This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Nicole of Cookies on Friday: chewy, chunky blondies. This post is almost two days late, but not because I procrastinated on making the blondies. In fact, they were made on Sunday and I planned to schedule my post about them on Monday night. Unfortunately, when I got home from work Monday I didn't feel well so I decided to push the post until Tuesday and I went to bed early. I woke up Tuesday feeling so much worse - I didn't even get out of bed all day. Now, Wednesday night, I'm finally starting to feel slightly more human and figured if I didn't get this post up now it would never happen. Tomorrow I'll be heading back to work and I am keeping my fingers crossed I'll be feeling 100% by the weekend!
I actually made the blondies twice on Sunday. Both times I halved the recipe and baked them in an 8-inch square baking dish lined with aluminum foil so I could easily lift them out. I substituted peanut butter chips for the butterscotch chips and completely omitted the walnuts. When I removed the first batch from the oven they tested done at about 40 minutes (the suggested baking time), but as they cooled, the center began to sink and the more they cooled, the more obvious it became that I had some severely underbaked blondies. They weren't very attractive, but they were super yummy - basically a more delicious chocolate chip cookie due to the addition of peanut butter chips. The coconut didn't add flavor so much as it added texture and made the blondies chewy.
Later that night, I roped Shane into helping me bake a second batch of the blondies in the hopes of achieving a more photogenic result. I was wary though. See, Shane does not like coconut and I knew that if he helped me bake the blondies I wouldn't be able to hide the fact that there was coconut in them (and I was really counting on him to help me eat these, as I was now baking them a second time). It was late, I was feeling lazy, and I wanted to get them done quickly, so I decided to chance it. When he saw me measure the coconut he was quite concerned that (a) I'd snuck coconut in the first batch and let him eat them without telling him and (b) the same quantity of coconut was going into the blondies as there was chocolate chips. Needless to say, it speaks volumes about how much he liked these blondies that he ate them even after he knew about the coconut. I baked this second batch a little longer than the first, and still, the center sunk a bit as they cooled. The first batch went into our freezer and we're going to use the pieces to top ice cream - yum!! - and the second batch was eaten as is. Definitely a repeat recipe for us despite the issues with the baking time.
Lots of thanks to Nicole for hosting this week! You can find the recipe on her blog or on page 109 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.
This week's Sweet Melissa Sundays was chosen by Rebecca of Indecisive Baker: toasted almond lemon bars. It wasn't all that long ago that lemon desserts really weren't among my favorites (read - I avoided them at all costs) but these days I can't get enough. As for the almonds, oddly enough I don't really like whole nuts in my desserts, but almond extract is a completely different story. It is one of my very favorite flavorings. This recipe includes almond extract in the filling as well as toasted sliced almonds (chopped pretty finely in the food processor) in the crust. All that to say that even though I haven't had many desserts combining lemon and almond, I was pretty sure this one would be quite tasty!
I scaled the recipe back, making only 1/4 of it using a loaf pan instead of a 9x13-inch pan. While the recipe is fairly easy, I struggled with the crust for reasons that still aren't clear to me. Both times the dough seemed soft after I pressed it into the bottom of the pan, so I stuck it in the freezer to firm it up a bit before baking. I weighted the crust down with pie weights sitting on a piece of aluminum foil I'd sprayed with cooking spray. The first time I baked it, the crust stuck to the foil and completely fell apart. The second time I watched it like a hawk in the oven, checked every few minutes to avoid the disaster of the first go-round. While it was more successful on the second try, it still shrunk more than I'd hoped it would. Luckily, the filling was a lot less finicky. Lemon juice, eggs, sugar, almond extract and flour are whisked and poured into the crust. Since I'd scaled the recipe back so much I only needed to juice one lemon (as opposed to the 7 suggested for the full recipe). Though the filling was thin and runny, it firmed up perfectly in the oven. My baking time for 1/4 of the recipe was about 20 minutes.
After refrigerating the bars to make them easier to cut, I sliced my mini batch into 8 bars. I've since eaten quite a few of them because they're really delicious! Lemon was definitely the prominent flavor, but I could also taste both the almond extract in the filling and the almond pieces in the buttery crust. I didn't find them too tart or sweet - they struck a wonderful balance for me. Thanks to Rebecca for hosting this week! You can find the recipe on her blog here or on pages 78-79 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.
Since I've gone back to work we haven't been trying as many new recipes during the week. Most nights we just throw together an old favorite - something quick and easy - or, even more likely, we grill. Fridays, though, are special. We've taken to calling them fun food Fridays and it's something we both look forward to at the end of a long week. I usually try a brand new-to-us recipe and sometimes, to take things up a notch, I'll pick up a nicer, more expensive protein than I would generally buy. I guess it's sort of our alternative to eating out on Friday nights - minus the driving, the crowds and the cost!
Shane's been asking for homemade mac and cheese again for a while so last week I decided to try this Fontina mac and cheese for fun food Fridays. I was intrigued by the fact that it only uses one kind of cheese as my other favorite recipe calls for both Gruyere and Cheddar. As mac and cheeses go, this one is low maintenance, mainly because you don't have to make a white sauce on your stove top. Instead, the cooked pasta is added to a mixing bowl with warm cream, butter and the cheese which immediately begin to transform into a luscious sauce coating the pasta. A combination of panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese top the pasta mixture and twenty minutes later, I pulled the most beautiful dish of macaroni and cheese from the oven. The crust was perfect - crispy and browned - and just as importantly, plentiful. I hate when I make mac and cheese but the topping is so skimpy that there's not even enough for each dish to have some of the crispy goodness. The sauce was creamy with a hint of nutty flavor from the Fontina. A big hit with both of us, and definitely the perfect start to our weekend!
Fontina Mac and Cheese
from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop (as seen on Ezra Pound Cake and Annie's Eats)
1 pound medium pasta shells
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz Fontina cheese, shredded
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions until it just about al dente.
Meanwhile, add 4 tablespoons of the butter (cut into 4 pieces) to a large bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan (or in your microwave) and cover to keep warm.
Once it is cooked, drain the pasta then add it to the bowl with the butter. Stir to melt the butter and coat the pasta. Add the cream and the cheese and mix until the cheese starts to melt. Add the nutmeg and finally, the salt to taste.
Transfer the pasta mixture to a baking dish (I used a 2 1/2 qt dish) that's been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in your microwave then add the panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Stir to coat with the melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture over the pasta.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown.
This week’s TWD was chosen by Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities: lots of ways banana cake. I should start by thanking those of you who continue to stop by and visit me even though it’s been weeks since I’ve had time to properly check up on all that you’ve been up to over on your sites. I haven’t forgotten – my Google Reader swells with new posts every day and eventually, I will get to them. Soon, hopefully! This weekend Shane and I sprung for an iPad - because you can never have too many gadgets, right? I’m really excited about it actually, as it’ll allow me to convert the many hours I spend commuting on the train into more productive time, time spent blogging and visiting blogs and catching up on emails (without having to lug my much heavier laptop in every day). So, with any luck, I'll be back in business soon. Can't wait to see all of the posts I've missed!
But, back to the cake. As you can probably guess from the name, the recipe allows for lots of variations and substitution so you can use what you have on hand and customize the recipe to fit your tastes. Although Dorie recommended making a layer cake with the batter, I went a slightly different route. I halved the recipe and made muffins – I wound up with 12 of them. Along with the bananas, I decided to add some chopped, dried apples. The apples added a bit of texture and just a hint of apple flavor thoughout my muffins. Yes, I keep calling them muffins, not cupcakes. I chose not to frost them so I could convince myself they were muffins and eat them for breakfast this week. And oh, were they ever good muffins! They're light and fluffy, moist and loaded with banana flavor. This recipe is definitely one I'll repeat over and over again - next time I want to go the cupcake route and top them with my favorite peanut butter icing.
It's such a shame that cherry season is so short because they are beyond delicious! By far, my favorite thing to do with them is to eat them simply as they are; bags of cherries do not last long in the fridge at my house. Occasionally, though, I'll see a recipe that looks and sounds so good that I make an exception to the "no baking with fresh cherries" rule. Like this sweet cherry pie, which popped up over on Annie's Eats a few weeks ago, when fresh cherries were readily available and fairly cheap. Annie raved about the recipe, which comes from Cook's Illustrated (one of my favorite recipe sources), so the next time I was at the store I bought a ton of cherries. I measured out the 6 cups I needed for this recipe and, of course, ate the rest straight off the stem.
Though I'm not really big on gadgets, I recently picked up a cherry pitter, and now I wonder how I lived without it. I'd tried pitting some cherries using other techniques a few weeks ago and not only did it make a huge mess in the kitchen and leave stains on my nails for days, it was a really slow process. It still took me a fair amount of time to pit the 6 cups of cherries for this recipe with my new toy, but it was a lot less messy and dare I say, even fun? This recipe is a bit labor intensive - one you pit all of the cherries you also need to cut them in half (which apparently helps keep the filling from being too dry). Trust me, though, the effort is well worth it. This is one spectacular pie! The filling set up beautifully (no soupy pie) and the tartness of the plums balanced the sweetness of the cherries wonderfully. Also, placing the pie on a preheated baking sheet in the oven prevented the crust from being soggy, despite not blind-baking it. I had a few slices and shared the rest of the pie with Shane's dad and his coworkers, where it also received rave reviews.
A quick note - you can make this pie year round if you stash fresh cherries in your freezer this summer. If you use frozen fruit, measure the cherries while they're still frozen, but let them defrost completely before you make the filling. Otherwise, you may wind up with partially cooked fruit in your pie.
Sweet Cherry Pie
from Cook's Illustrated (as also seen on Annie's Eats)
This week's SMS was selected by Tiffany of A Spoonful of Laughter and A Heap of Love: chocolate walnut brownies! I'd already made these brownies (they were part of the Brooklyn Brownout Cake the group made back in April of 09), but when I read back through my post for the cake I noted that I'd really enjoyed the brownies, and it's a dessert Shane will help eat, so I didn't see any reason not to make them again. We almost never turn down brownies around here! I skipped the walnuts last time I made this recipe, and did the same again this time. As a general rule, I always leave the nuts out of recipes unless I know for certain I'm going to give the dessert away to someone who enjoys them.
Since this is the second brownie recipe I'm posting this week (you can see the minty chocolate brownies I shared on Tuesday here), I'd hoped to do something fun with this recipe to make them just a little more special than plain chocolate brownies. Inspiration was lacking though - I couldn't come up with anything other than adding peanut butter or mint - and I've made plenty of desserts combining those flavors so I didn't want to go there again. For some reason my brownies cooked much more quickly than the recipe indicated they would. The indicated baking time was 45-50 minutes but when I checked mine just after 30 minutes they were on the verge of being slightly overbaked. I'm curious if anyone else had this issue...
I've tried so many brownie recipes I don't think I can truly make comparisons any more. I'd have to dedicate a whole day to making several of the recipes side by side to really note the differences and pick a favorite. That said, these brownies are delicious! With 2 sticks of butter, quality unsweetened chocolate and a lot of sugar, they were bound to be anything but. I thought they were quite rich and dense, so a few bites of one was all I needed to satisfy me. Since I can't seem to leave well enough alone, I still haven't ruled out the possibility of making a simple peanut butter frosting to spread on some of the brownies. Though if I leave them plain, we could just throw them in a bowl as the base of an ice cream sundae - decisions, decisions :)
Many thanks to Tiffany for hosting this week! She will share the recipe on her blog today or you can find it on pages 82-83 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.
I envy people who find time during the week to sit down and enjoy breakfast before starting the day. Me? I get up around 6 (which is the earliest I can convince myself to get out of bed), shower and get ready then grab something on my way out the door and eat it either in the car on my way to the train station or on the train once I'm settled in. It's hectic, and may not be the ideal start to the day, but I think it's better than skipping breakfast entirely. I usually like to grab fresh fruit and something starchy to go with it. A few weeks ago, I whipped these muffins up using some of the first fresh raspberries I purchased this summer. I halved the recipe to yield 6 muffins, as I really require a lot of variety for breakfast and knew I'd be ready to move on to something new after 6. They froze well, I just took one out of the freezer before I went to bed each night and it was completely defrosted by the morning. The muffins are very tender and sweet - absolutely delightful to me! Though the raspberries did offer a bit of tartness, if you prefer less sweet items for breakfast, you'll probably want to reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup. Also, if you don't have raspberries on hand, you could definitely make these with blueberries.
[I'll warn you now, the remainder of the post is picture heavy. Big thanks to Shane's dad for letting me include many of his photos. You can find the recipe at the very bottom of the post if you want to skip ahead.]
Though most of the muffins were gobbled up during the work week, I reserved one for last weekend. Sunday morning we had to be out the door by 4:15 am to head to Shane's race, and I knew there simply wasn't going to be any time to think about breakfast (for me anyway; Shane made sure to get plenty of fuel in his body for the day ahead). I can't recall the last time I've been up so early - it was pitch black outside, we had to turn our outside light on just to make our way to the car with all of the race gear. With the car loaded, we began the drive from our home in the northeast corner of Rhode Island down to the southern coast. It's a gorgeous part of the state (holding a special place in my heart as my college town) and I was excited to be back.
The first order of business when we got to the race site was to get the tires on the new bike to juuuuust the right pressure.
From there it was over to the transition area, with a brief stop for body marking. Race officials (volunteers, I think) write a competitor's race number and age on his arms and calf, respectively.
Spectators generally aren't allowed in the transition area (the area where the competitors switch from their swim gear into their cycling gear), and this race was no different. I think I actually prefer this view anyway. I love the controlled chaos of all of the competitors' bikes lined up on the racks. Shane donned his wetsuit and he was off to get ready for the first leg of the race.
A half Ironman is a 70.3 mile race which consists of a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 56 mile bike and finally a 13.1 mile run. The swimmers start in waves, and Shane's was scheduled to go off at 6:20 am. Now that I was a bit more awake, I was really enjoying this early morning on the beach. I took in a wonderful sunrise with the sand between my toes, waiting for Shane to get started.
I secured a great spot right outside of the start area so I was able to snag a few photos of Shane as his wave moved through the corral. The atmosphere was awesome - upbeat music, gorgeous weather, a lively announcer - it was definitely one of my favorite starts to any of the triathlons I've attended.
As the start drew close, the competitors looked more and more focused and intense. Shane was no exception. It was his first half Ironman and I can only imagine the thoughts that were running through his head as he faced this huge challenge.
The gun went off at exactly 6:20 (yes, right on time - the organization and planning at this race couldn't have been better, it was a great experience for spectators) and they were off! The swim is always a little nerve wracking for me. All of the swimmers look the same once they get in the water and it's virtually impossible to keep track of Shane. I took up residence by the swim exit and waited patiently. I knew approximately how long it'd take for his swim so I was ready when he emerged from the water!
At this point, the competitors are all trying to get their wetsuits off so they can make the transition to their cycling gear in the shortest time possible.
This race was interesting in that the bike leg didn't loop around and finish where it started. Rather, the competitors hopped on their bikes and began the 56-mile journey up the length of the state to our capital city - Providence. There are some definite perks to being the smallest state, and I would argue that biking across the state in just a few hours is pretty cool! For me, the task was a bit easier :) I hopped in the car and although I'd originally planned to head straight to Providence, I wound up meeting up with my mom in my hometown, around the 25-mile mark of the bike leg to provide a little encouragement for Shane. Things were going well; he felt good enough to strike a pose for me as he passed.
Eventually, I did head to Providence, where I met up with Shane's parents. His dad captured some great shots, including this one as Shane approached the end of the bike leg. You can see the capitol building in the background.
While the weather had been nice down at the beach, it was brutal in Providence - hot and humid with intense sun. I felt concern and sympathy for Shane as he left the second transition area to head off for his 13.1 mile run. To make matters worse, there wasn't a whole lot of shade along the course.
I love this picture from Shane's dad. I think it really captures just how difficult the race was at this point. The competitors coming up the hill look beat.
Fortunately, there were plenty of spots along the course for the racers to hydrate and even pick up wet sponges to cool themselves down. Shane told me he put the sponges in his hat in an attempt to keep cool.
The course consisted of two 6 mile loops and in this photo, Shane is heading out on his second loop. The capitol building is in the background, and the red building to the left is the Providence Place Mall.
After Shane had passed me on his second loop, I made my way to the finish line to wait for him and also to meet up with a few of our friends who were kind enough to come and lend their support. The finish was just as terrific as the start - the announcer was a lot of fun and the crowd was lively, cheering for everyone as they came down the finish chute. It was still brutally hot, but I think we felt bad complaining given that we were just standing there while the athletes ran a half marathon!
Luckily, Shane's dad is tall and was able to capture a shot of Shane crossing the finish line! He finished in just over six and a half hours (the clock at the finish began running at 6 am, 20 minutes before Shane's swim wave went off) - a fantastic time, especially given the weather and the fact that it was his first attempt at a half-Ironman!! Congratulations to Shane, what an amazing accomplishment! It was a really fun day and I'm already looking forward to this summer's next triathlon.
Cinnamon Raspberry Muffins
adapted from Gourmet, July 2006 (as seen on Annie's Eats)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups raspberries
coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 F with a rack in the center. Place paper liners in a muffin pan with 12 wells.
In a medium bowl, whisk the butter, brown sugar, milk, and egg until well combined. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the raspberries with a rubber spatula.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle coarse sugar over the top of each, if using. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 12 muffins
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Karen of Welcome to our Crazy Blessed Life: brrrr-ownies! The inclusion of mint, in the form of York Peppermint Patties, makes these brownies extra special. As flavor combinations go, chocolate and mint is right up there for me with chocolate and peanut butter so I had high hopes for these brownies.
I confess that when it comes to brownies, the ones from the box taste just as good to me as most homemade recipes. That said, I generally make them from scratch instead of buying the mix because it's so easy. This recipe was no different - melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, then whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, flour and salt. Finally, the peppermint patties are chopped into little bits and folded into the batter before baking. I was careful to chop mine quite small thanks to some tips from the other bakers (one of the advantages to baking at the last minute, you get to benefit from everyone elses' experiences!) who'd had some trouble with their brownies. I'd lined my pan with aluminum foil, which I sprayed generously with cooking spray, and I had no trouble getting my brownies out of the pan or off of the foil. They cut easily too and smelled amazing!! The mint was very fragrant!
The minute they were cool, I tried a brownie. My first thought upon taking a bite - "wow, these are really, really rich." They were even too rich for me to have a second, which is saying a lot because I really love brownies. I gave most of them away to my friend (Shane doesn't like mint, otherwise I'd have shared with him as rich chocolate treats are definitely his cup of tea), but I haven't been able to touch base yet and get her thoughts. Hopefully she and her coworkers enjoyed them. Big thanks to Karen for hosting this week! She will share the recipe on her blog today or, alternatively, you can find it on page 103 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.
Also, I want to thank those of you who sent luck and positive thoughts to Shane at his race this past weekend. He did incredibly well and I'm hoping to find time to share photos and more information on Wednesday :)
This week's SMS was chosen by Tracey of Made by Tray Tray: sour cherry and almond biscotti! Even though I'm not a huge biscotti fan, I really like making them - they're fun and just a little more special than regular cookies. Plus, since they're such good keepers (at least a week), I didn't have to worry about finding someone to give them to immediately. He doesn't know it yet, but I'm planning to bring these to Shane's dad when I see him at Shane's race today. (It's the big day for the half-Ironman and although I am dreading the 3:30 am wake up call more than I can put into words, I'm really excited to go and cheer Shane on!)
These biscotti incorporate many great flavors - dried cherries that are reconstituted in orange juice, whole almonds, almond extract - yum! I briefly considered substituting dried cranberries (which I already had on hand) for the cherries but Jeannette convinced me otherwise. Did anyone else think it was weird that the recipe called for fresh orange juice and the zest of a lemon? I figured since I was already using the juice, I'd just use the orange zest too. I rubbed it into the sugar with my fingertips (a trick I use often since learning it from Dorie). The dough is refrigerated before being shaped and baked, but even cold I still found it quite sticky. I shaped it roughly using well floured hands and then switched over to a rubber spatula to finish the job. Like all biscotti, these are baked once, then cut and baked a second time. I was wary about the second baking time here, which seemed long at an hour, but it wound up being perfect.
I sampled the dough before I baked the biscotti and it was delicious and not surprisingly, when I tried a bite of one of the cookies after it came out of the oven, the flavor was great! I think these would be wonderful dunked in coffee or tea as they're quite crisp. Thanks to Tracey for hosting this week! She will post the recipe on her site or you can find it on pages 72-73 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.
It's Friday (yay!) and I'm now through my first two weeks back at work. One of the best things about my 4 hour daily commute is that I've started reading again. I'm embarrassed to admit that the only books I'd read in the past few years were cookbooks, but that's all changing now. I just finished The Help, which I really enjoyed and am ready to move on to my next summer book. What are your favorite books? I'd love to start putting together a list and pick up a few at my local library so I always have another ready to pop in my bag for the train ride to work.
While I now have lots of time to read, I continue to struggle with finding time for this little blog. All I'll say for now is thanks for hanging in there with me as I figure it out.
I've been making this pizza for a few years and it was actually the first pizza I shared on the blog. We made it again this week and I realized it was worth re-posting for readers who may not have seen it when I originally shared it. We almost never order pizza anymore with recipes like this in our back pocket. The dough here comes together easily and because it rises quickly in a warm oven, it's my go-to recipe when we want pizza but don't have a ton of time. We almost always top our pan pizza with pepperoni (it's Shane's favorite) but you could certainly use any toppings you like. If you do go with pepperoni, try this tip from America's Test Kitchen to avoid a lot of grease - microwave the pepperoni for 30 seconds between layers of paper towels before sticking them on your pizza and popping it in the oven. Once baked, the pan pizza crust is golden, crisp and so good! It's a bit of an indulgence, but so worth it from time to time.
from America's Test Kitchen
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
3/4 cup skim milk plus 2 additional tablespoons, warmed to 110 F
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
your favorite sauce (here are a few I like)
your favorite toppings
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 200 F. When oven reaches temperature, turn it off. Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray. Coat each of two 9-inch cake pans with 3 tablespoons oil.
Mix milk, sugar, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a measuring cup. Add the flour, yeast, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix briefly just to combine the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low, slowly add the milk mixture to the bowl. Once the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. Turn the dough onto your work surface, gently shape it into ball, and place it in the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the warm oven until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, divide in half, and lightly roll each half into ball. Shape each half into a 9 1/2-inch round and transfer to one of the oiled cake pans. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot (not in the oven) until puffy and slightly risen, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F.
Remove plastic wrap from dough. Ladle sauce on each round, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges. Sprinkle each with your favorite cheese and top with your favorite toppings. Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust has puffed and is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let pizzas rest in pans for 1 minute. Using spatula, transfer pizzas to cutting board and cut each into wedges.
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Dharmagirl of Bliss: Towards a Delicious Life: tarte noire. Even though it was a long weekend and in theory I had time to bake, it's been brutally hot here and standing in the kitchen for hours with my oven on was the last thing I wanted to do so I was really glad Dharmagirl picked a delightfully simple, classic recipe.
Only two components this week - Dorie's sweet tart dough to make the shell and chocolate ganache for the filling. Even better, both can be made ahead of time and popped in your freeze for last minute assembly. I made only one 4.5" mini this week (the long holiday weekend was indulgent enough without adding a huge chocolate tart to the mix). I got very lucky and found some leftover sweet tart dough in my freezer so all I had to do was press it into the pan and bake it! Don't get me wrong, the dough is easy enough to make, but it's put together in the food processor and I was glad not to have to pull it out and dirty it. For the filling, I made 1/4 of the full recipe and used 61% E. Guittard chocolate. Technically, the box is labeled semi-sweet (not the bittersweet the recipe calls for) but I don't like bittersweet chocolate so 61% is about as intense as it gets in this house.
I have to confess that the tart is sitting in my fridge untouched. I don't really like chocolate ganache so it doesn't appeal to me. Typically I'd count on Shane to eat the tart (and under normal circumstances he'd be happy to help) but he's participating in his first Ironman triathlon this coming weekend so he's trying to keep sweets to a minimum this week. That said, I love Dorie's sweet tart dough and I also know her ganache is tasty to those who enjoy ganache so this dessert is sure to please. It's a classic and given the ease with which it can be thrown together, I think it's perfect for entertaining. Thanks to Dharmagirl for hosting this week! You can find the recipe on her blog or on page 351 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.
Happy 4th! Aren't long holiday weekends the best? :)
This week's SMS was chosen by Rebecca of Beurrista: North Fork peach raspberry pie! Last fall I'd purchased a mini (6") pie plate at Crate & Barrel and at the time I was so excited to finally be able to make mini pies. When I wanted to use the dish for the first time, though, I couldn't find it anywhere in my house. I've been searching for it ever since...over 6 months now. I started to think maybe I'd gone crazy and hadn't actually purchased the plate. I store most of my baking pans in our basement on a rack and when I went down to grab one a few days ago, I found the mini pie plate hiding inside that pan! I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was - not only to find the plate but also to confirm that I hadn't imagined buying it! I'd checked that rack at least 3 times in my search for the pie plate, but somehow had missed it. You can bet I'll be taking steps to make sure I don't misplace this dish again.
I (correction, Shane) did some quick math and decided that 1/3 of the filling recipe would probably work well in my 6" pie plate. I had no idea how to scale the crust recipe and didn't feel like researching it, so I made just one 9-inch crust recipe, divided it in half and hoped for the best. It worked perfectly - just enough to make my mini double crust pie. Though the peaches looked great in the store this week, I used frozen ones from my freezer instead (I didn't defrost them before baking). I did use fresh raspberries though. This was the first pie I'd used tapioca for and I thought it was interesting the recipe called for both tapioca and cornstarch as thickeners. (Side note - I tried grinding the tapioca pearls in my food processor but they didn't seem to break down much, so I wouldn't bother next time.) My mini baked for about an hour and a half, at which point the juices were bubbling and thick. Having cut into far too many fruit pies before they'd completely cooled, I've learned my lesson and waited on this one.
When I finally cut the first slice, it was gorgeous! Many of the fruit pies I've made have been soupy, but not this one. The filling was thick and the fruit perfectly baked. Not only did it look great, but it was delicious! The raspberries added just the right note of tartness to complement the buttery crust and the sweet peaches. I exercised extreme restraint and only ate a tiny slice so I could share the rest with our friends at tonight's cookout. Lots of thanks to Rebecca for a great pick this week! You can find the recipe on her blog or on pages 150-151 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.