March 25, 2012 Leave a comment

I seriously overestimated the amount of fruit and nuts I needed (math was never my strong suit). When I forked over 45 bucks for the fixings I thought maybe I’d have to find a new hobby. Rock collecting, perhaps. The recipe itself was easy enough to follow but very time-consuming and when the little pastries slumped in the oven, I nearly cried. That is, until I tasted one. Then I got over the fact that they didn’t look pretty. In fact, I didn’t know what they were supposed to look like at all. Nor had I tasted one so it was all new to me. When I disclosed that to a friend in New York City last week, she promptly took me off to Zabar’s for the real thing.
Obviously, mine don’t come close. Zabar’s version has more of a cookie texture than mine but to each his own, I guess. What I learned: make them smaller. Stuff them less. Roll them much, much tighter. And, given the time they take, I’d only make these for really special occasions.

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If it’s not chocolate, why bother?

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment


As my sister says, “if it’s not chocolate why bother?”  But then, we are a family of chocoholics -except for my mother who somehow manages not be swayed by the power of desserts. Why couldn’t she have passed on those genes?

I confess to having had a few moments of pause when making the chocolate mousse tarts.  I used the food processor because, frankly, I’m lazy, and I was trying to get the crust in the fridge before leaving for my yoga class … bad planning, I know.  When I dumped the fixings onto the counter, it all looked very, well, dry. I resisted the temptation to add more water and was pleasantly surprised to see how it came together when I smeared it around with the heel of my hand. So far, so good.

Later … returning from yoga (relaxed and ready to roll -ha!) … I rolled out the by-now very chilled crusts which needed a bit of nudging to come together. By patching and smushing (a technical term), I did get them to look relatively snug in the tart pans.  Popped them the oven and moved onto the filling.

I have to say I was very glad to be able to consult other TWD bakers to see how their filling looked because I wasn’t so sure about my “diced” chocolate or my “chopped” biscotti.  More like crumbled bits of biscotti and slivers of chocolate.  Out of the oven, I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or disappointed or what.  They didn’t look very pretty.  Several of the tarts stuck, despite my diligent buttering beforehand.  As a result, some of the crusts broke.  Boo Hoo.

Clearly, I have to learn how to finish my baking efforts.  I tried swirling or smushing (that word again), a bit of white chocolate to dress it up but I’m afraid it just looks like a blob. Fortunately, the taste was not affected.  My husband said he only wanted a small slice but ended up eating an entire tart (and he’s not even genetically related to my family … !), pronouncing it “ridiculously good”.  Agreed.

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Wonder Bread!

February 13, 2012 1 comment

Ah, the only thing that is better than the smell of freshly baked bread is a thick, warm slice slathered with butter. I loved how these loaves turned out but I’m on the fence about the amount of work.  I have been making 5-minute bread, which is (not surprisingly) a whole lot easier for daily artisan bread.  The White Bread recipe is definitely the winner in the taste/texture department but there is also something to be said about being able to mix a big batch of  dough once a week, throw it in the fridge and pull off a chunk whenever you want fresh artisan bread for dinner.

Wonder bread

The only problem I had with the White Bread recipe is that it nearly wrecked my KitchenAid mixer.  After 5 minutes of beating the dough, the mixer was smoking so I had to stop and do the rest on my own.  The other challenge is kneading. I’m a potter so I always have to remind myself that I am making bread not clay – two entirely different things.  One needs air, the other does not.

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