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*May/June 2010 COTM - GOURMET: Breakfast and Breads, Sweets

Welcome to our May and June 2010 COTM, Gourmet Today: More Than 1000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen.

Please use this thread for review and discussion of recipes from the following chapters:

Breakfast and Breads
Cookies, Bars, and Confections
Pies, Tarts, and Pastries
Fruit Desserts
Puddings, Custards, Mousses, and Soufflés
Frozen Desserts and Sweet Sauces

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake, p 727

    I have to admit that I haven't tried this yet, but it looks nice! I'm about to take it to work, so will let you all know how it tastes later!

    Anyhow, fairly simple to put together. Melt butter, brewed coffee, cocoa powder and American whiskey in a pan. Whisk until butter is melted, then remove from heat and add sugar and whisk until dissolved. Transfer into a large bowl and leave to cool for 10 mins or so. Meanwhile, combine A/P flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk two large egs with 1 tsp of vanilla extract and add to chocolate mixture, whisking until just combined. Then add flour mixture, again whisking until just combined. Put into a prepared bundt tin which you have greased and dusted with cocoa and bake in at 325F for 40-50 mins or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.

    This looks good, but it didn't rise as much as I expected it to. That may be user error - as a European (sort of) I'm really not that comfortable with baking by volume rather than weight so I may not have had the exact quantities of sugar and flour. Also I didn't have large egss so used three medium. Also it says not to use Dutch-process cocoa powder - as I'm not sure what that is and we don't have it to my knowledge in the UK, I used the regular stuff I had in the cupboard. I also used bog standard bourbon - we are Scotch drinkers in this house (or Mr GG is) and I only keep a cheap bourbon for cooking. Plus I don't think Mr GG would have allowed me to use any of his expensive range of single malts!

    So, it's coming to work with me and I'll let you know what me and the co-workers think. Usually they're just pathetically grateful for any kind of cake, but I will try to extract honest opinions!

    11 Replies
    1. re: greedygirl

      You know, I'm betting you do have Dutch-process cocoa, as that is the standard for the European brands, such as Callebaut, Valrhona, etc. It means the cocoa is alkalized to reduce its acid and make it smoother. Here in the US, the label will often say "cocoa processed with alkali."

      Baking soda is used with natural (non-alkalized) cocoa because the cocoa is acidic. That cake sounds as if it should be delicious, based on the ingredients.

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        OK - so it seems that my cocoa was probably the Dutch-processed kind, which the recipe specifically says not to use. How will that effect the result?

        ETA - cake now sampled, and it's pretty good. Dense and fudgy, with the flavour of the whiskey coming through nicely. It would be nice for dessert with whipped cream, as it says in the book. Co-workers also happy. :-)

      2. re: greedygirl

        This is another long time favorite of ours. I just LOVE this cake, and it really is easy and fast to put together. I"m so sorry it didn't totally work out for you, gg! I probably make it about 3-4 times a year. Always better the day after, and yes, a bit of whipped cream never hurts. I kind of love that whiskey/chocolate combination, and I do love how moist this cake is.

        1. re: LulusMom

          I think it worked out fine, actually, although I am a bit confused about the whole Dutch process cocoa thing! Should I have left out the baking soda, do you think (and that is the same as baking powder, right)? It was also the first time I'd made a bundt cake and
          I don't think they rise that much anyway. Isn't it supposed to be pretty moist and dense?

          1. re: greedygirl

            Definitely moist and dense. Almost fudgey, although that is pushing it. But it is a dense cake.

            Sorry I can't help with the whole dutch process business. I don't have a clue what the difference is!

            1. re: greedygirl

              Hi GG--Dutch process cocoa is processed with alkali to reduce its acidity and deepen its color. Most European cocoa is this kind. Non-dutched cocoa, being more acidic, is often paired with baking soda (an alkali) because the acid and the alkali react and make bubbles, which make the baked thing rise. Dutched cocoa usually is used with baking powder, which contains baking soda and an acid (often tartaric acid) and which will make bubbles all by itself when it gets wet.

              1. re: heidipie

                That's very helpful, thanks. Looks like my mistake of thinking baking soda was baking powder in the UK was a lucky one!

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Easy way to remember what cocoa goes with which leavening: the "P" rule, for Dutched Process and baking Powder.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    Wait, I don't know this rule. Can you please clarify? Are you saying when a recipe calls for baking Powder and cocoa, it must mean Dutched Process cocoa?


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Yes, "P" for processed (as in Dutched) and powder, and yes, recipes containing baking powder use Dutched cocoa. Heidipie outlines it perfectly upthread.

                      You can sub natural cocoa for Dutched to a certain (small) amount in recipes, but not the other way around, or without the addition of an acid. So "must mean" can be intrepreted as "mostly mean."

                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                        I like that mnemonic device! Thanks!


        2. Rhubarb-strawberry pudding cake (p. 726)

          This is a pleasant and easy to make tea cake. Big fan of rhubarb and strawberry together. My only warning on this is that it doesn't last long - a day or two at most.

          17 Replies
          1. re: LulusMom

            We must be on the same cake wavelength as I'm going to make this soon as rhubarb is in season over here! Love rhubarb but never tried it with strawberries, which does sound good. I made rhubarb and raspberry jam the other day and that combo worked well.

            1. re: greedygirl

              Over here strawberry rhubarb jam is very popular. I hope you like the cake (but do eat it fast!).

              One time I had a rhubarb vanilla jam in France and absolutely loved it. Haven't been able to find anything similar since (and I'm not a jammer).

              1. re: greedygirl

                The problem I have with rhubarb and strawberries as a combo is that, where I live, they aren't in season at the same time. Rhubarb comes up in spring and starts to wilt as soon as it gets hot. Strawberries don't come until mid-summer or so.

                But, I do love the way they taste together, as long as you have frozen one or the other to supplement whichever one happens to be fresh at the time.


                1. re: greedygirl

                  Baking powder and baking soda are both leavening agents. But they react differently with different ingredients. There's a bit of chemistry involved. Frankly, that's why when baking precision is important, I think.

                  Here's a good explanation:

                  1. re: Gio

                    I knew someone here would know the answer!

                    1. re: Gio

                      We don't have baking soda in the UK. We have baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. I'm even more confused now!

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          It's a miracle this cake turned out so well, given that I used baking powder not bicarb, and probably Dutch process cocoa powder as well!

                          1. re: greedygirl

                            What I'm more concerned about is a bunch of BBC employees singing raunchy songs and mooning passersby as they munch on their bourbon cake.

                            I know, I know, the liquor cooks out, but I liked the image.

                        2. re: greedygirl

                          gg, do you happen to know if bicarbonate of soda is "bread soda"? My recipe for sticky toffee pudding that I got from a country house in Ireland says bread soda, but I assumed that it was bicarb because of Irish Soda Bread being made with bicarb. Do you have any experience with this term?

                          1. re: roxlet

                            Sorry roxlet, but I've never heard of bread soda before. I think you're probably right though.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              Bread soda = bicarbonate of soda....

                              1. re: roxlet

                                roxlet, I've never tasted Sticky Toffee Pudding, but it seems to be a favourite British dessert. Have you made it a lot, and is that recipe "from a country house in Ireland" (that sounds so romantic) a favourite of yours that you would share? It sounds like it must be good considering the source.

                                1. re: Lotti

                                  Lotti, it is a fantastic recipe that I have previously posted on CH, but here it is again.

                                  STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING

                                  For the cake
8 ounces (225g/generous 1 cup) chopped dates

                                  ½ pint (300ml/1¼ cups) brewed tea

                                  4 ozs. (110g/1 stick) unsalted butter

                                  6 ozs. (170g/scant 1 cup) castor (superfine) sugar

                                  3 eggs

                                  8 ozs. (225g/scant 1½ cups) self-rising flour

                                  1 rounded teaspoon bread soda (baking soda)

                                  1 teaspoon vanilla essence

                                  1 teaspoon Espresso coffee or 2-3 teaspoons instant espresso
                                  Hot toffee sauce

                                  4 ozs. (100g/1 stick) butter

                                  6 ozs. (170g/3/4 cup) dark brown sugar

                                  4 ozs. (110g/generous ½ cup) granulated sugar

                                  10 ozs (285g/3/4 cup) golden syrup

                                  8 fl. ozs. (225 ml/1 cup) heavy cream

                                  ½ teaspoon vanilla essence

                                  8-inch (20.5cm) spring form tin with removable base.
Set the oven to 350 degrees.
                                  Soak the dates in hot tea for 15 minutes. Brush the cake tin with oil, flour, then put oiled parchment on the base.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and then mix in the sifted flour. Add the baking soda, vanilla essence and coffee to the date tea and stir this into the flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan, and cook for 1-1½ hours or until a cake tester comes out clean.
To make the sauce, put the butter, sugars and golden syrup into a heavy bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from heat, and gradually stir in the cream and vanilla. Put back on the heat for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth.
To serve, pour some hot sauce around the cake and pour some additional sauce over the top. Put the remainder in a sauceboat, and serve with the pudding as well as softly whipped cream.

                                  Several of my friends have adopted this as their holiday recipe -- to great acclaim.

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    Holy cow, I'm always always looking for a good recipe. I think you posted this for me once before, and then things got crazy and I wasn't able to make it, but I *will* make it this time. One of my favorite things about being in the UK is having this for dessert. I love it. Thank you so much.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Oh, make it! You won't be sorry!

                                    2. re: roxlet

                                      Thank you so much roxlet. I bet there's a nice story behind how you got the recipe too. I've never been to Ireland, but just your description that it's from "a country house in Ireland" brings wonderful daydreams. I can't wait to try the recipe. Again, thank you for sharing it.

                        3. Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Coconut Cookies, p 681

                          They were really, really good! A little too sweet though so I would cut back on the sugar next time. Maybe by omitting the granulated sugar. The only changes I made to the recipe were; used parchment instead of greased cookie sheets, made smaller cookies w an ice cream scoop which yielded a larger number of regularly sized cookies. (4 doz vs 2 dozen) and baked for ~15 minutes @ a bit lower temp of 360. Will definately make again.


                          1. Chocolate Babka, p 675


                            This was a hit! The dough was very easy indeed, although I should have added a bit more flour. (It's hard to tell where "very soft and sticky" ends, and "TOO" soft and sticky begins.) That stickiness made the babka very light, although more difficult to roll and shape. Next time I might chill the dough before rolling.

                            Procedure: make a rich brioche-style yeast dough in the mixer, let rise, roll out, spread with lots of butter, sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate, sprinkle with sugar, roll up, twist, place in bread pans, rise, bake.

                            I made one-half recipe, and I'm sorry now that I didn't make two loaves. It wasn't a tall, beautiful loaf, but it was a welcome breakfast treat.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Channa

                              That looks delicious, much better than the lesser babka, cinammon, LOL


                              1. re: yamalam

                                "I beg your pardon? Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka. People
                                love cinnamon. It should be on tables in restaurants along with salt and
                                pepper. Anytime anyone says, 'Oh, this is so good. What's in it?' The
                                answer invariably comes back, Cinnamon. Cinnamon. Again and again.
                                Lesser babka - I think not."

                                Heh, heh, I vote for chocolate!

                                1. re: Channa

                                  Channa, I think yamalam was making reference to a Seinfeld episode in which Elaine dubbed cinnamon babka "the lesser babka."

                                  1. re: amyzan

                                    And what Channa quoted above is Jerry's reply to Elaine's comment that cinnamon is "the lesser babka."

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Oh, hilarious! I totally missed that, Joan!

                              2. re: Channa

                                Áh, memories of Seinfeld.

                                BTW, it's a bit off topic, but there's a Seinfeld food mentions thread that's hilarious and nostalgic.

                                I'd forgotten about the "lesser babka"!

                              3. Breakfast Burritos, pp. 655-6, I've made at least twice so far. I used a chicken chorizo or maybe it was turkey andouille (?), but at any rate, they were delicious and well received. Oh, and one time I subbed sweet potato for the boiling potato, and I think will continue to make it that way. The moistness and flavor of the sweet potato is just great with the spicy sausage and creamy, melting cheese and cool, rich avocado. A great combo for a savory breakfast or brunch. Heck, I think we'd eat these for dinner...

                                Seltzer waffles, pp. 661-2, is the only recipe from the book so far that was a dud for us. I usually make overnight yeasted waffles, and these just don't compare. They were heavy and cakey in comparison to yeasted waffles, though probably they're much better than any sweet milk recipe. I also think that because my waffle iron is nonstick, these don't crisp as well as they would in a cast iron waffler. So, if you have cast iron or maybe even a belgian style iron, this recipe might be worth a try. But, in a nonstick standard waffler, bleh.

                                Sicilian Fig Cookies, pp. 696-7, I still have a dozen frozen. The recipe doesn't note that they freeze well, which they do, as long as you thaw on sheets before baking. These are adult cookies, tasting strongly of brandy. I think I actually used cognac, which might account for their alcoholic flavor. The dried figs were pretty dried out, so that might be part of it, as well. I sprinkled these with pearl sugar in place of the nonpareils. Delicious.

                                Applesauce Pecan Cake, p. 715, will be a keeper, clearly. This reminds me so much of snack cakes my mom made after school when I was a kid. Not too sweet and deliciously moist, with crunch from the toasted pecans, no frosting or even powdered sugar sprinkle needed.

                                Carrot Cupcakes with Molasses Cream Cheese Frosting, pp. 740-1, are moist and pretty standard carrot cake, but what really shines here is the frosting. The addition of a bit of full flavored molasses to cream cheese and butter frosting is truly inspired. It's a pretty soft frosting, with only 2 Tbsp. confection sugar, but just fantastic in flavor, not very sweet, tangy with that slightly bitter edge. I'll be adding molasses to cream cheese frosting from now on, for red velvet cake, for pecan cake. I think you'd need more sugar for a frosting on a 9 inch cake, though, to help it hold its shape and not slide off the cake rounds. That would take some experimentation.

                                Yogurt Mousse with Apricot Sauce, pp. 841-2, I made without the sauce. (Apricots have a very short season here. They're usually so unripe in the markets I'm forced to roast them to bring out the flavor.) This mousse is a divine adult dessert. I just don't think most kids will enjoy this unless they usually eat plain Greek style yogurt, because it's not a terribly sweet recipe. Of course, that opinion is tempered by the fact we had it without the fruit sauce, so bear that in mind if your kids are adventurous eaters. It may go over with the apricot sauce. Gelatin can be a bit daunting if it's unfamiliar, but the instructions here are pretty good. I would recommend letting the gelatin powder hydrate for a full five minutes, to take into account anyone not sprinkling it over the milk evenly, etc. Just to be safe. Because if you strain out a big lump of gelatin, the texture might be a bit soft. I like their technique here, and though it might seem a bit of a pain, it really does yield a great smooth texture. I just love vanilla and lemon together. My mom ate two of these after dinner, if that tells you anything!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: amyzan

                                  Wow! Great post. You are amazing, amyzan!

                                2. Banoffee Pie, p. 776

                                  Banoffee (banana/toffee) pie is an English dessert which the intro says "made its debut at the Hungry Monk, a pub in Jevington".

                                  Not a lot of ingredients - sweetened condensed milk, bananas, and whipped cream - but it takes time. The milk is cooked in a water bath for a couple of hours until "a deep golden caramel color", and then cooled. Blind bake a pie crust (I cheated and used Pillsbury), and also let cool. Spread toffee in the crust and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. I did all this ahead and kept refrigerated. To finish, add sliced bananas, and top with heavy cream whipped with a little brown sugar.

                                  We thought this was delicious, but very rich. Next time I would make the toffee/dulce de leche layer a little thinner (some recipes I've read say 1-1/2 cans of sweetened condensed milk instead of 2).

                                  3 Replies
                                    1. re: Rubee

                                      Since my Gourmet book is home and I am not, I had no idea that this recipe was in the book!

                                      1. re: roxlet

                                        Jamie Oliver has a recipe for Banofee pie. Gotta try Gourmet's or his soon! Sounds riiich and deeeelish.

                                  1. Two old favorites: Flambed bananas with rum sauce (p. 815). I usually sub bourbon for the rum, just because I like it more. This is such a quick and fail proof recipe, you really can't much ruin it (unless you suddenly leave the house while the bananas are still cooking!). The sugar and bourbon combine beautifully. Sometimes serve over vanilla ice cream, but usually just as is.
                                    Butterscotch pots de creme (p. 831). I have to admit that I haven't made this one in a couple of years, but for a while (when it first came out in the magazine) I was making it about once a month. I like butterscotch. This is just a fancy way of making butterscotch pudding.

                                    1. Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Fruit, p. 681

                                      This is my go-to oatmeal cookie recipe, it takes substitutions well and is a good "dumping" ground for any and all nuts and dried fruit that need to be used up. The recipe calls for apricots, prunes and sour cherries, my favorite combo is coconut, cranberry and walnut. They last at least a week stored in Tupperware.

                                      1. Anadama Bread, p. 672

                                        I love this bread, great texture, a nice hint of sweetness from the molasses, and pretty easy to make- the dough is easy to handle, not too sticky, and the addition of external flavor with the butter and milk guarantees it'll be tasty. The recipe calls for stone ground grits, but I used polenta, as thats what I have on hand and I figure they're close enough! Makes great breakfast toast and sandwich bread, I froze one of the 2 loaves, but we ended up defrosting and using it right after the first one was through. BLTs were amazing on this.

                                        1. Fruit and Nut Chocolate Chunks, p 704


                                          Easy! Delicious! Chocolate!

                                          Melt chocolate, mix with raisins, dried cranberries, cashews, and pistachios. Chill until firm.

                                          I made 1/4 recipe, using odd bits of chocolate. And I made individual portions, rather than one large block.

                                          This was much better than anticipated. The standouts were cranberries and pistachios, and I could see using only those two in future batches.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Channa

                                            I would have *totally* overlooked this one. Photos and text - I'm 100% sold.

                                          2. Almond Macaroons with Buttercream Filling
                                            Page 694

                                            This seems to be the same recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                            Deliberate changes I made: I used an electric hand mixer because I don't own a stand mixer.

                                            Also, i didn't have a pastry bag with a 1/4 inch plain tip, so, I just cut the corner off a plastic baggie, which seemed to work fine.

                                            I made a half-batch of the buttercream filling because I only had one stick of butter and didn't feel like leaving the house.

                                            Unintentional change: somehow, I miscounted and made only 24 cookies instead of 32.

                                            I've never made macaroons before, but I bought a dozen eggs yesterday I didn't really need, so, I thought this would be a good way to use up the eggs.

                                            Because I miscounted, I ended up having too much macaroon batter, so, I went back and topped off each cookie with more batter (what I really should have done is recounted to see if I had the correct number of cookies!) This created two problems: 1) it made my cookies have seams and 2) it threw off my cooking time. I did try to smooth the seams with a wet fingertip as the recipe suggests to "smooth tops of mounds", but I felt like I was smooshing them too much, so I stopped. I figured they didn't expect the cookies to have as many seams as mine had... Unfortunately, I think I should have finished smoothing all of the seams as my macaroons collapsed.

                                            Despite my mistakes, these turned out pretty well. The cookies were brittle on the outside, and melt in your mouth soft on the inside. The filling was silky. I can't imagine using a whole batch of the filling as I think these had plenty of filling. My husband actually thought there was too much filling. The almond flavor was prominent, but not overwhelming.

                                            I'd do these again, I guess, though they are a little fussy for an everyday cookie, and I'm not confident I could get them pretty enough for a special occasion. But they'd probably be fine if I didn't make the miscounting mistake!


                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              I think, TDQ, you’ve just given us a quintessential example of one of the major precepts of cooking: Never, ever, tell any of your guests what went wrong because they’d never guess otherwise. Your photos look picture perfect. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that you’d had any difficulty at all. You can tell us, of course, for our edification in attempting the same recipe. But other than we sister (mostly) COTMers, mums the word.

                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                What Joan said. Those look seriously great, and the texture sounds perfect. There are a score of threads on CH about macarons and how to get that crunchy outside, melt-in-the-mouth interior, so, troubles aside, it sounds as if yours worked out very well.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Aw, you gals are so kind and encouraging, thank you.

                                                  I did put the ugliest cookies on the bottom, so, the photos don't really show the messed up cookies. But, yeah, I suppose it wasn't bad for a first attempt! It's a sign of a well-written recipe when it turns out well despite a few missteps.

                                                  It does make me want to try some other flavors of macaroons!


                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                      Oh, I'm so very tempted! (They are very pretty!) But, it does sound like a lot of work for just...me. No one else I know would even taste them!


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        They are that (pretty), but what with the pickles in the filling, well, a bit much, even from Pierre Herme.

                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Oh my goodness those look amazing! I'm a huge macaroon fan, but after reading a few recipes decided that I probably wouldn't really be able to do them at home. But yours look perfect and delicious. I"m very impressed.

                                                3. (Oops, I put this in the wrong place, and can't move it now. Sorry.)

                                                  TDQ, your macaroons look SO good! And with all those toasted almonds, they must taste divine.

                                                  I'm not keen on buttercream. Do you think they'd be overpowered by a bit of chocolate between?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Channa

                                                    It's so great to be COTM'ing again. You are all so encouraging.

                                                    Channa, I think a bit of chocolate would be lovely, actually. I'm not a huge fan of buttercream either, though, this buttercream is very silky and lovely and, since I only used half, not too overpowering. I think the full recipe of buttercream would be too much for me.

                                                    Do let us know if you try it and what you think.


                                                  2. Chocolate Sorbet, Green Book, page 864

                                                    I have never heard of chocolate sorbet, but I needed a gluten/dairy free dessert that was lighter to serve after a massive meal for 10. I had chosen the Ottolenghi Almond/Orange Florentines, and decided that a chocolate sorbet and orange sorbet would be the perfect accompaniment.

                                                    I purchased the Dutch Processed cocoa from Penzeys. The recipe starts by making a caramel base to which you add the cocoa, salt and vanilla. You then cool without a cover for an hour before covering it and letting it chill completely. Then a quick turn in the ice cream maker and into the freezer.

                                                    This was, well, spectacular. The three dessert ingredients together was the perfect end of meal experience. In the future, I would add a little espresso powder [or for a different menu, some chili powders] to deepen the flavor a bit more.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                      When is the soft opening of your restaurant? Can I make a reservation now?

                                                    2. Mexican Chocolate Cake, p


                                                      I am going to my book group tonight, and two members have birthdays this week so I thought I'd bake them a cake as my contribution to the night's entertainment.

                                                      This has not been an unqualified success. First of all, it didn't turn out of the pan properly. Reading the reviews now, that's happened to quite a few people. I have managed to glue it back together with the glaze, and it looks OK. On the plus side, the cake is very moist!

                                                      I haven't had a whole slice yet, but my first impressions on tasting some of the crumbs is that it is quite sweet, and there is not much cinnamon flavour going on. The reviews on Epicurious suggest doubling the cinnamon, and that is what I will do next time. I baked mine for 45 mins as I have a fan assisted oven. I might bake it for five minutes longer next time to see if that make it turn out of the tin better. I also think there's too much vanilla (2 TBSP) and maybe a bit too much sugar. I used brown cane sugar instead of granulated, not sure if that will make a difference. The reviews also suggest using coffee instead of water in the recipe and adding a bit of cayenne for spice - I think this sounds good and will try it if I make this recipe again. (Does anyone on Epicurious ever make the recipe as written?


                                                      The glaze is delicious, but the pecans (2 whole cups) make it look like rubble! I might omit them next time or cut down significantly.

                                                      Anyway, will report back on what my literary chums think.

                                                      15 Replies
                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        The reviews are in - and it was a hit. Despite looking like a giant Krispy Kreme, everyone raved about the cake. Some people had seconds and the rest was parcelled up and taken home by various people. It is very rich, so this cake serves a lot of people.

                                                        Flavour-wise, we all agreed that you could taste much cinnamon. It was beautifully moist, so next time I'd butter and flour the pan really well rather than cook it slightly longer - 45 mins was perfect. I also really liked the pecans in the glaze, in the end, and would keep them, but maybe cut down on them a bit.

                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          GG: Have you ever tried parchment paper to facilitate cake removal from pan?

                                                          I always use it now. Started using it when I got the Rose Cookbook.

                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                            Not really an option with a bundt pan! For those, I swear by the flour + oil baking sprays, but I don't know if that's a product available in the UK.

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              I use those too, but I'm so gun shy with bundt pans that I usually flour over the spray just for a little extra insurance. Recently I got some sort of cake release gunk in a squeeze bottle and I found that applied throughly with a brush with flour over it has been my most successful cake-release-from-bundt-pan method. I think it's made by wilton.

                                                        2. re: greedygirl

                                                          I made the Mexican Chocolate Cake the other day for a birthday party for which a chocolate cake was requested of me, but I made several tweaks to the recipe.

                                                          I increased the cocoa to 3/4 cup and decreased the flour to 1 3/4 cups, and increased the cinnamon to two rounded teaspoons. I didn't measure the vanilla (just poured), but I'd say I used about 1 tablespoon instead of 2. Mine was done in just under an hour in a convection oven (same as fan-assisted), but I think that the door wasn't tightly closed for the first 45 minutes, so it probably would take less time under normal circumstances.

                                                          I skipped the chocolate/pecan glaze in the recipe. Instead, I cooled the cake fully, and spooned over a thick glaze I made from 1 cup sifted confectioners'/icing sugar with enough cream whisked in to get the right consistency, plus some Kahlua for flavor. I sprinkled a good amount of chopped, toasted pecans over the glazed cake, and let it set.

                                                          This was a big success at the party. My cake rose a lot while baking, nearly to the top of the Bundt pan, then fell as it cooled. The result was a somewhat dense, fudgy cake. Increasing the cocoa took care of its being too sweet and of course made it more chocolaty (when I looked at the recipe, I thought it didn't have enough cocoa for the size of the cake), so I definitely recommend that change to greedygirl and others. The increased cinnamon definitely came through, but wasn't overpowering. If I make it again, I think using brown sugar and coffee could only enhance the flavor.

                                                          I really liked my glaze with this cake. It almost goes without saying that the Kahlua was a perfect complement to a Mexican chocolate cake. I wish I had taken a photo, because I have to say that it looked really nice. I had put it on a cardboard round and used a cake box to transport it to the party, and one of the guests was surprised to learn I had baked it, because he thought it looked professional. (I love it when people say something I've baked looks professional. Not that it happens super often, but I love it when it does!).

                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                            Sounds delicious! P.S. no one EVER says anything I've baked looks professional. :)


                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              TDQ, in this case, I really did not make a special effort. In fact, I had a tiny bit of the cake stick here or there, despite liberally coating the pan with Baker's Joy baking spray, so there were a few holes in the top, which luckily the glaze covered well. (I blame the pan, an old one with the finish pretty worn away - borrowed, not my better one.) Anyway, my point is that anyone here could have produced the same effect with this cake and glaze and nuts without much trying.

                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                Caitlin, try the Wilton Cake Release. It is better than anything I have ever tried to keep cakes from sticking. I used it on my apple cake, which is baked in a bundt pan and which usually sticks no matter if I butter and flour or use Baker's Joy, but it came out like a dream -- 100% perfect. The first time ever.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    I haven't looked, but I wouldn't be surprised to find it at Michael's, as they carry lots of Wilton products.

                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                      Good point, I ordered it from good ole Amazon (Primeaholic that I am).

                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                        Hey, once you've paid in, might as well take advantage, right?

                                                            2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              Here's a picture of mine taken by someone else and posted on another site I frequent:


                                                              See - giant Krispy Kreme.

                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                Ha, it does look like a big chocolate doughnut! I'm sure that glaze was delicious, even though it looks like rubble. I didn't need the richness of chocolate on chocolate, given there were other cakes at the party, too.

                                                                Turns out my brother snapped a couple of photos with his phone before the cake went to the party, complete with powdered sugar mess in the background (the first is a bit out of focus): http://picasaweb.google.com/frobtech/...

                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  Yours looks much nicer than mine - it reminds me of a Xmas pudding with the middle taken out!

                                                          2. made the fresh coconut cake:

                                                            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... (I no longer have the book, from the library, so I cannot state what page it is on.


                                                            I followed the recipe to a T and found it to be more effort than it is worth. I'd never worked with fresh coconuts before and decided to go all out, roasting them in oven and shredding. Too much work -- bags of shredded from store are just fine.

                                                            The icing whips up nicely but after a few hours droops downward. I'd read this on the reviews on site but ignored them. Maybe you must eat this within a couple hours of putting on the icing. I think the previous time, I used Ina's recipe, that's the one I'll go back to.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: walker

                                                              I love coconut cake. Sorry to hear that the effort was not quite worth it, but thank you for saving all of us the time! Ina's recipe. Must investigate that!


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                Uh-Oh -- it was not Ina's recipe that I used. It was from Washington Post, Miss Essie Brazil's Three-Layer Coconut Cake:


                                                                I'm pretty sure I did not use this icing recipe -- seemed daunting. I probably used a cream cheese icing. (I know that's not how they did it years ago in the south, but, as I mentioned, this other stuff droop down.

                                                                But, the cake part in the above recipe is really great, has sweetened flaked coconut (I prefer shredded so that's what I used.)

                                                              2. re: walker

                                                                Wow, I'm so sorry to hear that about the coconut cake. I LOVE coconut cake, but have never made it with fresh coconut. Really interesting to hear that you think it probably isn't worth it (and I believe you!). Thanks for taking a bullet for us all, Walker.

                                                              3. Linzer Muffins, p 665


                                                                I thought twice about reviewing this recipe, because I made so many changes. But the result was so luscious that I have to share.

                                                                The original muffin is made with ground toasted almonds, flavored with cinnamon, lemon zest, and almond extract, and is filled with raspberry jam. I made the following changes --
                                                                Hazelnuts instead of almonds
                                                                Omitted cinnamon, lemon zest, and almond extract
                                                                Added 1/4 tsp vanilla,
                                                                Filled with Green & Black's hazelnut chocolate spread (like Nutella).

                                                                They turned out even better than I had hoped! Although full of hazelnuts, the muffin had a lovely, light texture, and of course, a prominent hazelnut flavour. The chocolate spread was a good addition -- it was fudgy around the edge, and gooey inside. I had filled two muffins with plum jam for comparison -- they weren't as good, and were awfully sweet.

                                                                Next time I'd increase the flour a bit because my batter was rather thin, and the filling sank more than I'd like. (I measured unbleached AP in cups, then weighed it. It came to 170g. I'd use 180g next time.)

                                                                1. Oatmeal Wheat Bread, p 671


                                                                  This is an easy bread to make, and healthy as well, with 1/2 cup oatmeal and 1.5 cups wholemeal flour in each loaf. It has a sweet, pleasant flavour, though I'm not sure how it would taste with savoury foods. It makes superb toast -- both in texture and flavour. It may well become our everyday breakfast bread.

                                                                  FWIW, I didn't knead the dough at all. I mixed it well, leaving the dough quite sticky, and did stretch-and-folds at 10 and 25 minutes instead. That doesn't make for the finest texture, but it sure is easy.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Channa

                                                                    Channa: This looks verrrry pro! Will try it this weekend.

                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                      Thanks. I hope you enjoy it. Some reviewers on Epi made it with half molasses/half honey, so that's an option.

                                                                  2. Rhubarb Strawberry Pudding Cake, p726

                                                                    Made this for friends who came round for lunch yesterday as I had lots of rhubarb and strawberries have just come into season. We loved it, and it was very easy to put together.

                                                                    Basically you poach the rhubarb for a few minutes in water, sugar and corn starch, remove from the heat and add the strawberries. Make a loose batter using flour, baking powder, salt, an egg, whole milk (I used semi-skimmed and it came out fine), vanilla extract and melted butter.

                                                                    Put most of the fruit mixture in a greased baking dish, reserving half a cup. Spread the batter on top, then dot with the remaining fruit. Bake for 25-30 mins.

                                                                    This had the right combination of tart and sweetness from the rhubarb, and it was really good with a bit of creme fraiche on the side. It reminded me of a clafoutis rather than a cake. Yummy and simple and I will definitely make again.

                                                                    The recipe says it serves 6-8. Four of us polished it off with no problem!

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                      Walnut Date Torte, pp 720-721

                                                                      I must admit I was a bit disappointed after tasting this cake. It sounded so terrific in the recipe - dates, sugar toasted walnuts, matzoh meal, orange zest, cardamom, egg yolks and whipped egg whites.

                                                                      It tastes fine, but is nothing special. The no butter or oil appealed to me, but it tasted a bit bland. Texture was great.

                                                                      Maybe the dates I got (the only ones pitted at the Berkeley Bowl) were less flavorful than the other dates they had. In any case, we both found it to be something weren't dying to have again.

                                                                      In any case, my husband is taking it to work tomorrow and his co-workers are always eager to wolf down anything on the kitchen counter...especially something sweet.

                                                                      I'll get their review tomorrow.

                                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                                        I'm about to make the Walnut Meringue Cake with Strawberry Sauce on p. 748.

                                                                        My question is whether I can make it in advance (like tonight) to serve at dinnertime tomorrow. Will it get tough?

                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                          I think that depends on the humidity. It's basically a daquoise, right? Maybe if you have a tight fitting cake plate with a lid.

                                                                          1. re: roxlet

                                                                            Thanks for the info, roxlet, but I decided to go ahead with it the night before when nobody had responded yet.

                                                                            Walnut Meringue with Strawberry Sauce, p. 748-49

                                                                            This turned out fine even though I made the meringues the night before. Everybody loved it. I thought it was pretty good, but not great. When I first tasted it I was blow away by the crunchy-sweet-nutty-fruitiness of it. After a few bites, however, I found it to be a bit overwhelming and a bit too sweet. I actually used frozen yoghurt instead of whipped cream and that may have changed it in some way so that it wasn't as good. I liked the coldness of the vanilla froyo in contrast to the sweet-chewy-fruity rest of it.

                                                                            I don't think I'd make this again. It's a bit fussy, but not nearly as daunting as I thought before I started.

                                                                            TIP (for others who might be as moronic as I am): If I did make it again I'd put a baking sheet under the meringues as they baked so that nothing leaked out onto the oven floor and smoked up the joint....or NOT use springform pans.

                                                                    2. Fruit and Spice Granola, p. 648
                                                                      Linzer Muffins, p.665
                                                                      Trying to be supportive of my mom's diet, I made the fixings for fruit and yogurt parfaits on Saturday for breakfast. I mixed a little bit of honey and vanilla into plain yogurt, and then I mixed some lemon zest and fresh mint into the fruit: strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. I let everyone build their own with the fruit, yogurt, and granola. I think the granola recipe says that it's the best they've ever tasted... I've had much better, although not as low fat as this one. I did not mix the dried fruit in since we were layering it with the yogurt and fruit, but I don't think that would have made me like it any better. Not that it was bad, but it just wasn't the 'best ever'. I like it when there are some clumps in my granola too, and this recipe didn't clump at all. I made minis of the linzer muffins, and I thought these were fabulous! I made the batter the night before as I'm not a morning person, and that worked amazingly well. I've heard of people doing that before with other muffin recipes, but had never tried it before, so I took a bit of a gamble. I would definitely make these again!

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                        For what it's worth, I liked this granola much better on the 3rd day... the cinnamon was much more pronounced. (I do like that the recipe says it will last up to a month too.)

                                                                      2. Raisin Bran Muffins, p 664

                                                                        (The recipe makes 32 muffins, and can be baked over two weeks. I'm not comfortable with keeping raw batter that long, so I made a half recipe and froze the extras.)

                                                                        Wheat bran is baked in a 400 degree oven until golden, then mixed with WW flour, AP flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and raisins. Wet ingredients are buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, honey, applesauce, and vanilla.

                                                                        First -- toasting the bran. Not as easy as it sounds. After burning it on my first go, I watched the second very carefully. Even so, it baked unevenly, and I can't say toasting added much to the final taste.

                                                                        The recipe said to fill each cup with 1/4-cup batter. The muffins weren't very tall -- I'd recommend using more batter.

                                                                        The taste is okay. On the first day they tasted a bit soapy, but after that they improved. They're very moist, with a mild flavour. My personal preference is for a darker, stronger, more molasses-y flavour. Would I bake these again? No.

                                                                        1. Made the Cantaloupe Granita - (Page 866) Super easy and refreshing in this 110 + heat. Next time, I would reduce the sugar slightly and increase the lemon juice. Just four ingredients and dessert in less than an hour w/ no heat in the kitchen! This will be in the freezer all summer while we have fresh cantaloupe in the market.

                                                                          1. A little early to the Dec. COTM (or late for the May/June !). I just made the Sweet Potato pie. It was a very mildly seasoned but had good flavor. The recipe was easy to follow and it came out great. It was the first pie I've made with a homemade crust. The two deviations from the recipe that I made was making it with a gluten-free pie crust and skipping the meringue.

                                                                            The color is a bit odd for me since my sweet potatoes were such a pale yellow but that's OK. It tastes good who cares the color! :)

                                                                            Here is the recipe on Epicurious:


                                                                            1. Banana bread. Don't have my book with me and don't remember page number (sorry!)

                                                                              I made this one this weekend due to a combination of buttermilk that I wanted to use up and the desire to clear out some freezer space and use up some over the hill bananas that had been stashed in the freezer. I ended up making a couple substitutions: I didn't have cake flour so subbed AP with some corn starch, I added a tsp of vanilla, and I left out the nuts (kids won't eat) and added a half cup of bittersweet chocolate chips instead.

                                                                              Recipe is really easy, a basic quickbread. My 3 year old could make this with me and very much enjoyed mushing up the gooey black bananas. The result is good, but certainly not mindblowing. I have to admit, I've never been blown away by banana bread though. But, as I'm eating a piece for a midmorning snack at work, I am rather enjoying it. Much better than the muffins at the cofee shop. I would certainly make this again if I found myself with bananas and buttermilk, but I might sub in some white whole wheat flour to make it a little healthier.

                                                                              My 3 year old proclaimed this "good" and ate all the chocolate chips in his piece and 90% of the bread part (he's not generally a big banana fan). 19 month old turned up her nose at it, but she's getting over a cold and hasn't had her normal appetite.

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                Greeneggsnham, the page number is...666 ! (little evil face emoticon here)

                                                                                One thing I love about banana bread is you can throw your too-ripe-tomorrow bananas in the freezer, and they're perfect for use even months later!

                                                                                Everyone probably has a banana bread recipe already, but I trust this book to have a good one if you're looking.

                                                                                1. re: blue room

                                                                                  Thanks for the page number. I agree. Although the number of recipes at first appeared a bit overwhelming to me, I like the somewhat "general reference" quality of this cookbook. And from reading everyone elses posts, it seems like there is a very high percentage of winners, which makes me happy to look at this book as a "go-to" for whatever it is I am craving (or whatever ingredient I'm trying to get rid of :) )

                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                    I don't know where I've been, but I never knew that about freezing bananas for bread -- thanks for the tip -- it'll save me a lot of produce guilt.

                                                                                    1. re: mebby

                                                                                      It's a great tip Mebby--I use my saved by the freezer bananas most often for cakes and smoothies, but occasionally for bread or muffins.

                                                                                      1. re: debbiel

                                                                                        I do it all the time. Once my mother looked into the freezer and said "why on earth do you have those disgusting bananas in there?" I explained, and she was happy to have found out the answer (and for once, it didn't end in tears and recriminations - kidding!).

                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                          Yes, my husband had been eyeing those bananas suspiciously for awhile now and kept asking "are you sure you want to keep these?" I figured I better use them up or they might be gone with the next trash day.

                                                                                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                            My guy was leery of them, too, threatening to toss them multiple times. Then I made him a banana bundt cake. The freezer bananas are now safe.

                                                                                2. Butterscotch Pots de Creme pg. 831

                                                                                  Nice little cups of cooked cream, egg yolk, and dark brown sugar. The recipe calls for both muscovado and Demerara sugar. I was game, I'd seen both in my nearby Whole Foods. But then I googled those sugars and saw that more molasses and bigger crystals is what makes them different from brown sugar. Since I would be dissolving the sugar anyway I didn't need big crystals, so I just used less (plain dark brown) sugar to adjust the sweetness and added 1scant teaspoon of molasses. If I am really missing something by skipping the muscovada and Demerara please tell me!
                                                                                  After stirring up the up the cream mixture these are baked set in a water bath. My custard cups are a little larger than the 4 ounce cups specified so I baked a little longer. I thought 4 ounces sounded too small, but it's so rich, like eating 4 cream filled bon bons.
                                                                                  Not difficult, and I think most people would think of these as a special treat.
                                                                                  The recipe said skim off the foam -- obviously (see scruffy tops) I didn't!

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                    I'd forgotten about these, but I used to make them (when they first came out in the magazine) fairly often, and we loved them. I never could find muscovada or Demerara sugars myself (living in Charlottesville at the time - a tiny town), and they were still wonderful.

                                                                                    1. re: blue room

                                                                                      Demerara sugar is just unrefined cane sugar, I think. Muscovado has molasses. You can get them both in pretty much every supermarket and even corner shops in London and I'd consider them pantry items (albeit a well-stocked one!). Funny how they're specialty items in the US.

                                                                                    2. Rich Chocolate Pudding, p. 831


                                                                                      This is awesome! Well, what's not to love about chocolate pudding, right? But this one took it to a whole new level for me. I must admit that this is the first chocolate pudding I've ever made. I've made rice pudding before and the cook and serve pudding from a mix, but never a true baked pots de creme kind of pudding.

                                                                                      So, I didn't use Varhona chocolate which was recommended, but rather used a mix of TJ's pound plus and Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet. I did break out the vanilla bean, though, which was a first for me. The smell of the vanilla bean was just intoxicating and I was thoroughly seduced by the look of those tiny vanilla bean caviar going into the milk and cream. I actually thought about switching and just making vanilla pudding because it was so wonderful looking and smelling and I was worried it would be overwhelmed by the chocolate. But husband and kids had already been promised chocolate pudding so I proceeded as directed. Directions are pretty straight forward. After cooking on the stovetop, baking in a water bath and then chilling in the fridge, we were rewarded with the most wonderful, silky, deep chocolate pudding I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

                                                                                      I have to say, this was the desert following Goan Chicken from All About Braising (also a 10 in my book and a new recipe for us) and that was so good I thought the pudding might be a bit of a letdown. Oh no, this pudding held its own and left us feeling extremely spoiled. My husband actually said "You are becoming quite the domestic goddess." I told him not to get too used to it. 10 days til new baby-- I think this is my version of "nesting."

                                                                                      Oh, weirdly, my 18 month old refused to try the pudding and 3 year old was more into the plain chocolate than the pudding itself. Silly kids, that just means more for the grown ups.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                        10 days til new baby (and 2 other wee ones at home)and you're still cooking like this? You are intrepid indeed!

                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                          Well, I probably should be setting up the new baby's carseat and bassinet instead of trying new recipes, but I think I am tapping into some kind of primitive food hoarding/fattening up instinct. All I want to do is amass food and cook. We'll see how well my energy holds up-- there are still a lot of recipes I want to try!!
                                                                                          Plus, I know it'll only get harder once the new baby arrives-- might as well enjoy some nice family dinners now.

                                                                                          1. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                            That's great, I really admire your fortitude.

                                                                                        2. re: greeneggsnham

                                                                                          Sounds like a happy time for you, happy home.

                                                                                          1. re: blue room

                                                                                            Thanks, you guys are great! Sometimes we feel a bit overwhelmed, but this is a nice time of year to appreciate what you have and do things together as a family. I feel incredibly lucky, overall.

                                                                                        3. Truffle fudge, p706

                                                                                          Delicious, and so easy a child could do it. It's basically just chocolate, condensed milk, butter and a touch of salt melted over a bowl of simmering water. Pour into a baking pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm (I used a silicone one, so no need for lining and turned out perfectly).

                                                                                          I took this to a party and it went down a storm. It does have a truffly texture. As I left, my host told me that she'd hidden some in the fridge so enjoy later!

                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                            This sounds like a find-- would you say it has a different texture than the marshmallow creme sort of "fudge"? Also, do you think it would hold a fancy shape in a silicone mold with a design?

                                                                                            1. re: blue room

                                                                                              It should definitely hold its shape in a mould as it's quite firm once refrigerated. I'm afraid I can't answer your other question as I don't really understand what you mean. I think that fudge in the UK is different - ours is more of a granular fudge if that makes sense.

                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                What I think of as real fudge is yes, that granular texture. The marshmallow creme/fluff kind is like firm frosting--a candy but not actual fudge.
                                                                                                This seems like a new 3rd texture, though--no way to be sure but to try it!

                                                                                                I don't have enough sugar in my bloodstream this week hahahaha..

                                                                                            2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                              Have you tried Nigella's fudge with pistachios? I LOVE the recipe (from Nigella Express). It's my go to for fudge, although I often sub walnuts (not as pretty, but very tasty).

                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                Mine too - I've made it lots. I think this is a really good alternative, and not as pricey (pistachios are EXPENSIVE).

                                                                                            3. Vanilla Cup Custards, p. 832

                                                                                              I've been doing some cooking for a local relative who had major oral surgery affecting the tongue last week, making eating uncomfortable, plus only liquids and completely smooth, soft foods are on the agenda until the stitches come out. For sweets, after two pitchers of bittersweet chocolate milk and a still-extant batch of silken tofu chocolate pudding, a chocolate respite was desired and vanilla custard was requested. I happened to pull GT off the shelf because a friend had requested the Mexican chocolate bundt cake recipe with my tweaks, so I checked the index, and here we are.

                                                                                              There's not much to say about this basic recipe for the quintessential nursery food. It calls for 3 cups milk, 3 whole eggs and 3 yolks, and 3/4 cup sugar to make 8 servings. I had 2 1/2 cups (2%) milk left, so I used 2 whole eggs and 4 yolks with 1/2 cup sugar, and filled up 6 custard cups. I used the scraped vanilla bean variation; a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg and bob's your uncle. I only tasted a tiny bite when I handed them over, but it came out as it should - tender, silky smooth custard with a great deal of vanilla flavor thanks to the single bean.