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Carrot Cake Pancakes

I think it’s no secret that I love breakfast. I also love dessert, and I really, really love when these two forces combine to create a super delicious dish like these carrot cake pancakes with maple cream icing!

I have actually been working on crafting the “perfect” pancake recipe for quite some time now using the pancake recipe found in the Joy of Vegan Baking as my original inspiration. I pretty much thought I had it nailed down until I saw these carrot cake pancakes over at Picky Cook. They immediately went on my list of recipes to try, but in the interest of continuing to tweak my beloved pancake recipe I tried to merge the two into a delicious (mostly) vegan version. I also created a maple cream icing to top off the pancakes, because really, what’s a carrot cake without the icing?

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Almond Torte

I found myself making another crack pie the other night, so in an effort to put all of those egg whites to good use I whipped up this Almond Torte recipe found over at Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. I had a bit of trouble with this recipe from the start, but the end results were pretty good. I think I may have misunderstood her directions for folding in the ground almonds, resulting in slightly deflated egg whites. As you can see, my torte doesn’t have nearly the height of the one pictured on her website.

Orange TIan

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

This month’s challenge was a citrus-dessert known as the Orange Tian. The dessert is made up of a few different layers: the bottom layer is a pate sablee that has been spread with orange marmalade, a whipped cream topping rounds out the middle layer, and topping it all off is fresh orange segments drizzled with an orange caramel sauce. You actually build the dessert upside down in a mold, and then unmold it to have the orange segments neatly arranged on top. The dessert was absolutely delicious, and a wonderful way to usher in the new spring season.

Thank you Jennifer for hosting a great challenge!

There were some variations allowed in this challenge. First, we could choose to serve the dessert in a “family-style” version or in individual portions. We could also choose to use our favorite pate sablee recipe. The addition of different flavorings to the whipped cream were allowed, as well as utilizing different types of citrus in the dessert. However, we had to make the pate sablee dough, whipped cream, caramel sauce, citrus segments, and marmalade.

Blanching Oranges

As you can imagine, there were a lot of steps involved in making this dessert, but several of them can be made ahead in stages. I made my dessert over a total of 3 days. On the first day, I started by making the orange marmalade. This was a first for me, and a really exciting part of the challenge. I stuck to the orange marmalade recipe provided in the challenge. I would never think of myself as a marmalade fan, but this recipe yielded delicious results. I have been spooning this stuff on everything!

Marmalade

On day 2 I tackled the orange segments and caramel sauce. The orange segments need to soak overnight in the caramel sauce so this step must be done the day before you plan to complete the desserts. I chose to use a mixture of orange and tangelo segments as well a combination of orange and tangelo juice in the caramel. The homemade caramel sauce was another first for me. I’m not quite sure it was the right consistency; it seemed a bit more “watery” then what I would typically think of as caramel sauce, but in the end it seemed to work out fine. The leftovers have even gotten good use jazzing up late night bowls of ice cream.

Day 3 was started by making the pate sablee dough. After the dough had been chilled, baked, and then cooled, I moved on to the whipped topping. I decided to add about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the whipped topping mix, and I am so glad I went with that choice. It really added a great flavor to the overall dessert. Next I assembled the desserts in their molds and popped them in the freezer so they could start to set up. While the desserts were setting up I reheated the leftover orange-tangelo caramel sauce so it would be ready to spoon over the finished dessert. I must say it was quite a treat to unmold these little beauties – they have quite an impressive appearance!

Orange Tian

You can check out all of the recipes and instructions for this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge after the jump.

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Avocado Bread

I found a great deal on avocados over the weekend, and have thus been on quite the avocado kick this week. Having used them in various sandwiches this week, I wanted to try my hand at using them in baking. I tried out an avocado quick bread recipe, and couldn’t be happier with the results. The avocado lends itself quite nicely to baking, producing a super moist (and super delicious) bread.

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…and made the now infamous Momofuku’s Crack Pie.

Crack Pie

With all the hype surrounding this pie I was really curious to give it a go, and when my husband sent me an email about a pie competition at his office (to celebrate the upcoming Pi Day on 3/14) I knew this would be my go to recipe. Then I started reading about people’s results with the recipes and got really nervous. Some people said it was the best pie they had ever eaten and completely worthy of the “crack” title status. Others reported total disasters and stories of pies going straight to the trash. Doubt started to seep in – could it really be all that it’s “cracked” up to be? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

The ingredients are all amazingly simple and straight forward. The hardest part for me was determining when the pie was actually ready to come out of the oven. This was my first time baking a custard type pie, and I wasn’t totally clear on the concept of baking a pie until the filling is “slightly jiggly.” It was a bit of a guessing came when it came to determining if the pie had the appropriate amount of “jiggle.”

For those of you feeling adventurous and want to get in on this crack pie fever here is the recipe I used. I adapted the recipe from the LA Times recipe (which makes two 10″ pies) in order to make two 9″ pies. The only main difference is in the baking times of the final pies.

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Oatmeal KashaWhen I reached into my oatmeal container to scoop out my oats the other morning my measuring cup came out short – I was running out of oats! In an effort to remain calm, I started thinking about other breakfast possibilities. I remembered seeing some recipes for other hot, grain based cereals online, so I set out to see what I could come up with. I found a recipe at the Whole Foods site for Apple-Scented Breakfast Oatmeal and Buckwheat. It just so happened that I had a box of Kasha in the pantry, so I got to work. The original recipe serves 4, but I cut it in half since that was magically the exact amount of oats and Kasha I had on hand. I also didn’t have any apple juice, so I just used water in its place, and the recipe was still delicious. I topped the oatmeal with some shakes of cinnamon and a mound of sweet dark cherries.

I don’t think that I’ll be waiting for another oatmeal shortage before I start incorporating additional grains into my oatmeal recipes. I really enjoyed the flavor and additional texture that the Kasha added to the oatmeal, and now my wheels are really turning with other oatmeal and grain possibilities.

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