Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nearly perfect apple crisp

When autumn comes around, one of my favorite activities is to pick (or sometimes just buy) a bunch of local apples and turn them into dessert. And, while I appreciate a broad range of apple desserts, one of my favorites is apple crisp.

This fall, I discovered an apple crisp recipe by Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa). I made it twice, the first time pretty much following the recipe exactly except for a slight increase in apples to accommodate a different size pan. The topping was outstanding, but the filling was a bit mushy and too citrusy. The second time, I reduced the citrus and used half Granny Smith apples and half Gala, decreasing the sugar slightly due to the sweetness of the Galas. This improved the flavor of the filling, and though it was one of the best apple crisps I've ever eaten, the filling was still too soft. The next time, I'll try baking at a higher temperature for less time and/or cutting the baking time and broiling the top, to try to keep the apples a bit more together while still browning the crisp.

For those that want to try the recipe, the changes I made were as follows:
  • Use half tart, crisp apples (e.g., Granny Smith) and half sweet, crisp apples (e.g., Gala)
  • Use only the zest of half an orange (no lemon zest)
  • Use only 1 Tbsp. lemon juice (no orange juice)
  • Decrease sugar to 3/8 cup
  • Decrease nutmeg to 1/2 teaspoon (mainly this is because I don't care for nutmeg)
  • Bake in 13x9 rectangular baking dish

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The perfect mass-produced cookie

I recently saw someplace that the Oreo is America's favorite cookie. While I appreciate the concept of the sandwich cookie, I've always preferred the vanilla cookie of Vienna Fingers or Golden Oreos and the superior cream-to-cookie ratio of Double Stuff Oreo. Unfortunately, you couldn't combine the best of both worlds... until now.

Nabisco recently introduced the Golden Double Stuff Oreo. This may be the perfect mass-produced cookie. The thick creamy center perfectly complements the cookie crunch, precluding the need to carefully take the sandwich apart and suffer through the creamless cookie half just so you can get to the half with the cream.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A tasty cell phone

As a tech geek, I read a lot about the latest smart phones, like the iPhone and the new Verizon Droid. I guess I'm a bit slow, though, as it took me until this week to realize that Google's Android operating system, which powers several smart phones (including the Droid), names each version of the OS after various desserts: cupcake, donut, and ├ęclair so far. Kudos to the Android team for choosing such a delectable naming scheme.

Meanwhile, it's Halloween and the final day of National Dessert Month, so I'm looking forward to an evening of handing out candy (perhaps sneaking all the a few candy corns for myself) and baking apple crisp.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Aida's cinnamon roll bread pudding

With some leftover Martin's potato rolls and some fresh-from-the-orchard apples, I decided to make some bread pudding this weekend. I'd tried Aida Mollenkamp's cinnamon roll bread pudding recipe once before, and while not perfect, I thought I might be able to tweak it to my satisfaction. I eliminated the nuts, decreased the amount of amaretto, and added some sliced apples. I also found that the pudding was set firm (probably more firm than many people would like) before it started to brown (after around 55 minutes of baking), so I took it out at that point.

The verdict? My wife and I felt that the amaretto flavor, while no longer overpowering like the first time I made it, was unnecessary, and that the texture didn't come out quite right. Next time, I think I'll have to try a different recipe. If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.