Feb 27, 2011

Sticky Toffee "Pudding"

I was not looking forward to making this cake. It looked like it was going to be cloyingly sweet, and I didn't think I'd ever be able to get rid of twelve pieces of way-too-sweet cake. But I ended up loving all the elements of the cake and could happily have eaten my way through the whole thing. If you too turned up your nose at this recipe and decided to pass it by, I implore you to give it a try.

This is the first time a can of stout has been in the mise en place. Jim was happy to have an excuse to buy an eight-pack of Guinness.

To my knowledge, this is the first time I've ever poured beer in a saucepan and brought it to the boil. I'm absolutely certain that it's the first time I've ever added baking soda to boiling beer. As you might expect, the mixture starts to fizz.

After the dates macerate (my favorite word from last week) in the hot beer for a while, they're supposed to be put in a food processor until mixed to a brown slurry. My food processor chose this moment to give up the ghost. I thought about getting out my immersion blender, but then decided that I'd rather have bits of dates in the cake anyway. So I just chopped the softened dates, and was glad I did--the little pieces of dates added to the textural interest of the cake.

The three eggs I broke into a bowl measured 142 grams. I didn't want to use another whole egg for eight measly grams, and I decided to call it good enough. Then I remembered that I still had a few of my darling quail eggs. (Don't worry folks; the sell-by date is not until March 2). One petite quail egg put me six grams over, so I scooped out a spoonful. There. 150 grams on the dot.

I expect that the cake would have been slightly darker if I'd succeeded in pureeing the dates, but I like the date-studded looks of it. The batter didn't fill the pan one-third full. I looked through the ingredients to see if nothing was missing, but everything was accounted for.

While the cake was baking, I made the toffee sauce. Jim watched me mix the butter and brown sugar, and said, "That looks awfully rich." He sounded as doubtful as I felt. I said, "Wait until I add the cream." But I also added two tablespoons of lemon juice. The lemon juice was an addition of pure genius; its tartness cut the sugary sweetness of the sauce into something quite palatable. Downright delicious, in fact.

Time to remove the cake from the pan. I was worried about this step because the pan-preparation directions had nothing about spraying the parchment paper or the sides of the pan. I'd been fretting about that ever since I noticed. I considered just spraying the pan, but then I remembered my baking mantra: "Rose has her reasons."

Indeed, the cake emerged from the pan with nary a mishap. It still looked thinner than I thought it should.

When I cut into it, though, I decided that the crumb looked okay. Too late, I remembered the cake-testing sheets that Woody had left at my house, and I didn't measure the cake's height. Sorry, Woody. Someday I may be more scientific in my approach.

I can't resist another picture of the finished product. The effect on guests of cutting the cake, spooning the luscious toffee sauce over, dolloping the creme fraiche, and topping with toasted pecans is quite amazing. People are so impressed, and think you did so much more work than you actually did. Both the cake and the sauce are easy to mix up (the sauce, unlike a traditional caramel sauce, does not require taking its temperature); the creme fraiche is just taken out of its carton and whisked, and the pecans simply toasted and chopped. But when you put it all together, it looks like you're a kitchen ace. And all so good! The date-spice cake could be eaten out of hand, and the toffee sauce is amazing. The creme fraiche, along with the miraculous lemon juice, adds a little tartness, and the pecans make it perfect.


Pat: "Wow. This is delicious. This is really good."
Myra: "Mmmm. I love this cake."
Jim: "This is wonderful. It has a variety of nice flavors--delicious. One of my favorites so far."

Feb 23, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

It was a fairly small group that entered the Free Choice Sweepstakes last week (no, it's not really a sweepstakes)--of course, we're missing Mendy and Lois, who are somewhere in the process of house/apartment-hunting/moving. But those who baked really baked up a storm.

There must have been some subconscious chocolate thing going around because two people (in addition to me) made the Barcelona Brownie Bars.

Allergic-to-nuts-except-for-almonds Hanaa substituted toasted almonds for pecans, baked the brownies in her mini brioche molds, and decorated each brownie brioche with three almonds. Raymond followed the recipe almost exactly, except for the substitution of walnuts for pecans. Since he was making them specifically for someone who hates pecans, this seemed reasonable. Unlike Hanaa, Raymond made the ganache plugs, which he thought were good but "not at all necessary for the enjoyment of these little morsels."

We also doubled up on another recipe: the Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake. (I had to go to my book to see whether it was the Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake or the Heavenly Seduction Coconut Cake. This is a very confusing issue if you give it too much thought).

Our math whiz Jenn made 70% of the recipe--something I don't think I've ever heard of anyone else doing. But it worked for her--making a small heart-shaped pan and a few cupcakes. Jenn doesn't much like coconut cake herself, but was excited to make this because her husband does. (She calls herself "cheesy" for this sentiment, but I say it sounds like every day is Valentine's Day at the Knitty Baker household).

I almost missed Nancy B's posting about her heavenly seduction cake because she followed it so closely with her post about her ciabatta. Both are lovely; indeed, they are seductive. Nancy thinks of this cake as the "five forms of coconut cake," although she ended up using only four forms.

Speaking of every day being Valentine's Day, Kristina lets her husband choose what cake to make for Free Choice week. This week he chose the marble velvet cake, and Kristina obliged. She thinks she needs to "work on [her] marbling skills," but I say her marbling skills look A-OK.

Even in deep midwinter, the Lemon Crown Cake looked good to Maria, who made it with Meyer lemons as a treat for her mother, who was coming home from Dubai(!) Maria had never made homemade ladyfingers before (oh, how I remember my first attempt at ladyfingers!), but her first try was a winner, as was the cake, beautifully wrapped in a green ribbon.

Some people took Free Choice week to extremes. Sarah, for example, did the No-Bake Cheesecake as well as the Carrot Cake. You've probably seen the frosting carrots that a standard bakery uses as decoration on its carrot cakes. Nice. But then you should look at the marzipan "heirloom carrots" that Sarah dreamed up for her carrot cake. More than nice.

And Katya went on a baking rampage. She did three catch-up cakes: the Lemon Canadian Crown, the Black Chocolate Party Cake, and the Quail Egg Indulgence. I must say that Katya pooh-poohed those of us who were "moaning and groaning" about making homemade ladyfingers. She likes to make ladyfingers, and sounds like she's been doing it since she was about three years old. But her blog did remind me that I had some ladyfingers in my freezer, so I'm not going to get all sniffy about her ladyfinger superiority.

And then, if you want to talk about someone who really went baking crazy, take a look at Jennifer, and her epic 72-hour kitchen adventure. She made a wedding cake (which included the golden lemon almond cake as her free choice selection), as well as "baking three different cakes, making four fillings, seven syrups, and three different frostings (one frosting I made three times)."

And so we're all one cake closer to finishing all the cakes in the book.

This upcoming week is something very different: a sticky toffee "pudding" that's not a pudding at all, at least not an American "pudding." It's a spice cake flavored with dates--and stout--topped wiith a butterscotch toffee sauce and a pecan and creme fraiche topping. Just the thing if you're eating light. You can also make individual "puddings," and I'm hoping that at least a few people will take that route. The pudding/cake is made in a 9 by 13 pan and serves 12. That's a lot of pudding. I expect some people will want to cut this recipe in half, and I may be one of them.

The following two weeks are both chocolate cakes. I don't know how that happened--I usually try not to have two chocolate desserts in a row. I've learned my lesson, though, and will not change the order of recipes once they've been announced.

Feb 20, 2011

Barcelona Brownie Bars (and Madeleines) with Cherries Macerated in Kirsch

I love the word "macerate." It sounds so much more stylish than "soak." Especially if you are macerating something--dried cherries in this case--in kirsch. My Free Choice cake is a reprise of the Barcelona Brownies, but with said cherries macerated in said kirsch substituting for the pecans. And no ganache plugs this time because 1) they caused me trouble last time and 2) they're really not necessary because these brownies are so moist and lovely on their own.

As I write, we are having Blizzard #22 in Minnesota. To be honest, it may not be the 22nd blizzard but it feels like it. At least with the brownies in hand, and the short ribs in red wine I'm planning to make tomorrow, we'll be happy in our snowed-in condition. I don't want to hear a peep out of those of you who live in Florida or anyplace else where it's 80 degrees outside.

I'm done with my winter rant now and will go back to the cake. When I was looking for a cake to do for Free Choice week, I saw this variation. But when I went to my liquor cabinet, which, as you know, has grown mightily during this cake-baking project, I found that I was - oddly - bereft of either kirsch or cherry heering. Did I really want to invest more money in another bottle of some obscure liqueur? Oh, sure. But not cherry heering, which sounds too much like fish.

I did something that I thought was very clever, and that saved a pan. The directions say to melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, and then transfer it to the mixing bowl. I just used the mixing bowl as the top of the double boiler. OK, maybe everyone else has thought of this too, but I'm usually such a slave to the directions that I feel inordinately pleased with myself when I do something more or less creative.

In no time at all, the batter is mixed up and ready to be poured into the financier pans (or whatever). I swear I own two financier pans. I must, because I've made numerous batches of financiers. But I could only locate one of them. I decided to use my madeleine pan for the leftover batter. Financier/madeleine: they're both French words, right?

45 grams of batter went into each financier slot, whereas the madeleine pans held only about 20 grams each. At 12 minutes, when I checked the financiers, they were very liquid. I checked again at 15: still not done. A surprise, because usually my convection oven, set 25 degrees lower, finishes fast. I decided that at low temps (325F - 300 in the convection), maybe there wasn't much of a difference. I raised the temperature to 325 and removed them from the oven after another few minutes. Two of them were still not completely done, but Jim and I ate them to protect other people from the horror of underdone brownies.

I was going to drizzle them with a little cream cheese frosting, but, after tasting them, decided they didn't need anything else. My investment club is meeting at my house on Tuesday, and I'll sprinkle them with powdered sugar before I serve them, assuming any are left. Perhaps we'll be moved to invest in a chocolate company. Or in NordicWare.

The tasting panel was called on account of the blizzard, and the brownies, as of Sunday night, were tasted only by Jim and me, both of whom were crazy about them.

Feb 16, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

I thought that everyone would be dying to make this little cake for Valentine's Day, but we actually had a pretty small participation this week. Whether the low turnout was caused by quail-egg anxiety or other baking commitments or winter vacations I don't know. In my opinion, the people who missed this one may want to give it a try on a Free Choice week. But that's just my opinion--I'll admit that this cake got mixed reviews.

Like me, Jennifer fell in love with the quail eggs (and the quail, for that matter: "if I ever came across ... one, and I could get away with it, ... I would hug the little bird. They are just so dang cute!")  Oh, and the cake? Well, she liked that too: "dense, rich, and soft with a crispy buttery crust."

Mendy also liked the quail eggs ("little lovelies"), and the cake as well: he thought his cupcakes "had an exceptional, indulgent flavor. Really something special."

Lois had two heart-shaped pans, so she made two cakes: one, in the spirit of a giving holiday, to give to friends. Lois gave a good description of what we all experienced when trying to break and separate the quail eggs: "Working with quail eggs is not easy. Rapping the shell on the edge of a bowl will crack the shell, but I still had to poke through the very tough membrane. The eggs are mostly yolk, but this does not help with separating. The small amount of white clung to the yolk with great tenacity." Rose recommends a quail egg decapitator (how's that for a specialized piece of equipment?!)

Nancy B. knew just where to find her quail eggs: she'd seen them a thousand times at a local farmers' market.  She found them at a second market, and bought a spare package so she could double the recipe, using Texas muffin pans. Results? Everyone (except one nephew) "loved the crispy crunchy crust (as advertised), the fine crumb, and the nice vanilla/butter flavor." But, unless she gets an egg decapitator to make quail-egg-separating time easier, she thought she'd probably use chicken eggs next time.

And using chicken eggs is just what Vicki did. (She called hers a "quail-free egg indulgence cake.") Vicki, who has self-proclaimed "guilt issues over eggs as a non vegan vegetarian," just couldn't bring herself to hunt down the quail eggs because she remembered when it was a common sight in California to see a covey of quails, but all that construction has invaded their habitat. Her tasters thought they resembled a "sugar cookie in cake form."

If you've read Raymond's blog entry, you'll know that he gave the cake a decided thumbs down, both because of the ridiculous price of quail eggs ($3 per egg, or $15 for enough eggs to make the petite cake), and because he just didn't like the cake. (" I made it on Saturday morning and when we ate it at dinner it was hard and dry. We literally took one bite and tossed the whole thing into the trash.")

Our Valentine's Day FEATURED BAKER is Jenn--one of just a few who had the small heart-shaped pan recommended for this recipe. What I really liked about Jenn's cake was that it wasn't perfect, but she used her cake lemons to make lemonade. She photographed her cake that failed to come out of the pan in one piece against a pretty pink lacy background and dubbed it the "broken heart" cake. And, because Jenn is seriously into catching up, she baked a second cake--the chocolate streusel coffee cake. "32 cakes to go YAY" Finally, I loved Jenn's endearing revelation that she was fed quail eggs as a child in her mother's undying effort to put some fat on that skinny girl's bones.

Lola thought she was making the Cake of the Week--only she thought that it was a Free Choice week. (In fairness to Lola, I should point out that it was Free Choice week until I switched it around so that the Quail Egg cake would be the cake for Valentine's Day). She made the Double Chocolate Valentine--which was our V-Day cake last year, and is hard to beat, especially when it's covered with whipped-cream rosettes.

But it's this upcoming week that's Free Choice week. Grab your cookbook and choose a recipe that has already been made, either by me baking alone, or by the group--and bake away!

On February 28, the last day of February (hooray! winter is almost over!), we'll bake the Sticky Toffee "Pudding." As you may guess from the quotation marks around "pudding," this isn't what we Americans think of as pudding, but others will not find it at all odd to call a cake a pudding. It's flavored with stout, preferably Guinness. For those of you who don't drink alcohol, a non-alcoholic beer could substitute. Several internet sites also say that ginger ale can be a beer substitute.

Coincidentally, two of our bloggers, Mendy and Lois, announced that they would be off the baking rotation for a few weeks because they're moving. Mendy just found out he needed to look for a new place, and Lois is going to move to Poland, where she frequently visits, for a few years at least. Good luck to both of you--may your moves be smooth and your return to baking be speedy.

Feb 13, 2011

Quail Egg Indulgence Cake

Before I start talking about cake, let me apologize for not getting the mid-week blog done this week. By the time I got home from New Orleans, it was the end of the week, and too late. Of course, I read everyone's blogs when I got home. I was so surprised to learn that chocolate-pecan-caramel is not at the top of everyone's flavor combinations! When I was a little girl, there were two kinds of candy that made me happy: chocolate-covered cherries and pecan turtles. I think they were made by either Russell Stover or Fanny Farmer. At the time, those were considered (by me, anyway) high-class chocolates. Now, of course, I'm much more finicky.

So finicky that I must have quail eggs in my cakes! I thought I might end up just using chicken eggs since the first Asian grocery store I went to only had canned quail eggs, but I hit the jackpot on my second try. I had no idea they were going to be so goldarn adorable!

And produced locally on a quail farm, so I didn't have to worry about my quail egg cake decimating the wild quail population.

Yes, they are hard to crack open. It's not so much that the shell is hard; it's just that the inner membrane is tough and stubborn. If you whack the egg too hard, the yolk will break from the knife's force. If you tap it too gently, you may break the yolk with your fingernails when you're trying to pry open the shell. I think it took me seven eggs to get the requisite 28 grams. But I still have a kazillion eggs left. (A dozen or so anyway). I'm going to hard boil some tomorrow and use them as a garnish for a salad. Then maybe I'll have 3 or 4 for breakfast.

The yolks are actually bigger than I expected. I think that the yolk:white ratio may be a little different than with chicken eggs, with more yolk than white. But I'm just guessing about that.

Once the eggs are broken, the batter is easy to mix up. (It's not on the Quick &Easy list, although it would be if you didn't have to 1) drive all over town looking for quail eggs, and 2) spend a lot of time trying to break them.
The batter is thick and rich-looking, not surprising because of the butter/cream/egg yolk factor.

The crust promised a lot of crunch.  It delivered on the promise, too.

I actually had more trouble finding a small heart-shaped cake pan than in finding quail eggs. Since I was in New Orleans, Jim volunteered to buy me the pan, so he set off on a cake-pan quest. He tried Williams-Sonoma, Kitchen Window, and several other likely places before giving up. When I got home, I made a quick, equally unsuccessful, trip to Cooks of Crocus Hill, but apparently no one bakes heart-shaped cakes any more (there are lots of heart-shaped cookie cutters available). So I bought a six-inch round pan, which I guess I should have anyway. And then I ended up stencilling a powdered-sugar heart shape on the round pan.

Since the cake only served two, I didn't have a tasting panel. Jim and I ate the whole thing. We decided we might as well eat it today, one day ahead of Valentine's Day, so that we'd taste it at its freshest.

My only complaint about the cake is that half of it was too much--not that I didn't eat every crumb of my half. We both liked it a lot, and agreed on the appropriate adjectives: rich, moist, tender, good.

It's just a plain cake--sort of in the way a simple Chanel suit is a plain outfit.

Feb 7, 2011

Mud Turtle Cupcakes

As you can imagine, when my very nice dentist put in a temporary crown and told me that I couldn't eat caramel, the first thing I thought of was these cupcakes.  How was I going to test gooey, caramely cupcakes if I couldn't eat caramel?  I made one cupcake for myself, topped only by ganache and pecans, neither of which was on the dentally forbidden list, and felt sorry for myself. To make myself feel better, I put one cupcake in the freezer, where it awaits me coming home with a permanent crown and permission to eat caramel once again.

These little cakes can't really be on the Quick and Easy list because of the piping, smoothing, caramel-making, pecan-placing, etc. But the cupcakes themselves are nice and easy. Just mix up cocoa, eggs, and sour cream. (You know they're going to be good).

Then everything else (flour, sugar, butter, etc.) is mixed together until you get a nice, smooth light brown mixture. If you're feeling daring, you can taste it.

I wanted to be sure not to overbake these little cupcakes, so I took them out after 16 minutes--perhaps still a bit underdone in the middle, but I figured the continued heat from the cake itself would take care of that. I think I could have baked it one minute less and it would still have been okay. If I were testing, I'd try them at 14, 15, and 16 minutes. I think I could get into this testing idea!

The caramel was the maiden voyage for my new Thermapen. I did the same thing I always do with caramel. I wait just seconds too long. I see that the temperature has somehow gone above 360, and goes even higher after I turn off the heat. Now, however, I've written "LOWER" in the margin of the cookbook, because Woody has advised me to write more notes to myself in my book, and I always take Woody's advice, even though I was brought up not to deface books.

Adding the cream causes the caramel to "bubble up furiously," just as advertised. And the butter melts in easily.

I even pipe the ganache "mud" over the top of the cupcakes in a little circle, leaving the middle bare for the caramel placement. The caramel looks and smells so delicious that I'm undergoing a serious bout of self-pity. On the other hand, it doesn't stay as soft as I'd like to it be. Although it softens easily in the microwave, I can tell that it's not going to remain as soft as I'd like it to be on the cupcake. It would surely rip my temporary crown right out of my mouth. How embarrassing to have to return to the dentist with the crown stuck to a big hunk of caramel. Apparently temporary crowns fall off with alarming regularity, or so I assume based on the many hits I got on my Google query regarding what to do when your temporary crown falls out.

Based on the caramel's consistency, I thought it would be a bad idea to pipe it, so I just used a spoon to place a glob of approximately one teaspoon in mid-cupcake. I reminded myself they were supposed to be turtles, and part of their turtle-y charm would be based on a casually careless look.

Top with five--no more, no less--previously toasted pecans. That should be enough to get a piece of pecan in every bite. If the caramel were softer, the pecans would stick better. I tell myself to quit obsessing about the danged caramel.

And finally, more caramel and more chocolate ganache (mud, if you prefer). I love the picture in the cookbook of the little girl looking completely entranced as she gazes at the cupcake she's getting ready to eat. We took a plate of cupcakes to our neighbors, who have two small boys. They looked equally entranced.

I loved the cupcake I'd made for myself without caramel.  It was moist and chocolatey, and you can indeed get a piece of pecan in every bite if you carefully plan your attack. I'm sorry not to be able to sample the caramel, but I can see it's not really "soft sticky," although it's plenty sticky. The ganache is delicious, but bears very little relation to mud. This is not a bad thing. I hope that someone requests these cupcakes to give me a chance to try them again.

Karen: "Yummy. It's the best cupcake I've ever had. A wonderful chocolate treat."
Jim: "It's pretty messy. I'm spilling cake all over the floor. The caramel is very chewy. I sound like I'm complaining, but I'm not. The cake is light, but still chocolatey. It's very good."
Gabe and Nat: "Thanks for the cupcakes!"

Feb 3, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

Remember the old story about the blind (or blindfolded) men who all touch an elephant and then describe what they've just touched? The one who touches the leg says the elephant looks like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says it's like a rope. Then they have a violent disagreement about the elephant's looks until some wise person comes and straightens it out.

I felt like I was reading that story when I read through the blogs this week. The reactions were so different you'd hardly know that everyone baked the same cake Some people thought it was excruciatingly difficult to make; others thought it almost too easy. Some people loved the dacquoise; others thought it was too sweet. Some put it on their all-time favorites list; others were lukewarm about it. But it was the same cake. Chacun a son gout, right?

Hanaa was one of several people who had been hinting broadly that they wished I'd hurry up and schedule the cradle cake because they wanted to make it so badly. However, before she started making her own version, she heard about Monica's difficulties, and approached the cake with "caution," even cutting the recipe in half in case things didn't go well. But she ended up liking it "a lot. The dacquoise was crunchy and chewy at the same time (like a macaroon), and the cake is so soft and tender, it just melts in your mouth."

Monica's experience--the one that scared Hanaa--was described like this on her blog: "The whole middle of the cake was one hot mess. The whole thing had collapse on itself and I had a thousand little heart attacks in front of my oven. I took it out and for the longest time just stared at the ugly mess in front of me." Well, you can see how this would make both Hanaa and Monica nervous. (Monica's second attempt turned out to be quite successful.)

Unlike Hanaa and Monica, Raymond was not at all intrigued by the idea of the cake, and thought it looked like a "simple snack cake and nothing more." But he ended up giving it "high marks for ease of assembly" and "on the taste scale."  "It is richly flavored with butter and vanilla and the nut dacquoise adds a very nice chocolatey, nutty crunch to the exterior." He gave it low marks on the presentation scale, however. . He thought he had to slather it with leftover ganache to make it presentable.

But Jenn was so happy with the way her little heart-shaped cradle cakes looked that it "made her happy to look at them." She was less pleased with the taste, which she thought was "pretty good" but "too sweet."

The ever-cheerful Mendy thought "this fantastic cake was fun to eat and fun to make." He even wished he had made two!

Lois was in the group that thought the cake tasted good but wasn't very pretty. Although she thought the "flavor was wonderful," her heart sank when she saw how much the cake sank.

This cake tied Lola "in knots." Her first try was "a disaster," and her second was "not as big a disaster as the first," but it still sank in the middle. In fact, she decided that "although it tastes really good, I[she] really cannot gift this cake to unsuspecting neighbors." (My personal opinion is that the neighbors would have ben happy to have it.)

On the other hand, Gartblue really had no trouble with the execution of the cake, and thought "the dacquoise was superb, crunchy and sweet and much loved. The girls, literally stripped it naked of its cradle." But she wasn't as enamored with the cake, which "left an aftertaste" in her mouth, reminiscent of an overdose of baking powder.

Nancy disagreed: she described the cake part as a "nice moist buttermilk cake in the middle." In fact, she added the cake to her all-time favorite list but wasn't sure she'd ever make it again because "it was a lot of trouble to get that nice crunchy chocolate-pecan cradle."

No trouble for Kristina, who found that "it comes together super quickly once you have everything ready. I actually managed to make this after I got home from work and before my guests arrived on Friday evening."

Jennifer falls firmly in the category of big fans who had no trouble with the cake at all. Or, as she put it, "this week's Heavenly Cake is magical cake alchemy at its best. A tender, buttermilk yellow cake is baked inside a crispy, nutty dacquoise--something I would never have thought possible. Magic, I tell you!"

Our FEATURED BAKER this week is Andrea. She had not been looking forward to making the cradle cake, and wasn't sure what all the fuss was about, but found that it tasted "amazing." Once she got the cake out of the pan, she decided "it definitely needed something on top. I decided to go with the glaze because it was much quicker, and Daniel wanted some cake." In fact, it was a good thing she fed Daniel, because he thought it was the "best cake so far."
Not only did Andrea make a super-looking cake, but the good news is that she also found a new job! Congratulations, Andrea--glad you found a new job so quickly!

Next week, we're back to the Baby Cakes chapter, with Mud Turtle Cupcakes: chocolate, more chocolate, caramel, and pecans. I'm going to New Orleans this weekend, so I've already made my cupcakes, and they are fantastic. My caramel got overdone, and I'll be very curious to read the blogs to see how everyone else's turns out.

Following that, another cake from the Baby Cakes chapter! (Sorry Raymond--don't know how that happened). This Quail Egg Indulgence Cake is only big enough for two (a perfect Valentine's Day cake!) and calls for, as you might suspect, quail eggs.
As we say in Minnesota, "Well, that's different."