Friday, April 3, 2009

Double Feature

I absolutely love rainy days--the ominous clouds, the thunder, the earthy/wet smell...everything. I also love being "trapped" indoors during rainy days. It doesn't get much better than opening the windows, listening to the rain, and spending the afternoon puttering around the kitchen.

Yesterday was that kind of day (for part of it, anyway; the rain didn't last that long). And it was a double-feature baking day, meaning I created a disaster in the kitchen, spent a lot of time cleaning it all up (dishes, dishes, dishes), and then turned right around and decided to do it all over again. This isn't uncommon, for two main reasons: (1) I just like baking that much, and (2) while I make full-fat, full-sugar, don't-want-to-even-think-how-many-calories-are-in-it desserts for other people (mostly Adam), I also like to also have healthier options around. (Yep, my goal is to make everyone else eat the junk so that they all get fatter and I therefore look thinner without even trying. Bwahaha!)

So, Take 1: S'mores Bars. I found this recipe the other day and thought, "S'mores without a bonfire? Sure, I'm game." The concept is great, made me feel summery, and sounded wonderfully simple: a couple of jumbo-sized chocolate bars spread with marshmallow creme and sandwiched between two layers of sugar cookie made with graham-cracker crumbs. Supposedly it would bake up into gooey, s'mores-y bars. Supposedly...but I didn't anticipate a few things with this.

First, who knew that assembling these things would be such a pain in the butt? Marshmallow creme, I've decided, is of the devil. Seriously. It took me probably 10 minutes just to get the stuff spread over the top of a little 8-inch square pan. And it didn't help that instead of chocolate bars, which I didn't have, I had to try spreading the stuff over a messy layer of chocolate chunks and shavings. (As you'd imagine, the creme just sort of picks up the chunks and stays stuck to the spatula...or my fingers...or anything other than what it's supposed to be stuck to. Grr.) Then there's the issue of getting the second cookie layer over the creme. I decided to skip a marshmallow nightmare recap and spread the dough out on wax paper and then invert it over the top of the creme; it was a good move, I think, but it took a while.

Anyway, here was the result:

The long and short of this is that a seemingly easy, amazingly good-looking recipe turned out to be not-so-easy and not so amazingly good. Don't get me wrong; they were good. Just not "Wow!" good. Not worth the marshmallow battle good. More like "Hm, these are nice" good. I think I'll have to tinker with this recipe in the future and see if I can't get some more "wow" out of it.

Take 2 (a healthier option): Orange Streusel Loaf. Now this I love. I found the recipe on "Just Baking" and figured it would be a good one to make a healthier version of. It's not really a spring or summer recipe, I think, despite the orange flavor.

This is an orange quick bread that uses an entire orange, peel and all, that's been ground up in the food processor. Fun, huh? My healthy swaps: egg whites instead of eggs, applesauce instead of oil, half the sugar replaced with Splenda, and nonfat plain yogurt instead of milk (this also adds some nice moisture). I also added some spices, cinnamon and cloves, to both the bread and the streusel topping. The combination of orange, chocolate, and spices is sooo good.

I mixed up a streusel topping (using some reduced-calorie margarine) and used half of it inside the bread, as a thin ribbon running through it. The top has an ounce of dark chocolate melted and marbled through it, covered by the other half of the streusel.Can I just say that this smelled AMAZING while it was baking? It rose beautifully and was moist, flavorful, and pretty. Definitely a keeper. (And not all that bad for you, with the substitutes.)

Anyway, I'm thinking my next post may be good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies. My friend and former roommate Jen is coming in for a visit from California this weekend, and our reunions will, without fail, include Pinky and the Brain episodes and way too many homemade chocolate chip cookies (or the dough, at least).

No comments:

Post a Comment