"bake" news and stories
Bear with me - or skip over this entirely - if this is old hat to you, but if you need a little help, don't worry, we won't tell.
Cold (and wet, depending on where you live) winter weather tends to make us crave hot, hearty foods, but that doesn't do anything to diminish the appeal of something light for dessert after a heavy meal. In fact, a bright cirtus dessert can serve as a reminder that spring is still on the way - and the Lemon Cream Tartlets from Helene at Tartelette are very spring-like, indeed. The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's newest book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, and it is rumored to be one of the best lemon tartlet recipes out there, with an intense lemon flavor and silky smooth texture. The texture is due to the fact that an entire cup of butter is used to make the filling for only a handful of tarts, making it anything but light in fat and calories. One bite should make you be enough to forget the nutritional stats and just let you enjoy the heavenly flavor of the tart.
There are a lot of people who, as a general rule, eschew baking mixes. After all, why use a boxed mix when you can do it yourself and produce a better result? This standard may hold true when it comes to the average inexpensive store-bought cake mix, but there is a wide range of high quality, gourmet mixes available now that produced baked goods that will rival not only homemade things, but those from pro bakeries, as well. In fact, many of the mixes are coming from these pros to begin with. Jacques Torres has recently launched a line of baking mixes for several of his most popular chocolate treats: Pure Bliss Brownies, French Kiss Cookies, and Mudslide Cookies. The mixes are made in conjunction with King Arthur Flour and contain all the necessary basics for replicating the chocolatier's favorite treats at home, including a lot of chocolate. They retail for $12.95 each.
I sampled the end results all of the mixes at the SF Fancy Foods Show a few weeks ago, and while all three were excellent, the chocolate-filled chocolate chip French Kiss Cookies were probably my favorite. If you want to give one of them a try from scratch as a comparison, you can find the recipe for Jacques Torres's Mudslides here.
At Trader Joe's the other day, I picked up a container of Dark Chocolate Covered Dried Cherries on my way to the checkout. Unlike chocolate-covered raisins, each piece was huge and there was clearly a high chocolate-to-cherry ratio. Chocolate and cherries are a great combination as it is, but Trader Joe's tends to carry some high-quality brands (under their store name), so I didn't hesitate to put them in my cart. My immediate thought was that they would be good in a cookie, so I baked up a batch to share with some friends. I used one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes, which turns out cookies that are just sweet and buttery enough to be dangerously addictive, with a slightly chewy center and crispy edges. The cherries added some extra chew to the basic recipe and the chocolate brought it all together.