Monday, September 12, 2011

Adventures in Baking

This weekend was a wonderful respite for me from...pretty much everything. So I took advantage of a weekend to myself, sans boy and between two weekends of busy travel plans, to do a whole lot of nothing. Except new recipe testing.

mmmm, melty chocolate...

The first thing I tried my hand at was this salted chocolate caramel pretzel bark. Because there are two sweets I'm obsessed with (and therefore not allowed to keep in the house for fear of devouring them in 10 seconds flat): chocolate-covered pretzels and salty caramel anything. I found it via my friend, Jessica, on Pinterest (glorious, glorious Pinterest) and intrigue got the best of me. 

 Where's the rest of the chocolate? you might be wondering. Well, let me tell you...

And to save you time, should you attempt this recipe too (which I highly recommend), let me tell you a few things I learned in the process. 1) When it comes to making caramel, follow the recipe EXACTLY. Don't pretend you're a fancy schmancy baker and say, oh, I'll just add some more butter now, even though half the brown sugar is already in there, cuz it couldn't hurt, it all cooks together in the end...this is not true. Boil things in the right order and you'll be thankful later for smooth, creamy, non-grainy caramel.

2) Measure your baking sheet ahead of time to make sure it works with the recipe. When you run out of caramel after only covering half of the pretzels, it leads to rookie mistakes when trying to quickly whip up a new batch (see item 1).

3) Never run out of chocolate. (This should really be more of a life rule.) I gathered every tiny last piece of chocolate we had in the house and look how sad my half-covered bark looks. There is something wrong when you do not have enough chocolate in the house for mis-measuring, or other, emergencies.

The next recipe I tried was slightly more successful because, 1) I got to use my favorite kitchen tool, the microplane zester, and 2) I did a test round before making the full cake and managed to figure a few things out in the process.

The recipe was a "healthier" version of a cheesecake made with greek yogurt, which I love, and which is why I tried it.

I made a round of mini ones in muffin tins first, but the crust-to-cake ratio was not to my liking (not nearly cheesy enough!). Luckily, I had enough of everything still to fill a pie tin.

To top it off, I just piled on some zwetschgen (tiny plums that are in season now, a pain-in-the-§*$ to cut up, but delish)...

...and ta-da! Now I just need somebody to eat it.

No really, Micha doesn't have a sweet tooth and I can't eat this by myself! Any takers?

And how was your weekend?

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