ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sassy Cake

 This was one of the cakes I made for Dessert Club this month.  I got Warren Brown's cookbook from the library and wanted to give some of his recipes a go.  I don't love the stuff from Cake Love shops, but I was curious.  It was fun to make, and tasted pretty good - hello, cayenne and mango!, but it was kind of involved, and by the time I'd finished it, I didn't really feel like eating it. 

Kind of like this post.  I spent my entire Sunday afternoon just getting the recipe typed up.  So now that it's time to do the fun part - writing the blog post - I kind of don't feel like it.  But I did do the work.  So you get the post.

Sassy Cake (print recipe)
11 ounces all-purpose flour
1 T potato starch
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1/2 cup mango puree (recipe below)
1 cup sour cream
2 T fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp pure orange oil (if you can find it) OR 1 tsp orange extract

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
21 ounces extra-fine granulated sugar
1 T orange zest
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
 1.  Preheat the oven to 350.  Set the rack in the middle.

2.  Weigh/measure the dry ingredients (flour, potato starch, salt, baking soda, pepper) into a mixing bowl and whisk to blend.  In a separate bowl, combine the liquid ingredients (mango puree, sour cream, orange juice, orange oil) and whisk to combine.

3.  In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar and orange zest on the lowest speed for 3 to 4 minutes.  The acids from the orange zest will break down the sugar and the creamed mixture will appear a little wet.

4.  With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time followed by the two yolks, fully incorporating after each addition.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.

5.  Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture.  Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter.  Don't wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next.  This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.

6.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides.  Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter's structure.

7.  Prepare the pan.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray.  Fill it about three-quarters full by depositing the batter with the rubber spatula in small clumps around the prepared pan instead of by pouring it into one spot.  Level the batter with the rubber spatula.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the top doesn't jiggle, and test for doneness using a bamboo skewer or cake tester - there should be just a touch of crumbs.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes.  Invert onto a flat surface and allow to cool to room temperature.

Mango Puree
1 ripe mango
1/4 cup extra-fine granulated sugar

1.  Cut the flesh of the mango into even-sized pieces and combine with sugar in a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan.

2.  Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over low to medium heat and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Strain the syrup and reserve for another use.

3.  Place the cooked fruit in the bowl of a food processor and puree until totally smooth, 1 minute.

4.  Transfer the puree to an airtight container.  Refrigerate until needed, up to 10 days.


You can serve this cake dusted with powdered sugar, adorned with Apricot Preserve Glaze, or sliced horizontally and filled with Orange Italian Meringue Buttercream.  The choice is yours.

Apricot Preserve Glaze

1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 T confectioners' sugar
1 T cold water

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Place the cake on an oven-safe plate.

2.  Heat the preserves in a saucepan over low heat until the preserves liquify, about 3 to 4 minutes.

3.  Transfer the heated preserves to a sieve placed over a bowl and press with a rubber spatula to separate the liquid from the solids. 

4.  Brush a light coat of the warm preserve liquid onto the cake with a pastry brush.

5.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and lightly brush the mixture onto the preserve-coated cake.

6.  Bake for 5 minutes to seal in the glaze.  Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool to room temperature before serving.

Orange Italian Meringue Buttercream (you only need HALF this recipe to fill the Sassy cake)
5 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups extra-fine granulated sugar
1/4 cup cold water
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 tsp pure orange oil or extract

1.  Measure 1 cup sugar and the water into a 1-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Gently stir to combine.  Measure the remaining sugar into a small bowl and set aside.  Cut the butter into Tablespoon-sized pieces and set aside. 

2.  Place a candy thermometer in the saucepan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat.  Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water - this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

3.  With the mixer on high speed, begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks.  When the peaks are stiff, you have a meringue.

4.  Keep the mixer running and pour the 1/4 cup of sugar into the meringue.  Raise the heat under the sugar syrup to bring the syrup to 245 degrees Farenheit, if it is not there already.  When it is at 245, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue.

5.  After 1 to 2 minutes reduce the mixer speed to medium for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the meringue is cooled.  Add the butter 1 Tablespoon at a time.  Increase the mixer speed to high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter is fully incorporated.  Mix in the orange oil/extract.

Recipes adapted from Cake Love: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch by Warren Brown

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dessert Club - CAKES

Cakes and Pies by Wayne Thiebaud
It finally came.  The chance for us Dessert Club-ers to really strut, whip, layer, pipe, mold, fold, stack and frost our stuff in the form of CAKE NIGHT.  You can only imagine.

For my own preparations, I pored through all my cake cookbooks, and even got two from the library, to be sure I was making the most inspiring cakes I could find.  I ended up settling on two - who knows when CAKE NIGHT may come again?

Cakes are so special, we decided they warranted two prizes - one for YUMMY, as usual, and one for PRETTY.  Because cakes should really be both.

We moved venues for this gathering, because one member's husband was out of town, and she really needed to be at CAKE NIGHT because her birthday was the next week, so we went to her house.  And she found out what a beast it is to get your kids to bed in time to spiff the place up by 8:30.  But she pulled it off with grace.  And even had time to make this strawberry topiary centerpiece - and that's marshmallow dip in the pot, my friends.  Aah, Dessert Club.

Here are the cakes we made:

...a mango-cayenne cake with orange Italian meringue buttercream (mine)
I bought that pan special just for this cake.  Had to have it.

Speculoos Crème Cake with Raspberry Coulis

"Spring Cakes" with Meringue Frosting
(got my vote for PRETTY)

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chips
(got my vote for YUMMY)

Raspberry-White Chocolate Bombe
(the other one I made - it warrants two pics so you can see the pretty pink inside!)

Neopolitan Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(you would NOT BELIEVE that frosting - a dream!)

Birthday Cake Oreo Cake
(inspired by the 100th anniversary birthday-cake-flavor Oreos that are out now - that frosting is cake batter flavored!)

Gateau de Crêpes

And just because they are ALL.  SO.  PRETTY., here are some more pictures of the spread.  It was quite the production cutting into them all!

My plate...poor me...

Sometimes I forget to mention the prizes but it's fun to know.  PRETTY won a cake leveler and a new glass cake stand.  YUMMY won a cake lifter and Warren Brown's Cake Love: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch - it's one of the ones I got from the library, and I liked it so much, I thought it would be a worthy prize (and I secretly hoped to win it myself!  Alas...)

As always, I will post some of these - let me know if you have any requests.  It also so happens that many of the other things I've been baking lately have been cakes, for some reason or another, so you are about to get a slew of cake posts on here.  No complaining :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pain au Raisin

 This was my favorite treat at Buns/Rolls/Muffins/Scones night.  The dough here is amaaazing.  And the special je-ne-sais-quoi here is a homemade almond cream filling wrapped up in the dough that cradles the raisins like an adoring lover.  See?  Even the memory of these makes me wax a little French.   

Mon cheri...

Pain au Raisin (print recipe)
Makes 20 rolls

3 T unsalted butter
Scant 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh compressed yeast
Generous 1/2 cup cold water
3 1/3 cups bread flour, plus extra if needed
2 tsp salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Generous 1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup plus 2 T room temperature unsalted butter
Almond Cream, recipe follows
Hydrated Raisins, recipe follows

Egg Wash:
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg
Scant 1/4 cup whole milk

1.  Prepare the dough: Melt the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow the butter to cool to room temperature. It should be warm to the touch.

2.  In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the cold water. Place the flour, salt, sugar, milk, and melted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Set the mixer on medium speed and mix just until the ingredients are dispersed, about 5 seconds. Add the dissolved yeast and beat on medium-high speed until the dough is well combined and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute. If the dough is too soft, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until it is firmer. (The dough is too soft when it cannot hold its shape.) If the dough is too hard, add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until it has softened. (The dough is too hard when it is difficult to mix in the mixer.) Remove the dough from the mixing bowl. If the dough is slightly sticky and ropy, knead it with your hands for about 30 seconds, until it is smooth. Pat it into a ball. Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let it proof at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

3.  Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to an 8 by 15-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Wrap the rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. The cold retards the rising process, allowing a slow fermentation to help develop the flavor of the dough.

4.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap the rectangle, and place it with a long side facing you on a lightly floured work surface. Spread the softened butter evenly over the right two thirds of the dough. Incorporate the butter by folding the (butterless) left third of the dough over the center, Then fold the right third of the dough to the left, to resemble a folded letter. Roll this out into another 10 by 30-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Fold each short end of the dough to the middle so they meet but do not overlap. Then fold one half over the other half and, if necessary, rotate the dough so that the seam is on your right. Wrap the folded dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.

5.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it into a 10 by 30-inch rectangle and turn it so a long side faces you. Give the dough a single fold by folding the left third of the dough over the center, then fold the right third of the dough to the left. Now the dough should resemble a folded letter. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

6.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough into a 10 by 36-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Keep the thickness even and the edges straight. This will make it easier to cut.

7. Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/8-inch-thick layer of almond cream over the dough, spreading it all the way to the edges of the rectangle. Sprinkle the top of the almond cream with the hydrated raisins. Roll the dough toward you, starting at the long side. Try to keep the roll tight and even. Cut the roll into 1-inch-thick slices. You will have a tail on each slice. To close the pain au raisin, simply tuck the tail under the dough. Place the pain au raisin on a parchment covered baking sheet, spaced about 2 inches apart. Allow the Pain au Raisin to proof at room temperature until they have doubled in size and appear light and full of air; about 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on the temperature of the room and of the dough.

8.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg yolks, whole egg, and milk in a small bowl until well combined. With a pastry brush, very gently coat the pastries completely with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Leftovers can be stored in the freezer if well wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 2 weeks. Thaw at room temperature and warm in the oven before serving.
Almond Cream:
Almond cream is always baked to a spongy, cake-like texture and can be used by itself or in combination with nuts or fruits. The addition of starch to this recipe ensures that it will not run out of a pastry shell during the cooking process.
1/2 cup plus 1 T unsalted butter, room temperature
Generous 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Generous 1 cup almond flour
1 large egg
Scant 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1.  Place the butter, sugar, and almond flour in a medium-size mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer set on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The mixture will be dry and sandy until the butter begins to incorporate. Add the egg and mix well. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. The egg is well incorporated when the mixture is light and creamy, about 3 minutes. It is important to allow time for this air to beat in, otherwise, the almond cream will be too heavy.

2.  Add the flour and beat on low speed just until it is no longer visible, about 30 seconds.

3.  Pour the almond cream into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Allow it to come to room temperature before using and beat it lightly with an electric mixer set on medium speed until it returns to its initial volume and is once again light in texture and color.
Yield: 1 3/4 cups

Hydrated Raisins:
1 cup raisins
Water, as needed
1/2 cup dark rum or flavored liquor

Place the raisins in a mixing bowl or glass jar and add water so that it covers the raisins by at least 1/2-inch. Stir in the rum or flavored alcohol. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. It is even better to allow the raisins to hydrate for 2 to 3 days. You can keep them in the refrigerator for a few weeks. When you are ready to use them, strain the amount that you need through a fine-mesh sieve before adding them to the recipe.

-OR- you can do what Dessert Club member A.M. did, which is pour hot water over the raisins and let them sit for a few hours.  Strain well before adding to the rolls.

Yield: 1 cup

Recipes from Food Network via Dessert Club member A.M.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Grapefruit Pound Cake

 I wanted something simple, pretty, and fruity for Easter dessert.  And I LOVE grapefruit.  And I couldn't remember the last time I used my tube pan.  So there you go.  After blackberry-mustard glazed ham, romaine salad with pears, walnuts, and blue cheese, curry-glazed carrots, and rosemary focaccia, we sliced this up and served it with pineapple-raspberry-orange rainbow sherbet.  Delightful.
 Grapefruit Pound Cake (print recipe)
Serves 16

9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
1 tsp baking powder
5/8 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
6 T butter, softened
6 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
2 T grated grapefruit rind
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 325. 

2.  Coat a 10-inch tube pan with baking spray.  Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt, stirring well.  Place granulated sugar, butter and cream cheese in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time.  Beat in oil, rind, and vanilla.

3.  Add flour mixture and milk alternately to batter, beginning and ending with flour.  Spoon batter into pan; bake at 325 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Invert cake.  Cool on a rack.

4.  Place juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil.  Cook until reduced to 3 T (about 4 minutes).  Cool slightly.  Stir in powdered sugar and remaining 1/8 tsp salt.  Drizzle over cake.
Recipe from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Berry Almond Scones with Orange Butter

Per request (you know I take requests), here's another favorite from our last Dessert Club.  I'm sorry I don't have a better picture; I feel like it doesn't do these amazingly tender and flavorful enormous scones with HOMEMADE BUTTER justice.  You can make these with dried cherries or any combination of dried berries.

Berry Almond Scones (print recipe)
Makes 6 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
Zest of one lemon
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into pea-size pieces
1 cup mixed dried berries or dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup heavy cream
Turbinado sugar, for garnishing

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon. Add in the butter and rub with your fingers into the dry ingredients until a coarse meal forms. Add in the berries/cherries and almonds. Add the heavy cream and combine it into the butter flour mixture.

3.  Form the dough into a 1-inch thick disk and cut it into 6 wedges. Sprinkle each wedge generously with the turbinado sugar. Transfer the wedges to a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven for 17 to 18 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.

Recipe adapted from Anne Burrell by Dessert Club member J.B.

Orange Butter
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1 orange, zested

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add all ingredients and whip on high speed until the cream starts to clump and turn light yellow. Continue mixing as butter forms and the buttermilk begins to separate out. Scrape sides and continue mixing until mixture is one lump of butter. Place butter into a clean container or serving dish and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Recipe from Dessert Club member J.B.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cardamom Sour Cream Twists

These were a hit at our March Dessert Club meeting - a yeasted sour cream pastry dough is rolled out, sprinkled with cardamom and sugar, and folded multiple times to achieve those flaky layers us pastry-lovers love so much.  A drizzle of cardamom-infused icing tops it off for the perfect breakfast beverage dunker this side of India.

Cardamom Sour Cream Twists (print recipe)

Makes 2 dozen twists

1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold butter
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp cardamom, divided
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup half-and-half

1.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat in the egg, egg yolks, sour cream, vanilla and yeast mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Place three ungreased baking sheets in the refrigerator.

2.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over a clean work surface. On the sugared surface, roll half of dough into a 12-in. x 8-in. rectangle (refrigerate remaining dough until ready to use). Sprinkle rectangle with 4 teaspoons sugar and 3/4 tsp cardamom; fold into thirds.

3.  Give dough a quarter turn and repeat rolling, sugaring and folding two more times (don't repeat the cardamom in the subsequent sugar fillings.) Roll into a 12-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Cut into twelve 1-in.-wide strips; twist. Place on chilled baking sheets. Repeat with remaining sugar and dough.

4.  Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

5.  For icing, combine confectioners' sugar, 3/4 tsp cardamom, and half-and-half. Dip twists into icing or drizzle icing over twists.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home by Dessert Club member R.Y.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pain au Chocolat

 Here is one of my proudest accomplishments in a long time.  I made, at home, one of my favorite indulgences in the world.  And thanks a million times over to my stud husband for a camera that can show you all the buttery layers it took three days to achieve.  And you can taste each one.
 In case you missed it, I won the latest Dessert Club with these.  So I'm gonna brag.  They are amazing.  I got the good stuff, the pain au chocolat sticks from King Arthur.  But you can use chocolate chips or home-chopped chocolate if you please.  But use the good stuff.  If you're putting this much time in, you want a perfect product.

Speaking of, there were so many steps I went ahead and took pictures of some.  I don't usually do that because my hands are messy or I'm working with a tight time window, but for these, I went the extra mile.  For you.  For me.  For these heavenly pain au chocolat!

Pain au Chocolat (print recipe)
 Makes 16 rolls

The Dough:
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp salt
2 T unsalted butter, softened

The Butter:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold

16 or 32 pain au chocolat sticks (depending on whether you want one or two sticks inside each roll)

The Glaze:
1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt

The Dough:
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the water, sugar, two cups of the flour, yeast, salt and butter. Mix until fairly evenly blended.

Add the remaining flour and stir until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn the dough out and knead it until smooth and springy.

Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until puffy. (The dough can be prepared to this point in a bread machine with at least a 1 1/2 pound capacity. Simply place all of the ingredients in the bucket, select Dough or Manual, and press start.)

After an hour (or the end of the cycle), turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, flatten it gently and fold it in thirds, like a letter. Place the dough in a lightly greased plastic bag that has enough room for the dough to expand, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until thoroughly chilled. (For best flavor, refrigerate it overnight.)

The Butter:

While the dough is chilling, prepare the 2 sticks of butter for rolling into the dough. Cut each stick in half lengthwise and place all four pieces on a floured piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Sprinkle flour on the top surface of the butter, cover with another piece of paper or plastic and gently pound it with a rolling pin until it becomes malleable. Then roll the butter out until it's about 6 x 9 inches. Wrap the butter well and put it back in the refrigerator.

1.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it's about 10 x 20 inches. Remove the butter from the refrigerator and place it in the center of the dough.
 2.  Fold the upper third of the dough over the butter and the lower third over the upper third (like a letter). Pinch the edges together so the butter is completely enclosed. Roll the dough out again until it's about 10 x 24 inches. This time fold the two ends so they meet in the middle and then fold that in half like a book.

  3.  Wrap the dough in lightly floured plastic wrap and refrigerate it again for at least 2 hours (or, you can leave the dough in the refrigerator for several days, until you're ready to use it).

To finish your Pain au Chocolat, remove the dough from the refrigerator, cut it in half and return one half to the refrigerator.

Roll the other half out until it's about 9 x 25 inches. Trim each edge to make it 8 x 24 inches. With a bench knife, cut the dough into eight 4 x 6 inch pieces.

Place 1 (or 2) pieces of chocolate at one end of each piece and roll it up into a tube. Place, seam side down, on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Press down on the tops of the rolls to flatten them into a rectangle shape. Cover and let rise in a warm place until they are light and puffy looking. Repeat with the remaining dough.

 7.  Just before baking, brush the egg/salt glaze over the tops of the Pain au Chocolat. Bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 13 to 16 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool a bit before you bite into them; the structure needs a chance to set.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dessert Club - Muffins, Buns, Rolls and Scones

 What a night.  You really missed something special.  Unless you were there.  But just in case you weren't...

We couldn't come up with quite the right one-word name for these fist-sized, breakfast-or-teatime genres, so we just specified the challenge by names.  Specifying muffins, buns, rolls, or scones seemed just broad and just narrow enough a category for our March meeting.

In direct contrast to Candy night, we had no problem sampling each treat, and at least in my case, going back for more with this spread.  They were varied, tender, delicious and not-too-sweet in most cases.  I had several favorites and a hard time choosing how to vote. 

We also had a great brainstorming session of new themes for future meetings.  Summer Fruits, we agreed, is a must-do annual theme, probably in July, though with the weather we've been having, we wondered if June or even May would be better.  But we also thought of new ideas - Nuts, Tropical, 5-ingredient, Beverages, Secret Ingredient, to name just a few.  We agreed that we've all come a long way, and may be ready for something harder once in awhile, so we determined to alternate between having a theme and having a challenge, in order to challenge ourselves and each other to a greater degree.  That's right, Dessert Club is a year and a half old, but we are just getting started. 

But back to March.  Here were the offerings:

Pain aux Raisins (Raisin Rolls - one of my favorites of the evening!)

Raspberry-Blueberry Muffins

Maple-Oatmeal Scones

Cardamom Sour Cream Twists

Berry Almond Scones with Orange Butter

Pumpkin White Chocolate Scones 
with Clotted Cream and Pumpkin Butter

 Banana Streusel Muffins with Hazelnuts

And the winner was...

My very own Pain Au Chocolat!  These were a true labor of love, the second time I've made them, and while I love them to death myself, I was proud and gratified to find out everyone else did, too.  Plus I hadn't brought the prize so it was fun to open my new dough scraper and a new jar of yeast - always useful!
Recipes coming - as you know I don't always post them so if there's one in particular you want, let me know. 

Coming up in April...CAKE!  I've got mine all picked out and if it works, it will be the BOMBE! (wink, wink)
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