Friday, March 28, 2014

Woodland Critters 1st Birthday Cake

These cute lil critters are made with rolled fondant with royal icing detail.    I used the birthday invitation for inspiration.  :)

~*~*~ Happy 1st Birthday Jude!   ~*~*~

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Olaf in Summer cake (Disney's Frozen)

If you haven't seen the movie Frozen yet, see it!   The music is incredible.  The story is sweet.   The characters are adorable!

Olaf is a snowman who loves the idea of summer!   In the movie he dreams (and sings) of enjoying the sun, sand, and surf of summer.   This cake is for my youngest daughter's friend whose favorite movie character is Olaf.  She had a Frozen-themed birthday party last weekend.

Olaf  and the beach accessories are hand made with fondant, and the umbrella is gumpaste.   The sand is make with graham cracker crumbs.

I also made a plate of sugar cookies and chocolate brownie cookies for the party, complete with fondant snowflakes!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

TWD: Brownie Cake with Nutella Glaze

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is for Mocha Brownie Cake.  Well, since I was a homebody yesterday and didn't want to run to the grocery store for one single ingredient, I adapted the recipe with what I had on hand.   Lacking heavy cream, I was unable to prepare the mocha ganache.  Armed with a full jar of Nutella, I went with that!    The result??  The picture says it all.

The chocolate cake is baked in a single pan, then torted into thin layers.   Marcel Desaulniers, this recipe's author, suggested baking in a 9 inch round pan and torting the cake into three thin layers.  I opted for an 8 inch round pan, and cut the cake into two layers.

The batter is a cinch to make.  Melting unsweetened and semisweet chocolate in a double boiler, and whipping the eggs senseless is as complicated as it gets.   The cake takes 45 to 50 minutes to bake, and I found it to be at least 10 minutes longer in the 8 inch pan.  I checked it at least 4 times for doneness with a toothpick and was still uncertain as I pulled it from the oven.  The top of the cake was dry and crusty, but beneath the cake seemed moist.  As it cooled in the pan, it sank a bit.

Before I flipped the cake out to cool, I ran a sharp knife around the pan.  Success!

Marcel's recipe calls for a mocha ganache to be spread between the cake layers and atop the cake.   Instead, I spread Nutella, a chocolate-hazelnut spread, between the layers.  Then I prepared a glaze by warming 3/4 cup Nutella with 3 tablespoons (or so) of milk and 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar in a saucepan on the stove top.  I poured the glaze on the cake and allowed it to drizzle down the sides of the cake.   Oh yeah.

My family enjoyed this cake!  The outside is crispy, the inside, moist.  Not as fudgy as my usual brownie recipe, but still a delightful chocolate cake.

Mocha Brownie Cake
~Marcel Desaulniers~

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sour cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325.  Butter a 9 inch round cake pan and dust with flour, tapping out the excess;  set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and reserve.
Heat an inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler.  Put the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates and the butter in the top of the double boiler, and heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fully blended and smooth.  Remove the pan from the heat.
Put the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer, and whip on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the eggs are slightly thickened and doubled in volume.  Add the melted chocolate and mix at medium speed for 15 seconds.  Don't worry if the chocolate is not fully incorporated---it will blend in as you add the other ingredients.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and, working with a rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly fold in the dry ingredients.  Give the sour cream a vigorous turn or two with a whisk to loosen it, and fold it into the batter.  The batter will be quite thick.
Pour the batter into the pan and, with a spatula, smooth, and level the batter.  Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes.  Turn the cake out onto a cardboard cake round (or the round from a tart pan with a removable bottom) and refrigerate, uncovered, 1 hour.
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup hot strong brewed coffee
Heat the heavy cream, butter, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches the boil.  Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour in the boiling cream and the hot coffee.  Set the mixture aside for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.  The ganache must cool thoroughly.  You can leave it to cool at room temperature--which could take an hour or so--or you can refrigerate it.  The ganache thickens as it cools.  You want to use it when it just begins to thicken and can be poured rather than spread over the cake.
Assembling the cake:
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and invert it onto a clean, dry, work surface.  Working with a long, sharp knife, cut the cake into 3 even layers.  Place the top of the cake, cut side down, in a 9 inch springform pan;  check the side of the pan are closed.  Pour 1 cup of the ganache over the layer, spreading it evenly to the edges with a rubber spatula.  Refrigerate, uncovered, until set, about 15 minutes.  Top with the center layer, pressing it gently into place, and pour another cup of ganache, again taking care to get the filling to the edges;  refrigerate until set.  (If at any point the ganache has thickened and is no longer pourable, heat it over the lowest heat, stirring constantly, until it returns to its proper consistency.)  Place the last layer, cut side down,, in the pan, and press down firmly but carefully to position it.  Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before applying the icing.  Cover the remaining ganache with plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature.
Finishing the cake:
To finish, run a knife around the inside edges of the cake pan;  release the sides of the springform.  Pour over the remaining ganache and use a long icing spatula to smooth the ganache over the top and around the sides.  Allow the icing to set in the refrigerator or at room temperature. 

To get a clean cut, heat the blade of a serrated knife under hot running water and wipe the blade dry before each cut.  Place the slices on plates and, if cold, allow them to sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Once the ganache has set, the cake can be covered and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Visit our Tuesdays With Dorie website to view other bloggers' cakes!  Enjoy!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Cookie dough AND brownies, combined in one sweet treat?  Yes please!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
~an adapted Taste of Home recipe~
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
 Cookie Dough:
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 bag mini chocolate chips, divided (use 1 cup here)
Remaining chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until well
blended. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt; gradually beat into egg
mixture. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for
30 minutes, or until brownies are done.  Cool completely.

For cookie dough, in a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and
fluffy. Beat in milk, salt, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in chocolate chips. 
Spread over the brownies; chill until firm.
For glaze, in a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir
until smooth. Spread over filling.  Let stand until set, or refrigerate until set.  
Cut into small squares with a sharp knife, wiping blade between cuts. 
Yield: 3 dozen.

New York Crumb Cake

The simplicity of a good crumb cake is amazing, but there's nothing like it!  Buttery, sweet, and crunchy topping, soft and lightly sweet cake beneath.  Heaven on a plate!


New York Crumb  Cake
~an adapted Martha Stewart recipe~ 
 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non stick baking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.
Bake for 20 minutes and check for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake.  The toothpick should come out with a few moist crumbs, and the cake should be beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Cool completely on wire cooling rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Cut into squares.  
Serve and enjoy!   (Yield:   20 servings)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TWD: Buttermilk Scones with Blueberry Compote

I love scones!  Lightly sweet, crispy top, the perfect vehicle for fruity toppings......excellent!

Today's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Buttermilk scones, from contributor Marion Cunningham.  We've made a few other recipes from Marion, including Irish Soda Bread and Popovers.  I've loved all of her recipes!

This one is no exception.   I love making scones, so I was glad to try another recipe!

These Buttermilk Scones are simple and lovely.   There are only 8 simple pantry and fridge ingredients, making this recipe a cinch to pull together.  Scones are perfect for breakfast or brunch.  My family, however, would agree that a warm scone can be eaten any time of the day!

What is most interesting to me about Marion's recipe is the variation on forming them.   The traditional way of forming scones is patting the dough into a disc, cutting it into wedges, then baking.

The result is a healthy-portioned scone with crispy edges and soft interior.  The top is lightly crunchy from the sugar and butter that is baked on, and the scone itself is lightly sweet with a hint of citrus from the orange zest.

I made a delicious blueberry compote with the juice of the oranges and some sugar.  The pairing was divine!

The second method of forming the scones is by rolling the dough, similar to making cinnamon rolls.   I sprinkled some dried cranberries on the dough before rolling up.  The sweet and tart cranberries were yummy within the scones.   The texture of these were more crispy along the edges, but mmmmm, so good.

Here's the recipe!   Give it a try and get creative with fruit toppings or fillings.

Buttermilk Scones
~Marion Cunningham~
3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (6 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (approximately) buttermilk
1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon zest
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
1/4 cup sugar, for dusting
4 tablespoons jam or jelly and/or 4 tablespoons diced or small plump dried fruits, such as currants, raisins, apricots, or figs, for filling (optional)
Position the oven racks to divide the oven evenly into thirds and preheat the oven to 425.
In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a fork.  Add the cold butter pieces and, using your fingertips (the first choice), a pastry blender, or two knives, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  It's okay if some largish pieces of butter remain---they'll add to the scones' flakiness.
Pour in 1 cup buttermilk, toss in the zest, and mix with the fork only until the ingredients are just moistened--you'll have a soft dough with a rough look.   (If the dough looks dry, add another tablespoon of buttermilk.)   Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it gently so that it holds together, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it very briefly--a dozen turns should do it.  Cut the dough in half.
To make triangular-shaped scones, roll one piece of the dough into a 1/2 inch thick circle that is about 7 inches across.  Brush the dough with half of the melted butter, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and cut the circle into 6 triangles.  Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and set asie while you roll out the rest of the dough.
To make rolled scones, roll one piece into a strip that is 12 inches long and 1/2 inch thick.  Spread the strip with half of the melted butter and dust with half of the sugar.  If you want to spread the roll with jam and/or sprinkle with dried fruits, now's the time to do so;  leave a narrow border on a long edge bare.  Roll the strip from a long size like a jelly roll;  pinch the seam closed and turn the roll seam side down.  Cut the roll in half and cut each piece into six 1-inch wide roll-ups.  Place the rolled scones cut side down on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each one.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake the scones for 10 to 12 minutes, until both the tops and the bottoms are golden.  Transfer the scones to a rack to cool slightly.  These are best served warm but are just fine at room temperature.
If you're not going to eat the scones the day they are made, wrap them airtight and freeze;   they'll stay fresh for a month.   To serve, defrost the scones at room temperature in their wrappers, then unwrap and reheat on a baking sheet for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Blueberry Compote

3 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sugar

In a medium saucepan, stir together blueberries, orange juice, and sugar.  Over medium-low heat, bring the berries to a simmer, then reduce heat, stir occasionally, and cook for about 10 minutes until the berries have burst and the syrup coats a spoon.  Serve warm