Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Modern Baker: Devil's Food Cake with Fluffy White Icing

This cake is the reason I joined the Modern Bakers! It's the cake on the cover of the cookbook. It seems only fitting it be the last cake I blog about. Can you believe it! I baked my way through the entire cookbook! I learned so much and am so grateful to Nick Maligieri for all that he taught me about baking. I will be using this cookbook for years to come. I am also so grateful to Phyl for starting this challenge! Thanks Phyl! I look forward to seeing our baking adventure! If you want to see everything I've baked, check out my Modern Baker page.

If I haven't mentioned it before chocolate cake with white icing is my favorite dessert. I agree with N.M. that this is an American classic and in my opinion it out shines apple pie by a long shot!
I made a half recipe of the cake and baked it in a 6'' pan. Unfortunately, I only have one six inch pan so I had to bake the cake, cool it, turn the cake out, clean the pan and then repeat.
Little Charlotte peeking at the cake and asking again, "When do we get to eat it?"
The devil's food cake is very good. The recipe only uses brown sugar and uses melted unsweetened chocolate instead of cocoa powder for the chocolate flavor. The cake is actually not very sweet. It's moist and chocolatey but not very sugary on it's own. The frosting is quite sweet so the pairing worked together perfectly.
It is truly amazing what egg whites and sugar can do when whipped! Fluffy fluffy icing! Again I halved the recipe and I wasn't sure two egg whites and some sugar would cover a whole cake, but it sure did! There was even a little left over for the girls and I to lick off the beaters.

To make the icing you dissolve the sugar and corn syrup in the egg whites. Once they're dissolved the egg whites are beaten in a stand mixer for quite awhile. The directions said until the mixture is cool. I set the mixer and went and cleaned the living room. When I returned the volume in the mixer had exponentially expanded and I had fluffy icing!!

And, there you have it. The perfect cake to finish a fantastic challenge!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ladybug Appetizers

How cute are these!!! I made these for a family BBQ. They were a huge hit and tasted good too!

Supplies Needed:
Crackers
Olives
Cherry Tomatoes
Celery

I tinted the cream cheese with black food coloring and using a piping tip to do the black dots.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer 2012 Bucket List

Thank you Pinterest for another fantastic family tradition! The "Summer Bucket List"! At the beginning of the summer I filled this bucket with activities/crafts and summer recipes. Then, the girls drew out of the bucket to find out what we'd be doing that week! They loved it! I loved it!

Our Summer 2012 Bucket List
Craft/Activity
Play hopscotch
Play Frisbee
Bubbles!
Play in Sprinkler
Build with Marshmallows
Make a pillow/blanket/anything goes fort
Splat painting
Paint pet rocks
Make a fairy garden
Water balloon fight!
Make volcanoes
Plaster Magnets
Freezer pop painting
Make playdoh
Sharpie tie dye shirts
Sunscreen experiment
Water color over crayon art
Berry picking
Picnic
Saturday Market
Family Bike Ride
Hike to a waterfall

Recipes
Homemade ice cream
Homemade frozen yogurt
Homemade sorbet
Lemonade from scratch
Cake balls
Homemade popcorn
Rootbeer floats
Princess Punch
Cupcake Cones
Peep S'mores
Trail mix bars
Lemonade popsicles
Watermelon popsicles
Peach popsicles
Pink mojito popsicles (non-alcohol)
Summer Morning (melon) popsicles
Neapolitan popsicles

New Park Monday: This wasn't in the bucket, but it went along with it. Each week we picked a new park and let our friends know where to meet us on Monday if they wanted to play. The original intention had been to go to new parks we'd never been to all summer, but that proved overly complicated as most of those parks are all quite far from our house since we've been to all the nearby ones. Instead we did a combo of new-to-us and old favorites. It was great fun with great friends!!!

As for me, I learned how to can (strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry jam), make skirts for the girls, and, for the most part, learned what was a flower vs. weed in my yard. A big thanks to my stepmom and bro-in-law for coaching me there! Can't wait to get their garden advice come next spring!

It's almost fall! That means it's time to swing into holiday and birthday planning mode!

Until next summer!!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Modern Baker: Rum-Scented Marble Cake

The Modern Bakers are baking cakes and this one is a winner!

My second perfect unmolding!
I was smart this time and calculated the ounces of rum needed before going to the liquor store. I had to buy a big bottle to get the amount needed so perhaps some rum balls are in order!

I liked the combination of chocolate and yellow cake. The flavors came together well. The rum really was just a hint and not overwhelming.

The cake process what pretty easy. I made a large batch of the yellow cake part and then folded about two cups of that batter into the chocolate to create the chocolate layer. I stacked the batter into the pan using half of the yellow batter, the the chocolate batter, followed by the rest of the yellow batter.

The cake baked nicely and was gobbled up quickly.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Modern Baker: Incredibly Moist Chocolate Cupcakes

It's another Modern Baker recipe. We're baking in the cakes section and I'm making more cupcakes. These incredibly moist chocolate cupcakes absolutely live up to their name. The chocolate cake melts in your mouth. I'm finding I really enjoy cake recipes that include sour cream as this one does.

The cupcakes were a hit. The icing is a chocolate fudge icing and was a little finicky. I actually made it twice. The first time after I made it I looked down and found I'd made soup. Since I was frosting for an event that morning I quickly went to work on a second batch. I was careful to cool the chocolate and cream mixture more completely before combining and I also reduced the cream liquid into the chocolate. This batch came out much better but still a bit runny. As I finished up I found my first batch had thickened to an almost useable point. I think a note on the icing to remember that it needs to be *completely* cooled before determining consistency is important.

The fudge icing was good, although I personally would prefer the confectioners' sugar icing from the golden cupcakes on these cupcakes in the future.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cupcake Cones for the Olympics

The celebrate the beginning of the Summer Olympics we baked cupcake cones with red, white, and blue sprinkles! I followed Martha Stewart's recipe. The cupcakes were delicious and the process was beyond EASY. I had no idea cupcake cones were so easy and fun!
Here's Penelope eyeing the filled cones before they go into the oven. I know your question- Don't the  cones burn in the oven. Well, no, they don't. I don't know why, but they just don't.
We enjoyed our cupcake cones after dinner while we waited for the opening ceremonies to begin. I wish I could say that my kids were captivated by the Olympics. They weren't. They watched a little and asked some questions but just were not into as much as I expected. Oh well. In 2 years we have another shot with the Winter Olympics.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Food Fun

 Here are some of my recent food funning!

Watermelon

Fishy Lunch

Wrapped puzzle and smiley face

Loving Summer! Heart mini omelet on rice cake, heart apples and heart watermelon with a bit of honeydew melon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

6-Layer Rich Chocolate Malted & Toasted Marshmallow Cake

I spotted this cake on Pinterest MONTHS ago. Sweetapolita has a fabulous recipe for it. The minute I saw it, I knew this was my birthday cake! I must be a bit odd because I love to make myself a birthday cake. I love to bake and when my birthday comes around I always have the desire to make something super fun. I WANT to be in the kitchen making it.

But, everyone gives you crap for making your own cake!!! They say, "Oh, let me make you something" or they tell me to just order something from the fancy bakery in town. At work and at my birthday dinner no one was into me baking and bringing my own cake. Well, fine! We invited friends over for dinner and I surprised them with a super decadent dessert a few days before my birthday.
I forgot to take a picture after cutting into it, but you can see the layers here. The cake was delicious! One of the main liquids for the cake batter is coffee. I wasn't too sure about this as I don't like coffee, but boy does it work in chocolate cake! The malted chocolate frosting was good, but the toasted marshmallow frosting stole the show!! I would sneak by the cake after it was cut and with a fork scoop out parts of the marshmallow frosting for a little taste.

Are you a a cake or frosting person? I've discovered I'm a cake person. I loved this cake but it had me cut three 8'' cakes in half to get the 6 layers. Once all layers were frosted and assembled there as just too much frosting for me! Next time I'll just do the three layers with the toasted marshmallow frosting and then frost the outside in the malted chocolate frosting. Yes, there will be a next time!

Only 11 more months to find next year's birthday cake! Better get myself back to Pinterest!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Modern Baker: Whipped Cream Layer Cake

Get ready to pack on the calories!! This cake from the Modern Baker cookbook will leave your head spinning with all the whipped cream in it. Be prepared Modern Bakers to eat salad for the day in order to enjoy a piece and let me warn you- one won't be enough.

Let's start with the cake which uses a good amount of whipping cream in it. In fact, besides vanilla and eggs, whipping cream is the only liquid in the batter. The cake is fluffy and tastes homemade (meaning extra yummy!).

N.M. says this kind of cake can be covered with sweetened whipped cream but he prefers the caramel whipped cream. In my opinion, the caramel whipped cream makes this cake. It is the highlight. In fact I'd call this recipe: Caramel Whipped Cream and Cake. Like I said, the cake is good, but when paired with the caramel whipped cream it's dangerously delicious.

Oh goodness does caramel whipped cream have so many possibilities!

On a side note, please remind me to never ever allow my husband to borrow our nice camera for an extended period of time again. These poor photos just don't do this cake justice! Poor guy won't be getting a piece of cake, that's for sure. Oh wait. He doesn't like whipped cream anyway. Odd. I know.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Half-Birthdays Celebrated Here!

My daughter's 1/2 Birthday cake!

Yes, we celebrate 1/2 birthdays in our home!

Yes, you might think us crazy for doing so, but really I know that you're just jealous no one celebrated yours. Any excuse for cake!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Patriotic July Fun!

It's still July! I made it! I am so behind on uploading the fun things we've been doing this summer! Sorry!
Here's the 4th of July hairdo I did for my daughter. So dang cute!


For our neighborhood BBQ I brought two patriotic dishes! Since moving this was our first year at this annual get together. Both dishes were a huge hit and one neighbor said I was the new favorite neighbor with the goodies I brought.

Patriotic Strawberries
Strawberries
Vanilla melts
Blue sugar

Melt vanilla melts. Dip strawberries. Roll in sugar.

Patriotic Cake
In truth the original recipe I found for this cake uses a cake mix for the cake. I just couldn't do that for my first neighborhood BBQ. Instead my cake the Coconut Cake from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book. I then separated the batter into three bowls and dyed one bowl red and one blue and layered the batter so that the cake came out red, white, and blue. The topping is SO easy. I took a container of frosting and dyed one bowl red, one blue, and left one white. I put each one in the microwave for about 15 seconds to make the frosting runny. I took a fork and drizzled each color of frosting all over the cake and topped it with patriotic sprinkles!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Modern Baker: Golden Cupcakes

The Modern Bakers are baking cakes now! Well, cupcakes. I made these little golden cupcakes awhile ago for a playdate at the park.

First, I think my baking powder has lost it's umph. After the cupcakes came out of the oven they all caved. So sad.
Luckily, the confectioners' sugar icing connected with the recipe covered up the hole. The cupcakes were good but not great. Four year olds are not picky though so they were devoured. I thought they were a little dry. The highlight was the icing! I've made buttercream icing like this before but for some reason this icing really stood out. Even my husband commented by saying it was "perfect birthday cake icing". I'm not sure the cupcakes are repeat (I highly prefer chocolate anyway) but I will be repeating this icing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Modern Baker: Raspberry Cream Cake

The Modern Bakers are baking cakes and this week I made a yummy raspberry cream cake.
The cake begins with a classic genoise cake. A genoise cake is a light sponge cake that is made with a considerable amount of eggs. Egg whites and yolks are whipped with sugar, salt, and vanilla. A flour and cornstarch mixture are then folded into the cake and the cake is baked. This cake is a good canvas for lots of variations. N.M. lists a ton of tempting options and although the chocolate variation sounded very tempting I thought I'd step out of my chocolate zone a bit and try something else.
There are three components of raspberry in this raspberry cake. The first is a raspberry syrup that is made by cooking down sugar and water and adding the raspberry liqueur Charmond. This syrup is then brushed on each layer of cake. (The genoise cake is sliced into three layers.)

On top of the syrup raspberry jam is spread. I used my mother-in-laws homemade jam.
Next is the buttercream frosting. Frozen raspberries are pushed through a strainer and the juices then reduced. The resulting reduction is then added to a buttercream frosting which is in fact primarily butter. (That can't be good for the hips!)
I found the cake to be delicious! The raspberry syrup and jam were soaked into the cake and made it more moist and raspberry tasting. The buttercream was also very good and brought it all together well, but in truth was also quite rich to me. I could only have a one piece before becoming a lit overwhelmed with the butter.

My two year old loved the "pink cake" and I'm sure still thinks I made it just for her since she loves pink so much right now.

The only tragedy that befell was that the syrup got on the recipe pages and stuck the pages together! A little tearing got them apart though.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Modern Baker: Cinnamon-Scented Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake

The Modern Bakers are still hard at work on churning out all these cakes. This cinnamon-scented baked chocolate mousse cake has tremendous potential!

N.M. says he makes this cake when he has a bare minimum of time for a dessert. I don't disagree that it's a great option for a last minute dessert and one would usually have all the ingredients on hand, however, since I was anticipating this cake so much the bake time of one hour was torturous.
The cake is quite simple to make with only 5 ingredients (6 if you count water). There is no flour in this cake, although plenty of eggs. It's baked in a pan of water to insulate the bottom. N.M. says this is much like cheesecake, however I've never baked cheesecake in a pan of water. Perhaps I'm missing out.

The cake has a great texture. It's spongy and light. The flavor was great, however personally I'd have liked the cinnamon scent to be stronger. In fact, I wouldn't mind dropped the "scented" and putting in enough cinnamon to taste. N.M. has some other great ideas about using rum or orange liqueur in place of the cinnamon. A very versatile cake this is!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Modern Baker: Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake

Ready for some chocolate?! This cake out of the Modern Baker cookbook will fill your need for chocolate this week.

It has four element. First, is a chocolate genoise cake. I baked a genoise earlier Raspberry Cream Cake. This uses the chocolate version. I had a little trouble with the chocolate version because the ratio of flour, cornstarch and cocoa powder was quite a bit more than the classic genoise's flour and cornstarch. This resulted in the cake being a lot less light and much more dense. I'm wondering if there was an error here. I should have cut the cake into three layers (to use only two) but my cake was so short, I just cut it in two. (I have since learned there was a typo in the book. The correction is here. That explains my problem.)
The second element moistening syrup. This syrup is simply sugar and vanilla cooked slightly. The syrup is brushed on the cake layers to moisten them and make them oh so yummy.

The third element is the mousse! Making mousse is always eye opening. I love mousse and yet when I see the massive quantity of whip cream, eggs, and sugar going into the mixer it always reminds me to take it easy on my portion size.

The fourth element is the finishing. Whipped cream to cover the cake and chocolate shavings.
N.M. says he likes this mousse because it doesn't use gelatin and thus is more delicate. Well, my mousse could really have used some help from gelatin. I layered my cake and mousse in a springform pan and let it set overnight. The next day I un-sprung my pan and my poor cake immediately began to sag.
I quickly cut a piece.
And then found a pretty bowl. My cake became more of a large mousse bowl. It was delicious. It was chocolately and rich but not overly sweet. I put it in the fridge and nibbled on it over many days. I don't want to think about all the running I'll have to do to take these calories off.
Want to join the Modern Bakers and bake along? Check us out.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Modern Baker: Individual French Hazelnut Cakes

Are you ready for an "individual cake". Not a cupcake. An "individual french cake". 

What is the difference? Well....Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

For that matter a lot of muffins are masquerading cupcakes in my estimation. I quite like the term individual cake and perhaps it is appropriate to distinguish. This little cake is a perfect tea cake. It also doesn't have frosting. A staple of the cupcake world. So, yes, an individual cake it is.

Again only 5 simple little ingredients create this little gem. The ground hazelnuts are a large portion of the batter too so the little cakes taste like soft hazelnut clouds. I don't drink tea, but these little cakes sure made me think I should start.

Oh, and yes it's another cake from the Modern Bakers and the Modern Baker Cookbook. Don't want to forget that part because you need to know where to get the recipe when you make them yourself!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Modern Baker: Real Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake. Is there a better summer dessert? I think not!

The Modern Bakers are baking their way through The Modern Baker Cookbook by Nick Malgieri. We are now in cakes. These little shortcakes were quite easy to put together. N.M.'s strategy of using the food processor is simple and I'm hooked on this process for pie crusts. I combined the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the food processor. I pulsed in the cold butter and then the egg and buttermilk until it all became a ball. I then made six large shortcakes by hand and placed them on a silpat to bake. In 20 minutes I had perfectly golden shortcakes. These beat those spongy store-bought shortcakes any day!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Modern Baker: Heirloom Chocolate Cake

The Modern Bakers are baking cakes and this heirloom chocolate cake is a decadent delicious dessert for any night of the week!
The cake is made by whisking sugar into butter and then adding bittersweet chocolate, eggs, flour, and salt and whisking. The directions couldn't be easier and the ingredients are almost always on hand. This makes this cake so easy to make.

The cake is baked in an 8inch cake pan, cooled, and then refrigerated. N.M. says the cake is too soft to serve without refrigeration. I didn't quite understand why until afterwards.  The cake is dense yet soft, almost like a cross between a brownie and fudge. The refrigeration helps hold it together.

One little sliver of this cake feels like a decadent treat. We served ours with whip cream and strawberries to celebrate the last day of preschool and then walked some over to a dear friend who was celebrating the last day of kindergarten. This cake needs to shared!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Modern Baker: Blueberry Jam Cake

I must begin this post by thanking N.M. I have never been able to unmold a bundt cake so beautifully! I now look forward to my husband's birthday Kentucky butter rum cake. Bring on unmolding!!

Okay, so it is technically supposed to be blackberry jam cake, but I didn't have any blackberry jam. I did have one last jar of homemade seedless blueberry jam. I figured N.M. would support the substitution.
The Modern Baker challengers are baking their way through The Modern Baker cookbook section by section. We are now in cakes!

I began by creaming the butter and sugar. It seems almost all dessert recipes begin this way. I added the eggs and then the flour mixture alternating with buttermilk. The flour mixture consisted of flour, cocoa, allspice, cinnamon, and baking soda. Finally, I added pecans and the blueberry jam.

I omitted the raisins.
I recently saw this fantastic quote from the movie Benny & Joon.
"You don't like raisins?" 
"No, they used to be fat and juicy, now they're twisted, they had their lives' stolen. They taste sweet, but really they're just humiliated grapes."
I stand firm that no humiliated grapes enter my baking!


The cake was delicious! I'd make one again in a heartbeat! After my blueberry jam substitute was a hit I imagine I'd equally love blackberry. Come to think of it, I bet raspberry, marionberry, and chesterberry would also be fabulous! Endless possibilities....

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Modern Baker: Molten Center Chocolate Cakes

Perfection has moved up a notch! I've now made the best thing ever!!

Yes, this is another cake from the Modern Baker challenge and it is perfection on a plate. It's based off of a recipe by a 3-star chef whose version calls for a frozen chocolate truffle to be baked into the middle of it. N.M. claims this recipe is even better than that. When I first read that I thought he had to be wrong. The truffle version sounds divine. Now I must concede, he may be right. (I save my full endorsement for when I've had the opportunity to try chef Michel Bras cake. He's French. Hmm... perhaps a trip to Paris is in order.)

Yes, my plating and un-molding may not be very pretty above but trust me, it tasted 1000 times better than it looks. I'll admit I almost didn't make the creme anglaise sauce to go along with it. I am so glad I did. Do not skip that step!!!! It's the perfect compliment.

The batter is quite easy to make involving bittersweet chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, and flour. I'm continuously astounded what deliciousness is created from five ingredients. I had 8 oz ramekins instead of 4 so mine was a bit larger. The unmolding was a little tricky as the ramekin is still pretty hot when you're trying to unmold but the cake was wonderful. All the edges were a cooked soft yet dense cake and middle chocolate just oozed all over the plate and into the creme anglaise.

I love that this dessert can be made ahead of time and then just popped in the oven right when you need it. This dessert must be eaten warm so plan accordingly!

Now, I'm off to pop my last ramekin of goodness into the oven.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Modern Baker: Viennese Punch Cookies

This is the final cookies recipe for the Modern Bakers challengers from the Modern Baker cookbook. These are an adult cookie as the filling and icing contain rum!

The cookie itself is a nice shortbread type cookie utilizing ground slivered almonds in the dough.
The filling is quite interesting. The dough scraps from cutting out the cookies are baked and then ground. To the ground scraps apricot preserves, semisweet chocolate, rum, orange zest, and lemon zest is added. The filling has a rich distinct flavor.
The icing is simply confectioners' sugar and rum (and a drop of yellow food coloring). The cookies were good. I'm not sure I'd make them again, but I liked the combination of flavors of the simple cookie with the rich filling and the icing that packed a little punch. I haven't done a lot of "adult baking" where the alcohol stays in the dessert. It was kind of fun to know I would be a "bad mother" if I shared any cookies with my kids. More for me! (heehee)
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