Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rainy Day....and Dreaming!!!


Do you dream? I love dreaming..... 

Waking up every morning for me and realizing I dreamed means I slept well!!! YES! Seems like as adults getting a good night sleep is hard to come by... or is it just me?

There are so many life lessons I have learned through dreaming. It has taught me to listen to my subconscious and work out issues in my life or reminded me why I love my life! It has made me realized what I like about myself and what more I want to be. It helps me make decisions about life and reminds me of others I have made either right or wrong. Am I the only one who appreciates dreams? Some friends say they dont remember what they dream about. I can't even imagine.

Years ago, I wanted to figure out how to remember them so I created a morning ritual to do so. It is said a dream needs to be remembered within those first few seconds of waking. So I taught myself to take those first few seconds every morning to remember. These few moments also allow me to take a breathe and think about life. To appreciate what is and to get excited about what I can do tomorrow. 

Have you ever had those mornings where you wonder what in the world the dream means?! Some dreams, I can tell it is based on what I had for dinner, work stress or even a good movie. Well this morning, I woke up to a dream where I ate a large amount of sugary sweets. So many sweets I thought I was sick....Yes......I know as a baker....one would think I would have this dream more often but this was a first for me. Who knows why or where the thought even came from?! But it made me wake up to a good laugh.
As a big surprise to those reading, I actually dont keep many sweets in my house (I pass them along to others who enjoy them much more than I as quickly as possible.) So to wake up from a dream where I consumed a large amount what quite hilarious. But I can say I was soooo relieved to know I didn't have to suffer the sugar overload consequences.....is that sad that I am happy about that?!! LOL

Without even eating sugar, I had my fill for the day and no interest in sugar for probably the next week!!! LOL  Maybe it was my subconscious thinking about today's blog..What better way to think up a new sweet Caramel Oat Bars...by dreaming. So I wish you a great sugar rush and a wonderful night of dreaming!!

Caramel Oat Bars (3 WAYS)
1/2 C Unsalted Butter, melted
1 C Brown Sugar, packed
1 Tsp Vanilla
2 C Oats
1 Tsp Baking Powder

Melt butter in microwave. In a separate bowl, combine butter and brown sugar until mixed. Add in oats, vanilla and baking powder. Note: Make sure to coat oats completely or bars will not stick together. 

Press onto a greased 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until melted together and lightly brown, about 12 minutes. Note: Do not cut until almost cool. Bars will fall apart if cut too warm. 
Add-ins:
Cranberry Pecan Oat Bars
Add 1/4 C Dried Cranberries and 1/4 C Pecans, chopped

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
Add 1/2 C Chocolate Chips, chopped


Friday, April 20, 2012

Baklava.......What More Do I Need to Say!!!



A cool breeze has once taken over the Midwest. After the 70 degree tease last weekend, we have since returned to the chill of early Spring. This peek into Summer has my mind day dreaming about all of the possibilities and I was starting to get excited....but Mother Nature has other plans and reminded me I need to be patient! 
So here I am....inside with the heat on...trying to entertain myself! For those who know me....we know what that means......off to the kitchen I go! So with a day off during the busy tax season, I thought what else does one do with a free day. Guess I will take on the challenge and hopefully enjoy the results of Baklava.....well that and the fact I have family visiting this weekend so I am waiting for the plane...Some days I lack patience....and today is one of them! 
I remember the first time I tried Baklava...I was hooked. The delicacy of the dough match up with the cinnamon, nuts and honey.  What is better??!! While it is one of my favorite pastries, I have never attempted to make it personally. I guess the multi-layer concept scared me..along with the easy access to buy it already made.  Why make it when one's grocery store sells it by the piece......
Now that is the exact reason why I needed to make it. I am not a fan of anything "premade". I guess it is one of my pet peeves..not knowing where or even how things are made.  I appreciate the ability to know the ingredients that have gone into it as well as the accomplishment of completion. I have been labeled a "purist" by those around me.....and I guess that isn't too bad of a description in my opinion. I will take it! 
Well, I am off to the airport.....I hope your weekend is as enjoyable as I plan on mine to be. Enjoy time with those around you and be grateful for these wonderful moments!
Baklava
1/2 pkg phyllo dough (16 oz.), thawed
1 lb. Walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 C Unsalted Butter, melted
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 C Water
1 C Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 C Honey
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan. Set aside. 

On a separate cookie sheet, Place nuts in preheated oven for 10 minutes to toast. Remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, combine chopped nuts and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Unroll phyllo dough. (Hint: Keep phyllo dough rolled up or cover with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Once the package is open, dough will need to be used quickly.) Place a sheet of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Place a second sheet down and butter. Continue layers and butter until you have 8 sheets. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of nut mixture on buttered phyllo. Next place down a sheet and butter (do twice - two sheets between each nut layers). Then add nuts, and keep layering as you go until you have 6-8 layers. Place pan in fridge for 15 minutes. 

Once chilled, use a VERY sharp knife cut into square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden and crisp.

While baklava is baking, make sauce. Boil sugar, lemon juice and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. 

Note: Baklava gets better the longer it sits so do ahead of time. It also freezes well.  If serving soon, leave uncovered. If not ,do not cover tightly or it will get soggy. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Known or Unknown......Life Lessons!!!


Is life easier with the known or the unknown??

Have you ever attempted something not knowing if the end result will be what you wanted! Being human, we all probably have moments in our lives such as these. There are times the results are actually expected but other times we are surprised or disappointed by the end result at that moment without seeing the larger picture. 

While life would be easy if we were able to succeed at everything we take on, what would be the point? Aren't the struggles in life part of what makes us who we are?! I have said before I am a firm believer in life teaching lessons and it is our job to learn from them and move forward to become an even better individual based on these experiences. One never knows.....these lessons might make future opportunities so much better than one could ever dream!!!!

Today was one of those days....a concept in my head was easier on paper but challenging to create. These Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Tartlets came from a discussion with some coworkers.  Not sure if I should thank them or yell at them...ha ha!

When I first sat down to create these I almost just walked away...lol...but being me I am one who has to either fail or succeed than question the unknown. At that moment, I decided I would rather fail at this recipe than question it's possiblities. 

This made me realize....shouldn't we have this attitude for a lot of things in life. 

Things may be scary but if one doesn't step out on the ledge and try..the unknown will always win! While a dessert recipe is only a tiny lesson in stepping out on the ledge, isn't it worth using this lesson for all aspects in life??!!

Do you have anything you want to step out on the ledge for?? If so, I hope you can enjoy these little treats while you do......sugar highs always help :-)....Enjoy!


Peanut Butter Chocolate Mini Tartlets 


Crust
7 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
1/3 C Sugar
1/4 Tsp Vanilla
1 C Unbleached Flour
Pinch of Salt

Peanut Butter Filling
4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
3/4 C Peanut Butter, smooth
1/4 C Powdered Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt

Mini Chocolate Chips

To make filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.  Transfer to a pastry bag and set aside until ready to use. 
  
Preheat oven to 350°F. 


To make the tart crust, mix by hand all ingredients in a mixing bowl until incorporated. Transfer dough to the a clean surface between two pieces of wax paper.  Using a rolling pin, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut off edges of uneven dough into a rectangle and put scraps aside. Cut dough into even 1 1/2 inch squares. 


On a parchment lined cookie sheet, place 15 dough squares evenly spaced out. With additional dough, cut small pieces to line edge of dough forming a border. Wet the dough with water and push onto dough square.  


Once all squares are assembled, pipe in a small dot of filling and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Place in fridge for 10 minutes to chill. Once chilled, place pan in oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add additional dot of filling and additional chocolate chips (optional...I did this since I wanted more filling). Return to oven for 5-7 minutes. Hint: Be sure to watch closely....will burn quickly!!! I learned this personally as it happened to my first batch :-(   



Sunday, April 8, 2012

Where did the time go?...Baking Doux a Year Later!

Today marks the One Year Anniversary for Baking Doux. So exciting......


Where in the world did the time go?! One year ago, I remember sitting in my living room contemplating what I could do with my interest in baking. Then for some crazy reason.....the next thing I knew Baking Doux was born.


Within seconds, I had purchased a URL and set up this blog. Let's just say at that moment...I had no ideas about blogs, URLs or even how to edit pictures. On top of that, those close to me know I lacked the ability to take decent photos. I was always the one who "borrowed" photos from friends to remember special occasions. (Luckily my friends were willing to share.) Now, I am still attempting to figure out photography but I learn as I go. I am always thinking of new ideas on how to improve this blog (as well as life in general). 


I always attempt to be a glass half-full individual. Because of this, I love to learn and grow. Don't get me wrong, I fail on occasion but I work hard to learn from each experience which makes the next possibility that much sweeter! Each year that passes, I realize I can hold on to the past and how things were or be excited for the possibilities and mold my own future. 


When I started, I didn't know much about this crazy venture but felt it would be a great idea as an outlet for my baking. Previously, I tended to make all of my baking ideas when no one was around..searching for individuals to sample the results for me (that or fill my freezer). 


Now, a year later,  I love being able to look back over the year, see the history of my baking as well as my own personal life and remember the moments these recipes and events remind me of (some good/some bad). The growth I see over the year makes me excited for the possibilities for tomorrow (see there goes that glass half-full again...lol). 


This trip down memory lane made me realize one of my classics has never been posted on the blog. Not sure how I missed my standard tart over the year span. So I offer you the classic: Chocolate Ganache Tart with Grey Sea Salt


Happy Easter to everyone! I hope you are having a wonderful time with family and friends remembering the importance of life. Let's hope this next year is even better than the last!!!



Chocolate Ganache Tart with Grey Sea Salt

Crust
7 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
1/3 C Sugar
1/4 Tsp Vanilla
1 C Unbleached Flour
Pinch of Salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Using fork, mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl until incorporated. Transfer dough to rectangular tart pan with removable bottom. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto sides and bottom of pan. Use a tart stamper (or bottom of a measuring cup) to even out the dough. Pierce dough with a fork all over and line dough with foil and fill with pie weights or uncooked beans.

Bake crust until golden, about 30 minutes (crust will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack, remove pie weights and cool in pan.


Ganache
10 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 C Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tsp Vanilla

Pinch of Sea Salt

Place chocolate in a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour hot cream, through a sieve, over chocolate. Stir until smooth and creamy in texture. Mix in vanilla.

Pour chocolate mixture through sieve into cooled tart shell. Sprinkle with Sea Salt.  Chill for 1 hour.