no such thing as too much baking

It turns out that last week's red velvet brownies (which I baked for my department's annual Thanksgiving potluck) were only a warm-up for the small marathon of baking that I undertook on Wednesday night.

Not that I had any reason to be surprised. I mean, I did volunteer to bring desserts to three different Thanksgiving celebrations in one week. Still, it was quite amusing to come home from the grocery store on Wednesday morning and realize that everything I'd bought was for baking. Oh, the wonderful things that were going to happen in my kitchen that night!

And yes, that is whipping cream, creme fraiche and Cool Whip sitting in my fridge. I wasn't sure about the creme fraiche, especially since I picked it up as a potential substitute for the mascarpone cheese that neither grocery store carried...but I was looking forward to putting all these creamy products to good use.

The first dessert was a long-time favorite of mine - pumpkin chocolate-chip squares. When I came across this recipe four years ago, I was admittedly a bit skeptical. But the idea of combining two delicious flavors into one dessert motivated me to try it.

That was definitely one chance that paid off! So I was looking forward to sharing one of my favorite desserts with Wildcat Guy and his family during their Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. And when I say feast, I mean feast. What else do you call Thanksgiving dinner for eleven people?!

But I also wanted to bring something that wasn't pumpkin-y. So I decided to try a recipe I'd found for Cocoa Peanut Butter Pie. Note to self - when some recipes instruct you to use a food processor, a blender can be a good substitute. For pie crusts that require you to turn cookies into crumbs? Not so much. Unless you are willing to blend just a few cookies at a time. Poor Wildcat Guy kept getting distracted from the basketball games on TV by my grumblings at the blender.

But his patience paid off when he got to help me lick the bowl. Mmm...just look at that creamy goodness! Any worry I had about how the pie would taste quickly evaporated when I saw Wildcat Guy's face as we cleaned the bowl with spoons and fingers; and the deliciousness of this pie was so worth the grumblings that making the crust caused.

Last on my list for the evening was a red wine chocolate cake for our Thanksgiving dinner with my family on Friday. I'd been intrigued by this recipe when I read it, and then a dear friend gave me a bottle of red wine. Since I'm not really a red wine person, it seemed like a natural choice to bake with it.

This was also where the creme fraiche and whipping cream were used - blended with powdered sugar and vanilla to create a garnish to dollop on top. Separately, the chocolate cake and the "dolloping cream" were a little off for my taste. The former was slightly too rich, and the latter was slightly too...plain in its flavor. But together, there was a balance that made it taste really good.

My little baking marathon reminded me what I love about preparing food - especially desserts - for others. It may be time-consuming, and occasionally frustrating...but the looks (and sounds) of delight as friends and family dig in is so pleasing. what to bake next??

Where I am: home


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