Saturday, October 22, 2011

2nd Place Bake-Off WINNER

If we are friends on Facebook then you probably saw my all caps SQUEALS OF DELIGHT on Friday after winning 2nd place in my company bake-off. Granted, I was on my 2nd glass of white wine, so I was feeling pretty good. But guess what? Now it's Saturday and I STILL feel pretty good. After all, I'm moving on up!

You see, one year ago I attempted my first ever company bake-off and had a complete disaster on my hands (remember the great meringue incident of 2010?). Needless to say, I did not even place. But then last spring, clearly inspired by the Royal Wedding, I took 3rd place with my cassatta cake! I must admit that I had been warned by a wise woman (who happened to have won the bake-off in the past) that if you want to win, you have to make something chocolate. And so I took it to heart and this time, I made the Grasshopper Bars from Baked Explorations.
This is a recipe that Robb and I have made a few times. It's one that we make when we feel our friends are getting too skinny. See that fluffy white layer in the middle? It's almost entirely made of butter. See that gooey layer on the bottom? That's a brownie--one that was taken out of the oven just one minute before it was done. See that top layer? That's chocolate and butter, poured over the cold creamy butter layer, which then hardens up not unlike my beloved Magic Shell.
Needless to say, there are a lot of fatty steps in this one. There's two separate layers that involve a double boiler for crying out loud! But on Thursday night, I got into my meditative baking mode and hoped that I could pull this off. You see, I've never made the Grasshopper Bars on my own--this is usually something that Robb and I make together--but he was out of town, so I summoned his presence by wearing his tuxedo apron. (Wow, is this a bad photo of me or what? In fact, I am nearly making the monkey face I mentioned a few weeks ago!)
Amazingly, the Grasshopper Bars came out pretty darn nice. The only thing I would have changed is making them a bit mintier. I had the creme de menthe, but I didn't have any peppermint extract, so I had to melt down some peppermint hard candies with a little water and pour it in. But you know what? It didn't matter! Because my coworker Ivy, baker extraordinaire, freaking nailed it with her brown sugar shortbread bars.
I know what you're thinking: chocolate and butter got beat by shortbread? But let me tell you, I knew I was not going to win when I took a single bite of her dessert. Somehow she managed to turn the center of these shortbread bars into toffee...I don't know how she did it. It was like magic. And just when you're realizing that the bar is chewy, not crumbly, a layer of nutella chimes in, adding depth to the symphony almost like a cello. The crumble at the top? It's just for texture. Something to throw you off, as though to say, Ha! You thought I was going to suck. And you were soooo wrong.
Finally, I want to point out the serving tray, because it actually was my favorite part. You see, the three "plates" are all on hinges and actually fold up vertically. It's like an old-timey Transformer! I was at a photo shoot earlier in the day and the stylist's assistants kept saying, do it again! Do it again! Were they amazed that an antique could have moving parts? I'm not sure! But it delights me, too, assistants. I get it.
But really finally, aren't these pictures so gross and sad? The gray meeting room table with the overhead florescent light is SO DEPRESSING! So here's a super-modern cutting-edge high contrast photo. Just to leave a slightly less depressing taste in your mouth. Yay!

And now, I shall start planning for the bake-off 6 months from now, when I compete for FIRST PLACE! It's sort of like watching the Rocky series, but less punchy.


  1. I'm so proud of you, doing so well...and next time, well, I think first place is in your sights!

  2. As long as Ivy isn't competing, I think I can do it!! I swear, she is a wizard or something.

  3. I need a Magic Shell 12-step program. It's one of the few foods I can't have in the house because I'll find a reason to put it on everything.

  4. Adrienne, I thought I would outgrow Magic Shell once I was no longer a kid. It has, unfortunately, only gotten worse. IT'S SO GOOD.