Tag Archives: Cardamom

Cranberry Apricot Almond Sweet Bread Twist

Kuchen with Cranberries and Apricots

I hope this finds you well in spite of recent sobering events we are all trying to make sense of — if that is even possible.   I’m working to find inspiration in the most unlikely places and grasp tightly, acknowledging feelings of guilt for those I love who are safe.  It makes no sense.

No sense at all.

Continue reading

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake with Apricots and Pistachios

It’s been a year since I’ve posted a Daring Baker challenge, and I’m hanging my head over it.  Actually, I’ve just crawled out from under the rock where I’ve been hiding.   Last March, the delicious Citrus Tian Dessert made with blood oranges and California Cuties marked the start of an extended absence from the once a month fun I’d enjoyed with the Daring Bakers for several years.  Five months went by before I tackled another challenge —  the Baked Alaska last August for one of my son’s birthdays — but that less than counts since I never posted it.  I kept saying I would, but didn’t.  Pathetic.

But I’m back.  At least I think I am, and wanting to make sure I don’t miss out on any more.  In fact, I just might join in on the Daring Kitchen challenges since I find myself with no excuse not to join in on that fun as well.  I know I’ve missed out on some good recipes, but it’s more the sense of community generated by each of the monthly events I crave.  I miss the easy, relaxing camaraderie.  I miss it a lot.

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.  Maybe that’s why it was go easy to get back in the saddle this month.  Coffee cake is something everyone seems to enjoy.  When I co-hosted the Daring Bakers in July of 2008, I chose a Danish Braid which is made with yeasted, laminated dough.  If shape counts, this Pastry Ring with Chocolate and Cardamom is made of a yeasted dough, also in layers, and is remarkably similar in appearance to this month’s challenge.

But this coffee cake dough feels like bread dough to me.  It looks like bread dough, smells like bread dough when it is baking, and looks like bread after it’s sliced.  I’m thinking it’s somewhat like a cinnamon bread dough, only filled with meringue.  Ah, that would be what intrigued me about this challenge most.  The meringue.

I had fun deciding exactly what I’d put in the filling — give it a shot since it doesn’t involve all the turning and rolling involved in the Danish Braid and Pastry Ring,  and you will too.

Continue reading

Roundies: Almond Blondies

<img alt="Roundies - Almond Blondies"/>

I haven’t made brownies for a very long time.

Years.

Years as in, when my grown boys were very, very young.  I suppose that after countless results of either raw in the middle crunchy on the outside, or serious qualifiers for hockey puck status, I gave up.  Bear in mind that even box brownie mixes were beyond my ability.  Thinking about this after my eighth or tenth failure, I decided that it just didn’t matter — there were plenty of other chocolate goodies I could make quite successfully.  Some people have yeast phobias; I am a bonafide brownie flunky.

My avoidance could only last so long, however, when the sheer number of brownie recipes made with every variation imaginable are plastered all over the web — taunting me —  reminding me that everyone else seems to be gifted in the brownie making department.  Read:  I was the last person chosen for the kickball team.  Let’s face it.  I’d been jinxed, so that meant I needed to take a different approach in solving this dilemma.

I’d make blondies.  They look the same as brownies minus color, of course, chew the same, and also have quite a number of variations on a theme available to experiment with.  If I could pull off a nice blondie, then it just might pave the way for passable brownies.  And if I’m successful with the blondies, then I might be able to make my own rendition of a dessert I recently saw in a magazine:  chunks of brownies, fresh fruit, and cream all piled artfully in a cup.

And then I discovered Elizabeth Franken and Demolition Desserts.  Her blondies are, well, blondies, and they appear in a luscious combo of chocolate and ice cream.  At some point in her book in a completely different recipe, there’s fruit and a syrup that is heavenly.  I had the gelato, so splendor in a glass was born, and faith in my ability to bake your basic-baked-chewable-squares-no-matter-what-color-type-treat was given a very welcome reprieve.

It’s all water under the bridge, but perhaps now, I can produce a passable brownie.  I’m thinking the key is to have a completely different purpose in mind for them from the get go than to just cut them in squares and slate them for the inevitable teeth sinking occasion.

I don’t know what I’d call what I ended up with, but it was truly amazing.  Blondies and beyond?

Maybe.  But you have to wait for the end result.

All you get now is Roundies — or Almond Blondies.  Good blondies, but still.

Continue reading

Pastry Ring with Dark Chocolate and Cardamom

Chocolate Almond Filled Pastry Ring

One of the techniques I’ve shied away from has been making puff pastry.  Although I can be fairly tenacious, when I feel like I’ve worked diligently on something and it doesn’t turn out, I’m not willing to jump back to the task to get it right.  Let me adjust that — when it comes to something that isn’t important in the grander scheme of things, that is.  Making puff pastry would fit into that category.  If you’re a pro at making puff pastry, then you’re most likely thinking, “What a quitter.  It’s not that challenging…” and I would agree temporarily, but being the contrary person I am by nature, I’d come back with, “Yes, but when’s the last time you tore down a fence in your pajamas on the spur of a Monday morning moment while enjoying your first cup of coffee?”  And then I’d go inside and start a not quite puff pastry dough, but yeasted laminated dough all the same.

I think what annoys me most about my failings as a cook is the waste.  Yes, I absolutely learn something in the process of failing and know it to be an extremely important aspect of learning, but it’s the time invested when I’ve put off doing something else.  It’s the waste of product if it’s not eaten, and therefore, a waste of money as well.

Sounds grand, doesn’t it?  It’s really because I don’t like having my butt kicked by a recipe.

A good strategy after a colossal failure is to break down the task.  Perhaps begin again with something similar, but not quite as involved.  After success once, give it another go and pat yourself on the back.  Bask in the glow of your accomplishment and then instead of tackling the dreaded initial failure again, try another recipe, again similar, but a bit more involved.  Practice developing patience with copious amounts of deep breathing.   Think about those turns and all that butter nestled between those layers.  Still not quite puff pastry, but getting close.

So very close.  And some chocolate never hurts in the process, right?

I’ll get there.  I will.  You wait.

Continue reading

Glazed Crumb Cake with Cardamom and Pecans

We weren’t snackers or dessert eaters when I was growing up, so the idea of crumb cake didn’t occur to me until I had my first job fresh out of high school working in a grocery store when I was 17.  They came individually wrapped, and if I kept my eyes open, I could find a few on the day-old bakery rack for 10 cents. But it wasn’t just crumb cakes.   I remember being fascinated by all the packaged baked goods, amazed that the selection was so huge.  It was like being in a strange kind of food Disneyland having my very own income and anything I wanted to purchase at my fingertips.

My mother didn’t keep too many “goodies” in the house beyond what was packed in our lunches, and even then, variety was almost non-existent.  And grocery stores in general were an oddity to me because she shopped at the Navy Commissary, and rarely took us with her.

So when I came across this recipe for crumb cake in an old magazine, I had to try it, remembering my long ago fascination with those oh-so-moist little cakes and the crumbly tops that make a sweet mess each time you sink your teeth into one.

There will be no hiding the fact that you’ve had your hand in the sweets!

Continue reading