Gummy Frogs – August Daring Bakers (part 2)

So, the Daring Bakers challenge for the month was two-fold. Along with chocolate candies, we had to make one other type of candy. This other candy could be anything. I chose gummy frogs. I’ve wanted to make gummy candy for a while, but was a little off-put by the amount of gelatin used. I tried using less, but the texture ended up somewhere between jello and a gummy bear. That was even more off-putting.

When it came time to pull the candies out of the molds, I was a little wary. I was afraid they would rip, but they were surprising resilient. All means of tugging and pulling on them, and those frogs didn’t lose their shape, let alone tear. I love how they look like they’re marching into battle.

Look, they’re getting closer.

adapted from Skip To My Lou

white layer adapted from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen

Gummy Frogs

Gummy Frogs


Green Layer
1/3 c water
1 box of melon flavored jello (or any green flavor)
3 packets of unflavored gelatin
White layer
1/3 c water
1 packet unflavored gelatin
4 oz sweetened condensed milk
Cornstarch for dusting


  1. For the green layer: Place water in a small saucepan. Sprinkle jello and unflavored gelatin over the water, and let set for 5 minutes. Place saucepan over medium heat and melt the mixture, stirring occasionally. Place gelatin mixture into a cup with a pour-spout. Fill plastic molds until almost full. Leave a few centimeters at the top.
  2. For the white layer: while the green layer sets, make the white layer. Follow the same steps as above with the water and gelatin. After the mixture melts, remove from heat, and stir in the condensed milk. Place gelatin mixture into a cup with a pour-spout and fill the remaining space of the molds. Let candy set. Dust the surface of the candy with a little bit of cornstarch, and then pull out of molds.
  3. You can use the mold over to make more batches. Gently re-heat the gelatin mixtures until melted and re-fill the molds, letting the green layer set a little before filling with the white mixture.


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Peanut Butter Cups – August Daring Bakers (part 1)

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

I’m not sure how “creative” it was to make peanut butter cups, but wow, were they good!

Our task for the Daring Bakers was to make chocolate candies and to temper the chocolate. Tempering chocolate allows the chocolate to develop that shiny exterior and soft texture that chocolate candies are known for. It is important to use high quality chocolate. I’ve tempered chocolate using regular chocolate chips, and baker’s chocolate, and it didn’t quite work. The chocolate was soft at room temperature, and melted as soon as I touched them with my fingers. Those types of chocolate do not have a high enough cocoa butter content to temper properly.

Tempering the chocolate sounds tricky, but it is really easy. It’s just a matter of keeping a close eye on the temperature while you’re heating and cooling and reheating the chocolate. I have a feeling these candies will make a reappearance in my holiday goody boxes.

For part 2 of the Daring Bakers challenge, I made gummy frogs.

filling adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Peanut Butter Cups – August Daring Bakers (part 1)

Peanut Butter Cups – August Daring Bakers (part 1)


8 oz high quality milk chocolate
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
3 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt


  1. Temper the chocolate: Break the chocolate into small chunks. Melt 2/3 of the chocolate the the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Gently stirring constantly, bring the chocolate to 113º F. Remove the double boiler from the heat. Add small amounts of the reserved chocolate bits to the hot chocolate, stirring to melt. Keep adding small amounts until the chocolate reaches 80.6º F (a digital instant read thermometer is extremely helpful for this). Return the chocolate to the simmering water and heat until the chocolate reaches 86º F. It is important to keep the water simmering and not boiling, as the chocolate heats very quickly. It is also important to keep the chocolate free of water drops, or it will seize and turn dry. The chocolate is now tempered and ready to use.
  2. For the peanut butter filling: beat the peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, and salt together until smooth. Place filling in a pastry bag fitted with a medium sized round tip.
  3. Place mini-cup liners in a mini-muffin pan (or use chocolate molds without any liners). Fill cups about 1/2 way full. Using a small popsicle stick, or a lollipop stick, or a chopstick (you get the picture) paint the sides of the cups, making sure sides and are coated with chocolate. Chill the cups for about 5 minutes. Take out of fridge, and fill cups with peanut butter filling until about 3/4 of the way full. Tap the muffin pan on the counter to remove all air pockets, and to level the filling. Pour more chocolate into the cups, filling to the top. You can let the chocolate set either at room temperature, or in the refrigerator. Once set, remove chocolates from muffin pan.

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Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

I was very glad that this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge was a relatively easy endeavor. Some challenges require a few days of preparation, but this coffee cake came together in one day. I didn’t stray too far from the original recipe – I did halve it so that I only made one cake, and I added shredded coconut to the filling.

I’m also becoming more confident with using yeast. I’ve found that the dough likes when it proofs on the stove and with the oven turned on to the lowest setting. The dough is happy in this environment, and obliges by rising.

Source: Jamie’s family recipe collection

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

Serving Size: 2 coffee cakes, about 10 inches in diameter

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake

The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake


For the yeast coffee cake dough
4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature
For the meringue
3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar
For the filling
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut, plus more for the topping
Egg wash
1 beaten egg and confectioner’s sugar for dusting cakes


  1. Prepare the dough:
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
  6. Prepare your filling. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.
  7. Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue: In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
  8. Assemble the Coffee Cakes:
  9. Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue.
  11. Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
  12. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
  13. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings. Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
  14. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Sprinkle with shredded coconut. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
  15. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.


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Entremet with a Biscuit Joconde Imprime – January Daring Bakers

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

It took me a few times of reading through this challenge to figure out all that was being asked of me. An entremet is a fancily layered dessert – usually involving cake, mousse, pastry cream – that is assembled in a mold. The biscuit joconde imprime is a thin sponge cake with an imprinted design baked in. This wraps around the entremet, creating an elegant and stunning dessert (hopefully.)

Despite the lengthy directions, this dessert was fairly easy to make. I filled the dessert with a vanilla bean mousse, and topped with a glaze made from freshly squeezed tangerine juice. I now have eleven leftover egg yolks, so I’ll be making some ice cream in the near future. The only suggestion I can add is to have the egg whites at room temperature. And my son was very eager to dip his spoon into the dessert.

Joconde Sponge
recipe from Chef John O. of The International Culinary School in Atlanta, Georgia USA.
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour *See note below
3 large eggs – about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
3 large egg whites – about 3 oz/ 90g
2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted

In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.

Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)

On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )

Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.

Fold in melted butter.

Reserve batter to be used later.

Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200g Confectioners’ (icing) sugar
7 large egg whites – about 7 oz / 200g
1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour
Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.


Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)

Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously. Fold in sifted flour.
Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.
Preparing the Joconde – How to make the pattern:

Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.

Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)To prepare the entremet:

Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.
A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.
Cut PVC pipe from your local hardware store. Very cheap! These can be cut into any height you wish to make a mold. 2 to 3 inches is good. My store will cut them for me, ask an employee at your store. You can get several for matching individual desserts. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.

Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)
Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.
The mold is done, and ready to fill.

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Tiramisu – February Daring Bakers

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.
Tiramisu….it really is heaven on a dessert plate. I knew it was complex to make, with all of the numerous components. I knew that it was rich, but had no idea how much cream was involved. This was my first time making any type of cheese. I’m not sure the marscapone came out correctly. It seemed a bit soft, but worked for the recipe. It tasted like a cross between butter and cream cheese.

This challenge came down to the wire for me. I had lofty ambitions of making individual desserts, but that didn’t happen. After the macaron marathon of October, I dreaded making the lady fingers. In reality though, the lady finger batter was much less finicky than the macaron batter.

I didn’t finish making all the components until late last night. I assembled the tiramisu, threw it in the freezer overnight, and snapped some pictures this afternoon. Luckily, I have lots of friends who like tiramisu and help us eat it all.

I’m being lazy this month. Instead of posting the recipe, you can view it here.

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Macarons – 5th time’s a charm (October Daring Bakers)

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge


This was my first time making macarons, and it involved a steep learning curve. My first batch of macarons looked like this:

By the end of the day, I think I had them figured out.
It only took 5 batches.
Batch 1: a big runny mess (see above). The cookies didn’t hold their shape from the get-go. I think it was a combination of things – not letting the egg whites get stiff enough, not using aged egg whites (especially in Florida’s humid climate), and overmixing the batter.Batch 2: Instead of aging the whites, I nuked them in the microwave for 10 seconds, then another 8 seconds, as recommended by Helen of Tartlette. Unfortunately, the whites never got past the soft peak stage. I think there was some residual oil from the previous batter.

Batch 3.0: I overcooked the egg whites in the microwave by 2 seconds, and scrapped them before they even saw the inside of the mixer.

Batch 3.1: I got distracted by the squirt, who was in a fussy mood, and by the time I returned my attention back to the egg whites, they were most definitely at the stiff peak stage. Probably over-stiff. Here’s what cookies from an overmixed batter look like.

Batch 4: The eggs were at the perfect stiff-peak stage, the batter piped like a dream, and they maintained their shape after the drying period. Unfortunately, I turned the oven to “broil” instead of “bake,” and ended up with flat, underdone cookies. But hey, at least they had feet!

Batch 5: By this time it was 9 p.m., and I seriously debated whether or not to make another attempt. The squirt settled down after being fed, so I decided to go for it. This time, I double checked everything. I held my breath when I opened the oven….and success! There were these perfectly shaped, slightly poofy cookies with the little crusty bottom.

5th time is a charm!

The next day, I whipped up a vanilla cinnamon white ganache, and assembled the macarons. I have an almost full bag of almond meal, so some macaron experimentation may be in my future.

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.


Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.

2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.

4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down
before spooning in the batter.

5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).

6. Bake the macaron for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Vanilla Cinnamon White Chocolate Ganache

4 oz white chocolate
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Place white chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan until scalding. Pour cream over the chocolate, and let the chocolate melt. Add vanilla and cinnamon, and stir to mix. Let cool until the ganache is a spreadable consistency.

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Cookies amid the chaos – July Daring Bakers

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

With the bustle of purchasing a home, and the subsequent move, the July DB challenge completely slipped my mind. I decided to christen the kitchen in the new place with these yummy cookies. Boy, was it an adventure trying to find ingredients and baking equipment when nothing has a place yet.The oven looks like a throwback from the seventies. This is impressive considering the house was built in 1990. As antiquated as it looks, it worked fine. I was worried when the first batch came out looking like this:

I realized that Gale Gand’s definition of a small tip (for piping the batter) and my definition of a small tip were vastly different things. The following batches came out much better. I had a bit of trouble incorporating the egg whites into the creamed butter and sugar, resulting in the white lumps in the cookies. This, however, did not affect the taste. Assembling the cookies was a snap, and like the faux Hostess cupcakes, they tasted even better than the original.

I leave you with a picture of my savior during this chaotic phase: our pool.

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Milan Cookies

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies
• 12 tablespoons (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested
1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

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