Baked Sunday Mornings: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

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These are beautiful, perfect cookies that everyone loves. Their puffy, soft texture and crackly tops get me every time. The only problem is that the recipe only yields 2 dozen and they go quick!

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The only kind of tricky part is browning the butter but that is a skill that I mastered many Snickerdoodles ago, so luckily it didn’t slow me down this time.

Head on over and see if everyone else loved them as much as I did!

Next up: Pumpkin cheesecake bars! Yay, can’t wait! I’ve been itching to buy a few pumpkins! This is one of the best times of year here in Texas!

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Baked Sunday Mornings: Orange Almond Ricotta Cheesecake

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When it came time to bake this cheesecake I realized I had an 8″ and a 10″ springform pan, but not a 9″. Ah, well. We were going to dinner at our friends’ house so the 10″ seemed like the way to go.

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I increased the amounts a bit for the crust to accommodate the bigger pan. I wasn’t sure how far up the filling would go so I extended the crust to the top of the pan. I had a bit of crust leftover, so that went into the freezer to be made into Compost Cookies at some point in the future.

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It seemed to take forever to get to 160 degrees. I know it was because of the bigger pan, but finally after about 80 minutes it was all set. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I pulled it out of the oven ten minutes before we had to leave for dinner. (it’s a bit hard to bake with three littles running around! 😉

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We popped it in their freezer the second we got there and settled in to get some very much-needed grownup conversation/cocktail time. Our five wild boys entertained each other and it was a really nice way to end a stressful week.

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After a lovely dinner of tacos and sampling assorted ciders (we all really want it to be fall now) we decided to cut the cheesecake. It had been in the freezer for about two hours and was chilled through. I forgot to bring almonds for garnish so I had to use a larger amount of sifted powdered sugar to cover the 3 thermometer holes. (I’m so glad I didn’t attempt to eyeball it, I would have seriously under-baked it)

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The verdict from the grownups: it was really great, a nice light way to end a meal and a nice balance with the beverages we were drinking. The kids weren’t as into it at all. The filling wasn’t sweet enough for them, but they did all like the crust.

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I hate to admit that I did not seek out fresh ricotta and I can see how that would have made a huge difference in the filling. I also didn’t buy amaretto, I subbed fresh orange juice instead. I loved the almond-orange combo and would definitely make this again. If I wasn’t going to use fresh ricotta next time I would add a bit of honey or more orange or bite the bullet and buy the amaretto. The filling was nice but not quite perfect. (in my perfectionistic opinion) I did notice that unlike a lot of my cream cheese-based cheesecakes this one didn’t crack at all, the top stayed smooth and beautiful.

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Overall I really really liked it and will definitely add it to the rotation. I love sharing food with family and friends and was glad I could include this cheesecake in our festivities.

Go over and see if my fellow bakers were less cheap/lazy than me and if using fresh ricotta improved their fillings!

Next up: Brown Butter Snickerdoodles….awwww yeah!!!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

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I did NOT want to make this cake. I knew it was going to be delicious, but I just wasn’t in the mood for a layer cake, especially a SIX LAYER cake. I didn’t have an occasion to make it for and I hate having to toss yummy cake that was just too much for us to eat. I had bought the chocolate and heavy cream so I knew I’d end up making the cake, even though I would procrastinate like crazy first.

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I made the layers on Thursday, planning to finish it on Friday in time to share at my PTO night of gossip meeting. That didn’t happen.

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I asked my husband to cut the three layers in half for me, I was terrified of making a giant crumbly mess. He did a great job.

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I procrastinated the buttercream for hours–I put the kids to bed, I cleaned the kitchen from top to bottom….I listened to my favorite podcast…and finally I worked up the nerve to give it a shot. I always did fine with the Baked buttercream, but one batch failed recently when our A/C was acting wonky. I guess the heat just messed it up. But even after several successful cooked buttercreams, it just took that one bad egg to shake my confidence. When it turned out beautiful and fluffy…it was the best feeling in the world. Doing a happy dance in my kitchen at one am–well, I’m glad I was alone. 🙂

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The next step was assembling the layers. It took me a second to realize how to get the layers together without breaking the cakes. I used a flexible cutting board, slid them on and placed them one by one on the yummy buttercream. The layers made me laugh, the looked like Shel Silverstein-style flapjacks…tall and kind of leaning to the side. I didn’t mind.

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Finishing cakes is just not my strong point. I just don’t have enough focus to make them perfect. Once I feel good about the baking process I just want to get to the eating part. I might make it a goal to work on decorating, but right this second I don’t have a lot of interest.

I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the time of day I am baking and what the finished product looks like. When I am doing middle of the night baking (I’m a night owl and sometimes it takes forever to get the youngest boy settled down) my cakes end up looking a bit more…whimsical.

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Why did I choose to use my wavy-frosting comb thing? I don’t know. It was 2am and for some reason I remember thinking ‘it looks kind of like a tree trunk!’ I went to bed with a clean kitchen and a giant cake chilling in the fridge. I giggled a bit when I uncovered it this morning, but loved seeing how great the layers looked and how pretty it looked on the plate. If it had have been a birthday cake I would have covered it with sparkly, pretty candles and sang my loudest to distract from the fact that my cake was a bit imperfect wobbly. Of course my cake testers loved it and proclaimed it the BEST CAKE IN THE WORLD! (they kind of say that about everything I bake ;))

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Go over and see how my fellow bakers fared…did they cut the three cakes into six layers? Did their buttercream turn out? I’m going over to find out now!

Next up: Orange Almond Ricotta Cheesecake…yummy!! (and just one layer!!)