Hopefully you didn’t think my title was a typo and come here expecting my Top 5 Books of 2018 (Get it? Books / Bakes) 🙂 I know a lot of other bloggers share their favorite books each year, but I touched on that in my Book Survey. So, I thought I’d switch it up a bit and share my top 5 bakes of the year!
Top 5 Bakes of 2018:
Chocolate Cheesecake – I turned to King Arthur Flour when I decided to make this dessert. They’re a premium flour company that’s expanded into an authority on all things baking. I just received the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion book for my birthday. It’s chock full of basic baking recipes as well as tips and tricks to ensure your success!
This cheesecake recipe is rich, chocolate-y, and easy to put together. Jay and I polished the whole thing off in five days…
The Baked Brownie – Brown Eyed Baker is an established blog that I just discovered this year and I found the most amazing made from scratch brownies on her site. While I still love box brownies, these are unbelievably decadent. They’re best for those who favor dense, fudge-y brownies due to their lack of leavening agent.
In addition, they have melted chocolate PLUS cocoa powder, so you’ll enjoy an intense chocolate flavor. My bible study gobbled these up and requested them again so I had an excuse to make them multiple times this year! I just realized now I never actually took a picture of any of them…
Pecan Pie – When I found a massive bag of pecans on sale at Costco, I immediately dropped it into my shopping cart. Then they sat in my freezer for months and months while I promptly forgot about them. When I rediscovered them this fall, I started searching for pecan pie recipes. I wanted to tackle homemade dough as well and Brown Eyed Baker delivered once again.
I followed her pecan pie and dough recipe as written with great success! I’m not a fan of pecan pie with whole pecans or the nuts just sitting on top of the filling, so this was right up my alley. I also ended up with a bit of extra filling, so I poured it into a small ramekin and baked it right along with my pie. It’s quite delicious by the spoonful 🙂
Sugar Cookies – One of the gifts I registered for when we got married was cookie cutters and a year and a half later I finally got around to using them! When my cousin posted a gorgeous picture of her sugar cookies, I asked her for the recipe she used. In an unexpected twist, she said her go-to recipe that she’s been using for years was simply from the back of a cookie cutter. P.S. I’m not sure why the recipe only says it yields 10 cookies because I actually made 45-50 thick cookies.
I gave it a whirl and the results were fantastic! I prefer softer, thicker cookies, so I learned to roll the dough out thicker after a few came out of the oven with crispy brown edges. They held their shape perfectly though and stayed soft even after two weeks.
For the icing, I searched online for royal icing tips. Most recipes called for meringue powder, which is easier to use in place of egg whites. I went to a local cake/candy decorating store, but it would have been cheaper to buy from Amazon. Royal icing only requires three ingredients: meringue powder, water, and powdered sugar. The tricky part is finding the right consistency. Luckily, you can add more powdered sugar or water as needed to adjust.
I ended up using two consistencies: a thicker version for piping and a thinner version to fill in the outlines. I first made the thicker icing and then portioned it into 2 bowls to add the coloring. Once I filled up a piping bag of the thicker icing, I added more water to the bowl to create the icing to flood the cookies. Then, I just used a spoon and toothpick to fill in the outlines.
Overall, I spent close to five hours from start to finish: making the dough, rolling out and baking the cookies, and outlining, flooding, and piping the final decorations. It was quite a process, but I’ll admit I’m delighted with how they turned out 🙂
Millionaire’s Shortbread – My all time favorite reality show, The Great British Baking Show, introduced me to a classic British dessert – millionaire’s shortbread. So named for it’s rich decadent nature, this treat is essentially a big ol’ Twix bar. The recipe I found enhances a classic shortbread by adding egg yolk, brown sugar, and vanilla to make it softer and more flavorful. The homemade caramel is also a fool-proof version that takes a little time but is hard to mess up.
Even though this dessert is quite rich, I devoured the entire thing in no time. It’s the perfect party treat since it can easily be cut into smaller squares and served to a crowd. Or you can just go at it with a fork straight from the pan if you’re like me! Just don’t forget the sprinkle of sea salt at the end. It adds the perfect finishing touch to bring out all the flavors.
What were your favorite baking successes this year?