Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers- Flourless Chocolate Cake

For some reason, when I first heard of flourless chocolate cake, I thought it was healthy. Maybe it was because of the whole low carb thing- I thought, oh no flour? Maybe it's healthy. Well, it is not. But we shouldn't expect such nonsense from something as wonderful as chocolate cake.
This month's Daring Bakers challenge was chosen by Wendy at
wmpesblog (Arizona) and Dharm at Dad - Baker and Chef (Malaysia). They chose a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge. The cake was really easy and quick, with only 3 ingredients. I made little ones in cupcake tins so we could try them tonight before tomorrow night when we'll have guests. Perhaps I baked mine a little long; I thought the cake was a little dry and definitely needed the ice cream. I didn't have too much time to get fancy; we just got back from being out of town last night. Thanks to Wendy and Dharm for a great pick! Check out their blogs for their ice cream recipes!Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Princess Cupcakes

I made some princess cupcakes for Brynn, our favorite (albeit rarely utilized babysitter) a while back. Her request was simple- soft pink and white with flowers.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cake Slice Bakers- Southern Coconut Cake (not pretty, but pretty tasty!)

This month's Cake Slice Baker's cake is Southern Coconut Cake- a white cake lightly flavored with coconut milk, frosted with a cream cheese, italian-merengue buttercream type frosting. I'm out of town and my mom doesn't have the best cake pans, so my cake layers did not come out of the pans very easily. They also had pretty crispy edges.
My frosting was also a little runny. I popped it in the freezer for a while to firm it up so I could at least frost the cake. The frosting is pretty amazing- creamy and cream cheesey- there's nothing better than cream cheese frosting! I also didn't garnish the cake with as much coconut as the recipe says as I wasn't sure if the people/kids who would be eating this cake would want that much coconut on it.
Southern Coconut Cake
Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake
For the cake:
5 large egg whites
½ cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups of cake flour (I used 3 cups AP flour, minus 6 T)
2 and 1/3 cup sugar
4 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter (8oz.) at warm room temperature
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment circle and butter the circle.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk slightly. Add the ½ cup of milk and the vanilla and whisk to mix thoroughly; set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, beat dry ingredients well in order to break up any lumps. Add the butter and coconut milk on low speed and beat just to combine. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy about 2 minutes.
Add the egg white mixture in 2 or 3 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Divide the batter among the pans.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake taster inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then turn the cakes out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on an 8-inch cake round. Cover this layer with 1 cup of the buttercream frosting. Spread it evenly all the way to edge of the cake. Then sprinkle ½ cup of shredded coconut on top. Add the second layer and repeat the process. Top with the final layer of cake and frost the top and sides of the cake.
Place the remaining 1 ½ cups shredded coconut on a large baking tray. Pick up the cake and hold it on the palm of one hand over the tray. Using the other hand scoop up the coconut and press it to the sides of the cake. Continue with this process until the sides of the cake are covered. Set the cake on a serving plate and sprinkle any remaining coconut on top of cake. Chill cake for at least one hour to allow frosting to firm up a bit.
Cream cheese buttercream frosting
12 ounces of cream cheese slightly chilled
1 stick of unsalted butter plus 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter (7 ounces) at room temperature
1 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 cup of granulated sugar
¼ cup of water
3 egg whites
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth. Add the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature while buttercream is made.
Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the softball stage 228 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, place the egg whites in mixer bowl and have the mixer ready to go. When the syrup is ready, turn the mixer on med-low and begin mixing the egg whites. Slowly add the hot syrup to the whites taking care not to pour onto the beaters, it may splash. When all the syrup is incorporated, raise the speed on the mixer to med-high and beat the egg whites until mixture has cooled and stiff meringue forms.
With the mixer on low, begin adding the cream cheese mixture by the spoonful. When all is incorporated, raise the speed to medium and whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
Cake Garnish:
2 ½ cups of sweetened flaked coconut for garnishing cake

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Baby Shower

A couple months ago, we threw a baby shower for our friend Kathy, who was almost 8 months pregnant with baby Madeline. We decided to get it in before the holidays so Kathy wouldn't have to worry about it so close the the due date. It's a good thing we did, because baby Maddie decided to make her debut the next week, on Christmas Eve!
Onesie cookies
Baby Block cake

Monday, February 16, 2009

TWD- Devil's Food White Out Cake

Like other TWD-er's, I was looking forward to making the cover cake of the wonderful book we're using. It looks so wonderful- but I was in for a surprise skimming through the recipe. Cocoa powder AND chocolate chunks? YES! I was a little disappointed that the frosting is the seven-minute frosting type- marshmallowy and light. I was hoping for something more along the richer, creamier lines. But the cake did not disappoint. Moist and chocolatey- wonderful. I would like to try it with a different frosting, though.
I halved the recipe and made it in a 6" pan. One of the layers wasn't thick enough to split in two, so there aren't any crumbs on the outside. Check out Stephanie's blog for the recipe!

Monday, February 2, 2009

TWD- World Peace Cookies (or, the cookies that caused much internal un-peace)

Who loves Costco, raise your hand?!!
I hope all of you are raising your hand because Costco is the greatest place ever (except for maybe Wal-Mart. Oh, all you people who are down on Wal-Mart because of whatever reason-poopoo). I mean, where else can you get imported fresh mozzerella, sushi (if you count California rolls), the best big-as-your-head chocolate muffins, Dino-buddies, 50 pounds of bananas for $1.79 (ok, maybe 5 pounds), and cookbooks at half price in the same place?!! Not to mention the $1 churros at the food court!
But, alas, sometimes a match made in heaven (Costco and me) can encounter some bumpy times.
Yes, dear readers and fellow Costco-lovers, Costco did me wrong. I know there are two sides to every story and perhaps Costco has some defense, but since this is my blog, I'm going to say it's all Costco's fault. Costco sells large amounts of butter at a reasonable price. Like 4 pounds of butter for around $7.50. The problem is, the butter comes in 2 pound blocks. Blocks with no useful measurements on the wrappers. For instance, it has 1/4 cup markings. Then it says, 4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup. 8 tablespoons= 1/2 cup. Well, thanks. But with no tablespoon markings to be found, how am I supposed to get the 11 tablespoons required for these much-anticipated, Dorie-marked fave cookies (chosen by cookbook habit)? Ok, 11 is a little less than 3/4 c, I'll just cut a little less than 3/4 c, right? Well, whoever cut the butter before me (ok, it MAY have been me) also cut a little less than the mark (or a little more depending on how you look at it) so counting a little less than 3 marks from where it was previously cut was not that clear-cut (hehe). So I cut it where I thought was about right and moved on.
I was wrong.
The dough was crumbly. So I put some more butter in, even though the dry ingredients were already in (oops, it says don't overmix). Still crumbly. But the recipe says it will be crumbly. So I wrapped it up and chilled it. When I went to cut the dough into slices, I noticed in the recipe it said that the dough might fall apart a little; just press the pieces back together. Well, to make a long story short, my dough was so crumbly that I wasn't even able to slice it and put the crumbs back on, I just smashed the dough together and put it on the pan.It's not a pretty sight. But the bright side is these cookies are so amazing, then might be my new favorites. Chocolately, buttery, with chocolate chunks. They weren't even dry from my lack-of-measuring-butter skills. You might need to check out others' pictures before you're convinced that they're good because mine look like doo-doo, but you MUST make these. Fantastic! P.S. Mine weren't salty like Dorie described. Was anyone else's?