August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Baked Alaska

Fire and ice....I think that pretty much sums up the essence of the Baked Alaska.  I've never made it before so I was looking forward to completing this month's DB challenge.: brown butter pound cake and pistachio ice cream enrobed in a cloud of meringue and then brûléed to  perfection.  

Baked Alaska seems so retro, doesn't it?  Couldn't you just picture Mad Men's Betty Draper, in her finest 60s garb, proudly presenting the Baked Alaska at a dinner party for one of Don's prospective clients?   

The quickest way to brown the meringue is by using a propane torch.  No I'm not a pyromaniac but when you need instant flames that's the only way to go in my opinion.  Don't even bother using those rinky dink torches they sell at houseware stores for making crème brûlée.  They don't have enough BTUs to toast a marshmallow.   Trust me, I've tried them.  Just be careful when using the propane torch.  You might get a bit overzealous like me and burn some of the meringue.  Oh well, still tastes good!

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

August 23, 2010

Coconut Cupcakes with Mango Curd

I think most people have a love/hate relationship with coconut.  Which side are you on?  Me, I'm definitely pro-coconut.  But I caveat that by saying I absolutely love coconut in sweets, not savories.   Oh gosh, not in the savories please.  

These cupcakes have a refreshing tropical flare to them.  The white cake is tender and moist with just a hint of coconut.  The mango curd has a silky texture and a bit of tartness from lime juice, which is a great contrast to the cake and swiss meringue buttercream frosting.  

Just seeing the mounds of coconut piled on top of the cupcake brings a smile to my face.  If you weren't pro-coconut before I challenge you to try this recipe.  Who knows, you just might change your mind.  

August 21, 2010

Pistachio Ice Cream

I'm back on my ice cream kick.  This time I had to make another favorite...pistachio!   Pistachio is what I call my touchstone flavor; it's what I measure all ice cream by, whether it's commercially made or homemade.  Because, I figure, if you can make a fantastic tasting pistachio you can make all the others.  

This ice cream is rich, creamy and bursting with pistachio flavor.   It actually reminds me of the pistachio gelato you'd find in Florence.  Hmmmm...gelato.  It brings back so many great memories of my friends and I travelling in Italy.  I swear I think we had gelato at least three times a day. 

The key to the ice cream's intense flavor is pistachio paste.  It's expensive as hell but it's worth it in this recipe.  I was lucky enough to receive a tub of this liquid gold a while back and I've been hoarding it like crazy ever since, using it almost exclusively for macarons and now ice cream.  I'm down to the last few spoonfuls so you can bet that  I'm savoring every remaining morsel.  

August 20, 2010

CSN Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the $40 CSN gift certificate is...Kayla!  Her favorite bread is toasted ciabatta with butter and pomegranate jelly.  CSN will contact you directly with your prize.  

Thanks to everyone who participated!  The most popular bread seems to be French baguette...good choice!

August 14, 2010

Dutch Oven Bread and a Giveaway

I tend to focus most of my baking on sweets: cakes, cookies, cupcakes, ice creams, etc.  Since I don't really eat what I make, I like to give it away, those extra lbs. have fortuitously been kept at bay.   But lately I've been yearning to bake something different.  Something that I don't normally make and would actually want to keep for myself.  Something like....bread!

There's nothing better than a slice of warm, crusty bread with a smear of creamy butter.   So simple, so straightforward, so delicious.  

I'd heard about a bread that requires almost no-kneading and is baked in a Dutch oven.    Mark Bittman was the first to write about it in the New York Times and then Cook's Illustrated came along and made their little tweaks, as they do so well, and improved upon the recipe.

This bread is so easy to make you wouldn't believe it.  It literally takes less than 5 minutes of prep and the rest of the time is spent letting the dough rise and then baking it in the oven.   Be forewarned: the smell of fresh baked bread permeates throughout your house like a drug.   This bread is crusty, chewy and has great texture; all it needs is your favorite topping. 

Now to the giveaway...

The people at CSN Stores contacted me recently to see if I wanted to participate in a giveaway.  I checked out their websites to make sure everything was legit and I wholeheartedly give them my seal of approval.  It's a great source for  just about anything, especially cookware and bakeware.    

So what's up for grabs?  A  $40 CSN gift certificate.  Why not use it to get your own Dutch oven and bake some of this bread?  Me, I'm partial to Le Creuset.

To enter, just answer the following question in the Comments section of this post by 12pm PST Friday August 20th.  The winner will be chosen randomly.

What's your favorite bread and how do you like to eat it? 

FYI:  One comment per person and you must include your email address to be eligible.  CSN only ships to addresses in the US and Canada.   There may be international shipping charges for Canadian addresses.

Good Luck!

August 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Cake

August rolled in and I didn't even realize that it was the first anniversary of this blog.  Boy how time flies.    Happy Birthday Treats!   Here's to many more years....

My nephew Christian's birthday is also this month.   He's turning 8 this year and his favorite cake is yellow, from the box, with chocolate frosting, from the tub.  Funny, it's the exact same thing  my siblings and I would get on our birthday when we were kids.

Making the cake from a box mix was not much of a challenge.  Isn't it about time this quintessential cake was elevated from its humble supermarket aisle beginnings? 

This recipe is all things a birthday cake recipe should be: really easy to make.  You'd be surprised how quickly it comes together and the cake is moist and delicious.  Sure, it takes more time than the box mix, but trust me, the end result is so much more satisfying.

August 1, 2010

Dulce de Leche Triple Chocolate Brownies

After making the dulce de leche ice cream I became a bit obsessed.   I couldn't get enough of the stuff, as evidenced by several cartons of homemade ice cream currently  chilling in my freezer.  

This time I even managed to get my hands on a jar of La Salamandra  from Sur La Table and swirled it in with the ice cream.   Eat your heart out Haagen-Dazs! 

After making the ice cream I had some caramel leftover and couldn't possibly let it go to waste.  What to make, what to make?  Brownies!!  

These brownies are rich, chewy and fudgy with an intense chocolate flavor.   Perfect for any chocoholic in your life. 

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