Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mrs. Dart's Lemon Bars of Enlightenment
I have had these lemon bars twice and both times they have schooled me. First I had them when the lovely Mrs. Dart, my mother-in-law, made them. That is when I learned that lemon bars can be downright addicting. Before that day, I actually thought I disliked lemon bars. These babies could change anybody's mind.

Now for the second bit of wisdom imparted from these luscious bars: I learned that my oven is really unneven. Notice the bar in the back, left side of this picture has almost no lemony filling, but the bar in front has an abundance of filling. Watch out for oven uneveness, because the extra lemony ones can be tart enough to give one a sore throat when one inhales 3 at a time in a response to hunger so strong it could only be church-induced.

Here's the recipe. Make it sometime, you might learn something.

Lemon Bars of Enlightenment

1 C Butter (I softened it, and that
seemed to work)
2 C flour
1/2 C powdered sugar
dash of salt

It will be crumbly. Press lightly into 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for
10-15 minutes and cool slightly. Don't turn off the oven

4 beaten eggs
6 T fresh lemon juice
2 C sugar and
1/4 C flour stirred together

Stir all the filling ingredients together
and pour over pre-baked crust. Bake all together at 350 for 25 minutes.
Optional: dust with powdered sugar.
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Real Gluttons Eat Pie for Dinner
This is another item I made for the Register's farewell fete.

Need an easy and delicious idea for dinner? A substantial appetizer for a party? Don't know what to feed your vegetarian friends (not vegans)? Do your arteries need clogging? A tomato-basil tart is appropriate for almost any occasion.

This one is especially easy because it is made with store-bought pie crusts. It is especially delicious because it includes 2 Cups of mozzerella cheese in addition to tomatoes and basil.

I made two versions: one in this pie dish, and another in a 10-inch springform pan. I actually prefer the latter, now that I have tried it, because the crust looked kind of pizza-like instead of so pie-like in the pie dish. It actually looked elegant with the tomatoes piled high inside. Yum!

Tomato-Basil Tart
1/2 (15-oz) package refrigerated pie crusts
2 C shredded mozzerella cheese
4 T fresh basil, divided
3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground pepper

preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit.

Place crust in 10-inch pie pan or springform pan and prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Bake crust for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle cheese over crust and top with 3 T basil. Arrange tomato slices on top and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 35 minutes. Top with remaining fresh basil and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Achtung. Because somebody told me that means "caution" in German.

Oops. I looked it up and Babelfish disagrees with that translation, so maybe a German can let us know.

I'd been waiting for an excuse to bake this. This is a very dangerous cake to have just sitting around your fridge begging you to eat it and with no one there to help you finish it off. That's why I say achtung. Better have a group of 15 or so people to help you out. I thought a going-away party for the Registers was the perfect reason for some serious flourless chocolate cake.

And serious it was. It was like eating a truffly (but so much better because a slice of cake it so much more fit for this girls chocolate cravings than a couple of measly truffles). It was the smoothest, silkiest flourless chocolate cake I have ever eaten. Maybe that has something to do with the the 3 (!) sticks of butter in one 9-inch cake. Maybe.

I did not have the time to take a picture of the whole cake, but it was coated with a beautiful, smooth ganache that made it look so elegant. After everybody left the party, there was just this one little peice left. And I saved it for you. Ryan wanted it but I saved it for you.

Smooth Operator Intense Chocolate Cake
Adapted from "Chocolate Intensity" in Tish Boyle's The Cake Book

Makes one 9-inch cake
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used around 70% cacao), finely chopped
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
6 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round and butter the parchment. (If you're using a pan with a removable bottom like a springform, make sure to wrap the pan with 2 or 3 layers of foil, so water from the water bath can't get inside the pan)

Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, stir butter, sugar and milk until the butter is melted and mixture has just started boiling.

Pour the hot mixture over your chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs vigorously until blended. Whisk in the vanilla and salt. Slowly add about 3/4 cup hot chocolate mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. (Tempering the eggs with a little bit of the hot chocolate mixture will prevent "scrambled eggs" when combining the two mixtures.) Add the egg mixture to the hot chocolate mixture and whisk to combine well.

Strain the batter through a sieve (to catch any cooked egg bits- I skipped this part, because I thought my batter looked quite free of scrambled eggs but then I detected one or two teeny egg bits in my slice of cake) and then pour batter into prepared pan.

Set cake pan in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the center is shiny and set but still a bit jiggly.

Transfer cake pan to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a cardboard round on top of the pan and invert the cake onto it. Remove pan and carefully remove the parchment paper. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before glazing with chocolate glaze.

Bittersweet Ganache
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove pan from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute then gently stir until chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Gently stir in the vanilla.

Transfer glaze to a small bowl and cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap and let cool for 5 minutes at room temperature before using.

To glaze the cake:Place the chilled cake, still on the cake round, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Slowly pour the hot glaze onto the center of the cake. Smooth the glaze over the top and sides, letting the excess drip onto the baking sheet.Scrape the extra glaze from the baking sheet and put it in a small ziploc bag. Seal the bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the bottom corners. Gently squeeze the bag over the top of the cake to drizzle the glaze in a decorative pattern. Refrigerate the cake at least one hour before serving.

Monday, April 09, 2007

C is for Cookie, that's good enough for me
When Pennsylvania finally started to defrost a couple of weeks ago, I had the desire to come out of hibernation and maybe visit the neighbors, assuming they still lived next door. That was anybody's guess since I hadn't seen them in 3 months. Of course, I put off making the cookies until we saw snow again. Anywho, I made a new sugar cookie recipe this weekend. They were delicious and buttery, almost like shortbread cookies.

Ryan couldn't stop eating them before I frosted them, but then we liked them even better when we put almond-flavored frosting on top (pink and yellow, to celebrate "spring").

I forgot to take pictures of the final product, but I did take pictures of the dough, which was strangely mealy until I pressed it together into a ball. I guess that's how it is supposed to be.Thanks to elise at
Simply Recipes, since I stole this recipe from her post that you can read right here. (note: yields 5 dozen cookies??! I scarcely got 2 dozen. what is wrong with me?)
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Sugar Cookie Recipe number one

3 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup soft butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup of softened butter
1 pound of confectioners sugar
About 1/4 cup of milk
Almond extract, to taste (1 tsp-
1 Sift dry ingredients (use a real sifter), cut in butter and
add other ingredients. Blend thoroughly; chill for several hours.
2 Break
off a piece of dough the size of an orange and pat it flat in your hand. Using a
rolling pin, roll on dough on floured board (best to use a 2/1 ration of
flour/sugar - 4 Tbsp flour mixed with 2 Tbsp sugar) or between wax paper. (It
helps if you flour both sides of the dought.) Roll out to about a 1/4 inch
thickness. Cut out and put on
silpat-lined or ungreased
cookie sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes at 400 F. Remove the cookies from the oven as
soon as you see them turning color at the base of the cookie. Let cool
3 Mix icing ingredients together until smooth. Separate into
different bowls, add food coloring to achieve various colors. Spread on cookies
with a butter knife, use cake decorating piping equipment to add decorative
accents. If you want the sprinkle type decorating candies to stick, brush the
cookie with clear Karo syrup and then sprinkle.
Scarcely 2 Dozen Cookies