{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}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} Flourless Chocolate Cake and Coffee Ice Cream

The Daring Bakers challenge for this month is a flourless chocolate cake and ice cream.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge. You can find the recipes on their blogs.

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Although the hosts suggested vanilla ice cream, we had the option of making any flavor. I’ve made vanilla ice cream countless times, so I decided to make Coffee Ice Cream {and yes, I used it in this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection too 😛 }.  The ice cream recipe comes from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop and you can find it here.

For me, the star was the ice cream. The texture and taste were perfect. As for the cake, I didn’t like the texture. It was too soft and light. As for taste, I felt it was missing something. Maybe salt? I halved the recipe and used Guittard semi-sweet chocolate.

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Chocolate Biscotti

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Oh my, if you love chocolate you will love this cookie. It is sooo good. I had to stop myself from eating the dough.

The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours and is not a Tuesdays with Dorie selection! It was the December 2006 selection from the online baking group, The Daring Bakers.

Chocolate Biscotti

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)
  • 1 c. chopped almonds, blanched or unblanched (I used unblanched)
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 3/4 c. store-bought mini chocolate chips (I used chopped milk chocolate)
  • Sugar for dusting
Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12 inch long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack – and that’s just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)
Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet – you’ll have an army of biscotti – and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.
Transfer the biscotti to a rack to cool.Makes about 40 cookies.

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