25 January 2010

TWD: Cocoa-Nana Bread; or, Why This Isn't Really A Food Blog

I love to cook, but I'm not really a foodie.

I've come to realize that I spend about as much space complaining about food here as I do saying nice things about it.  I never thought of myself as a picky eater.  Most stuff, if I went to your house and it's what you were serving, I would eat without complaint.  (Unless it was, you know, banana pudding.  I'd shoot you Eyedaggers of Death for trying to feed me banana pudding.  And talk about you bad later.)

That said, there are some things that I simply CANNOT co-sign.  Chocolate things for breakfast are one of them.  Chocolate before noon may only come in one of the following three forms:

1) Reese's Puffs cereal (always welcome)
2) Milk-based beverages (chocolate milk/soymilk, cocoa, hot chocolate, chocolate chai tea are acceptable here; must be in the mood and paired with appropriate non-sugary food item)
3) Nutella (limited usage: lightly spread on toast or crepes)

Chocolate does not belong in pancakes or waffles and it does not belong in breakfast bread!  Chocolate muffins?  C'mon, son!  I mean, if you want a cupcake, have a cupcake!  Cupcakes have frosting!

And I speak as a person who would cheerfully eat breakfast three times a day.  Heck, I had breakfast at 2 today.  

So it was with trepidation and a wary eye that I mixed up this week's TWD assignment, the chocolate-banana concoction called Cocoa-Nana Bread.  I had about everything on hand.  It's quickbread;  not much to say about the process.  The whole point of quickbread is to be easy and foolproof.  I do actually like bananas and chocolate together, so I was fine with the combo.

I love cinnamon with bananas AND I like cinnamon with chocolate, so why not add some here?

I had a lot of bananas, but they were kinda small, so I used 3 instead of two.




Peeping Dorie's tendency to be a little happier with the chocolate than I might like, I nixed the chocolate chips in favor of walnuts, which I like better. 

As seems to be the usual case for me, baking took longer than anticipated.  Maybe I need to check the temp on my oven.  My second bake took about 60 minutes before I was satisfied. 

pre bake.  It was a LOT of batter.

bake 1:  whew, no overflow.

bake 2; a bread only a mother could love

Several commenters said it was more like pound cake than bread.  I'm not so certain of that.  The taste is definitely very much like chocolate pound cake--it's that same sort of relentless O HAI I'M CHOCOLATE SUGARINESS flavor you can get from pound cake, but the texture is definitely more like banana bread.  Pound cake is dense, but it has a tight crumb;  this is dense but fluffier somehow. 

I'm not sure what I think of it.  It's tasty.  I like the cinnamon and walnut additions.  I think I am ultimately unable to get over my fundamental disagreement with chocolate breakfast bread, though I have mostly been eating it in the afternoons.  Or maybe it's that I still am eating the almost-candy bars from last week and I just liked them so very much that this is paling in comparison.  I'm just not very interested in it.  Dah well.  I bet the leftovers would be good crumbled up in some whipped cream.

Thanks go out to Steph at Obsessed with Baking for choosing this one.  More chocolate next week, but not for morning consumption, so it's ok.  Next week's is the first recipe we've done that I've made before!  And to think I've had this book for years now. 

19 January 2010

TWD: Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

Hi all.  I'm back this week, sort of. Took a few days off from really even trying to do any work on my Project That Will Not End, to redo my bed and order and hang pictures in the townhouse I've already been living in for 5 months.  Perhaps I'll say more about that later.  For now, we have a TWD recipe to report on, and yea, it was good.

I was giving this recipe the side-eye.  I am not usually a big fan of "junk food on top of junk food, infused with more junk and glazed with junk" type creations, and that's what this sounded like:  oatmeal and peanuts and brown sugar sandwiching chocolate chips and raisins and peanuts.  That is mighty busy for the kid.  I decided to make a half recipe, and would have cut it to a quarter recipe had I had the correct size pan. 

Anyway.  Pulling it together was pretty easy.  The dough was nice and non-sticky, very simple to pat down into the pan.  It smelled like those mysterious peanut butter crispie bars we used to get in school as a kid.  (does anyone else remember those?)


The chocolate layer was slightly more stressful.  I had to wash the bowl right before using it to melt the chocolate--I had been using it to hold the dry ingredients for the bottom layer--and I was terrified that I hadn't dried it thoroughly enough and my chocolate would seize.

It was very, very thick and never looked as smooth as I thought it should, but after a while I felt like it might start to stick or seize up or something, so I took it off anyway, figuring that stirring off the heat would do just as well for any small pieces, and whatever didn't melt smoothly would be undetectable due to the peanuts and Craisins I mixed in (I also do not really like raisins).

It spread over the dough without incident, and I had enough dough left over to totally cover the top.  I recommend setting aside the larger amount of dough (1 cup in this case).

I baked my bars for the full time specified, cooled on the counter for 2 hours and flipped out (they came in one piece, nothing lost) wrapped in Saran Wrap and refrigerated before cutting.  Heeding the warnings of others on TWD about richness, I cut the half-size recipe into 32 bars instead of 16.  Though I still seem to eat them two at a time.  Go figure.  In all the meanings of that phrase.


They are very, very yummy!  Sort of like a deconstructed oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.  And super CHEWY, which I AM a big big fan of.  I'd definitely make these to take to a party, or when feeling particularly fragile (as I was this week).  You do need a good bit of lead time due to all the time for chilling, but they are little actual work, so quite worth it.  And do add the raisins/craisins;  I think they take away from what could be an overwhelmingly sweet treat (I don't know how y'all who added butterscotch chips managed.)  Thanks to Lillian for picking this one! (Go see her blog for the recipe.)

12 January 2010

TWD: Sorry, Kiddos; and a sort of Rewind, I think?

Yep.  There shall be no TWD post from me today.  I can't get up the energy to make this week's assignment at all--just not feeling very good and so not in a baking mood this weekend or today.  This whole "New Year" thing isn't doing much for me yet.  I'm barely eating these days;  so making dough, chilling it, rolling and cutting, chilling, heating a bunch of oil to a proper temp without a thermometer or deep fryer, frying dough, sugaring it twice, eating it before it gets stale or limp--ugh, I'm tired out just typing that.  Not this week. No can do. 

The most I could muster was a version of Dorie's Parisian Apple Tartlets, thrown together at 2:45 AM:

and this didn't even really brown or puff properly.  Harumph.

I am not super amped about the next recipe, but who knows?  I'll plan on making it anyway.  Harumph harumph harumph.

In the meanwhile, if you are interested in what I am skipping, check out Teanna's full-of-awesome process and recipe post at Spork or Foon?

05 January 2010

TWD Birthday Party: Tarte Tatin

Today is the 2nd anniversary of Tuesdays With Dorie, and in celebration we had two recipes to choose from, after a highly competitive voting process.  I voted that we make the Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake, but after seeing a long list of complaints on the site about the cake being dry and the icing not turning out properly, I decided at the last minute to try the other recipe, Tarte Tatin.  I've complained here before about fruit desserts, but I'm trying, y'all.  I'm really trying.

This recipe was another super simple one, in ingredients and technique.  For the crust we were invited to use pie crust, tart crust, or puff pastry.  I went with puff pastry, which makes up in ease for what it lacks in longetivity.  I used a cake pan to cut out a circle roughly the same size as the 8"-ish pan I was using.

I was a little hasty with the unrolling of the dough there.  

Then I melted butter in my stainless pan, sprinkled in some sugar, and layered in cut yellow apples.

mmm.  butter.

 hoorah! apples!

2 gether 4 eva

It took longer than anticipated for my sugar to caramelize;  I must have let it cook for about 25 minutes.  Sometimes I really miss having a gas stove and being able to see the heat level.

Once the sugar was nice and brown, I plopped the pastry circle on top, and slid the whole into the oven for 30 minutes.



I burned the AYCH out of my hand turning this out, but the pain was (somewhat) ameliorated when I saw that it came out perfectly.

No stuck apples, no runover.  Yay!  I had been concerned because the pastry shrank;  but there was no hangover and the tarte was just lovely, all golden brown and shiny.  My caramel was liquidy at first, too;  but I didn't lose much of it. 

The taste is divine.  The apples cooked down perfectly and the puff pastry makes it seem like fruited baklava.  A definite make-again, especially if the leftovers hold up.  I banged this out in less than two hours' time.  Next time I might try a mite less butter and sugar.  I am trying to figure out a way to take it to a party.  I wonder if I can do everything short of baking and stick the pan in the fridge with the dough on top?

I still might make the cake...we shall see!  I'm not sure if I'll do next week's deep-fried cookies...

Thanks to Laurie for founding TWD!   I've only been baking along since October and it's been great fun.

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