Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate Espresso Pound Cake with Ganache

Have you ever been accused of being high maintenance?

I confess, I have. Possibly on more than one occasion.

What does that really mean though? I enjoy the finer things in life? I require more upkeep then the average gal? 

I do know I am "high maintenance" when it comes to food.
I enjoy and appreciate quality food. I only eat fresh fish from a fish market. I only eat Mexican food from authentic restaurants...not chains.. ahem. Don't even get me started on desserts. If that makes me high maintenance then it's worth it to enjoy food that tastes Amazing!

Speaking of high maintenance, let me tell you about this cake I recently made.
A friend handed me recipe and asked if I wouldn't mind making it for her son.
He had found it online and wanted it for his birthday.
This is a boy after my own heart. 
Great ingredients come together to make an over the top chocolate pound cake! 
Oh yes, I wanted to make it.

What makes this cake "high maintenance"? Well, let me tell you.....

Read through the ingredients first, some of them are high maintenance.
Trust me, go the extra mile.

There are more directions then the average cake.

Some of the directions are tedious, but necessary.

Even the title is high maintenance.

End result.... Totally worth it!

Espresso Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Ganache Glaze
(adapted from Jane's Sweets and Baking Journal)

2 tsp. instant espresso powder (I used Nescafe Clasico instant coffee packets)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. hot water
 2 and 3/4 cups unbleached All-Purpose flour
 1/4 cup cake flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. Dutch processed cocoa
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups dark chocolate chips, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, with all lumps broken up
5 eggs, large
 1 cup sour cream, don't use light or non-fat, get the good stuff
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 Tbls light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2-2 cups dark chocolate chips (basically one bag)]

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease a tube/bundt pan with vegetable shortening or butter. Dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

Stir together the espresso powder, vanilla extract, and hot water in a small bowl.

Dutch processed cocoa makes a difference. I found mine at Fresh Market.
It does cost more, but so worth it.

Sift together the flour, cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium size bowl, toss the chocolate pieces with about 1 Tbsp. of this flour mixture. Set both aside.

In the large bowl of your mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl.
Pour in the granulated sugar in 3 additions, mixing for about 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the bowl frequently to ensure even mixing. Add in all of the brown sugar and beat for 1 more minute. Scrape again.

One at a time, add in the eggs, beating for 45 seconds after each one. Scrape!

Blend in the espresso mixture. 

On low speed, add in the sifted ingredients alternately with the sour cream (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of the sour cream). Scrape after each addition.

Blend in the heavy cream.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chocolate pieces well with a spatula.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake the cake on the middle rack of your oven for about 70 minutes or more, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake starts to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.
A helpful hint from Jane... wish I would have done this, my top was a bit overdone.
(I put my pan on top of a baking sheet to help prevent the possibility of burning the bottom of the cake. If you are concerned about this too, do the same. I also checked the cake about half an hour into baking, and covered the top lightly with foil to prevent over-browning. My oven is temperamental this way.)

 Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes. 

Invert the cake onto another cooling rack and invert the cake again so it's right side up. Allow the cake to completely cool on the rack.

To make ganache:
Heat the corn syrup and heavy cream in medium sauce pan until it reaches a boil.

Pour in chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
Stir in 1/2 tsp of vanilla if desired.

Let cool before pouring on the cake.

I poured the ganache over the cake, which is perfectly acceptable, but it just didn't look like I wanted it to. I decided to frost the cake with the ganache, that's what I was looking for.
Either way is great.

I did end up drizzling a bit more over the top and then I was happy. 

I know, I'm so high maintenance!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Linking up over at these awesome parties..

Foodie Friends Friday
The Mandatory Mooch

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mounds Brownies

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

How many of you now have that jingle in your head? I knew it, success.

Wait, you don't remember it..... now I feel old.

I have a dear friend who had surgery this week and I wanted to take her something to show my love. Since she knew I would want to bring her something, she put her request in last week. Gotta love a woman who knows what she wants.
Her request was "something coconut". hmmmm.... what to make.

Then! As I was "pinning" my day away, I came across Mounds Brownies.

Oh yes, this was perfect. Coconutty chocolatey goodness. 

I found a few recipes, but then decided to just go with what I thought would work best.

What you will need.....

Mounds Brownies

1 Family Size (9x13) pan of brownies, prepared
5 1/3 Cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
14oz Can sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ Cups powdered sugar

Ganache (recipe below) you will need:
3 tbs light corn syrup
heavy cream
10 oz dark chocolate chips

1/2 tsp vanilla

Prepare brownies according to package directions.While they are cooling, complete the remaining layers.
(not the greatest picture, but you get it)

Make Ganache:
Pour corn syrup and cream in a medium sauce pan and bring to boil. Pour in chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
Let cool slightly.

In the bowl of your mixer combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and powdered sugar until all ingredients are incorporated.
Spread coconut mixture over brownies.

(My husband can't resist a warm brownie, so he sliced off the edge to "test" them)

Pour ganache over the coconut mixture. Let cool and set up.

Slice, enjoy and share the coconutty love!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pumpkin Bliss Fudge

Have you ever asked someone, "How are you doing?" and they say "good" or "fine", but look at you like this....

Seriously, that's not very convincing.
I didn't see the signs for Denialand when I drove up to church today.

I have,however, been guilty of doing the same thing. Why?
Do I want someone to notice that I'm lying so they will pry further?
Do I secretly want someone to feel my pain? 
I can't wait to catch my friend's eye across the church and give her the "girl, I need to talk to you" face.

Yeah, that's pretty much the face. She will understand or at least listen.

I have been going through some tests recently and told myself that it was my burden, no one needs to know about my "issues". However, I found myself telling people things like, I have been eating gluten free or that my stomach hurts after I eat. Amazingly enough, people have been sharing their stories with me, wondering if what they have is similar. They wonder what the doctors have found. What am I doing differently? Is it working?
One particular mom said her daughter has Celiac and struggles with what to take to school for lunch. Now I know and try to bring her gluten free treats when I make them.

Sharing my "pain" with others has opened new doors of friendship and allowed people to share their pains with me. 
Yes, there are some who take the "oh really" approach and move on. But that's because they don't have a story that relates and it's ok. Hopefully someone will come along that talks about their particular struggle and they will be able to share and relate with them.

Don't be afraid to share some of your struggles. There are people who want to listen or are waiting for someone similar to share their story with you.

I know all of you will relate to this fudge I am going to share with you.

Creamy goodness. I made it two ways, with two different chocolates. Here is the first version, next one coming soon.
It is a bit softer than the average fudge, but sometimes a softer approach is good. The fudge melts in your mouth.

Pumpkin "Bliss" Fudge
(adapted from Aunt Peg's Recipe Box)

2 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. butter (no substitutions)
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
4 oz. bakers white chocolate 

1 bag Hershey Bliss White Chocolates
1 (7 oz.) jar Marshmallow creme
1/2 c. chopped macadamia nuts (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish or line with heavy aluminum foil.

Unwrap and chop all the white chocolate. If you enlist helpers you may lose a few chocolates in the process. I may have eaten one too.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a heavy saucepan: cook over medium heat until the sugars dissolve.

Above picture is my sugars dissolve and it smooth.
Then continue cooking until the mixture begins to boil, stirring constantly.

Boil until a candy thermometer reaches about 234 degrees, the the soft-ball stage or rolling boil. I've heard it both ways.
It took about 30-35 minutes from start to finish. Alot of stirring.

Remove from heat, stir in the white chocolates and creme until they are all melted and mixture is smooth. About this point I thought my arm was going to fall off from all the stirring.

When the mixture is smooth stir in vanilla and mix well.

Pour into prepared pan, sprinkle on nuts and cool to room temperature. 
I only sprinkled half, I like nuts, but not everyone does and it was for my Bible study friends. Thought I would stick on the safe side.

Cut into squares, store refrigerated in an air tight container.
Since the fudge is soft I found it easier to put the fudge in the fridge to harden more and then cut it cold.

Makes approx. 60 pieces.

This fudge got rave reviews. It has a nice pumpkin taste and the white chocolate is perfect. I am not usually a white chocolate fan, but these converted me.

Using any white chocolate will work, but the Bliss candies make them super creamy dreamy.

Just want to ask you one more question and I would love to hear your honest answer. I seriously adore comments.

How are you?

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,


Linking up over at ....

Foodie Friends Friday

The Mandatory Mooch

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Halloween Gooey Bars

I am actually not a huge fan of Halloween, but who can resist all that candy.

Aisle after aisle of candy just begging me to take some home. I convince myself it is for treat bags for kids coming to the door.  If I were honest to myself, no kids come to our door, it is for me and my baking addiction.

Oh, and Candy Corn M&M's, what are your thoughts on those? I had to buy some, for research purposes of course. They actually do taste like candy corn, but I prefer regular candy corn. This is where the inspiration for these bars came from. Someone had put them in a gooey bar and I thought, Why not? Let's do it and throw some other goodies in there too.

Let me just show you what makes these bars fantastic.....

Um yeah.... all that is in there.
Let's pause a moment and recognize how fabulous Caramel Bits are. It's about time, I am tired of unwrapping caramels. Ok, moving on.

You will need:

adapted from insidebrucrewlife

1 chocolate cake mix
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. Oreo cookie chunks
1 c. peanuts
1 c. Candy Corn M&M's

1 c. mini M&M's
1 c. caramel bits1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

Mix together the cake mix, butter, egg, and vanilla until blended.

It will look crumbly like this.

I had to mix with my hand to form a dough.

Press into the bottom of greased 9x13 pan.

 Sprinkle the peanuts,caramel bits and M&M's on the cake mix. Place the cookie chunks on top. (I totally forgot the cookies and had to sprinkle them on top at the end)

Drizzle the condensed milk all over everything.

Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes. It was really gooey after 30-35 minutes so I cooked it longer. I think it cooked too long. It is very important to let it cool before cutting. I didn't have the will power and I cut into it.  

Let cool before cutting into the bars. Try really hard, I know it's tough.

After they cooled they were much easier to slice and they set up a little bit.

So don't fear if they are still a bit gooey when they are in the oven, they will firm up.

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,

Monday, October 1, 2012

Treats for my boys.

My son's teacher is basically an angel sent from Heaven.
Seriously. She is amazing.

Before we tuck our blessings into bed, we ask them what they are thankful for and what they would like to pray for.

My oldest son says, Mrs. Baxter. Without fail. Every. Night. 
I am forever in her debt. My son seeks to do good deeds to please her and it overflows into our home. He has become a sweeter and kinder little boy. Yes, he still occasionally fights with his brothers. He is not perfect.
Her sweet spirit is contagious and my son has caught it. 

I have had the pleasure of bringing snacks to her classroom once a week to go along with their weekly theme. 

Here are a couple:

Firetruck Graham Crackers.

Tint some frosting red and cover the Graham Cracker.
Place some vanilla wafers on the bottom for wheels.
Pretzels for the ladder.
I cut up twizzlers for the light, but you can use whatever you think best.

Graham Cracker Stoplight

Break apart crackers and spread on chocolate frosting.
Place red, yellow and green M&M's for the light. (you have my permission to eat the other colors)
My 3 year old wanted to put funfetti on them that came with the frosting, why not, more color.
He really loved making this snack.

 Apple Teeth

Here is my son on the right and his little buddy on the left, modeling their teeth. Looks like my son's tooth is falling out.

Slice apples.
Pipe on some royal icing or marshmallow fluff.
Put marshmallows for teeth. 

I was inspired by her little book of recipes that I flipped through one of my books for ideas.

The book is called "Too Cute To Eat"

I decided to put my own spin on one for a children's class I was teaching.

Sugar Wafer Garden Boxes

1 pkg. cream filled vanilla and chocolate wafers.

royal icing (colored green)
1 box Mike and Ike's

For some reason my grocery store was out of wafer cookies. Just my luck there was a sale on them and they were wiped out. I found some Dulce de leche wafers in the International food section. They were very tasty, but kept falling apart, so excuse the crumbs and poor craftsmanship.
Cut one of four cookies in half, use that one for the sides.
Place one wafer on the bottom, two on the sides and "glue" together with the royal icing. "Glue" the sides on as shown in the picture above.

Crumble up the chocolate wafer to put in the box as dirt. 
The book said to mix chocolate icing and cookie crumbs together for the dirt. 
That would work well and maybe not fall apart so easily, next time I'll try that..
This time I just went with the easiest route since I was having the children put them together. We are talking 5 year olds, I needed easy.

I let them pick which color Mike and Ike's they wanted and pushed them into the dirt. 
One drop of royal icing and we have a garden.

The book said to use marzipan and mold a carrot shape, but again, I went the easy route and it worked great.

The kiddos were super excited to show their parents the garden they "grew" in class.

I would love to see what creations you have made, leave me a comment and please share!

Baking from my heart to your kitchen,