Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TWD: Coconut Butter Thins

Its TWD time again, and this week we are ringing in Tuesday with cookies. Coconut butter thins to be exact!

I was really pleased with these cookies, mainly because they are so different with their unique flavors of lime zest, dried coriander, macadamia nut, and coconut. They weren’t quite what I expected (I think I expected these to be more of a shortbread) but I love them because they were really chewy and moist.

I liked the “roll out in a Ziploc bag” trick! Honestly, I love making roll out cookies but I HATE cleaning up the mess. This made it so easy. I was a tad surprised when I checked on these in the oven to find that these had spread out…I mean REALLY spread. But, then again they are butter ‘thins’.

I thought these were the ultimate spring cookie or would also be great for a Hawaian themed party, so I am sure I will be making these again very soon!

Thanks Jayne of the Barefoot Kitchen Witch for Hosting TWD this week! Check out Jayne’s page if you would like the recipe to these delightful cookies!

I know some of the other bakers are probably doing some fun variations, as they always do so be sure to check out Dorie’s blogroll!
I measured mine...
Cut them nice and neat...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Muffaletta Roll-Up

I was glued to Martha Stewart this week because she was featuring “Lunch Week”. Now that I have been home full time, I’ve been caught in a rut of making quesadilla’s everyday (my favorite). So Martha, the resourceful woman she is, featured different restaurateurs on her show to share some of their favorite sandwiches etc from their menus. When I saw Sean Rembold of Brooklyn's Marlow and Sons put together his muffaletta Panini with olive salad….I was totally hooked.

First of all, I love Italian food. Second, I love Italian subs. Strangely though, in spite of all that, the furthest I have gone at home to making an Italian sandwich was to throw salami on a piece of bread with some cheese. I know, despicable really.

So looking at this recipe I was quite amused because it was all lunch meats I have never even heard of. Ordinarily, I may have looked at something like this and been scared off, but the fact that it was paired with the olive salad (I’m absolutely mad about olives) made me run out to the store that afternoon to gather all the ingredients.

I altered the olive salad recipe, just because that is what I do. I didn’t make it into a Panini because I was taking the sandwich with me while I was on the go so I put it in a spinach lavash. It’s the perfect little sandwich….and certainly better than my boring old salami sandwiches and quesadillas!

Muffaletta Panini
Recipe from Sean Rembold of Brooklyn's Marlow and Sons

Olive Salad (Recipe to follow)
2 lavash pitas
4 ounces sliced mortadella
2 1/2 ounces sliced hot sopressata
2 ounces sliced finocchiona salami
2 ounces sliced coppa
4 ounces sliced provolone or fontina cheese
1/4 pound arugula, preferably wild
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt

Spread olive salad over cut sides of bread.
Layer the sandwhich with desired amount of meat and cheese, top with arugula and olive salad. Drizzle with olive oil. Roll up in a lavash pita or put on desired kind of bread.


¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
3/4 pound green olives, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped pickled red peppers
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoon sliced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, sliced
1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium-size bowl, mix together both olives, anchovies, red pepper, and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar. Pour over olive mixture and add oregano, thyme, and parsley; toss to combine. Season with Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Cover and transfer to refrigerator; chill overnight before using.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TWD: Blueberry Crumb Cake

I can’t believe its Tuesday again, nor can I believe the month of March is already ending.

How did that happen?

Oh yes, I’ve been covered in flour and frosting for the entire month so I probably forgot where and who I was.

I have been taking the Wilton classes for 2 months and all I have done is bake and endure hours and hours of making royal icing flowers. Flowers I was up cursing until 10:30 last night as I hurriedly tried to complete them before my final class today. I think I may have to take a break from making layered cakes for a bit…for sanity purposes.

Oh right…you are here for TWD…

We have had some great hosts for TWD this month! I have been eying this Blueberry Crumb Cake since I purchased “Baking From My Home to Yours” so I was rather excited when I saw it on March’s baking roster. A big “thanks” to Sihan of Befuddlement for hosting Tuesdays With Dorie this week. If you would like to see the recipe. You can also check out how the other bakers faired this week by clicking on TWD’s blogroll.

The cake was pretty straight forward and easy to make, and could even be split into parts to make it in (i.e. the crumb topping then the cake portion). I really played it boring this week and just followed the recipe because I love blueberries and didn’t feel it necessary to change up an already “good thing”.

My crumb topping wasn’t overly ‘crumb like’ that I would see on a coffee cake at a bakery so it’s possible I broke the crumbs into too small of pieces. I think I will try this with turbinado sugar next time. Maybe that would create a larger, crunchier crumb? Either way, I loved the extra crunch of the sugar and nuts on top. Overall the rest of the cake was moist and despite ‘flouring’ the blueberries, they still seemed to work their way to the bottom of the cake. *shrugs*

Both “Mr. Coco” and I loved this cake; he even asked to take a piece to work to eat while drinking his coffee. (Even for the sweet tooth man he is, he rarely takes any to work so I will take this as a job well done).

Thanks again Sihan for hosting!

Next week: Coconut Butter Thins!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

TWD: French Yogurt Cake sans the Marmalade Glaze

The whole process of making this cake made me smile. It’s just what I needed to get back in the TWD saddle. I don’t know if it was that this cake is made out of old fashioned (but simple) manual labor or if it was the pure sound of my whisk hitting the side of the bowl. I love that sound more than anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely have a love affair with my kitchen aid stand mixer. If it were between my mixer and my favorite shoes to grab in a fire, I would probably grab my mixer (even though it weighs about 50 pounds). But I loved the fact that this was a recipe that goes back to basics, all done by hand, in less than 10 minutes. If I closed my eyes, I could picture myself in some country kitchen in France…oh how I wish that were true.

And thank goodness this cake was a cinch to make because I was making my husband’s birthday cake…per his request, which was a 4 component cake, on the same day. So needless to say my kitchen was bustling all afternoon.

I did change the recipe a bit. First, I have tried to love ground almonds but I found that I just haven’t developed the taste for them; I think it’s really more of a texture thing I just can’t seem to get over. It’s such a shame too because almonds are SOO good for you. So I just used the additional flour per Dorie’s suggestion. I also added a whole teaspoon of vanilla…because more is more to me when it comes to vanilla. I know…I live on the edge.

There were a few suggestions for the cake—and actually it’s traditionally served with a marmalade jam. I am just not a jam on anything but toast kind of girl….so I took Dorie’s ‘playing around’ suggestion and turned it into a strawberry shortcake. OMG. First, strawberries and lemon always play nicely but what is so great about this is that the shortcake part (the cake) isn’t dry so it just made heavenly strawberry shortcake. But all this aside, this cake really doesn’t need anything to ‘dress’ it because it’s moist and delicious all on its own. Thanks again, Dorie, for a great recipe!

If you would like to view the recipe you can visit Tuesday with Dorie's host this week, Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction or you can purchase Dorie's book: "Baking From My Home to Yours". Don't forget to see all the great variations of this cake by checking out what the other bakers did this week on Dorie's blogroll.
Happy St. Patty's Day everyone!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Mousse Filling, Chocolate Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting and Chocolate Shavings

Both my husband and brother in law had a birthday last week. I took the liberty of throwing a joint birthday party for them and since my brother in law doesn’t eat sweats…my husband…the chocoholic got to choose the cake flavor.

This was the essence of our conversation.

C: “Hey husband, what kind of cake would you like me to make for your birthday?”
J: “Um, you know that cake from the Townsend?”
C: “Yea…”
J: “Well, I want that cake. The chocolate one.”
C: “You want me to go buy you the cake?”
J: “No, I want YOU to make it.”

So there it is….the cake challenge. (For those who don’t know what the Townsend is, it’s a swanky hotel with an even swankier bakery a few blocks from our house that any celebrity, The President and the alike stay when they come to the Detroit area). I didn’t panic too much because quite honestly, I can handle chocolate cake, I can handle a meringue buttercream, and I can handle chocolate mousse. But all the components together I knew would take me at least a day to do…and maybe a few hours to assemble. Plus hosting the dinner party for 20? No sweat…

So not only could I handle all the components, I had the golden ticket….I have GREAT go to recipes for all of these…so I knew the cake was sure to be a hit as long as I didn’t drop it.

I used this ‘go to’ chocolate cake recipe in 2 8-inch round cake pans, and after baking cut each layer in half to create 4 layers of cake.

I used this ‘go to’ Chocolate Italian Meringue Butter cream to frost the outside of the cake.
I filled the cake with dark chocolate mousse and topped with about 4 oz. of chocolate shavings. You can use any mix of chocolate (Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semi-sweet etc). I used a mix of chocolate bars that I had in my pantry.

The cake verdict:
In addition to the cake, I made homemade peanut butter cups, chocolate covered strawberries, and chocolate cups filled with chocolate mousse, berries and whipped cream so my thought was….there will be SO much cake left over. We barely had any cake left. The cake was RICH. The chocolate cake layers were deep, dark, moist and fudgy, the chocolate mousse kept the cake light, and the Italian meringue buttercream topped off the heavenly chocolate flavor of the cake. This is the ULTIMATE chocoholic’s cake…and everyone that had it made a point to tell me it was by far their favorite cake they ever had. I will take that as a success!

A bottle of Pinot Noir was being passed around to go with the cake (you know...to pour some in your glass)….my husband took the liberty of having the bottle stop with him. And as we had run out of forks from the dinner—he dug in my utensil drawer for a ‘spoon’ (AKA a pasta skimmer). That is just Klassy with a “K” honey…klassy…

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Recipe courtesy of Mirepoix Cooking School

4 egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
1 oz. coffee liquor
8oz. dark chocolate, melted
4 egg whites
1 ½ cups heavy cream

In a double boiler, melt chocolate. Set aside but don’t let it cool too much or else it will not mix well.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks, sugar, coffee liquor until pale yellow and thickened, set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside and refrigerate until ready to use.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

With a rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture. Then fold in the whipped cream. Then, gently fold in the egg whites.

If the mousse seems a bit ‘loose’, you can refrigerate for a few hours to stiffen.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting and Another Birthday

One type of cake I don’t see too often is German chocolate cake. I am not sure if it just looks difficult to make or if it’s been locked away in some 1950’s homemaker time capsule. I have made this cake since I was young, always for my father’s birthday. German chocolate cake is his favorite (that and butter pecan ice cream).

Truth is, I haven’t made it for him in years and this year I figured it was time for me to get back on track and make him one….even when I had 7 other cakes on my February roster. Yes, I said February…and yes…I realize it is now March and I am just now getting to posting. Oops!

I don’t typically use melted chocolate in my cake batters, not sure why. I think I read in a cake book somewhere that you should only use melted chocolate in brownies. But just about every German chocolate recipe said to use the ‘German chocolate bars’, melted. So that is what I did. Despite omitting the cake flour (something I just didn’t have in my pantry that day), the cake was still positively light and fluffy. I think I would attribute that from separating the eggs and folding in the egg whites in the last step of mixing.

The only problem I had with the cake this go around was making the frosting. For some reason, the first time I made it, it turned out soupy. I think I didn’t let the egg mixture thicken enough before I added the coconut. I did a second round of it and waited for the egg mixture to thicken a bit more and didn’t have a single problem. I also provided a ‘doubled’ recipe…because let’s face it folks…it’s ALL about the frosting in my family! So, if you don’t want it on the sides of the cake, by all means, cut the recipe for the frosting in half.

It’s funny, when I brought the cake out; I got so many ‘ooohs and ahhs’. For someone who has made this cake since I was a young girl, it makes me feel good that something I think is so seemingly simple to make can still impress the ones that I love. Because after all…what’s the point but to impress them and make them happy.

German Chocolate Cake
Recipe derived from Allrecipes.com
Yields: 2, 8-inch rounds

Ingredients for cake:
1 (4-oz.) package of Baker's Sweetened Chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks
4 eggs whites
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups sifted all purpose flour (The recipe calls for 2 ½ cups cake flour you can use that if you have it)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk

Ingredients for the frosting:
2 cup evaporated milk
2 cup sugar
6 beaten egg yolks
1 cup butter
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 2/3 cup Baker's Angel Flake Coconut
2 cup chopped pecans (toasted)

Directions for the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Grease and flour 2 - 8 inch round pans (There is enough batter here that you can make 2 – 9inch rounds). Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat water until boiling. Pour over 4 ounces chocolate and stir until melted. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. I usually do this on low. It may take about 5 minutes for it to really incorporate. Beat in 4 egg yolks one at a time. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated. The whole process of adding the flour and buttermilk shouldn’t take any longer than 60 seconds. You do not want to over mix.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (a metal or glass bowl are preferred because they are considered non-reactive. A plastic bowl will adhere to the proteins in the egg whites and inhibit the whites from forming any peaks). Gently fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter with a rubber spatula, and then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
Pour into 2 - 8 inch pans Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then turn out onto wax paper.

Directions for the frosting:
Begin by toasting the pecans on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. You do not need cooking spray but keep an eye on them and stir them maybe half way through. You will know when they are getting close to being done because you will begin to smell them. Keep an eye on them though, they burn fast! You can also do this on the cook top in a dry skillet…just keep a close eye on them and stir them frequently. Let them cool a bit and roughly chop them.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan combine 2 cups sugar, evaporated milk, 1 cup butter, and 6 egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 12 minutes. (If the mixture doesn’t look thickened at 12 minutes, do not proceed until it does) Remove from heat.

Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread.
Spread filling between layers and on top of cake. The sides are a bit messy and difficult, just stick it on with a spatula and spread it lightly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TWD: Lemon custard cup

SORRY! NO TWD today from me!

I was out of town all last week in California---actually enjoying sunshine for the first time in months (serious...there isn't much sun in the winter months in Michigan!). I just couldn't wrap my head around making a custard when I had to prep for my cake class today. I will be participating next week so stay tuned!!

Thank you for hosting this week, Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles. Check out the other bakers from TWD's blogroll!!