FFWD Server Down :(

Apparently, the French Fridays with Dorie server is currently down for the count. I am still on vacation until Sunday, thus the server will be down until Sunday as well.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

Back to your regularly scheduled blog posts….

(~Laurie)

Happy Anniversary!

Tuesdays with Dorie is 3 years old this week. THREE YEARS! I can hardly believe it. When I posted about doing a weekly recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours, it was basically to get myself blogging more. Which is still an issue for me. I asked for one or two people to join in, to keep me accountable. I never imagined that so many people would love the idea and jump on board. I certainly never imagined that three years later, the core of the group would be the very same. People have come and gone, but the core of the group remains the same. I thank you for that. Where I have slacked off because of personal circumstances, you have kept baking along week after week. You have kept the group going all this time. Now, I am not an emotional person. But, as I write this, I am tearing up a bit. Tuesdays with Dorie changed my life. Seriously. It did. I thank you for that, too. Quick shout out to my twitter pals. You know who you are. Love ya!

To Julie– You stepped up to help me when all the other staffers had fallen by the wayside. Thank you! I never would have been able to start French Fridays with Dorie without your help on this blog. It means more to me than you know. There are not many people who would help maintain a blog like this in their spare time. You have to be a special brand of crazy. I know. You are amazing and I appreciate all you do. Thank you. xo

To Dorie– Thank you for your continued support of this group. Not many authors would have been as involved with a group like this. I know we all appreciate you taking time to comment on this blog, and our personal blogs. As well as my many emails. Thank you, thank you.

Since Julie has been maintaining the weekly posts for me, I would like to give her an opportunity to say whatever she would like as well. xo~ Laurie

Wow, I am a bit speechless and tearing up myself.  It has been such fun just being part of the group and a real pleasure to be able to step in and help out a bit on the site.  And yes, I am certainly that special brand of crazy.  ;-)  We’ve all had the chance to stretch and grow a bit in terms of our kitchen comfort level (caramel, anyone?)  I’m excited for what 2011 has in store for me and my kitchen. — Julie

On to the recipe!

Midnight Crackles

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1 1/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsley chopped
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs

Put the butter, sugar and chocolate, in that order, into a 2-quart saucepan. Set the pan over low heat and warm the ingredients, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Scrape into the bowl of a stand mixer or another large bowl.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.

Working with the stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer on low speed, add the eggs to the chocolate mixture one at a time, beating until they are well blended into the chocolate. With the mixer still on low, add the dry ingredients, mixing just until the dough is smooth and shiny; it will clean the sides of the bowl and form a ball. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, or for up to 3 days. (If the dough is solid, leave it on the counter for 30 minutes before proceeding.)

Getting Ready to Bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll the dough between your palms into firm, shiny balls (if the dough breaks as you work, squeeze and knead it a bit, then reroll it between your palms) and place about 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Lightly press each one down a tad with your fingertips.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies should be delicately firm and cracked across the top. (It’s better to under- than overbake.) Remove the sheets from the oven and let the cookies rest on the sheets for 2 minutes, then, using a wide metal spatula, gently transfer the cookies to a rack. Cool to room temperature.

Repeat with remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Makes about 50 cookies.

Housecleaning is done

Hi all.  Over the past few weeks, I clicked through the side-bar list of baker’s links.  I removed anyone who hadn’t posted recently ( I went back to at least August) and consistently (following our rules of two posts per month).  If I mistakenly took you off the list, please let me know (e-mail me at iahawk89 at comcast dot net)  Google Reader will be updated soon to show the changes.

Thanks, everyone.  And happy baking!

Fall Cleaning

I have not touched the blogroll or rotation since February. Its time people. I am giving one months notice. If you want to stay involved in the group and have not been keeping up, take this 30 days and jump back in. All blogs that have not participated in 90 days will be removed. This really isn’t a big deal as everyone who wants to be involved already posts twice a month, right?

Jumping ahead to the Coffee-Break Muffins

I know that espresso powder seems to be quite a hot topic when it is called for in some of our recipes.  It’s coming up again next week, so I thought I’d add some information and links.

Espresso powder is indeed different from instant coffee.  Here is what it is:

“Espresso powder begins life as a select variety of coffee beans that are cultivated specifically for the brewing of espresso. Usually, the beans are ground just before the espresso is brewed. Once the grounds have been used to make espresso, they do not have to be discarded. Instead, the used espresso grounds can be dried and then crushed into a fine powder. Espresso grounds retain a great deal of flavor and thepowder that is made from the crushed grounds will have plenty of taste and aroma. The end result is a handy cooking additive that can be used in a number of different recipes for both foods and drinks.”  Thank you WiseGeek.com!

I’ve seen some cooking sites that say you can get a reasonable facsimile if you pulverize your instant coffee.  However, if you’d like to try the real thing, I have some links for you.

My source is King Arthur Flour.  (currently shipping for free!)  I’ve also seen it at Williams-Sonoma.  Medaglia D’oro is a brand that you can find at some grocery stores.  You may have to ask them to order it, but it is available.

If you’re worried about not using this ingredient other than when it is specifically called for, have no fear.  I always add a teaspoon to my chocolate desserts.  It seems to add a little something to the chocolate without leaving a coffee taste.

Let’s talk TWD 2.0

I have a zillion ideas for TWD 2.0. I’d like to get a jump on getting a blog started for the new group, even if it wont launch till later this year. I want all the ducks in a row so to speak.

First, I’d like to hear from you. The members are what make the group so special. This is your chance to tell me what you like about TWD, what you may not like, etc…

My thought is that I’d like TWD 2.0 for Around My French Table to be a little more laid back. It has more recipes than BFMHTY… Think about that… I KNOW! That’s a lot of recipes! Do you think the new group should be a weekly group?  If you are a member of TWD and join the new group, will you be able to handle 2 recipes a week? (Edited to add: Meaning one recipe from BFMHTY and one from AMFT. Not 2 recipes from AMFT per week.) Do you think the rules should be a little more lax?

What should we call this spin-off?? Suggestions welcome.

Let me hear it. All the nitty gritty. Let it fly.

xo Laurie

TWD: The New Book

Here we go folks… Dorie’s new book, Around My French Table, is right around the corner.  If you haven’t pre-ordered yet, go do that now. Right now..

Okay, with that done, let’s continue. I started thinking today about a TWD spin-off for the new book. TWD: The New Book… TWD: AMFT… TWD: The Legend Continues, etc…

I have briefly discussed a spin-off with Dorie and she has so graciously given us her blessing. Woohoo! I love her so.

The sequel is just in the beginning stages. A lot of decisions will need to be made. I have learned a thing or 2 about running a group in the past 2 years. The most important thing I have learned is, it is hard to go it alone. (To all my former helpers of TWD, I thank you, and to the last lady standing, CB, I heart you.) Therefore, I am asking for help. Anyone interested in being staff for the new group, comment on this post.

Much love my baking army, let the saga continue,

Laurie

Dorie’s NEW Book

Dorie’s new book, Around My French Table, has cover art! If this picture doesn’t reel you in, I don’t know what will.

Dorie wrote a lovely post on her blog about the new book today. Head over there and check it out. If you haven’t preordered yet, what are you waiting for? Do it!

Easter

If you would like to make the Coconut Tea Cake for Easter, please feel free to swap weeks with the recipe for April 6, Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake. So, if you would like to make the bundt for this coming Tuesday, March 30, that would be fine. :)

Bake on!

LW

Updating..

I spent 4 hours a couple weeks ago cleaning out the blogroll. The bloggers who joined in the past 30 days have been added. The blogroll on the main page, as well as the Bakers page, are now up to date.  I am working on getting the information to update bloglines.

If you should be on the blogroll and are not, please check your email. There were a few blogs I didnt have the URLs for. Also, if there are any changes I missed, please leave a comment and I will fix it.

The next ‘clean house’ will be in April. I am going to do my very best to check every blog every 2 months.

Lastly, I have gotten a ton of negative feedback for the way I have run this group. If there is one thing I can do, its call myself out. I have been a very passive leader. Frankly, I just haven’t had the time to dedicate to the maintaining of this site and its members the past year. I have flown by the seat of my pants with this group because I never intended to run a group. It was not a well thought out process, it is something that fell in my lap. And its wonderful, do not think for a second I am complaining. I am not. However, I apologize. I apologize to those who felt singled out, wronged and rejected. I apologize to those who think I should be removed from the blog myself for lack of participation. You are right. I should be. But, I am the founder of the group, and for every hour I spend maintaining, I could be baking and updating my own blog. I let things slide so long because I was struggling to keep up and did not want to be a hypocrite. With all that said, I am going to do my best here on out to keep things tidy and fair. So, please stop with the hateful emails. I am waving my white flag.

Thanks! Bake on!

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