Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chocolate Peant Butter Pie - by Summer

I was excited to make this pie because I love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.  Once again I used my book club as guinea pigs for this recipe, so I didn't make it until the last day of the month which is when book club met.  The crust was an easy graham cracker crust.
One thing I discovered while making this recipe is that as much as I love my stand mixer, I don't think it holds up to mixing small amounts of ingredients.  The peanut butter filling called for 1/3 cup of cream to be whipped.  I put it in the stand mixer and it took forever to whip!  Fortunately I have a hand-held mixer, so I used that to finish up the rest of the peanut butter filling.  It was so easy and I need to remember that as much as I love my Kitchen Aid, sometimes the hand mixer is actually better.  Anyone else have this experience?
I will agree with Lisa that chopping up chocolate stinks!  I wish Karla came to visit me to help too :-)  I also realized that I was one oz. short of semi-sweet chocolate, so I used an ounce of bittersweet.  Anyhow - the topping was super easy to make.  Actually, the whole pie was pretty simple.  There are a few steps, but they are all really easy.
This was another hit at book club.  I really enjoyed the chocolate/peanut butter combination.  I wasn't in love with the crust, although I don't really know what type of crust would be better.  Maybe a chocolate graham cracker?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Double Apple Struesel Coffee Cake - by Summer

I actually made this recipe a week ago, but due to storage issues on my computer, I wasn't able to download the picture until today!  It's sort of hard to recall this recipe because I made it so long ago and inbetween that time, I threw a party for my son's 1st birthday!

I made this because we were having a bunch of people in town and I thought it would make a good breakfast one day. It's very easy to pull together, although it's one of those recipes with certain ingredients needing to be room temperature.

The double apple from the title comes from applesauce and an actual apple.  I used a golden delicious because I like baking with those.  You don't need a mixer, so that was nice.  It puffed up quite a bit while baking, and I was worried the pan was too small, but it didn't overflow.

I thought this was super sweet.  Almost too sweet for a breakfast, but not really something I would want for dessert either.  Perhaps making it for brunch to go along with something not sweet would be the way to go. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lime-Glazed Citrus Tea Cakes - by Lisa

I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed these cakes! This was one of the recipes I chose for this month, and I'm really pleased with how they turned out! (As were all my house guests!) I totally agree with Summer about how these seem like a perfect for Spring kind of cake. I could totally see enjoying these as part of an Easter brunch.

They were pretty easy to make, despite the mildly time consuming portion of adding in fresh grated lemon peel, fresh squeezed orange juice and fresh squeezed lime juice. BUT it is obvious that adding in all these super fresh ingredients makes a huge difference in how the cake tastes.

The cakes themselves were incredibly moist and even a touch spongy. I was afraid it would be a drier cake, but I should've realized the sour cream would give these cakes a more tender crumb. I also really liked the zippy tartness of the lime glaze. I never would have thought to make a glaze with lime juice but it was the perfect accent for this citrus cake. I am looking forward to making these again!!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie - by Lisa

I have to say, you really can't go wrong with a salty sweet treat AND one that includes both chocolate and peanut butter! I purposely saved this pie for when my sister, Karla, and my niece, Katie, were visiting. Glad I did because it was a hit! :)

I cheated a little bit and had Karla and Katie help me make this. Karla is an exceptional baker, and I was excited to do a little bit of baking with her while she was here! The best part was that she rescued me from the step that I always complain about - chopping the chocolate. Woo hoo! :)

This was a pretty easy pie to put together, although it did require a few more bowls/dishes than I expected. I originally had aspirations of enjoying this pie an hour or so after dinner, but time got away from us during the day. The combined 4 hour chill time meant that we got to enjoy this treat as a bedtime snack. :) I also inadvertently delayed the process as I had misjudged how much peanut butter I had left. I had to make an emergency phone call to Hubby who fortunately had no problem swinging by the store on his way home to replenish our stock.

This was a super rich pie! The peanut butter portion was creamy and light, and the chocolate topping was a bit firmer than I expected, but it all came together quite nicely. My only problem was with the crust. For some reason it didn't hold up too well and was particularly crumbly. It will be interesting to see if it changed at all after 24 hours of refrigeration. Nevertheless, it was enjoyed by all and there was hardly a crumb left on anyone's plate! :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coffee-Chocolate Chip Blondies - by Lisa

Really, the title of this entry should read Coffee Chocolate Chip Blondies - by Lisa because I made these without the espresso powder since I wanted to enjoy eating them. :) As I've mentioned in other posts, I don't drink coffee, and consequently I don't like anything coffee flavored. The beauty of baking at home is that you can control things like this to give you a flavor you enjoy! :) I am so glad that I did omit the espresso powder because I LOVED THIS DESSERT! I don't think I've ever really had blondies before, but to me these were like the most perfect chocolate chip bar cookies. They were soft, a little chewy, wonderfully flavored and simply hit the spot. These are for sure on my favorite list.

So I was going to make these last weekend, but I've been fighting a cold that has been kicking my butt all week. I'm relieved that they were indeed easy to pull together. I chose to do this one because I happened to have all the ingredients already on hand. (I forgot to mention that I also skipped out on the walnuts because I don't really enjoy nuts in baked goods.)

I made it earlier in the day, so it had plenty of time to cool by the time we were ready to cut into it. I don't really have any details to report aside from finding it a pleasant change to not have to use my stand mixer (as Summer also noted). As you can probably guess, I will definitely be making these again! (And again and again and again.)

Lime-Glazed Citrus Tea Cakes - by Summer

Usually when I set about making a recipe for this project, I typically try to plan out the best time for it.  Maybe we'll be having company for dinner or it's book club or something special is coming up.  For the remaining two recipes this month, I have very specific plans, but for these little cakes, I really didn't have anything coming up.  So this afternoon as my son was tearing apart my kitchen cabinets, I decided to make these little cakes.

I pretty much had everything on hand to make them except lime juice for the glaze and a lemon for the zest.  Fortunately I do my grocery shopping on Sundays, so I picked some up earlier in the day and I was good to go!  I also don't have 8 x 4 pans.  This recipe makes enough for two of those.  I have slightly smaller pans, so I used three of them instead.  I adjusted the baking time, so instead of 40 minutes, I checked them after 30.  They bake about 5 minutes longer and were perfect.

This is a tasty little cake.  I think it's perfect for this time of year as it seems "springy" to me and spring is right around the corner (right?!)  I really liked the lime glaze on top too.  I would definitely make these cakes to bring as a hostess gift.  I also think they would work well for a brunch in the spring or summer time.  I will definitely make these again!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coffee-Chocolate Chip Blondies - by Summer

I have never made blondies before.  I am a chocolate gal, so I usually turn to brownies when I want something quick and easy to make.  I was curious about these because they include espresso powder.  I actually went to the store and bought some for the first time.  It's sort of hard to find, but now I have it!

These bars come together really quick.  You melt the butter and brown sugar, which means you don't need to have the butter at room temperature!  Although, I did actually have it set out for awhile, so mine was.  Anyhow - there's no need for a mixer with this recipe, which was a nice change of pace.  I also used toasted pecans instead of walnuts for the recipe.

I checked my blondies after about 20 minutes, but they ended up baking for the full 25 minutes.  Once their cooled, the recipe stated that the easiest way to cut them was to put them in the fridge for 20 minutes.  After dinner tonight I just took a knife and started cutting.  I didn't have any problems.

I really like the taste of these a lot.  They were different, but I really liked the taste of the coffee in them.  I definitely can see making these again.  My husband wasn't crazy about them, but I wasn't overly surprised since he likes sweet things less then I do.  If you don't like coffee, then these bars probably aren't for you (sorry Lisa!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Rosemary Biscotti - by Lisa

Wow, the end of February really kind of snuck up on me! I did manage to get this recipe completed by the end of the month tho. Like Summer, I was baking on the last day of the month! Sadly, this recipe is not one I was eager to make nor was I won over by the outcome. At the end of the day, I am just not a fan of biscotti. The only time I have enjoyed it was when an old friend made some which he purposely left untoasted, and I enjoyed the texture and cakey-ness much more.

Anyway, I did appreciate how easy it was ingredients-wise, and I do agree that the rosemary gave it a very enjoyable flavor. At first Hubby thought it tasted a little like marshmallow, which I could totally taste too. But I also must confess that I got rather frustrated with the dough and how sticky it was! I had a hard time getting it into logs because it wouldn't let go of the counter, and then it also would spread within minutes of shaping it.

I had one to taste, and then bagged up the rest to send to work with Hubby.* Hopefully he and his colleagues will get a chance to enjoy them!

*I totally forgot to take a finished product picture. Doh!

Banana Snack Cake - by Summer

I was cutting it pretty close with this cake since I made it on the last day of this month.  I wanted to make it sooner, but I just didn't have the time.  I almost always have bananas on hand in the freezer that are overripe, but I was actually able to use bananas that I had bought earlier last week.  As Lisa mentioned, the cake is really easy to put together.  Pretty similar to banana bread that I make all the time.  I did use a dark pan to bake the cake and as a result, even though I set my timer for the shorter amount of baking time, with 4 minutes left, I could tell from the smell that it was done.  I checked it and sure enough it was.  I should have baked it in a glass pan or reduced the baking time by 5 minutes.

Like Lisa, I planned on making the caramel frosting for this.  I have made caramel sauce a lot in the past, so I wasn't too worried about it.  But I had major issues with the frosting.  To begin with, I don't think I let it boil long enough.  The directions said 1-2 minutes, but I really think I should have let it go a bit longer.  The frosting is very grainy - like the sugar didn't dissolve.  Then went I went to put it in my stand mixer, I wasn't sure which attachment to use.  I picked the paddle and that was a huge mistake!  I ended up calling Lisa because it basically became the consistency of cookie dough!  I switched to the whisk attachment and added more cream to smooth it out, which worked. 

My husband and I tried the cake after dinner and I can't say that either one of us was particularly impressed.  It was ok.  The frosting was really grainy (as mentioned above) and I think I would actually try making a cream cheese frosting for this cake.  To be honest, I can't really see making this one again.  We love banana bread in our family and I would rather use my bananas for that.  I would like to make the frosting again to see what it tastes like when made correctly.

I took a couple of pictures of the cake last night and this morning as I was typing up this blog post, I realized that they were horrible.  So this morning, using good daylight, I cut another piece of cake to take a better picture.  I, of course, had to eat the piece of cake and I really think it tastes better after sitting over night, which is pretty typical with banana bread.