baking boys Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Cream Tart

This week’s TWD pick was a chocolate cream pie that seemed to be very similar to a chocolate silk pie I make every Thanksgiving and Christmas. (See here for the recipe for that one.) I thought I’d make it and compare the two, although I was pretty sure mine would win. It’s awesome.

However, I left this for the last minute, and I made it miniature. (We were also having cheesecake for the Daring Bakers challenge, also left for the last minute, and we really didn’t need two full-size desserts, even though it was #2 Son’s birthday.)


I made one-third of the recipe and baked it in a 5-inch springform pan.

The crust came together and rolled out really nicely, but it was dry. My magic pie uses (gasp!) a store-bought graham cracker crust, and it’s a perfect foil for the chocolate. The chocolate crust on this pie was just too much chocolate. I didn’t know such a thing was possible, but it is.

#1 Son made the cream, because I was at karate. So I don’t know how hard it was; when I came home there was a cute little pie waiting for me in the fridge.

I put canned whipped cream (another gasp!) on top; I couldn’t see trying to whip a sixth of a cup of cream.

It tasted OK, but just OK. It’s not going to replace my magic pie or anything. (Really, you ought to try that one. Get some nice free-range eggs so you don’t have to worry as much about salmonella, because it’s totally worth the risk.)

And without further ado:

Husband: I liked the puddingy middle, but the crust was too much. It was chocolate overkill.

#1 Son: I thought it had a really flat flavor, and the crust was incredibly dry. Didn’t like it.

#2 Son: It’s akin to an Oreo with both chocolate and vanilla filling, softened lightly in milk. Delicious. Tasty tasty tasty.


I really dropped the ball creativity-wise with this one. And skill-wise. And writing-wise. And the photos are pretty bad too. I apologize.

This recipe was chosen for us this week by Kim of Scrumptious Photography; she’ll have the recipe posted if you want to try it yourself. And go see what all the other TWD bloggers did with this one — there are sure to be all kinds of interesting variations, along with some good writing and photography. Unlike here.

baking boys Daring Bakers

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake, and It Sure Is Daring

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I don’t like cheesecake. And I forgot to check this month’s recipe till the middle of last week. And I was away all weekend.

So my entry in this month’s Daring Bakers challenge has been farmed out to the ever-daring #1 Son. Take it away, #1:


I love cheesecake. It’s my favorite baked good, no contest. I’ve never found a flavor variation I’ve truly liked, always preferring the pure taste. Chocolate was too rich, coconut ruined the texture, and the maple I tried once was just strange. So when my mother shunted the Daring Bakers challenge onto me, I was determined to find some change that would be palatable, nay, delicious. I ran through a number of possibilities before landing on one I thought would be both tasty and inventive: lychee-thyme cheesecake loaf.


Inspired by a Susanna Foo sorbet I made a few months back, I decided to riff on the standard lemon cheesecake, adding the mild tang of lychees and the herbal warmth of thyme. In the absence of a watertight springform or circular metal pan, I was forced to use a foil mini-loaf pan. The cheesecake cooked evenly, somehow, though it lacked the browned sides I usually see.


As far as the recipe goes, I was a little less precise than perhaps behooved me as a guest blogger. I took the standard recipe, cut it down to a third, and took out the flavorings, then added a 15-ounce can of lychees (half diced, half pureed), four or five sprigs of thyme (pureed with the lychees), and two splashes of lemon juice. I used half-and-half instead of cream, because that’s what was in the fridge. Also, partly to keep the Eastern theme going and partly for silliness, I used panko for the crust.


I think it turned out pretty well. Between the half-and-half and the fruit, it ended up very light and summery, and I could eat a lot more of it than a normal cheesecake. Whether this is a good thing or not, I can’t say. The lychees gave it a wonderful fruitiness, and the thyme gave it that earthy finish I was looking for. The panko crust worked well too, with a little more chew than normal crust and some absorbed cheesecake flavor. I think I’d fine-tune this recipe before I made it again, but I certainly would make it many, many more times.

Here’s what my family thought:

Confectiona: I don’t like cheesecake, but this was pretty good. I had two bites!

Father: It tasted like key lime pie. In a good way.

Brother: It started out with a nice cheesecakey beginning, and I got a little bit of that thing you get when you chew cherry skins — but it was lychee skins — in the middle. At the end it leaves a kind of herby aftertaste at the back of your throat. All in all, excellent job.


I’m back. He did a great job with this one, and I’m sure the other Daring Bakers did too. Go check them out!


No Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Bread Pudding

Sorry — too much work, too much running around. No time or energy for the yummy bread pudding. Go read about everyone else’s bread pudding, and look at their lovely photographs. Stop back next week, when there will be (I hope!) a nice chocolate cream tart in this space.

baking Dorie holidays

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Amaretti Torte


No fruit! (Although I hear that almonds are closely related to peaches, but still …)

I thought I was going to have to pass on this week’s TWD recipe. It’s Passover, and it’s a Passover tradition that you’re not allowed to eat anything that tastes good. Well, that’s not completely fair. There are two main groups of Jews in the world, the Ashkenazim (whose ancestral or current homeland is in Northern and Eastern Europe) and the Sephardim (from Southern Europe, Northern Africa, and the Middle East). Ashkenazic Jews have insane strict rules about what’s kosher for Passover and what’s not; what’s not includes not just wheat and any form of leavening, but just about every other grain and legumes. Legumes? Sephardic Jews are much more mellow and have a much smaller verboten list.

My people are from Russia.

We are not a religious family, but both boys have attended a secular Jewish Sunday school (and #1 Son works there now) and we celebrate the major holidays in our own quirky ways. On Passover, we don’t eat grains. Or legumes. (Generally.)

But Holly of Phe/MOM/enon, whether accidentally or on purpose, chose what may be the only recipe in the entire book that I could make during Passover: no flour, no leavening, no legumes.

And it was good.

First of all, it calls for amaretti or amarettini. I had no idea what these were; I was picturing (for no real reason, actually) something like biscotti. So I deployed my formidable research skills (and Google) and found a few recipes, some of which used almonds and some of which used almond paste. That was a no-brainer; I didn’t have almond paste.


I went with this recipe from Allrecipes; I’ve had pretty good luck with several different Allrecipes recipes in the past few weeks. It calls for almonds, ground fine in a food processor. I had almonds, but I also had almond meal, and several of the commenters had used the latter successfully.

Science experiment!

I conveniently had six egg whites left over from a dinner #1 Son had made earlier in the week (post to come, if I can get him to write it). What’s a girl to do? I made two batches of amaretti, exactly the same except that one used 3 cups of raw slivered almonds and the other used 2½ cups of almond meal. The almond meal was made from unblanched almonds, so it had brown specks in it, but you know what? There was a huge difference between the two batches. The almond batch was much harder, the same consistency throughout. The almond meal batch was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, just as they should have been.

And you know what else? I’ve been looking for these cookies for 20 years, but I didn’t know what they were.

My first job after college was working at Philadelphia magazine. Restaurants and bakeries often sent us samples, in the hopes of a good write-up. Shortly before Christmas one year we got a big cookie tray from Termini Bros. Bakery, an Italian bakery with a long history in the city. On that tray were these little almond cookies, crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and the most marvelous things I’d ever tasted. I ate an unforgivable number of those adorable little things (and because I was 20 years old my body forgave me). Ever since then I’ve been trying to find a recipe, but I didn’t know what they were called.

They’re amaretti. (Or maybe amarettini; I’m not sure where the size division is.) And now I can have them whenever I want.



I love Holly.

Oh, yeah — we made some sort of a cake thingie this week too, right? Sorry. Got distracted by the amaretti.

It looked like nothing more than a giant brownie when I took it out of the oven, and it wasn’t domed at all (as the recipe said it would be); it had an edge like a Reese’s peanut butter cup. And the glaze was very runny when I put it on; I made a horrific mess trying to get it into the refrigerator. #1 Son saved the day there. Yay #1 Son!


The glaze did thicken up nicely, though the half-hour specified in the recipe was not really enough. I took it to Easter dinner at the home of friends, and I put it back in the fridge when I got there to harden some more. I also made the almond whipped cream there, figuring it wouldn’t travel well.

The torte was good. It was very dark, very rich, very sweet. I am not in general a big fan of whipped cream, but it really made this cake. Without the whipped cream it was too much, but with it was delicious. In very thin slices.


We have some extra opinions this week:

Friend #1: Stupendous.

Friend #2: The torte with the whipped cream was sublime.

Friend #3 (age 13): Fantastically amazing.

Then my three:

Husband: Great cocoa burst at the outset, with a rich mouthfeel. Hints of almond in the whipped cream made for a deliciously complex dessert.

#2 Son: It was super! It was amazing!! It was better than Cats!!!

#1 Son, always the contrarian: Too dense. Too sweet. No depth or dimension of flavor.

So there you have it. Ignore my charming first-born; this was a delicious cake. Just cut the slices thin.

If you want to try it yourself, Holly will have the recipe for you (or buy the book!). And if you want to see what all the other TWD bakers did with it, check out the blogroll.

Next week, chocolate bread pudding!

baking boys Dorie fruit

Tuesdays With Dorie: Banana Cream Pie

Again with the fruit. I’m beginning to feel that every single blogger whose turn it is to choose a TWD recipe has some sort of vendetta against me. You’re all out to get me, aren’t you? I knew it! My five readers a week are threats to you all!!!

Anyway, I turned this one over to #1 Son. As is his wont, he tarted it up a bit. I do so need a lightbox, don’t I?


I now turn this post over to guest blogger #1 Son:

I’m a tinkerer. No, not with electronics or carpentry. That’d be, y’know, useful. I tinker with recipes.

My usual inclination is to add more meat, but when working with pastry, that often has rather displeasing consequences (except with the bacon-chocolate-chip cookies, good lord).

Therefore, when it came to this week’s banana cream pie (which my mother refused to make, fearing fruit), I had to use a little creativity. What I came up with was the Tropical Cream Pie.

The crust and base custard are identical to Dorie’s, but I added about two tablespoons of rum to the custard, sliced up a quarter of a pineapple along with the bananas, and topped it with toasted coconut and raisins.

The taste, at least in my eyes, was spectacular. I have definite plans to make the custard again on its own, either as a flan or pudding. The things that weren’t taste could have used some work. The crust was too thick, which is wholly my fault, and the custard never really set, which I’d like to share the blame for with vague instructions. The first night, it was more like pudding with a crust.


All in all, I’d happily make it again, maybe with more of a chocolate interpretation. And a longer cooking time for the custard.


Confectiona: It turned out fine, I guess, if you like banana cream pie. The custard was yummy (if a bit runny) and the crust was good, but there were these banana-y things in there, and some pineapple-y things too. Not for me.

Father: I found the addition of fresh pineapple chunks intriguing, but overall was only moderately satisfied with the banana flavor of the whole dish — it was best when I reached the whole banana slices at the rear portion of the slice. The second day I found it nearly inedible, but that might have been a bum piece of pineapple.

Brother: That was really good. The first day the banana was nice and soft but not mushy, and it all blended together really nicely. I didn’t taste any rum. The second day it kind of fell apart, because there wasn’t much cream and there wasn’t any banana, but the bite that I had with the pineapple was good. I still didn’t get any rum, though.

OK, I’m back. The kid can write, can’t he? Go check out what all the other TWD bloggers did with this pie, and if you want the recipe, buy the book or head over to Sing for Your Supper, where Amy will helpfully provide it.


Amazing the different natural light makes, isn’t it?

No fruit next week!