Friday, September 25, 2009

German Chocolate Cake

I have never attempted German Chocolate cake before, partially because Spencer has never been a big fan of coconut so I didn't want this huge cake to go to waste after making it.  While I was looking at different cake recipes I came across a German Chocolate cake recipe and showed Spencer and he said "that's one of my favorite cakes" and I just looked at him in shock.  After telling me that I asked if he wanted me to make this and he immediately said yes.  I just couldn't believe we had been together this long and I never knew that this was one of his favorite cakes.  He's eaten a few things with coconut in but not a whole lot and I never thought he would be a fan of this recipe since there is quite a bit of coconut in it.  Once I found out that he was a fan, I knew I had to make this cake.  The recipe that I decided to use was  David Lebovitz's.  I've previously tried one of his recipes and loved it and I've heard tons of good things about his other recipes so I figured this would be a safe one to go with. 

Spencer's birthday was last week, so I decided I would make this for him for his birthday cake.  I wanted him to be surprised by this, so while he was out with the guys one night I made it.  He absolutely loved it.  It turned out so good, and I was very pleased with the end result.  Everyone that tried it went on and on about it.  The cake was very moist, the filling was great as well as the icing.  It was definitely a hit, to say the least.

Everything came together pretty easily.  Since this is a layered cake it is a little involved, but it's not overwhelming at all.  The recipe for the syrup makes a lot, I added generous portions to all of the layers and even brushed the sides with it but there was still tons left over so you could half the syrup recipe and still have plenty.  If you like a lot of filling you may consider doubling the recipe, I spread it on the layers fairly thin but if you would rather have a thicker filling it would be best to double the filling recipe.  The only problem that I encountered was with the icing.  I'm not really sure what happened, but it never thickened up.  I let it chill for a few hours and it was still as runny as it started out, then I let it chill over night and it was still the same as it started out.  After that I let it chill for a few more hours and when there was no improvement I started looking for other frosting recipes.  Most of the German Chocolate frosting recipes I cam across were basically the same as the filling recipe, since I wanted to stick with the chocolate on the outside (like the original recipe) I looked for chocolate frosting recipes.  The recipe I finally decided on was  Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting.  I've heard so many good things about this frosting so I figured I wouldn't be disappointed in it, and I wasn't, it turned out great.  I will try to attempt the original frosting again, but I did love the cake exactly the way it was. 

German Chocolate Cake
German Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

2 Ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
2 Ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 Tablespoons water
8 Ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ Cup + ¼ Cup sugar
4 Large eggs, separated
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon baking soda
½ Teaspoon salt
1 Cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract


Filling:

1 Cup heavy cream
1 Cup sugar
3 Large egg yolks
3 Ounces butter, cut into small pieces
½ Teaspoon salt
1 Cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 Cups unsweetened coconut, toasted


Syrup:

1 Cup water
¾ Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons dark rum


Icing:

8 Ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ½ Ounces unsalted butter
1 Cup heavy cream


Directions:

Butter two 9 inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment (or wax) paper and preheat oven to 350.

Place both chocolates and 6 tablespoons of water in either a double boiler or microwave safe dish.  Melt chocolates and stir frequently to ensure it doesn't burn.  Once it's melted and smooth, set aside to let cool to room temperature.

With a mixer beat butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in chocolate and then egg yolks one at a time. 

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. 

Mix half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then mix in the buttermilk and vanilla and then finish adding the dry ingredients. 

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Beat in 1/4 cup of sugar until the mixture is stiff.

Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the batter, then fold the remaining egg whites in until no whites can be seen.

Divide the batter evenly and pour into the two 9-inch, greased cake pans.  Bake for about 45 minutes, until toothpick can be inserted in the center and come out clean. 

Cool layers completely.

While the cakes are baking and cooling prepare frosting, filling and syrup.

To make filling:

In a medium saucepan mix the cream, sugar and egg yolks.  In a separate bowl put three ounces of butter, salt, toasted coconuts, and pecan pieces.

Heat the cream mixture and stir constantly.  Heat until mixture thickens and coats spoon. 

Pour the hot custard immediatly into the coconut mixture.  Mix and stir until the butter is completely melted.  Set aside and let cool completely.

For the Syrup:

In a small saucepan heat the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and add the rum, stir well.

For the icing:

Place 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with corn syrup and 1 1/2 ounces butter.  

Heat the cream until it just begins to boil.  Remove from heat and pour over chocolate.  Let the mixture sit for 1 minute and then stir together.  Let sit until room temperature.

***Like I said earlier, I couldn't ever get this icing to come to the right consistency for me so I used  Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting.  It turned out great, so if you don't want to attempt the original frosting this one works just fine.  

To assemble the cake:

Remove cakes from the pans and cut both cakes in half, horizontally with a sharp knife.

Place the first cake layer on a plate, brush with syrup, spread 3/4 cup of the coconut filling over the layer.  Be sure the filling is spread over the entire layer.  Set another layer on top of the cake.

Repeat process using the syrup to brush on each layer, spread thin layer of filling-3/4 cup of filling over each layer, including the top layer.  

Ice the sides with the chocolate icing.  Use a decorative tip and pipe the top of the cake around the coconut filling mixture.  
German Chocolate Cake

 

Recipe Source: David Lebovitz 

Frosting: Hershey's

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cinnamon Raisin Bread



Spencer loves cinnamon raisin bread.  It seems like he gets a loaf almost every time we go do our major grocery shopping.  I don't know why but I've never really thought about trying to make it before.  The idea came to me one day while I was looking at some food blogs I saw on Le Petit Pierogi where she had made some homemade raisin bread.  I thought that was a great idea, I mean we buy it quite often and since it seems to be one of Spencer's favorite things I might as well give it a shot and see if the homemade version turns out any good.  I'm so glad I attempted this recipe, it was so good and it definitely hit the spot.  Spencer loved the bread, it definitely met his expectations as well as mine.

This recipe was very tasty and very easy to follow.   This recipe makes three loaves of dough, so keep that in mind while mixing it.  Be sure the bowls that you use to mix in and let the dough rise in are large, you'll definitely need room to maneuver while mixing and the dough will need plenty of room to expand and rise.  If you have a sturdy mixer with a dough hook I definitely suggest using that; if you attempt to use a handheld mixer it won't be strong enough once the flour starts being added and if you knead it by hand your arms and hands will be worn out by the time you're finished and you'll be up to your elbows in dough.  Be sure you allow ample room for both mixing and letting the dough rise.  The dough rose perfectly, and the consistency was perfect, it was light and fluffy.  It was very easy to work with too.

I definitely recommend making this recipe if you are a fan of cinnamon raisin bread, you won't be disappointed.  This would be great for breakfast, with a cup of coffee or for a snack.  It will hit the spot no matter when you eat it.  We loved it, and I know I will be making this again.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups milk
1 Cup warm water
1 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
3 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups white sugar, divided
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup raisins
8 Cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons milk
5 Tablespoons cinnamon, divided
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with warm water while mixing the dough.  This will allow the raisins to become nice and plump. 

Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.

Pour yeast packets in a large mixing bowl and then add warm water.  Let yeast dissolve in the water and set aside until frothy (about 10 minutes). 

Once yeast has dissolved mix in eggs, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon.  Gradually add the flour to form a stiff dough.  Once flour is mixed, place the dough on a floured surface, add raisins, and begin to knead for a few minutes until the dough becomes smooth.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn to coat all of the dough.  Place a towel over the dough and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove dough from the bowl and roll on a floured surface.  Roll the dough into a rectangle that is about 1/2 an inch thick. 

Pour the two tablespoons of milk on the rolled dough and moisten.  Spread the milk over all of the dough with hands. 

Mix 1 cup of sugar and 3 tablespoons of cinnamon together.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the moistened dough.  

Tightly roll the dough, long ways.

Cut the dough into three equal pieces.  Place pieces in 3 greased loaf pans.  Let the dough rise for another hour, uncovered.  

Bake dough at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven, let cool for just a moment.  Melt butter and spread over the top of the loaves.  Remove loaves from pan, place on rack and let cool.  Let cool before slicing.
Cinnamond Raisin Bread       



Recipe Source:  Seen on: Le Petit Pierogi, Originally from: Recipe Zaar 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chili

As much as I hate to see summer go, I'm so glad fall is here.  Fall is the start of so many things, including food, and it also opens the door for a lot of different types of food that aren't craved so much during the warmer months.  Sometimes there is just nothing better than a big bowl of hot soup or chili on a cool fall evening.  There is just something about a warm bowl of chili that says comfort and makes you feel so good.


Last night we had our first batch of chili for the fall.  Spencer has been asking me to make some for quite some time but we kept having stuff come up and I just never got around to making it until now.  He had been away for the day, so I decided to do some housework and surprise him with some chili.  When he got home he had the mindset that we would go out, since I had been working around the house, and to his surprise I had started making the chili.  He was so excited about finally getting his chili and I was looking forward to curling up on the couch with a big bowl myself.  I have made a couple of traditional chili recipes in the past but I have to say that this recipe is by far my favorite.  This had the right amount of spice, it wasn't too spicy but wasn't to bland either, it definitely had a kick to it.  If you're not a fan of spice reduce the amount of red pepper flakes and hot sauce.  The combination of all of the flavors was so good, and there wasn't one ingredient that overpowered the rest, it was a perfect blend of everything.


Chili
Chili 


Ingredients:


1 Pound ground beef
1 Pound sausage (I used regular mild)
1 Medium bell pepper, chopped
1 Medium onion, chopped
2 Cans kidney beans, drained
1 Can black beans
2 Cans stewed tomatoes
1 Can Rotel
1 Can tomato paste
1 Tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tsp garlic salt
1 1/2 Tsp chili powder
Pepper to taste
1/4 Cup hot sauce (I use Louisiana Hot Sauce)
1 Tbs butter
/2 Cup water


Directions:


In a large skillet brown the ground beef and sausage.  Once cooked drain the meat and set aside.
In the same skillet add onions, bell pepper, and butter.  Saute the veggies until onions begin to turn clear.  Remove from heat. 
Place meat and onions in crock pot or large pot and mix.  Add the beans, tomatoes, rotel, red pepper flakes, garlic salt, pepper, chili powder, water, hot sauce and tomato paste and mix together.  Once ingredients are incorporated turn crock pot on high (Or stove on low-medium) and let cook. 
If you are using a crock pot; cook on high for about 1 1/2 -2 hours stirring occasionally.  For stove top, cook on low-medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 


Chili


Recipe Source: A Lynsey original



Friday, September 18, 2009

S'more Cupcakes

Over the past month or so I've seen the recipe for s'mores posted many times and each time I saw it I told myself that I had to make this.  They are so cute and each time I see a picture of them my mouth starts watering.  I love s'mores and always have; I don't know what it is about the combination of crackers, chocolate and a freshly toasted marshmallow but it's awesome.  

A lot of people have made these cupcakes as a tribute to summer, but when I think of s'mores and toasting marshmallows I think of fall.  I guess our summers around here are just too hot and sticky to even think about sitting around a campfire, let alone cooking over one.  Although a lot of people have posted this recipe to their blog as a tribute or farwell to summer, I'm posting it as a welcome to fall and the nice cool weather that we are now starting to enjoy.  

Since I've seen this on so many blogs I knew it wasn't going to disappoint.  I loved the concept of taking 3 simple ingredients and creating a cupcake around the idea, and that made me even more excited about making these.  It was really pretty easy to make these, I also tried a different technique with these as well.  I had never made a cake that directed you to add water after the batter was already made, so I found it very interesting, but it made the batter a little easier to work withand pour and the cupcakes came out super moist.  Ialso had fun while I was putting them together.  It can get kind of messy, but that's not a problem, and it would really be a fun project to include kids in as well.  If you haven't tried these you should definitely put them on your "to make" list!

S'more Cupcakes

S'more Cupcakes


Ingredients:

For the graham crust:
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 - 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips


Directions:

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease muffin cups or line with paper liners.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar,graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl. Spoon 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mix into the bottom of each muffin cup. Press crumbs firmly, using the bottom of a small glass. Save the remaining mixture for topping. Top graham cracker mix with several bittersweet chocolate chips.
Bake graham mixture for about five minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.


Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water


Directions:

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Stir until well blended.
Add flour mixture to large bowl and beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full with batter (about 1/4 cup). Sprinkle batter with small amount of remaining graham cracker mixture.
Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely, then frost.    


Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting:

Ingredients:

2 1/4 Cups marshmallow creme

1/2 Cup shortening

1/4 Cup water

2 1/2 Cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Cream shortening and marshmallow creme together.

Add in 1/2 of the water followed by 1/2 of the powdered sugar. 

Add the remaining powdered sugar and enough water to bring the frosting to a smooth consistency. 

To assemble the cupcakes:

Place a small amount of frosting on the center of the cupcake and the spread over the top of the cupcake.

***The frosting is very soft, so it will run off if too much is on the cupcake.

Sprink the frosted cupcakes with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate sprinkles or chopped chocolate pieces. (optional)

***This frosting recipe was very good, but next time I think I'm going to try the Marshmallow Buttercream recipe from Proceed With Caution.

Recipe Source:

Seen on:    Proceed with Caution 

Originally from: Domestic Pursuits 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Spinach Chicken Pizza

Last night I decided to make pizza for supper.  I didn't really want a normal pizza, I wanted something that was a little different.  I started thinking about the ingredients I had on hand and about how I could pair those together.  After thinking for a while I decided that a spinach and chicken pizza sounded pretty good.  

I had some roasted chicken leftover that I thought would be so good on this pizza.  The chicken was seasoned very well, so I didn't want to add a whole lot of other seasonings because I didn't want there to be too much going on.  The spinach sauce was very simple too.  All of the elements of this pizza were very easy and simple to make, and when they were put together they complimented each other very well.  We really enjoyed this pizza and all the flavors in it and it went well with my new pizza dough recipe.   

Spinach Chicken Pizza

Spinach Chicken Pizz


Ingredients:

4 Ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 Cup cream

1 Pound frozen spinach, drained

1 1/2 Cups chicken, cooked and chopped (I used roasted chicken)

1/2 Teaspoon onion powder

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1 Cup Roasted garlic cheddar cheese, shredded

1 Cup mozzerella cheese, shredded

1 recipe for pizza dough

Directions:

While the dough is in the oven, place cream cheese and cream in a sauce pan over low-medium heat.  Once the cream cheese has melted stir in the well drained spinach and stir.  After everything is mixed together add salt, pepper and onion powder and stir, then remove from heat. 

Remove dough from the oven and spread the spinach mixture evenly over the dough.  Sprinkle the chicken over the spinach mixture and then top with both cheeses.  Return to oven and cook for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and let cool for just  a moment before cutting.  Enjoy!

Spinach Chicken Pizza


 Recipe Source: Lynsey Lou's Blog

Pizza Dough

It seems like Spencer and I have been eating quite a bit of pizza lately, but it's all been from restaurants.  Although all of the pizza we have had lately has been good, it's just not the same as homemade.  I also like making homemade pizza because you can make pretty much any type of pizza you want and you have total control over the quality of the ingredients.  It just makes you feel a little bit better knowing what ingredients go into the product you're about to eat. 

I have made a couple of pizza dough's in the past, one being my own recipe and the other being a daring bakers recipe, which were very good but this time I wanted to try something a little different.  The last pizza dough I made had wine in it and I loved the flavor it gave to the dough and I wanted to try something similar this time but not have the flavor be so strong or the taste be so sweet.  After I thought about it for a while I decided to make it using beer, I could not have been happier with the flavor.  It had a great flavor, you could taste some of the beer but it wasn't too overwhelming.  All of the flavors in the dough went together perfectly and every flavor could be tasted, but there wasn't one that was too strong or overpowering.  Spencer was so impressed with the end result, and said that when he ate the edge of the crust with nothing on it he could taste all the flavors in the dough and liked the dough by itself.  I believe this will be our "go to" pizza dough recipe now.  It was so easy to put together, and I believe it will compliment a variety of pizza toppings.  

I used all of the dough to make one crust.  It came out to my desired thickness; it wasn't too thick but wasn't too thin either.  If you are a thin crust person just split the ball of dough in half and make two pizzas or freeze one half.  Even when I used all of the dough I didn't think it was too much crust for one pizza, even the outer edges of the crust weren't too doughy.  I would urge you to try this dough, I don't think you'll be disappointed.       

Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup warm beer

1 Package dry yeast

2 1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

2 Tsp sugar

2 Tsp honey

1 Tsp olive oil

1 Tsp salt

Directions:

Pour dry yeast in a medium bowl and then add the warm beer.  Let rest about 2 minutes, until yeast has disolved.  Add sugar, honey, salt, and olive oil and mix together.  Add flour and mix together well, one mixed place dough on floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, don't overwork otherwise dough will be too tough.  

Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, sprinkle with a little flour and drizzle a little oil over the top of the ball, cover bowl and set aside to let dough rise for about 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, while the oven is preheating place baking stone in as well to preheat.  While oven is preheating roll out the dough (or toss) into desired size.  Once dough is ready and the oven is hot, remove the stone and place dough on the stone and poke with fork multiple times to prevent air bubbles.  Place the dough in the oven for about 5 minutes.  Remove dough and add favorite toppings and then place back in the oven to warm ingredients and melt cheese.

Recipe Source: Lynsey Lou's Blog 
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