French Apple Tart

Instead of doing a single tart, I pulled out my tartlet pans from last February’s recipe. I liked the idea of single portion sized tartlets rather than a huge tart.

I didn’t plan this recipe out very well! I thought that it would be easy to do all in one day, with the exception of making the pie dough the night before. Boy, was I freakin’ wrong! These weren’t difficult to make, but the time commitment was a bear! I started at 9:30 a.m. By the time I got to the topping the tarts, the directions, “working slowly and carefully.’ was not going to happen, I’m sorry to say. My attention to detail, lack of patience and no skill at putting apple slices in a circle was as thinly sliced as the apple topping. I laughed out loud when I read, “If you have turned off the oven, . . .” Well, Leslie Mackie anticipated that one! Because I had, indeed, turned off the oven! I, so, wanted it over! Eventually, it was. Over, that is. After only four and one half hours, I finally had six warm tarts cooling on the rack.

Would I make this again?  Yes, but I would plan it better!

So, the outcome is pictured below. Presentation sucks, but they were good.

French Apple Tartlets with Unusual Design

French Apple Tartlets with Unusual Design

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Pizza with Onion Confit

The stone and the peel arrived and I got it done! I loved this recipe and loved have the fragrance of the onions simmering in the red wine! It made my day seem very good!  BUT, with all things, there was only one thing I did not like – opening that bottle of red wine. While I know that others just breeze through the skill of opening a bottle wine with elegance and aplomb, I still struggle with the cork screw and I look like I’m wrestling with a wolverine. After spending 20 minutes pushing and turning an ugly claw like implement (the corkscrew), I put that stupid bottle between my legs and try to gently pull that cork out. Gentle does not always work. It was not a pretty sight.

Nevertheless, I got it done and baked the pizza on the stone using the peel!  It’s an accomplishment!  (Just so you, dear reader, knows – I didn’t use the goat cheese. Goat cheese makes my mouth itch! So I went conservative and stayed with mozzarella! It was terrific!)

Pizza dough waiting for the cheese and onion confit

Pizza dough waiting for the cheese and onion confit

Pizza on a peel

Pizza on a peel

Rugelach Redux

I swore on my March posting that I would NEVER make this again. And I hadn’t until December 23rd when I gave my husband a choice:  rugelach or biscotti. I don’t know what possessed me on the rugelach – it just blurted out of my mouth like a Freudian slip. And wouldn’t you know . . . the husband chose the rugelach! With a sign and my rolling pin, I went at it.

This time it was better. I pulled it off almost!  I actually enjoyed making it once the dough began to give a little when I started to roll it out. And except for the slightly burnt bottoms (that’s the almost part) from the carmelization, they came out fairly well!  And this time I have a picture of it!  And maybe, just maybe, I might try these again.  (BTW: that new food processor came in handy, too!)

Rugelach for the holidays!

Rugelach for the holidays!

Finnish Pulla

This recipe was easy to do. I loved braiding, although getting the dough into three long pieces was a challenge. I think this is a skill I’m going to need to practice a lot. I’d pull to extend, only to have it bounce back to only a slightly longer version of the original length. It was progress, but slow progress. When I lined them up to prepare to braid, they looked a little frightening. The braiding was much easier. And at least I know how to do that!

Pulla dough looking a bit scary

Pulla dough looking a bit scary

Once I finished all the braiding, I had to make the bow. Another new skill. My bow turned out more like a Salvadore Dali image (you know the dripping clocks) and it is barely seen in the final product. BUT, I did it! And in the end, it was really a good bread. I was disappointed that my egg wash didn’t cover the bread as I expected. I slopped a lot on, but when the bread baked and expanded, it lost the gorgeous browning glaze.  Was I supposed to egg wash before I braided?  I don’t know. But I was still proud of the final product and took pictures to show friends. And almost everyone asked why I put such huge pieces of garlic on the bread!  I shook my head and said, “Those are almonds!”  My husband liked it and that’s all that counts. For today. . .

Finnish Pulla with almonds!

Finnish Pulla with almonds!

Baby Gingerbread Cakes

I decided to splurge and bought a set of 4 springform baby cake pans. I thought this would be a good idea and I liked the idea of having these tiny pans. Weren’t they cute???? When they arrived, I took them apart to wash them. That took 45 minutes. 2 minutes to wash and dry them and 43 minutes to put them back together. Their cuteness wore off.

After that task was complete, I then pulled out all the ingredients. Which was exciting since putting together the molasses, chocolate, espresso coffee and ginger was intriguing to me. So I lined them up on the counter and went to work.

The Baby Gingerbread Cake prep!

The Baby Gingerbread Cake prep!

From there it was easy going. Once I realized I had less than the 2 cups of molasses, I halved the recipe and prayed. It worked! The cakes turned out well (I wouldn’t say beautifully). It was a richer gingerbread than I have known, but it was really good. And my husband liked it too!

Prepping to store a baby gingerbread cake

Prepping to store a baby gingerbread cake

So we pulled out the holiday mugs and made a bit of a party of it!

Getting in the holiday mood with gingerbread cake and tea in holiday mug!

Getting in the holiday mood with gingerbread cake and tea in holiday mug!

Then it was time to clean up and wash those springform pans – this time 40 minutes. Yippeee! I’m acquiring a new skill!

And while this bit of splurging on baby cake pans was a little extravagant, I took this action to a new level. On Cyber Monday, I bought the 12 cup Cuisinart Food Processor!  What a deal.  You can see the empty box in the background of first picture!  Happy holidays!

Best-Ever Brownies

Many years ago, when I dabbled in baking (and I was NOT very good), I found a recipe in Maidia Heatter’s cookie book (name now forgotten) in which she claimed that they were the ‘best brownies ever!’

So, I made them.

Then I entered them in a bakeoff contest (something I had never done) because I was convinced that if these were the ‘best brownies ever’ then I was sure to win a bakeoff.

Right?

Wrong.

Of course I didn’t win.

I did not win because all brownies are the ‘best ever’ unless you have a preference for super moist over cakey. Or you hate chocolate (blondies don’t count as a brownie in my land. . . )

I also did not win because I was a darned awful baker and entering a contest on a whim, well, it had to be beginner’s luck (which wasn’t in my corner at the time.)

However, in the present I can say that these turned out pretty darn good. I added walnuts because the man in the house casually mentioned the organic walnuts in the freezer (hint, hint) and so I threw them into the batter.

After they cooled I sliced them up, wrapped them and threw them in the freezer to take to family on Thanksgiving. Only I forgot to take the photo of them looking nice on a plate. So I pulled them out and unwrapped one and here’s the picture.

Best-Ever Brownies

Best-Ever Brownies: Packed for the freezer

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! 

And if you can’t have pumpkin pie – have a brownie because there are

NO BAD BROWNIES!

Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

Pretty darn easy! No concerns, no worries, just a straightforward recipe. I liked them but wasn’t thrilled by them. They were not all that challenging to make and the flavor was good, but there wasn’t a WOW factor for me. That being said, it was a pretty challenging week here in New England and a comfort food like this one was not unwelcome. As you can see from the pictures, they were pretty flat on top – I don’t think I put in enough batter to have the muffin top factor (actually, that is resting above my jeans right now . . . ) But, I was able to pull them out of the cups (I used liners because I just didn’t want to add more oil/ shortening to the muffins) and they came out nicely. They were pretty good warm, but this morning they had that heavy, dead dough quality that day old muffins acquire. So I sent them with my husband to take to his staff meeting at work. My own experience with staff meetings is that one will eat anything to keep from having to respond or volunteer for extra tasks!

Later that night:  The Husband came home with the news that the muffins were a hit at work and disappeared. Then he added, “But they are used to those box coffee cakes so, I guess (my italics) these were a real treat!”

Hmmmm . . . I’m going with the compliment.

Buttermilk Crumb Muffins on Plate

Buttermilk Crumb Muffins Cooling