TWD: Cherry-Fudge Brownie Torte

So I am a day late this week... oops! I went to dinner with two girlfriends last night and was just too tired when I got home to post. I need to start posting on Monday nights!

This week's recipe was chosen by April of Short + Rose. Until this week I've followed every recipe pretty closely (except for subbing in applesauce for some of the butter/oil in the allspice crumb muffins). This week, however.... I had to make some changes! First of all, I don't keep kirsch on hand (I actually don't even know what kirsch is... though I gather from the P&Q that its some sort of cherry liquor). We actually don't keep any liquor on hand (we're beer and wine people)... and I wasn't about to go out and buy a bottle of rum for a teensy 1/4 cup! I also couldn't find marscapone cheese at the grocery store. I spent 15 minutes scouring the refrigerated section but came up empty handed. So I used all cream cheese instead. I don't own a springform pan so I halved the recipe and made it in a Corningware casserole dish. Despite all of this, the torte came out really well! The bottom layer is a rich, fudgy brownie. I was a little concerned about the whole cherries (I think I've mentioned before I have texture issues), but they were hardly noticeable and just made the brownie more moist. The top layer was a creamy mousse - I'm sure the marscapone would have been delicious, but cream cheese worked well (and I even used 1/3 less fat!).

I followed the suggestion in the book and put a few tablespoons of leftover cherry preserves in my mini food chopper to make a glaze. I spooned this into a sandwich bag, cut off the corner, and piped lines on top of the torte. Then I used a butter knife to make the chevron pattern. It turned out nicely - and would be great for a dinner party.

Be sure to check the TWD blogroll to see how everyone else did!


TWD: Sweet Potato Biscuits

For this week's TWD post, Erin of Prudence Pennywise chose Dorie's Sweet Potato Biscuits. Isn't it funny how so many fall foods come in fall colors... like orange? I've made pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin bread, roasted butternut squash, butternut squash soup.... and now sweet potato biscuits. I opted to use canned sweet potatoes for my biscuits because, frankly, its easier. I spent several hours last weekend peeling/slicing/grating pumpkins and squash and I wasn't too keen on re-visiting that just yet. So canned sweet potatoes it was!

This recipe was super simple and the dough came together pretty easily. It was a little sticky, but I tried not to overwork it (on the advice of many other TWD bakers). The biscuits came out really well. The were a little soft in the middle but they were quite tasty. They'd be great to dunk in soup or maybe for a fall spin on biscuits and gravy. Be sure to check out Erin's blog for the recipe and try them out!


MSC: Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes!

I'm super excited for my first MSC post! As I mentioned, Martha Stewart's Cupcakes Club is an online baking group where members take turns picking cupcakes from Martha's book and we all bake along and blog about it. Martha + cupcakes + blogging = fabulous!

For this month's recipe, Kim of What the Whisk picked Pumpkin Patch cupcakes. Kim's blog is super cute - be sure to check out how her cupcakes turned out. The photos are stunning! And what a perfect pick for October. Coincidentally, I caught part of Martha's Halloween special on FLN this weekend - tons of cute ideas for party decorations and all things Halloween. Makes me wish I was throwing a Halloween party!

These cupcakes turned out super moist and rich. The combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves never disappoints... but what really made these cupcakes special was the addition of real pumpkin. I have to admit, it took me forever to peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds, chop it up, and grate it in the food processor. But it was worth it in the end. After all that time spent on the pumpkin, I went the simple route for decorating and used those mellowcreme pumpkins that line the shelves this time of year. They looked cute, but the next day the orange sugar had started to melt and create little orange pools around the pumpkins. Luckily my co-workers didn't mind and still gobbled them up!

The cream cheese frosting was also wonderful - it was fluffy, creamy, and rich. Probably the best cream cheese frosting I've ever had. The recipe made a TON so I had quite a bit left over. I spread it on low fat honey grahams and made sandwiches, then stuck them in the freezer to made pseudo ice cream sandwiches. Although Mr. QC loved the cupcakes, he said the frosting sandwiches were out of this world. Overall my first MSC adventure was a big success... and I'm looking forward to the next one!


TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

For this week's TWD post, Kayte of Grandma's Kitchen Table picked Allspice Crumb Muffins. As if I haven't mentioned it before, I love the tastes and smells of fall. These muffins were no exception. They came together easily and make a great grab-and-go breakfast. I've never used allspice before - it's said to be like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. There is definitely a savory, peppery taste to it. It was a nice contrast to the light and fluffy muffin. My fabulous taste tester, Mr. QC, loves pepper (the man puts it on everything... and heavy-handed is a bit of an understatement) so he really enjoyed these. Some of the other bakers had trouble with the crumble topping sliding off the muffins. Mine slid into the middle and sunk a little bit, but overall they held together pretty well.

Yum! Be sure to check out Kayte's blog for the recipe!


Pumpkin's Debut and Cupcakes to Come...

Fall baking just isn't complete without pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins.... I love it all. I especially love the aroma of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg filling the kitchen. So when I came across a recipe for iced pumpkin cookies last week, I knew I had to make them. It was high time for pumpkin to make its first appearance of the season in this lawyer's kitchen! It was freezing in Chicago this weekend, so the hubs and I enjoyed these with a nice hot cup of tea... mmm!

The cookies turned out very moist and cake-like. The icing was a little gooey, but I think that's because I accidentally threw in the whole block of cream cheese - oops! - and made more of a glaze. These were best the first day I made them. After that, I stuck them in the fridge to keep them from getting too sticky.

I can't remember where I got the recipe from - I copied it without copying what fabulous blogger posted it. But here it is... enjoy!

Iced Pumpkin Cookies Recipe
(Adapted from AllRecipes)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (**feel free to substitute 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves**)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (I used fat free and it was fine)
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by heaping tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then frost or drizzle with cream cheese frosting.
To Make Frosting: With an electric mixer, combine confectioners’ sugar, and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Feel free to add in an extra teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice for flavor! Then you can either frost cookies with a knife, or drizzle with the help of a pastry bag and tip. (Or if you do not have a pastry bag, just fill a Ziplock bag with the frosting, squeeze out the extra air, seal, and then use scissors to snip a tiny hole in one corner, and squeeze carefully onto cookies.)

**In other exciting news, I joined another online baking group! Martha Stewart's Cupcake Club is baking its way through the book
Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. I love Martha and I really love cupcakes... so this was a no brainer! Once a month members take turns picking one of the recipes. Then, on the 15th of the month, we all post about it. I joined just in time to make October's cupcake selection... which also includes pumpkin! Watch for it later this week. Happy Columbus Day!


TWD: Split Level Pudding

For this week's installment of Tuesdays with Dorie, Garrett of Flavor of Vanilla picked the split level pudding. The original recipe calls for classic vanilla pudding on top and chocolate ganache on the bottom. While I love a good chocolate and vanilla combo, I really love chocolate and coffee. So I flavored my pudding with some instant espresso, per one of Dorie's suggested alternatives.

The recipe was fairly simple, but as many other TWD bakers have mentioned, there were a lot of steps -- bring this to a boil, whisk it on the stove, put it in the food processor, back on the stove, back in the food processor -- whew! I tried to simplify by just using a hand mixer. The pudding was delicious and turned really thick and creamy on the stove. But when I mixed it with the butter for the final step, it turned a little chunky. Chunky pudding = no good.

It may not look too pretty... but it sure tasted good. Although I have to admit... next time I'm craving pudding, I may just stick with the instant kind!