Baked Sunday Mornings: Mississippi Mud Pie (A), aka Coffee Ice Cream Tart

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I have never made (or eaten?!) a Mississippi Mud Pie before and was a little unsure how to approach it. I wasn’t 100% sure what a chocolate wafer cookie was, and the cookie aisle at my local grocery store is not usually one I usually spend a lot of time on. I briefly considered my store bought options then began to think about my homemade ones.

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I realized this could be the perfect time to combine the recipes and techniques of some of my favorite pastry chefs. I was a bit baffled by the crumb section of the Milk Bar cookbook initially but after making a few of the recipes I realized how great it is. You can eat the chunky crumbs alone by the handful, sprinkle them on ice cream, mix them into bars or cookies, use them to plate desserts or make a pie crust with them.

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I’ve been flipping through the Bouchon cookbook again and saw their take on Oreos and that is what I decided to make my crust with.

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It was really quick to mix up the dough in the food processor. I scooped it out when it was still a bit clumpy/crumbly and sprinkled it on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 for about 20 minutes, until the crumbles felt dry and firm but not rock-hard.

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Once I had my crumbs the crust was all set, one batch of TKO dough was too much, but I plan on using the leftovers for something else later. If I had planned on making just the crust I could have halved it and had plenty.

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I loved how deep and dark the dough was–it was barely sweet and rich and a bit salty. I personally love the addition of a good amount of salt in sweet desserts, especially since I knew this one would end up being really sweet with all the other layers.

But if someone didn’t like that then this cookie would definitely be too salty for them. I let the crust chill overnight and made the fudge the next day.

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While the fudge layer chilled I made the coffee ice cream. I was getting anxious to try the pie already so I was tempted to just go buy a pint of coffee ice cream.

But I’ve never made coffee ice cream before and Matt’s recipe looked straightforward and I had all the ingredients so I made up the custard and chilled it for an hour in the fridge then an hour in the freezer instead of four hours in the fridge.

Four hours is a long time to wait when you are trying to get to the eating part of a tasty pie!

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The recipe made the perfect amount for the pie. I was a little bummed to not have any leftover (to sprinkle cookies on?) 😉 but it was pretty satisfying to see all the ice cream hanging out in the pie, ready for the pecans and the final layer of boozy fudge.

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I didn’t toast the pecans first, I just used them straight out of the bag. I had the oven pre-heating then figured I’d just jump to the topping instead and tossed the chopped pecans on top of the ice cream and smooshed them in slightly with the back of a wooden spoon.

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I was really excited about the pie and couldn’t wait to taste it. After all the layers I had made over several days I wasn’t too concerned with how my final product looked. When I cut it the first time the ice cream was a bit soft, but I kind of like it better that way.

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Of course the next day when I had a piece it was firm and easier to cut. (the top picture was from day 2)

I will definitely make this again! It would be the perfect thing to make for a summer birthday for a grownup friend. I did give my boys a bite, but even though they have a summer birthday they always request cake instead of pie.

Go by and see how all my fellow bakers’ pies look!!

Flourless Chocolate Cake With Buttermilk Ganache

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We have friends coming over for dinner tonight and I was lagging a bit with the dessert-making. I really had no idea what I was going to make.

That problem was solved when my sweet husband received a text letting him know that our guest thinks he might be gluten intolerant. C was making brisket tacos so corn tortilla, no big deal.

Since I hadn’t made anything yet I decided to make a flourless chocolate cake so our friend wouldn’t leave feeling stabby pains in his tummy. I think his wife will thank me later. 😉

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I had a nice bar of chocolate on hand so the cake was all set. I got to use an 8″ springform pan that my sweetie bought me when we first met, that I had yet to use for some reason. The batter came together well and went off into the oven while I put G down for a nap.

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I was feeling pretty pleased with myself when I realized I had used all the chocolate and had no heavy cream. So where did that leave me in terms of the topping for the cake? Determined to not be ganache-less I scrambled to find a solution.

I still had buttermilk from last week’s cornmeal griddle cakes so I could use a recipe I found on the King Arthur website, no problem. That just left the chocolate. I thought I had read that 3 tbsp. of cocoa powder plus 1 tbsp. of shortening= 1 oz. of chocolate. That sounded gross to me, but I mixed it up, added sugar to taste and poured the heated buttermilk over it then mixed in the butter.

It looked shiny and as ganache-y as any ganache I’ve ever made and it tasted good, no weird mouthfeel like I had feared. It thickened a bit as it cooled so I frosted the cake while it was still a bit warm.

One of my favorite things about ganache is you just pour it over and it hardens to a shiny, beautiful finish. That didn’t really happen here, as it cooled it lost it’s sheen but if it ends up tasting good then that works for me.

I sprinkled some crystal-flaked salt on top and threw it on my cake stand. I’ll let you know later what the verdict was. 🙂

*adapted from the King Arthur buttermilk ganache recipe:

3 ounces (by weight) buttermilk (I used about 1/2 c)
7 ounces (by weight) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
**since I didn’t have chocolate I used 21 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 7 tbsp shortening and 1/3 c of sugar
1/2 tablespoon butter, cut into 1/8″ pieces and chilled

INSTRUCTIONS:

Ganache is traditionally made with cream, but this works and has an interesting tang to it.

Heat the buttermilk until it just starts to boil, stirring occasionally, then add the chocolate and stir until fully melted.

Add the butter pieces and stir slowly.

Strain through a fine sieve and allow to cool. (The buttermilk will curdle a bit, this removes the lumps.)

^Mine didn’t seem curdly or lumpy so I didn’t strain. Plus, I didn’t feel like it. ^

**The verdict:

I was so pleasantly surprised to find that this cake turned out amazing. I was impressed with how yummy a flour-free dessert could be. The flakey salt on top was a MUST. A tiny piece each was plenty, it was so rich and chocolately. All the kids loved it too. This is a keeper, especially for gluten-free guests. I won’t use the shortening/cocoa powder thing next time, but in a pinch it works very, very well.

Baked Sunday Mornings: Chocolate Malted Madeleines

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When my last baby was first born my husband got a job as the executive chef for a French restaurant. I helped him choose desserts for the initial menu even though, to be perfectly honest French baking intimidates me. (stop staring at me, Bouchon Bakery coobook!)

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I always intended to buy a madeleine pan and give them a shot– I love their soft, spongey texture and delicate seashell scallops–but until this week I never got around to picking one up.

I found a mini madeleine pan at the Home Goods store near my house. I love malt and was really excited about this recipe.

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I started baking these while my boys had friends over for a play date. I figured I would make them a batch of regular basic chocolate chunk cookies while they played. The madeleine batter needs to rest for an hour so that time seemed like the perfect opportunity to whip up some kid-friendly treats.

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I completely discounted the fact that I normally use my weekly baking time as sort of a tasty meditation and having a houseful of kids underfoot in a thunderstorm is maybe not the most relaxing of environments.

But regardless, I was able to shove cookies into the hands of all the littles so I could check on my madeleine batter and get them in the oven. Since I had never made them before I definitely overfilled the pan on the first batch.

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They looked more like chocolate pillows than delicate seaside collectibles so I scaled wayyy back on the batter for the second batch. But the texture was right so I was still excited about them, and guess who doesn’t care about the shape of a cookie? Kids. They didn’t even glance at them before shoving them in their mouths.

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I got the batter amount right the second time and they came out of the oven looking cute and delicate.

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They looked even better when I dusted them with cocoa and malt powder. Despite the chaos going on at my house while I baked this week, I was really happy with the way these turned out.

And now that I have a pan I can try out some classic madeleines. My boys will be decidedly less excited about those since they are on a weird lemon-hating kick right now, but that’s ok. I’m happy to eat them up test them out.

After baking these I did some internet roaming and noticed that there is quite a bit of strong opinion about what constitutes the perfect madeleine.

The ‘hump’ is quite important and it seems you achieve this by first chilling the batter and/or the pans. I had remembered reading about chilling the pans in the Bouchon cookbook but I had no idea it was such a big deal. Interesting.

Side note: Had my middle boy been a girl his name would have been Madeleine. 🙂

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Go see how all my fellow bakers’ yummy tiny cakes turned out!

Next up: Mississippi Mud Pie aka Coffee Ice Cream Tart!!!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

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I was looking forward to making these all week. I had plans to surprise my honey with breakfast before I had to go to work for a bit.

My plans were thrown off first by my sweetie getting sick mid-week, then by a surprising and very weird tragedy that happened to my extended family on Friday.

I almost didn’t make these at all.

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I’m so glad I did take the time out for this project, I was a complete nervous wreck and pretty much just pacing around my house.

Cooking soothes my soul.

I had to slow down and breathe to measure, whisk and mix. Midway through the process (which I was taking my time with since Baby G was down for a nap) I felt stress and tension melt away.

As each element of the recipe came together I felt my thoughts slowing down for the first time all day.

I decide to give making my own butter a try, something I have always wanted to do but had put off because I thought it would be a pain.

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It was so hard to keep mixing the heavy cream after it became gorgeous, perfect whipped cream. I had already added vanilla and some lemon simple syrup (leftover from the candied lemon peel I made for the Lemon Drop cake) and it was heavenly. I bit the bullet and kept mixing.

I was surprised to hear sloshing in the mixing bowl!

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It made exactly one cup of buttermilk, enough for the griddlecakes!

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The cakes cooked up quickly and beautifully. The edges crisped up but the centers were fluffy and not at all gritty or heavy like I was imagining. They were perfect. Even my poor sick husband enjoyed them.

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I topped them with chopped pecans and maple syrup. The recipe made about ten, I used slightly more batter than 1/4 cup.

We at half of them and I’m freezing the other half for school day breakfast for my littles.

I would definitely make these again! (Even though some sizzling hot butter jumped out of the pan and burned my hand when I was cooking the last griddle cake!)

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Head on over for the recipe and to see how everyone else fared!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Alfajores

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I have never eaten an alfajor before, so I was excited to give these a shot. The preparation of the dough was pretty straightforward except there were two things that initially threw me.

1. One cup of corn starch! I’ve never used a cookie that uses corn starch I don’t think, especially not a full cup. But I sifted that right in there, interested in what it would do to the cookies.

2. Rum. Although I saw on a blog that you could optionally use apple cider. Those things seem quite different to me. I didn’t have rum or regular old cider hanging around but I did have some apple ale. I was drinking some as I baked so I just tossed a couple of tablespoons in there. I have no idea if that hurt anything or not, but I couldn’t taste it in either the dough or the finished cookie.

I took the dough out after chilling and rolled it out between two sheets of unfloured parchment paper. That didn’t work too well since the dough was a bit sticky. A bit of flour fixed that right up and they rolled out perfectly.

I was a little worried that I was rolling them too thin, but it seemed that I was getting the proper amount of cookies so I just went with it. Re-rolling the scraps was easy and the dough didn’t seem to be negatively affected by it. (i.e: changing texture)

I had never made dulce de leche before and definitely wanted to give it a shot. I ended up microwaving it instead of using the oven or stovetop method mostly because I recently got a new microwave. It was easy and at the end of the suggested cook time the filling seemed to be the right texture although the color was not a deep amber but more of a light golden brown.

I’m torn as to what to do next time. I may buy a can just to compare taste and texture but I may also try the oven method. I normally value making everything from scratch but dumping some sweetened condensed milk into a bowl and putting it in the microwave is not exactly upping my baking game.

I had planned on filling them the same night I baked them but I got interrupted when baby G woke up needing me. I covered the cookies and tossed the dulce de leche in the fridge.

Honestly, I was a bit disappointed when I went to bed. I tasted the warm cookies and they seemed ok–a hint of lemon from the added zest but I was convinced they were going to harden up overnight and become brittle and crispy.

I do not like crispy cookies.

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When I got up this morning I warmed the filling for a couple of minutes to bring it back up to room temp and started filling the cookies. The dulce de leche was a great consistency: slightly sticky but easy to spread and it went exactly where I wanted it to when I pressed the cookies together.

For some reason I had expected it to be somewhat drippy or hard to manage but it wasn’t at all. The only problem I had was that I filled them with wild abandon on the first half of the cookies then realized I wasn’t going to have enough for all of them and had to greatly reduce the amount of filling I put in the rest of the cookies.

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I sprinkled a bit of sea salt over the top of the caramel before putting the top half of the cookie on. There was a bit of salt added to the sweetened condensed milk to make the dulce de leche but I love a small burst of salt mixed with creamy sweet caramel.

It was quick to fill them all and I topped them with a dusting of sifted confectioners’ sugar. They were really pretty cookies: not super fancy since I used a plain round cookie cutter but still very tempting on the plate.

I was completely blown away when I tasted them. First you taste the candy sweetness of the powdered sugar followed by the faint lovely lemon flavor of the cookie and then the slightly salty creamy- sweet caramel. The cookie is amazingly not crunchy or crumbly at all!! It is perfectly soft and delicate but it holds up to the dulce de leche perfectly.

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I am trying hard not to eat all of the 32 cookies I made but these are the most surprisingly addictive cookies I’ve made!

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Next up: cornmeal griddle cakes! Go over and see what everyone else made today!!

Baked Sunday Mornings: Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

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I was thrilled to make my first recipe as part of Baked Sunday Mornings. Of course last weekend I made a Lemon Drop Cake and yesterday I made the Sweet & Salty cake but this my first time following the official baking schedule.

I was relieved that it was a quick and simple recipe so I could still have lots of time to celebrate my man’s birthday. I bought raw hazelnuts from Whole Foods last week when I was shopping for good chocolate for the cake. It was hard to gauge in cups at the bulk bin so I accidentally bought $15 worth of nuts, twice as much as I needed. Now I know why Nutella is so expensive: those suckers are not cheap. But the good news is they are immensely tasty so having extra on hand is not a bad thing.

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I roasted all of the nuts at once and spent the next day or so removing the skins at my leisure. I first rubbed them with a damp towel, as the recipe suggested. With the skins that remained I either slipped them off or rubbed handfuls between my hands to gently remove them. I don’t think you need to have totally naked hazelnuts, but the papery skins need to go so they don’t mess with the texture of the spread.

I am always amazed and delighted whenever whole nuts liquefy and turn to butter. However, my small 4 cup food processor was not so excited. 😦

My husband wanted to buy the big daddy when we were first looking at them but for some reason I vetoed it. Big mistake. I wasn’t too worried about it burning out but if I was I would have taken the hazelnuts out once they liquefied and mixed in the other ingredients by hand.

I didn’t do that and the motor did get a good workout. I smelled a bit of burning machinery towards the end. I won’t be sad if I’m forced to buy a bigger food processor! 😉

I didn’t use hazelnut oil, the nuts were expensive enough so I didn’t want to buy any more special ingredients. I used grapeseed oil which was fine but next time I would definitely use hazelnut oil so it could impart more warm nuttiness to the finished product.

The spread was perfect and yummy and will be happily spread on apples–done already 😉 and over toast and crackers and maybe biscuits or scones. We are definitely fans of Nutella here and homemade is even better!

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See you next week!! Next up: alfajores! Don’t forget to head over and see what everyone else did this week!

Piñata Cake!

I am finally making a piñata cake for my boys. I wasn’t paying attention the first time I read the recipe and didn’t realize I didn’t need special pans for it, you just bake the cakes in heat-safe bowls. Genius!!

My big littles will be home tomorrow afternoon and on Friday I promised them the cake would be ready upon their return.

The original recipe calls for white cake mix, which I’m sure you know I believe is an abomination so I borrowed a recipe from my friend, L who has already made the cake.

*L’s Easter Piñata Cake:

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The white cake was easy enough to make, it used a slightly different technique than I’m used to for most cakes, but the batter was light and fluffy and tasted yummy when I licked cleaned the spatula.

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The only thing I’m a little nervous about is baking in bowls, since I’ve never done it before. The cakes are in the oven so I guess we’ll see! I hope I can get them out cleanly, but I’ll keep you posted!!

Are you doing any baking this weekend?

Meyer Lemon Curd Gelato

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I received the Ciao Bella cook book for Christmas, along with the ice cream attachment for my KitchenAid. I have used the attachment four times now and both times I used the Ciao Bella recipes they turned out perfectly.

I wanted to use up the last of the Meyer lemons I bought for Easter as well as the last 1/4 cup or so of leftover lemon curd that I still had on hand. The plain base is perfect for pretty much any flavor you want to add to it, or you can add vanilla beans and/or extract and leave it as is.

Ciao Bella gelato is sold in Whole Foods Market, but making ice cream is so easy I really don’t think I’ll ever buy it again.

The book also had a recipe for lemon gelato that used the plain base plus 2 tsp. zest and 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice. I had 3 lemons to use up and that amounted to 1/2 cup of juice and so that is what I whisked in. I zested only 2 of the lemons–naked lemons are so weird! ;)–and also whisked in the remaining curd and added a bit of vanilla extract.

The resulting gelato was gently tart and creamy and the zest created beautiful orangey flecks– I was really pleased with it. The only issue I have with the Ciao Bella recipes is that it only makes about a quart which is just not enough for a family of 5.

Next time I think I will at least double the recipe and see how that works out.

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*adapted from the ciao bella book of gelato and sorbetto

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar

Directions

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and mixture reaches a temperature of 170 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper egg yolks by very slowly pouring in hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return custard to saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185 degrees. Do not bring to a boil.

Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every 5 minutes or so. To cool custard quickly, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water and placing the bowl with the custard in it; stir custard until cooled. Once completely cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight. Makes enough for about 1 quart (or 4 cups) of gelato, realistically about 4 servings.

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Any suggestions on what flavor I should attempt next?

The Sugar Cube by: Kir Jensen

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The other new cook book I purchased recently is one written by a woman in Portland who runs a food cart. I found the book at the library and had to have it. It was definitely right up my alley.

There are a million things I want to make from the book, but the first one I attempted over the weekend was the Black & White Sesame Brittle. I couldn’t find black sesame seeds so I used twice the amount of white and it was fine. I think it would look more striking with both, I’ll try to find them for next time.

I decided to make it as part of the belated-birthday gift I was taking to my boys’ Nana. There was a sesame candy I have had at her house before so I thought she might like it.

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The brittle came out great but it could have gone a tiny bit longer in the pan. It was not quite the deep golden brown it should have been, but I was nervous about overcooking. It’s also not a great idea to make brittle on a humid day, which I did but a little dusting of confectioners’ sugar insured that it wouldn’t get sticky.

I tucked most of it into a round gift tin and kept the tiny bit left over in a ziploc–it’s gone already. It was a big hit in my house and Nana said she enjoyed it too. I can’t wait to try more recipes!

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Have you ever made brittle before? Were you shocked at how fun and easy it is?