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Posts from the ‘Baking’ Category

Crispy-Topped Brown Sugar Bars | BCM | Tuesdays with Dorie

Who knew these would be so easy to make. I had four pages of information set before me and two recipes to make and I was done in a little over half an hour. I could make these little treats anytime on a whim because the ingredient list calls for items I regularly keep in stock in my pantry: chocolate, butter, flour, salt, vanilla, baking powder. There is just one item I may not have but will most likely add to the grocery list now to have for the “just in case” needs and sweet cravings.

A simple shortbread, then a layer of chocolate, and finally topped with… caramelized rice crispy treats. This may be my new “happy place” a buttery shortbread- gooey chocolatey middle- and crispy topping with caramel balances taste and texture.

You may need to find this sweet little treat and make some yourself!

Caramelized Crispy Bars

Buttery shortbread, Chocolate, and Caramelized Rice Crispies = Taste & Texture Balance Achieved!

Lemon Madeleines | BCM | Tuesdays with Dorie

My youngest walked into the kitchen while I was prepping my work station for the latests Tuesdays with Dorie scheduled treat from her book Baking Chez Moi. Curious, she wanted to know what I was  going to make. “Madeleines!” I said with excitement.  I’ve never made these tasty little treats and I was looking forward to trying something new. I could see she was searching for the image to fit the name in her mind. Then she said, “You know Mom, the name Madeleine is so similar to the name of the character Madeline, the lute Mandolin and the slicer Mandoline I didn’t know at first what it was you were making.”  Now, each time I think of these little shell shaped cakes, my mind scrolls through each of those images and I giggle.

 

A petite Madeline mold buttered and ready for batter

A buttered petite Madeleine mold awaiting the batter…

Later, when she sat down to taste one of the Madeleines, she said she remembered eating these after school for goûter when we lived in France. I am amazed at how our senses bring back memories so vividly. “The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it.” ~ Remembrance of Things Past (À la recherche du temps perdu), Marcel Proust

My youngest was on to something. Indeed those little Madeleines did have a lineage. Historically these little cakes were believed to be named after a young maid, Madeleine, who worked for the Duke of Lorraine, Stanislas Leczinski in the late 1700s from the French town of Commercy. Once these petite cakes were introduced to the court at Versailles they found their place in the heart of the French.

Mother and daughter strolling the Green Carpet- Versailles

The Green Carpet- Versailles

With my first batch of Madeleines, I didn’t notice the “bump” that Dorie described in her recipe but I specifically looked for it on my second batch. The “bump” is the gold seal symbol or as she equates it to the holy grail, that one has decidedly mastered the Madeleine and there it was, a large bump on my petite Madeleines. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered them but I do thank Dorie for spilling her learned secret with me and the rest of the BCM bakers.  Her long history of making these and then learning the holy grail secrets from Phillippe Conticini of Patisserie des Reves and Fabrice Le Bourdat of Bel Sucre in Paris makes all of us feel great from the start!

Madeleine's with a "bosse/ bump"

Madeleine’s with a “bosse/ bump”

If you would like to try your hand at making Madeleines at home so you may enjoy a little afternoon goûter, here is the recipe. Alternately, she has shared her Lemon Madeleine recipe here.

Tuesdays with Dorie and Baking Chez Moi is an open group of bloggers having fun baking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s books. Go check out what the other Doristas are doing!

 

Crocus the First Flowers of Spring

Spring is here!

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

 

Marquise au Chocolat | TWD |Baking Chez Moi

Last week I left the grocery store with a stack of thin chocolate bars, for the Marquise recipe, and they felt like what I image little gold bars to be. While prepping for the desert each time I peel open the shiny foil wrapper of the chocolate bar, I fell back into the excitement I felt as kid, reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“But there was one other thing that the grown-ups also knew, and it was this: that however small the chance might be of striking lucky, the chance is there. The chance had to be there.”
Ronald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factor 

 This time the excitement for me was trying a new recipe and hoping for the chance that it turns out because I’ve gone and decided to make a new recipe for a special birthday dinner, and I don’t have a back up in the freezer! So, I do believe in luck when executed correctly ;0)  And thank goodness Dorie Greenspan writes beautiful recipes that will make me look like a rock star on the first try.

A frozen chocolate birthday mousse

“Cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories”. ~Buddy Valastro

Making this cake was a snap. It has six ingredients; butter, bittersweet chocolate, fresh room temp eggs, sugar, fleur de sel and cold heavy cream. For a chocolate lover one can’t go wrong with this combination and for those of us who enjoy baking or in this case freezing, because you don’t bake this cake, folding the whipped egg and cream mixture into the chocolate creates a decadent marbled effect that makes me smile.

Chicken had shot

Happy Chicken

There was some chatter of concern on the Tuesdays with Dorie site by fellow Dorista’s about the use of room temperature eggs and making a cake that has raw eggs in it. Dorie makes a highlighted note in her recipe to use” very fresh eggs, preferably organic and/or from a trusted local source.”  We were lucky here, since our local source lives in the hen house out back and is named Clucky. Along with her friends they provided the four eggs I needed for my Marquise au Chocolat, bright and early the morning of my cake making. That’s as fresh as you get. Coop to Cake!

Backyard chicken eggs fresh today

From clucky with love

However, if you are pregnant, a young child, have a compromised immune system or if you are concerned about eating anything with raw eggs, you can still make this recipe by using pasteurized eggs or bringing the eggs to 160º. Do this while mixing the eggs to keep from scrambling, in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. Another idea I saw that Peggy from Pantry Revisited substituted greek yogurt for the eggs and was happy with the results.

Chicken tucked into bed

not all hens have a clean coop like clucky

Once you’ve made your decision on which way to proceed with the egg choice it’s as simple as mixing and pouring everything into a loaf pan to freeze. While the cake was freezing I searched for a fun topping option. Dorie made me laugh with her side column “Bonne Idée” where one line reads “Crack Chocolate Sauce” as a good idea to drizzle over the marquise. It’s the way the type was set and those three words stand out as one line but of course the real name of the sauce is Hard-Crack Chocolate Sauce. Think ice cream sundae chocolate sauce that goes from liquid to solid once poured atop a bowl of ice cream. This is exactly the sauce I had to make, mainly because the name, it must be that good!

 

coconut oil in a glass dish for Hard Crack Chocolate Sauce

coconut oil + chocolate = happiness

Again her recipe for the sauce was straight forward and easy. With two ingredients; bittersweet chocolate and coconut oil mixed and melted together in a heat proof bowl then poured over the marquise. The cake, just went from two stars of decadence to four. Add a bit of Whipped Cream to top it off  and I confirm it was that good!

No bake Chocolate Cake

It’s all about the cake…

 

This rich no bake chocolate cake can be made ahead of time, kept in the freezer and pulled out ready for serving. Or it can be made in individual ramekins and dressed up with fresh berries. There are so many creative ideas to tweak this chocolate cake that I’ll need to make it again and again to test them out. I’m sure my family won’t complain.

 

 

 

From our kitchen to yours!

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean~ Weekend Cake| TWD

 

I would like to share a slice of Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake with you but there’s none to be had, it was that good. I am not sure how this can be called a weekend cake, I might aptly rename it the 12 hour, if we are lucky, cake. Because that’s how long it lasted in our home before it disappeared.

Buttered black nonstick loaf pan ready for cake mix
Buttered loaf pan awaiting a dusting of flour

The texture of this Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake reminded me of my grandmother’s pound cakes I devoured as a child. The stand out difference  between the two is Dorie’s addition of vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract and dark rum. These ingredients are an intoxicating combination that had my family sneaking in for just one more paper-thin slice.

Loaf Weekend Cake on Cutting Board

One hour into the life of the Brown Butter & Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

We found this cake to be the perfect après ski Sunday afternoon goûter/ snack and fitting, because it reminded me of family to be served on my Grandmother Ruth’s china with tea if you are me and bourbon if you are my husband.

Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Cake Served Up on Maple Leaf China

Sweet Memories Through The Senses

Just today, Tuesday, my daughter asked if I would make this lovely cake again, she suggested, tomorrow. I tried to tell her about how Dorie named it a weekend cake after the French gâteaux de voyage (travel cake) and that it was far from the weekend so she would have to wait the four (well, three now) long days until the weekend and I would mix up another. I won’t mind when I do because the aroma of vanilla fills the house making it feel even more like home.
The butter (beurre noisette) is caramelized to bring out it’s nutty flavors, and I used my homemade pure vanilla extract letting it work its magic as a flavor potentiator. Complete the experience with coffee, tea or rum as recommended by Dorie as an accompaniment. I might make two next time so we can share it with friends on the ski hill and have a picnic.

 

Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan and Baking Chez Moi is an open group dedicated to baking through Dorie’s latest books. If you would like to learn more about how this recipe turned out for the group you can find them here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Happy Baking!

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

 

6 Quick Steps To Make Your Own Homemade Pure Vanilla Extract

 

Did you know you can make your own pure vanilla extract at home with just a few ingredients? It’s not a mystery any longer and it’s a lovely gift to give to your favorite baker. As with any homemade product, there are several benefits to making your own. For one, you get to choose the quality of ingredients and know exactly what is in your vanilla extract. This means, you will have the highest quality vanilla extract available without anything artificial.

A few years back we decided as a family to give handcrafted gifts for the holidays instead of purchasing them. I was in search of what I could make that would be both fun and practical. That’s when I learned that I could make my own pure vanilla extract. Why had I not thought of this before?  Considering that nearly everything that is mass produced now were once made at home, it’s not that crazy of a thought that I could produce a gift that my family and friends would enjoy.

 

Vanilla bean pods

So what is pure vanilla extract? It is simply the extract (flavor and aroma) from the vanilla beans that have been immersed in alcohol (usually vodka because of it’s neutral flavor, but sometimes brandy or rum) over a period of time. The FDA requires;

“In vanilla extract the content of ethyl alcohol is not less than 35 percent by volume and the content of vanilla constituent, as defined in 169.3(c), is not less than one unit per gallon.”

So that means the vanilla extract you’ll find in the store, is 70 proof (35% alcohol) and it contains 13.35 oz of bean per gallon of alcohol which would produce a single strength vanilla extract. After more research I found that some bakers prefer a double strength vanilla extract and others do not. I am guessing it is a matter of preference.  I lean toward loving the scent of vanilla and enjoy baking with it so my recipe may have a wee bit more vanilla than others but since I’m making my own and not planning to sell it I can follow whatever guideline works for our baking needs and that is a nice pure vanilla extract that flavors our baked goods without overpowering them.

The vanilla bean grows from a kind of tropical orchid. The fruit starts out as a hard green pod and the greenish white flowers (missing in this photo) and in a natural setting are dependent on bees to pollinate them, but now in modern times they can be artificially pollinated.  These vanilla beans are picked unripe and then submerged in hot water to remove their protective cover and allow for the natural liquids to seep out. They are then allowed to dry in the sunlight and ferment. When they have turned brown and covered with a layer of vanillin crystals the vanilla beans are ready.

 

Kauai'i - Green vanilla pods on the vine -Steel Grass Chocolate tour

Unripe vanilla bean pods on the vine in Kauai

 

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Are You Serious About Biscuits?

 

Biscuits are to my father in-law as cribbage is to my father; serious business but with a little bit of luck thrown in too. When we visit, our mornings gravitate towards a slower pace and the early coffee becomes a second pot and brunch more often than not.

<img src= "http://www.caramelizelife.com rachellekweymuller width= "3872" height= "2592" alt= "Caramelize Life   Grandpa trys Dahlia Bakery and Tom Douglas's Biscuits"/>

I’m not sure if it could be called a tradition just yet but I love the connection the mornings bring. My youngest can be an early bird, as is her Grandpa, so they have found a sweet rhythm in the early morning hours. She wakes and waits fairly patiently to hear his footsteps in the kitchen above.  She runs upstairs, out pacing our equally excited four legged friend, to enjoy some one on one time with her Grandpa. I know they have great conversations that span more years than she is old. I believe there is a childhood window for these opportunities.  I think back, to our oldest who used to enjoy these same early mornings but now as a teenager, she rarely stirs before the sun and is more in-tune with the moon and the stars. These windows of opportunity allow for precious light to warm us and connect who we are as individuals. I know my girls share their thoughts with their Grandpa as he shares his passions, in those morning hours, they have learned to oil and watercolor paint from him and all three equally share the love of baking, eating and trying new recipes together.

Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Last year we all received (I think it was at Christmastime) a new cookbook, full of delicious Tom Douglas and the Dahlia Bakery recipes. I can’t think of one dish I’ve experienced at a Tom Douglas restaurant that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.  So, when I heard Grandpa and the girls were planning to make biscuits in the morning and TD serious biscuits at that, I had no doubt they would be good.  Even our teenager was present and at the ready to help with these.

 

Serious Biscuits With Grandpa

Sunday Mornings Biscuits

 

I was not disappointed, they turned out beautifully, light and buttery. I think next time they would go well with a little Southern Gravy! 

 

Head Shot of Rachelle K Weymuller

 

 

Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

Keeping My 2015 Resolutions, How About You?

Did you make a new year’s resolution for 2015? I did. And I’m sticking to them. Yes; them. I made more than one resolution and so far it’s going great! The Doriesta’s must have made a few too or either that, or they figured many of us would be deciding after the holidays we could use a healthy recipe to nourish and energize us into keeping our resolutions.

So as you may have guessed, I am focusing on eating smarter. I think I eat fairly healthy already but I know I could eat smarter. Over time my habit of skipping breakfast and having just a coffee has worn it’s way into my daily routine but then I forget to get a good breakfast going until that crazy clock tells me it’s lunch. In our family we use the term ‘HANGRY’ that I now see popping up on t-shirts and posters so maybe we’re not alone. Do you know anyone who gets HANGRY?

Maybe Dorie does because she has come up with a fantastic and healthy way to keep the “Hangries” at bay with her Granola Energy Bars. Dorie, my family will be writing you a personal thank you card for this one.

These granola energy bars, take no time to make and if stored properly will keep for a week (if not eaten before).  Dorie suggests to cut them up into bite sized pieces and serve them with tea (maybe a way to keep the Hangries in us, civilized). I chose to cut them a little larger and store them in a glass container so I could grab and go. Unfortunately, I didn’t cut them soon enough and could have used them on my ski this morning. At the 8k mark I was sloooowwwig down just as my good friend and I were talking about kids eating habits and helping them to make good choices. Old habits die hard and I had to confess that I hadn’t eaten a fantastic breakfast this morning…hence my slower pace. What a good friend I had who, waited for me and gave me a scolding in a motherly way of course- thanks Stew!

 

Run Boris Run- The B Dog skiing Big Valley Ranch - Methow Trails

Run Boris Run

We know who did eat his breakfast and then slyly got another family member to feed him a second. Dog wisdom, Maybe I should follow Boris’s lead.

Dorie’s bars are pretty close to making granola but instead of spreading out the ingredients on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet, she instructs to firmly press the granola into a parchment lined pan and then bake it.

I absolutely loved the parchment idea because once the bars had cooled I just popped the whole thing cleanly out of the casserole dish. This was an added bonus since we are still without hot water (long story but the short version is no boiler= not hot h2o) and our “Glamping” is going on week two. Maybe I’ll write about that another time, there are a few gems to tell for sure.

 

Caramelize Life makes Granola Energy Bars with Tuesdays with Dorie

Just out of the oven!

Once out of the dish the bars were ready to be cut. At the time I chose the usual long slices but now that I think about it I could have pulled out my sweet cookie cutters and made some fun shapes. If you have a little one at home they would probably really enjoy a specialized energy bar in their lunch. I wonder if my tween and teen would? Maybe I’ll have to test it out… next time. I do plan to put these into my repertoire since they were super quick and easy to make and the ingredient list can be varied to whatever you might have on hand in the pantry. Keeping with the ratio of two cups oats : two cups of your favorite; seeds, nuts,dried fruits and sweets(chocolate chips, cocoa nibs, crystallized ginger,etc) then a binder of brown rice syrup, honey or maple syrup and butter. If you are dying to know the full recipe check out page 238-239 in Baking Chez Moi. 

 

Granola Energy Bars- Tuesdays With Dorie and Caramelizelife

Yum!

 

Tuesdays with Dorie Greenspan and Baking Chez Moi is an open group dedicated to baking through Dorie’s latest books. To see more of the groups experiences with the Granola Energy Bars click on the link.

 

Head Shot Rachelle Rachelle @ Caramelize Life
Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

 

 

Caught by Surprise – Whipped Cream!

Oh, goodness. I had it in my mind that this Tuesday with Dorie was a bye week (they were following the Seahawks schedule right?) But my handy computer reminded me that it’s a pick your own recipe (from either Baking Chez Moi or Baking with Julia) week with the Doristas. Which means this is a great opportunity for those of us who have either missed a recipe in the line up or want to make something fun that’s not on the schedule.
I was on top of it at the beginning of our holiday celebrations but this one snuck up on me. Not to worry; Doire’s books have a fantastic variety of delectable choices to pick from but my timing was the limiting factor. We already had a spiced ginger birthday cake in the works for tonight. So what goes well with cake? Whipped cream of course!

But wait, there’s more!

Are You Hungry for Bûche de Noël?

 

 

Yes, is the answer!

Christmas tree outside

Because making bûche de Noël is not for the light of heart. Yes, it’s true, it takes all day to make and the NY Times’ Melissa Clark doesn’t lie. I had that thought as I was closely following Dorie Greenspan’s recipe and techniques for her new Gingerbread bûche de Noël. I would glance up at the clock and see the hours disappear thankfully, it’s the solstice and I’ve got time and more of it! Good thing I didn’t make this yesterday ;0)

Melissa Clark teams up with Dorie Greenspan here in a NY Times video (I wish I would have watched the video before making mine) the link also includes the recipe just incase you would like to try it out too. Or, you can learn more from NPR and their take on the Yule Log.

Caramelized Almonds

Almonds ready to be caramelized

Despite the fact that this recipe takes a bit of time, it has been a great experience and I am happy to report that I was successful and we will be enjoying a lovely Gingerbread bûche de Noël tonight while we celebrate solstice and my father’s belated birthday.

Solstice, Birthday, Noel

Solstice, Birthday, Noel

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Making Divinity On A Snowy Day

 

Sunlit snowy day

 

Today was going great. I was well into my day of holiday treat making with Dorie Greenspan’s Truffles resting in the refrigerator when I thought to myself “why not try a new recipe? I’m on a roll right?” I have had The Casual Baker’s Divinity recipe printed out for just the right moment, and reading through the ingredient list I was pleased as punch with myself finding that I was well stocked. So off I went into the land of Divinity.

RKW_0105

In my own defense, there was no way for me to know what was in store for me. I laugh at myself right now, perched at the kitchen bar typing away after making the whimsical decision to make divinity. Glancing over with a heavy sigh at my green marble countertops and previously spotless stove-top now covered with Divinity guts. A sticky, gooey mess; I’ve gone and candied my stove-top. My youngest, the ever happy soul that she is, has set to scooping up the goo and has turned it into her own candy project; far be it from her to let sugar, water and organic corn syrup go to waste.

What happened, you ask? All was going just fine; I was cruising along solo in the kitchen (read: without distractions).  I find that I need a distraction free space while making candy, but somehow it didn’t dawn on me that making candy was exactly what I was doing (Yes! I did read the recipe thoroughly but was thinking more meringue than candy). I’ll blame it on the absence of a second cup of coffee.

In walked D2 (Daughter #2) who set about to do her English assignment at the kitchen bar. “This is great,” I thought to myself, bursting with pride “she is self-motived and getting her work done.” …until the questions started rolling in. Distraction number one. Next, my husband walked in and started a great conversation (distraction number two) which took me away from the stove-top. Have I provided enough foreshadowing for you to guess what happens next in our holiday tale of woe? From the other room where I was in deep discussion, I heard my pot boiling over…”Oh, SUGAR!” I rushed back to the stove and it looked like a mad scientist’s bubbling mushroom spilling over the sides; an oooey-gooey syrupy monster. 

I tried to save it. I really did. I grabbed the printed directions and the candy thermometer to get my bearings. The temp read 253º, not 255º as required but I couldn’t get it higher without it growing into another bubbling monster so I poured it into my previously prepped foaming egg whites poste-haste which, as you may have surmised is not exactly how Sheena S. of the Casual Baker had envisioned the optimal scenario. I put the hand held blender to work, but two minutes into the seven called for it became readily apparent that this was a bad idea. I was splattering Divinity monster guts everywhere. It was supposed to be thick, but after double the time called for it looked just as runny as ever. I switched to a bigger bowl and stationary mixer as a last gasp effort to save my Divinity. Too little too late; nothing would save our stickily intertwined fates from a fall from grace of epic proportions.

stay-puft-marshmallow-man1

So what’s a girl to do? I peeled away my printed directions that were now at one with the counter and started to read the comments after the recipe directions. And here it was that I learned from the Divinity lovers community that Divinity is a fickle creature. Some even purported that if it is raining outside she refuses to take on the task because that subtle amount of moisture can make the difference “between bites of divinity and a puddle best consumed with a spoon” (KitschenBitsch). Others go on to say that 255º (let alone 253º!) is a tad low and they like to wait until the candy reaches 350º.

Well Kitschen Bitsch, you are correct. It is snowing lovely large flakes of frozen rain outside and I have a big fat puddle inside. Once again the weather has ruined my attempts and it has nothing to do with the distractions. Thanks for the easy out, until a sunny day when I’ll attempt it again!

Wishing you wild adventures from our kitchen to yours,
Head Shot RachelleRachelle @ Caramelize Life
Making Life a Little Sweeter through Food, Travel and Community

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