Thursday, 30 September 2010

Her results - Rice Krispies Treats

As expected, the Rice Krispie Treats were ridiculously easy to make, satisfyingly chewy and very sweet. There's no wonder why suburban moms coast to coast make batches of these left and right, or why they always pop up at bake sales.

I kept it simple and made the original recipe. It really doesn't get much easier than melting butter and marshmallows, and then adding some cereal. The marshmallows melted quickly:

I wanted my bars to be nice and thick, so I pressed the krispie treats into an 8x8 pan instead of the larger pan mentioned in the recipe. Then I added some toppings for flair. I melted 1.5 bars of Lindt white chocolate in a double boiler and spread it over the top of the uncut bars. When that was done, I lightly pressed a third of a package of coarsely chopped Oreos into the white chocolate.

Can I call "sweet, sweet and more sweet" multi-dimensional? Because I want to claim that the toppings added a nice multi-dimensionality to the flavor. They tasted like, well, Rice Krispie treats, white chocolate and Oreos! Without the toppings, I don't think these would have been nearly as delicious. I wish I could eat one right now, but I followed the advice and made sure they were all eaten within 24 hours. They stayed nice and crispy!

I was left with half a box of Rice Krispies. I'm not a big fan of cereal, but I've been having them for breakfast with blueberries and bananas. It has been a pretty tasty way to deal with the surfeit, but I'm happy there's just one serving left.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Recipe 28 - Rice Krispies Treats

I feel like a corporate tool, but a visit to Dylan's Candy Bar left me a huge fan of The Crispery's Individual Crispycakes, which in turn has made me choose The Original Rice Krispies Treats as this week's recipe. The treat I tried at the mall had a layer of fluffy marshmallow and crushed oreo sandwiched between two layers of krispie treats. I searched high and low for a recipe that would more closely replicate it, but I couldn't find recipes for authentic knockoffs. We'll mix things up a bit, but this will be the base for our dessert this weekend:

3 T. butter
10 oz. marshmallows
6 c. Rice Krispies®

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

For best results, use fresh marshmallows.
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème can be substituted for marshmallows.
Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container.
To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Her results -Lemon Sponge Pie

I was just eating a slice of our pie and I was overcome with the desire to spread the word. You know the lemon meringue pie that we usually get served? I don't like the gelatinous, mild flavor of its filling. The Lemon Sponge Pie is the antidote to that.

The pie is tart. Its citrus punch is similar to a bold key lime pie. The layer at the top is spongy and airy. Little air bubbles burst open audibly as your fork passes through. Snuggled below is a thicker layer of creamy custard. When I think, "I want some lemon pie," this is what I am talking about.

The crust ended up tasting just right. I worked very quickly and used my food processor. My only failure was to roll it out thinly enough to have a brim of crust around the edge. I'll eventually be able to roll out and transfer a thin circular disc of dough into a pie pan.

I need to start shielding my pies and cakes near the end of baking, or perhaps move the rack down a level. Everything is getting darker on top than I would prefer. Despite the look of it, the taste is not being affected.

Caution, if you don't let your pie cool completely before slicing, it may look like this:

But that may have been the yummiest slice...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

His results -Lemon Sponge Pie

As usual Delia's pastry turned out great. I rolled it out pretty thin and had a fair bit left over. It's sitting in the fridge, I'll make a rough tart out of it in a little while.

The filling was a mixed bag. Realistically it went a little wrong. It wasn't a sponge at all. In fact it turned into a pastry shell filled with lemon curd with a thin sponge topping. I think it was because the lemon mixture was very runny and didn't want to combine with the whites properly. Anyway, forget the reason why it went like that. The important thing is that it was delicious just the way it was! I loved the stuff and so did everybody who tried it. Hooray for happy accidents!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Recipe 27 - Lemon Sponge Pie

I almost chose another chocolate recipe but I thought I'd try to pick something at least a little different. I settled on pie as the best choice. I love it and so does she. It's hard to narrow it down from there though. The title pie covers wide and varied ground. I almost chose two others but finally settled on this recipe from the Food Librarian.

We'll also make a pie crust. As ever, Delia shall guide the way. We'll use 150g of flour.

Pastry ingredients:

150g flour
75g butter or lard (at room temperature)
pinch of salt
some cold, or iced, water

and for the filling we'll need:

3 large eggs, separated
2 T grated lemon peel
160 ml lemon juice
240 ml milk
300g sugar
40g flour
1/4 tsp salt

We're going to bake a day early this week. I'm glad because I'm already excited to eat this!

Her results- Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake

Have I told you my theory on fruit desserts? Sorry if I'm repeating myself, but here goes: In order for a fruit dessert to be worth making (worth the time, the effort, the calories, the cost), it has to be as good or better than the unaltered fruit itself. When offered a whole banana or a slice of banana cake, I think a worthwhile banana cake should easily win out. I'm a big fan of fruit, so this this high expectation sets me up for a letdown. I expect the flavor of the fruit to be accentuated during the baking process, and the concoction should make me love bananas with new vigor. If it's not going to do that, why not save myself the effort and just eat a banana! If I'm sticking to my guns, I'm not sure that this cake is worth it. It's tasty, I liked it and I'd even suggest it. But to be controversial and honest, I'd be just as happy eating a banana. That said, I definitely suggest this cake to my more accepting friends.

I enjoyed making the cake. I used water in my sugary topping, and David Lebovitz is right that it works just fine. Layering the bananas into the dish was fun, and I lightly brushed them with lemon juice using my new silicone brush.

The batter was simple and satisfying to make. I put my bananas into the food processor to puree them, which seemed to save me a lot of effort. When I spread the batter onto my prepared pan (as seen above), some of the sugary sauce pooled at the corners and edges (as seen below). I wonder if there's a way to avoid the pooling effect.

As usual, I didn't have to bake my cake quite as long as suggested by the recipe.

When I pulled it out of the oven, one side was a clearly taller than the other. After cooling, the height difference was almost imperceptible, so I flipped it onto a platter and had a look before nabbing a big slice. The cake was simultaneously attractive and unattractive. The overlapping banana slices were a nice touch, but the sugary goop was so thick and dark around the edges that it didn't look as welcoming as it could have. I truly wonder if the right treatment could have keep the topping more evenly distributed.

At any rate, the cake was tasty. I think I'm with David Lebovitz: I liked it best right out of the oven. It's like a spongy banana bread with chocolate chips and a sugary baked banana topping. If that sounds right up your alley (it sounds amazing to me), and if you're less of a fruit snob than I am, then by all means try out this cake. It's a good recipe, and it's not bad on the second and third day, either. By the fourth day it had gotten gummy and unpleasing, so bake it and eat it up within a couple of days, or just peel a banana and start nibbling.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

His results- Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake

David Lebowitz once again proved he writes a mean recipe. This time though I ended up disagreeing
with him slightly.

The cake was a breeze to make. I decided to mash the bananas with a fork but they weren’t quite
ripe enough. That left them a little lumpy. To try and make it a little smoother I passed the lot
through a sieve. That was a pretty poor plan. Be advised that banana will not easily be removed from
those tiny holes!

Everything else went well though and the (very tasty) batter made its way into the pan and into
the oven. I didn’t have a square pan of the right size so I baked it round. This was the first time I’d
baked a cake in this new oven. There’s a main oven and a smaller top oven. Both are electric which
is something I haven’t baked with much before. I decided, in a bid to cut down on energy use, to use
the top oven.

The news was mixed. On the one hand I pulled it out when David said and, unlike with my old oven,
it was perfectly cooked and didn’t need any additional time. On the down side there’s clearly pretty
uneven heating in the top oven so it wasn’t uniformly browned. Some of the delicious syrup had also
bubbled over and burnt onto the bottom of the oven. I’ll know to use the main oven from now on
for baking.

Minor mishaps aside this recipe was a triumph. The cake was moist and rich. You certainly wouldn’t
have known it was relatively low fat. I took slices to my new neighbours and new colleagues. I’ve
spent the days since being stopped by people and told how delicious it was. I really was too. I said I
had one minor disagreement with Mr Lebowitz. He said the cake was best warm on the day it was
made. I found the taste was significantly better the one or two days after baking (it didn’t last any
longer than that, who knows it could have got better still). If you weren’t careful I suppose it could
dry out in that time but I had it well packaged. I can heartily recommend it anyway. Whichever day
you choose to eat it it will be delicious!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Recipe 26 - Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake

I'm sorry to be predictable and choose another David Lebovitz recipe, but since I'm tired, indecisive and distrustful, I'm sticking with the tried and true. I want to make a Banana and Chocolate Chip Upside Down Cake. I wish I had a big slice right here right now. But it'll have to wait until Sunday, because I'm off to bed!

One more thing: I read recently that Chiquita is getting ready to launch a bunch of cool new stickers. Have a look at this article from the NYT.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Her results - Clafoutis

I might be able to eat clafoutis every day for the rest of my life. It meets my major criteria:

Simple? Check!

Fruit? Check!

Relatively healthy? Check!

Delicious? Check!

Since it's unrealistic to eat it every day of my life, I just ate it every day it was IN my life. And I didn't share a bite!

My clafoutis' best aspects were the mild, eggy flavor of the custard and the sweetness of the cherries. That's about all there is to clafoutis, anyway; just a nice, thick, barely-sweet custard dotted with wonderful fruit.

One of the less tangible things I loved about this dessert was it's straightforwardness paired with how uncommon it is in America. I'd never heard of it before and I had no idea how it would be. But it was simple to make, simple to eat, and delicious. And if my grandpa had a bite, he'd simply call it pie. The fussiest thing about this dessert is its name. If I could just use just one word to describe it, it might be "rustic."

Regarding the cherry pits, they were interesting and fun but probably easier to deal with solo than they would have been in a group setting. You might skip them depending upon when and where you plan to eat your clafoutis. I spit mine right out onto my plate, which is something I'd never do in company.

One technical note: Unless your tart pan is deeper and more leakproof than mine, skip the tart ban and go straight for a pie dish!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

His results - Clafoutis

It's been a while since we made this. I still remember how good it was though! I've moved house since we baked it and had to wait until I got a broadband connection to post this. It's put the baking on hold too unfortunately. We should be fine for next weekend though! I'm excited to get back to it.

I decided to make this as traditional as possible. I read around a few more recipes (particularly one by Hugh Furnley-Whitingstall) and followed what I saw. I used cherries (I managed to find some nice English ones pretty cheap) and put them in whole, pits and all. This not only kept the juices contained but also imparted a lovely almondy flavour.

I enjoyed this a huge amount. It was rich and buttery and not too sweet. I'll definately be making this again. If I can't wait until next cherry season I'll try out another fruit.

I'm looking forward to our first recipe in my new kitchen. This oven seems a little better behaved than my old one so hopefully things will bake a little quicker and more reliably.
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