the temperature at which sweets happen

Month: May 2009

Dancing in the Kitchen

Dancing in the Kitchen

Some days you just need cookies, not want,… but need, cookies. Each one so toasty, so affectionate, so courteous as they travel to your tummy and send happy trails of crumbs from your fingertips and throughout every inch of your dancing limbs as they leap […]

Welcome Reprieve

Welcome Reprieve

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was not nearly as difficult as I had anticipated. When I first read the instructions, the whole “to make it easier to pull the dough, you can use your hip to secure the dough against the edge of the table;” […]

7 Day Itch

7 Day Itch

One thing I’ve never been too keen on: stretching. Stretching in my opinion, is like pre-soaking laundry. When you pre-soak laundry, you are putting clothes in water with soap, just before you put them in water with soap. I’ve just always felt like running was stretching, in that when running one conquers long strides and achieves warm muscles; isn’t that the same product of stretching?

Combine repetitive running uphill on concrete, favoring one leg to alleviate pain from the opposite ankle, plus no stretching = stress fracture. Hip stress fracture. Hip stress fracture = nothing but lying in bed.

I mentioned when we went to San Francisco, I can’t go without baking for too long before I start to get the itch. It’s the the same feeling my husband gets when he hasn’t drawn for days, or I presume my sister gets about sewing, or my mother about collecting cardboard boxes (I tease). Needless to say, lying in bed has made me itchy. But… what can someone with a stress fracture make while supported with crutches?

Ice Cream: Iced Lemon

My favorite ice cream hands down is Tillamook French Vanilla Ice Cream. Tillamook products are not available nationwide, and Tillamook Ice Cream is only available in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. Lucky for us, Tillamook is just about an hour away from us here in Portland and it is always a treat to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory sampling every kind of cheese imaginable, taking home a bag of squeaky cheese, and delighting in freshly churned Tillamook Ice Cream.

A few years ago (and many times since then) acting on an illicit craving for lemons, I squeezed a few fresh lemons whipped up with Tillamook French Vanilla Ice Cream. Today for Sugar High Fridays I decided to make the real thing; fully cognizant of the fact that no ice cream I make will ever truly compete with Tillamook.

This month’s theme is “Sweet Without the Wheat“, hosted by Zilla at Climbin’ the Walls.

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
Begin to warm over med heat

Add zest and juice of two large lemons
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Dash of salt

Whisk 2 eggs, temper with cream mixture, return to pan
Continue to cook just until mixture begins to boil, stirring constantly
Turn heat off, continue stirring until mixture has cooled slightly
Pour into medium sized bowl, chill

Just prior to churning, add zest and juice of one additional lemon
Make ice cream according to manufacturers instructions

It is smooth, perky, and creamy and definitely cools a bad temper from lying in bed for 8 days missing the first and probably only 80° weather of the season, all the new blooms, particularly the new roses, not getting to enjoy the park with the furries, and knowing I have another 21 days of bed ridden fun!

One Tasty Tradition

One Tasty Tradition

One family tradition I remember vividly, is eating Apple Pancakes at The Original Pancake House on our annual trip to Eugene, Oregon to support and watch my sister Pamela run (and win!) at the State Track and Field Championships. I suppose there were other things […]

Comedy Routine

Comedy Routine

My husband, ever the comedian. I asked Gabriel to preheat the oven for my brownies today to 350° – he asked, “Oh, is that the temperature at which sweets happen?” Gabriel is a pretty funny guy but what is even better is when he thinks […]

Happy Birthday Alex!

Happy Birthday Alex!

Alex is a comrade of Gabriel’s from the Art Institute and a few days ago his girlfriend contacted us about helping throw him a surprise birthday party! Though I do have some experience throwing Gabriel a whopping cool 30th surprise birthday party last year, I was far more concerned with who was making the cake!

She was going to purchase one from Costco… of course I intervened.

Cake: Comatose (Deep Chocolate Chocolate Chip)
Filling: Chocolate Sweet Sauce
Frosting: Chocolate Buttercream

All this chocolate is sure to make you comatose, as the name indicates, but you’ll never have better dreams than after falling prey to this beauty.

2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
½ cup oil
Mix until elements are of the same consistency

Add 4 egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition and 1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt 4oz. semi sweet chocolate in 1 cup water, mix to smooth

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Stir dry ingredients into batter
Add 1 cup buttermilk, whisk to smooth
Stir in remaining 1 cup flour with 1 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips

Whisk 4 egg whites to firm peaks and fold into batter

Pour batter evenly into two greased and lined 9″ round cake pans
Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, until cake springs back to the touch
Run knife along edge of pan, and cool on wire rack

Slice each cake round in half
Spread an even layer of Fahrenheit 350° Chocolate Sweet Sauce between each layer, and between two cake rounds
Reserve a little sauce to line perimeter of cake prior to frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
3 cups cocoa powder

6 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Crisco
2 teaspoons vanilla
+/- ¼ cup milk for consistency
Layer outside and top of cake with frosting and decorate as desired

Back to Basics

Back to Basics

There are a few staple cookies one must always have in their cookie repertoire, and in my book Gingersnaps are part of that repertoire. After making my Gabriel’s Favorite Cheesecake with hard crunchy ginger cookies, I found myself craving a batch of soft aromatic scratch […]

It’s All Worth It… In the End

It’s All Worth It… In the End

This is not my week for photos. After the awful Mother’s Day photos of my Chocolate Lemon Tart, and my subsequent cursing (j/k I don’t swear!) at the said photographs, and for realistic dramatics let us throw in a bit of exasperated sighs and flailing […]

Heart Shapes

Heart Shapes

A few years ago on Mother’s Day, Gabriel passed me this note in Sacrament meeting:

Many years later this Mother’s Day, the eggs are still quite content unfertilized which keeps the furries quite happy having me all to themselves… going to the park… running… weekend road trips on a whim… endless days swimming at the beach… treats instead of dinner… snuggling in bed together after Gabriel goes to work…

This year my brainy beau treated me to a tasty, heart shaped breakfast in bed –

with a mood setting backdrop of a dozen red blooming roses –

and… chocolate of course.

Gabriel had also expressed a desire to make me a Mother’s Day dessert, but he has been hard at work (very nearly killing himself) to finish a project for a very exciting potential job, so I willingly stepped in. Sometimes Gabriel thinks he is a machine, and sometimes I’m convinced that he’s right.

He and I both enjoy a delicious dessert from Dorie Greenspan: The Most Extraordinary Lemon Tart, so when thumbing through my favorite cookbook and seeing a recipe for a Chocolate Lemon Tart with lemon glaze and filling I was already addicted without having even made it yet.

Tart: Chocolate Lemon
Filling: Chocolate Ganache, Lemon Curd
Glaze: Lemon Custard
Yields: 8-12 Tartlets

This recipe comes once again courtesy of “The Cooks Encyclopedia of Chocolate” pg. 210.

Making this dessert requires both time and patience, as you can likely surmise from the title and counterparts alone. This dessert is both lovely and delicious, but it doesn’t come close to replacing the very aptly named Extraordinary Lemon Tart – nonetheless it proved a delightful addition to a beautiful Mother’s Day in the Olson home.

Chocolate Pastry:
Melt ½ cup butter and 2 tablespoons cold water

1 ½ cups flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Stir to smooth, chill

Roll out to ¼” thickness and line tart dishes
Prick with a fork and blind bake at 375° for 7-10 minutes
Let cool

Lemon Custard Glaze:
Heat to boil zest of one lemon and 1 ½ cups milk
Drain and return milk to stove on low

Lightly whisk 6 eggs and ½ cup of sugar
Temper the milk with the egg mixture, and return to heat
Cook until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon
Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Let chill

Lemon Curd:
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup butter
2 cups of sugar
In a double boiler, stir over low heat

Add 3 eggs and cook, stirring constantly for 15 minutes, until mixture is clear and glossy and coats the back of a spoon

Strain and chill

Chocolate Ganache Filling:
Bring ¾ cup cream to a boil, remove from heat and stir in 6oz. of chocolate
When chocolate is fully melted, stir in 2 tablespoons of butter

Pour chocolate filling into baked tart shells to fill halfway

Chill for 10 minutes
Spoon lemon curd over chocolate to fill shell
Ladle custard glaze over tart and decorate with melted chocolate and lemon curls

*I recommend making the glaze and custard the evening prior, the pastry and ganache the day off

Sans Macadamia Nuts

Sans Macadamia Nuts

I had an epiphany this morning: My priorities are wack. A typical day for me starts with rolling out of bed when I finally feel too guilty to stay in bed any longer. Then I immediately pop open the laptop and check my multiple email […]