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Challenging Myself And A Giveaway

Photo from Saveur found online at Saveur.com Mocha Dacquoise

Once a upon a time I was very active in recipe contests, they challenged me, inspired me and forced me to think outside the box. Food52 still has contests, not as often as before but they are still there and Whole Foods ended their contests a few years ago. Give me an ingredient and challenge me to come up with an original or semi original recipe using it and it excited me. Those days are but a memory now as I haven’t really participated in a while. Blogging is a challenge and I am afraid I have fallen short of my own expectations, don’t want to be too hard on myself but if we feel like we are failing it’s up to us to do something about it. When I post a recipe I want it to be something different, even if it’s a twist on a classic there should be a new and different technique or some ingredient that is not normally used when making it. Having a repertoire of classic recipes is something every cook should have in their archives, something you make all the time, it always comes out good, you can make it blind folded so to say, without looking at the recipe. I have recipes that I use all the time, tried and true, always good but thats not challenging. One thing that I think would help to keep this blog fresh is to try to make something I’ve never made before, a recipe that will challenge my skills and hopefully will yield a good result. I have a bucket list of things I have always wanted to make, croissant, puff pastry are two things on my list, another is a Dacquoise.  I first read about this cake in Julia Child’s cookbook Baking With Julia, it kind of scared me, a lot of parts, some complicated instructions but the finished product is ethereal and delicious. Dacquoise is a cake made with almond and/or hazelnut meringue layers with different fillings, think of a macaron, it’s very similar in technique. The cake is light and if made well, a work of art. I tried making macaron and failed miserably and haven’t tried again, it is still on my list of things I must make.

In a few weeks it will be my birthday and this will be my birthday cake (God willing). I plan on taking a day off work and devoting the entire day to baking. It will be a challenge.They caution you to make the cake in advance of serving, as much as a week but at least 12 hours, the longer you let it sit in the refrigerator the easier it will be to get a clean cut.  I found a recipe from Saveur for a Mocha Dacquoise. It looks beautiful and sounds delicious. The traditional almond meringue layers with a coffee buttercream and chantilly filling. I am very excited to try this recipe and scratch it off of my bucket list.

Now for the giveaway! I want to offer one lucky reader a copy of the Food 52 cookbook Ice Cream and Friends. All you will have to do is leave a comment and you will be entered. The winner will be chosen randomly using random.org. But wait, I am feeling generous so there will be a second winner who will get the other Food52 cookbook Mighty Salads. I am sorry that I cannot send the books outside of the continental US, it is open to residents of the US only. The contest will end on May 2nd and I will post my Dacquoise even if it is a fail along with the announcement of the winners.  In an effort spice things up here, there is more in the works, giveaways and challenging recipes.

I also want to challenge you all to make something outside of your comfort zone, something you have always wanted to make but were hesitant to try. If you do make something comment here with a link to your blog and I will pick one or two recipes and re blog them. We all need to challenge ourselves and if cooking is your passion push yourself to make something new, exciting and different!

72 Comments Post a comment
  1. That is Great Suzanne I can’t wait to see your creation!! I know it will be great, everything you make seems to be Great!!! Cheers my friend!! 🙂

    April 21, 2017
    • Hey Amy thank you, well we will see how it turns out fingers crossed!!

      April 21, 2017
  2. Oh, I know exactly what you mean! I used to do that, like the time I made a Yule log for Christmas, but that was all before I started my blog! So then I decided that only things on my blog will be easy, because my goal is to help get people in the kitchen who are intimidated by cooking. But I’ve always wanted to make a Mille-crepe cake, and my birthday is Wednesday…. Let’s do it! Mine isn’t as challenging as a Dacquoise, but I’m usually not attracted to tedious preparations, so it will definitely be out of my comfort zone! I better get busy.

    April 21, 2017
    • Oh our birthdays are very close to each other’s. Can’t wait to see your Mille Crepe cake I have always wanted to make one as well!! Happy Birthday Mimi and I agree about keeping it simple which is kind of my mantra but every now and then I need to step outside my comfort zone. Thank you so much!!

      April 21, 2017
      • Exactly. I still have no interest in making my own puff pastry, but I have definitely gotten lazy in my old age!!! Your post was perfect timing for me!

        April 21, 2017
  3. Happy early birthday! Your blog is exciting and fresh and brings us new recipes that are amazing! The cake oh my! Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

    April 21, 2017
    • Thank you so much Lynn. I am a little nervous but excited to try the cake. Fingers crossed that it turns out!!

      April 21, 2017
  4. Maria DeBrango Stickel #

    This recipe sounds difficult but very delicious. If anyone can do it – it’s you!
    Love you!
    Maria

    April 21, 2017
  5. First, early Happy Birthday wishes! Second, I am not entered!, third you always challenge yourself on postings! Fourth, have a great weekend (we are on a pit stop to GA!). Talk soon! xo

    April 21, 2017
  6. Best of luck Sweetie. What a birthday success this is going to be.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    April 21, 2017
  7. Hi Suzanne. I understand what you mean, about wanting to post things that are “new”… but from this side of the computer screen, everything you post is wonderful. Whether it’s all new, a go-to, a classic, or tried and true — your descriptions and photos make them a delight to view.
    Even with my egg allergy, this cake looks like a “when Harry met Sally” moment in the making! I know whatever you do with the recipe will be delicious. Happy pre-birthday! Mega hugs.

    April 21, 2017
    • You make me blush, thank you so much Teagan. Oh I love that scene from When Harry Met Sally!!! Hope my cake will be successful!

      April 21, 2017
  8. Happy early birthday! I can’t wait to see your creation 🙂

    April 21, 2017
  9. I for one adore your blog. You have mad skills that inspire me. In fact, in reading this article it occurred to me you should apply to be an “at-home” cook on Chopped! Wouldn’t that be fun! You would blow your competitors away! As for the cake, not only does it look incredible, but I have every confidence you will pull it off without a breaking a sweat!

    April 21, 2017
    • Thank you so much Michelle, would love to post a wine or champagne with my cake, what do you think? Is it better with coffee or maybe some bubbly?

      April 21, 2017
      • I think coffe would be great. Yes, bubbly but one that has a sweetness to it otherwise they will clash. Cheers

        April 22, 2017
      • Thanks Michelle if you have a recommendation I would love to include❤️

        April 22, 2017
  10. Please don’t enter me in the contest – but i LOVE this idea – and the cooking recipe challenge. We do an informal chili cook-off every year at work, about the closest I get….

    April 21, 2017
    • Of course I will not enter you if you don’t want, and thank you so much. Hope you post the link to your chili would love to re blog it!!

      April 21, 2017
  11. Love this post. I like to cook but usually only take time to do something different around the holidays. I am a fan of easy and uncomplicated but this cake looks wonderful. I know that you can do it justice, I am sure it will be good!!

    April 21, 2017
    • Thank you Dyanna, I am the Queen of simple and straightforward food but every now and then I need a challenge and this cake will be just that, fingers crossed.

      April 21, 2017
  12. jacquie #

    happy birthday! I can’t wait to see what the cake looks like and how it tasted. the later being the more important of course 🙂 best of luck w/ ith.

    April 21, 2017
  13. Oh Suzanne, I can not WAIT to see your creation! Your attempt at something like this just blows me away. I can barely cook a decent muffin, lol. I’m hugely disappointed in Food52s new Contest format. I am rather bored of looking at the Best Recipe for Dates for the past 4 months. I have been challenging myself hugely in the kitchen lately and doing what I call “extreme” recipe development lately in order to launch my new business. Let’s just say the family has been eating well lately, ha! And Happy Birthday, in case I miss it! xoxoxo

    April 21, 2017
    • Kathryn, thank you so much. Oh how exciting launching a new business I can’t wait to read more about it. Have to say I also am disappointed in the new contest format, they only run contests quarterly and in my opinion it’s too long in between contests. The way it used to be kept me on my toes. Extreme recipe developing, you have me intrigued.

      April 21, 2017
      • Thanks Suzanne! Extreme in the fact that I have to get many recipes down to the exact science in a short period of time, which means cooking the same thing over and over until it’s just right. I do hope to post about it this weekend. xoxoxo

        April 21, 2017
  14. Sandhya #

    Happy Birthday in advance Suzanne! I know your cake will be fabulous. Your creations always have the professional touch. I cannot wait to see it. I like your idea of taking a day off and baking.
    About challenging oneself, I like to challenge myself to create a new recipes and love trying new techniques. After reading your post I want to reflect on recipes I have always wanted to try…..

    April 21, 2017
    • Thank you Sandhya, to me all of your recipes are innovative, creative and delicious. If you do make something you want me to re blog comment here letting me know about it. You are an amazing cook.

      April 22, 2017
      • Sandhya #

        Thanks so much Suzanne for your sweet words and the generous offer to reblog.
        I am truly flattered hearing this from a well accomplished cook like you.
        I will certainly let you know when I have something that I would love for you to reblog.
        Thanks again.
        Hope you had a great weekend!

        April 24, 2017
      • And so are you, your recipes are fantastic and I would be honored to feature one here on the blog.

        April 24, 2017
  15. Cooking challenges are always so exciting. The problem with participating is the lack of time. I love experimenting and doing something different all the time. I cook/bKe to destress. My recent one was making crazy swiss roll and now I’m completely on.the.roll! 🤣

    Let us know how your cake turns out. That said…happy birthday in advance Suzanne!

    April 22, 2017
    • Thank you Ann, Oh I sure will I plan on posting whether it turns out or not. It’s so hard to find a day when I can turn off the phone and concentrate on baking but I plan on trying. I love swiss roll’s. They are delicious and sponge cake/ jelly roll cake is a favorite of mine.

      April 22, 2017
      • Your phone needs to be kidnapped! 😉

        Swiss Roll is horrible! It’s making me addicted to baking it :p

        x.

        April 27, 2017
      • I feel like my phone is an extension of my arm at this point. I will turn it off so I can bake without interruption. Oh evil swiss cake roll, deliciiously evil.

        April 27, 2017
  16. Happy early birthday Suzanne. Looking forwards to see your creation.

    April 22, 2017
  17. What a fun idea Suzanne! That cake looks divine – I think you are going to have an excellent birthday! 😀

    April 22, 2017
    • Thank you, it does look and sound so good. I only hope mine will live up to how wonderful their cake is.

      April 22, 2017
  18. This looks positively decadent!

    April 22, 2017
  19. Suz, please don’t feel anything but self-love and success. You give SO much to your family, friends, Percy and y’alls pug community, and so many animals in need. You are an amazing cook, too! Easier said than done, I know, but as your birthday approaches and you make that glorious mocha dacquoise for yourself, know that blog or no blog, contests and new recipes or none, you have made such a positive impact on so many people and fur friends!! Much love, Em

    April 22, 2017
    • Ahhh Emily thank you so much, I do hope the dacquoise turns out, I am nervous because of my macaron fail. We shall see. Sending love from Percy and I!!

      April 22, 2017
  20. I am so much like you – I love the contests for that same reason – they help me push myself outside my little box! And I have a huge bucket list of foods to try as well. I will definitely have to try a dacquoise one day too. Happy Birthday and enjoy the cake (hope it turns out) 🙂

    April 23, 2017
    • I love contests for exactly that reason. Not sure why I don’t do it, challenge myself without one but there is something about the format that is exciting. I love the thrill of a challenge. Thank you so much.

      April 23, 2017
  21. A happy birthday to you in advance Suzanne and good luck with your dacquoise cake. I know what you mean by challenging yourself . There are so many recipes I want to try and so little time. I can think of several recipes that would challenge me.

    April 23, 2017
    • Hi Gerlinde and thank you. Without challenges we can become stagnant or at least I do. Hope you are well and that you had a great trip to Germany and I look forward to your posts not just about your trip but your recipes.

      April 23, 2017
  22. I just saw one of those on the great Australian bake off! I can’t wait to see how it turns out

    April 23, 2017
    • Really how did they do? I plan on making it this week, fingers crossed! Thank you Rachel.

      April 23, 2017
      • They made me hungry, so I guess they did well!

        April 24, 2017
  23. Well said! Buddy, Ginger, Tom and I all wish you the happiest birthday and look forward to seeing you blow out your candle on that lovely mocha dacquoise (Buddy says he’ll keep his party hat on from his 17th birthday).

    April 23, 2017
    • Buddy is going to be 17 that is amazing!!! Thank you so much Stacey a birthday kiss to sweet Buddy, he is a miracle.

      April 23, 2017
  24. Have you ever watched the Great British Baking Show on PBS? They always have tremendous new ideas and inspiration. Also, even just sharing a new technique is helpful for someone like me who is at the beginning of my journey. I love reading what you share! I look forward to more! –Deb

    April 23, 2017
    • Hi Deb, never saw it but want to. I’ve heard it’s a wonderful show! Thank you so much!

      April 23, 2017
  25. Morgan #

    I’ve never heard of a dacqoise. It sounds amazing! But something I don’t have the patience for, so I’ll see if I ever find it in a restaurant. Good luck making it and happy birthday!

    April 25, 2017
    • Hi Morgan and thank you, let’s see whether or not I have the patience. Thank you again.

      April 27, 2017
  26. I love the idea of challenging myself to a new recipe – my mom was commenting the other day about a cake she had, which she loved. I’ll ask her what it was and maybe challenge myself to make that!

    April 25, 2017
    • Challenging myself is really how I gain inspiration. I don’t always succeed but at least I know I tried. Would love to see the cake your Mom made and how it turns out.

      April 27, 2017
  27. Melanie H #

    I love that challenge! I’ve been trying new recipes a lot lately.

    April 25, 2017
  28. Love this post Suzanne because I am definitely a stay within my comfort zone kind of cook. I look for ingredients I like and methods that are easy! And something that does not take too much time! So you are breaking all those boundries!! Thanks for the challenge– I am going to look for something that takes me all day (my birthday is coming up too–in May) so I can be so courageous as you!! Hope it all goes well!!! Happy Birthday ahead Suzanne!! xox

    April 27, 2017
    • Thank you so much Rhonda. I also like to stay within my comfort zone most of the time but every now and then I venture out, let the winds blow where they may and hope and pray for the best. Started today I am adding an additional layer and made another filling today, that turned out great. Thank you again.

      April 27, 2017
      • Hi Suzanne! Hope we get to see the finished product– before it becomes your birthday cake!! You got me thinking about going back to a recipe for morning buns I cut out of a magazine. I’ve eaten the ones at Tartin in San Francisco (heavenly!) and am just afraid mine would surely suffer by comparison. But I don’t know until I try! thanks for the encouragement Suzanne. hugs!

        April 29, 2017
  29. Well I wish I could be there to celebrate but look forward to hearing more!! Happy birthday early!!

    May 2, 2017
  30. I have been thinking about this post quite a bit, Suzanne. You inspire me! I do need to challenge myself much more than I do… my blog’s purpose is to help my friends & I decide what to serve for dinner (with a little bit in-between!). I hope to surprise you with a challenging dish sometime in the near future.
    Happy HAPPY Birthday!! 🙂

    May 9, 2017
    • Your recipes Josette are always inspiring. I love how creative you are. If you do come up with a post I would love to re blog it. Thank you so much. I think my next challenge will be puff pastry 😱

      May 9, 2017

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