This past year has been a little stressful for me. And when I saw a “little” stressful, I mean that sarcastically. In reality, this past year has been MASSIVELY stressful. Which is not good for an emotional eater. What’s crazy is that I didn’t even realize until last month how much emotional eating I had been doing. I mean I knew my clothes were a fitting a little tighter and alL — but when I stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office I just about had a heart attack right there. That was it.
Ginger Cheesecake with Gingerbread Crust
This week we had another free choice as to what we wanted to bake. I looked through the list of the cakes Marie baked before the group officially started and narrowed down what I wanted to try. The cake that caught my eye was the Ginger Cheesecake with Gingerbread Crust. This cheesecake is a perfect fit for this time of year because it has ginger and cardamom added to it. And not only that — the cake is encircle with gingerbread cookies! Now what could be more adoreable than that?
To be fair, the gingerbread cookies are optional in this recipe. If you want, you can purchase gingersnaps and grind them up for the crust. But seriously, the gingerbread cookies are the funnest part of this recipe. So for me, there was no question on whether or not I was making them.
The gingerbread dough was easy to mix up. The dough is flavored with molasses and the spices of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The dough is put in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up. When I took it out later in the day, the dough was easy to work with and rolled out nicely. I cut out the small gingerbread boys and girls and then cut out squares to be crushed up for the crust. The crust is made by adding butter and a little salt to the cookie crumbs. I elected to leave out the salt since we are watching the sodium in our home.
The cheesecake itself went together quite easily also. One unique part of this recipe was the addition of ginger juice. To acquire ginger juice, you take a large piece of fresh gingerroot and grate it. Then you squeeze the grated ginger to extract its juice. (The gingerroot is then disposed of. ) The main components of the cheesecake batter are cream cheese and sour cream.
The cheesecake is baked in a water bath for an hour and then left in the oven with the door closed for another hour. Then you cool it on a wire rack for another hour before putting it in the fridge overnight. So this dessert definitely has to be made the day before you want to serve it.
To serve the cheesecake, run a hot knife around the inside of the pan to release it, and place on a serving plate. Then you press the gingerbread cookies around the outside. You can use jam to adhere the cookies a little more securely to the cheesecake.
My family really liked this cheesecake. The ginger flavor was quite strong but not too much. It was refreshing to have something a little out of the ordinary and these spices just feel like Thanksgiving to me. And if you make this cheesecake, don’t leave out the cookies because they were our favorite part of this dessert (I’ve already received a request to make more).
Today’s assignment with the Heavenly Cake Bakers was the Bostini. I have been waiting impatiently for this recipe to come up since the first time I thumbed through Rose’s beautiful cookbook. The picture of a mug full of pastry cream, topped off with a small cake on top and covered in hot fudge indeed looks heavenly. This recipe is basically a sophisticated variation of Boston Cream Pie, with orange added to the cake for an extra twist.
There are basically three parts to this recipe: First, the Orange Glow Chiffon Cupcake Batter, the Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Sauce, and finally the Chocolate Butter Glaze. However, none of these steps takes an extensive amount of work so don’t let that discourage you from attempting this dessert.
The Orange Glow Chiffon Cupcake Batter went together very easily. This is an oil based cake so once the dry ingredients are mixed, you add oil, egg yolks, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla. The batter thickens up nicely. In a separate bowl, you make a meringue which is then folded into the batter. The result is a light orange batter which pours easily into the cupcake pan. The instructions call for a silicone pan but since I don’t have one, I used my aluminum pans and I lined the bottoms with parchment. The full batter recipe yields 12 cupcakes and so I decided to halve the recipe to end up with 6 cupcakes. Now I do not understand what happened, but out of my half recipe of batter I actually came out with 12 cupcakes. This is really weird and I do not understand. Last week when I made the 8 cup version of angel food cake batter I also ended up with way too much batter and ended up filling a loaf pan with the extra. Anyway, the cakes baked up nicely.
The next step was the Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream Sauce. This sauce is supposed to be a cross between pastry cream and creme anglaise. The first step was quite interesting in that you scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar and salt mixture and mix it up with your fingers which I have never seen done before. This mixture is heated with heavy cream until it comes to a simmer. Then there is a quick exchange when you mix some of the cream into the egg yolks and then put the egg yolk mixture back into the cream. I didn’t get any pictures of this since it was rather quick moving and I was afraid if I stopped to take pictures Iwould have a curdled mess on my hands. The sauce is then heated a few minutes longer and it becomes very thick. After straining the mixture you put it it directly into custard cups and refrigerate. Now I seemed to have the opposite problem I did with the batter because with the pastry cream I again made a half recipe which should have yielded six servings. I had 8 oz. cups rather than the 6-7 oz. cups, but I only needed to make 3 Bostinis so I figured I would have plenty left over. I barely had enough to fill 3 of the glasses and even then I didn’t fill them as full as I wanted to. I really am not understanding what is happening with these measurements and yields.
The last step couldn’t be easier. Basically you heat the butter in a saucepan and when it is simmering you add chopped chocolate. The recipe calls for 62% chocolate. Normally I use Ghirardelli chocolate but this time I tried Nestle Chocolatier. The sauce came out shiny and smooth. My mouth was watering.
To serve the Bostini, you please a cupcake upside down over the custard and then top with fudge glaze. Since I didn’t have quite enough custard I put an extra layer of cupcake in so that I could still have a nice dome above the glass. This did make it a little difficult to eat though. Next time, I think I will actually put that extra layer of cake in the middle of the creme and add a layer of glaze. That way, it will break up the custard a bit and in my opinion it will be even better.
We were very pleased with the Bostini and look forward to having it again. It is definitely a showpiece dessert that tastes as great as it looks.
Angel Food Cake with Lime and Coconut
This week’s baking project was the basic Angel Food Cake that could be dressed up any way we wanted. Since I was planning to cook Thai food on Saturday night, I thought it would be fun to keep that theme going. I did a little bit of looking on the internet and decided to make an angel food cake with lime and coconut, since those are two predominant flavors in Thai Cooking. (I found that recipe here: http://www.squidoo.com/angel-food-cake-recipes)
Since there are so many different sizes and shapes of angel food cake pans, Rose provides a recipe that uses one egg white per one cup batter so that the reader can easily multiply the recipe to the size of the pan. The pan I have is 8-cup capacity, or half the size of a full sized pan, so I multiplied the recipe by 8.
The first thing is to make a meringue by beating the egg whites and sugar to stiff peaks. Then the dry ingredients are added and folded in a little bit at a time. Once in the pan the batter should be about 1/2″ from the top of the pan. Now I’m not sure what happened with mine because I ended up having enough batter left over to fill a small loaf pan.
We have a fairly new toaster oven that has a convection oven setting on it and I decided I wanted to give that a try. Since I’m fairly new to the whole convection thing I decided to bake it at 325 as I’ve heard that you should reduce the temp when using convection. I wasn’t sure how long to bake it but I was thinking about 20 minutes. I watched the cake rise a few inches above the pan and then it started shrinking back into the pan. Since I had read in the instructions that this is typical, I didn’t worry about it. It appeared to be done after about 23 minutes so I removed it and set it on a raised cooling rack. We had some shopping to do so we left for a few hours. When I came back, I noticed that the cake was now far below the top of the cake pan by about 1-1/2 inches or more. So I’m not sure if this is an indication of it not cooking long enough or what. The bottom of the cake also seemed very moist even though it felt done. If anyone knows, please leave a comment for me.
The lime custard is made by mixing 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, 6 T. lime juice, 2 tsp lime peel and 1/2 cup butter together in a double boiler and heating to 160 degrees. Then you strain the custard and refrigerate until completely cool (I made mine the night before we were going to have the cake). After it is completely cooled, you beat 1 cup whipping cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla to stiff peaks and gradually add 3 T. sugar. Gently fold the whipping cream into the lime mixture.
I cut my angel food cake into third horizontally, and filled it and frosted it with the lime custard. Then I pressed toasted coconut onto the outside.
I got rave reviews on this cake! The flavor of lime went perfect with the light texture of angel food cake. It was also the perfect complement to the Thai food. We will definitely be making this again and very soon I am sure.
Next week is the Bostini and I can hardly wait. I have been drooling over this recipe since the first time I looked through Rose’s book.
Chocolate Pumpkin Bread
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.
Perfected Caramelized Pineapple Pudding Cakes
This project was full of frustrations. Not only did I burn myself on the caramel which resulted in a trip to the ER and blisters on my thumb and index finger, but after all that, the caramel is just too solid to work in the way it indicates it should in this recipe. In the end though, I think I ended up with a pretty nice dessert.
The first step in this recipe is to make Creme Anglaise. This sauce went together quite easily and I was actually thinking the cakes were going to be a breeze to make. The sauce is made by scalding cream and milk and then pouring it over eggs and sugar with a touch of nutmeg. Then you pour the sauce over cubed brioche which I had made a few days earlier (see my previous post). The brioche is refrigerated anywhere from 2 hours to 12 hours.
The next step is making the caramel. Now I have made caramel quite a few times and I feel pretty comfortable with the process. However, this caramel seemed to harden up almost immediately. I put it in the measuring cup and then poured it into my ramekins. The first four were just fine but by the time I got to 5 and 6, the caramel was solid before it spread out on the bottom of the ramekin. No problem I thought to myself, I’ll just pop it in the microwave since Rose suggested doing that while still in the measuring cup. When I took it out of the microwave it was all bubbly and thick but hadn’t spread out. Now this was the point that I did something very very stupid and I can’t even tell you why. But I poked my finger into the caramel to spread it out on the bottom of the ramekin and I don’t think I need to say that the caramel was VERY hot! It’s one thing to accidentally spill hot caramel on you which results in a burn, but I can not believe that I actually put my finger right into the boiling hot caramel. Well, my baking was done for that night.
So tonight I figured I’d whip this dessert together. Hubby helped me by coring the pineapple with the corer we bought this summer. I have to put a plug in for this nifty little gadget since I wasn’t sure it was going to be worth it to buy it. But we have really used this a lot and it saves so much work when you eat pineapple. Since I decided to go ahead and core the pineapple first, I had to alter the instructions just a bit. I made the syrup and then just put the slices in to roast. I was having trouble with the thermometer in such a small amount of liquid so I just used my own judgment on when it was ready. My ramekins were the perfect size to put the pineapple rings in and I thought it would be pretty just to leave them whole so that is what I did.
The next step is to drain any creme anglaise not absorbed by the brioche. Mine didn’t seem to have any extra which may have been due to the fact that it soaked an extra day. All I know is there wasn’t any leftover to use as garnish. The soaked brioche is spooned into the ramekins and baked in a water bath.
I baked the cakes for about 35 minutes, when the internal temperature was 160 degrees. I let them cool about 5 minutes and then unmolded them onto a plate. The caramel was still hard and was just a disk that was stuck in the bottom of the ramekin. My caramel must not have been dark enough because it looked anemic when I removed it and put it on top of the pineapple cake. I was trying to figure out whether to just throw it out altogether when I decided that I could take the torch to the caramel to brown it up a bit. So that is what we did and tried it with the disk on the top of the pineapple as well as to the side. Still, the caramel itself really didn’t taste that great and was rock hard. After eating our little cakes and quite liking the taste of them without the caramel, we had an idea. Why not forget the caramel altogether and just put a little turbino sugar on top of the pineapple and caramelize the sugar. So that is what we did and I think out of the three options, the last one is the best.
I’m pretty boring when it comes to chocolate. I am happy to stay in my little rut of eating 60% dark chocolate. Most other chocolates really don’t even tempt me at all. I can be around milk chocolate all day long and I not feel any desire to eat it, and the same goes for white chocolate. However, there are a few people around me who do not share my obsession with 60% chocolate so occasionally I do force myself to try some recipes that appeal to others.
A while ago I tried a recipe for blonde brownies and I have to say that it was a really good recipe and I have made it several times. The brownies have white chocolate and white chocolate chips in them. Usually the recipe calls for coconut but some people in my family are a little unsure about the coconut which we usually leave out. I was wanting to make something to send to my son in Belgium and since he did not get my chocoholic gene, I decided that I would make him blonde brownies. I decided to leave out the coconut but to add macadamia nuts.
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?