Fall is in the Air!

So it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.  Life has been busy and to be honest, I wasn’t doing much baking for a while.  But I have missed the baking and the blogging so here I am.

The temperatures are cooling off and fall is definitely here.  Jack Frost is working his magic and each day brings a new masterpiece to the foliage that lines our streets.  With fall brings the thoughts of consuming apples in all types of sweet treats.   When we were in Minneapolis a few weeks ago we stopped by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and indulged in one of our favorite treats — caramel apples!  My favorite is the turtle while Marshall loves the apple pie caramel apple.  I kept thinking about that apple for days afterward and finally decided I needed another one.  Since I couldn’t just stop by and get another, I decided I would need to make my own.  Having never made one before, I was a bit nervous as to how to go about it.  But the internet did not fail me and before long I had lots of good advice to help me along.

I decided to try using Peter’s Caramel and I was quite pleased with it.  It had a nice flavor and was easy to work with.   I microwaved the caramel and then dipped the apples.  I had seen some pictures of chocolate dipped apple slices on Pinterest and was interested in doing caramel apple slices.  I tried everything I could think of but I could not get the caramel to stick to the cut part of the apples.  It coated the skin just fine though, so dipping whole apples was not a problem.  After letting the caramel set up in the fridge, I dipped them in tempered chocolate.  For the slices I ended up having to dip them in chocolate first and then add some caramel.    I have to say that I felt my apples were just as good as the ones we had a few weeks ago.  I even tried making the Apple Pie Caramel Apple last night and was told it was right on the money.  I would definitely encourage everyone to try making their own caramel apples.  It was lots of fun and super easy!

 

 

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Devilish Good Day

Today was an awesome day!

First of all, I have finally turned a corner with the medical issues I’ve been dealing with.  In actuality, recovering from the surgery itself hasn’t been too bad.  What I didn’t expect is to have an allergic reaction to the sterilization solution they used which resulted in a horrible rash over much of my upper body.  I have been so itchy that I have wanted to crawl right out of my skin.  I have tried every non-itch cream and lotion on the market and while a few of them will temporarily soothe the itchiness, it does not last long and I have been going crazy.  I am grateful to say that the rash seems to finally be going away.

Second, I got to sleep in today.  This may not seem like a luxury considering our current work status, but we have literally had appointments every single day for weeks. With some confusion over the time change last night, I managed to oversleep and miss church today. I felt bad that I missed church, but it was so nice to sleep as late as I wanted to and then basically be lazy all day long.  So I surfed the internet and did some artwork.  It was wonderful!

Third, we received some letters from friends this weekend and read through them today.  We loved the thoughtful notes and the sweet picture.  We feel very blessed to have good friends who think of us and keep us in their prayers.  And by the way, I had a doctor tell me this week that they have done research that shows that prayers actually do work (not that I am surprised by that, but I think it’s interesting that the medical community acknowledges it.)  So, thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

And to top off our day, we had a special dessert.  You see, we have  had to eliminate milk completely from my daughter’s diet.  That means milk and butter substitutes and NO chocolate (because of the milk in it).  But I found a great recipe for Devil’s Food cake with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache and it was entirely dairy free.  This was a great recipe that I would use again even if I didn’t need it to be dairy free.  The recipe was also egg free but I used a real egg since I didn’t have any of the egg substitute on hand.  You can find the recipe here:

So I’m hoping that this is just the first day of a really great week.  The weather is supposed to be warming up and we’re even supposed to see 50 degrees on Wednesday!  I hope everyone else has a great week as well.

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Chocolate Decadence

It’s no secret that I love to bake.  As a friend once told me that it is my “happy place” which is definitely true.  The thing is, I’ve been having an internal struggle for the past while because while I know that baking makes me happy ( good thing), it also results in yummy, high calorie treats that are a temptation for my hubby who has been focusing on losing weight (bad thing).  I have been debating what to do with this situation for quite some time.  I secretly hoped that if I hung in there long enough that the medical issues would pass and life would be back to normal.  I suppose that I have finally come to terms that the medical issues are really not going to resolve in the near future and even when they do, we are going to have to adjust our lifestyle.  So, while I am not giving up entirely on decadent desserts that have far too many calories, I have decided that I must focus more on food that is healthy for us and some desserts that can be eaten without completely blowing one’s diet.

Today’s recipe is taken from a magazine that we’ve enjoyed the past while called Eating Well.  I love that they have the nutritional info on each recipe so that I know it fits within the calorie and sodium restrictions.  The February issue has some great chocolate desserts that have a reasonable amount of calories.

I decided to try the flourless chocolate cake called “Chocolate Decadence.”  This recipe is proof that you can have decadence without destruction.  Most flourless chocolate cakes call for tons of butter and eggs which, although delicious, really hike up the calories.  This version calls for heating a small amount of flour, sugar and low-fat milk (rather than cream)  on the stove and then pouring it over high quality cocoa and chocolate.  Then egg whites are whipped and added to it.  It is baked, cooled and then refrigerated overnight before serving (if you can wait that long).  You can find the recipe here.

I was extremely pleased with the way this turned out and definitely consider this a go-to recipe from now on.   One serving is 164 calories but the cake is so rich that you could definitely get by with a smaller piece and still feel completely satisfied.

I totally wanted a picture to put with this post but unfortunately I do not have one.  When I served it the first time it was rather late in the evening and I didn’t feel like taking the time to style and photograph it.  Then we ended up serving the rest of it rather spontaneously one night when we had company, and I didn’t even think of it until I had licked my plate clean.  Well, I guess you know what that means — I’m just going to HAVE to make this recipe again real soon.  Give it a try yourself — I think you’ll really like it!

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Coldest Day

Here in the midwest we are having a cold spell. For the last two days the schools have been closed because of severe temperatures and weather warnings.  Last night it reached –22 degrees.  So, when I was trying to decide what I should experiment with, a recipe for a dipped confection called “hot chocolates” caught my eye.  This confection has a cinnamon marshmallow atop a dark chocolate ganache.  It required curing overnight so I made it the other day and today I dipped them.

I am still having some difficulty in getting dipped chocolates to look neat and beautiful.  However, I tried dipping some round chocolates and some square chocolates.  I ran out of tempered semisweet chocolate and when I began to temper some more semisweet, I got thinking that I might prefer these dipped in milk chocolate instead.  In the end, I think the milk chocolate ones taste the best.  The milk chocolate also seemed to dip better too and I’m not sure if I need to adjust the temperature on my machine or what.  I will have to do some more experimenting and reading on that.

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Lemon Logs

Last week I decided to try making a butter ganache filling because they are supposed to last longer than a regular ganache. I looked through my book and decided to try making the lemon butter ganache. The only problem was that one of the ingredients was fondant. I have never made confectioner’s fondant before, in fact I had never even heard of it before. But I really wanted to try this recipe so I figured I would need to figure it all out.

So one day early last week I made the fondant. I was really nervous about it because it required agitating it at the end and I didn’t exactly know what to expect and didn’t know how to know if I was doing it correctly. But I decided I would just jump right in and see what happened. It actually went very smoothly. After I had poured it on the marble slab and agitated it for about 10 minutes, it began to get opaque and very thick. Then all of a sudden, it seemed like it turned into a rock. I was afraid I had ruined it. I knew it had to cure overnight so I was just hoping that it would soften up overnight. I decided it felt lumpy and so I massaged the lumps out of it and it seemed a better texture after that. I put it into a container and left it overnight. The next day Marshall sampled it and it was very smooth. So I was hopeful that it turned out the way it was supposed to.

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Chocolate Curls

Chocolate curls are such a fun thing and I have thought that they would be fun to put on top of a cake.  So I watched a video on how to make them and set about to do it on my own.  I made a cinnamon ganache chocolate cake to put them on and we really enjoyed it.  I like my chocolate curls.  In fact, I was having so much fun making them that I made way too many and so now I have lots extra to do something else with.  Hmm….now what could I make?

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Something New for the New Year

Since it is a new year, I thought that I should make something new, unlike anything I have ever tried before.  What I decided on was Madeleine cookies.  Madeleines are something that I have admired for a long time and had a desire to try but never have.  Once I watched a Julia Childs video about making the darling little things, but still I never ventured out to do it.  The biggest thing stopping me was that I didn’t have a pan.  I have looked a few times but could never decide whether I wanted mini madeleines or regular madeleines.  I also did not know if I should get a nonstick or regular pan.  Decisions, decisions. . . and that is why I never bought one.

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Caramel Chaos

I have had my eye on a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine called Chocolate Dipped Caramallows.  Marshall saw the recipe and it reminded him of his favorite See’s chocolate which has caramel on the bottom with marshmallow on the top, then dipped in chocolate.

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Candied Orange Peel

Today Marshall decided to try making sugared orange peel.  Here is what he did:

Cut the orange peel into strips and remove the excess pith.  Put it in a pan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and then drain it.  Do this two more times.  In another pan, make a simple syrup using equal parts of water and sugar and bring to a boil.  (Marshall used 3 cups each of water and sugar.)   Add the orange peel and then simmer for about an hour, when the orange peel starts to get transluscent.  Cool the orange peel in the syrup and then drain on a rack until tacky and mostly dry.  At this point you can roll it in sugar. 

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