Friday, July 13, 2012

Baking Highlights

Oh, there's been a ton of baking that I've done in the last two-plus months! Here are some that were impressive or new enough for me to actually take pictures of.

Mother's Day Chocolate Boxes
After the phenomenal success of my Valentine's chocolate box special, I decided to offer chocolate boxes for Mother's Day as well. So these beautiful flower boxes were filled with chocolate truffle hearts. They turned out quite well, but the weather was much hotter than I'd been expecting and I had to crank the air conditioner so I could actually temper the chocolate. As a result, I'm not certain whether I'll do them again next year.
Jar Cookies
As I was searching for a fantastic end-of-the-year gift for my MOPS table, I stumbled across these and these on Pinterest. And was persuaded to try them. I just happened to have started saving my old peanut butter jars, and they worked fantastically! They're nice, large, wide-mouth jars, and they were just the right size. I ended up making basically two varieties: toffee cookies, and chocolate chocolate chip cookies (see links above for recipes). And the people who've baked them since have told me they were fabulous.
 I had help. 
Toffee Caramel Crunch Cheesecake
Our very good friends recently moved to Alaska, and I needed a special dessert to say goodbye. Since I know toffee is a favorite of theirs (and cheesecake is a favorite of mine), this recipe that I found on Pinterest (again) looked perfect. And it was. Because brand name toffee bars are so expensive, I made my own toffee (which I also used in the toffee jar cookies above) using this recipe.

Tie Cookies
I needed a Father's Day special to follow my Mother's Day one. And when I saw this tutorial for creating one's own cookie cutters, I decided tie-shaped cookies would be a good choice. The tutorial was easy to follow, and the cookie cutter worked well, although it was pretty flimsy. My initial idea of using it on cocoa nib-pecan cookies would never have worked...that dough can be difficult to cut through. Instead I chose to decorate vanilla and chocolate sugar cookies...time consuming, but lots of creative fun!
pristine cookie cutters
a sample of my decorating...I forgot to take pictures until more than half were boxed up.
Birthday Cakes
My husband's and my niece's birthdays fall very close to one another. So I made two “fancy” cakes in a week. Since my husband is 42 and he's a fan of “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” (in which “42” is given as “the answer”), I made this cake and conspired with one of his coworkers to surprise him with it at work.
You probably have to be a Douglas Adams fan to really get it.
My niece requested a castle:

Chocolate Cheesecake Cookie Bars
Another Pinterest recipe that I found for a dinner party in June. Another phenomenal result! This bar is chocolate graham cracker crust topped with chocolate cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie dough. I'm not a huge fan of plain chocolate chip cookies, but in the instance the dough isn't super-sweet, and is a great, crunchy complement to the creamy cheesecake.

Brownie Layer Cheesecake
I don't really know what to call this one. The original recipe called it “Bittersweet Cheesecake Torte”, but that doesn't seem quite descriptive enough. Instead of a crust, this cheesecake starts with a layer of fudge brownie, then chocolate cheesecake, then more brownie, then white chocolate cheesecake, then ganache. Absolute decadence.

So...there you have it. An overview of the last few months baking-wise.

The Joy
It feels redundant to even write this section for this particular post. There's joy in just looking at the pictures of these delicious things! There's joy in remembering the joy other people got from eating these things. And, as I've said so many times before, I'm so totally wired to bake! Few things give me quite as much joy as experimenting in the kitchen, even when I've been working at the stove for hours.

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