Friday, December 31, 2010

Bread Pudding a-Palooza

Walking through Albertsons today I noticed freshly baked bread- and instantly I knew what I wanted to make for tonight's festivities (New Year's Eve- 2010/2011)- Bread Pudding! When I started the yummy goodness, I decided I wanted to experiment, so I made a double batch and created a couple of different versions- S'mores, Chocolate Cranberry, and Almond Raisin- yum! So take the basic recipe below and experiment away!
[S'mores had mini-marshmallows (the kind that go in hot cocoa with the consistency of a Lucky Charms marshmallow) and mini-chocolate chips, then I added a bit of cocoa powder to the custard mixture, Chocolate Cranberry was mini-chocolate chips and Craisins]

10-12 slices white bread, cut into cubes (or be adventurous and use sourdough, french, wheat or whatever you have in your cupboard- if the bread is freshly baked, toast for a couple of minutes so it doesn't get squished when you cut it)

1/4 C Butter, melted
1/2 C raisins (or Craisins, or whatever you decide to use)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (Then a little extra for sprinkling on top)
6 Large eggs
3/4 C Granulated (white) sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (or any flavor of extract that accentuates your topping choices)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 C warm milk or heavy cream (I prefer half milk, half cream- don't overheat or you will risk curdling your egg mixture when you add the milk)

1.Heat oven to 325 degrees F
2.In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, melted margarine, raisins, and cinnamon; mix well, and transfer to a two-quart baking dish or ramekins (ramekins should be baked in a water bath to keep from overcooking)
3.Use the same bowl to beat the eggs. Stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the warm milk/cream. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes set aside to soak for 5 minutes.
4.Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

R2-D2 Groom's Cake (and a Wedding Cake)

I was recently asked by a couple of dear friends to create a wedding cake and a grooms cake- I was so thrilled and honored to be asked to do make these cakes!  The Wedding cake was a funfetti (top tier & bottom tier) and white cake (middle tier) with buttercream frosting and bavarian cream filling, and fondant covering. 

The Grooms cake was a surprise- R2-D2 for the Star Wars lover! It was a Chocolate WASC cake filled with chocolate mousse and iced with chocolate buttercream, then topped with fondant.  The accents were painted on, and the feet and legs were pure fondant.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wanna-Be Almond Roca

My dad and my uncle love Almond Roca- so I'm attempting to make my own this year instead of buying the tub-o-Roca from Costco!

Here it is- modified from a recipe I found on

2 C Chopped Almonds
4 Tbsp Butter, melted
2 C Butter (don't use margarine)
2 C Granulated Sugar
6 Tbsp Hot/Boiling Water
1/4 C Corn Syrup
2 Bags Milk Chocolate Chips

1) In a 9x13 pyrex dish, pour the 4 Tbsp melted butter and the chopped almonds. Broil the almonds for about 3 minutes, mix, then broil for an additional 3 minutes. The almonds will look dark, but will not be burned. 
2) Set aside 1/2 of the almonds for the topping, and spread the other half evenly along the bottom of the pyrex dish, sprinkle 1 bag of chocolate chips over the almonds, then set the dish to the side (spread the chocolate evenly over the almonds after 2-3 minutes of melting).
3) On low, melt the 2 C butter and granulated sugar, and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
4) At the end of 5 minutes, add in the water and corn syrup. 
5) Increase heat to medium or just above medium, then boil this mixture until it reaches 300 F (about 15 minutes) on a candy thermometer.
6) Immediately pour the boiled mixture over the previously toasted almonds.
7) Sprinkle the second bag of chocolate chips on top of the toffee mixture and allow to set for about 2 minutes.
8) After chocolate has melted, evenly spread it over the toffee mixture with a silicone spatula, then sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of the melted chocolate.
9) After allowing the mixture to cool for about 10 minutes, score the mixture in the size pieces you desire so it will be easy to break when the mixture has completely cooled/ set.  Allow to set overnight.

Yields approximately 40 pieces.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows... On a Stick

This delicious little concoction was brought to my attention to a friend who pointed out a wonderful blogger's post. This dessert is very easy to make (and this is coming from a person who can never get her fudge to come out quite right). The best part about this recipe is it's ability to be tweaked to add the confectioner's own twists and likes. You can flavor the marshmallows or the chocolate (think peppermint, cherry, coconut, raspberry or coffee) and you can dip the chocolate or marshmallows in a variety of toppings (cocoa powder on the fudge, coconut, crushed peppermint candies, sprinkles, crumbled oreos or anything else you can think of).

Foodie with a Family's blog contains my favorite marshmallow recipe ever! It is easy to make and difficult to mess up! I added a few details in the recipe you will find below that helped me make a great, light and fluffy marshmallow- Enjoy!

Marshmallow Ingredients:

.75-oz unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes of Knox gelatin- 1 envelope = 1 Tbsp so .75 oz = 3 Tbsp)
1/2 C cold water
2 C granulated sugar
2/3 C light corn syrup
1/4 C water
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (or other flavor extract)
Confectioners’ sugar (for coating the outside)

1) Line 9 x 9-inch or 8 x 8-inch pan with plastic wrap and lightly oil it using your fingers or non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

2) In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for about 10 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, combine sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil. As soon as it is boiling, set the timer and allow to boil hard for 1 minute.

4) Carefully pour the boiling syrup into soaked gelatin and turn on the mixer, using the whisk attachment, starting on low and moving up to high speed (this keeps the boiling candy from splashing and scalding you). Add the salt and beat for approximately 15-20 minutes (the mixture will be fluffy like the consistency of marshmallow fluff, and will be cooled to almost room temperature). After it reaches that stage, add in the extract and beat to incorporate. I prefer to use concentrated extracts to decrease the amount of additional liquid I am adding to the recipe, and I typically beat for about 2 minutes after the extract has been incorporated.

5) Grease your hands and a rubber or silicone scraper with neutral oil and transfer marshmallow into the prepared pan. Use your greased hands to press the marshmallow into the pan evenly. Take another piece of lightly oiled plastic wrap and press lightly on top of the marshmallow, creating a seal. Let mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until cooled and firmly set.

6) Once marshmallows have set, turn the block-o-mallow out onto a cutting board that has been covered with powdered sugar. Generously cover the top of the solid piece of marshmallow (I use a flour sifter or a powdered sugar shaker), and cut into 1" squares. It is best to use a heated knife (it can be run under water then dried) to cut the substance more easily. Cover with plastic wrap, or place in plastic bags or another air-tight container after cutting- leaving them exposed to the air can help them to dry out and become rubbery within a couple of hours.

Fudge Ingredients: (Originally from the King Arthur Flour Company, adapted by Foodie with Family blog)
½ C heavy cream ($3.29 / Quart) (Cost ~$.41)
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups) ($1.49 / can) (Cost~$1.49)
3 C semisweet chocolate (~1.5 bags) ($1.99 / bag) (Cost~$3) 
3/4 C 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips (~1/2 bag) ($1.99 / bag) (Cost~$1) (=Total Cost to make ~$5.90 + tax)
wooden sticks, lollipop sticks, candy canes or bamboo skewers ($4 / 50 bags, $3 / 50 sticks at Michael's)
optional, crushed candy canes, marshmallows and/or cocoa powder

1) Line an 8 x 8-inch pan or a 9 x 9-inch pan with foil and set aside.

2) Combine the cream and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat until it is steaming, but not boiling, stirring occasionally to keep from scorching.

3) Add all of the chocolate and remove from the heat. Allow the chocolate to melt, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.

4) After 10 minutes, whisk firmly until it is thick and shiny. You can add a few drops of flavoring extract or oil at this point, or add some powdered espresso or vanilla. Whisk vigorously again to incorporate the flavoring (if used.)

5) Use a rubber or silicone spatula to spread the mixture out evenly in your prepared, foil-lined pan. Allow to cool at room temperature 12 hours or overnight so that it firms slowly.

6) Take the fudge from the pan and remove the foil. Place on a cutting board. Using a knife heated with hot water and wiped dry, cut the fudge into 1" cubes.

Assembling the Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows... On a Stick

1) Skewer the marshmallow with a lollipop stick or whatever you are using to assemble your treat. Next skewer the block of cocoa (cocoa blocks can have candy decorations (peppermint, cocoa powder, coconut, etc) on them already, or be decorated after skewering them with the marshmallow).

2) Place on top of a parchment square, or place directly into a treat bag, then tie the bag to seal out additional air.

3) The treats will keep without getting stale for about 3 days at room temperature, about 2 weeks when saved in the fridge, or for up to 3 months when frozen in an airtight container.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars

I borrowed Giada De Laurentiis' Espresso Caramel Bar recipe and made a couple of tweaks to make it my own.  First I increased the crust thickness, second I doubled the caramel thickness. I left out the coffee and I topped the chocolate with Himalayan Sea Salt and shaved chocolate. This experiment turned out to be a very tasty (and rich) treat that is easy to make if you need a quick and guest-pleasing dessert!

Here is the recipe for Salted Chocolate Caramel Bars- enjoy!

Cake Release or Vegetable cooking spray
3 C Graham cracker crumbs
1/4 + 1/8 C Sugar
2 + 1/4 sticks Unsalted butter, melted

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 F
1) Grease the bottom of a springform pan (a 9x13 pan will work ok- you can line it with foil then grease the foil, but a springform is best)
2) Mix the crumbs, sugar and melted butter to form a crumbly mixture.
3) Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the greased pan.
4) Bake for 12-15 minutes.
5) Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before layering on the caramel sauce (do not skip this cooling step! If you do, when you pour the caramel sauce it can break up your crust- I learned that one the hard way!)

Caramel: While the crust is baking, start making the caramel sauce. This part of the recipe can be halved, but I prefer a thick layer of caramel.

1 C Heavy whipping cream
2 sticks Unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 C light brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp Water

Instructions: Use a medium-sized saucepan
1) On medium heat melt the butter completely (but don't burn the butter).
2) Add in the brown sugar, whipping cream and water, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches a boil.
3) After the mixture starts to boil, allow it to boil for 5-7 minutes without stirring. The temperature of the mixture should be about 240 F if you are using a candy thermometer; however, a complete rolling boil of the mixture for 6 minutes should be sufficient (the timed method is what I've used the 3 times I've made the recipe and it has worked out each time).
4) Once crust (see above) has cooled, pour the caramel mixture on top and allow to cool for about 30 minutes (the caramel will set up and be firm enough to form a distinct layer before you put the chocolate layer on).  *Note: I typically stick the pan in the freezer for about 20 minutes to speed up the process (I'm not patient :) )

Chocolate: While the caramel layer is setting on the crust, start making the chocolate mixture. Wait until there are about 5 minutes left of cooling because this part goes fast!
4 C (2 bags) Semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 C Heavy whipping cream
3 1/2 tsp Instant coffee  (optional)
1 tsp Himalayan Sea salt or Fleur de Sal (optional- used on top of chocolate- do not mix it in)

Instructions: Use a medium-sized saucepan on low heat.
1) Mix the chocolate chips, cream and coffee.
2) Stir the mixture constantly to prevent burning.
3) Once chocolate has melted and is smooth, pour evenly over the caramel layer and smooth with a silicone spatula.
4) Sprinkle Sea Salt on top of the chocolate, or grate chocolate to garnish.  Allow chocolate to set completely before cutting into bars.
*Note: The caramel layer tends to get slightly soft if the bars are left out of the refrigerator too long, so keep the bars refrigerated / frozen until you are ready to serve them.
*Another Note: This treat can be very rich, so cutting into 1-2" squares is recommended.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Scottish Shortbread in the Fall

Fall is the greatest of the four seasons. I love the weather, the colors, the pumkin patches and corn mazes... and pretty much everything fall-related.

In honor of Fall (and because a friend of mine is getting married and wanted fall-themed cookies), I have created a few fall Scottish Shortbread cookies.  This recipe is AMAZINGLY yummy. I received it from a friend and have no idea where she got it, but it is fabulous and I highly recommend it for you shortbread lovers out there!

Here is a low-resolution photo of the cookies- my computer has been dead so I can't upload the good pics from my camera- so I'm posting my cell-phone pics until I get it fixed :)

Super Yummy Shortbread Cookie Recipe:

2 C Sifted all-purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 C softened Butter
1/2 C Confectioner's Sugar

1) Mix flour, baking powder and salt.
2) In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and confectioner's sugar. Blend until light and fluffy (this is easiest with a stand mixer- for best results, let mix on medium to high for about 5-8 minutes).
3) Mix together the creamed mixture and flour mixture until well blended.
4) Bake at 325 F for 12-20 minutes until golden brown (You do not need to refrigerate dough before baking)

*You can vary this recipe by chopping up pecans or walnuts and mixing them into the dough.  You can also dip the cookies in melted semi-sweet chocolate after cookies have cooled.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Life's a Beach!

I decided to make some sugar cookies for an upcoming family reunion. The reunion will be held at the beach... so I thought some cute beachy creatures would be just the right theme.  I used the roll-out cookie recipe listed in my Christmas Cookie post, and the same royal icing using various flavors such as Lemon, Almond, Rum, Vanilla Butternut and Coconut. 

Shapes include: Dolphins, Waves, Flip Flops, Sea Shells, Beach Balls, Palm Trees, Suns, Sand Dollars, Starfish and Surf Boards. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Bones- The Dog Kind

I was thinking about baking something today, when I had the epiphany that dogs eat food too! So I decided to make some Peanut Butter Dog Bones as treats for my one year old German Shepherd puppies (CT is on the left & Dozer is on the right- hanging out together on the patio right after the rain made mud that was promptly attached to their big paws and trampled over my patio- kids *sigh*).

I searched online to find a good recipe, but ended up splicing 3 different recipes together to get the right dog-bone consistency and flavor I thought they might like.   This recipe can be easily halved.

2 packages dry yeast
1 C lukewarm water
2 C mashed potatoes
2 C milk
1/2 C molasses
1 C Water or Broth
1 C Smooth or Chunky Peanut Butter
3 C whole wheat flour
2 Lg. Eggs
3 cups all-purpose white flour

Preheat oven to 325 ° F (165 ° C).

1) In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in water- set aside. 
2) In a large saucepan, mix together the potatoes, milk, molasses, water/stock, and peanut butter. Heat, stirring frequently until boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
3) Add yeast mixture. 
4) Gradually blend in the egg and wheat flour. 
5) Gradually blend in enough white flour to form a stiff dough.
6) Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth (i.e. does not stick to the board or rolling pin-  takes about 3-5 minutes). 
7) Cut the dough into two halves. Shape each half into a ball and roll to approximately 1/2-inch thick. 
8) Using cookie cutters, cut out the dog bones (or whatever shape you desire). 
9) Place on ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4-inch apart. This recipe expands slightly but not much, so you can fit a large number of them on one cookie sheet. 
10) Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional treats.
11) Bake for 40-45 minutes. 
12) Let cool uncovered for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. 
13) Makes several (about 6) dozen bones that freeze well.

And here they are! These are only a few of the dozens of bones that came out of this recipe. And our dogs ate them right up!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day BBQ Cake

I made a BBQ for my dad for Father's Day. 

It is a Chocolate WASC cake with a White Chocolate Ganache filling (2 C Whipping Cream whipped, 16oz melted White Chocolate chips, blended together then chilled for 1 hour prior to applying it to the cake).
The cake is covered with vanilla Fondant. The flames, burgers and hotdogs are colored vanilla fondant.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Baby Grand Piano Cake

My cousin Chuck graduated from high school last week! He is going to school to be a pastor!  He has an AMAZING gift to play and compose the piano, so for his graduation I wanted to do something special. I made him his very own baby grand. Now, it didn't last the night, but it was pretty yummy :)

The cake was a Chocolate WASC with Vanilla Buttercream frosting and Bavarian Cream Filling. The cake is covered with Black Fondant and is on a cake stand that my husband made after I carved the cake.   Here are the pictures showing how I made the cake:

The pictures below are of the following points in the process.
1) Newly carved cake- no icing.
2) Bavarian Cream filling.
3) Crumb coating on the cake.
4) Fondant covered cake.
5) Almost done! Accent pieces placed on cake, ready for transport.
6) The final cake- ready to be cut into.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tank Cake

My aunt asked me to make a military themed birthday cake for my cousin. It turns out he likes tanks- so I got a tank in my brain and started carving away at the cake. I was super excited to make this cake because it is my first real carved cake! So here it is- let me know your thoughts!

I used my typical WASC cake recipe using yellow boxed cake this time, then added a little marble-twist.  I saved about 4 Cups of the yellow cake batter and added about 3/4-1 C of cocoa powder. Mix the batter and cocoa really well, then drop on the cake in rows.  Once the chocolate batter is striping the yellow batter, I took a silicone spatula and ran it through to get a marbling effect through the whole depth of the cake. (This is the pre-cooked marble cake).

Once all layers were baked, I leveled each cake, then I froze them overnight (makes it easier to carve!).  The Tank was composed of 2x 2-layer cakes.

The filling was a Vanilla Cream Cheese Mousse (without the vanilla beans) that was colored Army-man green.

The icing was an Vanilla Almond Buttercream (I used this recipe, but used half-almond, half-vanilla extract. I used the paper towel method to smooth the icing on the tiers.

 The final product was accented by black fondant strips to look like treads and gears. The gun barrel was created using a pretzel rod covered in buttercream, and tipped with a black fondant gun barrel.

Monday, May 31, 2010

First Wedding Cake

I made my first wedding cake 2 weeks ago... it was really fun, but also really stressful. The bride was very laid-back, but I wanted to make sure it was absolutely perfect for her special day!

I made a 4-tier cake: 12", 10", 8" and 6". The 12", 8" and 6" cakes were all a Chocolate WASC, filled with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mousse (without the vanilla bean- I make my own vanilla so it already has the vanilla bean seeds in it), and iced using a Crusting Buttercream that was perfect for the Viva Paper Towel smoothing method.  I'm still working on getting my icing smooth, so I'm trying different techniques along the way to see what works best for me!

The 10" tier was a regular WASC and had a strawberry jam filling (from Trader Joe's) and the same Crusting Buttercream recipe as the other tiers.

This is the 12" tier with its initial crumb coat.

This is the top tier- used a shell border with lavender dot accents. A lavender mesh ribbon was used to accent the cake on the bottom border of each layer.

This is the cake as I was assembling it at the church kitchen- it was a hot day and there was no way I could transport the whole thing assembled- let alone carry it, lol!

Annnddd the final product with the cake topper and flowers.In the end, she was happy and that meant the world to me.  Congratulations Barbara! Many happy years of love and prosperity to you both :) Thank you for asking me to be a part of such a special day- it was a true honor!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Baby Shower Cakes

These are the cakes I made for my Aunt and Uncle's Baby Shower.  The cake on the left is a Cherry filled Cherry Chip Cake (using the WASC recipe with Cherry Chip box mix) with Chocolate Cherry Ganache frosting and filing. The design is a communicator badge from Star Trek Deep Space Nine (DS9). 

The cake on the right is a 6-layer WASC cake with a Vanilla Cream Cheese icing and filling with fresh strawberries between each layer and covered with vanilla flavored Fondant. The design is a Hunny Pot in the theme of Winnie the Pooh.

The Chocolate Cherry Ganache Recipe

2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
16 oz coarsely chopped dark chocolate
5 drops concentrated Cherry flavored extract

1) Microwave the whipping cream a large microwave-safe bowl for 3 minutes (bowl should be twice the volume of the cream to avoid boiling over).
2) While whipping cream is in the microwave, coarsely chop chocolate and place in a large food processor or blender.
3) Pour the heated whipping cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 2 minutes. At the end of the 2 minutes, add in the concentrated extract then pulse or blend the mixture until there are no chunks of chocolate left.
4) Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature (about 2 hours). Pour over cake for a thin icing, or blend for about 5 minutes with a hand mixer for a thicker frosting. 
5) If the icing does not thicken enough to use as a frosting after 5 minutes of mixing, place in the fridge for about 20 minutes. When you take the bowl out of the fridge, mix for 2-3 minutes until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sugar Cookie Cake

This cake is a new experiment of mine. I saw a version of this on; however, reviews of the recipe listed weren't very favorable. So I created my own version mixing a bit of WASC with the Sugar Cookie Vanilla Cake recipe on  CC.  I replaced milk with sour cream, modified the amount of Baking Powder and Flour, and eliminated Cake Flour to make it more of a pantry-friendly recipe.  I make some small test cakes and a 10" round and the cake turned out amazing! Easy to carve, dense enough for stacking, but still moist and fluffy! I hope you enjoy! (Here are the cakes right out of the oven- notice how evenly it baked!)

1 C room temp butter
2 tsp Vanilla
3 C Sugar
1/3 C Sour Cream
6 Lg Egg Whties (about a cup) 
3 2/3 C All purpose Flour
1 ¾ tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt

*Pre-heat oven to 325
**Grease a pan with cake release

Recipe Steps:
Step 1: Cream together butter, vanilla, sugar and sour cream until smooth.

Step 2: Slowly mix in the egg whites (about 1/3 at a time)- keep the mixer on low for about 5 minutes as you mix in the egg whites. After 5 minutes, turn the mixer on medium for an additional 3 minutes- This step is CRUCIAL. Don’t under-beat or the cake might crumble after cooking.

Step 3: Mix together the remaining dry ingredients.

Step 4: Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients about  1 C at a time until entire mixture has combined.  Continue to mix for an additional 2 minutes until smooth.

Step 5: Bake at 325 F for approximately 25-30 minutes in a 10” round pan or 9x9 square pan. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Everything Cookie

I threw together a couple of recipes to get this wonderful concoction- the true test taste was my husband's! When he reacted to his first bite, I knew I had something yummy!

1 1/4 C Butter Flavored Crisco or Regular Shortening
3/4 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Granulated Sugar or Honey
2 Medium Ripe Bananas
1 Lg. Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 C Quick Oats
1 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/3 C Rice Krispies
1/2 C Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 C Mini Reeses Pieces Baking Chips
1/3 C Coconut
1/2 C Chopped Pecans or Walnuts

1) Preheat the oven to 375F.
2) Blend the Shortening, Brown Sugar, Granulated Sugar, Bananas, Egg and Vanilla until creamy.
3) On medium speed, blend the Quick Oats, Flour, Baking Soda and Cinnamon.
4) Slowly blend in the Rice Krispies, Reeses Pieces, Coconut and nuts.
5) On an ungreased cookie sheet, use a medium-sized cookie scoop (approximately 2 Tbsp) and place cookie dough about 3" apart. Flatten slightly using your palm or a cup. Bake from 8-12 minutes.
6) Remove cookie sheets from the oven and allow to cool ~1 minute before removing cookies to a cooling rack.

Yields approximately 3-4 dozen cookies.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chocolate Mousse Cake Filling

This is the recipe I used for the filling on my Chocolate Cake. I just lost my mind and forgot to post the recipe!: )

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or a mixture, chopped

2 Tbsp Butter
2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
3 Lg Egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
2 Lg egg yolks
Pinch salt

1) Put the chocolate and butter in a medium saucepan.
2) Melt over low to medium heat, stirring the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth.
3) While melting the chocolate, whip the cream in a medium bowl until it holds soft peaks. Do not overwhip the cream.
4) Beat the egg yolks, pinch of salt, and sugar until foamy and light, about 30 seconds. whip with an electric mixer or whisk, moving in a circular motion around the bowl, until the eggs get very fluffy.
5) Whip the Egg Whites and sugar until light and fluffy.
6) Fold about a quarter of the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate to lighten it, then fold in the rest of the egg.
7) Alternate folding in the whipped cream and Egg White mixture 1/3 of each at a time.  
8) Allow to chill for at least one hour, but overnight is preferred.  Chilling overnight will allow the mousse to be piped with a pastry bag fitted with only a coupler (no tip).
9) If you plan to put the mousse on a cake, you can use the cake pan, lined with plastic wrap, and create an even layer of mousse.  Chill overnight, then turn out onto the appropriate sized cake.

Honey Lavender Ice Cream with Fresh Vanilla Bean

After watching the movie "It's Complicated" starring Merryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, I was inspired to make a Honey Lavender Ice Cream.  I have loved the taste of lavender since I was a child- when my Aunt Brigitte brought me a container of lavender candy from her native country Switzerland.  Lavender has a very refreshing and interesting taste.

Here is the recipe I used- I modified it a bit for my own purposes- and it turned out yummy! However, I wish I would have doubled the recipe- I had more than enough room in the ice cream maker for a second batch of it- and for the amount of effort to make it, doubling the recipe is a good idea.

2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
1 C Evaporated Milk
1/2 C Honey
1 Tbsp edible lavender flowers, dried
2 Lg Eggs
1/8 tsp Salt
1 Vanilla Bean (slit lengthwise)

1) Using a 2-Quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, bring Cream, Evaporated Milk, Honey, Lavender and Vanilla Bean until it just starts to boil.
2) Remove pan from heat. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
3) Pour cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
4) Scrape Vanilla bean and discard the Vanilla Bean pod and lavendar.
5) Return the custard mixture to a clean saucepan and heat over medium heat until hot.
6) Whisk together eggs and salt in a large bowl, then add 1 cup hot cream mixture in a slow stream, whisking.
7) Pour into remaining hot cream mixture (already in saucepan) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat back of spoon (approximately 170 to 175°F on a candy thermometer), for about 5 minutes (do not let boil).
8) Pour custard through clean sieve into cleaned bowl (you may need to press the wooden spoon against the sieve to help the custard push through).
9) Cool custard completely, stirring occasionally, then chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours.
10) Freeze custard in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

1) To cool custard quickly after straining, set bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stir until chilled. 2) Custard can chill up to 1 day before placing into the icecream maker.
3) Ice cream can last 1 week in the freezer.

Original Recipe found on This recipe was modified based on my own personal taste and love of the Vanilla bean. Some modifications were made due to availability of ingredients.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gone Fishin' with Dad

I made this cake for my cousin Derrick's son, Derrick Jr. (aka Lil' D)- he wanted a fishing cake- so here it is. It had a Chocolate Mousse filling and a Chocolate Buttercream Frosting with Fondant lake, rice krispie boat, and fondant people :)
I am naming the actual cake recipe in honor of my grandmother- Catalina Rathbone. She always had recipes she liked to "doctor up" so here is my attempt at achieving such a feat! Tonight I went on the hunt for the ultimate chocolate cake recipe- well, the ultimate "doctored up" cake recipe... and on the Internet, I found nothing that really stood out. Sooooo I modified a couple of recipes I use regularly and made up my own chocolate cake recipe! I am so excited- it actually held together AND my test cake tastes delish! So here it is- fresh from my oven! I hope you enjoy! Please let me know if you make it, and what you thought. Also- please note, this recipe is easily halved.

Dry Ingredients:
1 box White cake mix
1 box Chocolate cake mix
1.5 C Granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1.5 C Flour (all-purpose is fine, or you can use cake flour)
3/4 C Cocoa powder

Wet Ingredients:
2 8oz packages Cream Cheese or sour cream (I use whipped cream cheese for easier blending)
6 eggs
1/2 C Prune Puree or Applesauce (OR 2/3 cup of vegetable or canola oil)
1 Tbsp Butter Flavoring or 2 tsp Almond Extract
3 C Water

1C Chocolate Chips (optional)

1) Blend the wet ingredients together (except half of the water)- first cream together the cream cheese / sour cream and eggs. Once mixed, add in the Prune Puree/Applesauce/Oil and Butter Flavoring. Blend in 1/2 of the water.
2) Add in the boxed cake mixes and mix slowly until blended.
3) Mix the Cocoa Powder, Sugar and Flour slowly until well blended.
4) Blend in the Baking Powder and additional water until thoroughly mixed.
5) If the batter seems too thick, add in an additional 1/2 C of water.
6) Pour batter into a greased pan (I typically use Wilton Cake Release or make my own cake release. In a pinch I use butter flavored Crisco shortening).
7) Sprinkle the chocolate chips (I prefer to use mini-chocolate chips chips)- sprinkling on top help keeps the chocolate from sticking to the bottom of your pan while cooking- which helps with easy removal of the cake from the pan. 
8) Bake in a 350F preheated oven. Baking times will vary depending on pan size. 

This will make a 16" round 2" deep cake and a small 6" x 2" round or two 8" x 2" cakes.  
a 16" round will take approximately 45minutes - 1 hour to bake depending on oven consistency.  Make sure a toothpick can be inserted and removed without having residual batter on the toothpick.