Tuesday, November 16, 2010

TWD: Cranberry Orange Galette

This week's TWD recipe is the wonderfully seasonal Cranberry Lime Galette. When I saw that this was on the calendar, I initially thought that I'd make it for our wedding anniversary, which happened to fall on the weekend before the galette was due. It never occurred to me in the first 10 years of our marriage to bake pies to celebrate our anniversary, but then I started baking, and when you bake as much as I do, you make the dessert fit whatever occasion happens to pop up (and you actually invent whole new occasions so that you have an excuse to eat the dessert). As I read the recipe through when still thinking it would be the anniversary pie, I decided to go with the cranberry orange version, which Dorie describes as "a little less edgy but no less enticing" -- that seemed to fit a 12th anniversary just perfectly. But then we were invited to attend the Thanksgiving feast at David's grandmother's retirement home, and the "Baked Good Foisting Opportunity" bells just started blaring furiously in my head; we'd have to find another way to celebrate 12 years of wedded bliss, because this Cranberry Orange Galette would be taking its rightful place on the retirement home dessert table.

I made Dorie's pie crust again, and I think this was my best/most successful pie crust ever. I even rolled something approximating a circle. But I must have been spending too much time congratulating myself on the crust and not enough time concentrating on the filling, because I forgot the fresh ginger (which I think would have added a nice dimension to the other flavors). The rest of the filling was easy - cranberries, apples, dried cranberries, brown sugar, orange zest, orange marmalade.

Top the crust with a ground nut/bread crumb mix and then the filling, fold the edges up, then bake.

This baked up beautifully and was a rustic, yet attractive (in a homely way), dessert. We (the extended family) decided that David and his brother would attend the feast, because we knew the energy level at the party would be high enough without my 8, 5 and 3 year old running around. I packed it up carefully for David and made sure that he knew to tell the person in charge that there were nuts in the dessert (in case of nut allergies) and also sugar, fat, gluten, etc. -- basically, this pie was one big, delicious dietary violation. I also told him that he had to eat a piece and report back to me, and with that, I sent him on his way. When he got back later that evening, he gave me some general positive reviews about the galette, which was fine at the time, but when I sat down to write this post I told him that I needed descriptive adjectives, and "the galette was good" wouldn't cut it. So he told me it was "tart." And then he added "I figured you'd just say that it baked up well. The crust was perfect. All the old people loved it, and there was none left. It was a nice departure from the sea of pecan pies."

Whitney, April and Elizabeth of Celestial Confections chose this galette. Thanks for the crowd-pleading pick, ladies!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

TWD: Not-Just-for-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread Cake

This week's TWD recipe is for the Not-Just-For-Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread cake, chosen my one of my favorite bloggers, Jessica of Singleton in the Kitchen. Any child who watched cartoons in the early 80s could tell you that Orange Juice is Not Just for Breakfast Anymore, but the fact that Cranberry Shortbread Cake is not just for Thanksgiving anymore has not been as widely known -- until now. Because thanks to Dorie (for creating this recipe) and Jessica (for choosing it) I have no doubt that TWDers everywhere are spreading the word about this cake and its late October/early November/anytime fabulousness.

The recipe begins with a cranberry/orange jam filling. Dorie's recipes are famously clear and easy to follow, and this one is really no exception, yet for some reason all the talk here about orange segments/orange membranes sort of confused me.

I may have done better if I'd had charts and graphs and the steady hand of a surgeon, but lacking all of those things, the process of removing the segments from the membranes went poorly for me, as my segments never completely released from my membranes, and my segments contained leftover pith (which required additional sugar later to offset the bitterness). Basically it was an orange train wreck. Dorie then says to try to squeeze some juice from the membranes, and if you could get 1/4 cup, great! I could not even get 1/4 teaspoon. (Seriously, did anybody out there get any measurable amount of juice out of the membranes?) No matter, water or additional orange juice worked just fine. I added the cranberries and sugar (and extra sugar to taste, per Dorie's suggestion) and the jam cooked up beautifully.

The cake is a shortbread cake {as the recipe name would indicate} and the batter tastes EXACTLY like super awesome sugar cookie dough. Cranberry filling between sugar cookies? Sign me up! As it turned out, the cake definitely baked into a cake, not a cookie - the texture was a little on the dense and chewy side (in a good way!), and the sugary/buttery flavor paired so well with the tart filling. We loved this one!

Jessica, thanks so much for the fantastic pick! Hurry over to Jessica's blog for fun narratives, beautiful pictures, and the recipe!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

TWD: Peanuttiest Blondies

I intended to make this week's TWD selection, Peanuttiest Blondies, to serve for dessert after Halloween (pre-trick or treating) dinner. It may seem insane to serve dessert before heading off to collect candy, but it always seemed to me that enjoying a quality dessert after dinner may actually reduce the impulse to pour grape-flavored Nerds into one's mouth before bed. In the end it didn't matter, as I woke up sick as a dog on Halloween, and was not able to walk to the kitchen for a glass of water, much less bake blondies (or make my kids Halloween pancakes using my new Halloween pancake molds, which I'm still pretty bummed about. I plan to make them for breakfast tomorrow (11/2) but they're no fools - they know that eating a bat shaped pancake in November is not the same). Anyway, as soon as I was certain that the plague had indeed left me, I went ahead and made these blondies. And what a great way to reenter the world of eating food!

The one ingredient I wasn't sure of here was the cinnamon. I'm funny about cinnamon - I love it, but I generally don't like to be surprised by it. If it's in something I'd expect it to be in (pumpkin-spiced things, oatmeal raisin cookies, apple pie), I'm fully on board with it. But when it shows up in something unexpected (like chocolate), I find myself wishing it wasn't there. I almost skipped the cinnamon here because I didn't see why it needed to be here, but OH MY, am I glad I listened to Dorie. The cinnamon MAKES these blondies. It's subtle, but it's there, and it just works.

Dorie calls hers the peanuttiest blondies, but I believe mine are even peanuttier, as I added peanut butter chips instead of chocolate chips so that my husband would eat them. Every ounce of my being wanted to add chocolate chips, but the peanut butter chips really worked well as a distant second choice. My dream peanuttiest blondie would probably skip the peanuts and add both chocolate and peanut butter chips - oh yeah.

I will make these again and again - no doubt about it. We all loved these, and I'll take one over a fun-size Milk Dud any day of the week. Nicole of Bakeologie chose these blondies. You can find the recipe here. Thanks for the great pick, Nicole!
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