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Posts Tagged ‘brownies’

Settled in my condo and adjusted to my new kitchen (still not thrilled with the electric stove), I’ve taken to hosting dinner parties for friends and family.  I think I should be Martha Stewart’s apprentice.  I’m getting better at cooking (though I can’t say I didn’t know how to cook, I just never did) and find it really fun to have people over rather than go out to eat.

My parents were the guests at my first dinner party.  I made pan-fried pork chops wrapped in prosciutto with capers and spinach, and a rich chocolate mousse, recipes courtesy of Curtis Stone.  It turned out well, but the pork was a bit too lemony.  Lesson learned.

I had nine friends over for my next dinner party.  It was BYOC (bring your own chair).  It was right before St. Patrick’s Day so I served up some beef and guinness stew with potatoes, soda bread, and apple/blackberry crumble.  My friend Roddy also brought a Shepherds Pie.  It was great fun, but I made way too much food.  Three months later, I still have a few tupperware containers each with a serving of stew in the freezer.  And I ate one the other day.  And I didn’t get violently sick.  How long does frozen stew last?  Oh well, still have a lot of soda bread in the freezer as well too.  Maybe that should get thrown.

Shortly after that party, I had my aunt, grandparents, parents, and brother over for some pan-fried chicken with a green olive, onion, and tomato topping, baked potato wedges, and tiramisu.  That was quite a success as well, except my grandpa wouldn’t try the tiramisu after he found out there was brandy in it.  I didn’t really think it was very strong, but the others could taste it.

The tiramisu had been a previous Daring Bakers Challenge that I didn’t complete, because I didn’t have the time.  It was something I had always wanted to make, so since I had done part of the challenge in making the lady fingers from scratch (and freezing them, of course), I decided it would be a good dessert.  Plus, I love living alone, but I can’t keep up with eating all the things I bake.  So if I don’t have friends/family over to help me eat the goods, they go to work the next day and get devoured within an hour.

I don’t really have any new baking techniques to report on at the moment.  The baking that I’ve done recently are things I’ve made before, like pumpkin muffins, apple pie, chocolate chip cookies (for Tyler Hilton, Reckless Kelly, and Ari Hest ), and brownies.  I shall try to do something new soon, I’ve just been busy with work and globe-trotting, not to mention my new-found enjoyment of cooking, that I haven’t had much time for the sweet stuff.  But I’ll come up with something soon that is sure to impress you.

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“Hey there Eclair, have you gained some weight?  You’re looking a bit doughy around the middle.”

That is exactly what I said to my cream puffs on Labor Day.  Okay, not really.  But I thought it . . . just now . . . not then . . . cause I’m not THAT quick-witted.  And I guess it wasn’t really THAT witty anyways.

I was self-assigned to dessert on Labor Day for our lil’ family BBQ, and rather than make the always classic chocolate brownies, I decided to make profiteroles which are pretty much cream puffs with a chocolate ganache, or I guess they’re pretty much eclairs.  I figured that would please the masses (because I have such a large family: mother, father, brother, grandmother, and grandfather) and it would be something I’ve never tried before.

The recipe was so simple it surprised me:  butter, flour, eggs, and water.  I added sugar too because, come on, this is dessert!  I got the recipe out of my British cookbook.  Don’t start . . . British food is fine.

When the profiteroles were mixed and baked, they had a nice golden brown doneness to them.  Perfect!  Or not.  When I whipped up the whipped cream and cut a puff to fill, I saw dough.  Now some people in my family (ahem, Mom) like undercooked baked goods, but a taste-test proved that these were unacceptable.  The shells were tossed in the garbage and the whipped cream was placed in the refrigerator for another day, another lesson.

Our guests had arrived and there was no dessert.  So much for learning a new skill; brownies to the rescue.  I quickly mixed up some brownie batter and got that baking while we ate lunch.

The brownies were delicious, but it’s old hat.  This blog is not intended for me to bake things I already know how to bake well.

Later that night, I brought out the sugar cookie cutouts I had baked a few days ago in order to decorate them and take to Scottish musician Paolo Nutini.  I had my assistant (friend) Lindsey help on the assembly line to get them done relatively fast.  I did a base coat on each cookie with buttercream frosting, because it just tastes better than icing, then spread icing on top which gave it a smooth, shiny finish, and also hardened a bit so that the cookies wouldn’t stick together if they got a bit warm.  They did have to make the trip to Tucson with me.  The worst thing that can happen to sugar cookies with buttercream frosting is to spend a lot of time on detail work and then find the cookies stuck together and smudged after packaging and transporting.

The cookies turned out nice, and they were successfully delivered — I found a man standing by Paolo’s tour bus who had a Scottish accent.  Next time, Paolo requests weed cookies.  He was just kidding!  I don’t want to get the kid in trouble.

Next order of business was to thaw out the failed chocolate cake from the previous lesson.  Yeah, I didn’t trash it.  I figured it needed a fair chance and not just a little taste from a silicon cupcake mold.  I cut a small piece off the end of the cake and added a dab of chocolate frosting to find that it was actually pretty good.

Buttermilk chocolate cake re-evaluation:  B+

Well this just worked out great.  I had one chocolate cake and one bowl of whipped cream.  I put two and two together, literally, and added some chocolate frosting on top to make a chocolate layer cake with a light whipped cream filling.  Half of it got eaten by my family and the other half went to work with me.  I just can’t keep up with the eating part of this baking project, so my coworkers get to help.

Overall, not a bad baking week.  The profiteroles were pathetic, but I know next time that I need to bake them longer.  Next lesson may be slightly delayed due to a possible mini trip to Los Angeles.  But I know that puff pastry is in the cards because I am taking part in the monthly baking challenges from the baking club The Daring Kitchen.  I have never made a french pastry like that before, should be interesting.  I better stock up on butter.

Profiteroles – F

Brownies – A+

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