Tuesday, September 20, 2011

you win some, you lose some

I generally don't successfully bake and cook all in one night. If I cook something resembling a grown up meal, dessert is a few spoonfuls of brown sugar in a bowl (no, really, I eat it straight...weird, but delicious and satisfying). If I go on a baking spree, I'll probably have a bowl of cheerios for dinner. 

Last night was a bowl of cheerios night, I'm afraid. I say "I'm afraid" because let's just say my pants are fitting a little tighter than I'd like these days, and the last thing I need is (multiple) dessert(s) for dinner. I also declared it a cheerios night with some trepidation given my latest "final hurrah" project. Being elbow deep in sugar means I won't really have time to make a dent in the meat supply in my freezer. And with my Vegas road trip looming, my self-imposed vegetarian experiment is also quickly approaching. 

But I was determined to come back from the sweetened condensed milk failure of last week and finally make Hello Dolly bars. I also somehow got it in my head that I need to make a mini apple crisp. I have some aging apples in my fridge, and DC is experiencing an early taste of fall, so it just seemed right. And I had been looking for an excuse to use the mini red pie pans I picked up at World Market ages ago. 

So when I came across this recipe for apple crisp after minimal searching and comparing, I immediately knew I had to pick it. See, it calls for flour OR finely crushed graham crackers. The Hello Dolly bars also call for crushed graham crackers. If two recipes can benefit from the same ingredient being whirled around in my (wait for it) mini food processor, sign me up. I really, really hate doing dishes. It takes away a small percentage of the post-stress baking satisfaction.  

After what was supposed to be a quick, frugal trip to a newly discovered Harris Teeter near my apartment, I came home with an hour less of my life and a lot less money in my pocket (never again will I go to the HT after accidentally having skipped lunch). Bowl of cheerios in my shaking, food deprived little hands, I started with the Hello Dollys...

butter + graham cracker crumbs 
(may or may not have scarfed down what didn't fit in the pan)

I really dislike coconut, but in the spirit of high school dessert nostalgia, I went for it

Mmmm, chopped pecans

a whole slew of chocolate and butterscotch

and finally, sweetened condensed milk 
(which I am convinced is the crucial ingredient)

So how did they turn out? I am really disappointed to say that they came out all wrong. See, Smitten Kitchen's recipe didn't specify how to layer the ingredients, so I just put them down in the order they were listed. Big mistake. If I had to do it again (and I most likely will try them again as I hate to admit defeat), I'd miss the coconut, pecans, and chocolate and butterscotch chips all together, then throw them over the crust. They taste ok, or at least ok enough to eat straight from the pan at 3am (I'm having some serious insomnia these days), but they just aren't spot on. All my hopes were pinned on the crisp at that point. 
chopped fuji apple in a lemon, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon bath

butter, dark brown sugar, and graham cracker crumb crust

finished product + a baby scoop of ice cream

The crisp was definitely the success story of the night. Perfect size, perfect flavors, perfect maiden voyage of the mini pie pan. Surprisingly I'm not in some sort of sugar coma today, although I do feel like I need to brush my teeth a few extra times to stave off cavities...

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