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!
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.
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!
Today is a very special day because today I am going to share with you one of my very favorite recipes: Chocolate Pumpkin Bread. I don’t know who to give credit to for this recipe as I believe it came from the newspaper when I was young. My Mom happened to see it, cut it out and decided to give it a try. Needless to say, it was a big hit and she often made it to give as gifts during the holidays. Last weekend I decided to make my Mom’s Chocolate Pumpkin Bread to take to a party. I have had several people ask for the recipe so here it is. I hope you all enjoy it.
- 1-1/4 cups oil
- 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
- 3-1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 29 oz. can pumpkin
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3-3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1-3/4 tsp salt
- 1-1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1-1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1-1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 8 oz. chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped nuts
Melt together over low heat half of oil with chocolate; set aside. Cream remaining oil with sugar. Beat in eggs. Add melted chocolate mixture and blend. Combine pumpkin and vanilla and add to batter. Slowly blend in sifted dry ingredients until moistened, then beat well until no lumps appear. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until firm for small loaf pans, 1 hour 15 minutes for large pans. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool. Makes 3 loaves (9×15); 4 loaves (8×4); 7 cans or 7 mini loaves.
Mmmm. . . . chocolate! I’m so happy we got to do a nice deep chocolate cake this week.
I’ve tried making molten chocolate cake before but I always seem to have trouble getting a nice gooey middle without the cake itself being underdone. Rose has solved this problem by using chocolate ganache in the center so that it will stay liquid. This seems like a pretty basic idea and I’m just wondering why in the world no one else has ever done this. Kudos to Rose for coming up with a brilliant idea.
The ganache needs to be made a few hours ahead of time so that it can hold the shape of a ball. Now I will be honest here — I read through the instructions and the whole saran wrap in an egg carton thing just sounded like a whole lot of work and mess to me. Therefore, I decided to do this step my way which I think worked just fine. I made the ganache by heating the cream and pouring it over the chopped chocolate. Then I put the bowl of ganache into the fridge overnight. The next day when I was ready to make the cakes, I scooped the cold ganache from the bowl using a small scoop.
The cake batter is made by melting chocolate, cocoa and butter. Then eggs and creme are mixed into the chocolate. The last step is to make a meringue from egg whites and sugar, which is also folded into the chocolate.
I was really wishing I had some small brioche pans or other decorative shaped pan. Since I did not, I used a muffin pan. The cups are filled three-fourths full and a ganache ball placed in the center. The instructions say specifically not to push the ball down into the batter. I baked the cakes for about 12 minutes and let them cool in the pan for about half an hour. The cakes were very pretty and puffed up when I first took them out of the oven but after cooling, they fell. The ganache seemed to be coming out of the tops of my cakes which I guess then becomes the bottom so I guess that’s okay.
I served the cakes with a little sweetened whipped cream and they were very well received. I thought that it was a nice cake texture and really loved the soft ganache inside.
I’ve been really looking forward to making this recipe. Unfortunately, my rendition didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I am attributing this to my own execution of the recipe and I will probably have to try this recipe again when I have a little more time.
The cake batter is the same batter that we used for the ice cream sandwhich a couple of weeks ago. We really enjoyed that cake so I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed as far as that went. The batter mixed up easily. I did, however, have the same problem as last time when the cocoa and water turns into a paste rather than a smooth mixture. I am taking comfort with the fact that other people seem to be having the same problem as me and since it doesn’t seem to affect the outcome, I am just not worrying about it. I made what I see as my biggest mistake when I filled my cupcake liners too full. It seemed like I had about 3/4 of an inch left from the top but I only ended up with 9 cupcakes and clearly after they were baked they were not flat like in the picture.
The second step was to take the hot cupcakes and poke about a dozen holes in each one with a skewer. Then we were to pour milk chocolate ganache over the top of the cupcakes and into the holes. I had two sizes of skewers and I opted for the smaller one to poke the holes. I seemed to have problems getting the ganache down inside though, and I would probably use the larger one next time. I did feel like I had filled them pretty well, but after they sat a while I could see that there was still space in a lot of the holes. Because of time, I did not go back and make more ganache and fill them in.
The third and final step is to make the Lacquer Glaze. This is the part that I expected would make these little cakes over-the-top delicious. In the picture it looks so thick and smooth and so I expected a fudge like texture. My glaze, however, turned out pretty thin and runny, even after it cooled a bit. So the million dollar question is — is the glaze in the picture actually thicker than mine, or is it just that the cupcakes are very flat which makes a thicker layer of glaze possible? I think I made the glaze correctly, but I was having problems with my thermometer so maybe I didn’t do it exactly right. I’m not sure.
Anyway, the cupcakes were good, but not exceptionally better than any other chocolate cupcake. Even my son, who is not really a chocoholic like myself, thought the glaze needed to be thicker. So I will have to leave it for now but when I get some extra time, I will be cooking these up again.
This weekend’s project was Chocolate Banana Stud Cake. The recipe was fairly basic which is a good thing in my book. I started by making a paste of cocoa and boiling water. This is added to a mashed banana, sour cream, eggs and vanilla. Then the dry ingredients are added alternately with butter. Then it’s into the oven to bake. I decided to make two 6″ rounds so that i could sample one and have one to give away.
After baking I let the cakes cool for about 15 minutes and then I removed them from the pan. The first one crumbled a fair amount on the bottom, most likely due to the fact that I didn’t have parchment in the pan because I ran out and was too lazy to run to the store. The second cake came out perfectly, however, so I figured I could eat the crumbled one and give the nice one away.
A basic ganache is made and allowed to thicken up over several hours before icing the cakes. Everything went exactly as directed in the recipe. The most time consuming part of making this is probably placing the chocolate chips on the outside. I practiced on “my” cake and spaced the chocolate chips out a fair amount which ended up looking only so-so. For the second cake I placed the chips closer together and it definitely looked much nicer. This cake is going to go to some friends who took it upon themselves to help us out a few weeks ago. They just called us up and told us they were going to take care of an assignment we had because they knew we were going to be gone most of the week and wouldn’t have much time. It was very sweet of them.
We liked the cake a lot. I think that the banana flavor was a little too subtle though, and next time I would definitely add more banana. Despite that, it is very good cake — moist and flavorful. We will definitely make it again.
Yesterday we went to Madison and stopped at Whole Foods to do a little shopping. Just walking around that store makes a person feel happy. The produce department looks like a work of art. They have a wide variety of cheeses and they usually have samples out so that you can try them. After that, it’s on to the pastries and breads. A couple of weeks ago we bought a blood orange vanilla cake that was really beautiful and tasted really good. This week the flourless chocolate cake caught my eye and I was debating whether or not to buy it when I decided that I would go home and make one myself. After all, I had just purchased a ten pound block of chocolate from Williams and Sonoma a few hours earlier and my mouth was watering for chocolate.
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.
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.