As part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017), I wanted to push my limits by attempting some of the hardest pastry recipes in the book. I tested my skills not only with 17-44: Homemade Danish Pastries, but with this recipe as well, 17-23: Mocha Éclairs. My mom always referred to éclairs as something that challenged her when she was learning to cook and bake, and that a well-executed one was something that really impressed her. With that in mind, I knew this recipe was a must-do.
I may have to make a few adjustments to Simply Delicious‘ version of the recipe–first of all, there’s no chocolate listed anywhere in this recipe, and it’s advertised as “mocha”, which is coffee AND chocolate. We may have to do something about this “slicing the tops off” idea as well.
Strap in ladies and gents, this one’s a long one. As part of my Mother’s Day brunch this year (MD2017), I thought I’d raise the bar and attempt some of the harder ones in the book–nothing impresses your mother like showing her you can cook (and bake). My mom LOVES pastries, so I made her 17-44: Homemade Danish Pastries to nosh on while I worked on trying to serve up 5-4: Eggs Benedict. Luckily, these turned out better than my hollandaise sauce attempt did.
Obviously, mine look a bit different than what’s pictured on their card–we’ll get into all the decisions and pitfalls that led to that being the case after the jump.
It’s a few weeks after Mother’s Day at this point, but better late than never. This year for Mother’s Day, I took a few Simply Delicious recipes and decided to make a brunch menu out of them for my mom. We usually do lox and bagels at home for our holiday brunch celebrations, but this year I wanted the full Mother’s Day buffet experience–but still at home. It’s not brunch without fruit salad, so the first entry for this grand event (MD2017) is 15-19: Layered Fruit Salad.
But wait a minute, you say! This is from the Cold Desserts category? How can it be for brunch?
It’s fancy fruit salad–I think it’ll be okay either as a dessert or a brunch side dish. Plus, I need to burn off some of these dessert recipes–so many of them require fresh fruit and summer is the best time for that.
I recently attended a baby shower for a former co-worker and took it as an opportunity to knock out two more Simply Delicious desserts: 16-39: Apricot Tart and this one, 16-24: French Chocolate Cake. I wanted to bring something fruit/nut and something just plain chocolate, since some people there had nut allergies and others might just want something simple and chocolate.
This was a combination birthday party/baby shower (same person being honored for both), which will hopefully explain the odd decorations on my version of the cake. I’ve spared you pictures of the worst of my decoration choices, but let’s just say I made liberal use of all 4 colors of a grocery store icing kit. I kept meaning to hit a craft store for better cake decorations (or even Amazon), but time got away from me. ⏳
My contribution to this year’s holiday baking (XMAS 16) consists of two recipes which include my favorite fruit: Apples! 🍎 🍎 🍎
I ended up multiplying this recipe by 3, which gave us more than enough apple muffins for the holiday gifts. 🎄
The notes on the front of the card are from Jamie’s mom. I made this recipe once before when I had a lot of apples laying around.
In my holiday baking batch from last year (XMAS 15), I included 17-67: Coconut Crescents to offer some variety to the endless types of cookies. 🍪 17-48: Buttery Vanilla Rolls were included in this year’s holiday baking (XMAS 16) for much the same reason, although I think I ended up with a better mix of items this year. 🎅🏼
I liked that these were baked in muffin cups as well–I thought that might make them easier to pack up and distribute/ship as gifts. To make them holiday-ish, I sprinkled them with a bit of red and green decorating sugar while they were cooling. 🎄
17-42: Luscious Lemon Bars were the second of my holiday baking batches this year (XMAS 16), and one that I’ve baked in the past, given my rather bold notes. I think I was on a cheesecake kick, and thought these would be easier than making an actual cake. “BAD DO NOT MAKE” doesn’t exactly bode well for a recipe–why make it again?
Here’s why: sometimes it’s important to try again, even when the first experience wasn’t exactly a positive one. The first time I made these lemon bars was my junior year of college, so about 10-12 years ago. I had just moved into my first off-campus apartment with my friend, and we had a full kitchen, something I hadn’t had access to for a few years while living away from home in the dorms.
I remember making these in that kitchen (yes, I dragged these books with me all the way out to Colorado and back) and struggling with this recipe. Out of that frustration (and failure) came the note. I’ve learned a lot since then (culinarily and otherwise), so I think it’s time to figure out if it was the recipe or it was me.
Cold desserts are not my area of expertise, but I gave it a shot for this recipe. ❄ 15-18: Chocolate Favorites were a hit! I really just got a kick out of saying “Chocolate Favorite” when describing these little treats. 🍫
Bite sized pastries are the best! These two layers did come out as intended, a one-two punch of chocolate flavors. This recipe did indeed make me want to rejoice. 😆
I’m not going to write a long dissertation on the origins of the well-known French dessert, Tarte Tatin–I’ll let Wikipedia handle the background of it. Instead, I’m going to focus on my history with 16-15: Tarte Tatin, evidenced by my mom’s handwriting all over the front & back of the recipe card.
Since she and I already had plans to go to a local farmers’ market for this year’s Labor Day BBQ supplies and apples were plentiful, I decided to bring back an old classic for us to cook together. 🍏
Most versions of Tarte Tatin are somewhat similar–it’s a pretty basic recipe. My mom’s notes claim it’s “easy”, and she stands by it to this day. Her other notes turned out to be helpful as well–the importance of good note-taking.
Since it’s currently summer, I’ve been experimenting more with the Cold Desserts section of Simply Delicious. Come fall & winter, we’ll get back to more of the Hot Desserts. 15-2: Chocolate Mousse is not the first mousse I’ve attempted (check out 15-1: Lemon Mousse for a citrusy variation), but it is a pretty solid chocolate mousse recipe–these are great for entertaining, or even making in individual servings and freezing for later. 🍨
As noted above on the card, chocolate mousse is a classic and popular dessert. There are a variety of ways to approach it, as explained in this Serious Eats feature on the dish, but Simply Delicious’ version is super easy–5 ingredients are all you need. 🍫