And thus we come to the latter half of the year in my annual baking review. July
As posted I proclaimed July Gluten-Free baking month! And as noted flour substitutions for gluten-free items from the book Gluten-Free Cookies by Luane Kohnke got kind of pricey. In particular xantham gum ($13 at Whole Foods! Aye!).
First up was jam thumbprints.
These were tasty! Nice butter cookies with a granular texture. Many enjoyed them and I'd make these again. Thing with gluten-free dough from this book was that all doughs needed to be refrigerated for at least an hour. So no baking and then going on the run. You had to let things sit for a bit. And also the mixing of flours and thickeners gets kinda messy. Just sayin'.
Next up was macadamia white chocolate blondies. These were super sweet even for me. Because of the lack of thickener from regular all-purpose flour and the fact that the measurements didn't provide for a lot of substitutes of gluten-free items it was quite dense, more so than you may want in a blondie with a kind of doughy, undercooked texture to it which increases the sweetness of it. My co-workers enjoyed it though.
Follow up to that was sweet cinnamon snickerdoodles. These were good and very much like what you'd expect a snickerdoodle to taste though add the granular texture and them being a bit lighter as well. Whereas the Sweet Melissa snickerdoodles I made had more bite to them these didn't leave you feeling as heavy. I made them for a friend who is a snickerdoodle addict and loves it in all forms. Something else to note with these gluten-free cookies is that they are precious cargo. So make sure to pack them tightly and carry carefully. I gave a couple to a friend who then stuffed them into her purse and then had crumbs within the hour.
After that was flourless peanut butter cookies. I added chocolate chips just 'cause. These were interesting to do as there are a handful of flourless recipes in Gluten-Free Cookies. And it introduced me to the fact that you can make items without flour that aren't meringue. You have to watch these cookies while they bake because they will burn in seconds if you do not take care. Also the peanut butter flavor was booming! With nothing to combat it (even the chocolate chip cookies were dormant) it was all peanut butter in every bite. Again, delicate to transport but good to eat!
And the last item for gluten-free baking month was chocolate peanut butter cups. A chocolate cookie with peanut butter filling inside. Any leftover peanut butter filling can be used to make flourless peanut butter cookies, but these were lighter because the peanut butter filling had egg whites in it.
I liked these. The cookie isn't overly sweet due to the unsweetened cocoa powder so you kind of rely on the peanut butter to give you a kick on the sweet side. Good and not chewy really, a disappointment for me, but somewhat crispy cookie. Better to transport because it's packed more but a big hit with my co-workers at the time.
And although this item was not gluten free I did owe two of my buds (shot out to ALev & Dessert Landscape) for their impending nuptials and so made them one of my fave recipes: dulce de leche & chocolate chunk bread pudding courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine (March 2008 issue).
This is all kinds of perfection. The perfect solid yet chewy texture that makes a great bread pudding. The mixture is made of a crapload of caramel with cream and you use challah bread to soak up the mixture which is sweet and buttery in itself. Add in chocolate chunks and then sprinkle powdered sugar when done and you have yourself the perfect bread pudding in my opinion. In all honesty I have yet to try one that even compares to the one I've made from this recipe three times. I certainly need to make it more often. But it's hard to part with. Every time I make it I have to give the bulk of it away and only get a taste. Perhaps it's for the best...
I improvised a recipe from the basic chocolate chip one and made white chocolate macadamia nut cookies since I had items left over from the blondies I made in July.
These were okay. I found that with using only white sugar instead of brown sugar it took away some of the flavor you get from the cookie so I'll have to work out the recipe again since I am a fan of the combination. Plus I had less macadamia nuts than I'd like.
Another item was double chocolate muffins from one of my go to books Cakes and Bakes. I had to stay up to make these and I have to say I was none too happy with the results. Even for a muffin they weren't very sweet. The double chocolate comes in because the muffin itself has chocolate and you top it with a white chocolate frosting that's really melted down white chocolate via a double broiler (or in my case a makeshift double broiler).
The unsweetened cocoa powder was something you tasted more than anything and could've used more sugar or chips or something inside to pump up the chocolate flavor. Also the white chocolate did not melt as easily as bittersweet or milk chocolate has for me which made the smearing on top quite difficult and irritating late at night. My new co-workers enjoyed them enough as I had made them for my boss before he "retired" but I felt as though I could do better. And I will. This...I vow.
This month brought birthdays and fall! So you know that meant some pumpkin cookie action. All good things to those who wait...
Before pumpkin there were Chocolate (chocolate) chip cookies. I added nuts inside to add some crunch and because I just like nuts. This was a recipe from Cakes and Bakes and inside the cookie you had the addition of almond extract instead of vanilla. This made these cookies a hit! I made these for a friend's birthday and she and her fiance enjoyed them thoroughly. I was informed in many Jewish treats almond extract is a key ingredient. The cookie itself was chewy but firm and the nuts and chocolate chips inside made these a nice treat when biting into it. Add in the almond extract and you get a new flavor that you weren't expecting and all of them work together yet don't overpower one another. Very nice.
Next up is another Cakes & Bakes recipe which was cinnamon seed bars (sans seeds). I'm not a fan of seeds in my goods so I don't really use them even if called for. Perhaps one day I will. This was more cake than bar I have to say and that may be because of the fact that sour cream is involved which automatically enhances moisture. These were very light so I just started calling them cinnamon cake after awhile. And while there is a boat load of cinnamon (a few tablespoons) it has a great taste and cinnamon doesn't seem like the only thing you savor. You get moist cake and cinnamon and it's great with tea/coffee/hot chocolate. And they keep well. I sent them to a friend in Australia (yes, another continent) and her and her husband enjoyed them a couple weeks down the line. Of course I saran-wrapped the hell out of the tupperware holding said cake. Nothing was getting in that box.
And to end September with an Original Creation! As blogged about previously I made a couple cookies based on books I enjoyed this year. The Cold Kiss coconut cookie is something that I have to give credit to the author of Cold Kiss Amy Garvey for creating such a lovely book and for letting me know she's a huge fan of coconut.
This is a soft cookie (you know I love those!) with a nice balance of coconut and vanilla. I wanted to make sure not to overdo the coconut so used coconut and vanilla extract but for the glaze atop it used vanilla only and sprinkled with coconut flakes. It worked perfectly and I wouldn't change a thing about this cookie. You can read Amy's responses in my blog post on these. She's a fan. Again, just sayin'.
October was a heavy baking month for me.
As with the Cold Kiss cookie, I made a book based on another fave young adult novel that released this year. This one by Laini Taylor entitled Daughter of Smoke and Bone called the Blue Karou chocolate hazelnut cookie.
Again, rather than repeat myself from my earlier post in October I am going to provide you the link here. As mentioned I was somewhat disappointed with this cookie as all the flavors I had hoped would come through didn't. But I was quite happy with the picture. Did you see it?
Next up was my latest attempt on the banoffee pie. I love banana and toffee and all things sugary sweet. So this is a fun pie to make. It came out better than the one I made via the Claire Robinson recipe last year. This time I went with the tride and true Paula Deen. And yup, this recipe had a boatload of butter. Seriously, it was oozing out of the graham cracker crust. As mentioned I made this pie for the Pie Party Live event that Jackie (aka The Diva that Ate New York) started with Ken (HungryRabbitNYC). It was super fun and I met super great people. It was a great and fun-filled as well as food filled time. Really great.
The problem with banoffee pie is that it is meant to be eaten immediately and needs to stay chilled. Since this was a pie party there was a lot to choose from and while it tasted fine after a couple hours it became a soggy mess. Lesson learned. I really need to make banoffee pie that will be eaten soon after I make it rather than piecemeal or at a large convention o' pies. Still sweet and good and everything you'd expect from Paula Deen in the dessert category.
Last but not least was one of my first new pumpkin recipes of the year: pumpkin snickerdoodles. My best friend sent me this recipe via recipegirl.com knowing my love of all things pumpkin.
These were interesting to try. They aren't overly orange and the pumpkin taste is light but there even though you have the standard pumpkin powders. Not only do you put them in the cookie dough but you roll the cookie in sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice.
And going back to the FoodNetwork I plucked a nice banana bread recipe (I replaced pecans with the ever indelible chocolate chips) from The Neely's. I had a bunch of bananas left and didn't want them to go to waste and made some scrumptious banana bread that also called for sour cream in the recipe. These became a fast fave and I ate half a loaf for dinner with milk. So good. The chocolate added to it. If you like bananas and chocolate this is the perfect recipe because the moisture is there. It's very much a bread and not a cake but is so delicious and sweet (in a subtle not overt way) that you cannot help but continue to gorge on it. I can't wait to make this again.
November and December were months I baked but nothing new. I baked a couple days of lemon ricotta cookies for friends and as christmas gifts. You can see from last year that these are a fast fave of mine and anyone who tries them. Thanks Giada! I also made some stuff from boxes. I had intended to bake something new this past weekend but a sudden hospital emergency threw that off. I doubt I'll do any new baking this year and will make sure to get right back to it in January. I mean I have to make up for lost time after all.
While I may be done with baking there are plenty going strong. Particularly one of the new baking blogs I enjoy Mercedes' Satisfy My Sweet. She has a bunch of pumpkin recipes. Hoorah!
I leave you with a lovely and wonderfully good linzer sandwich cookie my aunt made that I thoroughly enjoyed when she had us over for lunch one day. I have to credit my aunt with my interest and perhaps borderline (read: full on) obsession with baking. My earliest memory is of her helping me bake brownies using an EasyBake oven. Man those were tasty. She got the recipe for this cookie from The Barefoot Contessa. Another one who could do no wrong.
Peace and love and lots of baking to you and yours!