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.