{db} holy cannoli

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The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Not only was this the first time I made cannoli, it was the first time I’ve tasted them. I baked rather than fried, which is the traditional way to make cannoli. I didn’t have enough oil in the house to fry and didn’t feel like going out and buying a jug of it.  I really liked the taste of it, a crispy sweet treat. I can see how frying it would make it even more tasty.

(Today I am in Vava’u, Tonga)

{db} Macarons! I got the feets!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

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It often seems like the things I’m most trepid about making turn out to be easy. It happened with bagels and it happened again with this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. I’m back on track after missing two months and I was so excited when I found out the baking challenge was to make macarons.

I’ve wanted to bake these lovely French cookies for awhile and even took a class on how to make them at Surfas through Gourmandise Desserts. It was a fun class and I learned a few tips. The most important tip I learned was feet-achievement (the ridge at the bottom of each cookie half)  is a direct function of enough rest time after piping and before baking. You have to allow enough time for the exterior to harden before they go into the oven. That’s it. Now that I’ve made them once, I can’t wait to make them again. In fact, I decided I will make them every time I make ice cream. Use the yolks for ice cream and the whites for macarons. Perfect.

I made vanilla macarons using vanilla sugar and filled some with leftover peanut butter frosting, some with Nutella, and some with both peanut butter frosting and Nutella. I also sprinkled some with honey powder. The cookies came out perfect. Crunchy on the outside, with a slight chew. I served the macarons at my pizza party along with a gazillion other desserts and people loved them. It was very cool.

Thanks to Ami for hosting this month’s challenge. For the recipe visit her blog, Baking Without Fear.

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{db}Tahitian Milan Cookies

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies are ubiquitous. Every grocery store carries them. They are the cookie you grab when you want to feel a little fancy. They come in different sizes (the mini ones are so cute!) and different flavors.

Although technically not a Milano flavor, I love the Tahiti variety. If you know me, you know I have Polynesian Fever. I heart all things related to French Polynesia and bring it up often in my posts.

Me & Tiki in Hiva Oa, Marquesas in French Polynesia

Me & Tiki in Hiva Oa, Marquesas in French Polynesia

Immediately after reading the July Challenge for the Daring Bakers I knew I would be flavoring the cookie with coconut and lime and visiting the islands. The Tahiti Cookie is chocolate sandwiched by two ridged round coconut cookies.

To make my version, I used unsweetened coconut flakes, lime oil, and Tahitian vanilla extract. I tried to make them round by drawing circles on parchment paper and spreading a tiny bit of dough using a teaspoon. They ended up looking like regular Milano Cookies, but they tasted tropical and were a delicious reminder of the islands.

Tahitian Milan Cookies

Recipe adapted from Gale Gand

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

  • 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
  • 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
  • 2 tablespoons Tahitian vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lime oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 lime, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lime oil.
3. Add the flour and and coconut, mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

We had the option of only baking one type of cookie to complete the challenge. I didn’t have the time to make the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies, but hope to make them one day.

{db}Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800′s in England.

I wasn’t going to bake the tart. I just had too much on my plate (metaphorically and literally). After seeing the tarts pop up all over the internet yesterday and seeing how good and delicious they looked, I decided to jump on the baking bandwagon.

Instead of baking one big tart, I baked 12 cupcake-sized tartlets (better to take to work that way) using a muffin pan. I topped the tart with powdered sugar and a mix of blueberries and gooseberries.

All packed-up for work

All packed-up for work

{db} strudel

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The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

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I had decided not to make this month’s challenge. I had too many things going on both in the baking/blogging world and the real world.  So, of course, shortly after I publicly announce I’m not going to participate this month I go ahead and make it.

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The strudel was easier than I thought it would be. The instructions were a little intimidating. All the stretching and pulling and holes. I made a 1/4 of the recipe and instead of the traditional apple filling I used fresh blueberries and cherries.

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The end result? It looks horrible. My strudel reminds me of Necron Slime. I don’t know what Necron Slime is exactly–just something from a cartoon I vaguely remember from childhood.  I now think my strudel looks like a psychedelic sea cucumber. I think it fits my baked strudel.

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Update: I also realize I over-stuffed it, which is a problem with me and burritos. Now that I know how to do it right. I’m definitely making again.