Monday, July 27, 2009

A good excuse to use your oven in July...

I've returned!!

After several months of weddings, travels, and moving-out-of-my-house-and-then-into-a-new-apartment, I think I've finally caught my breath.

Actually, I can't wait to show you some pictures of my new neighborhood and Pete and I's apartment... I just haven't had a chance to take any pictures yet! Haha. Oh well - maybe this weekend... you're going to die when you see some of these houses...

I did manage to snap one shot in this past week though... this month's Daring Bakers challenge!!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

One thing I have learned about my new apartment is that using the oven makes the kitchen unbearably hot, so I have to admit that I wasn't particularly thrilled about baking anything this month. The idea of drizzling hot chocolate over hot marshmallow goo quickly bit the dust. But while I'm pretty sure the temperature hit about 400 degrees, I have to admit that the Milan cookies were a pretty perfect summer treat. To keep the ganache on the wafers, I threw the cookies in the fridge, which cooled them off, held them together, and gave them a great texture.

Gale's recipe called for lemon and orange extracts, and I personally am not a huge fan of mixing fruit with chocolate, so I replace the lemon extract with one tablespoon of almond extract and put about a tablespoon of coffee grinds (instant coffee would be good too) in the ganache instead of the orange. (If you don't like coffee, I'd nix the grounds or add just a half teaspoon to enhance the chocolate without making it taste like a cuppa jo.)

The recipe for the Milans and the Marshmallow craziness can be found on Nicole's site or on the Food Network website.

If you summon the courage to brave the heat this summer, I would strongly recommend pouring yourself a glass of cold brew when you're done and kicking your feet up by the fan. (What? You have air conditioning? Well, aren't you just Mrs. Fancy-Pants...)