You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2010.

This past week was CRAZY – no time for SMS.  We had a graduation, a work happy hour, a graduation party, a long drive to Wisconsin, a wedding and a long drive back from Wisconsin.  Whew.  I’m exhausted.   I will make the pralines this week since I have all the ingredients.  I’ll share them with our friends coming up to our cabin this weekend and then share the results with all of you!

Go check out Tess’ blog – The Cookin’ Chemist – for the recipe and a brief history on pralines.  Hers look really good – like so good I could almost taste the butterscotch-y, sugary-y goodness.  I’m looking forward to making these!  Also, check out the other fabulous SMS bakers – you will be sure to get inspired! These ladies are up to some great things any day of the week.

I did finally try out my new baked mini-donuts pan. Fabulous. These little guys are so frickin’ cute I can hardly stand it.


I tried a recipe I found off tastespotting and it was just OK, so I’m not going to link to it.  I think next time I’m going to make the recipe that came off the back of the pan’s packaging.  There is more fat in that recipe which will likely make a tastier donut.  Fat = Yummy.  I made 4 different varieties – powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar, chocolate glaze and a vanilla glaze.

vanilla glazed mini donuts with sprinkles

The vanilla glaze was by far my favorite but in no way satisfied my craving for donuts.  I’ll keep playing with the pan and trying out different recipes and will share the best one I find.  Stay tuned…


bourbon salted caramel sauce

Wow!  Is it Sunday already?  The days have been flying by!  Ater a week of rain we finally had a beautiful weekend.  Let summer begin!  We spent yesterday on our boat at our cabin.  It was a gorgeous day for bar hopping around the lake, soaking up the sun.  It felt great.  The last thing I wanted to do was go home and bake, so I didn’t!  I waited until the very last minute, as usual.  (My mom is reading this and rolling her eyes, thinking that some things never change).

mini bread pudding

This week’s SMS was chosen by Carmen of Baking is My Zen.  Carmen, unlike me, is ahead of the game with this recipe!  She chose it because she wants to get a head start on her holiday baking and try out recipes before the big day (Thanksgiving).  Carmen, you over-acheiver!!  You’re making the rest of us look bad…Well, I for one am glad she chose this recipe because I will make this bread pudding again.  I’ll just wait for a less than perfect day to do it!

Despite the rather long list of to-dos with this recipe it came together quite quickly.  I made the bread pudding in a 2 qt baking dish and 1 little ramekin since our friend is having us over for dinner and I said I’d bring dessert.  Rather than make the recommended rum raisin caramel sauce with this pudding I made a salted caramel bourbon sauce.  I just heated up a 1/2 tsp of fleur de sal with the cream while cooking the sugar and water and added 1 TBS of bourbon at the end.  I had a bite after I was done taking pictures and it is really good.  I might stop and get some vanilla ice cream on my way to my friend’s house, or maybe whip up some cream since I think it will benefit from something cold with it. (Plus, it’s not really rich enough with the 8 eggs and 2 cups of cream…ahem).

Go to Carmen’s blog to get the recipe (and check out her AWESOME photo tutorial – well done!).  You won’t regret it.  And check out what the other SMS bakers did this week.  I’m always inspired by these ladies.

mmmmm....caramel sauce

This week’s challenge was hosted by Chaya of My Sweet and Savory.  Chaya chose Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble.  Melissa’s book includes a basic sweet muffin recipe and several variations to that recipe – the orange blueberry muffins are just one of several variations.

Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble

Blueberry muffins are a classic and the addition of orange zest (which you rub into the flour mixture to release all the oils, something I have never heard of doing) really comes through.  The pecan crumble was out of this world.  I like a muffin with a topping!  Of course, since I have nut haters in my family I only made 1/2 the muffins with the topping and those without it were still good.

Ugh...such a terrible picture...

This was a great recipe and I love the versatility.  There is also a savory muffin recipe and several interesting pairings that go along with that in the book (like bosc pear and blue cheese – yum!).  The muffins came together quickly – they could easily be made the morning of a brunch.  My only complaint (and I generally have many…ask my family and friends!) is that I chose to make these muffins on the cloudiest/rainiest/darkest day we’ve had in a long time so my pictures are terrible!  To get the recipe go to Chaya’s blog or buy the book!  To see what the other fabulous SMS bakers did this week check out their sites.  Thanks Chaya for giving me my go-to muffin recipe!

On a more personal note I wanted to say that my husband and I are looking to adopt.  This is something we have given much thought and consideration and has been about 1 year in the planning/research stages.  We are working with an agency here in Minneapolis and plan on utilizing their services to help get matched with a birthmother.  As you can imagine there is a significant amount of wait time in doing that so we are going to do our own outreach as well.  I started a website to help attract potential matches and will do some other outreach as well.  I invite you to check out the website (there is also a link on my blogroll) and keep us in mind if you or someone you know is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.  That’s probably all I’m going to say about that on here and keep this space as my own…

Thanks for reading!

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo this week I decided to make a tres leches Cake.  This also satisfies my (self-imposed) rule to make 2 recipes out of each food magazine I subscribe to, so it’s a win for everyone.

Tres Leches Cake with Cool Whip (not whipped cream!)

A few years ago I was watching the Martha Stewart Show.  She had some woman on who was going to make a lighter version of a tres leches cake.  I can get behind this since I often try to adapt recipes to make them slightly less unhealthy.  I’m not trying to fool anyone but my husband, who will only try certain foods if he believes them to be light – weirdo.  She used a reduced fat milk, fat-free evaporated skim milk and fat-free sweetened condensed milk.  So, in the spirit of the lighter tres leches cake she put Cool Whip on the cake.   Martha was appalled.  She would never use Cool Whip in her kitchen.  How gouache.  You would have thought the woman smuggled in some imitation vanilla extract (gasp!).  After the tongue lashing, Martha actually started whipping her own cream to put on top of her cake.  It was ridiculous.  Don’t get me wrong, I actually adore Martha Stewart, but sometimes the way she belittles her guests grates on me.  So now, tres leches will always remind me of her, and not some trip to Mexico I’ve taken or a memorable meal at a restaurant.  Thanks Martha!

Lately recipes for a tres leches cake have shown up in a lot of the magazines I receive.  And, the cake has been popping up on several restaurant menus.  This makes me think tres leches cake is destined to be the new red velvet and since I am one to always follow trends (rather than start them!) I had to make one.  And, as an homage to that poor woman on the Martha Stewart Show, I was going to use Cool Whip.

you can actually see how moist (wet) this cake is!

I adapted a recipe from the May issue of the Food Network Magazine by using fat-free evaporated skim milk and fat-free sweetened condensed milk.  I did use the whole milk it called for mainly because I like to have whole milk in the house.  It’s so good in coffee.  You could use a reduced fat milk, I’m sure, though I wouldn’t use skim.  The cake came together beautifully and smelled wonderful while baking.  After it bakes you need to pour 2 cups of milk, a can of evaporated milk and a can of sweetened condensed milk.  This was a lot of liquid for a 8 inch square cake!  I took my time and made sure each drop was absorbed before I started pouring more.  I was worried it would flood out of the pan!

My husband and I loved this cake but our 9-year-old thought it was too “wet”.  When Dan corrected her and told her she meant moist, she corrected him and said “no, I mean wet!”.  She was right – it was very wet, but we loved it.  I’d definitely make it again, with the lighter modifications, as an ending to a Mexican themed dinner party.  It’d be delicious after grilled fish tacos.  I always need balance after I eat something as healthy as grilled fish!

mmmmm....wet cake

Tres Leches Cake

(adapted from Food Network Magazine May 2010)


  • Vegetable oil for greasing
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12-ounce can evaporated milk (I used fat-free)
  • 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat-free)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (I forgot this bit…oops…)
  • Cool Whip (To piss Martha off further I used LIGHT Cool Whip.  The horror!)
  • Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Make the cake: Beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer until pale and slightly thick, about 6 minutes. Slowly beat in the melted butter, then beat in the vanilla and 1/4 cup whole milk.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula to make a thick batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Run a knife along the edges to release the cake from the pan.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 cups whole milk, the evaporated milk, condensed milk and rum in a bowl. Pierce the warm cake all over with a fork, then pour the milk mixture gradually and evenly on top, letting the cake absorb the liquid until all is used. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Top each piece with Cool Whip, sprinkle with cinnamon.  Enjoy!

If there was one recipe in the entire Sweet Melissa Baking Book that screamed “Tracey” it would be this recipe.  The peanut butter/chocolate combination is my favorite flavor combo (with salted caramel being a close second).  Ever since I was little I have loved peanut butter cups, chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter and nutella sandwiches (those were the days – I’d never eat one now!) or just dipping chunks of chocolate into peanut butter.  My palate has changed, and maybe even become a bit more sophisticated, but I will always go back to this flavor combination.  It’s a classic.

I was even more excited to make these after reading the recipe and discovering they are gluten free (or can be made gluten free with the right chocolate and peanut butter choices).  My nephew is on a gluten free diet, not because he has celiac, but because he has some sort of gluten intolerance.  I was babysitting him last week so the timing was perfect.

Peanut Butter Truffles

I’ve never made truffles before but have made plenty of ganache.  There really isn’t a big difference.  I used 6 oz of bittersweet chocolate and 6 oz of milk chocolate because I love milk chocolate with peanut butter.  I just divided the peanut butter infused cream in 1/2 to make the two batches.  The milk chocolate ones were definitely more difficult to roll into balls.  They were very soft, even after sitting in the fridge overnight.  Maybe because of the milk fat?  I have no idea.  I do know that the milk chocolate flavor brought out the peanut butter flavor more so than the bittersweet chocolate did.  The bittersweet chocolate really overpowers the peanut butter flavor.

Peanut Butter Truffles neatly lined up

Since I live with some nut haters I rolled 1/2 of them in cocoa powder and the other 1/2 in crushed peanuts.  The peanuts give the truffles a nice texture.  Had I not been babysitting a 2 1/2 year old I would have tried to dip these in melted chocolate.  I think a crunchy outside would really go nicely with the creamy soft inside.  Next time.

Thanks to Mara of Love Your Mother for hosting this week.  For the recipe visit her blog or go buy the book!

May 2010
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