Key Lime Pie Doughnuts | #OXOCookware Test Drive

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Sometimes my head is only barely attached to my body. The lovely blogger liaison lady from OXO reached out to ask if bloggers would like a chance to review the new #OXOCookware. We were to fill out a short survey saying which piece of cookware we’d like to take for a spin and also what we’d make with it. I gave it some thought, dashed off my answer, and promptly forgot what I had said.

When I got the email saying that I’d been accepted for this promotion (yay!) I then realized I’d completely forgotten what I said I was going to make. Nice. So, I emailed Veronica and told her the dog ate my homework and I couldn’t remember what I had responded on the survey.

She emailed back and said not to worry and that I could make anything I wanted. But she also said I had answered “I would make a fruity pastry cream that would then be used as a filling for doughnuts.” I quite liked that answer as it was like the first time I’d ever heard it. Rather than make a “fruity pastry cream” though, I decided to go with a curd. Key lime curd, to be exact. The schmancy kind we used to make at the restaurant with white chocolate and some creme fraiche in it. Except I used sour cream and you can too.

Before I tell you about the curd and the subsequent doughnuts, let me tell you about this pan.

You forgot what you said you would make? Nice. Now tell me about this pan and bring on the doughnuts!

Coffee Pecan Porter Sticky Buns | Paderno Giveaway

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Remember that Chai Apple Cheesecake Tart I made last month? I got to show of Paderno’s Mandolin Vegetable Slicer and their Deep Dish Non-Stick Fluted Mold. This month, I’m using the slightly less flashy but oh so useful Paderno Counter Pastry Mat and Heavy Duty Half Size Bun Pan to bring you these Coffee Pecan Porter Sticky Buns. And just like last month, I’ll be giving away both a rolling mat and a half sheet pan to a lucky reader, so find out how to enter at the end of this post.

I always had a vague idea about making sticky buns using both the rolling mat and the bun pan, but I was a bit hazy on what kind of sticky buns to make. And then I saw a bottle of Fearrington Winter, a limited edition seasonal beer from Fullsteam Brewing in Durham. A Coffee Pecan Porter. And that is really all I needed to see. I scooped up that 22oz beauty and brought her home with me.

I reduced some of the beer by about 75% to make a thin syrup to use as part of the “sticky” that gets spread in the pan before placing pecans and the buns on top. I used half a cup (4 oz) of straight beer, not reduced, in the dough itself as well. I brought in some other winter flavors to both reinforce and complement the porter: maple syrup and espresso powder. I wanted to let the flavors in the beer shine, so I left all other spices except for salt on the shelf. The resulting buns are full of coffee pecan flavor that really does justice to the beautiful seasonal beer from Fullsteam. The reduction itself is just off-bitter, but all trace of bitterness evaporates magically in the oven, leaving behind a malty, deeply caramelized almost toffee topping for the buns.

Sticky buns and a giveaway? Bring it on!

Cajun Spiced Tomato Soup in Honor of Mardi Gras

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I usually make King Cake for Mardi Gras. Because: cake! But this year, it is cold-cold-cold, and while baked goods are never turned down around here, it truly is soup weather.

I made this soup on the fly a couple of weeks ago for dinner. It was so good that I made it again–this time complete with bacon and Swiss croutons–for lunch with friends a couple of days ago. They loved it, and friend Roxanne encouraged me to go ahead and post it. So here I am, posting it. I figure since it was already Cajun-spiced that Cajun-spiced tomato soup would be appropriate for Mardi Gras. We can all Laissez Les Bontemps Roulez while bundled up nice and warm.

Heck yeah. Bring on the soup!

Chocolate Sweetheart Honey Bun Sweet Rolls

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I had a lovely actual Valentine’s Day with The Beloved, and now it is time for my Valentine’s present for you guys, my readers.

Thank you for being here and for reading and commenting. I appreciate your participation on facebook and twitter. I look forward to the conversations on G+; I am always thrilled when you pin one of my recipe photos or email me or message me to say that you have made one of my recipes and that you and your family loved it.

As many of you know, I was a teacher for years and years before going to school for baking and pastry and launching a new career in my 40s. The blog and my videos still allow me to teach, and for that I am very grateful.

Whether you actively comment and participate or just quietly read my posts, I appreciate all of you so very much.

So I have made chocolate sweetheart honey bun sweet rolls for you. Enjoy!

You made us treats?! Yay!

Asiago Cheese Bagels for #BreadBakers

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Some folks may wonder if I really am a pastry chef. I mean, I know a guy who changed his name to Xandar Awesome. Legally. And anyone who would do that can’t really be all that awesome, so folks can call themselves whatever they want. After working 16 years as a special education teacher–heck, I even have a Master’s degree in behavioral and emotional handicaps–I attended culinary school for patisserie and baking, and both during school and then after graduation, I worked in fine dining restaurants as pastry cook first and eventually as pastry chef. So yes, even though I no longer work in a professional kitchen, I have worked as a pastry chef. I’m legit, if kind of messy.

Before those pastry chef jobs though, there were two others in food service.

Job One

I worked as a baker in a start-up bakery/breakfast place. Honestly, I don’t even remember the name of the bakery. It was in a strip mall towards the north end of International Drive in Orlando. Farther south are attractions and dinner event places (Medieval Times, etc) galore. Up north, strips malls and more strip malls. This was the non-tourist end of “I Drive.” Frozen bagels baked fresh every morning, triple chocolate brownie mix on the shelves, an enormous revolving deck oven like a Ferris Wheel in hell, a spiral mixer so big you could sit in the bowl.

Ferris Wheel in hell, huh? How about those bagels?

Raspberry Rose Croquembouche for Valentine’s Day

Featured Image, Croque

The original inspiration for my croquembouche was Joe Pastry’s croquembouche post from last Valentine’s day. His croque is gorgeous. I love the shape. I love the size. I love the flowers. So beautiful! I asked if he’d like to participate in this challenge, but it didn’t work with his schedule so he had to decline. Just know that this whole challenge is Joe Pastry’s fault. If you don’t know him, do check him out. His blog is one of my most trusted pastry resources.

Things I May Have Done During Croquembouche Construction

Stopped to make more cream puffs because I can’t do math.
Plotted the overthrow of a government.
Ordered and ate pizza.
Poodled about on facebook.
Practiced my Czech in Rosetta Stone.
Spoiler Alert: I did three of these things.

This should be good…

Coffee Maple Bacon Popcorn Treats (Breakfast Popcorn Treats)

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I was scrolling through my instagram feed and came across a photo from Chef David Ruggerio he called “Death by Popcorn” made with caramel marshmallow, butter and brown sugar. We agreed that since he made it on the weekend it contained no calories at all.

Inspired by his “no recipe” experiment, I decided to make good use of the leftover coffee marshmallows from my hot chocolate custard post and make something similar. It was a short leap to include maple syrup and crisp bacon to end up with these lovely, sticky, salty-sweet breakfasty-tasting coffee maple bacon popcorn treats. Not a fan of bacon? Leave it out. Don’t like maple? You can leave that out too. And if you’re not starting with coffee marshmallows (although I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t) just add some instant espresso to your mix. Enjoy!

Color me intrigued. Bring it on!

Chai Apple Cheesecake Tart | Paderno Giveaway

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Y’all. Would you just look at this guy?! I will give you a moment.

I mean. Right?

When I received my tart pan and mandolin from the great folks at Paderno USA, I absolutely knew I wanted to make an apple tart with wee, thin apple slices in the shape of a big old rose. And then I thought it might be nice to have a cheesecake layer underneath. Of course, I wandered out onto the Internet and found a tart that looked kind of like what I had in my head. I found it here: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Tart. Pretty, right?

Only, I own this wonderful chai baking spice–you may have seen me use it in the Vegan Vanilla Chai Pancakes–and I wanted to use it again. So then, I asked the Internet, “Is Chai Apple a Thing?” And the Internet told me that Starbucks has an apple chai tea. Huh. Just goes to show you there are very few new ideas.

I want to see your tart. And bring on the giveaway!

Hot Chocolate Custard with Coffee Marshmallows| Progressive Eats

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Welcome to this month’s Progressive Eats meal, and what a doozy! New permanent member Susan from The Wimpy Vegetarian has chosen a fantastic theme: Weekend Ski Party. Nice, right? It conjures up images of swooshing down the slopes all day and then filling up on warming, cheesy, gooey, comfort food with a hot toddy to warm you from top to toe.

I could use some warming up right about now…

Bread, Butter and Sugar Sandwich | #tbtfood

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I think maybe when we were growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. I say “I think” because I don’t remember really thinking about money very much. We got a small allowance, and when I was old enough, I babysat. I remember hoarding my earnings–in fives and singles in those days with maybe the odd ten dollar bill thrown in–in a small music box/treasure chest I had on my dresser. It was a small alpine cottage with white stucco and dark beams on the walls. Resin flowers of red and blue in window boxes. The heavily shingled roof opened, revealing a compartment lined in faux burgundy velvet. I cannot remember what song that music box played. High on a hill lived a lonely goatherd, maybe.

Enough with the music box. Tell me about the sandwich!