Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate Cookie Fudge

Try explaining to a bunch of Israelis what fudge is. Instead, I just let them belive that the chocolate-oreo confection that I presented them with was really fudgy brownies. Got no complaints from them :) This simple, three ingredient recipe comes from the A Taste of Home, Church Supper Desserts cookbook, which, I think I've already mentioned, is my go to book for easy but reliably delicious desserts. Consisting simply of chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and chopped oreos, you can not go wrong here at all and you can customize with add-ins, especially as the holiday season is approaching. Try crushed peppermint candies, more chocolate, graham crackers, white chocolate chips.. Go wild!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Blond Butterscotch Toffee Brownies

Back in the summer, I hit up Walmart and brought back some mini chocolates for a friend. Well, that friend never claimed them so I figured I'd bring them to my soldiers. They'd never say no to American chocolates. But then I had a better idea... Bake with them! I brought back Butterfingers, Crunch Bars and Heath bars and decided that the Heath candies would be the best candidate for a bar cookie. I found a simple recipe in A Taste of Home's Church Supper Desserts book and quickly threw them together. Humble and unassuming as they are, these were the first to run off the plate when I brought them to my soldiers. These come together really quickly with just a bowl and a whisk. Next time you have chocolate bars just hanging around, you'll know just what to do!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dutch Apple Pie

Things have been nuts here. I've been opening course after course which has left me no time, and now that the situation is precarious and less than ideal, posting hasn't happened, although I've really wanted to. Two courses ago, I baked a ton for my soldiers and this pie was the favorite. It was devoured in minutes. I've since made it again, a rare phenomenon, and it was a hit. This recipe comes from A Taste of Home Church Supper Desserts and I must say, that book doesnt disappoint. It's my go to for soldier-friendly recipes that are sure to please. Sure, there are plenty of recipes that call for convenience products but nothing that some homemade replacements cant fix. The recipe is pretty simple. You make one streusel like crust recipe, press most of it into a pie plate. In goes the filling and then the rest of the crust serves as its topping. The filling also is made interestingly. You boil water, sugar and cornstarch and when it's thickened add some chopped apples, some cinnamon and some vanilla. Bake and voila! A perfect fall dessert. It doesnt hurt to serve a la mode, either. Just saying.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chocolate Honey Cake

What would the holidays be without honey cake? Well, I didn't exactly make honey cake but when I was asked to make dessert for lunch last weekend, I made something like it. Honey cakes are usually hit or miss. Either you love them or you hate them. I decided to play it safe but still tip my hat to the season by making a chocolate honey cake. This cake comes from the masterful Marcy Goldman's A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. Moist with a depth of flavor added from the honey, my guests really loved it. The topping couldn't be simpler, just toss some chocolate chips on top of the hot cake and allow the heat to melt the chips the spread! Love that trick!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lemon Cream Pie

For my sister's Shabbat sheva brachot, (way back in August, when I was in New York!) I put myself in charge of making dessert. I went a bit crazy, makings two different types of truffles, two different types of biscotti and two different types of frozen pies. (Having just received a copy of Icebox Pies, it was clear they would be of the cold variety. Also helped break the heat!!) The first pie to catch my eye was none other than the Lemon Cream Pie, also the first pie recipe in the book. The idea is a familiar one, whipped cream folded into homemade lemon curd and poured into a graham cracker crust. Yum. I don't know anyone who can resist the delightful tang of lemon curd especially when mellowed by cream. Even my father, who is one picky dessert eater, stealthily went back for seconds. I used store bought graham cracker crust because that's what I had on hand, but I encourage you to make your own, it is so much better that way. As far as the lemon curd goes, it is quite easy but since it is made with whole eggs, you'll have a lot of straining to do to get all the cooked egg white out. Don't be lazy, strain as many times as you can. It makes all the difference.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight

Not too long ago, my vegetarian roommate hosted a dairy meal and she asked me to make dessert. I happily obliged and took the opportunity to make a dairy dessert. Thumbing through one of my latest additions, A Taste of Home Church Supper Desserts, I came across a recipe that seemed yummy and would feed a crowd. The recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Delight had a layer of cookie, a cheesecake layer, a chocolate pudding layer and was topped with whipped cream. Real decadence. Many of the recipes in the book use convenience products but as a compromise, I made my own cookie dough and used real whipping cream, so feel free to do the same. As you can see in the above photo, the guests of the lunch only managed to eat one row of the cake. What to do? I brought it into my soldiers the next day and they quickly demolished it. That's what soldiers are for. ;) I really like this cookbook because it is filled with down-home, crowd pleasing desserts that are tried and true winners. This is the second recipe I made and they were both winners. I am posting the recipe as written in the book, but as mentioned, feel free to substitute for the packaged products.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tomato Onion Pepper Foccacias

I made these breads to break my fast on Tisha B'av quite a while ago and am only getting around to posting now. This recipe is slighty adapted from a recipe from A Passion for Baking. The original calls for tomatoes, olives and onions but I swapped out the olives for peppers, a favorite of mine, especially when roasted. These foccacias are quite easy and fast to throw together and last quite a while. What I couldn't eat at the break fast I took for my flight home. Delicious.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Yogurt Tahini Cake

This cake was a runaway hit. Who would have thought that the humble blend of yogurt, tahini and silan (date honey) would turn into something so magical? I myself was a bit skeptical about this cake, but one bite of it changed my mind. My Israeli taste testers also really liked this. Truth be told, there's nothing not to like about this moist, whole grain cake. Baked in my favorite type of pan to form a tea cake, this cake would be perfect  as a breakfast or served with tea or coffee. If you want to bring a bit more glory to this cake, serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you've elevated it to a first rate, exotic, dessert. I used half whole wheat flour and half regular, but you can just as easily substitute self-rising flour and eliminate the baking powder.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Banana Blueberry Quickbread

These last three weeks, my trip to America for my sister's wedding, have been a real vacation from everything in my life, including, sadly, blogging. Now that I'm back, I'm determined to catch you up on all of the things I baked, before I flew and while I was in America. This won't be easy, as I'm going back to base tomorrow to welcome a whole new group of soldiers and some hard work, but stick with me and you won't be disappointed. On to the matter at hand. Every trip to America includes ordering some baking books on Amazon and every return to Israel includes bringing most of them back. I love to scour the bargain books and usually order the ones available there. The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread has been on my wish list for ages and when I saw it on the bargain books list, I didn't hesitate to buy it. I mentally made a note of some recipes to try when I got it, but it was only when there were some blueberries and overripe bananas laying around my parent's house that I put it to use. The bread is pretty simple to put together and includes a nice amount of oats. I love the idea of the added blueberries and later bought strawberries to next time but never got around to it. I also chose to sprinkle the top of the loaves with demerara sugar for added crunch. I tasted a bit of this bread and was pleased to taste a bread with nice banana flavor and that wasn't overly sweet at all. Some might say it's not sweet enough, but I thought it was just perfect. This recipe makes two loaves, but I halved it to suit what I had on hand. Feel free to do the same.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

When I get bored on any given day or need help falling asleep, I pull a cookbook off the shelf and start reading, hoping for some baking inspiration. Last week, it was Martha Stewart's Cookies and flipping through, I came across this recipe for Chocolate Surprise Cookies. Lo and behold, I had all of the ingredients on hand, including a bag of marshmallows that I bought a long time ago for something else and so I made it a plan to bake these on Motzei Shabbat. It was to be a marshmallow themed evening, right alongside the Marshmallow Candy Cups. It's funny because every time I hear the word marshmallow, I go back in time to my sixth grade spelling bee where my friend got out for spelling marshmallow with an "e" instead of an "a". Hard times for a sixth grader back then. Anyway, these cookies start with a cookie base. Towards the end of baking (making sure not to over bake the cookies!) a half a marshmallow is tucked into the middle and allowed to bake a minute longer. When they are cooled, a generous dollop of chocolate frosting is slathered on to conceal the marshmallow... thus becoming the surprise. Although there are a few steps, leaving alot of chocolatey dishes in their wake, this recipe really is pretty simple and the results, at least according to the soldiers who ate them, worth the effort.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pain Pesto

Your probably wondering what that huge hunk of a loaf of bread is. The answer is, the most delicious bread I've made in recent memory! That there is a white bread with a pesto filling sprinkled with some olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to finish it. Yu-um. And a meal all in itself with a salad on the side. This bread is super easy to make, especially if you use store bought pesto as I did, but feel free to make your own. This recipe comes from the wonderful Marcy Goldman (surprise, surprise!) and once again she did not let me down.  I made the dough in the mixer (it is spoiling me!) and it comes together extremely quickly, especially in this Israeli heat. You can also fill this with olive tapenade or sun-dried tomato pesto, which is next on my list as I haven't been able to get it off my brain since I made this. There really isn't much more to add about this delicious bread except to say, make it- it's perfectly appropriate for summer.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Marshmallow Candy Cups

Lord Almighty, the temperature's rising! It is indescribably hot and humid here in Israel to the point where it's difficult to breathe! I would give anything right now for a pool in my backyard but I guess that'll just have to wait a few weeks. Anyway, it's one of those seasons where you'd be crazy to turn on the oven. Well, I am crazy, and I bake in any season, but I decided to make something last weekend that didn't require turning on the oven. I've been wanting to make homemade marshmallows for a really long time (and I will!) so when I saw these Marshmallow Candy Cups in the most recent Baked cookbook, I thought it would be a good place to start. I did some research and these got rave reviews all around so out came the gelatin! These babies are a bit time intensive and because of the humidity have got to be stashed in the fridge at every stage to get them right. You start with melting some chocolate and brushing the inside of mini muffin cups with it. Then goes the marshmallow and they're topped with some more chocolate to seal the deal. I have to say, I was totally skeptical that some sugar syrup and gelatin was going to turn into ooey gooey yummy marshmallow, but after extensive beating, I'm glad to say they did. These babies were really well received and I'm happy to have this recipe in my files... but for a cooler day! I didn't have any milk chocolate on hand just some dairy bittersweet chocolate so I used a mix of that and regular dark chocolate. Although I halved the recipe, I still had plenty of chocolate leftover so you can afford to be generous with it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bars

I am on a serious condensed milk kick! I can not get enough of baking with this stuff so naturally I picked up a few more containers of it on my last supermarket run and baked something with it again. I turned to BHG's Biggest Book of Cookies and found alongside the previous recipe, this recipe for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bars. The head note of this recipe sites this as healthful what with the oats and a bit of whole wheat flour, but who are they kidding? This recipe is rich and delicious and I'mt not ashamed! This is another really easy recipe to make- an oat mixture is made, some of it is set aside, but an egg is added to the rest of it to form the crust. I did make one mistake here and that is that I neglected to refrigerate the topping while I worked on the rest of the cookie. Due to the INSANE heat here in Jerusalem, it kind of melted altogether by the time it got into the oven instead of being a nice bar with a crumble topping. Oh well. I left these in the office on base and then left base to run some errands. When I got back these were demolished. Literally, to the last crumb. Success!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bretzel Rolls

In addition to making the picnic wraps last weekend, I decided to get back to my bread roots and make some rolls. I must have had A Passion for Baking laying around somewhere because the idea to make Bretzel Rolls popped up and I decided to roll with it. Wow, pun seriously not intended there. That started a real craving for pretzels and mustard (missing baseball season, anyone?!) so I got moving pretty quick! Anyway, Bretzel rolls are rolls that are supposed to be pretzel like yet tend more to the bread side. I checked out Rose's recipe but hers requires lye which I don't have so I went with Marcy's baking soda bath. What I felt really made this recipe was the topping of salt and garlic powder- yum! And it went deliciously well with mustard. I must say that the baking soda bath wasn't intense enough and these didn't have that coveted pretzel flavor. Truth be told, though, I've come to terms with the fact that no matter how good the recipe, pretzels without lye will not taste like authentic pretzels. That said, it's still fun to shape and boil bread and the resulting breads are delicious, if not the real deal.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Picnic Wraps

Yesterday, while contemplating what kind of bread to bake for Shabbat and flipping through the Baker's Companion, inspiration hit. Why not make wraps for lunch? I had a can of tuna waiting to be used and it seemed like the perfect afternoon meal. Quite a while back, when I was still in Bar Ilan, I made some flour tortillas and remembered being quite impressed with how they turned out. Making these Picnic Wraps, then, from the Crackers and Flatbreads chapter, was a go. With just four basic ingredients, these wraps were really simple and easy to make. You start with some flour and oil, add some salt and water and knead to make a smooth dough. There is a bit of resting involved but you can use that time to do other things. My biggest issue is figuring out how to get them to stay in a circle while rolling. As you can see from the picture above, I got something resembling a circle, but not quite a circle. And there's more where that came from. Fortunately, the both looked and acted like the real thing so really not complaining. Looking forward to breaking my fast on these tomorrow night.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Super Easy Chocolate Bars

One measly post in June? I know. I will do better, starting with these Super Easy Chocolate Bars that I made for my soldiers two weeks ago. The recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies and they didn't disappoint. This recipe was made in celebration of my finding mehadrin sweetened condensed milk in the supermarket. Woohoo! Words can not express my excitement at finding it and although expensive, it is worth every shekel. No longer will I have to skip over key lime pie recipes or any other drool inducing recipe that calls for this item. A new chapter of baking is opened, starting with these. True to their name, these bars begin with a shortbread like bottom, topped with a milk and chocolate mixture and topped with some reserved shortbread mixture. Yum.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sour Cream Sandwich Bread

Wow am I exhausted! Another course down, 23 more soldiers behind me. As usual, feeling sad but fulfilled. In another news, I'm celebrating my 25th birthday and I must say it's been an amazing year, so I hope the one ahead is just as good. It's been a while since I posted and even longer since I posted a bread recipe, so I'm happy to be making up for lost time. A couple of weekends back, I found myself with some extra sour cream hanging around my fridge and so I did a quick search for a sour cream bread. Apparently Dan Lepard's Sour Cream Sandwich Bread is pretty popular so I decided to give it a try. What's unique about this bread is its kneading technique. You knead the dough for about ten seconds and then give it a rest for about ten minutes. This is repeated about three times. It's amazing the transformation the dough undergoes with so little kneading . The dough turned out beautifully satiny and smooth and was a pleasure to work with. How did it turn out? Well, the sour cream did give it a noticeable tang, sort of like having bread smeared with cream cheese but inside the bread already. I didn't have a chance to toast it, but I hear it makes wonderful toast. After seeing some controversy about posting his original recipes, I decided to just link the recipe to Dan Lepard's site. Do give it a try, though.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Serendipity Deluxe Bars

I'll admit the name of this recipe is quite vague and doesn't give any indication as to what it actually is. In fact, when my soldiers asked me what I was feeding them, all I could say was..... some combination of shortbready, chocolatey, oaty goodness. Enough of a description? This recipe comes from Marcy Goldman's Passion for Baking and surprise, surprise it is a winner of a recipe. Sure there are three different layers to this bar cookie and it leaves ALOT of dishes in its wake, but so what? These rich, decadent bars made alot of people happy. The first layer up is shortbread. On top of that goes a chocolate truffle layer. After that is baked, a caramelly oat mixture seals the deal. According to Marcy, the chocolate and oat layers are supposed to magically switch places (hence the name serendipity) but that never happened to these (must be something in the Israeli air). Not complaining though because, well, no one knows the difference and the final product was far from ruined. These are kind of messy to eat and, as I said, decadent, so cut them on the small side. Set aside a nice chunk of time to make these, because while all the steps are easy, they are on the more time-intense side of things. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars

As is my usual, when I have a course going, I bake for my soldiers. The course ended yesterday, but for the last two weeks I have been bringing them treats. One of the things I brought them the first time was these simple, easy but delicious Peanut Butter Oat Bars.This recipe comes from Sunset Cookies, a book I came across in a used book shop some time ago. The classic topping of peanut butter and chocolate gets poured over an oat crust. The combination may seem odd at first, but it works. This really comes together in no time at all and if cut small, feeds a crowd. Or at least a few hungry soldiers. Feel free to garnish with peanuts. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tahini Cake

This cake has been on my list of recipe to bake since I first saw it in Carine Goren's Sweet Secrets 2 many months ago. I admit, the thought of putting tahini into a cake sort of threw me, but hey, when you're living in the Middle East, what doesnt have sesame in it?? Apparently, this combination only sounded bizarre to the Americans so I just went ahead and gathered all the ingredients. I was really nervous that this cake would scream sesame, but aside for the fact that the pan is oiled with tahini and sesame seeds for decoration, the flavor of the tahini is present but understated. This cake is super easy to make- all it takes is a bowl and a whisk. The resulting cake has unparalleled texture- incredibly moist and tender but sturdy. If you have a bottle of unseasoned tahini laying around, give this cake a try. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 27, 2012


The very last cookie that I made before Pesach, the one that got the most enthusiastic review and I think the one I'm most proud of! I had some leftover dulce de leche sitting in the fridge after baking a birthday cake for one of my soldiers and the only thing I could think of to do with it was make Alfajores, the classic Argentinian cookie. Alfajores seem to be easy to make but Argentinians are very particular about them; getting the cookie to be the perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture isn't easy but I figured I'd make them anyway and leave the worry of authenticity behind. I turned to Micky Shemo's book for this recipe and seeing how many cookies it would yield opted to halve the recipe. (Even having halved it, I got PLENTY of cookies- guess it depends on how small you cut the cookies.) This recipe uses a generous amount of cornstarch which gives it its texture and also makes the dough a dream to work with. Bake these I cookies just until puffed and set- you're not going to get much color on these. As I mentioned, I used store bought dulce de leche but you can always make your own. As far as the coconut element, I rolled some in coconut and left some plain. Your call. Either way, you're going to have some happy campers, er, soldiers.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Coffee White Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies

These were the second type of cookie that I made during my pre-Pesach baking fest. It took me a while to find  a recipe that would make use of what I had left in the house but I finally found it in Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies and I must say, I was quite surprised by how successful they were. The amount of espresso in the recipe was alarming so my expectations were quite low, even after I reduced the amount. I threw in whatever white chocolate chips I had left sitting around and took care to underbake them, ensuring a chewy, instead of crisp, cookie. The combination of white chocolate chips and coffee turned out to be a winning one, and the strength of the coffee was toned down by the baking. Needless to say, these cookies disappeared really fast. These cookies are slice and bake, refrigerator-style cookies, so if you're not interested in baking right away, or you're looking to bake cookies in advance, just stash the rolls in the freezer and bake as needed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Almond Toffee Bars

Pesach is finally over! That means no more matzah and cream cheese (hello bread!), back to work, and hopefully, back to posting as well! This post and the next couple (when those will see the light of day, I don't know) are all cookies that I made before Pesach in an effort to get rid of as much chametz in my pantry as possible. I had some slivered almonds leftover and I thought to make these Almond Toffee Bars from my much loved and often used, King Arthur Flour Baking Companion. A tender, almond scented shortbread like crust is topped with a brown sugar topping and studded with almonds. These cookies are easy to make, feed a crowd and are incredibly addictive. I only made one change, and that was to use soy milk instead of regular milk, as that's what I had on hand. Also, the almond extract in the base is a bit overwhelming, giving the cookies a sort of coconut like flavor which was delicious, but I would reduce the amount next time.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Poppy Seed Cookies

 I supppose this will be my last post before Passover begins tonight! I can hardly believe it's here already, but the holiday is not the subject of this post; these Poppy Seed Cookies are. After making the Orange Poppy Seed Cake for Purim, I had leftover poppy seeds sitting in my fridge. I headed back to Marcy Goldman's Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking and decided to make this recipe. It seemed basic enough and I had all of the ingredients on hand. All it takes is one bowl and a whisk to whip this up plus a bit of chill time. I found these cookies to be addictive and delicious, crunchy and snappy, redolent of the best sugar cookies- the perfect accompaniment to tea or coffee. I love the look of the poppy seeds in the cookie but their flavor isn't so prominent in the finished product, which my friends actually appreciated; I guess the younger crowd isn't that fond of poppy seeds... I started shaping these cookies with a fluted cutter as Marcy shows in the book, but I decided that wasn't the best option for this soft dough, as the shape got ruined in the transfer. No matter how you cut 'em, though, these simple and unassuming cookies really are worthy of being made. Happy holidays!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pastry Cream Tart with Strawberries

Ok, I know the title is misleading because the strawberries are glaringly absent from these photographs, but trust me, they were there. I made this for a Shabbat lunch a couple of weeks ago and I topped the tart just before serving so Shabbat+topped-a-la-minute= no strawberries in the picture. This tart is just another in my line of cream filled pies/tarts because even though I'm no fan of creams and custards, they are just fun to make! This recipe comes from the Israeli Ben Ami cookbook. The cream here is vanilla flavored; I used vanilla bean paste instead of a vanilla bean and the specks were nicely present in the finished tart. You can use any seasonal fruit that looks good- strawberries are just at their end and I personally love them. I macerated them overnight in a bit of sugar and orange liqueur. To keep things parve, I used soy milk and non dairy whipping cream. My tart shrunk a slight bit so make sure to thoroughly freeze it. Don't let it get too dark or else it will be hard to cut... I know :) This tart not only looked impressive but was gone pretty quickly. Considering this dessert features the winning combination of strawberries and cream, that comes as no surprise.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Whole Wheat Bran Rolls

Last weekend, I got in the mood to bake some bread. It's been a long time since I've made bread that wasn't challah but I figured I'd need some bread for Shabbat and why not. I had a bag of wheat bran laying around and a bit of whole wheat flour chilling out in the fridge so all was ago for some whole grain bready goodness. Flipping through Micky Shemo's first (Israeli) book, I was reminded of this Whole Wheat and Bran Rolls, a recipe that has long been bookmarked in my to-make files. Not needing a full batch, I halved the recipe and taking the lazy way out, made it in my mixer. (After all, what are mixers for if not for the luxury to be lazy sometimes?!) I used instant yeast, soy milk, left out the dough enhancer and used a drop more white flour than whole wheat because I was a tad bit short. A note about the salt, he uses a half tbsp for a small amount of flour and the rolls were borderline salty, so adjust to your liking. My rolls came out to be very sturdy and dense and if you notice, each of them burst, clearly because I didn't let them rise enough. They were hardy and substantial and had a great wheaty taste, but trust me on this one, let them rise undisturbed! Your patience will be rewarded!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Topping

How on earth can it be that Pesach is here already?! I've spent the morning doing laundry and trying to get my apartment into a somewhat chametz free state and I need a break before I start to tackle the kitchen. In an effort to get rid of chametz and other almost finished baking things, I've been baking! Last motzash, I managed to make a cake that's been on my to make list for ages. Although it didn't make a dent in my self-rising flour, I did finish the cocoa powder,  and my (precious, imported from America) marshmallows. This cake comes from the book More Chocolate and was not only fun to make but was delicious and beautiful to look at. (You're going to have to just make it to believe it because I wasn't able to capture pictures of this one.) It starts with a dense chocolate cake, studded with white chocolate chips and mini marshmallows and is topped with a thick layer of marshmallow-white chocolate yumminess. This cake disappeared in record time and pleased many a mashak/it last week. Take care not to over bake the cake layer or the cake will turn out slightly crumbly and on the dry side. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

Catching up one post at a time.... Purim fell out around the second week of the course with my soldiers, around the time I feel I know them well enough to spoil them with cakes and cookies. Indeed, I brought a lot of stuff to base that Sunday and they were truly surprised. (That their "commander" baked for them or that their "commander" could bake, I'm still not sure...) One of the cakes I made that week was this Orange Poppy Seed Cake which comes from the Purim chapter of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, although I dramatically shortened its title. I'm not sure what it is about poppy that makes it appropriate for Purim- perhaps because poppy is a traditional hamentashen filling, but this cake was easy enough to put together. I made a few substitutions but nothing that drastically changes the nature of the cake. I was unsure how an orange cake would be received with young soldiers but I guess I figured they'd eat anything. It turned out that they really enjoyed this cake. It was moist and flavorful but not too orangey and the poppy seeds really made it look beautiful. Another win for Marcy Goldman!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Old Fashioned Marble Cake

If you're looking for the perfect cake to accompany tea or coffee, or just to to encourage a stroll down memory lane, this is the cake for you. Memory lane, you ask? Well, this cake reminds me of the marble cakes that were served in the shul I grew up in. This cake is not only better it's a lot moister than those kiddush cakes. This recipe comes from the oh-so-reliable Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, a book that has yet to fail me. I was in the mood to bake one Saturday night and decided to bring it (and the leftover Besamin Box Cake) to the army the next day. My co-workers loved it, despite its humble-ness. This cake is pretty easy to make and so moist from the vegetable oil that it would probably last about a week, although I couldn't confirm that because it barely lasted a full day in the office. I baked the cake in my favorite tube pan instead of loaf pans to get the tall, statuesque look. I omitted the orange zest in the cake to prevent it from being too orangey. The marbling pretty much takes care of itself- just layer the batter and see what happens, no need to swirl. The glaze on top added a nice finish and a crunchy contrast. All in all, a winner and another one for the recipe files. Although this cake is good anytime, serve it as a special treat Shabbat morning.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Besamin Box Cake

Yes, yes, I know it's been ages since I've posted. All I can say is I've been happily busy with army work and haven't been home too much to write. I don't know that things are going to let up, but for now, I'm gonna try to make up for lost time! A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to bring dessert for dinner and I decided to take a break from pie and bake a cake. I had my eye on this Besamin Box Cake from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking but wasnt sure I would find ginger-ale in this country. I was really happy to find it in the supermarket and set about to make this spice cake that is perfect for winter. This cake was really successful, despite the fact that it was slightly under baked (they loved it that way!). People compared it to Entenmann's. Now I've never tasted their spice cake but if such a one exists then I imagine it's a high compliment! It was really moist with great spice flavor. I think I'd up the spices a bit and add a touch more salt. The glaze adds a slight but nice crunch. Altogether, a great cake to make again and again.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"This Tastes Like Cake" Fresh Yeast Challah

Another week, another batch of challot. Last weekend, I tried out this recipe from Marcy Goldman's A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. (Let me just say- if you're interested in recipes of the sort, buy this book. Everything I've tried has been a winner!) The recipe caught my eye because she says it tastes like cake and it uses fresh yeast. How does it fare? Well, it doesnt quite taste like cake (a really good thing!) but it is delicious. Crumb and texture is fantastic and the color is quite beautiful. I baked them in loaf pans to get more color all around. I've also discovered that I love sticking them on the hot plate on Shabbat so that their bottoms get nice and crunchy/toasty. I didn't notice that the fresh yeast gave this any unique flavor, but it is fun to switch things up a bit, especially since fresh yeast is so easily available here. Try this egg challah recipe- it's giving Joan a run for her money! This made two large loaves and a roll but I'm sure that you could three smaller loaves.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Brownies with Chocolate-Cheesecake Topping

I know these pictures look like an oddly swirled lump of chocolate and something white but really these are brownies with a cheesecake and chocolate topping. I will admit, these look nothing like the beautiful picture in Carine Goren's Sweet Secrets, but they were pretty darn good. I made these also for my commander's surprise post-sheva brachot sheva bracha and by the next day, all the brownies were gone. I was a bit nervous about how the brownies would come out but they turned out to be dense and fudgy. The cream cheese layer is a bit thin (my pan was American size, I guess a bit larger than Israeli pans) and because I didn't let it chill sufficiently, the chocolate kind of muddled with the cheese. Instead of trashing the whole thing (which I totally would have done!) I just decided to swirl the whole thing and really no one was the wiser. Kind of messy to eat but worth getting chocolate on your chin for... and I'm not even a cheese person. It's really critical that your cheese and margarine for the filling is at room temperature or else they wont blend well enough. I made that mistake and had to strain the filling. Be smart though, give each layer enough to time to chill so that theyll come out picture-perfect.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Biscuit Cake

My commander recently got married, and to celebrate we threw her a little surprise party at the beginning of last week. I was told to make a cheesecake and planned to make a white chocolate cheesecake and some brownies with a cheese topping (for another post!). Well, the cheesecake flopped, so I was back to the drawing board. I flipped through ALL my cookbooks and finally decided to make this biscuit cake. The original recipe comes from Carine Goren's Sweet Secrets but is heavily adapted and doesnt resemble the original in anyway. I basically made the cream and layered it with vanilla and chocolate biscuits and topped with some mocha sauce I had laying around. The result was so delicious and for some reason, nostalgic. It reminded one of my friends of a cake her mother made growing up and it brought me back to one of my first baking experiences ever- making a no-bake biscuit cake in my sixth grade baking group. This cake is not only super easy to make but is lick-the-bowl-clean delicious. Make sure to freeze this cake so it's firm and sliceable. It's kind of messy to eat no matter what, but that makes it even better, I think. Putting this one in the drawer for Shavuot!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Black Bottom Pie

Alright- time to catch up on my pies! I made this one a while ago for dessert for Shabbat lunch and it's another from Haedrich's Pie! This pie is messy to eat but I can assure you it's worth all of the napkins it'll take to clean the cream from your chin! We start with a biscuit or graham cracker crust and then pile in a ganache, which is your black bottom. On top of that goes a whipped cream lightened pastry cream with a flavor that brings me back to my childhood Swiss Miss days. (I must say I love making these pudding/custard/cream pies, especially since the work can so easily be divided over a couple of days!) A nice fudge sauce would be nice but I opted out. To make the ganache parve, I used coconut milk instead of cream. My cream turned out sort of soft, (hence the mess!) so I would add a bit of gelatin next time to stabilize it. All in all, another successful pie. Pi(e) day, here I come!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Peanut Butter Pie

Things have getting busy in my army life (in the best way!) and that's why posting has not been happening. I have somewhat of a day off and one of my goals is to get this post posted! A couple of weeks ago, more like a month ago, I was invited out for Friday night dinner and was asked to bring dessert. Her criteria were gooey, cinnamoney and fruity. Well, I took gooey and ran with it! I did some research and came across this recipe for Peanut Butter Pie in Patty Pinner's Sweety Pies. After confirming that no one was allergic to peanuts and that peanut butter was an acceptable choice, I made my shopping list. This pie comes together really easily, you just stir a bunch of things together. I decided to add some chocolate to the bottom to cut the sweetness. Next time, I need to use chocolate chips or chop the chocolate because the blocks didnt melt. I must say, this pie is GOOEY. And decadent and delicious. Cut small wedges to prevent from sugar-shock. Whipped cream is also necessary to cut the sweetness a bit. I didn't flavor it at all. As far as the gooey factor, I guess I must not have baked it long enough. Be sure to bake for the full length of time- covering with foil as necessary to prevent over browning.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

White Texas Sheet Cake

Don't let the fact that you're not from Texas stop you from making this white sheet cake-it's delicious! Last week, I wanted to bring in a cake for my fellow hard working soldiers, and so Saturday night, I whipped this up. This cake is a one bowl adaptation of the southern classic that is all over the internet. It comes courtesy of A Piece of Cake! which is slowly earning back its favor in my eyes, and it really can be whipped up in no time. To be honest, it was gobbled up in no time, too. Everyone kept cutting off small pieces and then going back for more. Nothing makes me happier :) The texture was nice and moist and the frosting was delicious- the sour cream gives the frosting really good flavor-it reminded me of Duncan Hines, but better. I love the way the sprinkles make the cake look-- youthful and fun while adding some crunch and color. As you can see, I baked the cake in a jelly roll instead of the called for 9x13 both because a jelly roll is more traditional and who needs such thick pieces of cake? I also cut the amount of almond extract in half, but it was still strong. I think I would omit it next time and just use vanilla, which is what I did for the frosting. Up next? Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake! Oh- and Happy birthday, Ma! This one's for you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate Cream Pie

I was asked to make dessert for dinner this past Shabbat and after shooting down a request for chocolate chip cookies (too typical!) I immediately decided to make chocolate cream pie. (The decision for what to make for dessert has never been easier!) I flipped through some books and settled on the recipe from Martha Stewart's latest on pies and tarts. (My love affair for pies has returned... stay tuned!) I've long been wanting to try out cream pies and brush up on some custard making skills and it seemed there was no better time to make one than for that Friday night. I must say, the pie was a big hit; almost all of it was devoured as dessert, and the last piece was breakfast for one of the guys. Watching the custard thicken on the stove was fun and I'm really glad my first try was a success- here's to more cream pies! I used soy milk, to keep it parve, and I was really happy to finally find out that soy milk works for these pies. I used chocolate biscuits here because chocolate wafers are non-existent on Israeli supermarket shelves and I didnt have time to make my own.They need slightly more butter than regular chocolate wafers, but otherwise, they make a fine substitute. I also didnt use sweetener to sweeten the cream; I find that non-dairy whipping cream is flavored enough already. Do as you please, but if you've never before made a cream pie, make one this weekend!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Basic Hearth Bread

Last week, we observed a fast day and as tradition holds, I decided to bake a loaf of bread to break it on. I had just bought a brand new round baking crock and thought it would be the perfect time to break it in. After alot of internal debate (what was I thinking making a last minute baking decision?!) I decided to go with Rose's Basic Hearth Bread. I kind of sped up the process a bit so that my bread would be ready somewhat on time, and the result was really delicious. My bread came out singing a bit, which made me so happy. It would have sang more had I sufficiently heated the crock, but a little crackling is better than none! The bit of whole wheat flour in the dough gave the final loaf a nice creamy crumb. All in all, a basic but delicious loaf of bread at its peak when piping hot. Accompaniments? None necessary, take my word for it. I made this dough in the mixer and used all purpose flour, instead of bread flour. I also skipped the second rise because I just didnt have time for it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Easy Chocolate-Vanilla Mousse Cake

This past Shabbat was nice and low key. Shabbat day, I cooked for myself, my roommate and a friend of ours. Although it was just the three of us, I made dessert, because no meal is ever complete without it. (I think that's a function of my childhood- we rarely, if ever, had dessert growing up, so I'm making up for it now!) I wanted something quick and easy but delicious. I remembered this recipe from the Israeli book More Chocolate and thinking that I'd never make it because it's technically semi-homemade and I hate those. But, I changed my tune and put together my shopping list. I picked up the ingredients late Thursday night and put it together quite easily the next day. The base is made of whipped eggs and sugar with chocolate pudding mix folded in. It's then baked and when it cools forms a sort of cakey crust. Whipping cream is then beaten with vanilla pudding mix and then poured in. A simple glaze of chocolate, margarine and milk is made and spread on top. Done, done and done. Seeing as it was a huge cake, we barely made a dent in it. I sent it to my army base with friends and when I myself got there, I was pleased to see not a crumb left. Success.