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Whew! We made it! To the end of 2020! Oh, and also the last two bakes of the Holiday Baking Championship. This is the 3rd time I’ve baked along at home, and 2nd time I’ve finished. So without further ado . . .

The preheat was to make a holiday macaron tree with graduated tiers in 3 hours. Now this challenge I can get on board with. I make macarons fairly often and 3 hours is generous.

I decided to go with a peanut butter buttercream and chocolate ganache filling. Simple enough and should allow a good amount of time to decorate. I tripled my recipe for macaron shells and got to work.

The largest macarons I’ve made were probably about 4″ in diameter. The base of my tree is going to be 8″. I piped out a bunch of sizes on 3 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. My method for macarons is putting an extra cookie sheet underneath the sheet I’m baking the shells on. Ever since I started doing this, my macarons always have “feet.” When you’re doing macarons in a timed challenge though, you change things up slightly. I did not let the piped batter sit as long as I should have before they went in the oven. Because of that, some of the shells cracked. I also usually only bake one tray at a time. In my double oven, I did all three at once and rotated in the middle of the bake. The shells on the bottom rack didn’t bake as well. Those were the ones cracking.

I did a push test on them to check if they were done. When they didn’t jiggle, I brought them out to cool before carefully prying them off the parchment. For the largest ones, I took a long angled cake spatula to lift off. That’s when I realized the large ones were underbaked. I put that cookie sheet back in the oven. The cookie I tried to pry off could not be saved but I used it to measure doneness. It worked. The other large shell baked fine and could be used for the base of the tree.

During assembly, I tried to balance the peanut butter frosting with the chocolate ganache so it wouldn’t overpower the latter. My tree was tall. I didn’t measure it, but it was probably 14″ or so. I had a decent amount of time left to decorate it so I made royal icing to pipe around like Christmas lights.

The star on the tree was meant to be a royal icing star standing up but the icing didn’t set in time. So I put the smallest macaron on top and piped a star on each side. Time was up but I didn’t feel super rushed. Overall, it was good. But I was bummed about some of the cracks. I could have made more batter but honestly, I didn’t want to go through more ingredients.

Initial taste was “oh my, peanut butter!” But next bites were good and just tasted like a Reeses peanut butter cup. I liked the little bit of crunch from the royal icing and macaron shells.

For the main heat (and final challenge!), 5 hours were given to make a Christmas past, present, or future cake using marzipan, buttercream, or mirror glaze respectively. Like all the other challenges with options, I randomly drew. I gave each time period a number and had my boyfriend pick a number between 1 and 3. He picked 3 which was present – buttercream! Phew! I don’t know what I would have done if I got mirror glaze!

With the timer set, the first thing I started on was the cake batter. For this challenge, I really wanted time to decorate. So I kept the flavors simple. Yellow cake (doubled the recipe), with vanilla and chocolate swiss meringue buttercreams. My Kitchenaid mixer was huffing and puffing trying to mix all the batter together. At one point, I thought it might be on it’s last breath but it’s a tough mixer. I’m going to guess that I’ve had it for 14 years. Santa (boyfriend) gave me a new one for Christmas. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to my old friend.

The batter was split into a couple of 7″ cake rounds and a large cookie sheet. My idea was to have a square-ish tier decorated like a wrapped gift with a smaller round tier on top decorated with a Christmas tree and ornaments. I don’t have two square cake pans so I had to go with the cookie sheet that I would then cut into fours. I also wanted to tie this cake into my boyfriend’s birthday (December 30) with the same theme I used for his Christmas present. He hates the dual Christmas/birthday presents, but this year I spent a bit more than I normally would and told him it had to function for both events. I wrapped his gift in Christmas and birthday paper. So I was going to do the same with the bottom cake. It was serving a dual purpose: birthday cake and Holiday Baking Championship final bake.

With the cakes in the oven, I got started on the swiss meringue buttercream. I have to say, I prefer American buttercream. There’s something about 6 sticks of butter in your buttercream that kind of grosses me out. But swiss meringue buttercream spreads so smoothly and holds its shape so well, it was the best choice.

Once the cakes were done and cooled, I started to assemble. Both tiers were 4 layers each. The bottom tier had a layer of chocolate buttercream in the middle and the rest was vanilla. The top tier had a red and white vanilla buttercream in the middle and chocolate between the other layers.

I was left with about an hour and 15 minutes to frost the outsides and decorate. Sounded like enough time but I ran out of buttercream and had to whip up a fast American buttercream just to finish the outsides. I also had to chill the cakes as much as possible since some of the decorations would be painted on. You can’t really paint on room temperature swiss meringue buttercream.

For the gold “wrapping paper,” I mixed some gold luster dust into vodka and painted it on with a brush. The other side, I piped “Happy Birthday” several times. Then I went back to the top tier with a knife and spread the Christmas tree on with buttercream. I added some white to the branches for a snow effect.

Time was running out (as usual) so I mixed some food colors with vodka and painted the ornaments around the top tier. With gray colored buttercream, I piped on the ornament brackets.

I had two minutes left and the cakes weren’t even stacked. This is when I realized that my top tier extended out from the bottom tier on two of the sides. I didn’t have a 7″ cardboard round either so the 8″ round I used made it even more noticeable. My earlier idea was to pipe a red ribbon out of buttercream around the cardboard to hide it. But I was out of time. In the last minute, I snapped some chopsticks to size to support the upper tier, stacked the cake, and piped on the ugliest snowmen on the bottom tier.

It wasn’t as I had envisioned. The bottom cake was super sloppy. The top cake wasn’t too bad on its own. I snapped some pictures to put on this blog, then disassembled. The top tier is going with me tonight to a small New Year’s Eve gathering at a neighbors house, and the bottom tier was tidied up a little and customized to serve as my boyfriend’s birthday cake.

When we tasted the cake, I had forgot to set it out of the fridge before we went to dinner. Buttercream is best at room temperature. And the cake was a bit dense when still cold as well. I microwaved my piece for 15 seconds and it was better. Not the most creative in flavor, but acceptable.

There you have it. Holiday Baking Championship at Home finished! 34.5 hours of baking. Who knows how many hours of cleaning. It was rough and there is a lot I need to work on. Thanks for sticking with me and I’ll be back soon with more creative projects.

~Kelly

I have one word for my bakes this week: abysmal. Several other, equally horrible, words were said while the baking was going on. Let me explain.

The preheat was to make a holiday trifle with three distinct layers (jam or jelly, cream or custard, cookies or cake) in 90 minutes. Sounds easy enough. But the flavor options were pistachio, peppermint, cinnamon, coffee, and gingerbread. Guess which one I drew? The dreaded peppermint. Yuck!

I came up with a game plan. White rum cake with peppermint cream and blackberry jam. Like a holiday mojito. It all started well. I made a basic cake on a cookie sheet so I could cut it for the trifle. I added a good bit of rum and a dash of peppermint extract, because though I may hate it, it still needed to taste like peppermint.

I made the blackberry jam on the stove with some sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch (I should invest in pectin), and a few drops of peppermint extract. Stuck that in the freezer and then made a sweetened whipped cream with a couple more drops of the extract. I hoped that a small amount of peppermint in everything would give it the taste without being overpowering.

Here’s when everything went to shit. I bought 2 pounds of isomalt to make some red and white sugar ribbons. Festive and looks like a peppermint candy cane! Well, what I ended up with were slightly burnt fingers, a cleaning nightmare, and a few very short red sugar curls. The isomalt hardened so fast and I tried to reheat it in the microwave several times. I’ve done pulled sugar once or twice but never with isomalt. I always make my own because isomalt is so expensive. I wore doubled up latex gloves and they weren’t enough to protect from heat. It was a disaster. I had 30 minutes to assemble and do the decorations but instead, I spent 28 minute fumbling with sugar and 2 minutes to throw it all together. AND I was listening to the Script.

I had hoped the main heat would go better. Two hours to make a charlotte royale fit for Santa. I drew my flavor from the choices: raspberry, ginger, praline, chocolate, and pumpkin. Oh boy . . . raspberry. And another trip to the grocery.

The first thing I did was whip up a jelly roll cake. I was going simple. Vanilla flavored but colored green.

Then I started the bavarois on the stove. It’s basically a custard thickened with gelatin and lightened with whipped cream. I added pureed and strained raspberries to it. I didn’t trust the recipe I used so I doubled the amount of gelatin. Have I mentioned before how I’m grossed out by gelatin? It wasn’t thickening at all so I really hoped it would work. I put it on an ice bath and whipped some cream. When I went back to the custard, it was pretty firm. Maybe too firm. It was cold now so I folded in the whipped cream and stuck it in the freezer.

I was running short on time. The cake wasn’t even assembled yet. I made an American buttercream with more pureed and strained raspberries. It wasn’t very thick but I didn’t want to add more powdered sugar. Plus, I ran out of powdered sugar anyways. It wasn’t until after I assembled the 4-layer cake that I realized it was way too tall. Ugh! I should have listened to my gut and made the cake in a bigger sheet tray. Or at least split it into 2 layers. This was not going to work. I had seen some pictures of geometric charlotte royales that I was aiming for. Instead, cake got thrown this way and that into a bowl and I scooped out the bavarois from the freezer into the middle. I didn’t even have enough cake left to cover the top which would become the bottom when inverted.

I had 9 minutes left to make the twist: a baked element resembling a holly leaf. I wasted one of those minutes cursing my nonexistent baking skills, then made what was supposed to be a shortbread dough. Great. 4 minutes to bake. Yeah, it wasn’t going to happen. I tried, obviously. But the holly didn’t make it on the trainwreck of a charlotte royale.

I washed dishes, scrubbed the counters, and decided I was a shitty baker and can’t do anything right. But alas, I am not a quitter so I will be back for the final week. Pray for me.

P.S. I still haven’t tasted either dessert. I’m not sure I want to.

Another turbulent week in the bag. The last couple weeks wore me down and I felt it on these bakes. Note to self: play the Script while baking. Can’t help but get pumped up when listening to Hall of Fame, Superheroes, and many of their other anthemic songs.

This week’s preheat brought back the team challenge, which brought back my teammate; Mom. The challenge was to bake a dessert inspired by sufganiyot (jelly doughnut) in 90 minutes. It must consist of a fried dough component and a jelly component. After some consideration, we decided to make blueberry jelly and cream cheese filled cannolis.

I got to work on the dough while Mom stationed herself at the stove making jelly. We didn’t have too many blueberries, so there was no room for error. She got the berries heating with some sugar and lemon juice, then used the immersion blender to smooth it out. Once thickened with a little cornstarch, in the freezer that went and she started making the cream cheese frosting.

The cannoli dough didn’t take much time to make. I added some lemon zest figuring that would complement the blueberry filling. Rolling it out was a breeze with my heavy marble rolling pin. The frying, on the otherhand, was a pain. I have the metal tubes to wrap the dough around, but even after greasing with oil, the shells kept sticking after frying in my mini fryer. And I burned my fingers trying to pry them off. Mom got to hear a lot of expletives coming out of my mouth.

Meanwhile, Mom was finishing the frosting. She added more powdered sugar to sweeten it up and it became very runny. So she added some meringue powder to help it out and stuck it in the freezer. Then she was able to help me with the cannoli shells. I think she must have put more oil on the tubes because the shells became easier to remove.

Time was looking pretty good. About 18 minutes to dip the ends in white chocolate and cover with blue sprinkles, then fill. I think Mom forgot about some of the urgency in this challenge because she dipped the shells and left them on the counter. When I finally noticed, there was only 5 minutes left and the chocolate was still wet and messy. I threw those in the fridge and then tried to resolve the filling issues. The jelly set pretty nicely though still slightly warm. The cream cheese frosting was too runny. I tried to put the two in a piping bag so I could have a stripe of jelly and a stripe of frosting in each cannoli, but it didn’t work. So I folded the two into eachother and that just made it runnier. What a disaster!

There was no saving it at this point. I grabbed the shells out of the fridge, filled them with the oozing concoction, and put them on the plate for pictures. They were a mess and we didn’t even eat one. The cream cheese overpowered the jelly. It was a failure. Mom and I sat down and had a glass of white wine I had opened for the cannoli shells.

I tried to mentally prepare myself for the main heat the next day. Two hours to make an upside down cake decorated for the holidays. Out of the options: fig and holiday lights, plum and tree ornaments, pear and Christmas star, blood orange and poinsettia, cranberry and holiday presents, and apple and fall leaves, I drew the apple. Well good, no need to run to the store.

The bake started by peeling and coring a couple of gala apples, slicing them into rings, and putting them in a skillet to warm with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

I used a cake recipe I had torn out of a magazine. It was for a pear and maple upside down cake. I thought the maple might be nice with the apples, and I substituted the white sugar for brown. I also added the twist ingredient, rosemary, finely chopped, into the batter. The batter seemed super thick, but I didn’t want to mess with the recipe too much.

I stuck a piece of parchment in a 9″ cake pan, added some melted butter and brown sugar, then arranged the apple slices neatly on the bottom, which would become the top. Then I spread the cake batter over it all and got it baking.

My fall leaves for decoration were going to be colored tuiles. That batter is very easy. Lots of melted butter, sugar, flour. and egg whites. I also added some rosemary and lemon zest to tie it all together. Tuile cookies have to be watched like a hawk. They only take a few minutes to bake and 30 extra seconds will take it from baked to burnt. I had a couple darker ones, but most of them were perfect. Out of the oven, they must be molded immediately. I just pushed them into a cupcake tin for dimension.

Things seemed to be going well. Then I looked at my cake. It domed quite a bit in the center. A toothpick inserted told me it was done much earlier than my timer was set for. Great! It seemed dry. Quick! Make a simple syrup infused with rosemary and pour it on the cake before inverting on a plate.

After allowing the simple syrup to soak in, I inverted it and shoved it in the freezer. My idea was to take some white modeling chocolate and make a rake and apple filled basket for decoration. The modeling chocolate was becoming increasingly oily and I didn’t grab powdered sugar to help. So the decorations were not very refined. With 2 minutes left, I grabbed the cake, piled the tuile leaves on top, and found places to put the basket and rake. The rake was clunky and didn’t hold shape. If I had used something like a thick pretzel stick to mold the chocolate around, that would have been better.

I just felt defeated. It looked okay. I liked the leaves. But I really wasn’t sure about the taste. After dinner, we cut into it. It was a little dry, but not terrible. It needed more caramel and apple goodness on top. The cake almost had a pumpkin bread texture and taste to it. So strange. Does maple and rosemary make pumpkin??

Next week will be better . . . next week will be better . . . I think I can, I think I can . . . “Standing in the hall of fame. And the world’s gonna know your name.”

Well, I did it again. I had to bake the preheat and main heat in the same day. Brutal! But I spent a few days up north this week and time got away from me. I said it last week, but never again. So many dishes.

This weeks preheat was to bake a dessert of my choice using the chocolate I randomly drew. Out of blond, white, milk, and dark, I got milk chocolate. The dessert also had to contain a hidden surprise or unexpected flavor. 90 minutes were allotted.

After some thought, I decided to try ice cream sandwiches in 90 minutes. Milk chocolate cookies with a milk chocolate and Guinness ice cream. The ice cream recipe is courtesy of David Leibovitz.

I knew time could be an issue. I don’t have a commercial ice cream maker. What I used is a soft serve maker as the bowl is smaller than my other one and can freeze quicker. Still, I would need to make the ice cream as fast as possible and get it churning so hopefully it’d have some time to set in the freezer.

David’s recipe is simple, but effective. Most times when I make a custard base, I refrigerate it overnight before churning. But the ice bath did cool it down pretty well so I got it in the maker after about 20 minutes.

While it was churning, I made the chocolate sandwich cookie off King Arthur Flour, substituting some of the cocoa powder for melted milk chocolate. It baked beautifully and I could tell it would hold the ice cream together and not freeze to become rock hard. I cut out a couple different sizes of rounds to see what worked best. And I got some muffin tins ready and lined with plastic wrap to fill with the ice cream and freeze as long as it could.

The ice cream was taking too long. I know I should have used my other maker which freezes it in usually 23 minutes, but I didn’t have time to freeze that bowl. I had to start getting some of the ice cream in tins and in the freezer while the rest kept churning. But it got to a point where I knew I would have no more time and just had to get all of it in the muffin tins.

After a trial with the first tin of ice cream I put in the freezer, I realized it was not set up enough. It was going to come down to the wire. I put some sprinkles in a bowl and made sure everything was ready so I could assemble in the last couple minutes.

Go time! The ice cream was a little more set but still soft. I put the discs between two sandwich cookies and rolled them in the sprinkles. When time ran out, the four I plated for pictures had the consistency of soft serve. They met the challenge but I was really wishing I had a blast chiller. I left the rest of the ice cream in the freezer and assembled later when they were a little more set.

The overall outcome was good. I like the ice cream. The cookies aren’t as chocolaty as I would have liked but paired fine with the chocolate ice cream.

Counters scrubbed and dishes washed, it was time for round two, otherwise known as the main heat. This I had been dreading all week. Two hours to make a 3-in-1 cheesecake with 3 different decorations to show the flavors, 2 of which had to be baked from scratch. The dessert could not contain chocolate, as declared by the winner of the preheat.

How the hell was I going to make this happen in 2 hours?

Thinking it through, I knew the cheesecake would have to get baking ASAP. The three flavors I decided to do was pumpkin, strawberry, and maple bourbon pecan. But while getting ingredients out, I realized I was out of pumpkin. The last minute substitution would be apple cider raisin.

Once the clock started, I got to work on the apples. One thing I learned a few weeks ago in the apple raisin pie challenge was that I wanted to cook the apples first to soften them. I peeled and chopped 2 apples and got them cooking in a saucepan with apple cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. The cheesecake base was blending slowly in the mixer while I composed the maple bourbon pecan portion. I made it similar to a pecan pie filling that I would just fold into the cheesecake. I purposefully left out a little sugar in the cheesecake base since this filling and the apple filling had additional sugar. When I portioned out the cheesecake in threes, I added a little more sugar to the one I was mixing frozen strawberries in.

My apple filling had cooked down a good bit and most of the liquid reduced. So I folded that into one of the cheesecake portions. I did the same for the maple bourbon and pecan. The strawberry portion was easiest because I just cut up the strawberries and mixed them in.

I put a square piece of parchment on the bottom of a 9″ square brownie pan. Then I mixed graham cracker crumbs and butter together, pressing it in the pan. Holding some graham crackers in place as dividers, I slowly poured each cheesecake mixture in the sections. Only a little bit of batter seeped into the other sections so I was pleased by that. I put the pan in a large roasting pan to get a water bath going, and in to the oven it went. Only an hour and 15 minutes were left.

For the decorations, I figured I could whip up a small batch of macarons in the shape of strawberries and fill with strawberry jam. Making a small recipe gave me some trouble and I think I had too much egg white. Alas, I went with it and got those baking.

I did not want to peel and chop more apples so that decoration would just be modeling chocolate apples.

Next up was maple bourbon pecan butter cookies. Again, portions were tough. I made enough dough for 5 cookies. It’s hard doing these challenges as home because I don’t want to go through a ton of ingredients. And I certainly don’t want to eat 2 dozen cookies and a whole cheesecake myself. I’ve given some of these bakes away to family and neighbors, but some have just gone in the trash. And my boyfriend can’t eat cheese so any dessert with cream cheese is a no for him.

Back to the challenge, despite my feeling that the cheesecake was too wobbly, the temperature probe was above 150F so I took it out and got it in an ice bath. I felt like this would cool it down better than the freezer. I only had 30 minutes left in the challenge.

As time was ticking by, it became obvious that it was under baked and not going to set enough to remove from the pan. I tried nonetheless. but quickly had to turn it back into the pan. There was nothing I could do. I would not finish in time. Rather than throw the cookies and modeling chocolate apples on top before time ran out, I bagged the decorations and put the underbaked cheesecake in the fridge. I would decorate it the next day after it set so it wasn’t completely destroyed. Strangely enough, the wetter, outside cheesecakes were seemingly set. It was the strawberry cheesecake that was the problem.

So the main heat was a total failure. Even my macarons weren’t right. But again, that’s just because I tried to make a tiny portion. I also realized after the challenge that the cheesecakes the bakers made on the show were pretty short. Duh! Less batter would cook and cool faster. I loaded up my baking pan with batter and there was just no way it would be done and set in 2 hours. My dread for this challenge was justified. I think that means I’m due for a successful week. Bring it on week 6.

After resting in the fridge overnight, I unmolded and decorated the cheesecake as I originally wanted to do. Though still a bit soft, the flavors were fantastic.

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Hope everyone had a nice turkey day. This week was busy with family and Thanksgiving baking/cooking, therefore my challenges both had to be done yesterday. I will try not to do that again. Bake, wash, repeat. It was a long day.

The preheat was to bake Thanksgiving breakfast desserts taking inspiration from french toast, breakfast crepes, scones, and toaster pastries. I drew toaster pastries.

My first thought was a hand pie filled with a berry compote. We have phyllo dough in the freezer. But I made so many pies recently, I wanted to do something different. With a shorter timer of 90 minutes, I settled on making a big linzer cookie with a mixed berry filling.

I use the linzer cookie recipe off of King Arthur Flour. It’s so tasty! And in the freezer were blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. So I started with the dough and stuck that in the freezer for a quick chill while I got the berries softening in a saucepan with some cornstarch and sugar. I used an immersion blender to get it nice and smooth and then strained it to remove seeds. It didn’t look very thick, but I was hoping it would thicken as it cooled so I stuck that in the freezer and took the dough out.

I rolled the dough and traced a 9″ cake pan for the base cookie. That got baking while I rolled the rest of the dough for the top. I didn’t have a snowflake cutter big enough so I used a knife and free-handed the cut out.

When everything was ready to assemble, I realized the berry jam did not thicken at all. I spread it out pretty thin so it wouldn’t seep over the edges, and carefully transferred the cookie top over it. The top broke in several places. I forgot how delicate these cookies are. In smaller form, it’s not a problem. But a 9″ diameter was just too large. Attempting to hide some cracks, I piped a simple glaze around the snowflake edge and cookie edge, which also ties into the toaster pastry theme. I used to love toaster strudels that came with a bag of glaze.

All-in-all, I made a big cookie in 90 minutes. It tasted good, but probably a little underwhelming for the competition.

“Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.” That’s right, the main heat brought back teams and my mom was ready to jump in and help. You might remember a challenge a couple years ago with four pies baked together on a tray. My mom joined me and we nailed it! But this year’s challenge was a little different. We weren’t really baking together, we were competing against eachother.

The theme was Friendsgiving potluck dishes and the choices were brussel sprouts balsamic, creamed corn, sage and sausage stuffing, and glazed carrots. I had Mom draw and we got glazed carrots. Also had to add the twist of champagne somewhere in our desserts. Back to our respective kitchens, we each set our timers to 2 hours and got to work.

I decided to make a carrot cake layered with cheesecake and a champagne vanilla frosting. Cheesecake in 2 hours is a bit daunting. Generally speaking, you may need 90 minutes to bake, 2 hours to rest, and then more time to rest in the fridge. But I figured if I did them in mini springform pans (thanks Amazon!), I could cut the time down significantly. Even so, the cheesecake was the first thing I made to get those in the oven as quick as possible. I bought Junior’s cookbook recently and used that recipe, cutting it in half and dividing the batter in the 4 pans. Wrapped in foil and bathed in water, off to the oven it went.

The recipe I normally use for carrot cake requires a can of crushed pineapple and I didn’t have any on hand so I used a different recipe. It was simple, but I started worrying about cooling time. The cheesecakes came out after about 40 minutes when the temperature probe read 190F. Overdone, but praying they’d be okay. I put them in an ice bath for 10 minutes and then into the freezer. They deflated since coming out of the oven. Uh oh.

When the carrot cake was done, that needed to go straight into the freezer as well. I’ve decided I need a blast chiller. Trying to find space for 4 mini cheesecakes and an 8″ square carrot cake was nearly impossible. I moved the cheesecakes to the fridge and made the frosting with champagne while everything was cooling.

Then doubt started setting in. Will the cheesecakes be okay? How much time do I have left? Is 30 minutes enough to remake cheesecake? The answer is no, but I tried anyways.

With 8 minutes left and the remade cheesecake still in the oven, I had to go with the original. I used a biscuit cutter the closest in size to the cheesecakes that I could find and cut out 4 round pieces of cake. Topped each one with a cheesecake disc, and piped on the frosting. Using leftover frosting colored orange and green, I piped on a little carrot.

Time was up. It wasn’t as pretty as I envisioned. It didn’t scream holiday. But the cheesecake that stuck to the molds was good so I was optimistic.

Over at my mom’s kitchen, she made a festive buche de noel with a carrot cake sponge, champagne cream cheese frosting for filling, and brown sugar meringue to cover. She candied some carrots to go in the cake. She finished with 18 minutes to spare. Basically, she came to play.

My mom brought over her beautifully festive dessert for the “judges” to taste. After some deliberation on how judging would work and neither one of us able to decide, I took a large piece of her cake and one of my rounds over to a neighborhood family of four for impartial judging. They didn’t know who made which, and I sent them pics of each completed dessert.

Appearance – 4 votes for Yule log.

Icing – 2 for Yule log, 2 for cheesecake round.

Carrot cake – 3 for cheesecake round, 1 for Yule log

Overall best in show – cheesecake round just edging out the Yule log.

I know it was a tough call. Mom is a strong competitor. I’m hoping there is one more team challenge this season where we get to bake together.

This week was all about the pie. How should we start? With the good or the bad?

The preheat/the good. Two hours to bake holiday cookie topped mini pies. The options were: cherry, blackberry, cookie butter, butterscotch, pecan, chess, peppermint, peanut butter, and coconut custard. By random drawing, I got butterscotch. Yum!

I got to work on the dough so it could be refrigerated while I worked on the butterscotch filling. Timing should be decent since mini pies would bake and cool a lot faster and I have a 4-count mini pie pan (first time using it).

It took about 45 minutes to make the dough, the filling, the meringue, and blind bake the pie crust, before popping everything in the oven for 15 minutes to brown. As soon as it was done, I cleared some room in the freezer to rapidly chill it.

While it was baking, I made a speculoos cookie dough that I figured would go well with the pie. I used small fondant cutters to cut the dough out for a winter scene.

Time was getting tight and I only had about 8 minutes to paint my easy cookie glaze on the cookies. With a minute to go, I removed the pies from the baking pan and topped the meringue with the cookies. The cookies didn’t want to stay standing up so I did have to fix them after time ran out for a photo. They looked really cute and tasted good, though I think I might have put too much salt in the butterscotch filling. Overall, I would say it was a success.

Now the main heat, on the other hand, posed some challenges. The pie type selection was lattice, slab, double crust, cream, and custard. The fillings were cranberry and almond, butternut squash and maple, chestnut and chocolate, pumpkin and cider, bourbon and pear, apple and fennel, apple and raisin, sweet potato and pecan. and sweet potato with chai. I randomly drew cream pie with apple and raisin.

Apple cream pie? Sounded odd. My idea was to have the texture of bread pudding and top with whipped cream. Well, it all fell apart then.

Two hours were allotted in this bake. And the twist was to add eggnog somewhere in the pie. I made the dough in my food processor and substituted some of the water for calvados (which is so good in baking). I peeled, cored, and chopped up 5 apples for the filling, adding some sugar, more calvados, cinnamon, and raisins. Then I put milk, eggnog, heavy cream, cornstarch, and sugar in a pot, heated that up, and added egg yolks. I obviously got a pastry cream out of it, but I thought if I poured it over the apples in the pie crust and baked it, it would incorporate into the apple layer. It never did. It baked the pastry cream on top which actually tastes pretty good, but I’m not sure it counts as a cream pie.

I threw the pie in the freezer as long as I could and made little snowman features out of white modeling chocolate. Also made a vanilla whipped cream.

When it was down to 6 minutes left, I piped the whipped cream on the pie like a snowman, added the features, and snapped a picture. Back in the freezer it went. Checked on it a few minutes after time was up and the whipped cream was sliding off the pie and onto the contents below it in the freezer. That’s what happens to snowmen in Phoenix, AZ. That’s what happens when you bake a pie and try to put whipped cream on it all in 2 hours time.

I’m pretty sure I would have been eliminated this week. The main heat was a mess and the apples should have been precooked. They were still way too crunchy. Lesson learned. See you next week.

The challenges this week were nuts! Well, at least the preheat was. Two hours to make a nut or seed dessert and it can’t be a pie. The options were: walnut, macadamia nut, pine nut, poppy seed, pistachio, sunflower seed, sesame seed, pumpkin seed, almond, and hazelnut. As always, I drew out of fairness and pulled “macadamia nut.”

What a relief! I have no clue what I would have done with the seed options. But my idea for macadamia nut was to deconstruct a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie. I would need several components; macadamia nut sable cookie base, white chocolate mousse, and mirror glaze.

The idea was there, the execution fell flat. My mousse didn’t set the way I thought it would, so when I tried to turn it out from my dome shaped molds, I had to spoon it out smooth it as much as I could. The cookies were fine and they acted as the bottom crust. The mirror glaze was probably too thick going on and I still didn’t buy more red food coloring so I used a really old gel coloring I had that was probably 10 years too old.

The taste was actually pretty good. But the presentation . . . horrible!

Next challenge, the main heat: Two hours to make either a key lime pie, icebox cake, fruit tart, lemon meringue pie, or ice cream cake. And they need to have either dried fruits, holiday spices, or holiday spirits in them. And the twist? Incorporate mango.

Drew my “poison” and it was lemon meringue pie with holiday spirits. Yikes! And mango? I hate mango!

Here was my game plan. Brandy tends to go well with citrus. So I would add brandy to the pie dough and the lemon curd, fold some eggnog into the meringue, and drizzle the top with a mango eggnog puree.

The clock was set. Pots and pans clanked around the kitchen as I baked at the speed of light. I substituted 1/3 of the water content in the lemon curd with brandy. I folded in a generous portion of eggnog into the meringue. The meringue didn’t quite hold its shape. The mango puree got a generous portion of eggnog as well just to sweeten it up. I poured it through a mesh strainer to get it nice and smooth, then drizzled it on the pie. Not very festive. With leftover pie dough, I added some lemon zest, rolled it out, and cut it with snowflake cookie cutters. Sprinkled sanding sugar on top and baked. There, three snowflakes to top it with.

The pie had a nice lemon flavor but I really couldn’t tell there was brandy in it. The eggnog was subtle and could only really be tasted if you ate the mango puree and meringue separate from the lemon curd.

Overall, week 2 was rough. Both desserts looked sloppy. Here’s to a better week ahead!

Hi all! I’m back and baking along to the Holiday Baking Championship again. This will be my 3rd time doing it. And why am I baking along? To challenge myself under time constraints and learn some new skills. So let’s get into it!

If you missed week one on Food Network, the preheat was to make a quick bread wreath in 2 hours. The six options of flavors were: chocolate orange, citrus ginger, cranberry orange, spiced pear, maple pecan, and apple cinnamon. Out of fairness, I randomly drew my flavor and got . . . cranberry orange!

I have a cranberry orange bread recipe that is my favorite. But I want to challenge myself with baking new things and not be so tied to a recipe, so I had the recipe out for a quick glance and threw a bunch of ingredients in the mixer to see what happened.

I was pleased to see that the bread came out of the oven looking well risen and smelling of spices and brown sugar. It took very little time to prepare and bake. While it baked, I made a cranberry jelly, melted some butterscotch chips, and made cranberry butterscotch “bells” for decoration. I took some green colored white modeling chocolate and made holly leaves. And I also whisked up an orange glaze.

My error in this preheat was to not cool the bread enough before decorating. The holly melted and I had to add some more before time was up.

Speaking of time, 2 hours was way too much. I spent half the time twiddling my thumbs and washing dishes. Overall, this really only took me about 70 minutes. I must admit that though the bread was good, it made me think of an upside down cake. And the “bells” were not good. I should have used the peanut butter chips and had pb&j bells.

For the main heat, 2.5 hours were allotted to make a winter hat cake. I don’t have any. So I looked on Amazon for inspiration. Found one!

My cold weather inspiration for this cake was from when I worked at the zoo over the holidays for Zoolights. This was almost 20 years ago. But there would be some chilly nights and I warmed up with vanilla chai tea lattes. So good! Therefore, I decided to bake a vanilla chai sponge cake with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream.

The cake and frosting used 10 eggs! I’m definitely going to have to keep my baking stock up this season. For the chai adaption, I emptied the leaves of a chai teabag into the batter. I also made a simple syrup and steeped another teabag in that.

While the cakes baked, I made the buttercream. I normally use American buttercream but I had egg whites left over from the cake and did Swiss meringue. After adding 3 sticks of butter to it, I decided to omit the last stick that the recipe called for. That’s why I normally don’t make this type of buttercream. So.Much.Butter!

The decoration started 90 minutes into the challenge. I filled some piping bags with white, red, and gray buttercream. I ran out of red food coloring (must get more), so it was more pink in color. Then I piped to try and resemble a knitted pattern. I had baked a cupcake for the top poof. With about 15 minutes left in the challenge, I piped my name on it for the embroidered name twist.

I was done. There was nothing more I wanted to do to it. I loved it. I had 10 minutes left on the timer.

So I think I did a very good job on week one. I managed to do both challenges with time leftover. I’m sure not every week will go this smoothly. But pumped up from these bakes, I’m looking forward to week two.

Hmm… this feels strange.  I’m back and blogging, but not about baking!  This blog is all about SEWING!  Let’s go back five months, shall we?

Covid-19 strikes and I find myself with quite a bit of free time.  If you didn’t know, I work for an airline and suddenly, work was crazy, then it wasn’t.  I voluntarily opted to take some time off.  I thought, “This will be great!  When things calm down in a couple months, I can do some traveling! I can visit my favorite (and only) sister in France for her BIG birthday in September.”  2020 had other plans though and here I still sit, in my house, wondering what’s next.

Get to the point already!

Okay, so I found myself once again searching for that beautiful pink coat that was on Gilmore Girls seasons 4 and 5.  You know it.  The one Lorelai wore with the cute pockets and offset belt.  I had researched it years ago.  It was made by Edward An and is impossible to find.  IMPOSSIBLE!

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Here was an idea:  I could find a seamstress to make it.  Well, two of them.  One for me and one for my dear sister who also likes the coat and did I mention has a BIG birthday coming up?  I found one locally and paid her a visit.  That’s all I paid.  She quoted me $1500 per coat.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a bit too rich for my blood.

Back to the drawing board.  I could make them myself.  I know some basics of sewing and always wanted to learn more.  Good old Google helped me locate a blog on just the subject of sewing the Gilmore Girls pink coat.  One person suggested using a pattern by Jalie called City Coat.  What the heck is Jalie?  Turns out it’s a family owned pattern company out of Canada.  And the City Coat is available for purchase online to print from home.  Okay, now we’re getting to the part you are probably interested in.  How do we make Lorelai’s coat?  That is, afterall, what this blog post is about.

——Sew You Want To Make Lorelai’s Pink Coat by Edward An——

Materials you’ll need:

  • Jalie Stretch City Coat pattern
  • Tracing paper
  • Sewing machine
  • Pink wool (approx 2.25 yards but can differ depending on size)
  • Pink thread
  • Lining material (slightly less than the amount of wool)
  • 10 gold buttons (plus 1 for spare)
  • Patience

I’m going to walk you through what I did to accomplish a close replica to the original coat.  Keep in mind, I am pretty new to sewing and there could be other methods I did not use.  If you are a complete beginner, I would highly suggest practicing with material like muslin first.

Step 1 – The Pattern

When you buy and print the pattern, you will need to tape the pieces together and then cut all the individual pieces out.  I had trouble with some of it lining up correctly so after cutting individual pieces, I fixed the ones slightly off by removing the tape, lining it up, and re-taping.

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Now look at the pattern and pictures of the finished design.  What are similar: yoke, princess seams.  That’s a good start.  But the things that are slightly different: collar, sleeves, princess seams end at waist, needs waist line and a belt, patch pockets instead of sewn in pockets.  This is why you will need tracing paper and patience.

The first draft I did was using size W.  Look, I’m a tall girl.  5’10”, 160 pounds, 39″x34″x40″ (approximately).  I’m telling you this because a size W was WAY TOO BIG!  The final pattern size I used for my coat was U, but tapering to T at the waist to give it a more hourglass shape. To figure out your size, I would say to measure the front and back pattern pieces at the waist and add up the total.  Subtract 3-3.5″ that you will lose from seam allowances and overlap when coat is buttoned. If that number matches exactly your waist, size up.  You want the end result to still have a couple of inches for wiggle room and/or sweater underneath.

When working with the master pattern, you need to establish where the waist will be on the front and back pieces.  Draw that line on the pattern.  Know that you will be adding a seam there so you also need to add seam allowance to your revised pattern pieces.

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Let’s start with Center Front and Side Front.  After a mock up with the way too big size W, I realized that the original princess seams were too far over near the arms.  The Edward An coat has lovely seams that go nearly over the apex of the bust and in slightly at the waist giving it a nice, flattering look.  So I shifted the seam on the Center Front towards the center, 1″ at the top, tapering to 2″ over at the waist (plus my adjustment to size T at the waist).  Use the lines for the size you are making and measure from there.  Add seam allowance at the bottom for the waist.  Respectively, I shifted the seam for the Side Front over 1″ at the top, tapering to 2″ at the waist, again in the direction of the center of the coat.  Add your seam allowance to that piece too at the waist.

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Finishing the front, you now want to match up the seams at your size of the master pattern and trace the front bottom. You’re removing the middle seam so you will want to remove the original seam allowance there.  Leave the side seam allowance.  You’re not using the built in pockets either so ignore how it juts out and just match up the straight lines.  I also added 8″ to the bottom so the coat would be about knee length.

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Center Back and Side Back are easier.  Seams stay where they are up top, you just need to add the waist and seam allowance.  For the bottom piece, once again match up the master patterns center seams and trace the entire outline at your size.  Make sure you have seam allowance at the waist.  Add 8″ to the bottom. There is no seam down the middle below the belt so this piece will be cut on the fold. Remove the seam allowance on that side.

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For the Front Yoke and Back Yoke, this part will be up to you.  For my coat, I left them exactly as is.  The seam looks slightly lower than the Edward An coat.  So for my sister’s, I raised the seam 1″.  What that means if you decide to do that is you’ll need to raise the seam on the yokes and also raise it 1″ (or elongate) on the Center Front, Side Front, Center Back, and Side Back.  The sleeve seam will no longer match up so that will also need to get moved over 1″ towards the shoulder on the Sleeve Top and Sleeve Back.  Is it worth the extra effort?  Up to you.

That leads us to the sleeves.  On the Jalie pattern, there is a horizontal seam at the elbow.  We don’t want that if we’re trying to be true to the Edward An coat.  You can match up the bottom sleeve lines at your size to the top sleeve and trace your new pattern, or you can just lengthen the Sleeve Top and the Sleeve Back following the same angle.  I think in total, my sleeves from the top of the shoulder were about 16″ long.  You’ll want to measure yourself (or the person you’re making it for) to get the right length.  Keep in mind, we are adding a cuff so go a couple inches above the wrist.  I also found in my mock up that the sleeves seemed wide.  You can tell from the picture that for my final pattern piece, I tapered it in more towards the wrist.

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For the Cuff, measure the bottom of your Sleeve Top and Sleeve Back that you traced.  Your cuff needs to be about 2.5″ wider because it wraps around the wrist and buttons up. My cuff is also about 6″ tall because half of that is going to be folded under.  Again, measure your arm length.  These all need to be adjusted to match the size you’re making it for.

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We need to now draft the pattern for the belt.  I went with about 3.5″ tall and 23″ wide (cut on the fold so it will be 46″ wide).  Keep in mind that the belt extends out on the right side by 2″.  And when the coat is buttoned closed, you will lose about 3″ in overall width.  So say you are going for an end result of 38″ at the waist.  You need to add 2″ for overhang, add slightly more to tuck under and stitch so you don’t have raw edges, and add about 3″ since the coat crosses over itself when buttoned.  At the end of the day, it’s much easier to take away excess length.  I probably cut away 3″ of extra belt.

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Draft your pattern pieces for the pockets next.  You can see my pictures to try and figure out sizing.  Finished height is about 8-8.5″ and width is slightly less than 8″.  If you want to add a liner to your pocket, I found a great video on YouTube with instruction.  Also read a blog about making your liner slightly less in width than your pocket so it folds inward just enough to make it invisible (or nearly invisible) on the outside of your coat when stitched on.

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I found the collar to be a bit of a challenge. I knew nothing of collars until I started this project.  The Jalie pattern has a collar and collar stand so it sits up on the coat.  The Edward An collar is more of a Rolled Collar.  You can look up YouTube videos on both types.  In the end, I drafted a rolled collar.  Measure your pattern necklines from your Front Yoke and Back Yoke.  Add the total up. You want the collar to end about 1.5″ on each side so subtract 3″ from your total.  That should be the length of your collar that attaches to the neck.  You will stitch a top and under collar together so keep in mind when you turn them right side out, you will lose a little length in the seams. Add that length in if you want exactly 1.5″ on each side of the neck.  I would suggest you cut a trial collar out of scrap material so you can get the collar points right.  My coat’s collar goes outwards more and my sister’s points downwards.  That’s probably a result of me sewing my Back Facing on upside down.  Oops!  I’ll get to that in the Sewing portion of this post.

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You’re pretty much done.  The Back Facing and Front Facing will be left as is, but lengthen your Front Facing piece the amount of inches (I did 8″) that you added to your coat.

Step 2 – Cut and Assemble

Beware of NAP!  I didn’t even think of it but my wool has a nap.  If you don’t know what that is, just move your hand up and down your fabric.  Is it smooth going one way and rough the other?  If so, make sure you cut your fabric out all in the same direction, of course following marked grainlines.  I had some of my pieces upside down just to fit on the fabric and realized while assembling that some areas looked darker.  Nap direction can change how fabric looks. I corrected it for my sister’s coat as mine was the trailblazer.

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I’m not going to go into great deal with assembly from the Jalie instructions.  You essentially sew the front pieces together, the back pieces together, top stitch if you want top stitching, then sew the front and back pieces together at the shoulder.  I liked the instructions on the sleeves that you sew the Top Sleeve and Back Sleeve together, then sew onto the coat with the side and side sleeve open.  For me, it was easier than sewing the sleeves in already constructed armholes.  Also remember to sew completely over where the original pockets were.  You can ignore Jalie’s instructions on that.

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Obviously we made some changes and additions so let’s talk about what I did with the belt and cuffs.  I added the belt after the front, back, sleeves, collar, and facings were attached.  I would suggest you add interfacing to your belt.  Where the belt folds back (the area where it extends from the coat), you can skip interfacing a couple of inches so you don’t have two layers of it there.  Work with your iron and something long to fold the top and bottom over while pressing.  I used a flat rate USPS envelope.  See?  You don’t need a ton of fancy-schmancy equipment.  Your goal with the belt is to have it be about 2.5″ tall.  You can make it shorter if you want but that’s what I thought looked close to the Edward An coat.  When pinning to the coat, use your waist seam to measure and keep it straight.  You want your folded over section that extends from the coat to be about 2″.  Top stitch it on the coat and hand stitch the ends to neaten it up.  I did this in a couple steps because I didn’t want to sew over my Front Facings.  So I folded the facings over, stitched as close to the edge of the coat as I could without going into the facing. Then I snipped and tied off those threads, pushed the facing back in place, and stitched the end of the belt.  This process may require a little bit of hand stitching.  Again, be patient.

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For the cuffs, you will notice that the Edward An coat has a slit on the back seam before the cuff.  When sewing your sleeves at the back seam, do not sew all the way down.  Leave about 3″.  Press your cuff in half and sew it on starting at the back seam and wrap around.  When you turn it right side out and tuck half under into the sleeve, then you can top stitch to keep it all in place.

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This is a good time to now hem your coat.  I bought a Serger recently so I serged the bottom, pinned it up about 2″ with hem clips, ironed, and used my sewing machine to do invisible stitches.

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The pockets can be sewn on at this point. When you figure out where you want to place them, sew pretty close to the edge so the lining doesn’t peek out.  If lining is a little visible and it bothers you, you can hand sew it after.  Remember, pockets have an opening at the top so don’t sew there.  I may or may not have sewn one pocket all the way around before realizing I may or may not be a dummy.  Figure out placement of the flaps next and stitch just the top down.  Also beware of the Front Facing underneath.  Try to avoid stitching over it because that will be visible and not covered by lining.

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Keep on with the pattern instructions.  Do your finishing touches.  Add button holes and buttons.  My coats were slightly different, but my buttons were placed about 5″ apart.  The buttonhole on the belt was closer than that though.  You just need to use your best judgement and look at the picture of the Edward An coat.

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At this point, you are ready to line it.  Now get the lining patterns that the Jalie coat came with.  Ugh! Nevermind.  It didn’t come with a liner.  Hello Google searches, once again.  I found a website that I thought did a good job with explaining how to create a lining.  I didn’t cut out each piece minus the facings and sew them together.  My lining fabric for both coats had quite a bit going on and I didn’t want to try to match up the pattern that closely.  I achieved what worked well with four pieces.  Lining Front, Lining Back, Lining Sleeve Top, and Lining Sleeve Back.  Make sure your pieces are longer so there’s a little give.  I made a mistake with my sleeve lining where I only made it a couple inches longer than the Sleeve Top and Sleeve Back.  I had to hand sew it into the sleeve as close to the Cuff seam as possible.  It worked, thankfully.  But I was worried I would have to sew extra sleeve lining on or order more fabric.

The body of the lining was attached to the facings by machine with a longer stitch.  This is where I realized that my back facing for my coat was upside down.  The lining at the neck was way too wide even with a 2″ pleat.  I cut away the excess fabric down the back seam before I realized what I had done.  Rather than undo a good portion of my coat, I made a new back facing measuring the width at the shoulder seams, and the correct width at the bottom that attaches to the liner.  I sewed that on by hand and then cut away what I could of the old back facing to reduce bulk.  Fortunately, it worked well enough.  But I did lose my pleat in the lining.  The lining was still wide enough to fit to the coat.

I whip stitched the bottom closed by hand, having to do it three times before it was the right height where it had a little give, didn’t pull up on the hem, or didn’t hang below the hem.  Even with having a dress form.  Did I mention patience?

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Finally, the flower.  I simply cut out petal pieces in 3 sizes (picture is missing the small size), ironed them in half for effect, and stitched the bottom row by machine on a circle of wool.  I hand stitched the smaller petals on top, really just stitching at the center of the flower.  To hide the stitching underneath, I took a circle of wool in the same size as the base and hand stitched them together.  Do stitch that 2nd circle of wool onto the pin before sewing it to the rest of the flower. Voila!

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Blood, Sweat, Tears, and a Tetanus Shot.  It was a crazy project, but I am so happy with the end results.  I’m sure my sister will use hers more than me (I live in Phoenix, Arizona).  I didn’t skimp on materials but I also didn’t spend $3000 total, proving you can be your own seamstress and save a good deal of money.

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The materials I used:

Pink Angora Wool from MacCulloch & Wallis (gorgeous and excellent quality, though a bit brighter than the Edward An coat)

Gold Shank Buttons from Mood for my coat

Gold Shank Buttons from Britex size 1″ for my sister’s coat

Beagles and Coffee from Spoonflower in Satin for my coat

But First Coffee from Spoonflower in Satin for my sister’s coat

 

 

 

Dress Rehearsal:

 

 

Hey guys.  We are so close to the finale of Holiday Baking Championship.  And I wish I had completed Week 6’s challenges before the finale, but we had a very busy week.  You see, we had a home bar installed which had been planned for 21 months and in the build process for 10 weeks.  No excuses, but there it is.  I baked the preheat but will post the main challenge with the finale post.

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So in the preheat, the baker’s had 90 minutes to made a classic chocolate dessert with 2 common pantry items.  I chose the challenge that competitor Sarah had: chocolate chip cookies with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I decided to make a chocolate chip shortbread cookie tree.  I left out about 2-3 tablespoons of butter and substituted that with olive oil.  Then I rolled out the dough and cut out graduated sizes of stars.

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Once the cookies were baked, I piped on some semi-sweet chocolate and stuck them in the fridge to firm up enough so they wouldn’t completely stick together.  I then whipped up a frosting with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and balsamic vinegar.

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The cookies were stacked large to small and I piped the frosting on to the tips.  This was the first preheat in awhile that I finished in time and was happy with the result.  I can’t say I tasted too much balsamic, but it was well balanced with the cream cheese.  And the olive oil was there but pretty hidden in the cookie.  Not sure how else to incorporate those two ingredients where you could and would want to taste them.

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Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies:

14 Tbs butter, softened
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Beat butter, olive oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in egg yolk. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips.

Roll half of dough to 1/4-inch thickness between two sheets of waxed paper. Remove top sheet of waxed paper. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Lift from waxed paper; place on parchment lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Pipe with remaining melted chocolate.