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Tuesdays With Dorie: Floating Islands

February 10, 2009

I made them. They look awful. Come on over to the new blog and check them out!

Moving on Up

January 4, 2009

I have acquired my own domain! Yay! So if you’re here, go here instead. Hope to see you all over there!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

December 30, 2008

Well, I did it. (Scroll down two posts to find out why I didn’t think I would.)

I don’t really like cheesecake, but I made it, and I think it’s going to be very good. I made a hybrid of two of the variations: marbled coconut cheesecake. I added toasted coconut to the crust, toasted coconut and toasted almond meal to the main body of the cake, and bittersweet chocolate to about a third of the batter. (Both the inspired ideas of #1 Son.) The batter, both kinds, was delicious.

It sure does look pretty. I’ll check in tomorrow and let you know how it tastes!

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UPDATE: The cheesecake was a hit. We finally ate it very late Thursday night, at our friends’ house in Virginia.

I don’t like cheesecake, as a rule. (I don’t like cream cheese, either, or sour cream. So you can see the problem.)

I liked this, though. I wouldn’t rush to make it again, just for myself, but I ate a whole piece, and it was good. I used three-quarters cream to one-quarter sour cream, so the tanginess was dialed down, and the contrast between the vanilla and chocolate parts was excellent. And toasted coconut makes everything better.

Our friends liked it too. One said the chocolate was like French restaurant chocolate; it had the perfect consistency. She loved the surprise of the coconut in the crust: “It’s crunchy — you can really taste it.” The other one praised the coconut, “which adds significantly to the uncheesiness of it.” Their 2-year-old daughter made her objections known, loudly and vociferously, when her mother tried to take the cheesecake away from her. (Their 7-year-old son was less enthralled — he threw his away.)

And as for my amateur critics:

Husband: The chocolate is mousse-like. I find many cheesecakes far too sweet, but this is not at all. This is just the right hint of sweetness. There’s almost a savoriness to the vanilla part, and the coconut was a really cool surprise.

#1 Son: Tasty. It had a good texture and flavor; it was absolutely beautiful. It seemed like it got soft very easily, so it would probably be best served directly from the fridge instead of letting it sit out on the counter for a while like we did. Maybe some more almond extract would have been good, would have brought out the flavor a bit more.

#2 Son: I liked it, but it was overall too sweet for me. I liked the coconut crust stuff; it was really good. I liked the chocolate better than the vanilla bit. But all combined, it was just too sweet. I would eat it again.

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Check out what all the other TWD bakers did with the cheesecake. And if you want to try it yourself, Anne will have the recipe for you over at Anne Strawberry.

Please scroll down and check out #1 Son’s gingerbread inn. He worked very hard on it!

Gingerbread 2008: The Inn of Ill Respite

December 30, 2008

If you’re here for Tuesdays With Dorie, scroll down. And the cheesecake is actually coming!

I’ve been making gingerbread houses (and castles, and pirate ships, and spaceships, and Stonehenge!) since #1 Son was very small; the boys usually came up with the concept and did the decoration, and I did the drafting and baking and building. This year #1 Son wanted to take over the tradition. Being the fantastic mother I am, I let him. (It nearly killed me, though — he was doing everything wrong [meaning, not the way I did it]).

Well, it all worked out just fine in the end. He tried two different recipes for the gingerbread. One was from a book called Gingerbread for All Seasons by Teresa Layman, which I bought only a few years ago but which appears to be out of print already. That’s unfortunate, because it’s amazing. Teresa’s techniques drastically improved my houses over the years. The other was, of course, Dorie’s, which I heard about on an NPR piece right before Christmas. The recipe is at the bottom of that link.

#1 Son said Dorie’s dough was easier to work with (of course!), but he liked the flavor of the other dough better. I think that’s just his aversion to molasses, and we’ll try Dorie’s recipe with dark corn syrup or maple syrup next year.

He made the template (although I did help a bit with that; experience is occasionally helpful, even when you’re 16), baked the pieces, and built the house. He and his girlfriend and #2 Son put on the finishing touches. And so, without further ado, I present the Inn of Ill Respite. (Warning: The text may not be entirely appropriate for children, or for people who were raised to be horrified by things that are, in fact, horrible.)

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The merry chimney, snow-dappled roof, and twinkling windows give no indication of the horror that awaits within.

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The Inn of Ill Respite, taken over these ten years by vicious goblins. Disguised in human form, they lure travelers in, then murder them and throw the bodies down the hole beneath the firepit, to be sacrificed and eaten by the horde.

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Cold, hungry travelers huddle around the fire, eager to eat the great snapper roasting above the coals, unaware that they have more in common with the fish than they know.

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Travelers sit down to tables full of meats and fruit pies, never knowing the dark secret ingredients that lurk within.

But evil lurks below. Under that cheerfully blazing fire is the entrance to the goblin city.

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The goblins excavated these tunnels for their city, which, while small, is a fine home. Their temple and breeding room take up the top third of the cavern, and the throne room that houses the goblin king and queen, leaders by dint of their size, fills the middle. Below that lies the portal to the inn above, a sunken chamber blocked off for fear of the monster within, and a storeroom, for cured meat, mined gold and jewels hewn from the rock surrounding the caverns.

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Here we see a goblin maternity ward. Green shaman goblins stand around the yellow female as she gives birth to her brood of offspring. The albino priest at her head consecrates the ceremony to their dark god.

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The goblins' leonine idol is far older than the tunnels they constructed, and it is said that not even the high priest knows where it came from. Perhaps it is the remains of some great civilization or the petrified body of a horror beyond imagining. Perhaps it is something far worse.

And there you have it. He’s a good kid, really.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

December 30, 2008

No TWD for me this week. I really did intend to make the cheesecake (or, rather, subcontract it to #1 Son, who has made cheesecake several times before); we were going to have it as dessert after the latke party we threw Saturday night. But we came home from Christmas at the in-laws with most of a pecan pie, half a cherry pie, about a third of a pumpkin pie, and a quarter of a chocolate pie. We really, really didn’t need cheesecake.

But if you want to know what all the other TWD bakers did with the cheesecake, check out the blogroll. And if you want to try it yourself — I bet it was great! — Anne will have the recipe for you over at Anne Strawberry.

And if you come back a little later today, I’ll post photos of the amazing gingerbread cottage #1 Son made instead of the cheesecake. And Husband just had a brilliant idea: We’re going down to Virginia to spend New Year’s Eve and Day with friends, so #1 Son can make the cheesecake tomorrow to take with us. So I might even get photos and some commentary posted by Tuesday night, and I’ll update with our usual summary judgment on Wednesday night.

Ooh, this is so exciting!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Real Butterscotch Pudding

December 23, 2008

Well, to be precise, Real Butter Rum Pudding. We didn’t have any scotch.

This recipe has a lot of steps. It seems like a lot of work, and you get a lot of things dirty, and if you’re like me, you spill stuff. As a rule, I avoid recipes with these characteristics.

This pudding is totally worth it. It would have been worth twice as much work.

The pudding is exquisitely smooth and creamy, and the taste is like nothing I’ve ever had: deep and complex and layered. The rum flavor actually intensified near the bottom of the cup.

I made this on a night when we had a guest: #1 Son’s girlfriend, hereafter referred to as #1SG. Everyone was in favor of the pudding, although to varying degrees:

#1 Son: It was good. It had a lot of depth of flavor. It was my ideal image of butter rum — it had the sweetness and richness of the butter with the heat and complexity of the alcohol. It was really, really good.
#1SG: I really liked the texture. It had more complexity than other puddings I’ve had. I’m not such a fan of alcohol in my desserts, though.
#2 Son: I liked it. It had a good texture, it was puddingy, but near the end it got overly alcoholy and started not tasting good anymore. But at the beginning, really tasty.
Husband: I could easily have downed another three or four cups of that. I actually loved how it got more alcoholic as it got lower.
#1 Son Again: Yeah, that.

And we were all so impatient to eat the stuff that I neglected to take photographs before it was completely, cups-licked-clean gone. #1 Son says that means I should make it again, but I think I’m going to have to refer you to other blogs to see the beauty that is this pudding. It didn’t look like much, in any case, but it went down easy.

The other TWD bloggers will have photos. And Donna at Spatulas, Corkscrews, and Suitcases will have the recipe. Go there. Get it. Make the pudding. You won’t be sorry.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Buttery Jam Cookies

December 16, 2008

This week’s TWD recipe was for cookies again, and again I was less than impressed. I didn’t even eat much of the dough, and for me, that’s saying something.

I used all-fruit cherry jam, and the cherry flavor came through nicely. The cookies were kind of bland anyway, although one girl at the party I took them to called them “really yummy.”

I think they’d be good with tea or coffee, or something. I just don’t know what.

Family agreed.

Oh, and I forgot my camera, so a tip of the hat to guest photographer Bob.

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Sorry I can’t do better this week. Check out all the other TWD bloggers to see how they liked them, and get the recipe to try it yourself at Randomosity and the Girl.

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