Friday, September 21, 2012

Brooksters and Baked Bars

Last Sunday the authors of the three Baked cookbooks were in Austin for a book signing at William Sonoma.  Since I took a class with them a couple years ago at Central Market when their second book came out I had to go.  At the book signing the had a demo of the pumpkin cake in the new book and samples of pumpkin brittle and their salted caramel.  It was all delicious!  After watching them make the salted caramel again I really want to try it again myself.  I've always had problems making caramel - either burning it, undercooking it, or having it boil over when I added the cream.  I think I just need to practice and I will get it right.  Plus, I've had some fleur de sel salt sitting in my baking cabinet just waiting for the perfect use.  

In honor of them coming I decided to do a little more baking from their books again because their recipes never disappoint.  Earlier this month I was in the mood for chocolate and coconut, and when I found the Baked Bars which are also known as Hello Dolly or kitchen sink bars I couldn't resist them.  How could you go wrong with chocolate chunks, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, and walnuts surrounded by sweetened condensed milk on top of a coconut and graham cracker crust.  They were quite delicious.  I normally have a sweet tooth, but the comment in the recipe about these being good in small doses was definitely correct.  I think when I make these again I will have to take them to a gathering, cut the recipe in half, or just freeze the other half for later.

For my first recipe from their latest book Baked Elements I decided to bake along with the Baked Sunday Mornings group and make the Brooksters.  I didn't have time to finish mine until Monday night, but I'm hoping to participate a little more in the future (after I get through my son's first birthday party because that is going to take most of my time over the next week).  So, this recipe combines two of my favorite desserts - chocolate chip cookies and brownies.  It's simple to make but does require a bit of planning because both the cookie and brownie dough have to cool for at least 3 hours prior to baking them.  I actually started making the dough Sunday afternoon after the book signing but didn't get to finish them until the next day.  Fortunately I knew there would be extra cookie dough so I threw a half dozen in the oven for my husband and I for Sunday night dessert.  The recipe has two options for baking these either in their special Brookster pan that William Sonoma carries or a muffin pan.  I opted for the muffin pan because I just can't see paying $20 for a single purpose baking pan (at least not anymore).  If I make these again I would probably try making them in mini muffin pans instead because like the Baked bar these are also very rich.  They were very good and even better heated with a little vanilla ice cream, but like so many other bloggers commented I think I still like brownies and chocolate chip cookies on their own a little more.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mile-High Vanilla Sponge Cake

I try to bake along with the Avid Baker's Challenge, but I just haven't been very consistent this year.  I'm starting to find a little more time to bake lately - about once a week which is almost perfect with only two of us eating desserts in my house right now.  So, I thought I would join them this month.  I'm a little late posting this though I did make this cake last week.

The cake was very similar to an angel food cake just a bit heavier since it used both the whites and the yolks of the eggs.  With as few ingredients as it had I thought it would be really quick to throw together, but with an 11 month old trying to "help" I don't think anything is really quick.  He has a fascination with the mixer since I made the mistake before of letting him check it out (when there wasn't anything in it).  Plus, it calls for the whites and yolks to be whipped separately

My mom used to make angel food cake fairly often when I was a kid though I'm pretty sure it always came from a box mix.  She would either make a quick glaze to go on top or top it with strawberries and whipped cream.  I ended up making the chocolate whipped topping for it.  The inside of this cake was very soft just like an angel food cake, but just like when my mom used to bake angel food cakes my absolute favorite part of the cake is the top crust that we always cut off and eat first!