Monday, April 27, 2009

champagne soaked strawberry cheesecake

There was cause for celebration when this cake was served. Not because it was delicious (it was) or because the top didn't crack (it didn't) or even because it was my very first challenge with the Daring Bakers.

Celebration was in order because this cake was served after my last day of law school classes. EVER. That's right--after three years, two summer jobs, thousands of pages read, four tote bags broken from the weight of heavy text books, two law school proms, countless hours in the library, and one total meltdown before the federal income tax examination, I am finally a real lawyer.

To celebrate, I invited some friends over to enjoy this month's Daring Bakers Challenge, which was to put a creative spin on a classic cheesecake. Since nothing says celebration like a little bubbly, I made a plain cheesecake and topped it with sliced strawberries that had been macerated in champagne and a pinch of sugar.

I'm sorry, what's that you say? I still have three finals to take before I can graduate? And I don't become a real lawyer until I pass the bar examination? (Places hands over ears). La la la la! I can't hear you! Not until tomorrow anyways. Tonight I am going to enjoy my cheesecake, my champagne and my celebration.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake
Recipe Available

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

{twd} four star chocolate bread pudding

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding. And while the title may be all about the chocolate, for me, this one was all about the bread. I started by baking up a couple of loaves of Dorie's brioche. I brought one to a friend's apartment for brunch, and let the other dry out for this pudding. After hearing that other members of the group found the pudding to be too custardy, I decided to add a little more bread than the recipe called for. After all, I didn't want all of my hard work to go to waste. The result? I overdid it with the bread juuust a bit. My chocolate bread pudding turned out more like chocolate bread bars. And while they may have been a little dry, they were still delicious. To see some more traditional puddings, be sure to check out the TWD blogroll.

Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding
Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Recipe Available

Friday, April 17, 2009

flourless chocolate walnut cookies

By the time Passover ends I'm so sick of matzoh and flourless desserts and even the mention of gefilte fish that I'm happy to be through with them all for another year. With one exception: Fran├žois Payard's flourless chocolate walnut cookies.

These cookies, which somehow manage to be rich and fudgey but yet impossibly light at the same time, have become a year round favorite. With just the right amount of sweetness and just the right amount of chocolate, I could eat one every day. And the recipe is so easy, there is no excuse not to.

Flourless Chocolate Walnut Cookies
Recipe by
Fran├žois Payard
Available via
New York Magazine

Saturday, April 11, 2009

chocolate covered caramelized matzoh (also known as matzoh crack)

It was only last year that these crackers first appeared at or our Passover Seder, but they've already become infamous in my family. It all starts out innocently enough: take 4-6 sheets of matzoh and arrange them on a foil lined baking sheet, breaking the matzoh as necessary to cover the tray in a single layer. Meanwhile, melt one cup of brown sugar and one cup of butter in a heavy saucepan, stirring intermittently until the mixture comes to a boil. After three minutes, remove the caramel from the heat, stir in a pinch of salt and half a teaspoon of vanilla, and pour it over the matzoh. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Okay, now here's where things get really good. Remove the matzoh from the oven and sprinkle it with a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Let the chocolate stand for five minutes, and then spread it in an even layer over the matzoh. Top with the toasted pecans and a pinch of sea salt, and put the crackers in the refrigerator to cool.

When the crackers have cooled, break them into pieces and serve. But they tend to be pretty addictive, so if you want to eat any yourself, I suggest hiding them from your dad. And your brother. And your mom. And your uncle.

And unless you want to be full for days, you should probably try to hide some from yourself too.

Chocolate Covered Caramelized Matzoh (Also Known as Matzoh Crack)
Recipe from David Lebovitz, who adapted it from Marcy Goldman

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

{twd} banana cream pie

It's fitting that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is a banana cream pie because I must have gone bananas when I decided to make it (yup, I went there). You see, between a long overdue trip to North Carolina to visit a dear friend (and to witness some of the Tar Heel madness!) and a Passover/Easter jaunt to Minnesota, I have somehow found myself with only 48 hours in New York this week. 48 hours that I should have devoted to homework (what's that?) laundry (still undone) or cleaning (ha!) But instead, I made a quick trip to the grocery store, blocked out a few hours for baking, and decided to host a banana cream pie party.

Proving that I am not completely insane, I did add one major modification that made this recipe a little time friendlier--instead of baking a pie crust, I threw together a quick graham cracker crust, as suggested by a few TWD members (thanks guys!) The crust was sweet, buttery and delicious, and was a perfect compliment to the creamy banana filling. Speaking of the pastry cream thickened up considerably, and it took some very vigorous whisking to get it to a point where it was spreadable. Thankfully, the whole pie is covered with a thick layer of whipped cream, which, in addition to being tasty, conceals a multitude of culinary sins.

I really enjoyed this week's recipe, making it time well spent despite my crazy schedule. The recipe was selected by Amy of Sing for Your Supper, and you can find it here or on page 342 of Dorie's book.

Graham Cracker Crust
From Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Stir the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt together. Pour the butter over the dry ingredients, and mix until well blended. Press into the bottom of your pie plate (I used a tart shell) and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream

Don't make these cupcakes. Just don't. And if you ignore my advice and make them, certainly don't add the peanut butter buttercream. Yes, that's right--peanut butter buttercream. But don't even think about it. Especially if you're the kind of person who can't keep peanut butter in the house because you end up eating the whole jar, spoonful by spoonful, within a week (you know, just hypothetically speaking). Because this frosting won't even last a day. So just avert your eyes, close down your computer, and walk away.

What are you still doing here? Haven't you heard a word I said? Okay then, I'm going to give you the recipe. But don't say I didn't warn you.

Save Your Heart Chocolate Cake
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brewed coffee

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa and baking soda. In another bowl, mix buttermilk, oil and coffee. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Spoon into lined muffin tins and bake about 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Peanut Butter Buttercream
Adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

1 cup (2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural peanut butter

Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add 1/3 cup of the natural peanut butter. Continue adding peanut butter to taste (you might not need the full 1/2 cup, or you might like a little more than that--it's up to you!). Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes.