baked sunday mornings: double chocolate loaf

bakers note: this recipe is part of the baked sunday mornings group – which means that we (participating bloggers) don’t include the recipe.  I have included the group homepage in a link below – so if you’re tempted – click on it and you’ll be able to make this loaf at home too ;0)

Oh my.  This loaf is YUM.

How can you go wrong when you’re asked to combine chocolate with peanut butter and cream cheese?  You really can’t.  Go wrong that is.

This loaf proves that (in case you were doubting me).

The spread – well it’s more of a frosting – is creamy and a little tangy thanks to the cream cheese.  My only complaint would be that it’s a little too sweet … I think I would omit the added sugar next time … but really – it’s still delicious.

I decided to make this recipe last night – I was meeting up with some friends and had promised to bring along some sort of baked good – kill two birds with one stone: bake my assigned recipe and provide a movie treat for friends.  Perfect!

Since I was short on time, I decided to turn the one 9-by-5-inch loaf into 8 mini loaves.  They wouldn’t require as much baking time, ensuring that I could bake them, cool them slightly, and frost them prior to heading out.

Only … I over baked them.

Note to self – and to anyone interested – bake the mini loaves for 24 minutes.  Not 26 minutes.

Sigh.

The result was still delicious.  The loaves were incredibly moist and crumbly in the centre … just a little over-baked on the base and sides.  Nothing a good smear of peanut butter cream cheese spread doesn’t fix :0)

Oh yes … and since I always end up trying the raw batter – I can attest that this batter is awesome.  It’s nice and thick and super chocolaty rich.  It’s actually pretty divine.

And so my friends … here is my 5th blog entry for baked sunday mornings.  It’s kinda the perfect blog entry since you should do the following after reading it:

- click on the link that leads you to the recipe.

- ensure that you have all the necessary ingredients.

- whip up a loaf (or double it as recommended in the book itself).

- make this next week a very good week by starting every day with a thick slice of the loaf topped with the peanut butter cream cheese spread.

- starting each day in such a manner will ensure the following … you will have a wonderful week.  Or at the very least you’ll look forward to breakfast.

If you still aren’t sure … just scroll down and see how (1) easy this loaf is to make, and (2) how delicious it looks.

Can’t you just picture yourself enjoying this with a nice cup of coffee tomorrow morning?  I bet you can … so do it.  Go out and bake this (I promise, this is a ridiculously simple recipe).

And for the record … I ate that entire mini loaf and loved every single bite (even the over-baked edges).

baked sunday mornings: almond joy tart

My third Sunday with the baked group.  Am I glad it was this recipe.

We know that I’m a huge fan of pies & tarts.  They are my true baking passion (that’s right folks – cupcakes are not my favourite thing) – and so when I noticed this recipe on our schedule I got excited.  Like really excited.

When I first looked at the list of ingredients I got a little concerned.  Would this be a bit of a hassle?  Would I get annoyed with the pastry dough?  Would it taste too much of almond (a flavour that I think can sometimes be overpowering)?

I figured the best way to find out would be to make these.

Sigh.  Absolute delight.

First off – I decided to make them into mini-tarts.  I was bringing them to a party – and figured that it would be easier to nibble on a smaller version – as well – more people were likely to take one, since a tiny tart doesn’t seem like too much.

I made this over the course of three days.  I really should have read the recipe better – in order to really manage my time, I should have made the almond pastry dough and the white chocolate ganache on day one, and then assembled everything on day two.  Instead, day one was the tart dough,day two was the ganache, and finally, day three was the filling and assembling.  Even with the decision to spread this recipe out … it was easy as … pie (but you knew I was going to say that didn’t you).

I really loved making this dough – especially since you use the food processor.  I could feel the dough come together once I added the cubed butter … all that was left for me to do was to knead it a bit by hand (just enough to gather the dough) and then wrap in plastic wrap.  I chose to chill it overnight in the fridge.

One very important thing to note: this dough is sticky.  Not just a little.  A lot.  In the end I attempted to roll it out three ways:

(1) lightly floured surface – it worked for a couple of the tarts.

(2) between two pieces of plastic wrap – it kinda worked … wasn’t great.

and finally

(3) I rolled up little balls of dough and then pressed the dough into the base of the tart pan and up the sides.  This was the least annoying option.

Mini tarts done.  I blind baked them for 8 minutes filled with dried chickpeas, and 10 minutes unfilled.

While they baked, I started on the white chocolate ganache for the filling.

The entire filling is dead simple.  The only thing I did differently from the original recipe would be that I used sweetened flaked coconut rather than unsweetened – it’s what I had on hand – and to be honest, the white chocolate ganache isn’t overly sweet … so adding some sweetness to it, isn’t a bad thing.

Once the filling was done and was cooling in the tart shells, I pulled out my dark chocolate (I didn’t use the milk chocolate – dark chocolate combo as mentioned in the recipe) – (1) I figured it would counter-act the sweetness of the coconut and (2) I had some good dark chocolate from my trip to France that I thought would be a nice touch.

Done.

I topped my mini tarts – adding the whole blanched almond as a finishing touch. 

Beautiful.  I then tucked them away in a tupperware and waited to bring them to my party.

S-U-C-C-E-S-S!

These are brilliant.  Gorgeous.  Incredible.  Oh yeah … they taste good.  Real good.

Another baked explorations success.

baked sunday mornings: monkey bubble bread

bakers note:  please remember that the baked sunday mornings entries don’t include the recipe.  Please click on the link (below) and you’ll be able to find this recipe on the official website.  Gracias!

This has probably been the most … insane baking experience I’ve had to date.

I made this bread 3 times in 4 days.  Seriously.  It is amazing.  Even before it bakes the smell of cinnamon sugar makes your mouth water … and then while it’s baking the smell that emanates from your oven just makes you want to drool.  Oh yeah … and then you actually get to eat it.  It’s best eaten warm.  Right out of the oven.  But I can attest to the fact that it is still FAN-TASTIC at room temperature. 

Everyone … welcome to recipe 3 of baked sunday mornings.  May I present to you Monkey Bread.  The baking god’s gift to instant yeast and dough.  I do not lie.  Sigh.

So three times in almost as many days.  You must be wondering right?  Well … the recipe is pretty simple.  Except.  Yes … there is an exception.  I killed the yeast.

Attempt number one.  Thursday night.  I heated my milk and whisked in the instant yeast.  I was sure I had it … after all, I pulled out my thermometer and checked the temperature.

I should have just used my finger and tested the milk that way.  Sigh.  When I finished mixing and kneading everything together my dough was stiff and didn’t rise.  At all.  I even kept it in my oven overnight.  Nothing.

No go.

Attempt number two.  Friday night (yes.  I make bread on a Friday night… please don’t judge me).  This time I tested the milk with my finger.  Yeast survived!  YAY!  The kneading of the dough went well … I ended up with a silky and sticky (not tacky) dough.  I let it rise for just over an hour. 

It was a thing of beauty.

Step two.  Pull apart the dough into many balls.  Many balls. 

I didn’t get the 60 balls that the recipe book baked explorations dictated I would get – but I got 42.  A decent amount.  Especially after the first failed experience.  I was pleased.

Step three.  I dipped the balls in melted butter.  Greasy fingers.  Happy fingers. 

I then rolled them in a brown sugar – cinnamon mixture.  Happy nose.  A very happy nose. 

And Finally I started layering them in my bundt pan.  A beautiful brick house of dough balls. 

Step four.  Cover the bundt pan with plastic wrap and allow to double in size again.  Perfect.  I decided to leave it for the night and bake it on Saturday morning.  Done.

Saturday morning.  I wake up at 6:20 am to preheat my oven to 350 F.  I place my bundt pan in the middle rack and jump in the shower. 

I smell the smoke. 

I quickly checked my oven and (duh!), my bundt pan has a removable base and so the caramel (from the cinnamon sugar mixture and butter) is dripping and touching the element within the oven.  No problem.  Quick fix – place a cookie sheet on the rack below.  It’ll catch the drippings.

Except.

I picked my flat cookie sheet.  Not one with a lip.  It didn’t catch anything.  And so … more smoke.  Only this time.  FIRE!

Seriously.  With 18 minutes to go – I have a fire in my oven.  At 7 am on a Saturday morning.  Oh goodness … please don’t let the fire alarm go off!

I turn off my oven, pull out the bundt pan (I have to save the monkey bread after all), and pour baking soda on the flame.  Close the oven door and wait.

15 minutes later I turn my oven back on.  Place the bundt pan on a cookie sheet (with a lip), and continue to bake the bread.

Success.

This bread was worth that drama.  And it taught me that I have a real problem.  My first thought when I saw the flame wasn’t for my safety … but rather how I was going to save my bread.  This could be a problem.

After the success (I brought the monkey bread to a holiday party) – I decided to bake it again.  3rd time – 4 days.  Obsessed much.  Totally.

This time I went mini.  As in mini balls in mini bundt pans.

Adorable.  Heck yes.  Just as delicious.  AB- Solutely. 

Worth trying and making today?  Oh my.  Need you really ask?  I mean … I fought through fire to make this.  So worth it.