smitten kitchen Cookbook Project: What I’ve Already Made

Apple cider caramels from the smitten kitchen cookbook

As my first post for the smitten kitchen cookbook project, I thought I would do a quick recap of the items I’ve already made from the cookbook.

Leisurely pizza dough: I threw the dough together in the morning and let it rise slowly in the fridge while I was at work, as instructed. However, I had suspected that the yeast stored in the back of my freezer was no longer up to the task, and when I got home, my suspicions were confirmed, as the dough had not risen at all. The pizza still came out okay, but I plan on trying this recipe again for one of the pizza recipes to see how it goes.

What worked: The overall taste was good, the dough comes together easily, and the method of letting the dough rise throughout the day is really convenient.

What didn’t work: As mentioned, the dough didn’t rise, but I’m pretty sure that’s due to bad ingredients.

Would I make it again?: I certainly will!

Slow cooker black bean ragout: The beans came out great – super flavorful, and super easy to throw together. This recipe actually serves as a good base for cooking beans in general, i.e. the proportions of aromatics, spices, and acid. I didn’t eat the beans with the pickled red onions or garlicky toast as in the recipe, however, so there’s a good chance I’ll try this again with both of those items as well.

What worked: Everything! This was simple and tasty, and the beans make great leftovers as well.

What didn’t work: Not applicable.

Would I make it again?: Yep!

Tomato-glazed meatloaves with brown butter mashed potatoes: I made the meatloaves when we had some friends over for dinner but omitted the mashed potatoes – I can’t remember why I chose to do that, but oh well. Since you can’t go wrong with brown butter, this dish will have to happen again in all its glory.

What worked: Pretty much everything.

What didn’t work: It felt like there was a little bit of excess water in the baking dish when the loaves were done, but I can’t remember if that was a flaw or not.

Would I make it again?: I will! Gotta try those mashed potatoes!

Buttered popcorn cookies: These cookies are just fantastic. So creative, and a perfect blend of sweet and salty. The combination seems strange at first, but trust me, it works. My friend described the cookies as “weird . . . in a good way.”

What worked: Everything – even folding the popcorn into the cookie mixture was easier than I thought it would be.

What didn’t work: While these cookies are fantastic, they aren’t quite as fantastic the next day, as the popcorn tastes just a tad bit stale after a day.

Would I make it again?: Absolutely!

Gooey cinnamon squares: So delicious! I brought them to a party and they were devoured.

What worked: Easy to make and easy to enjoy.

What didn’t work: I recall the second layer being just a little difficult to spread onto the first – not a huge issue overall.

Would I make it again?: Heck yes!

Chocolate silk pie: An amazingly indulgent pie that’s actually really satisfying to make – you get to spend some solid time whipping up butter, sugar, eggs and chocolate together until they become a delicious filling for a beautiful pie.

What worked: Everything!

What didn’t work: Nothing – just make sure you give the pie plenty of time to set in the fridge before serving.

Would I make it again?: Yes, especially for chocolate lovers!

S’more layer cake: One of the best cakes I’ve ever made. Using ground up graham crackers in the cake mix is genius, and the marshmallow frosting is fun and brings the cake together perfectly.

What worked: The cake layers had a wonderful, delicate graham cracker-y flavor, and the frosting was nice and light (not a typical heavy buttercream).

What didn’t work: The milk chocolate ganache was delicious, but didn’t become as thick as expected, and therefore leaked out the sides of the cake when I assembled the layers. I suspect this was user error, however – that I didn’t give the ganache enough time to cool and thicken up.

Would I make it again?: 100% yes

Apple cider caramels (pictured above): If I were to only make one caramel recipe for the rest of my life, this would be it. The cider taste is prominent and pairs beautifully with the buttery caramel flavor, and the flaky sea salt added at the end provides a perfect balance. Just amazing. The recipe can be found on the smitten kitchen website as well as the book.

What worked: Everything – making caramels might seem intimidating, but it’s really not difficult, it just takes time (and a candy thermometer is very helpful).

What didn’t work: This is, again, more of a user error. I’ve made these caramels twice, and the first time, I took the caramel off the stove too early. It had been cooking for longer than described in the recipe and still wasn’t up to the correct temperature, so I was worried that there was something wrong with my thermometer. As a result, the caramels were too soft. The second time I tried the recipe, I made sure to let the caramel reach the listed temperature, and the end result was perfect.

Would I make it again?: Again and again and again

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