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Hey Kids!  Yea, I know it’s been awhile.  I haven’t had a lot to say, perhaps. Have no fears though, I still cook and bake like a fiend, trust me, every glance in my mirror attests to this fact.

This month, however, when I made my pilgrimage to the Daring Baker Forum I was immediately reminded of this guy….

...time to make the donuts!

I figured if he could drag his begrudging butt out of bed daily and make thousands of donuts so could I…well, a small batch at least!

A HUGE Thank You to Lori of “Butter Me Up” for a fantastic challenge, which has brought me out of my hiatus with the DB.

Being that I have been lax with the whole bloggy thing, I feel the need to go slow with getting back in the saddle.  So expect no tome this go ’round nor any outrageous wit just a few pretty pictures and a kick ass recipe!

First Pretty Picture….Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Candied Bacon.

The recipe I used was one Lori suggested and can be found here.  I made a couple changes, first I halved the recipe, fifteen doughnuts and fifteen holes would not make my mirror any happier!  I also added 4 TBS. cocoa , 1 TBS. melted butter and omitted the nutmeg.  Being I have never made the recipe before I can’t say my substitutions had any ill effect but I know that I was very pleased with how things worked out.  I did have a little concern the “dough” was too moist but a little time in the fridge to chill and firm it helped in making it very workable.

Before a trip to the fridge...

...out of the fridge, rolled, cut and ready for a hot oil bath...

I managed to get 6 doughnuts and 6 holes out of the halved recipe, which I fried 3 holes at a time and 2 donuts at a time.    After the second batch of holes came out and cooled a bit, I just could not resist a little taste.  Hmmm, I was a little concerned, it seemed as if the dough had soaked up way too much oil.  Fortunately, it was just a case of not letting the oil temp up after the first fry.  I really didn’t think a few degrees off would be a bad thing…it was… 375° all the way kiddos!!

...fry , Baby, fry...

...off to the racks, just call me Torquemada!

glazed, topped and ready to go!

And that my friends was my time in the kitchen for this months Daring Baker Challenge.  Short and oh so sweet!!  Again, big Thank Yous go out to Lori, you brought me back!

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

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May’s Daring Baker Challenge is here at last.  For me, this one was an instant “no brainer”….upon reading what we were to do, I was all but done.

This year will be 8 years since I lost both my Mother and my Mother-in-Law and it is in their memory that this Challenge was made.

For “Ma” and “LuLu”, we miss you, we love you and we look forward to the day we see you again!

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Quick notes on the challenge:

Impressive presentation which is easily accomplished.

The recipe can be found here and also on Cat’s site, Little Miss Cupcake.

I followed the recipe down to the letter, other than the addition of rose water to the pastry creme.

This Pate Choux had some major puff!!

Some random pictures along the way…

Rosewater Pastry Cream in the works.

1st egg in the mix, I actually had to use 5 eggs instead of 4.

...Choux baked and ready to fill.

No this is not a post about cows, their milk or their cream…at least not directly…it is a post about Tiramisu.  Specifically, The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge which was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Not the beauty I had envisioned!

Currently we are in the Lenten season and even though I am no longer a practicing RC, I think this is going to be a post of confessions.

Confession #1–  I was not overly fond of this version of Tiramisu, forgive me Aparna and Deeba…it is not that there was anything wrong with this one, other than the fact it is not the version that I often make.  In my version I do not combine the zabaglione, pastry cream and whipped cream but I alternate layers of lady fingers, zabs, lady fingers, pastry cream to the top, I then just put a small dollop of unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish and to help cut the richness of the entire dessert.

Confession #2– I had visions of grandeur as far as presentation, unfortunately that was all they were but visions.  I did not end up with the gorgeous savoiardi rimmed dessert I saw in my mind.

Confession #3– I thought that this was going to be a fun joint endeavor with Ray, you may know him as my partner in life but now he too is a partner in the DB.  So, I figured a joint effort and fun for all.  Apparently not!!  On baking day I overheard him say, “I am going to take you out”.  When I called him on this he then said, “that is NOT what I said.  I said, “I am going to BAKE you out!””  Rivals in the kitchen it shall be!!!!!!!  He isn’t exactly kitchen savvy but can hold his own and if I figure out how, I will give him props on his non-blogging post of his Tiramisu.

Confession #4– This is the part where I actually learned something I didn’t really know but it is also something that could cause me to become an ex DBer…… I did NOT make my own mascarpone!! May the powers that be hear my defense, please!!!!!  Apparently, there is a huge difference between Pasteurized and Ultra-Pasteurized dairy products.  Pasteurization is a lower temp longer time method which kills off the “bad critters” but leaves beneficial enzymes still intact.  Ultra- Pasteurization is a high temp quick time method which basically zaps everything in the milk, both good and bad.  Well, here in the States, Federal regulations make it a difficult task to find any dairy that is not Ultra-Pasteurized.  So, unless you are a dairy farmer or live damn close to one, finding only Pasteurized cream is almost impossible.  Off to Sunseri Bros. I went for my ready-made mascarpone.  I know I broke the rules but I confessed, so please, please, please Aparna, Deeba and the Powers that be forgive my indiscretion and let me remain a member of the fold!!!

Now that I have confessed and also sought absolution, let me tell you about the challenge.  Despite the fact that it was not my Tiramisu, it was a very good one at that.   I still prefer the separation of flavors as opposed to combining them.  The zabs and pastry cream recipes were pretty much on course with what I am used to.  The Savoiardi recipe is a little different from what I have used in the past but turned out stellar.  So much so that I think I may never buy a store-bought lady finger again.  If one actually breaks it down, especially in these times of tightened budgets, why purchase something pre-made when it can be done so easily and much more cheaply at home?

Final thoughts on the challenge would be to give it a go.  Aparna and Deeba came up with a great challenge which encompassed different techniques which when combined truly do come together in a heavenly fashion.  Thank You Ladies, Thank You Very Much!!!!

I will now leave you with an almost step by step pictorial on my making of the Savoiardi.  You can find the recipe for the Savoiardi/Lady Fingers and all other components here.

Starting the whites
Finished Whites- looks like a snowball, appropriate considering the weather we have h ad.

Incorporating the yolks into the whites- Love egg yolk gold!!!!!

2 steps later the fingers are piped- Not enough hands to photograph the folding in of the flour or the piping.

An attempt at creative flair, I dusted some cocoa stripes onto the fingers before baking.

Lady Fingers fresh out of the oven.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Once again, it is that time of the year….time certainly does fly.  Obviously, this is a Daring Baker post…they seem to be the only ones I have done as of late (I am hoping that in 2010, that will change)… and there are formalities to dispense of…

Most importantly…

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

The recipes can be found on their blogs and soon as I find the time to update my DB recipe page, you will find them there as well.

Again, time has certainly flown yet there is still some year left in 2009 and still a lot to do.  So I only have a few more things to say and then you can all go off and enjoy this Glorious time of year!!!!

Obviously, I want to thank Anna and Y for a fantastic challenge!

To all the other Daring Bakers across the globe I wish to send many thanks as well.  You all have inspired me with your immense talents…such very beautiful creations you all have done!!!

Of course, none of us would be here without our fearless Daring Baker Diva leaders!!!

Lisa & Ivonne

What a fantastic idea you had and how very wonderful of you both to share it with the world!!!!

I now leave you all one last wish…

May you have a Joyous and Merry Christmas* and a Happy New year!!

*so if you noticed the asterick and made it past the video to here, then here is where I am the Bear that I so typically can be.  Again wishing you a Merry Christmas, sorry but this is my holiday and I refuse to be PC about it, if it isn’t your holiday then disregard and have a Happy New Year!


Yep kiddies, that time again…well yesterday was that time…Daring Baker reveal for August!  I know, again I have been remiss, again I am behind but then if I were on time, you all might get “afeared” that I had been abducted by aliens and replaced with some sort of pod person….so consistent and behind I shall be.

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First and foremost…..The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar
and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Second…The excuses and the story!

Excuse #1- ‘Tis august, the thermometer is bulging….who wants to turn on the oven?

Excuse #2 through infinity- Refer to excuse #1.

The Story…..As some of you know, I have been absent from our beloved DB for a bit, too busy, too tired, too whatever, at the beginning of this month I was happy as a clam for a cake, my kind of cake, so I swore to all the baking and blogging Gods that I would “hell or highwater” manage to find the time.  Then, of course, the month intervened, vacations, bee stings, etc, etc, etc (all of which are lovely stories in and of themselves but I know you don’t want to hear them).  Then this morning arrives and I am sitting here with my coffee and cig and in my reader I notice….Dobos…..DobosDOBOS!!!!   “Aw crap!!” (that isn’t really the retort but I am trying a kinder and gentler approach here).  Yep, John will be John!

So off to work I go…BTW did I mention today was Fudge Day?  Yea, aside from the 96 gallons of ice cream we have been going through in a week, today was my day to make 140 lbs of fudge. Between the ice cream, the fudge, an employee on vacation and various classes of returning college kids…yea I had time to plan an attack on making a Dobos!!!!  Along about 4pm, in walked my inspiration….Ray (and for everyone going “awww” and tearing up…please!)…it wasn’t so much him , as it was the package of raspberries he just had to have that he wanted me to come up with something to make from them.  But alas, my dear sweet partner in life didn’t WANT CAKE!!!! (Lis, I think you have the proper retort for this one…can you be the one to say it please?)  Crunch time, now I have 2 desserts to come up with, yea right like that is going to happen….Ray will just have to be content with his nightly PB&J sandwich before bed!!!!! Yes people, we keep Smuckers and JIF afloat, not to mention Wonder Bread (yea he has to have the spongy flavorless white crap bread and if it didn’t take an extra 20 seconds, the crusts would be cut off also!).  At all times we have on hand 1 drum o’ Jif and 2 jars preserves, one strawberry the other raspberry.  Hmmm, raspberries, raspberry preserves, peanut butter, cake, dessert….can you feel the impending crescendo?  Viola!!!!  PB&J Torte!!!

Lastly, I give you the Mechanics!!!

As with any Daring Baker challenge that I complete, you can find the recipe here, on various other DBer Blogs and of course on our above mentioned Hostesses sites as well.

Here are my tweaks:

To the egg yolks in the batter I added 1/3 cup creamy Jif ( I think a bit more would have served me well)

For the buttercream I subbed white chocolate and also added 1/4 cup strained rasp. preserves.

Instead of doing the free-form rounds, as I feel I am rotund enough, I chose square and thus used 1/4 sheet trays to bake in, hence the reason I feel I got alot of “lift” in my layers.  (although I wish I would have spent a little more time leveling the batter)

For the wedge embellishments I did a half moon shape and replaced the caramel with reduced  strained preserves.  I really wanted to do more of a crescent shape for a bit more lacy feel and also for a little spot to tuck in a raspberry but it didn’t happen!!!!

The guinea pigs will have at it tomorrow, so I will update you when the final verdict is in.  Up to this point I found it to be a great challenge!!!


We are currently experiencing technical difficulties.

Another challenge and well it didn’t go so well!!  As for taste and overall ease it was a good one.  As for what I envisioned and what I executed that is another story, which I choose not to bore you with at this time.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

As is typical of DB challenges we were given a bit of leeway with what we could do with a particular element and the ice cream in this challenge was where I chose to play.  Aside from steak my all time favorite flavor on earth is dark chocolate and orange, so I decided to use a recipe I ran across awhile back but had yet to have reason to make.

Chocolate-Studded Grand Marnier Ice Cream Recipe

from Fern Glen Inn B&B

I followed the recipe to the letter with only an addition of 1tsp. of orange extract.   Fan-freakin’-tastic!!  This stuff had the power to hide a multitude of sins and considering what I did to the Valentino, I guess I made the ice cream work overtime!!!

Now for the sad sad details of a simple 3 ingredient cake!!! I had on hand some Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate,  so I didn’t run out for the bitter chocolate that I wanted.  I figured I would add just a smidge of the hersheys special dark cocao I had as well, that would give me more the flavor I wanted.

RED FLAG #1

(don’t change that which you have never done before)

I melted the chocolates together and well I ended up not with that lovely molten chocolate texture I know and love but something a bit more paste like.  It hadn’t seized but it wasn’t right, it just was too dense for those delicate egg whites to stand up to.

RED FLAG #2

(listen to yourself, you know damn well better than that)

So on to the folding of the egg whites I went, yea I deflated them more than I knew was good but they still had enough lift that I figured it wouldn’t be a total loss.  Which to tell the truth it wasn’t.

The end product was a little “shorter” than expected and hoped, as I was going to split the cake and create a lovely layered look.  And since that didn’t happen, please see the above photo of a snowy screen.

What I planned for and what I ended up with are polar opposites but the overall taste factor was very good.

Here now are a few photos of the progress before I realized my vision was for naught.

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The not so smooth chocolate!!

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The egg whites awaiting deflation!

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The not as short as expected end result!

Folding the chopped chocolate into the ice cream.

Folding the chopped chocolate into the ice cream.

As for a final photo of the finished product….  truthfully I wasn’t about to waste the pixels!!!!!   It tasted great but it “weren’t” so pretty.  Please though look here for other great and talented bakers who managed to bring their vision to the plate.

Luckily for me there is next month!!!!


Anyone remember the the song “I think I am turning Japanese” by the Vapours?

Anyone realize this is going to be a Daring Baker post?

Anyone wondering what my psychosis today might be???

tuilescloseup-edit

Alright, let me attempt to lead you down this twisted path.

As stated above this a Daring Baker post and… This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

As some of you may be aware, I missed both november’s and december’s challenges.  Both of these months are excessively hectic for me and I could neither have wrapped my mind or overly tired body around these to finish them.  I did attempt the caramel cake on december 26th for Ray’s b-day but after baking and letting rest, when I turned it out, it stuck and well…. I flipped.  The Yule Log, there was no way this side of hell, that I was even thinking about it.  So it was bite the bullet and get back in the saddle for this month or else get the boot…not a fan of the boot, so here I am!!!

“Tuiles” is francaise for tile, as in roof tile, as in those wavy terra cotta tiles on many a roof across the globe.  I did little research other than what I read on the Db forum so I am assuming this cookie ( I did the sweet version) gets it name because it is malleable and can be shaped like a tuile!!!

I had no fear of the recipe, nor of the shaping but I was absolutely at a loss for a creative shape.  I thought and I thought and then I thought I came up with the perfect bit of creativity, something completely of the moment that it just couldn’t lose.  It did….honestly it was a one in a million shot but someone posted that they would do this exact thing….arg!!!  Although, hers, Diary of a Glad Housewife,  is the first post I am reading!  So again thinking cap time.

Nothing, emptiness, the void of space…only these words can describe the progress of my thinking.  I gave up and headed over to youtube for a diversion.  I have been feeling nostalgic as of late and I have been listening to alot of 80’s and early 90’s music.  I was never a rocker, I went from Disco to punk to house to techno…always been a “clubby” kinda music listening guy.  So I was following link after link and then I came upon, as mentioned above, “I think I am turning Japanese”.  I never really got into this song as  I always thought it was rather nonsensical; but it did have the kind of beat that always caught me, so I listened.

I swear to you, I have never before used youtube as a menu-planning device nor was it my intent to do so but alas……..I started thinking……Japanese…….sushi…..wrapped…….malleable……tuiles………viola!!!

Yes, I agree, dark and twisted this thing called my brain!!!!!

That was the “why” now here is the “how” I did fruit sushi.

First I started with some leftover white rice (approx. 1 cup) to that I added a 10 ounce can of coconut milk and cooked that down as one would do with risotto.  Before all the liquid was absorbed, I added some vanilla and about 3/4 cup sugar and finished the process.  I would sooo love to tell you my local market had all the tropical fruit that I wanted to use but of course not, it is january and not really the time for peak ripeness, so jarred Dole Tropical fruit cocktail it was.  I then spread the rice on a buttered sheet of parchment in a rectangle, down the middle I placed the diced tropical fruit.  I rolled this all up and popped it in the fridge overnight.  The next afternoon I whipped up my batter, which I colored with green and brown food color paste from Wilton.  My template was cut the night before, I really should have made it a little longer, a simple rectangle 1 inch by 5.5 inches.  As suggested, I baked one just to get a feel for the timing, mine took a bit over 5 mins.  I had cut my stuffed rice log into 1 inch sections and had them waiting for the tuilles.  I did find it to be an easy process but it needed to be very fast as the rice was chilled and that hardened the cookie too quickly and the first few cracked before they could make it all the way around.  I had some leftover rice and I shaped that into smallish logs and decided to do a piped lattice wrap for those;  initially I used a #4 round tip and that was just too thick and the batter spread too much, a #2 created the effect you see below.

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This was a fantastic get back in the saddle challenge for me…the recipe was straightforward and more than easy enough.  The free-for-all creativity was just what I needed to set my mind on the year ahead.

And now that I have turned Franpanese, I present you with my Tuiles wrapped fruit Sushi!!!!

tuile-wrapped-fruit-sushi

No, I am not burnt!!!!

No, I am not burnt!!!!

“What the Hell?” you ask???? “Did he go and fall asleep with the oven on?”

Not at all kiddies!!!!! First let me say this…I HAVE been sitting on this post way too long! I baked my 3rd go round of the DB danish just a few days past last month’s reveal but I am just gettin’ around to telling ya about it!

Now as you may know, once upon a time I was “afeared” of the old yeast beast… not no mo’!!!!! I am perusing 5 recipes at the moment for some crusty bread I am baking tomorrow, more on that later though! So after reading many many DB blogs and their adventures down the Old Dane trail, something kept gnawing at me. One ingredient that is so often apart of DB challenges made it into the filling on this one but not the dough (at least in the blogs that I managed to get to, if anyone else did the same as I, then all I can say is “Great minds…”) I saw it as a stand-alone filling, I saw it combined with fruit, nuts and various quantities of both but again I didn’t see it in the dough.

“Is there a reason for this absence?”, I asked. “Does this one ingredient have some ill affect on yeast?” I laughed at that one, hell I had been killing yeast for years, whats the worst that adding this could do? But I thought about it and realized I had seen many a yeast product done using this, so it was not harmful to the little buggers.

Well, buckaroos it is summer and I decided it was time to dive into the pool! The chocolate pool, that is!!! Yep you got it, that isn’t a “burnt to a crisp” braid you see up above, that is a Chocolate Braid!

And boy what a Chocolate Braid it was!!!! As for the dough I followed the original DB recipe with only one omission (the cardamom) and one addition (1/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa). As for the filling, well that was just an on the fly kinda thing…

  • 3/4 cup fine chopped Hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt

I mixed that altogether, mounded it down the center of my dough and braided away! I didn’t do the dual temps called for in the original recipe but just gave it a good 27 mins at 350 and all was well!! Again the topper was a simple powdered sugar glaze but instead of water I used Frangelico!

Frangelico and Coffee the breakfast of Champions! Well, perhaps this one categorizes better as a dessert but a thin slice with a strong French or Italian Roast would definitely send one off to the office with a smile on their face!

Glazed and ready to rumble!!!

Glazed and ready to rumble!!!

Ok, so I am not a food stylist but damn it was good!!!!

Ok, so I am not a food stylist but damn it was good!!!!

I have half of the dough in the freezer and since the oven will be kicking it tomorrow, I think I may just bake it as well. Maybe fill it with marshmallows, graham crackers and dark chocolate…..s’more Danish anyone????

So, here I am at Daring Baker reveal time, it is my 2nd challenge. Despite some contention with regards to measurements and a few revisions of the recipe all went very well for me. I decided that being new to the group I was going to follow the original recipe as it stood, I am but a casual baker, by no means trained that I am confident enough to change something that I have not done in past. So on I marched….

Initially, I had a very clear direction, L’Opéra a’la Brennan’s Bananas Foster. Let me back peddle for a minute here. The Challenge was to “lighten” the traditional Opera cake, a deep dark rich dream with coffee and chocolate and turn it into something to Honor the Lance Armstrong Foundation “LiveSTRONG” and Barbara. Light and bright was the direction to go. Hmmm, snag number 1, is cinnamon light and bright? Let me fire off a question to the powers that be, this months Hostesses Fran, Ivonne, Lis and Shea…I got a few “go for its” but the deciding reply was…”Ultimately we’re asking you to keep to light flavours and colours but if you want to use cinnamon as an accent, there’s nothing stopping you.” Hmmmm, not really a no but not really a yes, what to do? Well, I like this bunch and I decided to err on the side of caution, I am not a fan of the boot, so out went the Bananas Foster! (Truthfully, I am pleased I did so, my end result was…in the words of one taster “da bomb” but more on that in a bit)

Back to the drawing board it seemed, although it wasn’t long before I hit on what I thought was a winner. Kiwi, star fruit and macadamia nut!! Yum Yum Yum!!!! The kiwi and macadamia were easily located but star fruit was elusive as a white stag!!! A walk through the produce section put the final piece in place, rounding a corner I was struck by the sweet, sunshiney scent of ripe pineapple!! Viola!!!

I first thought that I would “do” the cake in stages as was suggested, but life, or at least my life doesn’t work that way. A twist here and a turn there and I was not on schedule. When the time finally fell at my feet I began. Now, I am not sure if I was a lucky one but it seemed everything was flowing so well that I went start to finish in one sitting!!! All but the glaze that is, that would be reserved till the night before service.

Alrighty, enough of the suspense and prelude, let’s get to L’Opéra. As mentioned earlier, I used the original posted recipe, which can be found on my DB Challenge Recipes page, with no revisions, other than flavorings.

  • For the joconde I replaced the almonds with macadamia nuts, to make the “meal” I added some of the flour for the cake as well as a TBS. of sugar and it processed nicely, perhaps it could have been more fine but what small amounts of unprocessed nuts just added to the texture of the final product.
  • For the simple syrup I only replaced the H2O with pineapple juice.
  • The glaze was as written.
  • The buttercream had some minor adjustments, as I was concerned flavoring after it was made would somehow cause it to fail. What I decided upon doing was to make a kiwi pureé and use it in place of the H2O in the syrup, I then cooked it to the required 225 degrees. Heaven!!!!! I did add small dice kiwi just for visual appeal at the end but the pureé syrup really imparted the kiwi flavor I sought.
  • For the mousse, also a minor adjustment, actually more of an addition. I made the mousse as written but then I whipped up a box of sunshine pineapple jello using half the required H2O. Once the jello was partially set, I folded in 1/4 of the mousse then folded that back into the remaining mousse.

Assembly was a breeze. Off to the fridge it went to set up. When time came for the glaze, that too was a rather simple endeavor. I did, however, have a certain design in mind, random green polka dots, I hoped that when I glazed the entire top with untinted glaze it would have remained liquid enough that when I added the “dots” they would have flowed and leveled with the surface of the untinted glaze. Alas, not to be!! Now that wasn’t such a bad thing, it didn’t look exactly as I envisioned but it looked pretty darned good. Lesson learned there was, in future (and yes this cake has a future!!!), I will reverse the order and do the polka dots first, let them set up, then pour the untinted glaze and twist and turn the cake till the glaze fills around the dots.

My thoughts on this challenge are that its bark (the actual recipe…7 long printed pages) was much worse than its bite (implementing it). When it was presented the crowd hushed and when it was consumed it received a long standing ovation, just as any well written Opera should!!!!

We were asked to perhaps dedicate this challenge to Barbara and LiveSTRONG, truthfully being new here I am really not familiar with Barbara but I am familiar with LiveSTRONG and I assume that this foundation is dear to her …so for

  • Barbara
  • Lance
  • and all who LiveSTRONG…

macadmai nut, kiwi and pineapple Opera cake

Ok, so call me psychotic but….as this was all said and done and set to auto post at midnight the 28th, I got a wild hair up the ole who-haw about 7:30 pm on the 27th. So what was this wild hair? The original Bananas Foster version I was gonna do, with some minor changes….“MILK CHOCOLATE”!!! It is now 11pm on the 27th and I am waiting for the cake to chill enough to add the mousse on top. I am hoping I can get it glazed as well by post time (with the possibility of a quick photo before it is trimmed).

As I found this cake to be actually a fairly cut and dry task and since everyone else, myself included, found it to be a very great tasting cake, I figured I would go for it and see if I could beat the clock!!! I think I am winning but only time will tell!! Bad pun!!

Since the above cake was dedicated to Barbara and LiveSTRONG, this one is dedicated to all you Daring Bakers and one wild woman with a bad back!!!! I am following exactly as I had initially planned other than I am now going to replace the white chocolate glaze with a milk chocolate one!!!

So here is what I did with this one…

  • Joconde- Pecan Meal and Cinnamon
  • Buttercream-Banana and Rum- I did the same as I did with the kiwi and created a banana rum pureé. This time I replaced the granulated sugar with brown sugar, again cooked to 225 degrees.
  • Mousse- White Chocolate Banana Cream- I made a dense banana pudding then added the melted white chocolate then folded that into the whipped cream.
  • Glaze-Recipe as from original but….MILK CHOCOLATE. Call me a rebel!!!

Pictures to come!!!!

11:55pm- 5minutes to post, the mousse is on but not chilled enough for the glaze, I guess I didn’t beat the clock…to hell with timepieces anyway!!!! The mousse tells me it’s a winner regardless!!

Updates coming!!!

2:08 am FINISHED!! Glazed cake earlier, took a power nap and then woke to trim and photograph!! The scraps are quite tasty, I am not sure there was enough cinnamon for my taste but the mousse (I plan on posting that recipe, as it really is faboo!!) and glaze were really really good together!! Here is a photo for you all…

Bananas Foster Opera Cake

…and now that the fat lady, er guy, has sung; it is now time for bed!

In the beginning, there was cream cheese!!

Here we are, April 27th 2008. Reveal numero uno!!!!!

For those of you who haven’t read my post, “Hi, It’s Tina…” I joined the Daring Baker’s less about the baking and more about the blogging. In baking I find no intimidation, so when I saw the Challenge was based on cheesecake, I assumed this would be a “piece of cake” (sorry that pun was too “cheesy” even for me!!!!!!). Well…NOT SO MUCH!!!!

The technique wasn’t the hassle, aside from the baking time, which didn’t phase me. So, off to the kitchen I went, let’s get this moving, it’s early enough in the month, the remaining time better spent on the actual writing of the reveal. Mix it, pour it, bake it and let it cool, phase one done!!!! On to phase two, form it, dip it, decorate it and wrap it, should be a breeze. Once again…NOT SO MUCH!!!

Something kept gnawing at the corners of my mind and no color combo or design element satisfied me enough to go further. So here is the challenge, I discovered!!!! A couple days later, with no divine inspirations as of yet and an entire cheesecake about to turn into a 3rd grade science experiment, it was time to give in. I opened a can of cherry pie filling (not a fresh cherry in sight), crushed a few graham crackers and created a quicky cherry cheesecake for dessert. Hmmm, cheesecake, cherries and graham crackers, sounds like a classic to me!!! Now, I have made quite a few of these buggers in my day, white chocolate raspberry swirl, amaretto with an almond/caramel crust, even savory sage and sausage cheesecakes But the pinnacle of cheesecake is the tried and true, New York Style with a cherry topper and graham cracker crust. TaDa!!! Inspiration.

I haven’t yet mentioned that through this debate process, my partner, Ray has been getting progressively more and more ill. I take him to the ER, where he is diagnosed with a pleural effusion and released. I manage a wine shoppe, Ray and I own a Candy Shoppe/Fudgery, we have 2 huge dogs, a cat and a house we are currently playing DIY with. So somewhere between, my regular 50 hours/week, the dogs, cat, house, doctors, and now filling in for Ray at the Candy Shoppe I found the time for this months challenge, and boy am I glad I did.

As I already said, the classic was my inspiration. My cheesecake pops began with a fresh batch of cheesecake (the bake time still remained over an hour!), let ’em rest overnight in the fridge, then up 2 hours early the next morn. My cherry topper became a cherry filler, in the form of cherry cordials from our Shoppe. A few harried twists and turns now arose, I had to first pierce the cordials with the stick and then form the cheesecake around that, I could have used an extra pair of hands but Ray was continuing a downward spiral into illness. So I made due and threw on another pot of coffee!!! I gave them a quick chill in the freezer and then dipped into vanilla candy melts and a quick dust of graham cracker crumbs. Finally a drizzle of Lindt 70% cacao and Viola!!!

Now, you know we took them to the Shoppe and they were a rockin’ stompin’ hit!! Still 2 weeks to write up a reveal, “hey, I can do this”, I thought to myself. Alas, NOT SO MUCH!!!!!

The first week of my time pledged to writing, was overwhelmed with sleepless nights and louder and louder arguements about heading back to the hospital. “No”, Ray would say, “I have a doctor’s appointment in a week it’s not that bad”. Last saturday was a very very bad night, Ray fought to take air, I fought to take him to ER, neither of us were winning!! Sunday morn brought me to ultimatum time, I fought, he thought he won, I walked away, then I came back to pounce. “You are going to the hospital!” was all I said. He resigned, we drove, the ER staff quickly admitted him and I had to go off to open the Shoppe. It was indicated to us, that they would drain his lung monday, so I reworked the sched and opened a bit of my day for the event. Time wasn’t on my side, I had to head in to work and miss the procedure. Well as is often the case, things didn’t work out and delays were in order, so now tuesday was the day. Unfortunately my schedule rework did not afford me any time tuesday, so my poor sick boy had to brave it on his own!! Long story short, the lung was “tapped”, almost akin to me piercing the cordials for the pops, he is home and doing well and here I sit, saturday morn 4:10am writing what I thought I would have 2 weeks to write!!!

And now the Curtain rises…

First Challenge Finished

Now as the Curtains drops on…

In the beginning there was cream cheese

I have but one thing to say…

In the end there was RELIEF!!!!