Monthly Archives: December 2010

Aside

Our New Official Birthday Cake:

My 26th birthday is on the horizon.  Every year my husband and I get together with my best friend  and her husband on New Years Eve to celebrate Christmas, the New Year and of course, my birthday!  Often my best friend, a genuinely talented baker, makes me a cake but this year I made my own.  You can check out her blog @ thecaramelcookie.com

I checked out The Cake Book by Tish Boyle from the library a few weeks ago in search of the perfect cake recipe.  I finally decided on the “Brooklyn Blackout Cake”.   Described as “a really moist chocolaty cake with a fudgy pudding filling, dark chocolate frosting and lots of chocolate crumbs covering the whole thing.” You should know by now I’m not all that into following recipes, so baking is not my forte, but I followed this recipe to the T and it turned out beautifully.  I’m really not sure if I can wait until tonight to dig into this cake… we’ll see.   Here are the basics of this adventure.

The night before I made the cake, we made the pudding filling because it needed to have time to chill.  My husband helped and actually did most of this part himself.  The pudding had 4 egg yolks, 2tbs cornstarch, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 oz semisweet chocolate, 2/3 cup heavy cream and 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Cornstarch amazes me, the way it can make liquids so think. I’m sure the 4 egg yolks helped too!  Fist we beat the egg, cornstarch and 1/8 tsp of salt.

Then heat  1 cup water and heavy cream to a boil on the stove.  Pour half of the cream mixture into the bowl of egg yolk and cornstarch, whisk together then pour back into saucepan on stove with the rest of the cream.  This is so that the egg mixture mixes in with the hot mixture without becoming like scrambled eggs.  Bring back to a boil (stirring continuously), remove from heat and mix in chocolate.

Last, stir in the vanilla, pour into a bowl, cover and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.  Give it a good taste test before you put it away though, it is yummy!

The next day I made the cakes.  This is how much I am not a cake baker- I had to specially buy round cake pans and borrow a cake carrier to make this!   To make the cake you grease and flour the cake pans and preheat the oven to 350*

Then sift together 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp of both baking soda and baking powder.   Then add 2 cups white sugar and blend together.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs plus an additional egg yolk with 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, and 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Slowly beat eggs mixture into the dry mixture about 1 minute. Then add one cup of hot coffee, mix just enough to blend together.  Before pouring into pans, mix by hand a few times to ensure bottom of the bowl has been mixed. I do not like coffee at all and was nervous about adding the coffee to the cake batter. But I know that it works really well with dark chocolate, bringing out a rich dark chocolate taste.  Tasting the final product you would never know it had coffee in it.  I am very proud of myself for following this part of the recipe, it was difficult, but worth it.  🙂

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then scrape around edges of the pan with a butter knife to loosen before flipping out onto a wire rack. The best way to do this is to put the rack on top of the cake pan, then holding firmly, flip rack and cake pan together.  Tap all over the bottom of the cake pan to encourage the cake to come out smoothly.   Allow cakes to cool completely.  We left them overnight and finished this project the next day.

The next step is to cut the 2 cakes into 4 thinner cakes by using a long serrated knife to cut in half.  If you mess up on one it’s ok because you need one cake half to use for crumbles and snacking anyways!  Place one cake half on the tray or carrier you plan to keep the cake in.  Remove pudding from the fridge, whisking till smooth gooey and ready to be spread.

Plop half of the pudding mixture onto the cake half and smooth out.

Then carefully, I used a plate to help, place another cake layer and place on top covering with the rest of the pudding.

Place a 3rd layer on top of this and get ready to frost!

I made the frosting before I started the layering process, but here if how it’s done.  Using some kind of double boiler concoction (I don’t have one, but a skillet over a pot of simmering water worked just fine!) melt 4 ounces of unsweetened bakers chocolate.

Warning: Do not taste unsweetened chocolate, it is a scary thing.  Wonderful when properly added to a recipe, but scary by itself.  I can’t help but wonder how humans figured out that when added with other things, this stuff would taste good. Must have been divine intervention.

Next, allow melted chocolate to cool a bit while you beat 11 tablespoon of unsalted butter until creamy. Next add 1 and 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, beat 2 minutes (it will eventually blend together, keep beating!)  Next beat in 2 tsp vanilla extract and the melted chocolate.

Then spread the frosting onto the cake.

Last, place half of the left over cake layer into a food processor or blender to create the cake crumbles for the outside.  Press crumbs lightly into cake sides and sprinkle on top.  Reward your hard work by eating the rest of the left over cake layer while scraping the bottoms of the pudding and frosting bowl.  Ah! Pure bliss!

Mmm Mmmm MMMmm I can hardly wait to eat it!

What is good for you in this cake?

CHOCOLATE!  Dark chocolate has a healthy dose of antioxidants. However when combined with milk, we don’t absorb as much of them, so since this cake has milk… and I’ll probably wash it down with milk… it’s not the best form of chocolate, but I am all for dark chocolate in any form and it’s my birthday- so I think I have the right to believe that this cake is very good for me and all who eat it!

Chocolate Heaven- Happy Birthday to Me!

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Creamy Dreamy Potato Soup

Standard

I had been craving potatoes for a while.  I don’t usually keep white potatoes in the house because they aren’t healthiest food.  (especially the ways I like to eat them).  But when I saw this 10 lb bag on sale at Aldi for $1.98, I couldn’t resist.

I decided my first potato adventure would be cream of potato soup.  I scanned through the allrecipies.com app on my phone for different recipes, took the best ideas from a  few different places and got busy.

First I scrubbed the potatoes then boiled them with the skins on.  When the potatoes were fairly soft I drained and peeled the skin of only about 1/4 of the potatoes.  The skin is where the good stuff is and I have nothing against it as long as it is clean.

I threw 2 small onions in the food processor and sautéed that in some butter in a large pot.  I added the potatoes and a can of chicken broth and heated this until it was all hot.

Then I put about half of this into the food processor and it turned into a really thick and tasty mashed potato substance.  I added it back into the pot and heated through, adding more broth because it was too thick.  Then I added some thyme and a bit of basil and oregano. Once this was all heated through I added about a cup and a half or so of heavy whipping cream along with about a cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  I would have added more, but that’s all we had. So I also shredded some mozzarella string cheese and added that to the mix.  It worked but more cheddar would have been better.

I also cooked up some turkey bacon on the George Forman Grill and crumbled that in at the last minute.  Overall this soup turned out very well.  I am glad we decided to not puree the entire soup, resulting in potato chunks in a creamy base.  I think real bacon would have tasted better, but the turkey bacon worked.

What is good for you in the soup?

Potatoes: Vitamin C– not as much a fruits and veggies, but still a decent amount (about 27 mg or 45% of your daily need).  Potassium– potatoes actually contain higher amounts of potassium than bananas!  Vitamin B6– helps the body to convert carbohydrates and protein into energy (probably a good things since potatoes are high in carbs!) Fiber– you have to keep the skins on for this one!  I didn’t think about this while I was making the soup, but if I had saved some of the water from when I boiled the potatoes, and added some of it to the soup- this would have added more nutrients because you loose some nutrients when you boil potatoes.  The Idaho Potato Commission recommends saving potato boiling water to use in making gravies to retain more of those good nutrients.  Also, leaving the skins on and steaming rather than boiling gets you more of those nutrients as well.

Thyme: Strong antiseptic and antibiotic that is rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and iron.  I also just learned that herbalists use it to treat bronchitis! When I was first typing this entry (5 weeks ago- oops, forgot to post!) I was half way through an 8 week episode of bronchitis.  When I learned this I started making a tea with dried thyme and honey.  I did help my cough some.