Baking with Julia – Boca Negra

IMG_0155Anyone who read my previous post knows that my Valentine’s Day this year was less than perfect. Adding to the general haze of misfiring cooking abilities and time management issues was this little gem. I had actually planned to make it the day before Valentine’s Day but had neglected to read the instructions and didn’t realize that the white chocolate bourbon cream topping needed to sit in the fridge overnight. Whoops. So I thought “Well I will just have two decadent desserts for Valentine’s Day.” I mean, it is a holiday after all. I usually make AT LEAST two pies or desserts of some sort for Thanksgiving and Christmas so why should V-day get the shaft? So on the morning of Valentine’s Day I assembled this seemingly simple and easy little guy. Everything goes into the food processor for a little whirl and then into a bain marie in the oven for a measly half hour. Easy squeezy, right? Yeah, whenever I’m overconfident it always backfires. Always.

IMG_0143Mmmmmmm bourbon and sugar are cozying up together on the stovetop. Actually, that looks like peepee but it smelled really good. Like much better than it should have at 8 in the morning. I wonder if I should be worried about that?

IMG_0144As you can see, I took the lazy lady way and used bittersweet chocolate chips for the majority of the chocolate in this. I really hate chunking up chocolate bars for some reason. But they got the job done. The yummy, sugary bourbon got poured over this chocolate mess, some butter and eggs joined the fun and away we go!

IMG_0146Turns out that not only is my braiser awesome for things like, oh I don’t know….braising, but it is also the perfect pan for doing a bain marie! I never had a roasting pan that was wide enough for any of my round baking pans before so I am much more excited about this than I rightfully should be. Now a whole new world of cheesecake making is opening up right at my feet. I am scared for my thighs and ass.

So things look pretty good in that pic right? Looks like I have everything under control. Here are the directions (paraphrased, mind you) for the next step: Immediately take the pan out of the water bath and dry it with a towel. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plastic wrap. Remove the parchment round from the bottom of the cake, then invert it back onto a flat plate to cool. Does that sound easy to you? Well here’s a newsflash for you, it’s not! I cannot even count the number of expletives that came out of me during this process. In one of the flips I kind of broke the boca negra in half because it went half onto the plate and half off and I sort of burned my finger and……..it was just not good. Consequently I did not have time to blow-dry my hair and felt very disheveled for most of the day. I realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly hate this whole flip it out and then invert it business. Why do so many recipes ask this of me?

So I was feeling a milder form of my Bitch Cake anger for most of the day and then the Coeur a la Creme was a flat pancake booby and we didn’t eat dinner until 9 – not a great day for me all around. Even though this dessert did not look the greatest, it tasted amazing. Super rich and decadent and the bourbon cream? I can’t even talk about it. When I was making it I may or may not have drunk the last few drops of it right out of the food processor bowl. That probably happened. I know the dollop of cream on the top of the piece is enormous but I was kind of proud of my almost-quenelle shape and I didn’t feel I could destroy it. Until it went in my mouth. Then I destroyed it utterly and completely.

IMG_0158How does everyone feel about bourbon? I had never tried it until this last spring when I made mint juleps for a party and I gotta say, I’m a fan. Bourbon = yum.

IMG_2571If you want to give this super chocolatey, super bourbon-y treat a try, visit Cathy at Frederick Food Garden for the recipe.

French Fridays with Dorie – Coeur a la Creme

IMG_0153Obviously this did not turn out great. It looks like a huge flat pancake boob. Yes it’s true, I didn’t buy a special heart mold to make this in and instead used my conical strainer but in my defense, I thought I would be able to shape it a little bit after I unmolded it. I did sort of half-assed attempt to find the mold, meaning I went to one store and they didn’t have it so I gave up, but then I just thought “Be like Tim Gunn, Maggie – make it work!” Wow, I just googled it hoping to steal an image from somewhere and lots of people made this work. Like, lots of people.

Ugh, yesterday was just not my day. I had to work until 6 PM and were you aware that working until 6 PM does not lend itself kindly to making a delicious and timely meal for Valentine’s Day? I planned to make a homemade Chicken Pot Pie which doesn’t sound fancy but it’s Tristan’s favorite and I make a very nice pot pie. Unfortunately, pot pie takes some work. What with making the crust and letting it chill, chopping the veggies and the chicken and making the filling and letting it thicken, putting it together, baking it, & cooling it, it’s kind of a process. I did make the crust at work so I cut that step out, but everything else I started at 6:35 when I got home from work. So yeah, we ate dinner at 8:50. But this was our dinner:

IMG_2549Admittedly it’s not my best work, but I was pressed for time and it’ll do. Now back to this flat boobish thing. This is what it was supposed to look like:

IMG_2552Can you see why I thought I could mold it into a heart? I mean that looks like a pretty sturdy piece of crustless cheesecake right? Wrong! Mine was kind of like a gelatinous, whipped cream consistency cheesecake. And guess what – I have two of them! The recipe did not fit into the strainer I had planned on using so I hauled out the other one and now I have two piles of this delicious but not great looking goo in my fridge. Maybe I will make a crust tonight and pour it in there and bake it for a little and see what happens. That sounds fun. Also when I added the raspberry coulis that I made to the mix, it just looks like a crime scene photo. Just not great.

IMG_0162Coeur a la Creme is so not my jam. Sorry Doristas, I tried.

IMG_0159I’m at the point now where I just want to keep making fun of it though. Look at that sad, sad, pile of goo. Hahaha I am reminded of one of my favorite parts of Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion and I will leave you with that.

 

 

 

French Fridays with Dorie – Secret Valentine Reveal!

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My Secret Valentine was Michelle Willard Hoffer and she was really on the stick. I got these the day before the Superbowl – way to be on top of things Michelle! In fact, I used the bag of Valentine Reese’s Hearts to make this delicious Chubby Hubby Snack Mix for the Superbowl, so it was really nice that these came so early!

I have to confess, I don’t recognize my Valentine’s name – I tried looking on the FFWD page and on the FFWD Facebook page and I could not find her blog anywhere. Maybe I am dumb but I really did try. In any case, thank you for the package Michelle – it was really fun to receive and I think I will keep the box forever because it looks like a big Hershey bar – check it out:

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The cookies Michelle made me are a Dorie recipe (from Baking From My Home to Yours, I think) called World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie and while that is a dangerous claim to make, they were pretty darn good. Crisp, buttery, and bursting with little Hershey’s chocolate pieces, they are perfect dunked in milk or coffee. I know that because I just ate two of them dunked in my coffee for breakfast. Don’t judge me.

World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 t salt

3/4 t baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 t pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chopped (she used Hershey’s Baking Melts and chopped them with a hand chopper)

1 cup finely chopped walnuts (because I am a weirdo I would leave the nuts out but I know that I am the weird one and most people love walnuts)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

Beat the butter at medium speed for one minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another two minutes, until well-blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing just until incorporated.

Mix in the chocolate and nuts by hand with a wooden spoon or stiff spatula.

Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about two inches between spoonfuls. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, one sheet at a time, rotating the sheet halfway through baking. Let the cookies rest for about one minute on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Something I learned from this experience: International shipping is hella expensive! the first time I went to the post office to mail my box to my Valentine they wanted $50 – um, no. I got some advice on packaging and redid things a bit so on my second attempt they only needed $19.90. That is definitely doable but seriously, the box weighed under 2 lbs. And obviously whatever plane it flew on was going to Australia with or without my box so I really think shipping costs are CRAZY. I don’t ship internationally often (well, ever) so maybe I was and still am just suffering from the sticker shock of it all. I will say that it did give me a grim sort of satisfaction that I got the price down to less than half of what I was originally quoted though. Also, sometimes people at the post office are so nice and other times they are so flippin’ cranky! I walked in at 11:40 to ship this box and the first thing the lady says to me is “Fill out this form and we ARE closing at noon.” Thanks for the update but I highly doubt it will take me over 20 minutes to fill out this form Postmaster General. But then when I went in the next day she was super nice to me. Maybe she just didn’t have enough coffee the day before?

This exchange was another fun “e-vent” organized by Alice from A Mama, A Baby, and a Sharpei in the Kitchen and if you want to check out some other cookie recipes you can find a bevy of them here on the FFWD site. Cookies for everyone! Oh and Happy Valentine’s Day!