Shepherd’s Pie Ain’t No Lie

27 Jul

Shepherd’s Pie has been around for ages but known as “cottage pie”. In the 1790’s potatoes were making their way into the affordable veggies group- cottages were owned by modest people with modest budgets= cottage pie since potatoes are key in the recipe. Shepherd’s Pie is kind of like baked macaroni- some recipes really work, and some really don’t. Here at Dueling Bakers we are trying to usher in the cooler months (bake-able, or it would have been chili!) so Shepherd’s Pie was an easy choice.

The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

  • Ease of prep/baking-20
  • Texture-20
  • Flavor/taste -20
  • Ingredient ratios- 20
  • Ease of serving/eating- 20

Shepherd’s pie came about with the use of mutton as the meat instead of beef- since shepherds watch sheep and not cattle. I’ve personally never had Shepherd’s Pie with mutton so I stuck with beef. So- I guess I made Cowboy/Ranch-hand Pie.  So, on to why I picked what I picked. My food pyramid consists of 3 things… cheese, ice cream and sour cream. Lucky for me I found a recipe that incorporated two of these. This recipe had sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic and mashed potatoes- who cares that there are nasty-healthy veggies in there!

Here’s how it broke down:

  • Ease of prep/baking: 18/20 It wasn’t as intense as I thought going into it and looking at other recipes, it was mostly just combine-dump-bake. The potatoes were the hardest part- but the most amazing, so it worked out.
  • Texture: 20/20 The veggies were soft, the potatoes were great and the beef… was, well, beef.
  • Flavor/taste: 20/20 This was, hands down, the best shepherd’s pie I have ever had. The hubs ate about half of the pie the next day for “lunch”. Loved the potatoes and the pie shell almost tasted like a doughy biscuit thrown in the mix. mmmm
  • Ingredient ratios:  20/20 Everything was great. If you got a bit there was meat, veggies, tatoes and crust. Yummo.
  • Ease of serving/eating: 10/20 Cutting-easy, serving- hard. It was messy in the process of serving, had this been done in a baking pan instead of a pie crust it prob would have been better.

Best Shepherd’s Pie ever: 88/100 Everything but serving was great.

Andrea here! Generally, I think of shepherd’s pie as a meal best saved for cold winter months, but to my surprise, it worked well in the summer too! I knew shepherd’s pie would be time consuming, so I looked for the easiest recipe and decided on this one. I did make a few changes that were personal preferences and didn’t change the recipe in a dramatic way. I left the peel on the potatoes because it tastes good and is good for you! I also thought it gave the pie a more rustic appearance. I used non-dairy butter and milk for the mashed potatoes. I also cut the butter by about half. There is no way this recipe needs a whole stick of butter (who do they think they are? Paula Deen?)! I used new potatoes, onion and corn from the Jasper Farmer’s Market, frozen peas and canned carrots.

While it was cooking, I kept wanting to add garlic, but I had to stay true to the recipe. I did take liberty and make garlic mashed potatoes for the top because the recipe just said “season to taste”. I think this helped the overall flavor of the dish.

Here is how it rated:

  • Ease of prep/baking-15/20 Prep and baking wasn’t necessarily difficult, just time consuming.
  • Texture-20/20 Obviously you can make your potatoes however you prefer. I prefer smashed to creamed and I think the texture of the smashed potatoes complimented the beef mixture very well.
  • Flavor/taste -15/20 The pie was tasty, just seemed like it was missing that something I couldn’t put my finger on. My boyfriend did end up adding steak sauce and ketchup.
  • Ingredient ratios- 20/20 The amount of mashed potatoes was a perfect ratio to the beef mixture.
  • Ease of serving/eating-15/20 No issue with cutting or eating. However, the recipe said 4 servings and we easily got 8.

Overall this recipe got 85/100. It was tasty and all the leftovers got eaten, but I’m not anxious to make it again.

Here is a picture of the full meal: shepherd’s pie, fresh, sliced homegrown tomatoes, and a piece of garlic bread that’s just slightly mesquite 😉

Nobody’s Hotter Than Harry Potter

20 Jul

…Or Ron Weasley. Andrea here and I am super excited/depressed/delighted/anxious about the final Harry Potter movie. Basically, I just have a lot of feelings! Magically, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 came out on my fave friend, Holly’s birthday! How fun! We saw a double feature of Parts 1 & 2 and to celebrate, I made Amy’s Butterbeer cupcakes!

We aren’t rating this week due to busy Harry Potter schedules, but can I just tell you? These cupcakes were absolutely fabulous. Like, you all need to make them right now.

I used the same Gryffindor cupcake wrappers used previously for the Corniest Cornelius Fudge muffins. The mild cake balances out the sweetness and they taste like Butterbeer straight from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I will definitely make these cupcakes again just because they were so tasty! I also ended up with a full bottle of butterscotch ganache, which is amazing drizzled on ice cream!

And just for fun, Holly and me at the midnight premiere!

Krista here… Once upon a time I was one of those kids making fun of the HP kids… I went to every movie but never really got into it… until Dobby died. :*( Then I had to read all the books so I could be prepared for part 2 so I could fight ugly crying since it wouldn’t be a surprise. We also went to the midnight show for part 2. I had to fill an order for the local theater who wanted broom stick treats. Changed the flavors up a little and the shape of the brooms (because that site looks like shovels.. truth.)

I’m not a big plain pretzel fan, so I put a little “extree” candy coating over the pretzel. I have all the stuff to make Butterbeer cupcakes- that should happen this weekend! Here is me and my munchkin at platform 9 3/4! 🙂

Happy Independence Day!

6 Jul

No recipes this week! We hope you had a fun July 4th weekend!

-Krista & Andrea

My muffin top is all that!

27 Jun

This week on Dueling Bakers we decided to try something a little different and do a savory item. A lot of times we think of muffins being sweet and for breakfast. But with a variety of add-ins including spices, cheeses, and meats, muffins can easily be taken to the savory side!

The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

  • Ease of prep/baking-10
  • Texture-20
  • Flavor/taste -20
  • Ingredient ratios- 10
  • Ease of eating- 10
  • Added flavor-20
  • How well does the actual number of muffins make correspond to how many the recipe says -10

Andrea here! If you know me at all, you know I have a strange obsession with corn. It’s just so deliciously sweet and versatile. So, for this duel I decided to go with The Corniest Corn Muffins! Which affectionately became dubbed “The Corniest Cornelius Fudge Muffins” around my house, for Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic 1990-1996. We may or may not be a little nerdy ’round these parts 😉

Let’s see how these Corny Cornelius Muffins stacked up!

  • Ease of prep/baking- 8/10 – Prep was super easy, but the recipe said they would take 15-18 minutes and mine took around 22.
  • Texture- 18/20 – These were great corn muffins! They were moist and not dry and crumbly like corn muffins can be.
  • Flavor/taste – 20/20 – Definitely corny!
  • Ingredient ratios- 8/10 – There was a noticeable difference in the amount of corn kernels in some of the muffins.
  • Ease of eating- 10/10 – Like I said earlier, not at all crumby and they came out of the wrapper perfectly.
  • Added flavor- 18/20 – The corn flavor was definitely there because whole kernels were used, but it would have been better if they were more evenly distributed.
  • How well does the actual number of muffins make correspond to how many the recipe says – 8/10 – The recipe said 12, I got 12 but some of them were overfilled and I had a little batter left in the bowl.

As you can see, not only were these the Corniest Cornelius Fudge muffins, they were baked in Gryffindor themed cupcake wrappers 😀

Over all these muffins got 90/100 points! Brilliant!

Hiya ladies and gents! It’s uh me, Krista and I took the savory slide toward salmon and cream cheese- the ultimate combo in sushi! I choose a recipe from New Zealand which was a trick in and of itself- grams?! who uses grams?! So after conversions were all said done, this recipe was Americanized.

So- I’m going to keep this short and simple, like the recipe.

  • Ease of prep/baking-  7/10 points it gets docked some points because of the need in making conversions. Also- the type of flour isn’t specified- what’s with that?
  • Texture-12/20 points the muffins didn’t really change in the baking process… it was actually kind of weird, they looked exactly the same as they did when they went in- except the cheese was melted.
  • Flavor/taste – 16/20 the flavor was not bad- I ate 3 of them just because they had the salmon/cream cheese combo I love, but the texture just kills it… 😦
  • Ingredient ratios- 9/10 the salmon, spinach and cheese breaks up evenly in each muffin… you almost make a sandwich with the batter with the cream cheese and salmon in the middle so it insures that each muffin has the breakdown.
  • Ease of eating- 6/10 once again the texture kills this- it’s like eating a dense sponge with a good taste- you can taste like heaven but if the texture isn’t up to par it’s not that great. The muffin stuck to the sides of the muffin holder too and I actually only had 3 because I ended up with some wrapper in my mouth.
  • Added flavor-16/20 the salmon and cream cheese are what I’m considering the added flavor and it was great- once again killed by texture.
  • How well does the actual number of muffins make correspond to how many the recipe says -8/10 the recipe says 10, I made 12…

This recipe got an awful score of 74/100… which is the lowest we’ve had to date, I think. I don’t recommend these muffins by any stretch…

buy the smoked salmon, sushi rice, Nori and cream cheese and just make some philly/bagel rolls instead.

-secretly craving some corniest Cornelius Fudge muffins-


We had a lot of fun rating savory recipes for a change! Did you? Please vote in our poll to let us know what you’d like to see more of from Dueling Bakers!

Chocolate Chip Off The Old Block!

20 Jun

Chocolate chip cookies hold fond memories for many people, be it baking with mom, dirtying up the whole kitchen, eating raw dough, and our favorite:

Never fails to get a laugh! Chocolate chip cookie dough uses butter and both brown and white sugar. You can make your cookies stand out by using different types of chocolate or other additional ingredients, which is precisely what we did for this duel! Here are the guidelines for these cookies.

  • Ease of prep/baking-10
  • Texture-20
  • Flavor/taste -20
  • Ingredient ratios- 10
  • Ease of eating- 10
  • Added flavor-20
  • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says -10

Krista here and for me chocolate chip cookies are my dad’s “staple” sweet product. He’s not a big cake fan and only likes the corners on brownies- but you give him a chocolate chip cookie and he’s in his element! I already have my choc chip cookie recipe for the baked goods I make for sale- but I wanted to tie in my hub’s love of peanut butter. So, I found this recipe that ties in both.

Unfortunately, these cookies did not last long. By the time they had cooled and I was ready to take pictures… there were only two cookies left. Which is pretty awesome

  • Ease of prep/baking-10/10 chocolate chip cookies are def something you can just throw together, I think they took more time cooling than they did baking… you’ll never hear me complain about easy recipes!
  • Texture- 19/20 I HATE peanut butter cookies solely based on the texture- they are all so dry and crumbly it’s nasty. I was a bit hesitant doing a peanut butter choc chip cookie because I was concerned about the texture. These turned out great- the were firm but chewy, the edges were still a little flaky so I docked a point because I’m anal.
  • Flavor/taste – 18/20 I am not the biggest peanut butter fan, but these cookies were very good and amazing with a little milk.
  • Ingredient ratios- 9/10 I would have liked to have more choc chips per cookie, but overall the peanut butter and choc chip cookie ratio per cookie was something you could taste and distinguish.
  • Ease of eating- 10/10 Obviously these were super easy to eat since my hubs consumed the majority of the cookies.
  • Peanut butter flavor- 17/20 I personally thought they were perfect, Matt (the pb expert) says more peanut butter would be optimum. You can distinguish the flavor without any assistance, so it scores highly for me.
  • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says – 8/10 The recipe is unclear about how many cookies it makes, the writer mentions she doubled the recipe and had “about 6 dozen”. I did the normal recipe and ended up with 2 dozen- so it was closer than last time.

This recipe scored 91 out of 100 pts. The best rated recipe I’ve made to this point! Woohoo. 🙂

It’s Andrea! Chocolate covered strawberries are one my favorite decadent treats! I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for quite some time and am so excited I was finally able to make it. Chocolate covered strawberries…in a cookie. Simply incredible!

  • Ease of prep/baking-6/10 The recipe said 10-12 minutes, however they took more like 30 minutes.
  • Texture- 20/20 Perfectly gooey.
  • Flavor/taste – 20/20 Just like a chocolate covered strawberry!
  • Ingredient ratios- 10/10 At first I thought there was going to be way too many chocolate chips and strawberries, but it worked out to be the perfect amount!
  • Ease of eating- 9/10 Ones that ended up with extra strawberries seemed to fall apart more easily.
  • Strawberry flavor- 20/20 Summer is the perfect time to make these with fresh, juicy strawberries. They were amazing!
  • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says – 8/10 I ended up with 26, rather than 30. Which could also be why mine took longer to bake.
  • Overall these cookies received 93/100. These cookies were wonderfully moist and flavorful. I would even venture to say they’re downright sinful! 😉 One thing that made these so special was the browned butter. It added a delicious, nutty flavor to the cookies. They are easy enough for every day baking, but can be special enough for birthdays or holidays. They didn’t even last 24 hours and I will definitely make them again!

    Petit Four Your Thoughts!

    13 Jun

    This week on Dueling Bakers we decided to get a little fancy schmancy and create Petis Fours! On the surface, Petis Fours are super cute and girlie (like us!) but let’s learn a little history! Traditionally Petis Fours (singular: Petit Four) are small desserts, typically cake, eclairs, tarlets, etc. Petit Four is French for “small oven”. The name dates back to the 18th century when bakers would use the heat left over in brick ovens from baking large cakes to bake the small ones.

    Petis Fours can also be broken down into two categories: sec and glacés. Petis Fours Sec refers to dry pastries such as biscuits, meringues, and macaroons. Once baked, these pastries rarely have anything extra added and are most often served with afternoon tea or ice cream. Petis Fours Glacés means iced and includes desserts such as cakes and eclairs. Petis Fours Glacés can be filled with cream or jam and may be iced or covered in fondant.

    Whew! Now that the nerdy part is over, let’s get to our recipes!

    The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

    • Moistness of cake – 10 points.
    • Flavor of cake – 15 points
    • Flavor of icing – 15 points
    • Flavor of filling – 10 points
    • Proportion of filling to cake – 10 points
    • Proportion of icing to cake – 10 points
    • Ease of eating – 10 points
    • Ease of preparation/baking – 20 points

    It’s Andrea! Petis Fours are charming and delicate. I’m also of the opinion that anything in miniature is just plain fun! But to make them…that’s a different story. I decided to go with this recipe on Bakingdom. I thought these petis fours looked delicious and this was one of the easier recipes I found.

    I made the chocolate sponge cake on Friday night and used the simple syrup to lock in moisture. The cake was simple enough and I had no issue with prep or baking.

    Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the petis fours until Sunday afternoon, but I hoped the simple syrup would do its job. This is also the point where the recipe got confusing. I would like to preface this by saying I read through the entire recipe several times before I started, but it wasn’t until I started the frosting/icing portions that I realized there was a problem.

    I got confused by the author using both “frosting” and “icing” interchangeably, but for different aspects of the cake. (For example, “Spoon the icing over the tops of the cakes, allowing it to run down the sides. Spoon more frosting onto the sides, as needed”, when previously she used “frosting” to mean filling, and not the poured icing, “I chose to keep it simple with a vanilla frosting that I could also top the cake with…”). I ended up not making the vanilla buttercream, only the icing, or poured fondant.

    I was under the impression that this was going to be the only icing/frosting used. After making it, I realized this couldn’t be the case. My icing was also really thin, which is a problem a few commenters also faced. I followed Darla’s advice to make it thicker and it improved it a little. I could only get the icing to adhere to the cake after 5 or 6 coats, which made the cake almost unbearably moist. It’s impossible to say how the buttercream would have affected the taste, due to the amount of icing I had to use. I would be afraid that the buttercream combined with the extra icing would be entirely way too sweet. I will say that these tasted very good, even if the texture was less than desirable.

    Krista and I spoke at length about where either I or the recipe went wrong and decided to take all of the points away from the filling categories to compensate for the poorly written recipe.

    • Moistness of cake – 5/10 points- Way TOO moist.
    • Flavor of cake – 13/15 points- The flavor was actually pretty great.
    • Flavor of icing – 10/15 points- The icing wasn’t so good by itself, but it complimented the cake every well.
    • Flavor of filling – 0/10 points
    • Proportion of filling to cake – 0/10 points
    • Proportion of icing to cake – 7/10 points- I used all of the icing, but I also had to cover the cakes more times than the recipe called for.
    • Ease of eating – 10/10 points- No problems with them breaking or falling apart.
    • Ease of preparation/baking – 15/20 points- Obviously, recipes like this are going to be more time consuming, but I think this one would’ve gone a lot smoother had it been better written.

    I think this is a decent recipe, but that it was poorly written. Different parts of the cake should consistently be called the same name to avoid confusion. For that reason, this recipe rated: 60/100.

    Krista here and the recipe I chose was found here. I wanted to try the full-fledge- petit four recipe using frangipane cake because it was noted in several recipes I looked at as the type of cake used by “professional cake artisans”. They didn’t state how unbelievably almond this stuff was. Yuck-o for me, yum-o says hubs. I didn’t have any major issues with recipe- the person who wrote this apparently was a lot more capable of sharing recipes.

    Almond paste- weird stuff that is. It came in a can and it was in 4 little columns in the can. The recipe was pretty simple after the strange ingredients, except that it was in ounces. Not really a problem, but most recipes will show cup/tablespoon/teaspoon ratios instead of ounces.

    • Moistness of cake – 9/10 The cake was very moist- but it was dense which is different from other types of petis fours I have had in the past
    • Flavor of cake – 12/15 points It was very almondy, which it was supposed to be but it’s too much in my opinion.
    • Flavor of icing – 13/15 points The icing is basically just powdered sugar in glaze form- it’s not bad, but it’s not anything to write home about.
    • Flavor of filling – 9/10 points I used a red raspberry jam for the filling and it went well with the cake.
    • Proportion of filling to cake – 9/10 points It was plenty to compliment the cake and add a different flavor.
    • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points Plenty of icing, even had some left over.
    • Ease of eating – 10/10 points Pop ’em in and chew! Done. 🙂
    • Ease of preparation/baking – 16/20 points For an intense recipe this wasn’t so bad. The almond paste was the weirdest part but there wasn’t anything crazy past that. The icing texture changed each time I had to heat it to get it ready for glaze so that is really where the points were lost.

    Over all the thing I would change would be the cake. Next time I will make yellow, white or sponge cake for these guys but will probably still use the same glaze just make it in smaller batches to avoid the texture issues toward the end. This cake rated: 87.

    Chocolate, Chocolate Make It Melt!

    6 Jun

    This week we decided on a true favorite: brownies! Brownies are great because they are so versatile. You can add nuts, dried fruit, candies or a variety of other ingredients to add variety to your brownies. You can even use brown sugar and no chocolate to make blondies! Let’s see how our recipes on this yummy dessert fared.

    The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

    • Ease of prep/baking-10
    • Texture-20
    • Flavor/taste -20
    • Ingredient ratios- 10
    • Ease of cutting/eating- 10
    • Chocolate flavor-20
    • Evenness of baking -10

    Andrea here. Who doesn’t love brownies? Get that chocolate in my mouth! But really good recipes are hard to come by. I found this recipe, giggled at the name and knew I had to make them! These are by far some of the best brownies I’ve ever made!

    • Ease of prep/baking-10/10, these are just as easy as making brownies from a box. No melting chocolate, no double boilers, just mixing by hand! The brownies also took exactly as long to bake as the recipe said.
    • Texture-18/20, chewy and delicious, just how brownies should be!
    • Flavor/taste -18/20, Yummy yummy!
    • Ingredient ratios- 10/10, the chocolate chips were evenly distributed.
    • Ease of cutting/eating- 8/10, a little crumbly on top.
    • Chocolate flavor-20/20, I think the chocolate chips really upped the chocolate flavor in this recipe!
    • Evenness of baking -8/10, the edges got noticeably done faster than the middle but didn’t start to burn.

    Overall these brownies scored: 92/100!

    I will definitely use this recipe again and again! Definite bombshells.

    It’s Krista! Brownie edges are my dad’s building foundation on his food pyramid- followed by chocolate chip cookies and burgers. ANYWAY, we’ve made a ton of brownies over the year and recipes can be hit or MISS. Chocolate is my #2 favorite thing (Excluding dark- once it’s healthy, it’s not chocolate) icecream is my #1. This recipe would be beyond amazing with a scoop of icecream. mmm.

    • Ease of prep/baking-9/10 This recipe had very few ingredients but you needed a few pans to make it all happen. The less dishes the better!
    • Texture-18/20 Nearly perfect! I loved these brownies- a big turnoff in the brownie dept for me is they get cake-texture instead of dense and gooey-gooey-goodness(which is what these guys were)! They scared me a little during the mixing process because they smelled vinegar-ish. Weird? Yes. Worth it? Def.
    • Flavor/taste -17/20 Granted they were delicious and fantastic, but I wonder if working in milk chocolate or even semi-sweet chips would make them more my style.
    • Ingredient ratios- 10/10 tons of chocolate… everywhere!!
    • Ease of cutting/eating- 7/10 these guys cut and served fairly well (even though I apparently can’t cut evenly) the crust on top did have some basic issues with trying to flake off.
    • Chocolate flavor-20/20 totally chocolate- no doubt about it.
    • Evenness of baking -5/10 The edges on these burned- and I mean we-could-build-a-storm-shelter-with-those-bricks burned. I thought maybe since I used a glass pan it burnt them… soooo I made another batch in a metal pan- same issue. Not really sure what the deal with that was?

    Overall this was a delicious recipe but if you’re looking for the full serving amount- find another recipe because you lose all the edges. This recipe got an 86/100 overall. I will prob make these again to test the milk/semi-sweet chocolate chips instead. 🙂

    The King’s Peach!

    29 May

    The winner of our cookie flavor poll was: PEACH! The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

    • Ease of prep/baking-10
    • Texture-20
    • Flavor/taste -20
    • Ingredient ratios- 10
    • Ease of eating- 10
    • Peach flavor-20
    • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says -10

    Krista here and let me start off by saying that peaches are not on my list of favorite things to eat (the actual list is fairly short- chocolate, cheese and moscato). With that said, I loved these cookies! I went with a recipe from, Theresa/Thunderbird’s take on Peach Cookies.

    I will say I tweaked the recipe slightly. It was optional to add raisins but that sounded disgusting, so I added white chocolate chips- half a cup. I also substituted pumpkin pie spice for the cloves. Some of the reviews said the cookies were more “cake like” than chewy- completely true. These cookies are very fluffy and not overwhelming in peach flavor. My husband said they taste like peach pie. So- let’s get to the ratings!

    • Ease of prep/baking- 10/10 pts- super simple to prepare and easy to cook- I did cook them for 18:30 instead of 20 minutes. I also drained my peaches after cutting them- there was a lot of juice created while dicing.
    • Texture- 18/20 pts These cookies are cake-like and hold true to that. However, when spooning them to make the cookies they are difficult to get a “pretty” and clean shape.
    • Flavor/taste: 20/20 pts Delicious flavor with the peach and subtle spices. These would be good as double doozies (two cookies with icing in the middle) for sure.
    • Ingredient ratios- if extras are added (raisins, nuts, chocolate chips etc) are there enough, too many? do they get evenly distributed?- 8/10 pts Since peaches are not very sturdy they had to be folded into the recipe and some of the cookies ended up with less peach than others. If you are wanting the white choc chips to be a strong factor in the cookie you need to add more- there are maybe 3 per cookie in my batch having used a 1/2 cup.
    • Ease of eating- 10/10 pts the cookie holds together well since it is more of a cake-like cookie there is no breaking or a lot of crumbs.
    • Peach flavor-16/20 pts The cookies are what I would say mostly peach, however I’m not sure that someone would be able to discernibly tell these cookies were peach and not apricot- or another fruit like that.
    • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says –4/10 This recipe said it made 4 dozen cookies- it made 20. I either really stink at tea-spooning out the batter, or they just over exaggerate about the amount.

    *drum roll* These cookies scored a total of 86 points!

    Hello all, Andrea here. I was pumped for this duel because peaches are one of my absolute favorite fruits! One of my favorite places to get recipes is AllRecipes. I love the ingredient search feature and the recipe box. One problem, I find, however is often times the rating will be skewed by users who vote a recipe highly, but end up making lots of changes. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the base recipe is good, or only edible after several changes. I decided to go with this recipe for this duel. Some users stated different changes they made to improve the recipe, but I stuck with the original and it was delicious.

    • Ease of prep/baking-10/10 – Just a simple, basic cookie recipe. Perfect for quick afternoon baking.
    • Texture- 17/20 – Chewy on the inside, but a little crispier on the outside than I prefer, especially for a sugar cookie.
    • Flavor/taste – 18/20 – The cookie itself was delicious, but not strong on the peach flavor.
    • Ingredient ratios- 9/10 – The walnuts got more evenly distributed than the peach chunks.
    • Ease of eating- 10/10 – Didn’t fall apart, not crumbly.
    • Peach flavor- 18/20 – The peach chunks were visible and flavorful, but not very “peachy”. Similar problem that Krista had above.
    • How well does the actual number of cookies make correspond to how many the recipe says -10/10 – Says 4 dozen and made exactly 4 dozen.

    Overall these cookies got 92/100 points. They were very good and I would make them again and play around with the flavorings. This is a great recipe for beginners or those short on time!

    Sweet & Tart: Not us, the cakes!

    21 May

    For our first duel, we decided to make cakes incorporating the flavors of lemon and berry- perfect for the beginning of summer!

    The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

      • Moistness of cake – 10 points
      • Flavor of cake – 15 points
      • Flavor of icing – 15 points
      • Lemon flavor – 15 points
      • Berry flavor – 15 points
      • Proportion of icing to cake – 10 points
      • Ease of eating – 10 points
      • Ease of preparation/baking – 10 points

    with each cake able to earn a maximum of 100 points.

    Andrea here! I was so excited for this first duel because I love lemon and berries together! Sonic’s lemon-berry slush, anyone?? As soon as I found this recipe by Beantown Baker, I knew it was the one for me. This recipe is more involved than ones I typically make, but it looked SO good; I was up for the challenge!

    First I made the raspberry curd. I used frozen berries and it couldn’t have been simpler to make. I love this stuff and want to slather it on everything! The consistency is very smooth. It is pourable and not really thick at all.

    Next I made the cake and while it was baking, the icing! The cake recipe said to mix the lemon zest with the sugar, which I had never done before, but was fabulous. So fragrant and there’s not many things better than the smell of fresh lemons!

    Finished cake!

    And now for the judging!

    • Moistness of cake – 9/10 points
    • Flavor of cake – 15/15 points – Perfect amount of lemon flavor.
    • Flavor of icing – 13/15 points – Classic buttercream, delicious.
    • Lemon flavor – 15/15 points – PERFECT, I say!
    • Berry flavor – 12/15 points – The curd alone was fantastic, but the cake needed more.
    • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points – I had at least a cup of icing left over.
    • Ease of eating – 10/10 points – Cut nicely, didn’t fall apart at all.
    • Ease of preparation/baking – 4/10 points – This recipe wasn’t hard, but there were a lot of steps.

    Total points for this recipe: 87. This cake was delicious and very well received!

    It also doubled as a birthday cake 🙂

    Let’s see how Krista’s recipe fared!

    Hey there! Krista here and I have *finally* finished my cake! I used this recipe from Sweetapolita. My hubs is a big lime fan and one of his favorite things I have made to date is a lime blueberry cheesecake. All week these blueberries have been mocking him and in turn, he’s been harassing me that maybe I should just do the lime blue berry cheesecake and call it a day…. men.

    I made the curd two days prior and it was fairly simple (see here). Martha Stewart is crazy, amazing- but crazy. I stuck the eggs in a strainer like the recipe called for and guess what… they were still there, whites and all, when I came back to it several minutes later. 😐 So I stuck the eggs back in their shells and sorted them that way. After the straining failure everything else went smoothly and was actually pretty simple. First experience with curd and I can’t complain. Sweetapolita doubled the curd for her filling but I just did one batch- I also forgot to put it in the cake but I’ll get to that in a minute. It is fairly thick but still pourable- more chunks than a free flowing liquid.

    Cake prep/baking- the recipe could not be simpler and the baking time is fairly quick. The cake does not rise very much. I have 4″ deep pans and the recipe called for 3 pans so I had issues dividing the batter- hence why we have the puny layer in the middle here.

    As I stated I forgot the curd at home, we had went to visit my dad so decided to serve the cake there. Icing was used for filling as a stand in. When we made the icing we had no mixer so it is doable to make with a fork. The icing crusted well and I was pretty pleased with the stability/spreadability. HOWEVER, the taste was far-far-far too sweet. Icing that’s too sweet? True story. Mixed with the lemon/berry it made the lemon flavor of the cake very weak (and I shorted the blue berries by 3/4 cup so that should tell you something). Overall the cake was fairly dense but also moist and held up to stacking well. I probably wont pair this icing with this cake again, they fought for flavor and the icing attacked full-force.

    Here is the finished cake:

    It was pretty cute and I loved the pops of color. Here is the rating:

    • Moistness of cake – 8/10 points  The density did it no favors in this line.
    • Flavor of cake – 13/15 points – I cut the blue berries by 3/4 cup and they still were a stronger part than the lemon.
    • Flavor of icing – 10/15 points –  10 seems harsh but the only real positive points I found would be that smoothed and spread easily. The taste is too lemony and it is too sweet. It over powers the cake instead of complimenting it.
    • Lemon flavor – 14/15 points – All together- loads of lemon- but it doesn’t allow any other flavors to exist.
    • Berry flavor – 10/15 points – The cake by itself was great, even though the berries were whole they still integrated themselves into the recipe quite well. In hindsight I wish I had went with a berry curd… but then I would have forgot it anyway and it wouldn’t have mattered until I got home to slather it on.
    • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points – Since I used the icing for the filling I had no icing left over- had I used the curd it would have been a cup or so too much.
    • Ease of eating – 10/10 points – cut cleanly and was easy to serve…
    • Ease of preparation/baking – 9/10 points – This is nearly the easiest recipe I’ve ever made as far as cakes go, the curd was simple after I gave up hopes of straining eggs (someone enlighten me on this) and the icing was made with a fork so that is pretty easy.
    Total points= 83. The cake was okay, the curd was good but the icing was too much. I would rather pair this with a simple cream cheese butter cream.
    The cake also doubles as Pacman! 🙂 -Krista

    What is your favorite lemon and berry combination?

    Cookie Duel!

    14 May

    Our first duel will feature cakes involving lemon & berries, for our next duel we’d like your help! We are going to feature a local flavor cookie duel and being from the South what better flavors than Peach, Pecan and Apple? Vote on what you’d like us to feature in the poll below!

    Look for our “Sweet and Tart: Not us, the cakes!”  duel on Friday afternoon!