Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Mocha Frosting

Chocolate Fudge Cake and Mocha Frosting
Gosh! I can't believe it has been a month since my last post. Time flies so fast, however everything came to a halt this weekend. We had Saturday night dinner with friends. Of course I brought dessert, a Wild Berry Tart, but I forgot to take a picture before we all ate.
Sunday we had two big events happen. My son is in a children chorale group. They had a performance this weekend. That I must say was truly fun. They have such beautiful voices. So clear and sweet. After the show we went to Buca's to celebrate my daughters birthday. She is all of 7 years old and she was so excited to eat at the kitchen table. Our waiter had a fun personality and made the experience truly enjoyable.
I made a small cake for the birthday dinner that we could share with friends that night. However my big 7 year old wanted to decorate it and she wanted it to be REALLY chocolaty. Well, I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The cake was sooooooo rich that we should have ordered a round of milk for everyone at the table. We even had two slices left and shared it with our waiter and head chef. I was very touched at how nice they were to actually try it and compliment me on how I did such a nice job choosing a high quality chocolate. Wow, they can actually taste that?
Chocolate Fudge Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 oz 80% bittersweet chocolate melted
pre-heat oven 350
cream butter and sugar until light. add eggs and vanilla to creamed mixture, beat thoroughly.
Alternately add flour mixture then milk. Beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate and beat thoroughly.
pour into 2 prepared 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Bake or 35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Mocha Frosting
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner's sugar (sifted)
3/4 cup cocoa powder (sifted)
2 T milk
3 T freshly brewed coffee
Cream butter and shortening, add vanilla. Gradually add sugar. When all sugar has been mixed in add milk and beat at medium speed. Add cocoa powder then add coffee. Beat at medium speed until light.
When I assembled the cake I did have a few fresh strawberries around so I layered them between the cake with the frosting. I did only make the cake with two layers. However, looking back, next time I will torte the cakes to make it 4 layers to really make it look special when you cut into it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baby Shower Cake Contest

I would really like to get some new furniture for the living room. So, I always start my journey looking at some of my favorite web-sites before I head out in the car. I really do love Pottery Barn. While looking I decided to click on baby girl bedding. No, I'm not having any announcements to make. But it is fun to look at all the baby items and I do have a friend due this summer with twins. I saw the cutest princess fairy pattern.
Ever since I started baking and dabbling in cake decorating I get inspiration from just about everything. I've tried explaining this to other people. The only ones who seem to understand are those who love art like myself.
I had read about a web-based cake decorating contest on a web-site I go to all the time. The theme is Baby Showers. Well, with the inspiration of the baby bedding I just saw. I was motivated to enter.
The cake recipe I made was adapted from the Ina Garten Lemon Pound cake. This by far is one of my favorite basic cake recipes. Very lemony! I filled the layers with seedless Raspberry Jam and frosted with a basic Cream Cheese icing. The cake is two layers. 8" square and 4" round.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr Seuss

Today is Dr Seuss's birthday.....did you know that? I never would have know except for the fact my littlest came home with a note from school inviting us to make a cake to celebrate. Yes, it is a contest. They have 3 different categories and then at the bottom of the entry form is a note stating that if they (the judges) really like a cake that doesn't go under any category they will award a prize for that too. Well, that is easy enough.
So we, as a family had to decide what to make. Well, as a family our favorite Dr. Seuss book is "Green Eggs and Ham". And so the planning began. I asked the kids to draw a picture of what they want the cake to look like. Nothing too elaborate, the kids do have to help make it!
Everything went pretty well. The fondant got a little dry while rolling it out and the fork broke in two places. I'm going to guess it happened because the gum paste only had about 2 days to dry.
Please leave a comment to let me know which Dr. Seuss book is your favorite...It would be fun to know.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Roasted Plums and a Classic Cheescake

On my parents wedding day, 44 years ago, mom received a cookbook as a wedding gift. This was the cookbook that she used to cook for her family. By the time I reached 18 I thought I had eaten almost every recipe at least once. Now something I feel you need to know is that I didn't like to cook as a child.
Most of the food blogs you read have wonderful stories about growing up cooking with their family. I don't have those. It never looked like they (my mom and aunts) were having fun. They always looked stressed trying to keep to a timeline.
So on my wedding day my mother gave me her cookbook as a gift. She figured I would need to start cooking for my husband and someday children and at least if I used this cookbook I would know what the end result is supposed to taste like. At the time I truly didn't appreciate the magnitude of this gift.
Every time I cook from this book the memories of my childhood come flooding back. Freshly baked cookies on Sundays. The divinity that she could never get to set up just right, although she tried again and again every Christmas. The best meatloaf I have ever tasted, and oh the banana bread recipe that my DH refused to try, he doesn't like bananas. That is until I broke him down with the aroma permeating from the kitchen.
One recipe I do not recall my mother ever making is the Classic cheesecake. About 4 years ago I was browsing the Dessert section and came across this recipe. It looked quite labor intensive but it was so pretty in the picture. I couldn't resist and I am glad I tried it. Delicious!
I had a few plums leftover in the fridge and didn't think they were going to be eaten by the kids. I thought the intense tart plums would be a nice balance to the rich and creamy texture of the cheesecake. Oh boy, was I right!
Classic Cheesecake
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
2-3 T milk
sift flour with sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl. cut in butter until particles are fine. sprinkle milk over mixture until dough is just moist enough to hold together. pres evenly over bottom and 2 inches up sides of ungreased 9-inch spring form pan. chill while preparing filling
cream cheese filling
5 (8oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 T flour
1 tsp grated lemon rind (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
6 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
cream cheese, add sugar, flour, lemon rind, vanilla extract, and salt; beat well. add eggs, one at a time beating well after each. blend in heavy cream. pour into chilled pan.
bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes
then reduce heat to 200 degrees and bake for 65 to 70 minutes until filling is almost set and golden brown.
cool and chill several hours or overnight before serving
roasted plums
slice plums in half and remove pit
place on cooking pan with cut sides up and sprinkle with 2 T sugar
roast at 350 degrees checking every 15 minutes until softened and releasing juices.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chocolate eclair and a day of firsts

I meant to post my first blog earlier. I signed up in January but life and nerves got the best of me. Then I realized. What am I waiting for? A personal invitation? Well, that will never happen....yes, I do have friends that ask for my opinion and sometimes I give my unsolicited opinion. But this is different. I need to just jump in and "do". Please don't misunderstand. Thought has gone into my first blog, what to make? How will I fit this in? So here I am....giving myself the same advise I give my kids. Never avoid a new experience in life because you are scared, and seeing how I am nervous about this why not put a cherry on top?! I decided to make Chocolate Eclairs. Anything that is a french pastry is a bit intimidating to me. So what if it fails? right? It just gives me more fodder for my blog. So here we go. As you can see above it may not belong in an authentic french patisserie, from what I have seen they have the HIGHEST standards. But it tasted quite delicious. My son gave me the thumbs up, my daughter said "mommy, this one is a keeper". Oh, and later that night DH whispered in my ear, "is there anymore left over?" I used the recipe from a Williams and Sonoma "Essentials of Baking" for the pate de choux. I won't print it here since I am not familiar with copyright laws. But I would recommend picking one up. I am planning on baking many more things from this book.

The chocolate mousse was a wonderful ganache recipe from Tartlette's blog whisked with another 1/2 cup of heavy cream until light and fluffy looking. Do not whisk to long, I think that is why my mousse looks a bit grainy.

For the glaze I melted 4oz of bittersweet chocolate over a water bath and simply dipped the top half of the eclair until nicely coated. I didn't allow the "lids" to cool on a wire rack before assembling them so the chocolate did drip down the sides a bit. Not super clean looking but lesson learned. Oh, and remember how mentioned putting a cherry on top? Well, I didn't have any cherries so how about a strawberry on the side instead?