TWD: Caramel Crunch Bars

These, I must say, have been a mixed bag.

Caramel Crunch Bars

Initially, I was disappointed with them. The instant coffee in the batter was too strong.  The thin cookie was too crisp. The toffee pieces got stuck in my teeth.

But this being the second day they have been in my cake dome, sliced (some broken) and ready for snacking at a moment’s notice, I feel much better about them. As in, I can’t stop eating them. But that may be because I doubled the chocolate on top.

Let me explain.

As you can see from the recipe (Thanks to Whitney, who chose the cookies we all baked this week and will post the recipe), the thin and buttery pan cookie is baked, topped with chocolate ( I used milk chocolate bars rather than the bittersweet chocolate Dorie recommended) to melt, and then sprinkled with toffee. However, I got sidetracked in the kitchen and I forgot the toffee!  When I discovered my mistake 24 hours later, I topped the cookies with another candy bar, returned them to the oven to melt the chocolate, and then sprinkled them with the toffee.

It was fine.  I sliced most of them and broke several along the way, and now am enjoyed them each and every time I walk into the kitchen….got to pass the cake dome to get to the fridge, the laundry room, the kitchen sink…. They’re not my favorite, but they’ll do.

In the meantime, my TWD posts will be few and far between for a while, as I will be moving!  Cross your fingers for good weather at the end of March.

TWD: Devil’s Food White Out Cake

The idea of making the cake that is on the cover of Dorie’s cookbook was totally overwhelming.  I knew that mine would never look like that glossy covermodel in my dining room and that I would make myself crazy trying, so I went in a new direction:

Devil’s Food White Out Whoopie Pies!

Whoopie Pie

I made Dorie’s batter (substituting milk chocolate for bittersweet) and poured it into a 13×9 cookie sheet. I baked for 15 minutes, cooled for the rest of the afternoon, and then attacked the sheetcake with my heart shaped cookie cutter.

Each heart was slathered with Marshmallow Fluff and then stuck together like a Whoopie Pie.  It looked darling, especially next to the tulips I received from the Other Eater this weekend.

When we cut into them the next day, we found two problems: one, the cake had sort of dried out and wasn’t quite as perfect as the odds and ends I picked  out of the cookie sheets the night before, and two, the Fluff had run all over the little dishes, even though I had stored them covered in the fridge overnight.  Hmmmmm.

Granted, there are worse ways to spend a Monday night than licking fluff off my fork while Jack Bauer saves the free world, but still….you get the idea.

You can find the recipe here, where  Stephanie shows off two different cakes made from the same batter.

Mini Cherry-Pecan Streusel Loaves

Yum Yum Yum

Cherry loaves

I picked up this recipe for mini loaf cakes at Christmas time when I was trying to expand my holiday baking menu (many of our gift exchanges were canceled this year, so I felt inspired to bake really good stuff for friends and family members who hosted gatherings) but I never got to them.  When I finally did try these out recently, I was sorry it took me so long to get around to it. I took one to work, shared one with my sister-in-law, gobbled one myself (over several days, so simmer down, people) and I still have one in my freezer!

The cake it moist and vanilla-y and fluffy and light, if that is even possible.  It was just perfect – not at all like the dense bricks you get at mega-coffee shops in the morning. I used dried sour cherries, which I really enjoyed as a contrast to the sweet vanilla cake. And because they were dried the color didn’t run into the snowy white cake at all and the color contrast was beautiful (though you can’t really tell in this photo because I didn’t have quite enough cherries on hand and I was being too lazy to go buy more)!

And, no, I did not wrap them all cute like Martha suggests (see lazy, above), but I will consider it for the next holiday season.

Enjoy, folks!

TWD: World Peace Cookies

When I think of foods that can save the world, I think of rice (Play this game! Feed the hungry!), cow (give the gift of a farm) and peanut M&Ms (they just take the edge off of everything). I do not think of double chocolate salted cookies.


World Peace?

These were nice, and the Other Eater in my Household and I were more than happy to polish a few off over the weekend, but they aren’t something I’m going to run home and bake again the next time we have a bad week at work and need a little culinary comfort. Nobody is sneaking any of these from under the dome after we officially cut ourselves off for the night. They remain safe in the cake dome nearly a week after baking.

Nevertheless, the World Peace cookies offered a nice flavor palate (they say that on the Food Network competitions all the time), what with the sweet and salty combination.  And I detected a bit of a graininess when I chewed them, which I always appreciate. But I actually preferred these cookies the day after I stored them beside a loaf of coffee cake in my cake dome; the cake made the cookies a little softer, and I preferred that to the straight-from-the-oven crispiness they had at first bite.

I’m looking forward to the next Dorie recipe. While these weren’t my favorites, they certainly were good and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to bring them to a party. You can find the recipe at cookbookhabit (her’s are a lot neater than mine looked from the top).

Super Foods

This article in the New York Times Web site lists the 11 best (and most reasonable) foods that we all should be eating:

  1. Beets: a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.
  2. Cabbage: loaded with sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes.
  3. Swiss chard: packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes.
  4. Cinnamon: May control blood sugar and cholesterol.
  5. Pomegranate juice: loaded with antioxidants and may lower blood pressure.
  6. Dried plums: packed with antioxidants.
  7. Pumpkin seeds: packed with magnesium, which is associated with lower risk for early death.
  8. Sardines: high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese, as well as a full complement of B vitamins.
  9. Turmeric: anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
  10. Frozen blueberries: associated with better memory in animal studies.
    How to eat: Blended with yogurt or chocolate soy milk and sprinkled with crushed almonds.
  11. Canned pumpkin: high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A; fills you up on very few calories.

Now, nevermind how many of these foods are currently in my pantry, nor those which might have made an appearance on my grocery bills over the last 6 months.  Let’s focus on the positive: I had two meals (plus leftovers) with cabbage this week, and I liked them both!

I rediscovered cabbage a year or so ago when my mother-in-law cleaned out her refrigerator prior to extended travel (that means she sent a bag of leftover groceries to my house) and I was determined to find uses for the items that I would NEVER have purchased for myself (except for the Greek yogurt; that I threw straight down the garbage disposal). The Canadian bacon made a fine breakfast strata, but the cabbage sent me to the bookshelf.

In The Best Vegetable Recipe cookbook (put out by the fine folks at Cooks Illustrated), I found two recipes that I’ll use again and again, I’m sure.  Braising cabbage with green apple and apple juice pairs well with pot stickers from the frozen food aisle at Trader Joe’s, and then this weekend I braised the cabbage with beer and brown mustard in which I had previously cooked pork brats.  Yum.

That’s probably not the way the New York Times wants me to eat cabbage. But such is life.