Year of Random Desserts
Blog Collection

Yes, I'm late posting this one...but I promise to get caught up!


This one should be titled, "How to avoid making scrambled eggs."  Choux dough might be one I need to try a few times before I can really get it right.  


The recipe was a three-parter: first you make the pastry cream (easy), then you make the choux (looks easy but is really difficult), and finally the chocolate glaze (easy but make sure you pay attention).


Here's the recipe I used:


First, the pastry cream.  This recipe was pretty simple, and it tasted nice and custardy, with a touch of vanilla.  Put saran wrap on the surface of the custard while it chills or you will end up with a "skin" on the top.




The most important thing about the choux is to keep whisking like a maniac when you add the eggs to the heated flour mixture, or you'll have scrambled eggs. But you can't beat it too much or you'll have tough pastry.  I didn't get this part exactly right, because the final product tasted very eggy and dense, not light and airy.


Pipe out the choux (mine were a bit stretched out).






This was my finished eclair.  It looked like it might be tasty, even though the glaze was a bit runny. Final wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either.  Further research is required.




If anyone has made eclairs successfully, and has a great tip for avoiding the eggy problem, please let me know!

Photos (3)
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: SuBe · 10/22/12 7:37 PM)

Guess what? I've never even tasted a macaron before.  But I've always been curious...they are often pastel, they have weird "feet" on the bottom, and are notoriously difficult to make.


So yeah. I needed to make those right away!


In my original Year of Random Desserts post I had planned to use the original Laduree recipe published on Epicurious.  However, the comments on that recipe scared the everliving bejeepers out of me, and there was some weirdness with the French and metric translations.


I was stewing about what to do when all of a sudden my favorite baking blogger came to the rescue.  Bakerella posted adorable blue macaron teddy bears.  Since her recipes are reliable and in English, and she shows lots of pictures along the way, I decided to use her method.


This is what they looked like when I piped them out.  I'm assuming that my egg whites might have been a tiny bit overwhipped since they retained the swirly lines.  They're supposed to be smooth.  Another little note in case you're going to make sure that your almonds are fully powdered; any bits of almond will ruin the texture of your macarons.




Here are the macarons fresh out of the oven.  I "had" to taste one for scientific purposes, and although I don't know what they're supposed to taste like, I thought they were amazing.  Slightly crispy on the shell, with a chewy middle.  Putting ganache in the middle is just gilding the lily.  So let's do that.




Here is a finished macaron.  It looks like a little hamburger, doesn't it?  For a first attempt, these were pretty darn good.  I'm glad I bought lots of extra almonds so I can give it another try now that I know what to do.


Also, note that the original Laduree recipe says to chill them in the fridge for 24 hours after you make them for best taste.  Good luck with that.



Photos (3)
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 6 (Last: Rosemary O'Neill · 9/4/12 10:58 AM)

Yes, I know it's August...too many plates spinning right now!  I did finally get around to making July's random dessert, and it was worth the wait.


First, I went looking for a chewy chocolate cookie recipe and found this:


It was an easy recipe, and super delicious as a cookie, but probably too tender to use as an ice cream sandwich holder. I forged ahead anyway...but had to make the ice cream quick before everyone at my cookies out from under me!  If you decide to use this cookie recipe for sandwiches, I'd leave out the chocolate chips...




Then, I made peanut butter ice cream with chopped up Reese's peanut butter cups in it.  Here's the recipe from Cuisinart:


Dude, it was all I could do not to just eat it before it went into the freezer.  Delicious.


While it's still a bit mushy, drop a dollop of the ice cream onto a cookie and smoosh it with another cookie.




It will look awesomely messy like this.  Put it onto a piece of Saran Wrap and wrap it up tight, and pop it in the freezer.  It's several bites of heaven.




Photos (3)
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 3 (Last: James · 8/8/12 1:01 PM)

June's random dessert is special.  I made it in my old kitchen in North Bend, since we're visiting for three weeks.  


That means there was no Kitchen-Aid mixer, and I had to haul out the 30-something year old blender/mixer combo that was lurking in a cabinet.


On the positive side, there are the awesome cookie racks I forgot to send Eastward...must put those in a box ASAP.


Here's the recipe, for whoever's playing along at home:


This one is a lot easier to make if you have an instant-read thermometer and a 1.5 inch ice cream scoop.




If one of the cookies turns can always EAT IT.  I may have had to do some quality control myself...





No, this picture isn't from the 50's, it's my old mixer back in action.  There was a slight smell of burning electricity, but it worked like a charm!  When you do this part (the Seven Minute Frosting) be sure you have a big enough bowl, because the volume goes up pretty drastically.





And the finished product.  The cookies are pillowy and chocolatey.  They'd be perfect with ice cream in the middle (thank you for the idea, Catalina) or peanut butter cream, or almost anything.  Ted suggested frosting the outside of the whole thing, like a Ho-Ho.


I highly recommend this one!

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Blog Entry CommentsComments: 1 (Last: Lori · 6/24/12 11:22 AM)



Okay, so it started off to be a Strawberry Cream Gateau (from the Golden Book of Baking).  However, when I actually started to make this monster, I realized that gateau means soaking the strawberries and the cake in liquor.  I hate liquor-soaked fruit and cake.  Hmmmm.  


I started to improvise.  


First off, I decided not to soak the strawberries in Cointreau (I don't like orange-flavored anything).  You'd think I would have noticed that when I chose this recipe, but ah well.  Then, after putting wine in the cream/custard, I realized that it wasn't really cooking out like it should.  The custard was very thick and wine-y smelling.  Perhaps I beat it too much while it was over the warm water?


The cake part of the gateau was super super eggy (which I think was the idea), and without soaking it in something, it turned out very dry.  Tasted something like desiccated scrambled eggs with strawberries on top.  The whipped cream did not really improve the situation, and I let everyone off the hook from eating it.


Leaving the kitchen with a grey cloud over my head, I vowed to read the entire recipe before committing next time.  


Here's a link to the cookbook in case you feel brave and want to give this one a whirl:


The strawberries were good!

Photos (1)
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Lori · 4/22/12 8:47 PM)

The Year of Random Desserts is even more random for March...I was going to make cutesy little chocolate cake balls (see for examples), but time got away from me and they ended up naked.  No coating, no sprinkles, just cake mixed with frosting and formed into balls.


Guess what?  They're delicious.


When you eat them, you'll sort of feel like you're doing something wrong, but it's oh so right.  The only problem is that they are highly portable and poppable.  Sorry about that.  


All of the other people in your life can tell you not to eat the cake balls, but I'm here to tell you it's OK.  Life is short, why not make it sweet?


Here are some ideas and recipes for cake balls from the queen:



Photos (1)
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 2 (Last: Karen Lynn · 4/3/12 3:42 PM)

February's dessert in the Year of Random Desserts was chosen because I'm completely crazy about cherries.  And when you add the cheesecake center and flaky phyllo sheets, it's out of this world.


When you look at the recipe (I found it on Food Network's website), you'll need to read the reviews.  There's an important correction to the ingredients that someone posted after watching the episode.  I did follow the corrected recipe, and I have to say that the filling still leaked out of the strudel roll, but the taste was so awesome that it doesn't matter.


So my word of caution is that you probably want to serve this one at home, to family, rather than trying to do a fancy reveal at a big party.  It doesn't look at pretty as you would expect, but dude.  It's amazing.  The phyllo brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar becomes crispy and flaky, and the cherries play nicely with the cheesy filling.


What else can I say's gone. Yeah, I had it for breakfast.



Photos (1)
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 6 (Last: Rosemary O'Neill · 3/5/12 7:33 AM)

There was this gorgeous German bakery down the street, and their cakes were the most heavenly thing you could put in your mouth.  Light, fluffy white cake with buttercream frosting, and the most razor-thin layer of apricot preserves in the middle.  I don't even LIKE fruit in my cake, but this was so good it transcended the rule.


So when I started to make my list of desserts for 2012, I wanted to include a German treat.  Before you start yelling at your screen, I now know that it's really an Austrian dessert, but that's how I found it anyway. Call it Google serendipity.


This recipe (from the Joy of Baking) is both very simple and very difficult.  Making the shortbread dough is the easiest thing in the world with a Cuisinart---just toss the toasted nuts, flour, and spices in and whirl it up.  Then it all moves to another level. Because the dough is very crumbly, making the lattice on top requires Ninja-like spatula skills and lots of patience.  I was originally going to weave it on top, but that quickly went out the window with the first strip.  I think it looks like Martha Stewart got wasted and then decided to make a crust with one hand tied behind her back. Whatever.


I should note that this torte smells absolutely fabulous while it's baking.  First you have the toasted almonds and hazelnuts wafting around, and then the blackcurrant filling bubbling, and by the time it is ready to come out of the oven you're sitting in a puddle of saliva. seems that I might have messed up the filling.  Rather than making the filling that's shown in the recipe, I wanted to use the traditional blackcurrant preserves (and there aren't fresh blackcurrants sitting around our grocery store), so I used store-bought preserves and guesstimated the amount.  Not good.  It was waaaaaaaaaaay too sweet.  Like, your teeth melt and your eyeballs roll back in your head sweet.  Did I mention that I added the confectioners sugar and a dollop of whipped cream on top?  Too too sweet.


My recommendation would be to follow the entire recipe, and leave off the sugar and whipped cream, then eat it with a cup of strong black coffee.  I might make it again, just to try the filling the correct way.  Let me know if you try it, because I've never been more disappointed by a final recipe.  It SMELLED so good!  





Photos (1)
Blog Entry CommentsComments: 7 (Last: Tina · 2/6/12 7:37 PM)

Since 2006, inspired by Martha Stewart's Year of Cakes magazine issue, I've been choosing a year's worth of monthly desserts to try.  We've had cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and muffins so far, and this year I was stumped.  I believe it was Ted who first suggested, "how about a year of random desserts?"  And so here is my plan for the year.  


Before moving on to 2012, I have to say that 2011's Year of Muffins was rocky.  I don't feel that I've perfected the light fluffy muffin of my dreams, but that just leaves something to strive for.  The highlight of the year, without question, was the Best Apple Pie Muffins.  If you choose one recipe to try from last year's list, make it that one!



2012, Year of Random Desserts


Blog Entry CommentsComments: 1 (Last: Lori · 1/1/12 8:59 AM)
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