Made It to Round 2!

When I bake, I often share with friends and neighbors. They are all good sports and usually take whatever I am offering. Luckily, most of the time what I offer is pretty good—I save the iffy for the family!

We had been invited to a party being held today. It will be our first since the pandemic went out of control. Most, if not all, of the people at the party will have been fully vaccinated, which makes me less anxious than I might otherwise be. We’ll see how it feels once we are in the midst of the maskless event.

For the party, I wanted to make something special. Something I’ve not made before, or something presented with a different flavor profile. This has been on my mind ever since we received the invitation. I always like to make a good impression.

I’ve been practicing all week to get it right. The first try I wrote about earlier this week. I had substituted applesauce for sugar to make it a little more natural. It didn’t work making it oddly, pretty spongy. I made it in a mini-muffin pan to try to keep the dish to bite size-ish.

The second try I went back to my original recipe, staying with mini-muffin pan. These came out better. Unfortunately, although they tasted like they usually do, they were too small to become cup-like per my vision. My request of Pampered Chef is to make a mini version of their Boat Press Set.

Third try was to go back to regular sized muffin pans and original recipe. These turned out the right size and the boat press worked beautifully.

With this batch I began taste testing the two flavor profiles. One with homemade banana butter, the second flavor of homemade blackberry plum jam. I made some caramel, and created a taste test for my family to see which tasted best.

Both of these fillings tasted pretty good. The banana butter was much more out there in terms of being the dominate flavor. Everything else was just background dancers. The blackberry plum jam was more subtle. It allowed all of the flavors to work more synergistically together. The blackberry plum was the winner. Now, the only thing left was the frosting.

Which lead to my fourth and final taste test by unbiased parties. I made another batch of the brownie base, added some caramel, a small dollop of jam, and topped it with a caramel buttercream frosting.

With the last batch I enlisted the help of one on my neighbors. We’ve traded baked goods over the past couple of years, and they’ve always been game to try some of my first time recipe tries. I asked if they would be willing to be my feedback panel. Said the final result might be good or could be so-so, and were they game to give it a try. They emphatically said yes. So, I took over a sample for each of them, and said I wanted honest feedback because I was hoping to take these to a good-bye party, to which they agreed.

Thankfully, the feedback was all good. They said they had pretended to be Chopped judges (and no one wants to be the first to go on any food competition show). When they provided the feedback, they said I had made it to Round 2, and they were waiting on more treats. I heartedly laughed out loud at that comment and my husband told me I was scaring the kids—we were out for a walk with the dog at the time. And now I have to rise to Round 2 expectations, which I’m all set to accept the challenge.

Here is the end result…

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