Category Archives: sweet

Sneezing my way through Denmark

It´s Daring Bakers´ time, people! Yep, I´m back. This month, our gracious hosts are Kelly of Sass and Veracity and Ben of What´s cooking, and they chose a great recipe that lends itself to make shapes and fillings: Danish braid with a wonderfully aromatic cardamom-orange flavored dough.

Danish braid

We were given the chance to do whichever filling we wanted and even play with the shapes once we had done a braid since the recipe shields two big braids. I was planning on doing just that yet the flu caught up with me.

And to make matters worse for me, I was doing the braids for Father´s day, so I was going to have to suck it up and get the recipe done. So I divided the recipe in two days and baked at my “high” moment, meaning those few hours when the flu meds did the trick and I felt somewhat normal.

Since I had seen fresh quinces around, I chose to do a quince compote and apple filling. And since many people are still unfamiliar with quinces, I did a little step-by-step photo shoot to show you the progress from fruit to compote since the change in color itself can be quite confusing.

Quinces

Danish braid

I love how it turned out and the dough is quite versatile so I see myself playing with this again, you know, when I´m not with the flu and I have the uncontrollable urge to fold and turn, then chill, and then fold and turn again.

Danish braid
If you want to check out endless, and I´m sure endlessly creative, variations of this recipe, check out what my fellow Daring Bakers did this month.

Oh, and let me know if you are interested in the quince compote recipe because I´m lazy when it comes to typing up recipes, but you know I´d do anything for you, my dears 😉

UPDATED WITH POACHED QUINCES RECIPE AFTER THE JUMP

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Filed under bread, Daring bakers, food, sweet

Here comes the sun, do do do do

Charleston

I´m having the worst case of writer´s block when it comes to writing about this trip, I don´t know why, maybe subconsciously I don´t want it to be over, so I let it be an unfinished business… but it really isn´t a good idea waiting this long to write because, with my memory, that´s not a luxury I can afford. Before long, I´ll be like Helene, who was that? (kidding!).

Charleston 2

So Charleston was so damn beautiful there are going to have to invent a new word for it, it´s just calm, sunny, breezy, just what I needed to relax before going back to New York. And I had the best hostess ever, the lovely Helene of Tartelette, who made me feel as if her home was my own for those four days I was there. And I even got to “borrow” her dog Tippy to help me not miss Phoebe as much, and of course, he was delighted to surrender to my attention. I also had my very own history professor (Helene´s hubby) to show me around town and even do things that were totally beneath him, like fixing one of my necklaces, poor guy, I´m very high-maintenance haha

And to relax after all my hard work, we went to the dock down the street to relax with the neighbors as the sun descended, and eat some chips and salsa. And just to make matters even more idyllic, a little dolphin and its mom came out to play! (you can see their fins in the second picture below if you look closely).

Charleston 3

So by now you are wondering to yourself if I was crazy because I was with Helene and didn´t do any cooking apparently, right? Well, you´d be wrong to judge me like that, we certainly did some cooking here and there, like homemade pizza, some pasta, a homemade crumble with loquats and different fruits, and of course, I had to make her teach me how to make a proper macaron, since I had never tasted one, let alone make it myself! And I´m proud to say they turned out quite well, so I´m going to try them again soon.

Charleston 4

And I ate the best strawberries I´ve ever tasted on my last day there. We picked them up ourselves at the Boone Hall Plantation, and they were just amazing, ripe to the very core, and sweet as can be… I´m still dreaming about them now that we are starting winter here and it´ll be months until I try another strawberry.

I feel as if I´m leaving so much out, but this will have to do for now because if I keep reminiscing, I´d take the next plane and head back out there!

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Filed under food, rambling, sweet, travel

Manises x dos

Today we have another installment in my 2-for-1 peanut butter recipe saga. For someone who´s just starting to cook with peanut butter, I´m certainly making up for the lost time lately.

But it couldn´t be helped. You see, I checked the peanut butter jar I had bought a few months ago, and its best by date was just around the corner, so I listened to the devil angel on my shoulder, and set about disposing of that jar in the most honorable way…

peanut butter chocolate brownies

peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chunkers

Which, needless to say, leads us to cookies, and brownies. For the cookies, I turned to the almighty Dorie, and she delivered since these cookies have three delicious elements which are combined to give life to some seriously heavenly morsels: chocolate, oats, and peanut butter.

peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chunkers

And for the brownies, I simply created a recipe using my typical brownie recipe as a starting point. Basically, I substituted peanut butter for the butter and added an extra tablespoon of regular butter just in case, and altered the cocoa amount slightly to get the right consistency.

The result was wonderful, and even served as a kick-ass dessert when I took some brownies I had left in the freezer and served them along this ridiculously-easy banana ice cream with a drizzle of dulce de leche sauce on top (no pictures though because it was around midnight and the girls devoured it.)

And you tell me if Phoebe isn´t the best-behaved dog ever… just look at her pondering about life´s mysteries while there are brownies right next to her!

peanut butter chocolate brownies

Oh, and speaking of peanut butter recipes, I came across this other peanut butter brownie recipe today by Dorie which looks very promising.

So now you certainly know what to do with a jar of peanut butter… it´s so good to be THIS useful, now I finally feel like I´m saving the world, one crisis at a time.

peanut butter chocolate brownies

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Not so perfect

To keep the birthday theme going for yet another post, this month Daring Baker challenge chosen by Morven was Dorie Greenspan´s Perfect Party Cake, which made the perfect choice for one of my birthday cakes.

with caramel sauce

Yet even though it turned out delicious, it was one of those near disaster stories. As wise people know, it´s not… well, wise, to bake when you are tired, in a hurry, and have a massive headache from the previous night´s festivities.

But the clock was ticking and it was my one opportunity to make the challenge, so I forged ahead. And I had a few problems: first of all, the cakes were quite flat (it might be the lack of cake flour in Argentina, so I had to use all purpose minus 2 tablespoons per cup), which had me rushing to make a third cake to create more height, but said cake broke into pieces when trying to unmold it, so I had to make do with a 2 layer cake instead of a 4 layer cake because I didn´t dare splitting my thin cakes into 2.

my cousin Martin

I had earlier on decided to skip the buttercream and use flavored whipped cream instead because I´m not a big fan of buttercream and I think I mentioned I was a BIT stressed out, so the simpler, the better. So my flavor combo was coconut whipped cream + dulce de leche, just because dulce de leche and coconut are those flavor combos destined to live happily ever after.

dripping

Another problem I had was not having two cake pans of the exact same size and not having enough time to make two batches, hence the irregular shape of my so-not-perfect cake.

Once assembled, the cake looked a bit blah, so I drizzled some of the leftover caramel sauce I had from this other cake, and it improved quite a bit.

all-white version

And, stress and all, everyone raved about the flavor of the cake. The lemon zest in the cake (I didn´t use the lemon extract because I´m not too fond of extracts) was the perfect complement to the sweetness of the dulce de leche and the coconut. And the texture of the cake was delightfully spongy even though it hadn´t risen much. So this one might call for a repeat performance.

If you want to see much more polished versions of this cake, check out the creations of the rest of the Daring Bakers. And if you don´t have time to see them all, at least check out Helene´s version, it´s so chic it hurts.

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Having your cake, and eating it too

So the birthday parties were a blast, but did leave this birthday girl a bit exhausted (I guess I am getting old!). Luckily, my gym gave me a free massage for my bday, so I´m all better now, and ready for a quick recap of the menus.

On Friday, I made a simple meal that didn´t need knives and forks, because, well, I really don´t have that many forks! So it was time for homemade burgers (with store-bought buns because making the buns would have added another layer of stress, and another layer of dirt to my overworked, tiny kitchen). As a “starter”, I served these arugula-sundried tomato-prosciutto-cheese bread rolls I discovered last year… which, incidentally, if you haven´t made them, you really, really should, trust me on this one.

tomato-arugula rolls 2

And for dessert/birthday cake, I went with something that had no way of going wrong: Dorie´s Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake. It was marvelous, as is to be expected, but I think next time, I´m gonna underbake the cake even more because it came out a bit drier than brownie-style cakes are meant to be even though I baked it for 30 minutes instead of the 40-45 indicated in the recipe. Other than that, the cake is a keeper, especially the caramel sauce (which produces about half a cup of extra sauce and Dorie instructs to reheat later on with some more cream and drizzle on ice cream… I haven´t tried that yet, but I see that working and I also envision that sauce over homemade flan, that would be just sigh-inducing deliciousness.)

IMG_3407

IMG_3434

IMG_3424

I´ll tell you about Saturday´s menu next time, but in the meantime, I´d like to recommend another recipe I made for my birthday (this time for the pre-bday party on Thursday night): David Levovitz Black bottom cupcakes. The combination is very interesting and easy to whip up. Though next time I´m gonna try making my spoonfuls of unsweetened cocoa a bit skimpier because I´ve discovered there is such thing as too much chocolate sometimes.

black bottom cupcakes

black bottom cupcakes

birthday party number 1

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Dark and handsome

It´s not that I´m feeling uninspired in general at all. Daydreaming about new apartments and my trip has been my favorite pass-time lately. But it might be that food and I are trying to find some middle ground (like still loving each other but going easy on sweets and stuff like that,) and when that happens, I don´t want to be thinking or writing about that particular chocolate cake that made me swoon last month but I´d better not recall while on a “diet” and PMSing.

But I hate not writing here for that long, and that chocolate cake was too good not to pass along. So here it is:

Chocolate-beer cake

It uses stout beer and unsweetened cocoa, and it´s covered with a velvety ganache on top. And I don´t even like beer in general, but here it compliments the chocolate beautifully because it creates a subtle contrast to the sweetness.

Chocolate-beer cake

And since it´s most likely winter where you are right now instead of summer like in Buenos Aires, I urge you to make it today, it´s that good, and bathing suits are far, far away.

Chocolate-beer cake

PS: I´ve just updated and reorganized the Recipe Index you can find above the header, so drop by to get some fresh, or not so fresh, ideas.

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How to do acid…

…well, using lemon of course. Even though this isn´t really the best season for lemon desserts here, I have always been a sucker for lemon meringue pie, so when Jen chose it for our January challenge I was delighted. Yes, the lemons wouldn´t be the most lemony they can be, but it was the first challenge with something I had made before, so I must admit deep inside a little voice said “hell, yeah, something easy!”

lemon meringue pies

But then I started reading comments by other Daring Bakers in our blog crying over liquidy lemon curds and I started to worry a little bit, maybe 15 minutes in the oven after the curd had set were a bit too much… I didn´t really fancy the idea of lemon-meringue soup.

lemon meringue pies

lemon meringue pie

Yet luckily, it all turned out fine, except for the fact that the meringue started “weeping” after a few hours, which was very annoying and made a mess, and ended up with one sticky Phoebe… though that should teach her not to be around begging for food when I´m unmolding a tart!

The curd wasn´t my favorite either, but that could be the weaker lemons anyway. As for the meringue and the weeping-shrinking problem, I´ll go back to my usual French meringue or Italian meringue recipe and that should fix it (French meringue requiring you to heat up the whites with the sugar a little bit and then whisking the meringue, and Italian meringue using a hot water-sugar syrup instead of granulated sugar: what you want to do is cook the egg whites so that the meringue sets better and has a better staying power.)

lemon pie

As for the decoration, there wasn´t really much going on except for the variation I did using lemon curd topped with softened guava paste I had laying around and wanted to use somewhere. Oh, and I do use cherries to decorate EVERYTHING these days, can´t help it!

lemon meringue pie

lemon meringue pie

Check out Jen´s blog for the recipe, and the other DBs takes on the recipe, it´s bound to be hilarious with all the mixed reactions to the recipe and the disaster stories!

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