Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge: Flourless Chocolate Cake with homemade Ice Cream

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

I was really excited when this month's challenge involved both ice cream and chocolate cake. I have always wanted to make my own ice cream and never had a reason to do it before. Lucky for me my sister owns an ice cream maker which I was able to borrow. I also loved the fact that the chocolate cake was just a few simple ingredients. I also knew the perfect time to make everything and that was for Valentine's Day. My husband and I have a tradition of making our own Valentine's Day dinner together instead of going out. So I thought this was the perfect way to end that meal.

I first started making the ice cream a couple of days before I wanted to serve it with the cake. I made just a plain vanilla recipe since also this was my first time making ice cream. We were provided with two recipes but I made one that I had in a cookbook instead. It was very similar to the one that Dharm provided for us. Everyone thought it was very tasty and not something you would get in the store. I unfortunately don't have a picture of the ice cream with the cake because it was on my computer.

The chocolate flourless cake recipe could not be any easier then it was which is a bad thing...makes it too easy to make again and again. I didn't have the 8" springform pan it called for so I used a 9" cake pan which worked out great. About 5 minutes after I took it out of the oven it developed a big crack down the middle. Since I needed to find a serving platter to put it on I just flipped it over onto a tart pan. I ended going to visit my in-laws and needed something to transport it on anyway. Another one of the requirements/suggestions was to make it in a heart shape. I didn't have the heart shape pan but decided to make strawberry hearts and use conversation hearts to fulfill that part.

My Review: I loved the taste of both the ice cream and the cake. I have had a lot of flourless choclate cake and I just liked the texture of this one a lot. It wasn't so dense that you needed a gallon of milk to just eat one piece. Instead of using all semi-sweet chocolate for the cake I used a combo of semi and milk chocolate. Next time I might try all semi or mix some dark into it. I really like the flavor of the ice cream and will make it again but next time maybe I will try a more complex flavor.

I currently don't have access to my computer and so I don't have all the links I need to attach to this post. Once I get my computer back I will update this post.

About 5 minutes out of the oven
Ready for Transport
Decorated with a Strawberry Heart
Decorated with Conversation Hearts

February Recipes: Chocolate Cake

For the month of Love we decided to make something in the chocolate cake family:

Heidi: Chocolate Lava Cake
Jenn: Fudgy Brownies
Michelle: Devil's Food Cake

Monday, February 23, 2009

When Life Hands You Lemons....Make Bread!

Yesterday we thought it was going to be a day where you didn't want to go out at all (it turned out to be an ok day). So we planned on cleaning up and just doing things in the house. I figured since we were going to be home all day that it would be a perfect day to bake bread. I also hosted this weeks playgroup at my house and needed a little snack for the mom's.

A few days before Valentines Day on the Baker's Banter blog they had a post on Lemon Love Buns which looked interesting to me. Don't get me wrong I love chocolate for Valentine's Day and I am usually not a big lemon person but lately it just seems so refreshing to me.

Visit the Baker's Banter Blog for a link to the recipe and for step by step pictures of the baking processes. Below are my pictures of the finish buns.

Fresh out of the oven

Close up of one of the "heart" shaped buns

All the buns on the plate ready to be served.

Review: Another success with a KAF recipe!! I didn't have the lemon oil and was sort of scared to use the lemon extract I have...so I used the zest of one lemon. Next time I make these I might increase the amount of zest I use to get a little bit more lemon taste. The lemon taste was there and you definitely smell it when they bake but I would like a little more intense lemon taste. Also I loved the coarse sugar you put on top because it adds a nice crunch to the buns and just a little sweetness. I was reading the reviews on their website and someone said they might make a glaze with lemon juice to put on top which I might try as well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Soup for Dinner...Italilan Wedding Soup

Over the weekend I was watching the Food Network (like I always do) and got the tail end of The Barefoot Contessa making a special dinner for her husband. I thought to myself that the Italian Wedding soup she made looked really tasty. I have seen recipes for this soup all over but never really thought about trying it until I saw hers. My mother-in-law also just happened to have a copy of The Barefoot Contesssa's new book which also had an amazing picture of the soup in it...so I had made up my mind to make it this week for dinner. Since lately my husband has been working late hours and I am in need of more recipes that are easy to reheat for him.

Ingredients
For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken or turkey
1/2 pound chicken or turkey sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.


In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.



Review: I really enjoyed the flavors of this soup and would make it again. It took me about the same amount of time it states at the beginning of the recipe. The longest prep time for me was cutting all the veggies up for the soup part. I also used Turkey meat instead of chicken because I couldn't find chicken sausages but I thought it was tasty either way. I might actually use the meatball part in the future just for making regular meatballs...they smelled so good while baking in the oven!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

KAF - Chocolate Lava Cakes

My mom's birthday is in February and to celebrate I invited everyone over for dinner. Dinner turned out great, but I was really excited about dessert. Since Chocolate Lava Cakes are better served warm I had to figure out how to cook dinner, eat and then cook dessert without having everyone waiting to long. Since this recipe is cooked in a two step process I figure I could get as much done before dinner was ready. Then once dinner was on the table throw the cakes in the oven to bake for the first step and then be able to finish them off while cleaning up. All was going to plan until someone turned off the oven......but I think they turned out well. Everyone enjoyed them.

Chocolate Lava Cakes



Milk Chocolate Lava Truffle
4 oz (2/3 cup) milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 TB heavy cream
1 1/2 ts softened butter
1 1/2 ts rum or other liqueur of your choice or 1/2 ts of extract

Cake
4 oz (2/3 cup) semisweet chocolate chopped
8 TB (1 stick) butter
4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup natural cocoa, sifted
1/2 ts vanilla extract
1/4 salt

For the Truffle Filling - In a heatproof bowl, combine the milk chocolate, cream, butter, and flavoring. Melt over simmering water or in a microwave and set aside. Place bowl in refrigerator until mixture becomes thick. Scoop individual truffles out using a teaspoon. Put the scooped truffles on a place and refrigerate.

For The Cake - Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, or in the microwave. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted, then remove from heat and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/3 cup of sugar until they're thick, lemon-colored, and fall in a ribbon from the beater. Add sifted cocoa, vanilla, and salt to the egg mixture, stirring until combined. Fold the melted chocolate into the egg mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar to soft peaks. Fold these gently into the chocolate mixture, one third at a time, talking care not to deflate egg whites. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the batter. Pour the rest of the batter into 16 well greased muffin wells, filling to 1/2 inch below top. Bake the cake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 15 minutes; remove from oven and place one truffle in each cup, pushing them down until they're flush with the top of the cakes. Cover the holes with a heaping tablespoon of the reserved batter. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the cakes have risen and fallen back down again. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack for 20 minutes to setup before taking the cakes out of the pans. Serve warm.

My Review: They were easy to make but took a little time. I don't think I would try to make them for a dinner party again. If I do I would make them all the way through and then reheat them. I used the disposable pans and only made 12. The only problem I came across, besides someone turning off the oven, was that I didn't grease the pans enough, so they didn't come out that easily. The individual size was nice because if you're watching what you eat it give you enough to satisfy, but not to much that it makes you feel guilty for having it.



Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cookin' up a little something different

This month I thought I would try a slightly different recipe. It is fairly simple in theory, but the baking process tends to take a long time.

Ingredients:

1 part miracle

2 parts love

Directions:

Bake at 98.6 degrees for 9 months (or 40 weeks)

See below for the progress in the making.

Our little bun in the oven...
video

Sex: Unknown

Due date: August 15th (hubby's bday!)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mulligatawny Soup for Dinner

This time of year I love to have soup for dinner...the heartier the better. There is just something so exciting about a nice hot and steamy bowl of goodness. So last night I tried a new recipe I found in a magazine at the doctors office. Well actually I found it in the magazine but when I got home I got it off their website. It is for Mulligatawny Soup from the Family Fun publication.


Mulligatawny Soup
from Family Fun Magazine

4 tablespoons butter (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 apple, cored, peeled, and chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
1/2 cup flour
2 to 3 teaspoons curry powder
5 cups chicken broth
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
Salt and pepper
2 cups hot cooked rice

1. Melt the butter, or heat the oil, in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, green pepper, apple, and chicken, and sauté for about 15 minutes. Turn the heat to low.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and curry powder. Add the mixture to the pot, then stir and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes. Partially cover the pot and simmer the soup for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

3. To serve, place about 1/4 cup of rice in a bowl and ladle the soup over the rice. Makes about 8 cups.
Review: As my husband and I like to say...this one is a keeper! It was really not that hard to make just takes a little time to cut up all the vegetables that go in it. The only thing I would change in the future is add a little more curry powder because I only added the minimum amount this time around. I didn't want it to be overwhelming the first time I made it but it does need a little extra something.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl Dessert: A blast from the Past

Have you ever ate something that you can't stop thinking about...almost like it haunts you. Well I can remember when I was much younger (maybe when I was 11 or 12) making these treats in summer camp during our "cooking" activity. I just remember really enjoying them and always wanted to make them.

It wasn't something you needed a recipe for because it wasn't something that difficult to forget. I just never really got around to doing it or even thinking about trying to make them (not really sure why). Then one day I was looking on a website for a recipe and found it...it was like it was meant to be. Especially since I had a bag for big marshmallow not being used for anything.

This recipe comes from Relish: they call it Surprise Rolls but I think they should be called something else.

Marshmallow Heaven

Ingredients
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 large marshmallows
2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 (8-ounce) can reduced-fat crescent dinner rolls

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Coat 8 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.'
2. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Dip each marshmallow in the melted margarine and roll in the sugar mixture.
3. Separate dough into triangles. Wrap one triangle around each marshmallow and pinch dough together. Place in a muffin tin. If there is any extra margarine, drizzle over top of rolls. Bake 8 to 12 minutes.


Review: Oh my I was in heaven with these marshmallow yummies....oh so good. They are super easy to make and just a great little sweet treat. At first I was worried that they wouldn't work out and explode every where but they puffed up nice and didn't explode. The cinnamon and brown sugar with the melted marshmallow is just so tasty. It was best if you let them cool for a couple of minutes so the marshmallow was still very soft but not totally melted. I think everyone enjoyed them and something I can't wait to make again!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Jacob's Party

I can't believe that my son has just turned 3 years old...where did the time go? It seems just the other day he was born...So this weekend we had a big family party for him and I decided to make everything myself. For the most part I kept it simple but I had to make a really cool cake this time around.
I found the idea of the Racetrack cake on FamilyFun.com which has a lot of really great cake ideas in all different themes. My son is totally into cars and trucks so this one was a perfect choice to make...plus it looked simple enough.

The recipe I used to make the cake was from the cookbook The King Arthur Flour: Baker's Companion...I am totally in love with that book. I used their Devil's Food Cake recipe. Which you can actually get one their website as well: Devil's Food. For the frosting I made a Seven Minute Frosting recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. Another thing my son is in love with lately is Marshmallows.

Review: I really thought that the cake came out great and everyone enjoyed it. My son loves chocolate cake and loves marshmallows...so he was totally into it. The cake wasn't that sweet so it paired well with the frosting and you weren't in sugar shock after eating it. I just realized that this cake was basically the same cake I made him for his first birthday...devil's food with seven minute frosting...a tradition in the making I guess.

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