State Fair

State Fair
State Fair Ribbons

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Macaron post...though the first for me!

Being Macaron-inspired by Sue at Basically Baked , I found my way to Chez Arnaud's in Maple Grove, MN.  It was one of my first daytime work week adventures after being retired. It is a whole new world to me being able to go shopping when it is not busy! Anyways, it is a small French bakery.  Many of the desserts were expensive, but fortunately for me I was macaron hunting and those were not so expensive.  They had Lavender lemon and salted caramel macarons. I liked both of them, but I think the salted caramel was my favorite flavor. I also purchased pain du chocolat (chocolate bread).  It is basically a chocolate filled croissant.  As Sue said in her post, it was fabulous!  I will not attempt to make macarons because they are simple to buy and they are not my favorite cookie. They are worth purchasing once in a while just to taste something different.

Salted Caramel and Lavender Lemon


The gooey, delicious middle

Friday, July 15, 2011

Musings about Browned Butter

I'm in MN State Fair baking frenzy mode now.  Anna from Cookie Madness turned me on to her browned butter pecan pie a couple of years ago.  I have to say it is the best pecan pie I have ever tasted. Not just me, but everyone who tried it said it was the best pecan pie they ever tasted.  For those of you who don't know what Browned Butter is and how to make it, see this excellent Allrecipes site:  Browned Butter  It adds a nutty, toffee-like flavor to the dough.  I got to thinking about browned butter when thinking about what could be a State Fair chocolate chip cookie ribbon-winning recipe. There are a few browned butter recipes out there that are similar. Seeing as I  just could not help myself, I tinkered around with a few regular and browned butter chocolate chip cookie recipes and came up with what I am going to enter into the state fair this year. For the regular contests the recipe does not need to be your own, but it does need to be made from scratch. I will show you pictures, but I am not going to give out my secret recipe yet! I will tell you it is a combination of white and brown sugar, all-purpose and bread flour, and you guessed it: Browned Butter.    I still can't figure out how to make my cookies come out round each time.  Dana has a good idea on her blog Dana Treat.  I will have to try rolling the dough into logs, refrigerating it, and then slicing it next time.   I do not have a cookie scoop, but I am considering investing in one. If anyone has opinions about good scoops, please, please let me know!
Here is a picture of the browned butter cookies with the dough only refrigerated for 1 hour--2 hours didn't make a difference.  refrigerating overnight produced thicker cookies.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Flag Cake

Just a prepared yellow cake mix (I added a 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract), cool whip, and fruit.  So easy! You can use any type of fruit for a summer dessert.  Pears, nectarines, peaches, raspberries, even grapes and plums would be good!  If you have not tried a yellow cake mix,  you should.   It is my favorite cake to use for whipped cream and fruit. I'm not fond of other boxed mixes, but yellow cake mix is special.  I used Duncan Hines for this cake, but I've used other brands as well.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake and Happy almost 4th of July

I know there is a cake doctor out there, but I also enjoy doctoring.  I  doctored Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake,  a recipe found on Allrecipes.com .  It is excellent for the 4th of July desserts lineup.

For the red, white, and blue theme, the only time consuming part of this recipe is drying the raspberries, but they are easy to use because you don't need to cut them or core them like strawberries.   I line a cookie sheet with paper towels  and set them on it.   I used an 8x8 pan for 1/2 the recipe, but I think 9x9 would have been better-the cake was too thick for the 8x8 so the edges were done long before the high center.   

Drying raspberries.




I used an 8x8 pan for this, but I think a 9x9 would have been better.


Finished product (I sampled a corner-can you find it?)

Recipe for 9x13 or 10 inch tube pan:

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened

  • 2 3/4 cups sugar

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1 cup sour cream (I don't skimp on this..I use full fat...it is a pound cake!)

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups AP flour and 1 cup Whole Wheat PASTRY flour)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries-you could probably use 2.5 cups also

  • Optional:  Extra sugar or cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top before baking


  • Topping:

    2 regular 8 oz size containers of cool whip or one large container
    1 pint fresh blueberries washed and dried
    1 pint fresh raspberries washed and dried

    Directions
    1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter until fluffy; gradually add sugar and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in extracts.  
    2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add alternately with the sour cream to  wet ingredients.  Gently fold berries into batter.
    3. Spoon into a greased 10-in. tube or 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-70 minutes or until cake tests done. (In my 9x13 pan this took about 52 minutes.)
    4. Cool cake completely.  Frost with cool whip.  Add fruit in whatever design you like. Refrigerate.
    Footnote:  If using frozen blueberries, don't thaw them.  A few minutes before the batter is ready for them, put them in a bowl and sprinkle with flour to coat them.  Mix them gently so all have a flour coating.