Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Chunky Chocolate Fruit-and-Nut Bars

January 14, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Posted in BCM, candy, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 7 Comments
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chunky chocolate fruit-and-nut bars

Dorie describes these Chunky Chocolate Fruit-and-Nut bars as both nougat’s crunchy cousin (a very timely comparison, since we made her Honey-Nut Nougat just last month) and as a homemade version of a Chunky candy bar. The raisin-hating child version of me would not have touched a Chunky with a ten foot pole, but the adult version of me has more evolved tastes and would now gladly consume this mass-produced packaged product. Haha.

This is an easy recipe– it really is. You just need some toasted nuts, some chopped dried fruit and some melted chocolate to make it. It’s totally customizable to your tastes and to the contents of your cabinet. It’s not even really a recipe, it’s just stuff mixed together. And yet, I managed to screw a few things up and fumble my way through it. Ironic, since my day job is actually making chocolate candy.

For my nuts I used cashews, which I burned when I toasted them, so I toasted more. For my dried fruit, I used a pre-mixed blend of golden raisins, cranberries, cherries and blueberries that I buy at TJs. I also put in some crystalized ginger and some candied orange peel. For my chocolate, I used a bittersweet 72%. I decided I didn’t need to eat a full 8×8 pan of this, so I scaled everything back by a third to fit in a small loaf pan I have. Or I tried to, at least…I must have divided the chocolate incorrectly in my head, because I only had enough to coat my add-ins, not to stick them together. I just eyeballed a little more to seal my fruit and nut glob together and pressed it into the pan. Even if it looks a little rough and I needed a nap afterwards, it was all good and tasty in the end (I secretly ate up all the little bits with a spoon and they were fab!), and that’s the moral of today’s story.

Dorie recommends lining your pan with cocoa-dusted parchment paper and then dusting more cocoa on top of the finished chocolate mix and laying another piece of parchment on top as you press it in to the pan. I did line my pan with parchment, and I lined it so it acted as a sling, but I skipped all the cocoa powder and also the top parchment sheet. I’m guessing the cocoa is to help the mass release from the pan, but when chocolate gets cold it contracts, and since this is stored in the fridge, I didn’t see the need for it.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a great video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Honey-Nut Nougat

December 24, 2019 at 8:42 am | Posted in BCM, candy, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 8 Comments
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honey-nut nougat

Happy holidays! Is Christmas Eve too late to show you a fabulous edible, homemade gift idea? I admit that I am one of those last minute types, but I really think it isn’t too late, as this Honey-Nut Nougat can be ready to cut up in a just couple of hours (provided you have a candy thermometer and an abundance of nuts in your pantry). And anyway, we still have plenty of party-time ahead of us. This isn’t difficult to make, but the instructions are lengthy, and since you’ll be dealing with a hot sugar syrup, it’s advisable to read them all the way first. Trust me, I would almost never say that, as I would almost never do that, but here it’s important, because timing is everything in candy-making.

You can find nougat in every Italian deli/specialty shop year-round, but the nice thing about making it yourself, aside from the freshness and the fun, is getting to choose exactly what goes into it. Dorie’s recipe uses heaps of roasted nuts, so I went for a combo of hazelnuts, almonds and pistachios, along with tart dried cherries. Nougat is traditionally formed between sheets of edible rice/wafer paper to help with the stickiness, but you can use cornstarch and powdered sugar instead. I actually had the rice paper, which I bought the last time I was in Australia (now that I write that down, it seems like a weird souvenier)…you can also get it online and in decorating supply stores.

This is delicious–chewy and full of nuts and honey flavor–and it lasts for a few weeks, so if you don’t take it to a holiday party, you can just cut off little hunks as you want them. Which will probably be often.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Touch-of-Crunch Chocolate Cake

December 10, 2019 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 5 Comments
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touch-of-crunch chocolate cake

I totally didn’t realized what this Touch-of-Crunch Chocolate Cake was all about until I actually went to make it. I just thought, “gonna make a chocolate cake today,” and assumed it would be like most others. Then I had to switch out my cake pan for a pie plate, get a double boiler going and locate some black sesame seeds in the freezer (they’re the hidden crunch in the batter). But what a nice surprise this turned out to be. It baked up with a pretty, crackly, brownie-like crust and a rich mousse-like middle. Super chocolatey, there’s not much in the way of dry ingredient binder here…just a spoonful of flour or cornstarch. I used cornstarch to keep it GF. Dorie says that this cake shines straight from the fridge, and it does, but I actually preferred it at room temperature, when it’s smooth like a truffle, except for that touch-of-crunch from the surprise sesame seeds of course!

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Caramelized-Coffee Bean Pots de Crème

November 26, 2019 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, puddings, custards, mousses, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 7 Comments
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caramelized-coffee bean pots de crème

Pots de crème are luxurious baked custards (pots of cream! and egg yolks!), and these Caramelized-Coffee Bean Pots de Crème are flavored with cracked coffee beans further roasted and toasted in caramelized sugar. Pots de crème are rich, and a small-ish serving will do. I baked these babies off in some cute little French yogurt pots that I had to go all the way to Europe to collect! Turns out it was worthwhile trip. I served my cream pots with a little whipped cream and some chocolate covered espresso beans.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Croquets

November 12, 2019 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 8 Comments
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croquets

If you are like me and need a little treat to go with your coffee, then you’ll appreciate what these Croquets have to offer. Crisp and sugary, with lotsa nuts (I used macadamias, and also a pinch of cinnamon), they are a perfect saucer sidekick.

They are not flourless, but the base of the dough is a meringue. Therefore, the dough is sticky but it bakes up sweet and with a crackly crust. The dough is formed into logs, which are cut after baking, biscotti-style. The croquets don’t need a second bake, though– they are very crunchy. In fact I think croquet must be a play on the word croquant, which means “crunchy” in French (unless it has to do with the lawn game, in which case I’m baffled!). This crunchiness makes them excellent coffee dunkers, but they’re also good smashed up a bit and sprinkled on an ice cream sundae.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Cream Cheese and Toast Tartlets

October 8, 2019 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 8 Comments
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cream cheese and toast tartlets

This recipe for Cream Cheese and Toast Tartlets is one I’d had my eye on for years. It sounded a little wacky to me– a sweet tart crust filled with cream cheese and cubes of cinnamon toast. Wacky but good, so I’m glad its TWD time has finally come.

It’s another one of those component recipes, made from several (easy) parts. The tartlets use Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough, which we’ve employed so often that half the time I can find a chunk of it hiding in the freezer. The garnish (both inside and outside) is butter-crisped bread cubes tossed in a cocoa-cinnamon-sugar mix. A bit of the toast goes on the bottom the pre-baked tartlet shells and a bit is reserved to top them at the end. The filling is a fluffy cream cheese whipped cream set with a little gelatin. Gelatin is not my favorite ingredient, and if I can leave it out or think of an easy swap, then I do. Commercial cream cheese has a lot of gums and stabilizers that help to thicken up heavy cream without added assistance, so I just decided to skip the gelatin. I only made two tartlets and we were going to eat them the night I made them anyway so I knew the filling wouldn’t have time to break down or weep.

When It came time to garnish my tartlets, I remembered that I happen to be in possession of a Cinnamon Toast Crunch single serve cereal cup that my husband bizarrely brought me home as a “gift.” (Despite the fact that I’ve never eaten or requested the stuff…am I ungrateful?) It’s been in my cupboard for a couple of months and I thought to use some of the cereal as a topper instead of more bread crumbs. Then I tried to get a little too cute and sprinkled on a bunch of chocolate jimmies and pearls. I knew I’d gone overboard, but there was no turning back. I liked the creamy-crunchy combo, and I’m a sucker for little tartlets…these got thumbs up from both of us.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Caramel-Topped Rice Pudding Cake

September 24, 2019 at 8:25 pm | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 6 Comments
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caramel-topped rice pudding cake

I talked to my mom on the phone the other day and she asked if I’d baked anything good lately. I told her I’d just made a Caramel-Topped Rice Pudding Cake that’s made like flan or crème caramel, except with rice pudding instead of eggy custard. My mom, who studied and lived in Paris for a few years before I came along, said, “Oh, that’s very French!” Dorie says this is a dessert so common and loved in France, that supermarkets sell it as a box mix. From scratch, it’s a fun project that isn’t too hard. The caramel is a simple water and sugar one. The rice pudding takes a while to cook, but I didn’t have any boil-overs or scorched rice, so things went pretty smoothly. An egg tempered into the pudding at the end keeps it together when it’s turned out after baking.

I made half the recipe and decided to bake personal-sized puddings in ramekins. I got four ramekins out of the half batch, and they only took about 30 minutes to bake in the covered water bath. We ate them at room temperature and I thought they were just delicious. Next time (and I’m not sure why I didn’t think to do it this time), I’ll add some booze-soaked raisins into the mix.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Fall-Market Galette

September 10, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 5 Comments
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fall-market galette

I do normally try to make a couple of fruit pies every summer, but this year I just didn’t. Ah well…some of the best fruits for baking are found here in September anyway, so I think this Fall-Market Galette makes up for my earlier laziness. Dorie calls this a “purple galette” as it’s filled with all the beautiful purple tinged fruits of fall– plums, grapes and figs. I went to my neighborhood’s Saturday greenmarket for my fruit and found the plums and grapes but I’ve never seen figs there. I swapped them out for blackberries and a (non-purple, I know) peach. I used the walnuts as well.

I love the ease of a galette and I don’t mind one bit when the juice from my mountain of fruit runs in rivulets along the pleats. This was delicious with vanilla ice cream.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Cat’s Tongues

August 27, 2019 at 9:06 am | Posted in BCM, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 10 Comments
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cat's tongues

Cat’s Tongues, or langues de chat, are a French classic. Thin, crispy, buttery yummies– I don’t think I’ve made them since I was in cooking school. Luckily, they aren’t hard to mix up and pipe out, and the oven more or less takes care of the shape. These baked up perfectly…nice elongated ovals, pale in the middle with a ring of crispy brown around the edges. I did actually pipe them out a little too big. They could have been a bit daintier in size and I would have gotten a few more out of the batch. The ones that came out the smallest, I paired up and sandwiched together with some ganache, as per Dorie’s excellent suggestion to “Milano” them. I’ll leave the larger ones as singles, spread their undersides with tempered chocolate tomorrow at work and give them to the guys at the gym in the afternoon. A plan for everything. Hahaha.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Tiramisu Tart

August 13, 2019 at 8:19 am | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 10 Comments
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tiramisu tart

I do love a good tiramisu, so there was no doubt I would be game for a Tiramisu Tart. This has all the required elements of a classic tiramisu– a layer of ladyfingers soaked in strong coffee and plenty of delicious mascarpone cream– housed in a sweet pastry shell.

I decided to scale the recipe back and make a few small tartlets instead of a large tart. There are only two of us here, and even though I think regular tiramisu gets better and better as it sits, I was a little worried that I’d have a soggy crust long before we could finish up a full-size tart. I put a thin layer of melted dark chocolate on the bottom of each shell for some extra insurance that they’d stay crisp for a couple of days. Also for some extra chocolate…who am I kidding?!? I bought a domestic mascarpone instead of my favorite Italian one, which I have to walk to another neighborhood to find, and it was a little loose when I mixed the filling up. I was glad that I chose to make tartlets, as the individual shells kept the soft filling contained and I didn’t have do deal with messy slices. At work I have access to lots of different kinds of cake scraps, one of them being housemade ladyfinger cake. I absconded the other day with a little scrap packet to put to use here and saved myself a bit of work.

I’d be equally happy with a “regular” tiramisu, but the tart shell is a fun twist. It does give a nice crispy element, it’s really pretty and I did love it. A pick-me-up that you can actually pick up…I mean, what’s not to love?

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

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