Monday, June 4, 2012

Kitchen Challenge: Desserts

Back in March I wrote about my first kitchen challenge (soups), inspired by my desire to makeover our regular Sunday night dinner routine. The kitchen challenge did the trick, in that it forced me to think outside the box when it came to our family dinners, and it also increased the number of delicious soup recipes in my recipe box by five.

Yeah right, like I'd ever spend
that much time on presentation.
I focus on taste, unless I'm
decorating cupcakes.
Before I'd even made it halfway through my list of soups I'd started compiling my next list...desserts. I LOVE to bake, and I'm not at all embarrassed to admit that at least 50% of my motivation to do so is so that I can lick the bowl. Sometimes I let the kids lick the beaters, but never the bowl. NEVER the bowl. The bowl is mine.

I regularly bake brownies, lemon bars, gingersnaps, chocolate chip cookies, and white/chocolate cupcakes, and I have fabulous recipes for strawberry shortcake, black bottom cupcakes, carrot cake, pineapple upside down cake, and a number of delicious breads that I pull out a couple of times each year. You'd think all that deliciousness would satisfy me, but no, I needed more and set out to find it this spring.

Here's how the challenge went down:
1. Chocolate chip muffins
2. Banana cake w/ cream cheese frosting
3. Mocha chocolate cake w/ chocolate buttercream frosting
4. Almond thumbprint cookies w/ raspberry jam filling
5. Banana cream pie
6. Key lime cupcakes w/ cream cheese frosting
7. Pina colado smoothies
8. Chocolate fudge bundt cake w/ chocolate glaze
9. Strawberry shortcake cookies
10. Strawberry shortcake bars
11. Chocolate chip zucchini bread
12. Apple crumble bars

I was a little disheartened at first, as I didn't hit a home run until the banana cream pie in the fifth inning. (Heaven in a pie plate, that dessert. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.) It's not that the first four desserts were bad, it's just that they weren't anything to write home about. The same could be said for the key lime cupcakes and the chocolate fudge bundt cake, but the pina colada smoothies, courtesy of Paula Dean, were actual pretty disappointing.

And then, in the home stretch, we really started to run up the score. (Can you tell I've been thinking a lot about baseball lately?) The strawberry shortcake cookies, strawberry shortcake bars, chocolate chip zucchini bread, and apple crumble bars were all spectacular. As in every-crumb-eaten, people-asked-for-the-recipe delicious.

Unlike with the soup recipes, I made very few changes to the original recipes. It's a lot harder to make substitutions and changes that work when you're baking than it is to do so when you're cooking. If you have any questions about any of the recipes above (or would like any of my staple dessert recipes), just let me know!

Next up on the kitchen challenge front...tomatoes! I expect that within the next few weeks our family will be drowning in tomatoes, therefore my plan is to spend the summer - when we're in town, that is - trying new appetizers, salads, appetizers, and main courses that call for tomatoes. Tom is beyond excited, as tomatoes are pretty high on his favorite food list and he's giddy with excitement like a child about to pass through the gates of Disney World about eating food we've grown ourselves.

I know fall is still a few months away, but any suggestions as to what our fall kitchen challenge should focus on would be appreciated. After winter soups, spring desserts, and summer tomatoes, I'm without any good ideas for fall. Thanks, and happy dessert eating!

1 comment:

  1. Maybe try different types of squash? Pumpkins, butternut, zucchinis, etc. You can use them for everything from soup, to substitutes for pastas and even desserts!