Category Archives: Daring Bakers

Dared to Bake: Cafe au Lait Cheesecake with Caramel

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. According to Jenny, her friend Abbey T. has tweaked this recipe to it’s now almost perfect state. The basic cheesecake recipe is adaptable to various flavors so you could be making this cheesecake for a long time if you want to try out all the flavors.

For my version, I went for the coffee cheesecake with caramel topping otherwise known as Cafe’ au Lait Cheesecake with Caramel.

Visit the Daring Baker website for the original recipe with the different flavor suggestions. Here is my version (my notes, as always, in red).
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Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)

Daring LadyThe Daring Bakers have a new home in the Daring Kitchen! If you hadn’t heard of the daring bakers before, come visit with other cooks in the newly opened Daring Kitchen and participate in the monthly cooking and baking events that will be sure to challenge you and stretch your imagination.

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Spinach Lasagna

The recipe, as released by the hosts of this month’s daring baker challenge is posted in its entirety on the new Daring Kitchen: Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna. What I have posted here is my version (my comments in red).

I tried to take photos of each step but since this recipe involved a lot of steps requiring messy hands and I was by myself in the kitchen, I either forgot or just didn’t have time to take photos. I made this lasagna on a Sunday afternoon and it took me approximately three hours from start to finish to complete the challenge. I don’t have a pasta maker so I rolled the pasta by hand, the first time ever for me, which was the most time consuming process but I did cut some time by going all vegetarian. I didn’t make the ragu suggested in the recipe. I did stick to the béchamel sauce recipe which, I think, is what completes the flavors of this lasagna which doesn’t have that dry white cheese common in most lasagna’s we’re familiar with.
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French Yule Log

French Yule Log

This is the Daring Bakers‘ December challenge, the French Yule Log!

This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda of Saffron and Blueberry and Marion of Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

According to the introduction to this challenge by one of our hosts, Hilda:

In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type that we made last December, or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is also just a scrumptious dessert recipe.

Yule Log Sliced

Like many of the Daring Bakers challenges I’ve completed so far, this one is definitely delicious, rich and challenging. This is also by far the longest recipe with the six elements:
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
2) Mousse
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Icing

It seems daunting at first sight, and actually this one does lives up to its looks. It is daunting, but definitely not impossible. Just go one step at a time as I did. The log is simply layers of all the elements, ensconced in the terrific dark chocolate mousse. In my version, I put the Dacquoise Biscuit on the bottom and on top.

Here are the recipes and instructions for layering (The recipes and instructions below are what I used. There were suggested variations included in the original instructions which was 18 pages long when printed out but I decided not to put the elements I didn’t use here so as not to confuse myself if ever I am crazy enough to attempt this again. 😀 ):
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Lavash Crackers

Daring Bakers everywhere baked crackers for the month of September. These are savory treats this time, Lavash Crackers!

Lavash & Baba ganoush

This month’s hosts, Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and co-host Shel, of Musings From the Fishbowl chose the vegan and/or gluten free recipe to challenge us with. Now I don’t know much about vegan or gluten cooking, but I do love my veggies and this time, I just happen to have some eggplants from the garden so I made the accompanying dip with them and they were delicious!

The dough for the crackers is perfect for my little dough makers who like to roll and cut out shapes from everything. Here’s how we did it, based on the instructions from our hosts.
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Chocolate Eclairs Part I

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge is hosted by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK of What’s for Lunch, Honey? This time around they chose to challenge us with Chocolate Eclairs from the cookbook, Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Hermé. I was excited when I first saw the challenge, I’ve always wanted to make cream puffs but was always intimidated by the Pâte à Choux or Cream Puff dough. I’ve had pretty good results from previous Daring Bakers challenges so I really had high hopes for this one.


Unfortunately, it was too good for my winning streak to keep going. So I’m naming this part one because I refuse to give up. I’m definitely making this one again, if only to get it right finally.

So here’s the recipe and my notes.
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Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

As you all know, I’m trying to be a more daring baker, so here’s another attempt. Our hostess this month, Chris of Mele Cotte, chose to challenge us with: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream.

For me, this was a tad of a challenge not because of the recipe, but because of the ingredients. That’s one reason I had been putting off baking all month and finally buckled down at the last minute. Yep, I finished baking at 2 this morning 🙂

I’m glad I’m not the only one who had the problem finding hazelnuts. The only hazelnut I saw at our local grocery store was hazelnut flavored coffee. I went to another store and they just happened to have some chopped hazelnuts, so I went ahead and got those in case I can’t find whole ones. I’m glad I did because I never did find whole hazelnuts and I was afraid to grind the chopped ones for the cake part because they still had their skins on and I wasn’t sure if that was going to make the cake bitter. Instead, I did what someone else suggested on the Daring Baker forum, which was to use the leftover almond meal from last month’s Opera Cake challenge.

I noticed I’ve been saying this with every challenge, but I am finding out to be more true with each challenge. The recipe is long and it has many parts but if you tackle each one at a time and just go step by step, you’ll find that it really isn’t that bad. I started out by using the chopped hazelnuts to make the praline. Of the pralines, I set a couple of tablespoons aside for the decoration, then processed the rest into a paste. The sugar syrup, I cooked while the cake was baking, and while the cake was cooling, I made the apricot glaze. So don’t let the length of the recipe scare you, break it up in stages if you have to, just jump in and dare to bake too 🙂

So without further ado, here is the recipe for this month. [I’ve noted my comments and changes to the recipe in brackets] I had intentions of photographing each step, but some of the steps required speed and attention so I didn’t have time to photograph every step. I was also cooking dinner while baking the cake, so it got pretty confusing in the kitchen. My cake decorating skills are nil, let me say that off the bat. I also didn’t have the right size decorating tip required, so I made do with what I had. I couldn’t use my tiny leaf tip because the nuts kept stopping it up so I switched to the biggest star tip I had. It still got stopped up with nuts and I had to stop in between to pick the nut out of the tip with a toothpick. Anyway, along with my sucky decorating skills and fast melting buttercream, I think it came out pretty nice. I love the chocolate glaze on top, it made it look so smooth and professional looking. lol!
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June DB Challenge: Danish Braid

June’s Daring Bakers Challenge, hosted by Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’? is:
Technique: Making and working with yeasted laminated dough
Recipe: “Danish Braid” from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking

Danish Braid

This was another intimidating recipe for me, where, had I not committed to making it for Daring Bakers, I probably wouldn’t be inclined to make it on my own. Just the mention of ‘yeasted’ and ‘laminated’ would have sent me running. But that was my purpose for joining Daring Bakers, wasn’t it? So here I go.

Braid with Apple Filling

Once I got started making the dough, though, it got easier. I read through the recipe once, then just followed each step one at a time. Once I got going and found a rhythm, it actually went pretty smoothly and I found the recipe was not as daunting as it looked on paper. Again, I didn’t deviate much from the original recipe for fear of messing it up. But now that I’ve done it once, I think I have some ideas for future variations. Plus, just looking at some of the variations other Daring Bakers have taken on their versions has inspired me.

By the way, the thing that perplexed me the most, the braiding part, my 10 year old daughter figured it out and did it all herself. 🙂

So without further ado, here’s the recipe with some photos of the process.
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Cheesecake on a stick

Cheesecake Pops

Cheesecake Pops
There’s cheesecakes, then there’s this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, Cheesecake Pops! That’s right, these cheesecakes definitely pop as they are made into popsicle sticks. The girls loved these and they loved sharing it with their friends.

I made this batch on my daughter’s birthday and she brought them to school as treats for her friends.

This was also a great shared activity in the kitchen, so our pops turned out different shapes and sizes depending on who was making them. Then they (the girls) got lazy making balls and putting on popsicle sticks so they sliced the cheesecake into rectangles and triangles and had fun decorating them. Some were dipped in chocolate, some in white chocolate and then there were a few that were left naked and rolled in graham cracker crumbs. I am still experimenting with the baking itself, so I didn’t change anything from the original recipe. I tried to stick with the original as much as possible.
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