Friday, October 06, 2006

I Have Been Baking (but not Blogging)

I have not been able to blog much lately -- at least, not here. I kept saying to myself that I would post the accumulating recipes; but as the number became larger and larger, it became apparent that I was no match for the task. So I take the easy route now: here is a recap of what I have been up to in the past couple of months. You can click on the pictures to see their larger versions. If there are requests for any of the below, I will be happy to share the recipes.

I baked an Autumn Cheesecake with spiced apples, pears and hazelnuts for a blog-event featuring hazelnuts. Unlike many of the recipes in this blog, this one was not from one of my cookbooks. I came up with it; and to my delight, it turned out to be delicious.

We paid a tribute to the last days of summer with one of my favorite summer desserts: The Raspberry Banana Charlotte from Cocolat. You can find the recipe here.

I found the recipe for this in Cookie Madness. Unfortunately, I could not taste it since my son took it to a class picnic which I could not attend; but judging by the number of requests for the recipe, it must have been pretty good. Anna, thanks for sharing the recipe.

This summer, I had a pumpkin dessert in Turkey which made me rethink my position as a certified "pumpkin disliker". It had a crunchy crust encasing a juicy and smooth inside, which was shiny and almost transparent. This dessert was served with tahini and walnuts on top. Surely, the only resemblence to the mushy pumkin desserts I was served before (and disliked) was in the name. I was told that the secret was to let pumpkin rest in lime water for a couple of hours prior to baking. Thanks to Internet, I was able to find and order "pickling lime", and made a reasonably good approximation to the one I had in Turkey. My experimentation with lime water still continues.

I should know better than making not only one or two, but three substitutions in a recipe. I did it anyway, and the bottom half of my coconut cake ended of being bird food. The top half, on the other hand, transformed into these individual desserts with mascarpone cream and sour cherry filling between layers. They were quite good, too.

I made these individual fruit tarts back in August when we were trying to come up with different ways to use hazelnuts. The filling was made by substituting hazelnuts for the almond filling in Normandy Apple Tart, and the topping was quartered figs and pear slices.

Sticky Toffee Pudding is one of our most favorite desserts. I make it whenever I have dried dates at home. It is a versatile recipe which works equally well in a sheet pan, a round pan or in individual molds as illustrated here.

This apricot tart (from Francois Payard's Extraordinary Desserts) was made at the height of the apricot season. It had an almond frangipane filling as well as sliced almonds and pistachios scattered on top. As colorful as it was, we found the taste somewhat lacking, and it made us yearn for delicious Turkish apricots.

I tried Martha Stewart's chocolate pudding recipe which was deemed "too chocolatey" by my kids. Since when is that a problem? I ended up eating the whole thing which was delicious. Of course, I regretted it later, and I vowed never to make it again.

We made cookies, too. The ones on the left were made with butter, almonds and flour. They are quite popular in Turkey, but I found out that many countries have a claim to them.

This was an interesting variation on the chocolate chip cookie theme: Reverse chocolate chip cookies with chocolate batter, white chocolate chips and walnuts.

Summer is not summer without ice cream. My daughter made the frozen dessert on the left back in July. It had coconut ice cream and chunks of pineapple inside the scooped pineapple shell and a meringue topping.

She also made lemon ice cream from Lori Longbotham's Luscious Lemon Desserts cookbook. This was a little too creamy for our taste. I guess we prefer Lemon Sorbet.

Last but not least, bars are our choice when we make dessert for a crowd. The bars on the left had white chocolate and almonds in the batter; they were moist and delicious.

These 4-layer bars were also very good. Counting from the bottom, they had a crunchy base, raspberry jam, an almond-flavored cakey layer and a cream cheese frosting to top it all.

There are a few other small things, too; but for the most part, this summarizes my kitchen activities that I was not able to post. Now that I am more or less up to date, I hope that I will not be as tardy with my blogging in the future.