Sallyโ€™s Baking Addiction: August, 2018 Challenge: Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer Cake ๐Ÿช ๐Ÿฐ

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Oh My! It is August 31st and the last day for me to get this challenge completed ๐Ÿ˜ฌ. Nothing like waiting to the last minute๐Ÿ˜‰

I got incredibly lucky this month, because Sally chose an easy challenge for our August installment. If you have ever baked a cookie, and made frosting, then this is a fun and simple project! In fact, the hardest part of this challenge was choosing which of Sally’s flavor combinations to make. ๐Ÿ˜Š

My hubby’s birthday is also in August, so I chose flavors that I knew he would like. I made Sally’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, as written in the link above. The only difference was that I included white chocolate chips, along with the semi sweet ones, and made mine a 9 inch, 3 layer cake.

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I also made her Chocolate Peanut Butter frosting, yum ๐Ÿ˜‹

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After that, which was very little work, all I had to do was assembled and decorate!

I kept the decorations simple, as this was for my husband (who does not like sprinkles๐Ÿ˜ณ)

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This flavor combo was a hit with the whole family, and it was a fun alternative to the standard ice cream cake he usually requests for his birthday.

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Next month’s challenge involves choux pastry! So I will have to be on top of my game in ย September! ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿณ

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Sallyโ€™s Baking Addiction: July, 2018 Challenge: Hand Pies ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿฅง

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Technically, the challenge was for apple hand pies. But, I was really impressed by the gorgeous cherries in the store that day, so I decided to make both varieties ๐Ÿ˜Š

I mentioned before, in the cherry pie challenge from last year, that I am not much of a pie baker. It’s not really so much that I am intimidated by making pie crust, I am just more of a crumble fan. But that cherry pie last year was so good, thanks to Sally’s recipe and, this is the point of a challenge is it not? To try new things๐Ÿฅง!

I started out by making a double batch of her homemade pie crust. This is a really simple recipe that includes both shortening and butter. I have also made her all butter crust in the past, and that is delicious too. I opted for this version due to the hot weather we are having in Seattle. The all butter recipe would have been more temperamental than I would have liked that day!

Like most pie crust recipes, you start by cutting in the cold fat until it is the size of peas. My “peas” are always huge! More like lima beans. Then cold water is drizzled in until the mix starts to clump.

When the mix is ready (not too dry or wet) it is formed into a disk, wrapped with plastic and chilled. I like to do this the night before.

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The next day I went climbing outside, then came home and made the fillings. First the apple: Pretty much a classic apple pie filling. A couple apples, sugar, butter and spices all cooked down and cooled.

Then the cherry filling. Sally has many to choose from and I went with her simple cherry pastry pie filling. The only change I made was to use half bing and half rainier cherries. I like the balance of sweet and tart that these two varieties contribute to the pie.

Cherries were combined with sugar and lemon. This cooked down and was thickened with a cornstarch and water mixture.

Once the fillings were completely cooled, it was time to roll out the chilled pie dough. I used a 3.5 inch cutter and some smaller shapes to make some decorative cut outs.

I had to be careful to chill in between each step to keep the dough cold. This took some time! Finally, it was time to fill the hand pies.๐Ÿ

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The tops went on, and pressed to seal to the bottom pastry. The top was brushed with egg wash and the vents were cut. Finally the decorative cut outs applied, and sprinkled with coarse sugar.

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Then the cherry hand pies were assembled.๐Ÿ’

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I tried to make the decorations different to distinguish the apple from the cherry.

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All the hand pies went into a 375F oven for about 30 minutes. While they were baking I prepared Sally’s Homemade Salted Carmel Sauce for the apple pies, and a simple Vanilla glaze for the cherry ones.

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By the way, that caramel sauce is amazing on ice cream ๐Ÿจ!

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The verdict: Both the apple and cherry hand pies were quite tasty!๐Ÿ˜‹ย My husband and I were partial to the cherry one, just a bit more! In fact, I may have to make a full cherry pie when we get back from traveling later this month ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿฅง

Give this a try! the recipe is easy to scale up or down, and many of the components are freezable and easy to make ahead. Enjoy!!

Sallyโ€™s Baking Addiction: June, 2018 Challenge: Brownie Baked Alaska ๐Ÿจ

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For the month of June, Sally challenged us to make a retro baked Alaska. The twist: no cake base! Sally admits that she does not like cake combined with ice cream. My son is the same way. I also never eat cake mixed directly with ice cream, I don’t like the soggy cake texture ๐Ÿ˜ณ

So I knew my family would love the brownie, cake and merengue combo. This is such an easy dessert to make, and the entire thing can be assembled, frozen and then torched right before you serve it to your guests. I decided that Father’s Day would be a great time for us to try this out.

There is a little prep work that needs to be done the night before. The ice cream needs to be shaped and frozen. I purchased my ice cream, but I do like to make it from scratch, perhaps next time! This 9 inch, 2.5 quart mixing bowl will hold 3 quarts of ice cream. I chose mint chocolate chip since it is one of my hubby’s favorite flavors. The ice cream is softened and placed into a mixer with a paddle attachment, and beaten until creamy. The softened ice cream is placed into the mixing bowl, which has been lined with plastic wrap. This will make unmolding much easier! Wrap it tight and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours. I put mine in overnight.

The next day I made one of Sally’s brownie recipes. She has many to choose from, you will find the one you like๐Ÿ˜Š. I went with theย Chewy, Fudgy Homemade brownies๐Ÿ˜‹ย So glad I did! Super easy and so tasty!

First melt butter and chocolate together and let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugars, eggs and vanilla.

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Add the flour, cocoa and salt

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Fold in the dry ingredients and a cup of chocolate chips

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Bake in a 9 inch pan, which fits the circumference of the bowl.

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Let this cool completely, then add it to the bowl of frozen ice cream. Invert the brownie, rewrap and keep frozen while you prepare the merengue.

 

Set the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over simmering water. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved, then place in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the vanilla and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

 

Generously spoon the merengue onto the unmolded ice cream and brownie bombe.

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This can be frozen until you are ready to serve, or you can get out your handy torch and go for it! No torch? No problem, just use the broiler function in your oven. But don’t walk away!!

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The left overs stayed in the freezer for several days and still tasted great! We enjoyed this so much, and it was so easy, that I decided to serve this at the second Yoga Retreat that I catered this past weekend.

I went with the individual cupcakes for the Yogis ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ. The only difference was that the brownie batter was placed into a lined muffin tin, and there was no pre-freezing involved.

The cooled brownie cups were unwrapped, a scoop of ice cream was added, then the merengue as previously described. I assemble 8 and placed them in the freezer for after dinner.

The yogis had fun torching their own desserts ๐Ÿ˜ƒย .

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1529732028525This was a fun, easy summer dessert ๐Ÿจ. Another great idea from Sally’s Baking Addiction!๐Ÿ™

Sallyโ€™s Baking Addiction: May, 2018 Challenge: Classic Cheesecake ๐Ÿฐ

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Last month we made croissants, which was pretty time consuming. I think Sally took pity on us and assigned a much less cumbersome challenge for May: the classic cheesecake.

If you have ever made a cheesecake, you know that they are not that difficult. There are very few ingredients, the only tricky part is baking it in such a way that you don’t have a giant crack in the center. It is not that hard really. You just need to use a water bath and be sure to avoid over mixing the cheese cake filling.

I didn’t want a huge cake, so I opted for theseย mini cakes so my hubby could unload take them to his coworkers! I didn’t need to create the water bath, just had to keep an eye on them while they were in the oven. I also decided to top each with chocolate ganache, which absolved me of any cracking issues ๐Ÿ˜‰

First up, the graham cracker crust. The crushed cracker crumbs were combined with vanilla sugar and butter. Sally used regular sugar, I just prefer to reinforce the vanilla flavor by baking with the vanilla sugar I always keep on hand for dessert preparations.

The result is a sandy, textured mix that is spooned into a paper lined muffin tin.

 

This recipe makes about 9 cakes, and they were pre-baked for 5 minutes at 350ยบF.

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While these cooled, I made the filling. This was so fast and easy! Cream cheese, more vanilla sugar, sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and an egg were placed into the bowl and mixed until just combined.

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Try not to whip this! No extra air should be incorporated to avoid cracking while baking and this is a very thick mixture. Just a few tablespoons are needed to cover each of the crusts.

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The pan goes into theย 350ยบF oven for about 20 minutes. The cakes are done when the edges are just set, and the center is still a little jiggly (just like a full cheesecake). Make sure these cool completely by placing them in the fridge for, at least, 2 hours. I actually made the cakes and refrigerated overnight. They will sink a little in the center, but just add a topping of fruit or chocolate and they will be perfect!

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So easy and tasty ๐Ÿ˜‹! Another awesome Sally recipe. Try either the full cake, or these minis, for a fast and delicious dessert, and let me know what you think๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿณย ๐Ÿ’•

Sallyโ€™s Baking Addiction: April, 2018 Challenge: Croissants ๐Ÿฅ

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Sally threw down her toughest challenge yet when she went for laminated dough! I have talked about my feelings for laminated dough a few times already. You may remember that I had to make this many times in culinary school and had no desire to revisit those days!

But I have a tough time turning down a challenge! And, Sally has a novel approach to making laminated dough. There are more steps that require longer refrigeration times, but they are quite easy! Check out her site first, she has wonderful videos and tips to help along the way!

We begin by making the dough, which is straight forward.

Butter, flour, sugar, salt, yeast and milk were combined. The dough was kneaded in the mixer and rested, in the refrigerator, for 30 minutes. This allowed the gluten to relax so it could be rolled out in the next step.

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The measurements from here on are important. The goal is to encase the butter layer completely within the dough. So, I had to take my time to make sure that this rectangle was exactly 14 in X 10 in. Use your hands, a rolling pin, a measuring stick and lots of flour!

Once the rectangle was the correct size, and the corners were squared off, the dough was ready for its first long rest. The directions were to rest for 4 hours or overnight. I chose to leave this, covered, in the fridge until the next morning.

 

Lamination and Turns

The next day I made the butter layer.

Three sticks of room temperature butter, and 2 tablespoons of flour, were thoroughly combined. The butter layer was spread onto a parchment paper in the precise measurements of 7 in. X 10 in. This smaller rectangle was cooled in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until solid. It is important that the butter be cold!

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After 30 minutes, the butter layer was laid in the center of the cold dough layer from the day before.

The dough was folded over the butter, completely encasing the butter layer. The dough has now been “laminated”.

Make sure the dough is pinched tight around the butter so that the butter will not ooze out of the edges when it is rolled out in the next series of steps!

 

The dough was rolled out to 10 in X 20 in this time. When this dimension was achieved it was time to fold the dough. Fold the top third down, then the bottom third up, until you have a smaller rectangle, like the one at the bottom right. That is the “first turn”. You will do this twice more, for a total of three turns. This is what makes the layers of flaky pastry!

If the dough is too warm then refrigerate for 30 minutes in between each turn. In my kitchen, I was able to do two turns and then had to cool the dough for 30 minutes before finishing the third, and final, roll out.

The dough needs to rest again for 4 hours or overnight. Since I did this in the morning, my dough rested for 5 hours before I finished baking the croissants later that evening.

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The dough after three turns, and before going into the fridge for the second long rest.

Shaping and Baking

The dough was rolled out again, this time 8 in X 20 in. Cut the dough in half lengthwise, then again three times to make 8 4in X 5in squares. Cut each square diagonally to make 16 triangles.

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check out the layers!ย 

Gently stretch out the triangles to make the base more centered and the triangle a little longer. Make a small cut at the base of the triangle to make it easier to roll up. Curve the final form into a crescent shape. Let them sit at room temp for 30 minutes to being the final proof. Finish proofing in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours, you want them cold going into the oven. I left mine for 1 hour.

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Brush with an egg wash and bake at 400F until golden brown. That was about 30 minutes in my oven ๐Ÿ˜Š

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The verdict? They were delicious ๐Ÿคคย ๐Ÿ˜‹ย I will be honest, I am not a croissant person and really don’t enjoy eating such a buttery bread. I know I am not “normal” where these are concerned. But I did try one to assess flakiness and taste. I was impressed with Sally’s technique! It was easier than the regular laminated dough process, but does take more time. Breaking it up over a couple days did make it simpler. And, Sally gives some great tips for freezing or making ahead to aid in your planning.

If you have ever wanted to try making croissants but felt intimidated by the process then give this a try! It really is simple, and my family loved them๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•

Sally’s Baking Addiction: February, 2018 Challenge: Cake Pops!

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I now have to include the year in the title of my baking challenge posts because I have completed one full cycle of Sally’s monthly tasks! I am kinda proud of that fact. Sally launched her Baking Challenge in February of 2017, and I have managed to complete all 12, so far! It has been tricky to stay on track over the last 12 months as we have travelled, bought a new home and have had some really busy months. But I have persevered, and managed to not gain 10 extra pounds ๐Ÿ™‚

This month’s challenge was not too tough as Sally set cake pops as the perfect Valentine’s Day treat for us to create. My plan was to omit the stick and go with cake pop truffles. I felt this would be easier, and slightly more professional, for my hubby and his coworkers to pop into their mouths, as opposed to sitting in a client meeting eating cake on a popsicle stick!

Sally’s chocolate cake and chocolate icing were scrumptious, and so simple!

The first step was to bake the cake, which I did a day ahead. This was cooled and crumbled into a bowl of Sally’s chocolate icing.

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The mixture was rolled into balls and refrigerated overnight.

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At this point you can insert the stick, but I skipped that! I made rather small truffles and had a yield of 65 balls to be dipped into melted chocolate.

I happen to have milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and red chocolate melting discs at my home. Yes, I have too much chocolate on hand at all times!

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I also have way too many candy decorations! So, my daughter came over to make and decorate truffles with me, and make some candy apples for her boyfriend for Valentine’s Day.

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We made quite the mess, but so worth it!

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We had a blast dipping and decorating these little guys.

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They were also delicious! I was impressed that they were not dry inside-as I have purchased cake pops from bakeries before that required a full glass of water in order to choke them down.

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Another great Sally creation! If you can’t tell, I am a fan of her recipes!

They are all simple, delicious and accessible for any level of baking skills you may possess!

I hope to keep baking with her through 2018!

 

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King Cake for Mardi Gras!

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This is my first King Cake. I don’t know why, but I had it in my head that a King Cake was complicated and took days to make. One of my good friends from culinary school, Jen, makes one every year and has a condo in Phoenix. This is my first February in Tucson, so we decided to get together and make King Cakes at her place.

The recipe is straight forward and the dough comes together quite easily. Here is the problem. Phoenix is 2 hours from Tucson, so we decided I would mix my dough, at my house, and then drive to Phoenix while the dough was rising. Jen would make her dough and then we could stagger the baking times in her oven. Makes sense, right? The dough should take an hour to rise before I needed to move to the filling stage. But the drive is 2 hours, remember?

So, I started at 8am and had the windows down until I hit the freeway. At that point I put the air conditioner on and trained the vents to directly hit the dough container. That worked well for about an hour, and my feet were frozen! At that point I turned off the air and let the dough finish doubling for the last 45 minutes of the drive.

It looked pretty good when I got there.

It had doubled and was ready to be rolled out into a 14in X 18in rectangle. The filling, which is cinnamon, butter and sugar was spread out leaving an inch border.

This is basically just a big cinnamon roll! I rolled it up, length wise into a cylinder, and sealed the edges to make the wreath.

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This is left to rise for another 30 minutes

Then into the oven and 25 minutes later, I had my first King Cake.

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Looks good from this side!

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But over here, it looks like I forgot to put it seam side down on the baking sheet!

 

A simple icing of powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and melted butter was whisked up. The important part is getting the colored sugars applied before the icing sets. So, I had to work with a little urgency.

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How cute is Jen’s spatula! She loves those little baking implements!

I tried to apply the three, traditional colors in equal amounts.

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I said I tried to have equal amounts, not that I succeeded in doing so!

While we waited for the icing to set, Jen gave me a taste of the Nutella Babka she made using Sally’s Baking Addiction Recipe.

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Seriously, is this artwork or a quick bread! It was delicious and beautiful!

Now, the time of the big reveal!

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I love the swirl!

 

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And the taste! Of course I had to have mine with a cup of coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

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Macarons copy

I was pretty happy with the result and the recipe was really simple. Not sure if it is a traditional King Cake, but I do recommend this recipe for a quick way to partake in the Mardi Gras season.

If you would like to see more creations from my friend, you can find Jen on Instagram.

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