Banana Foster Caramel




I may…have an obsession with making things that are weird approximations to banana’s foster.

I’d done caramel before, though I’ll admit, I didn’t have a candy thermometer at the time, so I was forced to use the “dip a bit in some water and see” test, which was…less than accurate.


For the main recipe, I just used a Better Homes cookbook, but I went to the internet for a good amount of bourbon to use.


The only issue I had was that I didn’t realize how much it was making, and had to adjust the temperature a few times to avoid it bubbling over. Also, I have a habit of wanting to get things to the exact temperature – which means that the bit of time after I take it off the heat, it’s still cooking, at actually goes further than where I wanted it, and resulted in the caramel being a bit tougher than it should’ve been.



Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons

Cookies, Pastry, Sweets

I have some friends staying the night this weekend, as well as my parents, who both were interested in macarons. Per my buddy’s request, I made chocolate hazelnut ganache-filled macarons, as well as practicing some light decorating with a gel pen.


I made a double batch, which tested the limits of the handful of pans I had at my disposal. In the end, they went off without a hitch.

A few things I learned, however:

  • I forgot to attempt wet-on-wet with the gel, and tentatively attempted on unbaked shells, after the skin had developed. The results were comical, but a tad horrifying (you can see one in the bottom left of the photo above).
  • Gel will pretty much not dry, so the next time I decide to do this, I should really just bite the bullet and make royal icing.
  • While the ganache I used was quite delicious, I don’t believe it will harden in the fridge like a normal ganache.





Lemon Meringue Pie

Pastry, Sweets, Uncategorized

Last week I made a lemon meringue pie – the first I’d ever made! Rather than the classic meringue, however, I substituted Italian, which turned out quite nice.

The only issue I ran into was when I made a mistake with the meringue, and had to run to the store to grab more eggs. While the recipe said to keep the filling warm, I didn’t think anything of storing it in the fridge while I did so – and ran into the issue of the pie becoming watery as the days went on.

From what I read online, if the filling is kept warm, the heat will filter through the meringue easily, as opposed to re-heating it from cold.

On the plus side, the large star tip I used added a nice flair to the finished pie.


Beer Cheese Macarons

Cookies, Sweets

This was…not the greatest thing I’ve done, I’ll be up front on that.

These were based off a link a buddy of mine sent regarding Cheeto Macarons – something I balked at. At first.


However, my wife had bought me a pair of slipmats, and blue powder food dye (as opposed to the gel that I normally use) that I’d been dying to try out, so I figured this was as good an excuse as any.

The beer cheese was the easiest part, and the fact that we have a specialty beer store nearby helped. What probably would’ve helped more would’ve been had I checked with a German friend first as to the brand – apparently I’d, by sheer accident, bought a rather poor choice from the wall of German beer I’d been looking at.


The cheese spread tasted just fine regardless, which led to my second slip-up: egg whites from a carton are not great for this. I’d had some left over from when I last made royal icing, and thought it was clever to avoid having to crack open 4 eggs instead. Rather, I was left with a meringue that would absolutely not whip up, and rather than attempt to salvage it,  I baked off the shells as they were, and made a second batch with fresh eggs.


The difference was obvious, though I still suspect that I over-whipped the meringue by a tad, and/or didn’t bang them hard enough on the table (by this point it was about 10 p.m., and I really didn’t want to wake everyone around me). The other thought I had (afterwards, of course) was that I could’ve worked the tip of the icing bag a bit when piping the shells to try and get the nubs to go away.

In addition, I had the idea to add applewood rub to the shells, to give it a BBQ-cheddar flavor. As far as taste, it was exactly what I’d hoped for, and after a day of settling, the flavors blended together quite nicely.

As for the “mouth feel”, it was…less admirable. The miscellaneous bits and pieces of the rub made it for a rather gritty, awkward experience. While overall it was quite tasty, should I ever do this again, I think I’ll leave out the extra bits.

Umbrella Cheesecake

Cake, Sweets

This time I used the recipe from the Better Homes cookbook, and I suspect not using lime juice resulted in the cheesecake being much fluffier, like I’m used to. Of course, the experiment this week was more for decoration than flavor.


My intent was to replicate the look of the Umbrella Corporation logo from the Resident Evil series. Offhand I’d say it was a success – though I need to remember than when using the mini-springform pans, the cake will puff up a lot. Also, though I cut the time while baking (as the original recipe was meant for a 9″ pan), it was clear that the cakes were over-baked.


They still taste just fine, but I made a few extra notes in the cookbook, should I do this again. Also, to use a measured scoop when filling the pans, as it was clear that I wasn’t able to get an even height when eyeballing.


To be honest, I’d had to toss some of the remaining whipped cream the past couple times I’d made it, so I held off this time. What I figured I’d do in the future is arrange them as needed, and have the whipped cream and/or fruit in the middle to hide any gaps.

As a final note, I had the slices arranged on a plate prior to setting up, and I realized that the mini-slices would make for excellent, festive/celebratory desserts. It’d be simple enough to have a variety of colors, and to arrange them like dessert canape, essentially.

Cherry Cordial Cupcakes

Cake, Chocolate, Sweets

So, I have a rather long list of things I want to try baking, and as such, I finally decided to simply let my friends online figure out what I should try each week (it has yet to dissolve into madness – yet).

This week’s winner was the idea of a cherry cordial cupcake, which I did mostly with a black forest cupcake, and using chocolate mousse as the topping instead.


I have to say, that I understand that as an American, I’m fairly used to overly-sugared desserts, so the cupcake was quite bland to me. That wasn’t so much of an issue though, as with the filling (and I’d like to add that when heated, cherry brandy will clear every sinus you have) and the mousse, there’d be enough sweetness in the finished product.


The aggravation came with the fact that, after all the effort I went through making the cupcake, it was little more than a bland, slightly eggy, sponge. Should I attempt black forest cake again, I will most likely not use the recipe above.

When everything was said and done, the cupcakes were wonderful. The slightly boozy, sweetened cherries added a burst of flavor that was enhanced by the silky mousse on top.


Striped Star Cookies

Cookies, Sweets

This is actually something I’d attempted a while back, during my first attempts at playing with royal icing. Using a basic sugar cookie recipe (which I cut into stars, because my wife loves stars), I attempted the pattern again – this time with much better results.


Of course, they were a little off the first few, but since the recipe made about 40, it was clear by about cookie 15 that I was getting better with each attempt. In the end though, I suspect it’d have turned out better had I gone with a square cookie.


The colors (green, purple, yellow, and red) are the colors for the houses my wife and are were sorted into for GeeklyCon 2018, and I figured the merging would be romantic, in a nerdy sort of way.

As a minor upset, I should probably buy a few extra tips of the same size for the next time, as a last-minute trip to JoAnne’s during a snow storm yielded only disappointment.



Banana Truffles

Chocolate, Sweets

This week I decided I wanted to try my hand at truffles again. Specifically banana truffles. Specifically banana truffles, because I bought banana extract a month ago, and had yet to use it in anything.


The justification for my impulsive purchase ended up wonderful, though it was some trial-and-error to get them looking halfway decent. The first batch I mis-read the instructions, and thought you were supposed to let the ganache set completely prior to scooping and rolling the balls – an error that became apparent quite quickly. Not just that, but I’m used to rolling dough in-between my palms, which led to a frustrating, though delicious, mess all over my hands.


The second batch I kept a closer eye on while it was setting, and spooned round-ish lumps into a bowl of cocoa powder. Once coated, I spun it in the bowl try to get it slightly spherical (though many places online suggested against perfectly round truffles, as they’re supposed to look similar to the truffles found in the wild), and let them chill in the fridge.


Future truffles will be left to rest on the cooling rack to try and keep them from developing feet, but other than that, they came out nicely. Originally I’d intended on brushing gold dust over the cop for a splash of color, but when I went to JoAnne’s, I couldn’t help but get the stars for two reasons: one, my wife loves stars, and two, we are both fans of the Lords of Waterdeep board game, in which her favorite faction is the Silver Stars.


Once completed and cooled, they were quite good – a slight crunch, followed by a decadent, creamy center.

Key Lime Cheesecake

Cake, Sweets

After Christmas I went out to spend some gift cards, and ended up grabbing a large spring-form pan (I have a set of smaller ones, but I’d been aching for a regular one for some time).  Of course, the first thing I wanted to bake was cheesecake, but after finding out how well whipped cream takes to flavoring, I decided why not make key lime cheesecake, and whipped cream with dark rum?


Also, I like key lime, and my wife had bought dark rum for one of her own culinary projects, and cheesecake is rarely, if ever, a bad idea.


It came out wonderfully, though I suspect I over-baked it just slightly, given the edges were a tad yellowed. However, the taste was wonderful, and being able to simply unlock the cheesecake was much nicer than in the past, where I tended to serve (or just eat) it out of the pan.


The whipped cream had a distinct bitter flavor, which I think worked well with the sweet and tart of the cheesecake, but I think that in the future, I might try to add gelatin (or something similar) to add stability.

Banana Macarons

Cookies, Sweets

To push myself a bit further this holiday season, I decided to make macarons with an Italian meringue, rather than common, this time around.


I will admit, I was a bit intimidated by it, as the only experience I had with it prior was at a restaurant that made them in batches of 1,000 or so at a time. On a smaller scale, however, it was a much smoother experience than I thought it would.


The only irritation was having to keep a close eye on the candy thermometer, and be completely ready to go at the exact moment. In the end, it did result in a prettier, much more uniform macaron shell.


As for the filling, I used the Drunken Monkey  jam from The Jam Stand – bananas, rum, and lime. It was runnier than I thought (though it firmed up when I left them in the fridge), so it definitely wouldn’t be something to keep around for hours and hours at room temp. Also, I found that after a couple days, the shells became very soft, due to the moisture of the jam. Certainly not a bad thing, after maybe a week in the fridge (though from what I understand, that’s about the extent you want to keep macarons in a fridge anyway) they weren’t as chewy as I’d have liked.


The garnish   was a simple whipped cream recipe, just with a splash of bourbon to add some flavor. I was surprised that it managed to hold its form for over a full day before I need to re-whip it. It was a good flavor, but I figure that in the future, something with a more neutral flavor profile would make it pop a bit more.