Thursday, April 28, 2016

Midweek Roundup: "So Delicious!"

Photo by Vicki
Baking with Granny

Ah, rugelach.  The name is exotic, but the flavors so familiar and comforting.  Who wouldn't look forward to an afternoon cup of coffee or tea with a tender, fruit-filled rugelach (fruit and filling of your choice, of course)?  I think everyone who baked these cookies was quite taken with them, although many of us also had some kind of problem.

Case in point:  Vicki said that while they were baking, "I can't even tell you how wonderful the house smells."  They were "so tasty," and she had no difficulty working with the dough or rolling them up.  What happened?  "I forgot to set the buzzer for the final 10 minutes of the last tray."  And the last tray was burned to a crisp--not just dark, not even just charred, but fully, completely burned.  Vicki was thorough enough to include a photo of the inedible cookies as an object lesson--don't forget to use the timer!  But I chose the picture of the cookies that came out of the oven at just the right time.

Catherine made both rugelach and schnecken, partly just for the pleasure of saying "schnecken," and partly because she thought "the shape might come out better."  She claims her rugelach generally "look like they've been dragged behind a truck."  You know how Catherine may occasionally exaggerate a wee bit, so I wasn't sure about the "dragged behind a truck" part, but she did include a photo of what she called a crab-elach.  It's very cute but let's just say it's not going to win any food shot contests.  Catherine says her schnecken looked somewhat "more respectable."

Oh, how I felt for Aimee.  Not that she needed my sympathy--after all, she described these cookies as "crunchy, sweet, buttery, nutty, sticky.  Spirals of goodness that call out for a doubled recipe."  Sounds great, right?  And then I saw that she baked them on foil, which has suddenly become my nemesis.  But she's not complaining, I said to myself--she must have had better luck with foil than I did.  Well, not so much--"Sticky jelly on foil = super glue."  That was her equation.  Aimee is just less of a complainer than I am.  "I did manage to get most of the cookies off the foil.  I had a lot of bakers treats from them, that's for sure."   Definitely a glass-half-full kind of person.

Although I said that most bakers had some kind of problem with these, Rachel proved me wrong.  She knows her family well enough to avoid raisins, so she made the chocolate-raspberry variation.  "I usually avoid filled cookies because I feel like the effort/reward ratio is too high, and also because cookie filling tends to the adolescent-unfriendly.  But these were surprisingly simple to put together, and anything with chocolate in it disappears in my house.  Definitely a repeatable endeavor!"

The worst problem that Jen had was that some of her cookies were just a tad underdone, which is really not much of a problem.  Does this sound like the writing of a person who's aggravated with the recipe?  "These are as simple as they are delicious and I think we'll be making these again and again.  Eliot dubbed these 'piecookies' which is fairly apt.  They are a bit like pastry with a yummy fruit/nut/jam filling.  However, don't let pastry fool you; these really are much simpler and less stressful to make to make than pastry."  No it does not.  And they look gorgeous, too.

And now I realize that the whole theme of this roundup--that we all had some little difficulty with the rugelach--is totally false and was made up by me in an effort to form the Sisterhood of the Ruined Rugelach.  Guys, I truly am happy for all of you; I'm just feeling a little sorry for myself.  We'll finish up with Jenn, whose rugelach pictures look beautiful, as do her pictures of crab apple blossoms covered with snow--an emblem of this weird spring/summer/winter we've been having.  Not only did Jenn prove me completely wrong on the notion that everyone messed up their rugelach, she also proved me wrong in my statement a few weeks ago that nobody really likes raisins.  On the contrary, she says, "I get pretty excited when I see recipes containing raisins.  I love raisins.  I would happily order, eat, cook, anything with raisins in it, sweet or savory."

Fortunately, I've already made the crumpets, and they turned out beautifully, so I won't be trying to form the Sisterhood of the Crummy Crumpet.  I will rejoice at your success and your eating pleasure.  Do try these crumpets!

Sunday, April 24, 2016


This was as close as I could come to a good-looking photo of my poor batch of Rose's wonderful rugelach.  I've made them before with no greater problem than a sometimes sloppy rolling technique, which didn't matter anyway because they're so delicious.  I blame it on the foil.  I'm pretty sure I've never used foil before.  You don't have to look too closely to figure out that this rugelach is not going to leave the foil without a fight.  And in the battle between me and the foil, I lost.

Mixing the dough was easy enough, and, actually, at this point the dough seemed quite docile.  I put it in the refrigerator, as directed.  Even if I hadn't been directed, I would have refrigerated it because I'm not the world's slowest learner.

While the dough was chilling, I made the filling.  Ha.  That was an accidental poem.  Or piece of doggerel, more accurately.

Even though I love raisin-walnut filling, we'd just made raisin walnut tartlets (in yet another example of sub-par planning skills), so I decided to go with something completely different:  almonds and chocolate pearls.  And despite reading the recipe three times, I missed the instruction to use superfine sugar in the filling and eliminate the brown sugar and cinnamon.  I just wish that mistake had been my biggest problem.

Brown sugar and cinnamon isn't awful with chocolate and raspberry, but it's not exactly a match made in heaven either.

The dough was soft and malleable, easy to roll out.  It didn't seem too soft or sticky.

At this point it looks like a chocolate-raspberry pizza.

Maybe I stretched the dough too thin when I was rolling up the cookies.  But at this point I wasn't worried in the slightest.

"During baking, a little of the apricot always melts out into the foil.  It is therefore necessary to remove the rugelach from the foil before the apricot hardens."  Apparently this instruction holds true even if you're not using apricot, although I think it was mostly sugar that leaked out.  The cookies were far too soft and fragile to move right away, so I had the choice of mashing them into the foil and ruining them or ruining them later when trying to pry them from the foil.  I chose ruinous path #2.

The cookies were still good, but no one ate them except the cookie maker and the cookie maker's husband, who stood around the kitchen hacking bite-sized pieces off the foil until we got tired of eating crumbs.  I know that these rugelach can be made successfully.  They're a classic Rose recipe, and I'll make them again, but it'll take a while for me to get up my nerve.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Midweek Roundup: "These are delicious."

Photo by Kristina
Eats N Drinks

Don't you feel a little bit sorry for the raisin?  Some people just hate them--wouldn't think of eating anything that has a raisin in it.  Some of those people can occasionally be tricked into eating, say, a cookie that has a few raisins in it, but even if they like them, they'll still claim to hate raisins.  And even the people who don't hate them mostly just tolerate them.  If you ask people what they'd choose for their last meal on earth, have you ever heard of anyone who includes raisins?  And yet here we have a pastry that is proudly raisinated, and people who try these little tartlets seem to love them.  I'm drinking a cup of coffee while I write, and if I weren't trying to lose weight, and if I had the choice right now of a Hungarian Raisin Walnut Tartlet and a piece of dark chocolate, I'd take the raisin tartlet.  Weird.  I don't especially like raisins.

Of course, now that I make that proclamation about people not loving raisins, I have to admit that Kristina wanted to make these tartlets because she thought they would be a lot like butter tarts, which are apparently a "Canadian thing," and they contain either raisins or pecans, but not both, which makes the pecan version sound a lot like pecan pie,  That's not a bad thing, of course.  And what's next on Kristina's baking agenda.  "Raisin pie.  A friend gave me her mother's old threadbare copy of "More Food That Really Schmecks" [not a typo]" and it says "Bill says really good" next to raisin pie.  So maybe this Bill would choose raisin pie as dessert for his last meal on earth, and my hypothesis would be shot to hell.

Everyone loved Kim's tartlets, although that does nothing to my theory because she made them with dried cranberries rather than raisins.  Mostly what Kim talked about was the sheer volume of pastry dough.  "My patience was tested here with the volume of pastry, rolling, cutting and fitting it into each cup and measuring the two fillings.  I was so frustrated by them once they were assembled."   Still, "it's a crowd favourite.  I know because I brought them to my monthly discussion group and all 17 of them disappeared.  Some people went for two.  Rick had four."  

Like Kim, Jenn was surprised at how long it took to roll out all the pastry dough and cut out the circles and shape them into the muffin pans.  Jenn used almond milk instead of regular cow's milk because her household doesn't drink milk any more.  And she keeps frozen cubes of cream on hand, which is a very smart idea and one that I hope to use myself.  I hate it when cream fails the sniff test and I have to throw it out!  What I enjoyed most about Jenn's post:  realizing that she's not perfect at rolling out dough.  I know it's not kind to like reading about someone else's imperfections, but it's one of my own imperfections.  She included a picture of the dough, which she says "looks like an island somewhere."  Extra credit for anyone who can name the island.  

Speaking of imperfections, Vicki says she had them by the score.  She blames "Mars in retrograde."  Now that I think of it, though, this must be one of those recipes that can take a lot of Mars-in-retrograde-induced mistakes, because everyone's tartlets, including Vicki's, looked gorgeous and professional.  Vicki's main problem was tripling the filling but not the pastry, which meant--you guessed it--that she ran out of dough before coming close to using up the filling.  But she simply used store-bought pie crust on some and made some with no pastry at all.  "I am surprised how delicious these are," says Vicki.  I agree.

Next week:  more raisins (or not, depending on which version you make) in Rose's famous rugelach recipe.  Personally, I would not recommend using the foil to line the cookie sheets, or, if you do, I hope you have better luck than I did.  But these cookies are so good I hope you take a chance on them.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hungarian Raisin Walnut Tartlets

I'll have to admit that I wasn't that keen on making these.  They sounded a little boring; they looked a little blah; and there were so many of them!  But after I decided I'd cut the recipe in thirds, so I only had to make one batch of pie crust, it sounded more doable.  Now I almost wish I'd made the whole recipe.  They're rich, nutty, scrumptious, and tasty as all get out.

This is a trick I learned from Rose and Woody.  The dough mat that's part of Rose's pie equipment is great for rolling out dough, but it's stored tightly rolled up, and it doesn't lie flat.  Taping each corner down with duct tape makes the mat easy to use.

The dough tracks make it easy to roll out pastry to 1/8 inch.  It's not close to a perfect circle but it doesn't have to be since you'll be cutting out circles that are 4 1/2 inches.  More or less.  I found a little bowl that was around 4 7/8 inch in diameter.  Close enough.

This is JJ's bowl.  He's a little possessive about his personal set of fine china (aka Ikea plasticware), but I think he'd agree this was used for a good cause.

Except for all the folderol that goes along with any pastry thing, and, of course, the toasting and skinning of the walnuts, the filling couldn't have been easier.  Raisins and chopped walnuts are mixed together.

And bound with a mixture of butter, eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla.  By the way, if you didn't already have a scale (and I think I'm preaching to the choir here), it would be worth it for those occasions where you want to divide a recipe by a third.  Or whatever.  Divide 2 1/3 cups of sugar by 3?  It gives me a headache.  Divide 467 grams?  Even I know enough arithmetic to manage that.  In fact, my skills peaked at long division.  Not so good after that.

As Jim said, it's a good thing Rose tells you the mixture will look curdled.  Otherwise, you might think twice before you used this mixture in cooking.

There is also a dire warning about getting the filling to slip between the dough and the pan, or you'll never get the tarts out of the pan.

I filled the tarts to the brim, because I was out of dough and not out of filling and I like things to come out even, so I envisioned a sticky mess accompanied by a lot of swearing.

But no!  They came out beautifully, and I didn't have to do the rigamarole with the two cooling racks and the folded towel.  All I had to do was loosen them a spatula, and they came right out.  In fact, I wasn't even trying to get them out with the spatula (I was planning to do the rigamarole), but they practically begged to be removed from the pan.  And I'm certainly not going to ignore a pleading Hungarian tartlet.

I only ate half a tartlet, but Jim ate the rest of mine and one of his own.  He said, "I like these a lot." That's high praise from someone whose normal assessments are "not too bad" and "that's different."  I may not even have to give these away.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Midweek Roundup: "A Real Treat"

Photo by Kim
The Finer Cookie

Since this was the second big, chocolatey layer cake that we made in a period of three weeks, I was curious to find out what people did with all this cake.  I was also curious to see whether everyone used instant lemon tea.  Kim took her cake to her friend's lake cottage "on a clear tranquil frozen lake" and "served it over a game of cards, which we all played very sloppily because we indulged in the cocktails too much."  They indulged in the cake, tea, but not too much because "how often does someong bring you a beautiful chocolate genoise with a black tea syrup and a citrusy chocolate ganache?"  Is that a rhetorical question.  Otherwise, my answer is "not very often."  Her ganache was laden with 33 grams of instant lemon tea because the person who in theory should check  for typos didn't do it.  No complaints from anyone, though.

Faithy remembered that she had made this cake a while ago and decided she'd just find the pictures. She discovered that it was over a year ago that she baked it, and that it was so "sensational" that she wanted to eat the whole thing herself, but she "shared it with her church gathering," where everyone said it was "such a great cake."  Other than that, she just remembered that it "had some liquor in it."  Okay, a boozy cake that everyone loves.  That's something you should keep, both for when you're feeling generous and when you want to eat a whole chocolate cake by yourself.  Faithy doesn't mention the infamous instant tea, but I can see it in a shot of the ganache in process.  

No word on what people got to sample Rachel's cake, but she was unhappy about a few things, so maybe her cake just stayed home.  Happily, Rachel got to watch the eggs and sugar "balloon up in the mixing bowl," a process she'd never seen before.  Sadly, Rachel got to watch the "eggs deflate" as she added the chocolate mixture to them.  Perspicaciously, she thought "this can't be good."  The other little fly in the chocolate cake ointment was the cognac, that is, the bourbon.  Somehow, at the liquor store, she thought "brandy," but bought "bourbon."  And this was even after she asked herself if it wasn't true that she didn't like whiskey.  Still, the ganache was "shiny and chocolatey and yummy."  And made without instant tea, "because we never use [it] so I skipped it."  An admirably practical solution to the problem that paralyzed me for days:  should I buy a big bottle of something that I'm only going to use once?

Catherine, who noted that this cake is made with "acres of chocolate," gave hers away to the whole 10th floor of her office building, since Catherine's team has moved to another floor and the poor 10th floor will no longer be the beneficiaries of Catherine's baking largesse.  As Catherine said, "they've been very appreciative Alpha Baker testers over the last year and this cake was no exception.  It doesn't matter how many people are on diets, when you bring out a chocolate cake, all objections are somehow forgotten."   And Catherine also decided against using the powdered tea, apparently without an ounce of worry.

Rosa gave away some of her chocolate cake to her neighbors.  (There is a photo of a very happy-looking neighbor on Rosa's blog).  And she really outdid herself.  She made the cake in 8-inch pans so it would be tall enough to cut each layer in half.  She used lemon oil in the batter, and lemon liquor for the syrup and the ganache (she also made her own creme fraiche for the ganache, using directions from The Cake Bible).  After frosting the cake, she covered it with dark and white chocolate curls and topped it all off with a sprinkling of gold dust.  She really outdid herself!

I know that Vicki and Jen are working on or have already baked their cakes, and I'm sorry to miss them, but it's almost Friday!  Check out their blogs tomorrow if you want to read their always-entertaining renditions.

Next week:  Hungarian Raisin Walnut Tartlets.  I checked and there are no errata in this recipe.  And there's not an ounce of chocolate in it!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

ChocolaTea Cake

I told several people that I was not going to buy another jar of instant tea, only to end up throwing all but a few tablespoons away.  It's really vile stuff.  But in the end, I bought the jar, and hope that it will do good in my compost pile.  I honestly couldn't taste the tea or the lemon in the ganache, but I have faith that Rose, with her more refined palate, is right when she says that the tea intensifies the chocolate flavor.  This is one heavy-hitting chocolate cake.

The first step is "cooking the chocolate."  Have we ever "cooked" chocolate before?  It's entirely possible that we have and I never noticed it before.  I've made a recent resolution to read the recipe completely through three times before starting.  Even that has not, unfortunately, eliminated mistakes, but that's as far as I'm willing to go.  Anyway, cooking it consists of pouring boiling water over chopped chocolate.

Beating and slightly warming 8 eggs.  In one fell swoop, I went from having a full carton of eggs to being almost out of them.

This is the most awe-inducing baking process that I know of.  I wonder if there's a name for the metamorphosis of a bowl of eggs into this billowy pile of fluff?  If there's not a name for this transformation, there should be.  Browning meat is called the Maillard reaction, and this is at least as cool as searing a steak.

Slipping the sifted flour into the cooled chocolate mixture.  I usually yell at Jim because he doesn't sweep unwanted photo detritus out of the way, but I like that this picture includes a box of Stretch-Tite plastic wrap, which has reached essential status to me, a box of Scharffen Berger chocolate, of which I have used more pounds than I care to contemplate, and a Minnesota Public Radio mug, the station that is always on the radio when I'm baking.  I especially like to bake Saturday afternoon, when I can listen to the opera.  (I also get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that there's a good chance Rose is listening to the same opera at the same time).

The batter--a pale brown (8 ounces of chocolate doesn't win out over 8 beaten eggs)--is ready for the oven, so on to the ganache.

I was intrigued by the creme fraiche.  2 cups!  This really is a most extravagant cake.  It should make the texture beautifully spreadable, I thought, but would it be too tangy for frosting?  We'll see.

A pound of chopped chocolate melting in scalding cream and creme fraiche.  And also the instant lemon tea I swore I wasn't going to buy again.  This was even worse than the last jar because this was "diet" lemon tea, meaning it was fake tea sweetened by fake sugar and flavored with fake lemon.

At least the syrup is real tea from a real tea bag.  The combination of brandy (I couldn't find my precious bottle of French cognac) and tea was very aromatic.

The only hard part about making this cake was getting the delicate layers out of the cake pans unscathed.  As I learned, it's better not to use an offset spatula for this job because, well, because it's offset and not straight.  Very little harm done, however.

There were gallons of ganache!  And it was so easy to frost.  Unlike the ganache for the Chocolate Cuddle Cake, which had to be "massaged" on the cake (Woody's phrase), this one could do nothing wrong.  I could even move the top layer a little bit to even them out with no harm done.  When Jim tasted it, though, he said, "Well, that's a surprise."  I asked him if he was using MinnSpeak, in which "that's a surprise" would be almost as bad as "that's different," which means "what possessed you to give me something that tastes like it was found dead on the road?"  He assured me that he was using the King's English and was just surprised at the tartness.  "I'm not sure JJ will like it, though," he said. So I bought some ice cream to serve with it.

As it turned out, though, JJ ate the cake and the ganache and the ice cream.  And so did everyone else.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Midweek Roundup: "Delicately sweet and light as air"

Meringue Birch Twigs - ButterYum

Photo by Patricia

I think we all appreciated how easy it was to make these meringues.  Actually turning the meringue mixture into something resembling twigs was more difficult, especially if there was a hint of humidity in the air.  But we gave it our best shot, and ended up with some tasty twigs as well as some amusing stories.

As you can see in the above picture, Patricia's cookies looked "stunning."  She is as comfortable with a piping bag as she is with most things in her kitchen, so her twigs are a model of Platonic twigginess, although she did have some trouble removing them from her Silpat-lined baking sheet (parchment worked better),   She also had a lot of breakage and advised planning for that if you want to long, slender twigs to make an impression.  (The broken pieces taste just as good).

Kim's experience was almost an exact duplicate of Patricia's.  Like Patricia, Kim had been want to make these meringues since the day she picked up her copy of The Baking Bible:  "such a breeze" to make and "so beautiful," she thought.  She was not counting on the fact that they wouldn't release from the Silpat liner and "almost all of them broke."  Kim used tangerine oil instead of the suggested raspberry flavoring and enjoyed the "gentle orange flavour."  Even though "nothing sticks to Silpat," these did, and Kim "finally gave up."  But I think she still liked the broken cookies.

Aimee also had a Silpat problem.  (One moral of this roundup seems to be to use parchment rather than Silpat when making these twigs).  She described hers as being more like "kindling than branches," and although they were "super cute" and "tasted really good," they weren't tall enough to display in a glass.  Aimee used coconut flavoring, which she liked a lot.  Also besides being "light and tasty," they're gluten-free.  

Jen had sort of the opposite problem.  Yes, she acknowledged, Rose does warn against making these meringues in humid weather.  But it had been a "wonderful week of sunny and dry days."  So she wasn't really paying attention when the "clouds rolled in and the rain came back."  Sounds almost Biblical, doesn't it?    So as the humidity reached 96%, "the twigs got stickier and sadder and less like twigs and more like failure."  (But if you look at Eliot's happy face, "failure" is not the word that comes to mind).

Vicki said "it looked like a storm hit" her birch twigs.  She attributed this to having "zero patience with piping."  (I do believe that Vicki and I are sisters under the skin.)  Still, they were "very simple to make" and "very similar to eating cotton candy."  Her "delicate twigs" look delectable.

Rachel "splurged" on the French raspberry essence, which she appreciated for its natural raspberry taste, not like raspberry flavoring.  Rachel made these as "the perfect treat" for her book club, where everyone loved "that they provided a lot of taste without being too filling."  In fact, she said, there was more agreement about the deliciousness of the meringues than about the merit of the book.

Have you ever noticed that blogs about baking failures are sometimes hilarious while blogs about baking successes are less so.  For proof of that, look no further than to Catherine's account of her "meringue birch smudges."  "It must have been either hubris or stupidity that led me to attempt the Meringue Birch Twigs recipe from the Baking Bible.  Especially when every time I open the freezer door I'm confronted with the miserable, chewy failure of the dattelkonfekt....  Especially when Rose herself warned the Alpha Bakers that these become bendy rather than twiggy in humidity.  Especially since the experiences of my fellow Alpha Bakers confirmed this.  Plus it was piping.  I'm not sure which of the excuses I prefer.  Why don't we call it the triumph of hope over experience."  Not being in Darwin, I can express no opinion on the actual merit of Catherine's meringue birch twigs.  But you've got to admit she wrote a funny blog post.

Next week:  The ChocolaTea Cake.  I only have one thing to say:  stock up on chocolate.  The ganache itself has one full pound of chocolate in it.  And of course, it's a chocolate cake.  Better stock up on eggs too.  Eight of them in the cake.  It sounds glorious.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Meringue Birch Twigs

This is one of several recipes that I've dreaded making since I got the book and started leafing through the pictures.  I dread things when I don't think I can handle the technique or when I can do it but I think it'll end up being such a slipshod job that it will just annoy me.  So when Woody was here in the fall, I asked him if he'd help me with the Pink Pearl Lady Cake and these Twigs.  "Yes," he said.  "No problem.  I think Rose and I will be coming to Minnesota in March, so we can do them then."  But then I decided that I'd have to do the Pink Pearl cake for Valentine's Day, and I'd just have to muddle through it myself.  And I did (muddle).  Of course, Rose and Woody were very busy while they were here but about midnight on their last day, I reminded Woody that he was going to help me with these dang sticks.  He looked at the clock and said cheerfully, "Sure, no problem.  We can just whip them up now."  I looked at the clock too, and said, "Oh, I guess I can do it myself."  There was, perhaps, just a hint of a martyr's tone in that sentence.  But thanks, Woody.  You're the only person I know who would agree to help me make meringue twigs at midnight.

Actually, mixing them up, which consisted only of beating egg whites with cream of tartar, sugar, and a few flavorings, was super easy.  I wished I could have stopped right there.  After all, I've never in my life made birch twigs and never thought my life was lacking something--at least, I didn't think it was lacking meringue birch twigs.

I even bought a #12 thingy just for the occasion.  I have a hodgepodge of piping equipment, most of which I've bought in the vain hope that I'd 1) learn to love piping and 2) become good at it.

Putting the meringue in one of my new Wilton disposable bags.  At least I'd have the tools to make proper birch twigs.

The shapes of the twigs went all over the place.  Some were very flat (I guess I pressed down too hard); some looked like they had some weird birch canker.  I learned that birch canker can form "knotty growths on bark and may girdle stems, or the bark may split, revealing dead wood underneath."   I thought of claiming that I had deliberately made twigs showing birch tree diseases as an educational tool, but I was pretty sure no one would believe it.

I made a double meringue layer on some of the twigs that I flattened too much.  I think that if I made these once a week, it would only take me a year or two to get the hang of it.  I briefly ponder the idea of making meringue birch twigs 104 weeks in a row, and I almost forget to breathe.

The chocolate makes them look much more attractive.  Even the double decker twigs don't look quite so diseased.

They turn out very crisp and not at all meringue-y in the sense of lemon meringue pie.  I used orange oil instead of raspberry, but I'm not so sure that they need flavoring at all, except for the chocolate.  When you think "birch tree," you don't think "raspberry" or "orange."  Well, you don't think flavor at all.  I like raspberry with chocolate and orange with chocolate, but maybe I just like birch tree with chocolate.

Now I'm down to just a few dreaded recipes:  the faux gras cream puffs, the pomegranate pie with the meringue crust (meringue again!) and the Brandy Snap Cannoli.  (It's a good thing I'm looking forward to making most of the others).  What about you?  Any recipes that seem daunting?  Or that you can't wait to try?