar which somehow made this look unusually special.

Interestingly, not long after I baked this I was in a fancy local bakery and saw tiny slivers of Tarte Tropézienne being sold for $4.50!  They looked good, but I found myself feeling quite satisfied that I had baked this lovely dessert myself.

To see what other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers had to say about this recipe, check out the Tuesdays with Dorie web page.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Betty's Chocoholic Cake

Who wouldn't want to bake (and eat!) a beautiful chocolate cake from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking Chez Moi?  This cake has lots and lots of chocolate and lots and lots of butter.  It is therefore intensely chocolate-y . . . and much enjoyed by my guests.

Dorie suggests decorating the cake with white chocolate curls.  I am never completely pleased with the result of my chocolate curls.   I use a vegetable peeler that is sharp and I try to warm the chocolate a bit before attempting to cut the curls, but the result seems to resemble shavings rather than curls.  Any suggestions?

Melting butter and chocolate.

Beating the egg yolks.

I love the technique for making the ganache:  pour  boiled cream over chocolate, let sit for 30 seconds, then gently stir in concentric circles.  Baking is so much fun!

Beautiful ganache.

Working on spreading the ganache.

Cleaned up plate and white chocolate curls added.

Two of the folks at our dinner.  I managed to get a photo before the cake was entirely consumed!

For more examples of this lovely cake, check out the blogs of other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cocoa Crunch Meringue Cookies

Sometimes I think that I like Dorie Greenspan's cookies the best.  At least I think that until I make a lovely tart, or cake, or scones, or muffins.  This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers chose between the Jammer Galette and Cocoa Crunch Meringue Cookies.  I just finished baking the cookies and my husband, the always-willing taste tester, says:  "I REALLY like these cookies!"

They are lovely gems--two cocoa, crunchy meringues sandwiching a delightful chocolate ganache.  The recipe only makes 8 sandwiches, which is just as well because we would have eaten as many as there were available.

Whipping up the meringue

Cocoa mixture and chopped almonds, ready to add

The circles I drew to serve as a guide for the cookies.

The ganache, coming to room temperature to be spread on the cookies.

The meringues out of the oven (minus two "rejects" which were eaten before they could be spread with ganache.)

The finished sandwiches!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jammer Galette

I really liked this recipe!  And if you plan ahead, it is super simple.  Basically, it's a big shortbread cookie topped with preserves and heavily covered with a lovely streusel.  You can make the crust and streusel ahead of time and how hard is it to open a jar of preserves?!  I actually made it twice in the past couple of weeks--once with raspberry preserves and the second time with 4-berry preserves.  Sorry I didn't get a photo of it on the serving plate, but I shared each of the galettes at events with friends and before I knew it, it was all gone!  I'm sure I'll be baking this again.

To see how other Tuesday with Dorie bakers fared this month, be sure to check here.