Saturday, November 26, 2005

Desserts that make ya' go Ewwwhhhhhh

They were so bad... I didn't even feel compelled to photograph them. Thanksgiving Day dessert disasters. I planned well.... meant well.... thought all was well until the moment of truth. The slicing and serving.

Damn it. The Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake was requested by my husband. He NEVER requests anything so when he asked me to make this cheesecake I was honored in some weird way. It was like he was entrusting this beautiful ending to his Thanksgiving to me.... like he really believed in my ability to make dessert. He trusted me..... and you guessed it. I screwed it up. Royally. The cheesecake damnation began from the start. I couldn't match up the springforms I have. It was like none of the bottoms fit the tops... and I really wanted to bake it with the bottom upside down so I could get the cheesecake off the pan without much trouble.... but again I couldn't get it to fit right side up, much less upside down. So I gave up and worked with the "frame" a while bending it and finally getting the bottom to fit... sort of. Good enough. The gingersnap and graham cracker crust went okay ( I mean how hard is it to screw up crushed crackers and butter) then came the filling. " Beat 1 cup cold heavy cream until soft peaks form. Place whipped cream into fridge to chill..." got it. No problem there. I popped the cream in the fridge and got on with the rest of it... no problems. Pretty easy, run of the mill cheesecake stuff. Cream cheese, eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and some spices.... easy pleasey. I poured the cheesecake filling into the pan... ran it a hot bath and into the oven it went..... and I literally said out loud "Well, that was TOO easy. I mean come on...." Then about 10 minutes later I opened the fridge to grab some tea when.... Shit! There was the whipped cream that was supposed to be "folded into the pumpkin cream cheese mixture" sitting there... in the fridge. And the pumpkin cream cheese mixture was baking away in the oven. No no no no no no no no NO NO NO!!!! Not now... not this dessert. Not THE requested Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake... please no. But... yes.
I did the unthinkable.... I actually pulled the baking cheesecake out of the oven and mixed the cold whipped cream in. I know. But I was trying to make this thing perfect and ... well, hell.. edible. I left it alone for the rest of the hour and when the timer went "ding" I did the old "let's test the cheesecake to see if it's done" test. I banged a wooden spoon against the side of the springform to check for firmness on the sides and slight jiggle in the middle. The sides were good... but the center was more than a slight jiggle.... but I figured it was okay because they always say "The cheesecake will continue to cook......" blah blah blah.... Well, this one didn't I find out later. Later when it counts. I let the baby cool... wrapped her in plastic wrap and popped her in the freezer.... to chill until Thursday....
Thursday comes and I have the unusual sense of being on top of things. I take the cheesecake out of the freezer to thaw and get on with the rest of my assigned Thanksgiving foods.... Dinner goes well. The usuals show up..... Turkey, Smoked Ham, Cornbread Dressing, Aunt Faye Salad, Fruit Salad, Sourdough Rolls, Sweet Potatoes, Deviled Eggs, Cranberry Relish, and Sweet Tea. Everything really was delicious. Then comes dessert time... WOO HOO... my time to shine. " Let's cut into that cheesecake shall we?" " Oh yes, let's!" The first cut told a story I didn't want to hear.... " I think this is still raw... I don't think it's done in the middle." " The cheesecake it not done!" " Is it safe to eat raw cheesecake?" " I guess we will have to eat it with a spoon" Even my soon to be two year old who can barely talk said "Cheesecake bad mommy."

My dear husband did try and console me with " It's really good... just a little under done." Yes, honey... it was a little underdone.... just a little.....

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Good Grief...Paula Deen!

Well... I do declare! I have fallen in love with Miss Paula Deen! My friend Stephanie and I went to Birmingham, Alabama last night to attend a benefit to support Hanna Home in Shelby County. Hanna Home is a wonderful and life changing program for battered women and children. This home gives women and children a safe haven from domestic abuse and provides them with a graduated program to get them back out into society... safely. Paula donated her time on the 17th and all of the money went directly to Hanna Home.... and from what I could see, a lot of money was raised!!
Some of the women and older kids were there sitting on the first rows and I don't think Paula knew that. One of the girls stood up and thanked Paula for all that she was doing to help with Hanna Home and all of the sudden Paula said " You live at Hanna Home, don't you?" The girl replied "yes" and Paula gave her the biggest hug and cried so hard she couldn't speak. It was really very touching. Paula's heart is a big as a Georgia cotton field.....

Now, there were many tears but I have to say there was much more laughter! Paula Deen is a very funny lady. And very southern! She comes bouncing out on stage after a sweet introduction by the governor's wife, kicks her shoes off, takes a big ol' sip from her Taco Bell cup and says "Hey Y'all!" She is joined on stage by Birmingham's famed Chef Clayton and the she starts the cooking demo by saying "Listen y'all.... Chef Clayton and I can't teach you to cook. If y'all came here tonight expectin' to learn how to cook, y'all goin' to be disappointed!" She told us that she was probably no better of a cook than most of us in the audience.... that she just happened to make a living at it. "It's nothing to be scared of, y'all. It's just food. It's just food. If it doesn't turn out then just feed it to the dogs.... "

The cooking demo didn't quite go ever as well as I think Chef Clayton wanted! Paula turned the mike over to the crowd and answered questions and mingled out in the audience the whole night. She has us rolling with laughter telling stories of her childhood and flirting with every man she could! She listened to stories from audience members and gave out hugs, kisses and lots of photo opps. Paula is just a regular ol' Georgia gal that happened to make it in the culinary world... What you see is what you get with her... She holds nothing back. Her one liners are great... A 15 year old boy stood up and told Paula that he taught a cooking class to his homeschool group and wanted to know if she had any advice for him or his students. She said " Yeah. Go to medical school and cook on the weekends!" The crowd roared in laughter!

While Stephanie and I were traveling down to Birmingham, Steph said " You have to see this recipe I pulled out of Food and Wine..... It's a recipe for Krispy Kreme bread pudding." " You are kidding!" I screamed. " Daddy loves Krispy Kreme and he REALLY loves bread pudding... I have to copy that recipe and make it! He is going to freak..." We left the conversation at that and traveled on to Birmingham..... Well, Paula makes her way over to our area when she was out in the audience and a lady stands up and tells Paula that she has never laughed so hard as when Paula did the segment at Krispy Kreme and was eating the doughnuts hot, right off the conveyer belt! And that she loved the Krispy Kreme bread pudding recipe...... Stephanie's eyes grew as big a saucers and she ripped that folded up Food and Wine page out of her bag. "Oh. My. God. I cannot believe we were just talking about this recipe on the way down here, not KNOWING it was hers! This is WEIRD!" She whispered. " No kidding... this is freaky!" Paula comes very close to us and without thinking I scream "Miz Paula!" "Yes baby?" says Paula Deen. " My friend here just pulled this recipe out of Food and Wine and it is a recipe for YOUR Krispy Kreme bread pudding!!" Paula thought it was hilarious that her recipe was in Food and Wine and had no idea they had published it. The credit for the recipe goes to someone else in the magazine... but we all know only a Southern Girl could come up with Krispy Kreme doughnuts, heavy cream, 10 eggs and 2 cups of milk! I had to make this recipe straight away!

Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding

1 1/2 dozen glazed doughnuts, cut into sixths
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
10 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 250°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the doughnut pieces on baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes, until dry on the outside and semi firm in the center. Raise the oven temperature to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk 2 cups of the cream with the milk, egg yolks, whole eggs and condensed milk. Add the doughnut pieces and let soak until the pieces are softened, about 1 hour; stir every 15 minutes.
Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spoon the doughnut mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Set the dish in a roasting pan and add enough water to the pan to reach halfway up the side of the baking dish. Bake the bread pudding for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for about 20 minutes longer, or until the bread pudding is set.
Preheat the broiler. Broil the bread pudding for about 3 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Let cool for 30 minutes. Take insulin shot.....and enjoy.

Stephanie and I had a great time..... We were able to fight our way to the stage after the show was over and I managed to get our books signed. I also purchased a signed Ladies Auxiliary apron! Steph and I decided that we are going to take up stalking famous chefs and food personalities..... next on our list is Alton. He lives in Atlanta, ya know.....

Until next time I leave you with another Paulaism...."Get some South in your mouth!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Martha Madness

Well.... I received the new Martha Stewart Baking Handbook in the mail the other day. I have read all the way through it... taking it to bed with me each night and devouring it like a sensational novel. I have read through each and every recipe and have come to conclusion that I must bake my way throughout this entire book. Yeah I know, just call me Julie.... well, on second thought, don't. Please.
A couple of other blogging bakers and I have decided to start a full out Martha madness blog... called Good Things. Alicat of Something So Clever is the mastermind behind this project and has been working hard to put the site together..... I have decided that for my contribution to Good Things I am going to bake every single little recipe in Martha's new book and post on all of them... I will also be testing out the Martha Stewart Kids stuff on Kathryn and reporting on that as well. I think it is going to be a neat "project" and I hope after this is all over I will have a good grasp of baking.... If anything maybe I will once and for all learn how to bake a MOIST cake....
Speaking of moist cakes.... here is one that was not. at all. so dry we almost choked on it.

Marble Cake with White Chocolate Glaze p65
1 Stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350 and generously butter a 9x5 loaf pan. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.... set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Set aside one third of the batter.

In a bowl mix together the cocoa and the boiling water to form a thick paste. Add the cocoa mixture to the reserved batter and still until well combined.

Spoon the batters into the prepared pan in two layers, alternating spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate batter to simulate a checkerboard pattern. To create the marbling, run a table knife through the batters in a swirling motion. Careful not to get crazy with this... too much "swirling" and it won't look as beautiful.

Bake, rotating the pan half way through, until cake tester come out clean, about 40-50 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Pour glaze over and serve.

White Chocolate Glaze p65
3/4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
2 1/4 ounces best quality white chocolate

In a small bowl, whik together the confectioners sugar and milk. The mixture should have the consistency of thin sour cream. Add in the melted and cooled chocolate and whisk until glaze is smooth. If it is too thin, add more sugar... if it is too thick, add more milk. Use immediately.

Now this is a pretty little darlin' and I was thrilled at the beauty of it when it came out of the oven. Even my jaded husband commented on how nice it looked. It smelled unbelievable and I knew it was going to be delicious. I was so damn sure that I decied to take it to a a friends house for after dinner dessert. I had to make the glaze on location but it is really a simple glaze so that was no big deal. We all finished up dinner and dove straight into the marble cake.... only to find the water had been drained out. Ouch.. this was a bad cake. A very bad cake.
Here is what I think went wrong......
1. I used special dark cocoa for the paste and the chocolate batter was just too.... chocolate-y. Too bitter.
2. I had a major brain fart and for SOME REASON forgot all about adding in the buttermilk until after I was completley done with the mixing and just happened to see it sitting there in it's measuring cup, poised and ready. The recipe called for the flour and buttermilk to be added in alternating stages... ending with the flour. Well, that didn't happen this time.... the buttermilk, all the buttermilk, went in at the very end.
3. I baked it too long. As usual.

Someone please make this and let me know how it comes out. Learn from my mistakes and give me the verdict on this little baby....

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Banana Rama

I think I have a serious crush on the banana...(get your mind out of the gutter, kids) because I seem to be making something banana flavored everytime I turn around. Last week I made two batches of banana walnut chocolate chip rum raisin bread. Good lord I love that bread... It is just so decedent. Here is a link to the post featuring that recipe.

This week's banana recipe is from the
More from Magnolia cookbook. It is Banana Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. Now I have to say that I was really surprised I pulled this one off. I was running low on time and smack dab in the middle of teaching my sister how to make Veal Marsala, and for some unknown reason I thought "Hey, I think I will whip up some sort of cake... and use these bananas." The bananas were literally on the verge of decomposition. But I swear, black bananas make the best bread. I won't even think of using them until they at least have gnats circling them. So I peeled my black bananas, dug out the sure enough rotten parts and mashed them to a pulp. I covered that up, killed a few gnats and got on with the veal. After the veal was simmering away and my sister finished up dinner, I made the rest of the batter and popped the batter in the oven. The cakes came out surpisingly light springy and the perfect shade of golden brown. They did, of course, have the ugly hump on top like they always do... but I am getting all "professional" these days and actually leveling cakes. I nearly sliced my finger off in the leveling process, but I did end up with a sound layer cake, so if I had lost a finger it wouldn't have been in vain.

The cream cheese white chocolate icing was a breeze. I melted my white chocolate only to see afterwards that I was NOT to use baking chocolate.... I was supposed to use a fine white chocolate.... but it was near midnight and baking chocolate seemed just fine. So I melted and creamed and blended and ta da..... icing. I do wish I had let the icing cool off a bit and let it thicken up .... it seemed too liquid-y when I was spreading it on.... but again, it was midnight and it was time to end this cake adventure.

Banana Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing


3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 ½ cups VERY ripe bananas
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325.
Grease and flour two 9” cake pans, then line with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the bananas. Add half the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated. Add in the buttermilk and vanilla and then the second half of the dry ingredients, mixing well. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes….

1 pound cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces white chocolate (such as Lindt…. Do not use baking chocolate… although we all know I did) melted and cooled to lukewarm temperature.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until nice and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and beat well. Add in the melted chocolate and mix well… Use immediately or store covered, at room temp for up to 4 hours.

Let the cake layers cool to room temp, level, and ice between the layers of cake, then ice the top and sides and enjoy getting fat…….