Archive for November, 2018

Hi there readers.  Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving.  I spent the week in NY and NJ and got back just in time to bake and blog before Week 4.  Without further ado, Week 3 of Holiday Baking Championship Challenge.

The preheat began with 90 minutes to bake up a cranberry combo dessert.  Like always, I wrote down the seven options and out of lime, pumpkin, fig, rosemary, chocolate, pistachio, and ginger, I drew pistachio.  Score!  I have an excellent cranberry pistachio biscotti recipe.  And inspired by the Italian bakery I visited in Queens, I decided to make one more Italian cookie to go with it, called a pizzicati.


I think the biggest challenge to timed desserts is figuring out what order to do things.  The biscotti takes awhile to bake, but the pizzicati needed a cranberry jam that I couldn’t find in store so I had to make it and cool it down slightly.  Therefore, while the eggs and sugar were beating in my stand mixer, I rinsed some cranberries and threw them in a pot with sugar, water, and cinnamon to start heating on the stove.

Back to the biscotti.  The dough is very easy to make.  I also took a few minutes to toast the pistachios before incorporating them.  Got the dough shaped into a log and in the oven within about 10 minutes.  Then it was back to the cranberry sauce/jam.  I smashed the cranberries when they were starting to pop but decided to leave it chunky rather than pureeing it.


The pizzicati cookies were completely new to me, but pretty basic.  I substituted a little bit of the flour for pistachio flour (finely ground pistachios) and also added a small amount of pistachio extract to the dough.  I wanted to make sure the combo flavor was prevalent in both treats.  Then I took the cranberry jam out of the fridge, rolled out the dough, cut out circles, and pinched the ends together over the jam filling.  Those went in the oven as I took out the biscotti log.


I slice and baked the biscotti for 10 minutes on each side and they were done baking with about 2 minutes left to spare.  The cookies came out slightly earlier so I got my cardboard round ready.  I wanted to present the treats similarly to how they are done in the Italian bakeries.  The cookies go on a cardboard round and then wrapped up in cellophane.  I omitted the cellophane for better picture taking.



I had just enough time to drizzle a little white chocolate on a few of the biscotti (I forgot to buy more white chocolate) before time ran out.


Good challenge.  I even had a little bit of time to wash some dishes while waiting for the biscotti to finish.  That was a big bonus since I had to start on the main challenge right after.  That’s the problem with going out of town for a week and having to rush.

The main heat had the same 90 minute time limit to bake up a coffee combo dessert.  I wrote all the options on paper and told my boyfriend to pick a number.  Hmmm… pomegranate syrup.  Well, that required a trip to the grocery.  Couldn’t find syrup so had to settle for pomegranate nectar that I reduced on the stove top.


Taking more inspiration from my recent trip and a visit to Lady M, I decided to make a coffee flavored crepe cake.  I have a crepe maker that I’ve never used so here was the perfect opportunity.

When the clock started, I got to work on the pastry cream I would be using between the layers.  I needed it to cool slightly before assembling my cake.  I added coffee extract and instant espresso powder to the cream and threw it in the freezer.

The crepe recipe is very simple.  Add all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Making the crepes was not quite as easy.  I tried to use the little wooden batter spreader that it came with, but I couldn’t quite get the circular motion down.  And I also didn’t have enough batter to make a 16″ diameter cake.  I realized after making about 5 crepes that it might be easier to use a small nonstick pan.  I swirled the batter in it and got the hang of it after a couple mishaps.


With 20 minutes left, I had to start assembling while still making a few more crepes.  The twist in this challenge was to incorporate biscotti.  Like most of the competitors, I ground it up in a food processor.  I sprinkled the crumbs over the pastry cream filling on every layer to hopefully give it some texture.  And since the crepes were not all exactly the same size, I used a 7″ cake round and pizza cutter to cut them to shape.


The cake was taking longer than I thought it would.  With 5 minutes left, I had yet to incorporate the pomegranate syrup.  So once again in a time crunch, I resorted to making whipped cream flavored with the syrup.  I spread that over the cake (which needed about 10 more layers in my opinion) and watched the timer hit 0.

Next time I attempt a crepe cake, I will give myself 2 hours minimum.  I would have liked to pour chocolate ganache over it, as that would have gone well with the coffee flavor.  And I really would have liked it to be a bit taller.  I didn’t count how many crepe layers were in my cake but upon inspection once cut, I think it was about 14.


The cake has a different kind of texture.  It’s chewy.  But that’s what I thought of Lady M’s cakes so I guess I did it right.  I’m not sure that I’ll make the cookies again.  They had a good sandy crumb, but they seemed a little dry.

Alright, almost time for week 4.  Now hiring dishwashers!


Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, courtesy of Joy of Baking.com

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coursely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs on high until thick, pale, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined.  Fold in the pistachios and cranberries.

Transfer the dough to the parchment lined baking sheet and form into a log about 12″ long and 4″ wide.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board.  Diagonally cut into 3/4″ slices and place biscotti back on the baking sheet, cut side down.  Bake for 10 minutes, flip over, and bake another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Pizzicati Cookies with Pistachio Flour modifications:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 tsp pistachio extract
1 cup jam

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, pistachio flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, and baking powder.  Beat in the egg, butter, and pistachio extract.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into 3″ rounds.  Put enough jam in the center that still allows you to pinch together two ends and keep the jam inside.

Bake in oven for about 12-14 minutes, or until dough turns a light golden brown.  Cool on cooling rack and store in airtight container.  May dust with powdered sugar.


Dessert Crepes (makes about eight 8″ crepes, recipe can be doubled):

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 cup flour

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  Grease a pan heated to medium and pour batter in center.  Swirl pan to evenly coat and cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Lift edge up to test if done, then flip when ready to cook the other side for about 30 seconds.  How long they cook depends on how hot the pan is, keep an eye on them!  I also added about 1 tsp instant espresso powder to the batter for this challenge.


Coffee Pastry Cream:

2 cups milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp coffee extract
1 tsp instant espresso powder

Over medium high heat, bring milk and 1/4 cup granulated sugar to a boil in a medium pot.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch.  When the milk boils (careful, it boils over quick!), drizzle half the milk over the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then slowly drizzle back into pot, continuing to whisk until mixture thickens and comes to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the butter, extracts, and espresso powder.  Pour into a heat proof container and cover directly on the surface with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until cool.


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Hi, welcome back.  Week 2 of Holiday Baking Championship Challenge is in the bag!  If you’re new to my blog, I am baking along to the Holiday Baking Championship on Food Network and blogging all my successes and failures.  And believe me, I’ve experienced both.  So that being said, let’s get into it!

Week 2 started with the bakers teaming up and making four pies in the same sheet pan in two hours.  That’s all well and good, but I don’t know of anyone else baking along to these challenges.  If YOU are, please comment because I’d love to follow you!  My boyfriend offered to be on my team.  And it’s not that I didn’t appreciate that (he bought store made pie dough two years ago), but I thought the better choice might be the woman who taught me how to bake . . . Mom!


Mom came over and I showed her the lay of the land (kitchen).  Time was going to fly so I needed her to know where everything was.  After a quick pow wow, we got to work.

I started with the pie dough and used a recipe that my grandma got from her house cleaner.  It uses vodka and LOTS of butter, in my opinion.  But we’re not counting our calories on this one.  While I was whizzing it all in the food processor, Mom worked on the pies that needed to be baked.  You see, I thought it would be nice to have two baked pies and two “nonbaked” pies, but I didn’t want any dividers (pie dough) separating them.  So once the dough was made, I rolled it out onto the sheet pan and carefully put nonstick foil with pie weights in the center where the custard/cream pies would go.  If all goes to plan, the dough in the center would blind bake while the other two pies baked through.


Mom was fast! She cut up the apples and heated them on the stove with some cinnamon, sugar, lemon zest, and butter.  Then she made our family’s traditional pie, the oh-so-beloved derby.  She got started on the butterscotch before I finished getting the dough all set.


When the sheet pan was meticulously laid out with dough, foil, and pie weights, I poured the derby and apple pies in their respective places and got it baking.  This was probably about 40 minutes in.  I wasn’t worried about time since the sheet pie was shorter and longer and would bake much quicker than your typical round pie pan.


I got started on the chocolate cream pie while Mom finished up the butterscotch.  It was a little challenging because we took most of our recipes and cut them in 1/2 or 1/3 mentally.  I had to keep reminding myself that so I didn’t screw up the measurements.  Mom kept busy and washed some dishes and the counters, which was super helpful.

The butterscotch and chocolate cream went into separate metal bowls and placed in the freezer as quickly as possible.  I cut the letters “ABCD” out of pie dough.  (Get it? Apple, Butterscotch, Chocolate Cream, Derby).  The pie came out of the oven with about 35 minutes left on the clock and the letters went in for a quick bake.  I had to scrape off a little of the derby pie which seeped underneath the foil, then I crammed the sheet pie into our spare freezer causing some of the crust to break slightly due to the tight fit.


Okay, checklist time.  Everything is cooling down.  The dough letters were done and put in the refrigerator.  The only things left to make were the meringue and whipped cream, which we would pipe onto the butterscotch and chocolate cream in the last 5 minutes.  Mom made the meringue and I took care of the whipped cream.  We decided with about 12 minutes left on the clock, ready or not, the sheet pie came out.

Phew!  It had cooled down enough and the custard/cream was cold enough to hold shape and not melt the toppings.  I spooned the B and C pies into place and started piping.  Meringue needed to go on first so it could get torched without melting the whipped cream.  Mom did the torching which left me 3 minutes on the clock to pipe the whipped cream.  I did it in 1 minute, placed the letters over each section, and we congratulated each other on finishing with 60 seconds to spare.  Felt nice to finish early!


Holy smokes!  That sheet pie was delicious!  One long slice and you get all 4 pies. The crust was flaky and fantastic.  I joked with the family that if the pie didn’t taste good, Mom made 3 of the 4 fillings.  But we didn’t have to worry about that, she’s still got IT!


While the preheat was a great team effort, it was back to flying solo for the main challenge: two hours to make a stuffed cake.  I wrote “apple, pear, blood orange, and cherry” on index cards and had my boyfriend randomly choose one.  Winner was . . . cherry!


Here’s the deal.  I don’t particularly like chocolate with my fruit.  It must be a family thing cause neither does my mom or sister.  But putting my feelings aside, I decided to stuff the cherries into a chocolate cake.  Wouldn’t exactly be a black forest cake, but along those lines.

I got started on the cake first, using a favorite chocolate cake recipe but adding an extra egg in hopes of making it slightly more dense to hold up the filling.  I have this nifty little cake pan where you put another rounded pan on top and it bakes with an indentation for filling.  I’ve actually never used it before, but now was the time!


When that was in the oven, I got out another little nifty thing I’ve never used before, a chocolate temperer attachment bowl for the Kitchenaid mixer.  I read the quick start guide and threw some semisweet chocolate in the bowl to temper.


While that was doing it’s thing, I put some frozen cherries, sugar, and brandy in a saucepan to cook.  When it cooked down a bit, I added a little cornstarch to thicken the mixture then threw it in the freezer to cool down.

There was about 45 minutes left on the clock when the chocolate was in temper and ready to pipe out in the shape of trees.  I wanted to create a forest scene with 2D and 3D trees standing on the base of the cake which was slightly wider than the dome.  I added some chopped mint to the chocolate (the challenge twist) and it seized.  Really didn’t have time to restart the whole process, so I set the machine at a higher temperature hoping to fix the problem and then bring it back in temper.

The cake was done so I inverted it on a baking rack to cool.  Mistake #1.  The dome that was created started to fall apart.  As gently as I could, I put it back into the mold, pressing it into certain places, and stuck it in the freezer.  It needed all the time it could get to cool down.  I decided I could assemble everything with about 15 minutes left so there it stayed and I shifted my focus on the frosting.


I made a white chocolate ganache and used a hand mixer to whip it up with some extra milk.  It didn’t quite have the fluffy effect I was going for.  Nothing seemed to be going my way.  But to my surprise, the chocolate being tempered looked glossy again.  I quickly put that in a piping back and piped some 2D trees out onto wax paper.  The ticking time took away my chance to make 3D trees.

Ready or not (I feel this in every challenge), time to assemble.  I grabbed the cake out of the freezer and put the base on a wooden cutting board.  Then I put the cherry filling in the domed cake and inverted it on top of the base.  When I started spreading the white chocolate ganache on top, Mistake #2, the cake started crumbling into it.  This would definitely not resemble a winter wonderland!  I had no choice but to make more whipped cream.  It’s what is used in an actual black forest cake so I consoled myself with that fact.  But I really didn’t want to make whipped cream again.  I am not a one-trick pony!


Well, it worked.  It covered what had become the crumb-coat and was a nice, bright white.  I had about 50 seconds left on the clock at this point.  Frantic, I placed the mint chocolate trees around the side and leaned a few against each other on top, threw 3 cherries on top to show what fruit was picked, and threw my hands up in the air, mainly out of frustration.  Time reminded me that it is not my friend.


So obviously, I wasn’t too thrilled with the overall look of the finished cake.  I had envisioned so much more.  But cutting into it, seeing the filling and everything holding up, taking a bite of the chocolate cake with the sweet, juicy cherries and lush white chocolate frosting; it was good.  The flavor combination was spot on.  And the chocolate tree snapped and faintly tasted of mint.  Mission accomplished.



Fool Proof Pie Dough derived from the NY Times/America’s Test Kitchen:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into slices
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup vodka
3-4 Tbsp cold water

Process flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and pulse briefly, no more than 10 times. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add vodka and water to mixture and pulse until dough is slightly tacky, about 5 times.  Turn out dough, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.


Derby Pie

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup light corn syrup
5 3/4 oz evaporated milk
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325F.

Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over a 9-inch unbaked pie crust.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar.  Whisk in the butter, corn syrup, and evaporated milk.  Beat eggs and whisk into flour/sugar mixture until smooth.  Mix in vanilla.  Slowly pour mixture over the chocolate chips, pushing down any chocolate chips that rise to the top.  Bake for 45-60 minutes until set.


Open Faced Apple Pie

8 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced or chopped
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350F

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine apples, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, sugars, and zest.  Cook until the sugars dissolve and syrup forms.  Add the corn starch and butter and continue to cook a few more minutes until slightly thickened.  Pour over unbaked pie crust.  Bake for 45 minutes or until apples pierce easily.


Butterscotch Pie from AllRecipes.com

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, and cornstarch. Mix in beaten egg yolks and milk. Cook slowly, stirring constantly.  When thick (after about 12 minutes), remove from heat. Add butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour the filling into the baked pie shell.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Beat in cream of tarter, white sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie filling.  Either torch the meringue or bake in a 375F oven until meringue peaks turn a golden brown.


Chocolate Cream Pie

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups milk
4 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
9-inch baked pie shell

In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt.  Combine egg yolks and milk and blend into sugar mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Stir an additional 1 minute then remove from heat.  Stir in butter, vanilla, and chocolate chips.  Mix until chips are melted.

Pour into pie shell, press plastic wrap directly on top, and refrigerate several hours until cool.  Garnish with sweetened whipped cream and mini chocolate chips.


Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups water
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour 2 8-inch cake pans.

In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating on high for 3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Alternately add flour mixture and water to sugar mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Bake 30-35 minutes until cake springs back after being pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes in pans, then run knife along edges and turn out onto a cooling rack.


Cherry Compote

2 bags frozen cherries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp brandy
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp cornstarch

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cherries, sugar, brandy, and salt.  Cook for 6-8 minutes, then add cornstarch and continue cooking until mixture thickens slightly.  Chill until ready to use.


White Chocolate Ganache

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups white chocolate chips

Heat heavy cream in saucepan until it begins to boil.  Pour over chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth.

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Well, well, well . . . look who it is.  This neglectful blogger is back for another season of Holiday Baking Championship from Home.  If you’ve found my blog, you probably know what the Holiday Baking Championship is.  But just in case, let’s get formalities out of the way.

Holiday Baking Championship is a weekly show on Food Network that airs November and December.  It showcases nine bakers abilities to craft something delicious in a limited amount of time centered around a certain theme.  Two years ago, I challenged myself to bake along and document my successes and failures using the same guidelines.  And here I am, back to do it again.  Enjoy the show!

The preheat for week 1 was to bake up pumpkin spice treats in 90 minutes.  To me, pumpkin spice is a cold weather, comfort food kind of flavor.  So I went with a dessert I had years ago in Scotland and is still one of my favorites, Sticky Toffee Pudding.  Or rather, Sticky Toffee Pumpkin Spice Pudding with whipped cream and a cinnamon tuile.  Recipes at the bottom . . .

I have to say, I was twiddling my thumbs a bit during this challenge.  Maybe I didn’t bite off enough.  The puddings were in the oven within 10 minutes and only took about 30 minutes to bake since I used a muffin pan.  The toffee sauce just required putting ingredients in a saucepan and stirring for a few minutes after it all melted.  And whipped cream, well that’s always pretty simple.  I was proud of myself for remembering to put the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer at the beginning.





I thought with 30 minutes left, I would be done and waiting for the clock to wind down.  That is until I had to make tuiles three times.  The first batch was too runny and produced a greasy mess.  The second batch burned.  Third time around, it was down to the wire, throwing them on my puddings during the last 10 seconds.  I might have burned my fingertips slightly in the process.  Initially, I wanted to give the dessert some color so I dyed the tuile batter orange.  Then I spooned them out on the baking sheet to resemble pumpkins.  When that batch didn’t work, I figured I’d roll them to look like straws.  But you already know I burnt that batch. So the final result was boring but at least made it on the plate.

Sticky Toffee Pumpkin Spice Pudding.  Sweet, but so good!  An overall success.




Moving on to the main heat.  The challenge was Yule Log Mashups.  I took the 9 choices of mashups available, wrote them on slips of paper, and drew one.  The options were: chocolate cheesecake, pinwheel cookies, pumpkin cheesecake, apple pie, peppermint swirl cheesecake, sweet potato pie, pecan pie, linzer cookies, and ginger molasses cookies.  I just kept thinking “not peppermint swirl, not peppermint swirl” as I drew chocolate cheesecake.  Great!  Except it required a trip to the grocery to get cream cheese.



Once the two hour time limit began, I got started on my swiss roll cake.  It’s pretty simple, just have to separate the eggs, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, and fold them into the yolk/flour/sugar mixture.  I decided to go with a vanilla cake flavor because I thought it would work well with the chocolate cheesecake and it would be light in color and a good contrast when slicing the dessert.


With the cake in the oven, I got started on meringue for the meringue mushrooms. They take a good 90+ minutes to bake, low and slow, so they were early on the priority list.  The egg whites were still cold so I did what some of the others bakers did and took my mini blow torch to heat the bowl while they were whipping.  The bowl must have had some remnants from the previous cake batter because something started burning.  Now my bowl had a burn mark (which I tried to scrub away but still maintains a scar) and my meringue had a burnt taste.  Ah well, the mushrooms are just a decoration so I went ahead with them.  The twist in this round was to incorporate brandy and since I was going to take these treats to work, I put the brandy in the meringue batter and figured I’d leave the mushrooms at home.


Once the mushrooms were piped and in the oven, I whipped up the no bake chocolate cheesecake and stuck that in the freezer to firm up.  No issues there and I was looking good on time.

The cake came out of the oven with no spring in its step.  It was more like a pancake.  Well, I did decide to substitute the flour with almond flour for a subtle nutty flavor.  Apparently it didn’t like that.  Washed the mixing bowl and started over, using a different recipe this time.  Fortunately, swiss roll cakes don’t take long to bake.

The next cake turned out excellent and springy.  I turned it onto a powdered sugar dusted tea towel and rolled it up, sticking it in the freezer to cool.  But by now, I only had about 15 minutes left.

I knew I wanted to roll the finished cake in graham cracker crumbs which would be the crust to the cheesecake.  But I needed to adhere it with something.  I didn’t want to make whipped cream since I did that on the last challenge.  So I melted down some marshmallows with butter and then mixed in powdered sugar hoping it would make it less sticky.  It didn’t work.  But by now, I had 10 minutes to assemble the cake and the meringue mushrooms were still in the oven.  Ready or not, I had to take them out.


While the meringues were cooling, I grabbed the vanilla cake and chocolate cheesecake out of the freezer.  The cake was still a little warm in the center, but I had no more time and needed the spread the cheesecake on top.  I rolled it up at the long side cause I wanted a long cake, but that meant less of a roll.  Oh well!  I took a spatula and spread the marshmallow on the cake as good as I could and threw some graham cracker crumbs on top that didn’t want to stick.  You can only imagine how messy the kitchen looked at this point!

Time ran out.  My mushrooms were assembled but not on the cake.  I chalked it up to the fact that I had to wash bowls several times and the bakers on TV don’t have to do that so I added 2 minutes to my time and threw the mushrooms on the cake.  So maybe it was cheating slightly, but there are some disadvantages that I have that they don’t have on the show.  Regardless, I promise to not let it happen again.

When I sliced the cake to take pictures, I didn’t see a good roll.  Ugh, defeated at this point, I took a slice and sat down to pout.  Fortunately, it all tasted really good.  Even the burnt meringues were fine, though I didn’t get much brandy taste.  I took some solace in the fact that I now had a great go-to swiss roll cake recipe, I just need to roll it from the short side.



Now I’ve got my head in the game, I’m determined to make Week 2 great.  Stay with me, it can only get better.

Egg count: 15.


Sticky Toffee Pumpkin Spice Pudding:

75 g dried cherries
2 Tbsp butter
200 g brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
200 g self-raising flour

For the sauce:
2 Tbsp butter
6 oz heavy cream
200 g brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease muffin tin or cake tin.

To make the pudding, soak the dried cherries in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes.

Beat the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl on high for 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, pumpkin puree, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix in the flour until just combined. Drain the soaked cherries and mix into the batter. Spoon the mixture into the pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan with the sugar, cream, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

To serve, turn out the pudding (warm) and spoon the sauce over. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.


Tuile Cookies:

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg white
2 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg white until combined.  Do not whip like a meringue.  Whisk the melted butter, flour, and cinnamon until combined.  The mixture should be smooth.

Spoon a small amount of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Spread out thinly and bake for 9-10 minutes.  Shape the tuiles as desired immediately out of the oven.  They will set up quickly.


Yule Log Chocolate Cheesecake Mashup:

Vanilla Swiss Roll:

4 eggs, separated
5 oz granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of cream of tartar
4 oz all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Separate the eggs and reserve 2 Tbsp of sugar for the egg whites, add the remaining sugar to the egg yolks. Whisk the yolks until thick and pale yellow. Add the vanilla.

Whisk the eggs whites with the cream of tarter until foamy. Turn the mixer on high and gradually add the reserved sugar. Whisk until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks.

Gently mix the flour into the egg yolks. Then fold in half the egg whites to lighten the mixture. Fold in the other half and spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cake springs back after pressing with one finger.

Sprinkle powdered sugar onto a tea towel, turn cake out onto the towel and roll up to cool.


No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake Filling:

8 oz semi sweet chocolate chips, melted
16 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milk, and vanilla in mixing bowl on high speed for 2 minutes. Add melted chocolate and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate.


Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp brandy (optional)
1 oz semi sweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven the 200F. Line baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk the egg whites and cream of tarter on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add the sugar, continuing to beat until shiny and holds still peaks. Transfer meringue into piping bag fitted with a round tip.

Pipe 2 inch round mounds onto baking sheet. Smooth any pointy tips down with a wet finger. Pipe cone shapes about 1 inch tall for the stems. Bake for 75-90 minutes.

Once they have cooled, spread chocolate on the underneath side of the domes and insert pointy end of the cone into the chocolate covered side. Stand up the mushrooms and let chocolate set before using.

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