Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An All-Day Bake-a-thon

My friend Alyssa and I had a spare Saturday last weekend, and we decided to spend that precious free time by baking (naturally).  It was all going towards a good cause (our church's youth group), so we went all out. 

Early in the morning (Alyssa's a morning person, and I'm... always running late, so I wanted to get a head start), we visited two different restaurant supply shops and the grocery store.  First up: Lemon-Glazed Cheesecake. While that cooled over in the corner, we spread out our supplies and got started on the Peanut Butter BonBons.

Alyssa, the chief chocolatier for the day

Our third project was an individual version of the Chocolate Coconut Tart I had experimented with the week before.  I just love the little tart pans I've had for about 10 years now.  In fact, I don't have a regular-sized tart pan, just those.  If I need a tart pan, I usually make do with a springform.  It's not as pretty since it doesn't have fluted edges, but it works.

Sadly, I misjudged the oil to almond flour ratio and the crusts crumbled badly.  Oh well, once they were placed in display boxes, it was hard to tell anyway!  The filling was still delicious - we know, because we got to make little ramekin-sized tarts for ourselves!  It was a great Sunday afternoon treat the next day.

As we wrapped up the cheesecake, the bonbons, and the chocolate tarts, I kept wondering aloud if we should go ahead with our fourth item, Palmiers.  They are very easy and fairly quick to make, but very messy.  And we were running out of time.  Alyssa prepped the ingredients while I made the lemon glaze for the cheesecake.  I rolled out the dough, sliced it in scroll shapes, and we got the Palmiers in the oven just in time.  Some of them were still warm as we made our way out the door!  We took full advantage of any we deemed "damaged goods" while we were in the car on the way to the event.

All's well that ends well, and every item sold at our little bake auction.  I heard rave reviews of the cheesecake the next day, and the Palmiers even got passed around the tables that same night, thanks to the bidder's generosity.  Looks like these recipes are keepers!

From left: Palmiers, chocolate tarts, lemon cheesecake, and our two little pots of chocolate for ourselves.  Bakers' treat!

 The Lemon Cheesecake was exactly the same recipe as this one, but we made use of the lemons I had instead of oranges.  

Peanut Butter BonBons
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter (I used natural)
3 Tbs. butter, softened
(add a little salt if neither the butter nor peanut butter already has some)
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 Tbs. vegetable shortening

In a medium mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and butter.  Gradually add powdered sugar.

Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a rack set in a rimmed cookie sheet.  Place in the fridge while you make the coating.

Melt chocolate and shortening over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring constantly.  Use a spoon to cover the peanut butter balls with chocolate, or dip them right in the chocolate.

Store in an airtight container, chilled.

1 box frozen puff pastry, slightly thawed
2 c. sugar
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the sugar and salt in a small bowl.  Clear a large workspace and spread half the sugar on the counter.

Unfold the puff pastry onto the sugar.  If the pastry came in two sections, handle one section at a time.  Spread the other half of the sugar on the pastry and use your rolling pin to firmly embed the sugar in the dough.  Go ahead and roll it out a bit until most of the sugar has been rolled in.

Roll up each long end of the puff pastry towards the middle, like a scroll.  Slice 1/2 inch sections and lay on their sides on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Leave room around each, about 2 inches.

Bake for about 10 minutes, watching carefull so the sugar doesn't burn.  Let them cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet (if you can wait that long!) so the sugar can harden a bit, then transfer to a rack.  Store in an airtight container, or they will become soft.

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