Malto Mario


The Lady & Sons

1,000 Italian Recipes

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Baked For Shaun White!

Okay not really.. but he's the only winter Olympian that I know of. And frankly, I'm not even sure he's in the Olympics this year.. is he? What I do know is I like his long wavy red hair. But I probably shouldn't say that out loud as I'm most likely old enough to be his Aunt. *cough*

Anyhoo.. as per usual, I'm a day late and a dollar short. And once again I feel foolish because of it. This month's Daring Baker challenge was a breeze and the results were muy deliciouso! Wait, that's Spanish.. what would the Canadians say? Uhmm.. 'kay.. well.. the results were KICK ASS! (that's more of what I'd say because I don't know what a Canuck would say. Canuck.. is that PC?)

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

Lauren is from Canada and these Nanaimo bars are her tribute to the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, Canada.

Here's a funny.. and he's probably going to kill me.. but I received an email this morning from my friend John who had to tell me that while he was making his dough for the graham crackers he noticed that it smelled like graham crackers. And then he said, "Really?? You think??." Yes Gorgeous, the dough DOES smell like graham crackers and after baked, they taste better than any graham cracker I've ever had. Addicting is the word. More like Graham Crack. I kept hearing, er, reading in the forums that other members couldn't stop eating the graham crackers and my friend Michele said the same thing - but I had NO. IDEA. HOW. GOOD. they really are. I was almost sad to have to crumble a bunch of them for the Nanaimo bars. Seriously.

But I did.. and then I kinda veered off the traditional route and went down my own road. I've made Nanaimo bars before and they were delish, you'll get no argument from me there. But they were a leeetle sweet so this time I wanted to make all of the components but in different flavors - specifically flavors that aren't as sweet. I started with the graham cracker crust, and omitted the nuts as we can't eat them. I also ground the coconut to almost a powder because I had to hide it as Hubbs hates coconut with a passion. He'll eat stuff flavored with coconut but hates real coconut. Go figger. And I added a generous peench of cinnamon. What I didn't do was add the cocoa. This was entirely an accident. I was so intent on grinding down that coconut and getting it into the crust before he came back into the kitchen that I completely forgot the damn cocoa. I really did want a chocolate crust.

Then I moved on to the filling, which is what I found too sweet in the traditional bars. I decided I wanted a blast of coffee with the tang of cheese. Ideally I was going to do mascarpone/butter cream frosting flavored with espresso powder. But I never got the chance to get the mascarpone, so I had to do with cream cheese. Basically I made cream cheese frosting sans most of the sugar - I probably used 1/3 of what a basic cream cheese frosting would call for, then thinned it a bit with a boat load of espresso powder stirred into a small amount of hot heavy whipping cream. I can't find the words to express how fakking good it turned out and I really can't wait to use it on a cake!

For the topping, ya'll know me, right? I don't say no to any kind of chocolate unless it's white - which is not chocolate anyways. BUT just a few weeks ago, I made a pan of what is essentially buckeyes (the lil round gobs of delicious sweetened peanut butter dipped in chocolate), but instead of rolling out the peanut butter into balls, because I'm a lazy mofo, I just spread it into an 8 x 8 pan and poured the chocolate over it. After refrigerating the chocolate became hard (duh) and well.. after forcing myself to eat 3/4 of the pan myself, I was kinda over hard chocolate with something mooshey underneath. :P So I went with a basic ganache over the top of my coffee/cream cheese filling.

As you can see in this picture, there is a bite taken. That is the one and only taste of these that I've had (so far) and it took every fiber of restraint in this chubby body of mine to stop there to rush into my office to write this post a day late. And keep in mind, I don't own very many restraint fibers. :P Holy mother of a chinless baboon, these bars are FANFARKINGTASTIC. They aren't nearly as sweet as the traditional Nanaimo bars, but they are definitely rich, and I'm confident that I can get over that. :P The cinnamon & coconut in the crust paired with the coffee and chocolate and the tang of the cream cheese is nothing if not heavenly.

Lauren, thank you so much for choosing these recipes and for allowing us the creativity to choose different flavors. I just hope I can restrain myself until Saturday evening as I've promised these bars as dessert for friends who are coming over.. but then again if I just whip up another batch, who will be the wiser? ;)

Pop on over HERE for the recipes for the grahams (gluten free and made with wheat flour versions) and the traditional Nanaimo bar recipes!


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Friday, January 15, 2010

January 15th? Nooo it was JUST the 13th!

Okay so I can't win. I either am stressing to get a Daring Kitchen challenge done at the last minute, or I get it done way early and then something happens where I can't get to my lil blog to post on the damn reveal date. WTF?

The January 2010 Daring Cooks' challenge was hosted by Cuppy of Cuppylicious and she chose a delicious Thai-inspired recipe for Pork Satay from the book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day.

Huge apologies to Cuppy - I feel as if I have failed our host(s) miserably when I'm late to get a post up.. this wasn't intentional!

And now I am seriously pressed for time - but the good news is, there was no disaster this month, so I really don't have a long post full of expletives and "whoa is me" whining. ;)

I made Chicken Satay using Cuppy's longer version marinade and it didn't even look remotely appetizing as I was transferring my chicken strips (breasts sliced into strips) from the bag of marinade to the broiling pan (grill was under 2 feet of snow..) all yellow and stuff. But I kept an open mind, Lord knows I've been happily surprised often in the past with these Daring Cooks challenges!

I had made my peanut sauce earlier due to time constraints and was warming it up again, while the chicken was under the broiler, when it separated. I had a small pan of peanut solid and peanut oil. Ewww. I was very dismayed over it, but thanks to my experience of making buttercream 59 gajillion times, I decided not to panic and to just get out my trusty balloon whisk and start whisking. Luckily it all came together again - only now it was almost like peanut fudge, which isn't a bad thing - just something I wouldn't normally pair with chicken. ;) Thanks to the amazing support we receive on the private forums of the Daring Kitchen, my question of why it separated was answered by Robert of An Alaskan Cook's Exploration of Food and Technique - and he thought that I had too much heat going on. And he was most likely right, I did have the heat up pretty high now that I think of it. Stupid on my part.

Again, I persevered and continued on with dinner, making a batch of Basmati rice to go with. Once it was all done, yeah it still didn't look that great. My chicken was even more yellow and my sauce was no longer sauce-y. At this point, I could have binned it all and declared it a disaster, but I was HUNGRY dammit.

So I plated, called Hubbs to the kitchen and got a giggle from the expression on his face. He was not amused. He must have been hungry too. hehehe I decided to take my dinner into my office so I could watch a movie (and mainly because I wasn't in the mood to hear him bitch about how awful the food was).

Surprisingly.. this dinner was OUT OF THIS WORLD. I cannot express how much I LURVED it! Suffice to say that it's been well over a week since I've made Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and a day hasn't gone by that I haven't craved it. Unfortunately, Hubbs wasn't as impressed (most likely because he turns his nose up at any form of chicken. He'll eat it but not happily.) and that's the only reason I haven't cooked this dinner several times since my first taste. But my cravings will win soon - they ALWAYS do - and he'll just have to get over it. ;)

I always thank our hosts at the end of my posts, but this time I really need to lay on the lurve. Cuppy jumped in when, at the last minute, our slated January host couldn't do it. Cuppy had NO TIME and yet she came up with a well written recipe and plan for all diets. This was a quick challenge, that was most gratefully received after the busy and hectic holidays and I now have a new favorite quick meal to throw together after a stressful day at work. And yes, this recipe has been "westernized" and is not an authentic Thai recipe, but it's delicious regardless. I seriously cannot wait to make it again! Thanks so much, Cuppy!! :)


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