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Monday, March 28, 2011

Malted Crisp Tart: BAKED Sunday Mornings

This tart had a few 'firsts' for me -- it is the first tart I've ever made, first time I've made a pastry cream, and it's the first time I've worked with malted flavoring in a dessert.  It was not as hard as I expected a tart to be in terms of assembly, and the mated flavor was a nice taste to work with.  I had to go buy a tart pan, but based on the number of tart recipes in this book, I think it will be put to good use!  The recipe called for a 9 inch pan, but my store only had 8 or 11 inches, so I went with 8.  The proportions were still fine I thought.  

The write-up of the recipe mentioned that you would be using a lot of bowls, and they sure were right!  It was an involved recipe with many steps, but none were difficult at all.  The hardest one for me was probably caramelizing the crispy rice cereal since the recipe was not very clear as to the amount of time it would take.  I kept second guessing as I was stirring and stirring and stirring.  But, they did eventually caramelize very well and ended up being one of my favorite parts of the dish.  

Of course, as I ate it and got to each new layer I kept saying that new layer was my favorite!  This tart has a brown sugar crust, a layer of milk chocolate ganache, a crispy layer of the caramelized rice cereal and crushed malt balls.  Then, finally, the last layer was a malted diplomat pastry cream decorated with more caramelized crispies and whole malt balls.  I definitely thought the highlights were the cream and the tart crust.  The diplomat cream was thick and delicious and just malty enough.  It was quite easy as well, a nice surprise having never made a pastry cream before.  The crust was crunchy, salty and nicely dry.  I don't know if the saltiness was my mistake and perhaps I used too much salt, but I liked it.  It played very well off the sweetness of the ganache and cream. 

Zach thought the ganache was the best part -- smooth and delicious, and it held the crunchy bits perfectly.  He really liked the crunchy layer -- the caramelized crispies and the crushed malt balls. 

You can check out the tarts of the other group members at BAKED Sunday Mornings!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Salt and Pepper Sandwich Cookies: BAKED Sunday Mornings

These cookies are BAKED's version of oreos.  They have white pepper and fluer de sel hence the name salt and pepper cookies.  The pepper surprised me.  I thought it would be a much more obvious flavor note in the cookies, but it's just a little spice that kicks in towards the end of a bite.  It almost makes you think of nutmeg, since the white pepper is a much more milder in terms of heat/spiciness.  It rounds the cookie out nicely though.  The filing is very comparable to the oreo filing in terms of texture and flavor.  The salt on top is a nice finish to the cookie.  But, I almost always prefer salty snacks to sweet ones, so I tend to enjoy that savory note in sweets. 

Visit BAKED Sunday Mornings to see the complete recipe and everyone else's opinions of the cookie!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Angel Frosting: BAKED Sunday Mornings

This is my second recipe with BAKED Sunday Mornings and already I'm turning into a delinquent poster! I made these a week ahead of schedule since I knew I would be out of town on the weekend they were scheduled. They were delicious! Zach even took pictures for me, and we ate them up and shared with co-workers all to rave reviews. Then I dropped the ball and didn't get them posted in time. I was super busy in the weeknights before going out of town for the weekend, and I really have no other excuse. I was rushing to complete this....

gorgeous (if I do say so myself ;-) ) baby blanket for a friend's baby shower. So, since the baby shower had a definite deadline and I didn't want to be finishing it off on the plane!, the cupcakes and their deliciousness slipped my mind. Oh well, such is life.

On to the cupcakes -- they were rich and perfectly chocolately. As stated in the book, even though the recipe has a decent amount of coffee in it, they don't taste coffee-y. The frosting, oooooh, the frosting! It was phenomenal! I hadn't ever made an Italian Meringue frosting before and it's probably a good idea I didn't read the directions very carefully before actually attempting the recipe. The idea of pouring boiling hot, 235 degree sugar syrup into egg whites is a bit scary to be honest. "Seriously, that's going to work? Won't it break??" you think; but, since I just jumped into the recipe I didn't really realize what I had to do until it was time to do it and there was no turning back. It tasted like marshmallow and was so nice and fluffy. Fabulous! For the last two cupcakes we ate Zach busted out his creme brulee torch to brown the tops, which lent even more of a toasty marshmallow flavor. I'll definitely be making Italian Meringue frosting in the future now that I know there's nothing to be scared of and only yummy results!  You can find the recipe and everyone else's links on BAKED Sunday Mornings.