Posted: November 4th, 2010 | Filed under: Cake, Candy | | No Comments »
I can’t believe that it is already November. I mean– it seems like summer was just here– is time just going to start going faster and faster and faster now? Last weekend we celebrated Halloween with friends. We let our Mad Men love get the best of us, and we dressed up as a 1960′s advertising executive and a housewife. We even put lipstick smudges on Ryan’s outfit – it was way scandalous slash adorable.
But other than that, I got to spend some great time in the kitchen last week also.
This fall has been full of apples. I not only have been playing with a few apple recipes, I was gifted a bag full of fresh local apples — so even more apple dishes made an appearance in the kitchen! Its been pretty awesome. So I wanted to share this recipe with you — the cake is just very lightly caramel-ish – slightly more than a regular white cake, but not overwhelming at all. The filling is super yummy and really balances out the cake and thick creamy icing. And don’t worry – there will be some left over caramel — which is amazing warmed poured over apple slices and ice cream. (Or, if you are me, just by the spoonful.)
For the Cake:
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Filling:
2 large apples, grated
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
For the Filling: Combine all ingredients in saucepan and cook until apples are tender.
For the Caramel:
1 c cold water
2 c heavy cream, at room temperature
In a medium size saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Set over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes, making sure no sugar is sticking to the sides of the pan. Increase the heat to high and boil without stirring until the syrup becomes a deep amber color, about 15 minutes. Swirl the pan occasionally for even browning. Once the syrup turns deep amber in color, immediately remove from the pan. Slowly add the cream to the syrup (there will be lots and lots of bubbling, don’t be scared) whisking vigorously until the cream is incorporated. Return the pan to medium-low heat and stir until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and allow to come to room temperature before chilling. (This can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator
For the Icing:
1 1b cream cheese, softened slightly, cut into pieces
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened slightly, cut into pieces
1 c cold caramel
1 tbsp kosher salt
In a medium sized bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the caramel and salt and beat until well incorporated. Spread onto and over the cake liberally.
Posted: March 5th, 2010 | Filed under: Candy | Tags: best caramel sauce, caramel sauce, homemade caramel sauce, Vanilla bean caramel | 4 Comments »
I have a small problem to admit to you… I love food – I mean, I really really love food. I start to get really excited when I talk about it – sometimes there is a loss for words, or I might start talking too quickly, and there is almost always blushing and my hands covering my face. I don’t know a lot of people that just get so dang excited about something covered in butter and sugar. So today I bring you a new something to continue feeding the addiction – vanilla bean caramel sauce.
Now, this sauce is ah-mazing. I mean really – there is that caramel sauce that people make with melted caramel candies, the stuff that comes in a packet, the stuff that comes in a tub by the apples… but this is a perfect something to drizzle over… well I will drizzle it over anything, well, everything. And lets be honest, I pretty much don’t even make it to the drizzle stage – I enjoy it by the spoonful straight out of the jar… oh my Lord… I have a problem.
Luckily for me, the 5:45am spin classes I take everyday fix that problem.
So, please, make this, drizzle if you so choose, but try a truly delicious, buttery, smooth caramel sauce, you won’t regret it.
Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
Makes 1 1/4 cups
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 a vanilla bean
1 tbsp fleur de sel
Heat 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 cup light corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, 3 to 4 minutes. Bring to a boil, and cook, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming, until medium amber, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add 3/4 cup heavy cream. Return to heat. Cook, stirring, until combined. Remove from heat, and stir in 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, vanilla bean, and fleur de sel. Let stand for 15 minutes. Strain.
This can keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. (If you can make it last that long… good luck with that one.)
Posted: February 11th, 2010 | Filed under: Candy | Tags: brownies, chocolate caramel, chocolate mousse, death by chocolate, layered chocolate dessert, valentines day chocolate dessert, Whipped cream | No Comments »
I heart thee, and you heart me… even if my waistline does not agree.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This is a death by chocolate… its my upgraded version of something I started making when I was in high school… I love this. You’ll love this. Your valentine will love this. Enjoy.
Death by Chocolate
The Baked Brownie
adapted from Baked
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 glass or light-colored metal baking pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cocoa powder and spices (chipotle, cinnamon and cardamom), if you’re using them, together.
Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them int osquares and serve.
Tightly covered with plastic wrap, the brownies keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, ideally 60% cacao, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
5 Tbsp. water
2 large eggs, separated
1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cold heavy cream
Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder, water, and whiskey in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of gently simmering water, and stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat.
In another medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, and salt. Whisk until the mixture lightens to a pale yellow color and thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, and whisk until combined. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until just warmer than room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy. Add the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, increase the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Detach the whisk and bowl from the mixer, and whisk the last few strokes by hand, making sure to scrape up any unbeaten whites from the bottom of the bowl. Using the whisk, stir about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, to lighten it. Then, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites until only a few white streaks remain.
In the now-empty mixer bowl, whip the heavy cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken. Increase the speed to high, and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the mousse until no white streaks remain. Spoon into 6 to 8 individual serving dishes – I like to use teacups – or, if you’re feeling casual, mound it up in a single serving bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a medium saucepan, heat sugar over medium-high until melted and brown at edges, 3 minutes. With a heat-resistant spatula, pull melted sugar toward center until all sugar is melted and caramel is deep amber in color, 3 minutes more.
Immediately whisk in butter, coarse salt, and pure vanilla extract (take care as mixture is extremely hot and will bubble).Whisk in heavy cream.Pour into a heatproof container and let cool. (To store, refrigerate, up to 3 weeks.)
2c heavy whipping cream
1/4c confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a deep mixing bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar over cream; beat until soft peaks return. Do not overbeat.
Take each ingredient and layer Brownie, Mousse, Caramel, and Whipped Cream. Top with a light sprinkle of white sanding sugar… for just a little shimmer. I would also love to add a few toasted hazelnuts to this… but I have friends with allergies and a husband who likes his desserts “crunch free.” So try it and tell me what you think.
Posted: December 20th, 2009 | Filed under: Candy | Tags: Peanut butter balls, peanut butter candy, peanut butter treats | 1 Comment »
My sweet sweet husband does not have a very big sweet tooth. But, he does have some favorite sweet things that he enjoys on an annual basis. One of those things is generally a Christmas treat for him.. peanut butter balls.
Now, let me explain a little something… I like peanut butter, I keep it around… I may go through one maybe two small jars of peanut butter a year. (Not used in desserts.) When Ryan and I first got married we went to Costco and bought a pack of very very large jars of peanut butter. Ryan flew through one family sized jar of peanut butter in about a month. I was shocked. Had the entire jar disappeared just like that?! It had… and my sweet sweet husband was the culprit. Man, he really likes his peanut butter. So this year… right before Christmas I busted out some peanut butter balls for him.
Super easy… minimal amounts of kitchen tools used and only a little time for these tasty little peanut balls to be made… enjoy!
Ryan’s Peanut Butter Balls
2c graham cracker crumbs
2c confectioner’s sugar
2c peanut butter
1tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until pretty smooth. Roll into balls and roll in confectioner’s sugar. Feed to husband, and enjoy!
*Those adoreable recipe sheets with my logo came from my sweet sweet friend Jen for Christmas. They are in a notebook just for writing recipes for you in! How fun! Thanks Jen!
Posted: December 13th, 2009 | Filed under: Candy | Tags: holiday desserts, holiday drinks, homemade hot chocolate, homemade marshmallow, Hot chocolate, marshmallows, peppermint marshmallow, vanilla marshmallow, winter drinks | 6 Comments »
I can’t begin to tell you how much I dislike the cold. However, I love scarves, coats, winter wear of all sorts, and I truly love cold weather drinks. A little wassail, hot chocolate or apple cider certainly never hurt anybody. (I keep trying to tell my doctor and my waistline that one.) In fact, some of my fondest Christmas memories involve hot chocolate. Now, I am admittedly a chocolate snob (since my husband has decided to point it out publicly on several occasions) and this includes hot chocolate. In my barista days I learned how to really make some terrific hot cocoa (instead of it just tasting like warm kind chocolate-y milk). I don’t mess with instant hot chocolate mixes, and I certainly never use water. This of course makes my hot chocolate decidedly unhealthy, but frankly, I don’t care. (Seriously, if I did care would I fry things in shortening, bake pound cakes with loads of butter, and make homemade lemon curd that I’ll finish all by myself in a week?)
And last year I just added to the joy of hot chocolate… homemade marshmallows. Now, I grew up and am very accustomed to the Jet Puffed big marshmallows. I have memories of my parents saying with exasperation, “You each got 10 mini marshmallows in your cup, please don’t tell me your sister has more, because she doesn’t.”
But I had seen “gourmet marshmallows,” and had even come across a recipe or two when I just decided that it was time. I found a recipe and after looking over it several times thought to myself, ‘Well, that really doesn’t seem so bad at all!’ So on it went, marshmallow making with smooth and creamy hot chocolate. So this year for a Christmas party when I was asked to make a dessert, the hostess looked at me and quickly requested my hot chocolate. What a perfect reason to make my marshmallows! And this time I wouldn’t be eating them all myself.
Now these do contain gelatin, so if you have problems with Kraft gelatin for various reasons, cellulose, agar-agar, and xanthan are all vegan friendly substitues. I have not experimented with these, and don’t plan on it… so good luck and let me know what happens.
1/2 gallon of whole milk
1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1 c sugar
12 oz semisweet chocolate (I used 72% cocoa)
1 c cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s or Ghiradelli)
3 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
Put all ingredients into a large pot. Stir constantly at medium heat until liquid is hot and everything is combined and smooth.
3 pkgs unflavored gelatin
1 1/2c granulated sugar
1c light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup of cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachments and allow to sit while making the syrup. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepn and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the syrup into to dissolved gelatin. Put the mixer on high speed and whip until the mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last few seconds. Pour into an 8x8in baking pan coated with confectioners sugar. Top with confectioners sugar. (Or a crushed candy topping.) Allow to dry overnight uncovered. (If you are freaked out by the thought of ants like I am, put them in the oven and make sure not to turn the oven on.) Remove from the pan to cut into squares. Store at room temperature.
(For a peppermint variation, use 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tbsp peppermint extract. I also like to know which is which so I color my marshmallows with three drops of red food coloring for a nice pink color. I also use crushed peppermints to top my marshmallows.)
Posted: November 24th, 2009 | Filed under: Candy | Tags: Baked truffles, dark chocolate truffles, kitchen fun, milk chocolate truffles, shower food, treat boxes, Truffles, wedding shower | 2 Comments »
My sweet sweet friend Teagan got hitched last month… but before the vows were said were a few fantastic parties. One of which was a “Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Shower.” Teagan’s maid of honor and I slaved in the kitchen for a “few” hours making hot spinach dip, a walnut-balsamic-pear brie cake, some beautifully rich brownies, a lemon cheese tart, and best of all.. truffles.
Poor Kelley, I’m sure she was not aware that we would be A) in the kitchen nearly as long as we were B) using a lot of arm muscle and patience to get our chocolate tempered correctly for that lovely “crunch” on the outside.
But the hours and the aching muscles were totally worth it. The truffles were not only delicious, decadent, full of rich deep dark chocolate-y wonderful-ness that just can’t be replicated with store bought truffles– they were also a huge hit, and our chocolate loving bride-to-be was very happy. So we showered her with gifts for the kitchen and home, to start them off right (lots of Martha Stuart cookware).
The only downside for our sweet bride – She was trying to stay on that wedding diet (not that she needed it), and we overloaded her chocolate-y goodness! Poor thing, that diet was on the loosing side of the battle.
Honey and Dark Chocolate Truffles
(Recipe adapted from Baked)
9 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (72% cacao)
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
Tempered dark chocolate
For the truffle centers:
Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Place a mesh strainer over the bowl and set aside.
In a medium sized saucepan, stir together cream, honey, and instant coffee granules and bring to just a boil. Remove from heat and pour cream mixture through the sieve directly over the chocolate. Let sit for two minutes. Gently stir mixture from the center outward until smooth and shiny. Cover the entire bowl in plastic wrap, making sure the wrap comes in direct contact with the plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 5 hours or until firm.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and scoop the truffles with a small melon baller and drop onto the parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Tempering the chocolate:
1 pound of dark chocolate is needed – you will need to chop well and reserve about a 4th of the chocolate for dropping the temperature.
Put 3/4 of the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Melt chocolate until an instant read thermometer reads 120 degrees F. Remove the bowl from heat and add reserved chocolate. Stir vigorously without stopping until completely melted and cooled to 80 degrees F. Place the chocolate back over simmering water stirring constantly until the temperature is between 86 and 90 degrees.
Now you may begin dipping, and then roll in powdered sugar.
Enjoy, especially the satisfying little crunch when you bite into your tasty truffles!