Category Archives: Dessert

>Tuesdays With Dorie: Devil’s Food White-Out Cake


Uh, yeah. After a recent late night Ben & Jerry’s binge, this cake is so not in my future.

Kudos to Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater for selecting the cover cake! Complete recipe information can be found on her post or on page 247 of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Be sure to visit the Tuesdays With Dorie blog roll and see how the other bakers fared.


>Tuesdays With Dorie: Floating Tropical Islands


Honestly, I had never eaten floating islands nor even knew what they were, so I had no idea about the adventure that I was in for.

There are two main parts to floating islands: a custard base (crème anglaise) creates the “water” and meringue formed to make the “islands”. The recipe also gave instruction for an optional caramel topping.

Floating Islands
Crème Anglaise:
* Whole Milk
* Egg Yolks
* Sugar
* Vanilla Extract

* Milk
* Egg Whites
* Salt
* Sugar

* Sugar
* Water

I do not claim to have any talent in the kitchen, but if I could pass along only one piece of advice to others it would be: always read the directions in its entirety before starting! You can safely assume, I did not do just that.

The crème anglaise was quite easy to make: heat milk and temper an egg/sugar mix.

→ Did anyone else notice nothing about when to use the vanilla extract is mentioned?
Or maybe this was just a misprint in my book?
I added the extract to the egg/sugar mix. ←

I popped the crème anglaise in the refrigerator and then read the part about it needing to chill for three hours or overnight for best results. Ooops. Mine only chilled for about 45 minutes.

The islands were fun to make – I love watching the composition of egg whites turn into meringue. Culinary science at its finest. Spoonfuls of the meringue was then shaped into flattened ovals and simmered in milk.

I opted not to make the caramel sauce, but put a little somthin’-somethin’: To help celebrate the 70°F/21°C day (a perk of living in the South), I peeled some Mandarin oranges and cut up some pineapple and left them under the broiler until they caramelized. I also sprinkled some toasted coconut flakes over the island and enjoyed this on the patio.

I tried to make the islands as pretty as they were in the photographs, but failed miserably. Also wished I had more time for the crème anglaise to set. However, both of these missteps did not affect the taste – this was fabulous. It was work, but it was fabulous. I think this dessert could make quite an impression during a dinner party and the flavor could be manipulated easily.

This recipe was chosen by Shari of Whisk: A Food Blog who happens to be the brains behind Whisk Wednesdays. Please visit Shari’s post for the complete recipe or you can find it on page 401 of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. To see how the other bakers did, please visit the Tuesdays With Dorie blog roll.

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Posted by on 10 February 2009 in Cooking, Dessert, Tuesdays With Dorie


>Tuesdays With Dorie: Caramel Topped Peanut Brownie Cake

>This recipe was selected by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy. I haven’t been able to read much of Tammy’s blog, but that is about to change as I found it full of fabulous photographs and baking ideas.

Now, I’m full of food related contradictions: I like chocolate cake alone, peanut brittle alone, but cannot get enough of chocolate-peanut butter candies, fudges and ice cream. I’m also weird about the sizes of nuts, but that’s a story for my therapist.

The cake mixed and baked well and I did get the concave center that Dorie warned about. The caramel topping seemed to take forever to become, well, caramel. The recipe made a great deal of sauce and gave the cake picturesque dripping.

Caramel Topped Peanut Brownie Cake:
* Flour
* Baking Soda
* Salt
* Butter
* Bittersweet Chocolate
* Eggs
* Brown Sugar
* Sugar
* Corn Syrup
* Vanilla Extract
* Sugar
* Water
* Corn Syrup
* Heavy Cream
* Butter
* Salted Peanuts

My Notes:
→ To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with this dessert. The cake was moist, but I thought it was a bit bland; not as chocolaty as I hoped for.
→ Not having peanuts on hand, I subbed hazelnuts as well as hazelnut extract for the vanilla in the cake.
→ The caramel sauce was nice, but I think I would have chopped the nuts a bit more; the nuts seemed to compete with sauce rather than blending well.
→ I would like to try this recipe again – perhaps as cupcakes. And, contradicting my earlier contradiction, I think I will stick with the hazelnut extract and maybe add some espresso and more chocolate.

For complete recipe details, please visit Tammy’s post. To see how the others fared, please visit the Tuesdays With Dorie Blogroll.

I remember taking photographs of this cake, but cannot seem to locate….will post them as soon as I figure out what I did…..

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Posted by on 7 October 2008 in Baking, Cake, Dessert, Tuesdays With Dorie


>Whisk Friday With Dorie

>The title of “slacker” would not even begin to describe my participation level of recent weeks with Whisk Wednesdays. Lately, whenever miscellaneous errands roll around, they seem to roll on a Wednesday. I should probably pick up on these less than subtle clues and complete my Whisk Wednesday assignment earlier in the week and post-date the entry, but all of my brilliant thinking seems to come after-the-fact.

My penance? I hosted a dinner party last Friday and the menu hailed from France; a country that produces exquisite cuisine while simultaneously scaring the merde out of me.

Jessica’s Wracked-With-Guilt-And-Need-To-Impress-New-Friends Dinner:

* Potage Ambassadeur
Vegetarian Dinner:
* Ratatouille Niçoise
* Willamette Valley Salad
Non-Vegetarian Dinner:
* Chicken Cordon Bleu
* Gratin Dauphinois
* Crème Brûlée

The recipe for Potage Ambasadeur can be found on page 162 of Le Cordon Bleu at Home. When the group made this in August, I had cooked an extra batch for canning; making the prep for my soup course almost non-existent. The canned soup was simply poured into my trusty crock pot and I added some sour cream since the dairy was omitted from the “canned batch” (I prefer sour cream to heavy cream in this soup). I had also left out the meat in this soup, serving crumbled bacon on the side for people to add as they please.

The Vegetarian Dishes:

On page 247 of the book, one will find the recipe for Ratatouille Niçoise.

There is a restaurant on the corner of Štefánikova and Kabátníkova Streets in Brno, Czech Republic called Aura. I frequented this little gem once their large vegetarian menu was discovered; a rare find among this meat-loving community. It was here that I inhaled one of the best plates of food ever placed in front of me – ratatouille. I was also surprised to be offered a dinner menu in English…after nearly two months of my horrendous pronunciation and waitstaff chuckles. At least I tip well.

The ratatouille came together nicely and I think it is a wonderful recipe to experiment with; can cater to any taste. It was served over brown rice.

Now, I realize the Willamette (will-LAM-met) Valley Salad is not exactly French. This comes from one of my favorite places in Portland: Elephant’s Delicatessen. As the name indicates, most of the ingredients are grown in the Willamette Valley region of Oregon:

– Mixed Organic Greens
Hood River Apples
– Oregon Hazelnuts
– Gorgonzola Cheese
– Vinaigrette Dressing

A few changes were made to the salad to “French it up” a bit:

– Mixed Organic Greens; I made about half of the greens arugula.
– I was not impressed with the apple selection, so I settled on some Anjou pears.
– Oregon Hazelnuts (little known fact: 99% of the hazelnuts grown in the United States come from Oregon).
– Gorgonzola Cheese; I probably could have gone with a French Roquefort, but I am not a fan of blue-veined cheeses. Gorgonzola is about the strongest one I can handle.
– For a little surprise, I added Champagne Grapes.
– I made my usual, and very simple vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic vinegar and black pepper) and added some spicy Dijon mustard.

The Non-Vegetarian Dishes

A recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu could not be located in the book, so I decided to wing it. While doing a bit of research, I was a little confused about what exactly Chicken Cordon Bleu is. Since Cordon Bleu translates to “Blue Ribbon” it does not reveal any indication of the “authentic” ingredients I was in search of. Most of what I read confirmed what I thought might be stuffed in the chicken breasts: ham and Swiss cheese. My variation:

– Chicken Breasts; pounded to 1/4 inch thickness.
– Season chicken with salt and pepper.
– Add a slice of prosciutto, shredded Gruyère and chopped spinach on the top of each breast.
– Roll up tightly; tuck in the sides and secure the end with toothpicks. This took a bit of time to get it just right. I brushed some melted butter on the seams and placed the breasts in the refrigerator. The butter then hardened and really helped keep everything together while cooking.
– When your ready to cook the chicken, pull the toothpicks out and place seam side down in a large skillet; brown slightly on all sides (cooking the seam first also helps keep the roll in tact).
– Roll the hot breasts in breadcrumbs and place in a baking dish; bake at 400°F for 30-ish minutes.

I prefer gratin dauphinois over mashed potatoes, especially around the holidays. Matt is known for his mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving, but one of these years I will prevail and get my potatoes au gratin on the table.

The recipe I used can be found on page 498 of the book and I will admit I was kicking myself while reading it. Garlic! After the countless pounds of potatoes au gratin I have consumed, I cannot come up with a reason as to why I have never baked them with garlic. Stupide!

There were a few extra steps and ingredients that I do not normally do or use (ie: boiling potatoes in milk and using nutmeg), but they turned out delicious. In the future, I think I will stick to my norm: laying sliced potatoes with dots of butter, sprinkle the layers with flour and cheese, then pouring the cream over the top. However, I will always be using garlic.

You cannot go wrong with a classic dessert like crème brûlée. The recipe was chosen by Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake, please visit her blog for the recipe or it can be found on page 393 of this book. I find crème brûlée has the fabulous ability to please just about everyone and I do not care how cliché it is to say: cracking through the sugar makes me happy. It also makes me think of one of my favorite foreign films: Amélie.

Seems Shari of Whisk: A Food Blog thought the same; she included a great line of narration from the film in her post.

I split some vanilla beans and added them to the cream and milk mixture while they cooked on the stove top. The insides were then scraped; a perfect little vanilla boost. I also made a coffee flavor by adding some instant coffee.

My ramekins were a bit deeper than what Dorie called for and did not set as much as I would have liked them to. Didn’t seem to bother anyone as they were too distracted by my crème brûlée torch.

So, there you have it. My kinda-sorta-maybe-almost make-up courses for Whisk Wednesdays and my (made early, but posted late) Tuesdays With Dorie entry. If you are wondering where all of the photographic proof is, well, there is none. I resisted the urge to tell everyone to stop eating so I cold take photographs; deciding against advertising my food-porn lust right away; the crazy needs to be introduced slowly to the new people.

I do plan on making all of the wonderful dishes I’ve missed in Whisk Wednesdays. Since I don’t eat meat, I have to plan some of them around Matt’s travel schedule. I encourage everyone to check out Whisk: A Food Blog and if you would like more information about joining Whisk Wednesdays, please click here. Information on how to join Tuesdays With Dorie can be found here.
Despite my recent laziness, I am the very happy recipient of the “I Love You This Much” award bestowed upon me by Teanna of Spork or Foon? Teanna’s blog is full of great recipes, anecdotes and musings about life in DC and NYC. Thank you, Teanna – I am truly grateful.

This award was started by Emila of Emila’s Illustrated Blog. The rules of recieving this award are as follows:

1. Tell everyone about blogs you love.
2. Post this link, explaining the origins of the award.

Without further ado, I have to pass along this award to Kelly of Kelly in the Wild for the plain and simple fact that the woman makes me laugh. Take a gander, I guarantee a smile.


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