December 29, 2009

Christmas Cookies

I really enjoyed the recipes for December, thanks Laura! I hope all of you have had a chance to make at least one of them amid all of the holiday celebrations. I made sugar cookies for Christmas parties and shared the leftovers at work. They were great! Find the rest of my post at the Lovely Lady Baker!


December 26, 2009

TMM: Pizza and Holiday Cookies

December is over already! I can't believe it. I love December because there is so much opportunity to spend time in the kitchen- and no distractions in the form of beaches, parks and bikes to drag me outside.

I found time this month to make both of December's recipes... sort of.

I followed the recipe for Cheesy Zucchini & Red Onion Flatbread, opting to make the crust myself. I can always taste the preservatives in pre-made dough. This recipe was a huge hit with my husband so I'm sure I'll be making it again soon.


As for the cookies- I've been looking for a reason to decorate with royal icing, and Christmas cookies (or in our case 'Holiday Cookies') are perfect.


Not too shabby for a first timer, if I do say so myself.

As always you can read more about these two recipes on my blog.

Zucchini & Red Onion Flatbread

Cookies With Royal Icing

December 7, 2009

Mom made pie, and we pretended to stir things.


Sorry to so blatently ignore this month's recipes, all, but there was the promise of pies made by mom. So we made pies, but they were the recipes of old and not those recommended. Sorry! We did blog about it though, and you can read all about it here.

December 1, 2009

December Recipes have Arrived!

I hope you all enjoyed the pies from November. I asked Laura to pick this months recipe (remember it is more or less based on the order you joined the club). She picked two as the majority of you have and I'm very excited for both of them. Here is what Laura had to say....


"Oh the pressure of having to choose a recipe for December!  For this month I am torn between tradition and something new.  I have decided on two options since the recent months have offered more than one recipe choice.  One leans far traditional, the other is not your typical holiday baking.




    My traditional recipe is not something new to me, (Sorry, Christina, for breaking the rules.) but it is tried and true in my kitchen at Christmas time.  They are the absolute best sugar cookies!  The sour cream makes them extra moist and the cream cheese frosting make a tasty combination.

    The second option, Zucchini & Red Onion Flatbread, is a recipe I came across in a recent Bon App├ętit issue.  To me it sounds like a great light meal with a nice salad in this season laden with cookies, fudge, candy, chocolate....  I'm anxious to try it and hear what you all think!

Happy Baking!"










Sour Cream Sugar Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
Cookie Dough:
Mix ingredients in this order, adding one at a time.

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. margarine
2 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sour cream
5 c. flour

Make dough and chill at least 2-3 hours or over night.

Roll out on a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters.

Bake at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes, depending on how soft you like sugar cookies.  I tend to bake and average sized cookie cutter 9 to 10 minutes.

After the cookies are completely cool, decorate with the icing recipe below.


Icing Ingredients:
2 lb powdered sugar
1/2 c. margarine
8 oz. cream cheese
1 T. vanilla
water, to desired consistency
food coloring, if desired

Humble Pie

For my November baking adventure, I chose Emily Luchetti's pumpkin pie and Elton Brown's crust. Instead of dashing off to the grocery store in search of missing ingredients, I substituted. I used maple syrup and bourbon instead of light corn syrup and rum in the pie filling. My crust had shortening instead of lard. I liked the pumpkin pie because it was nice and straightforward - not too sweet. I was more than pleasantly surprised by the crust. I have a crust recipe that I'm partial too and I wasn't expecting a "wow factor". The crust was very flaky. I will use this crust recipe again and again. Other notes, I made the crust first and then put it in the fridge while I made the filling. I also pre-baked it. I'm curious to try it with the lard...

November 29, 2009

It's All About The Crust

For me- pie is all about the crust! I used to be nervous about making crust, and it never turned out quite right, not light enough, not flaky enough. Well this weekend I discovered the magic ingredient, and I'll never buy a frozen, pre-made again.

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I'd had my fill of pie on Thanksgiving- Josh and I buy our pumpkin pie from our favorite bakery, Lovely in Wicker Park in Chicago, IL; instead I made these "Toaster tarts" from Karen Soloman's book Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It. They are really just homemade pop tarts, but man, are they about a million times better.

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The dough for the crusts is rolled out thin, and pinched shut around a little filling, I used some cherry preserves I had in the fridge. The tarts are baked just until they are mostly done, then finished off in the oven or toaster right before you eat them.

094.JPG

They are sort just little pies that could fit in your pocket, they're light on the filling but they're a great recipe to showcase an outstanding crust.

About that crust; I'd been looking for an excuse to make some lard for a while, and this baking challenge gave me just such an opportunity. You can read all about the lard making process here, and it is a process, about 2 days worth of work, but let me tell you that it is worth every minute.

November 27, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Pie - The Lady Baker

Is everyone full yet? I hope not... I am sure there are lots of leftovers for you to polish off... If you do not think you can handle looking at recipes for pie you should STOP READING NOW.... if you think you can power through it check out my post at the Lovely Lady Baker for Chocolate Pecan Pie.

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!

November 3, 2009

November Recipes

Hi cOven members. This month Elisa chose some recipes that will work well for the holiday season. Here is what she said....

"November = Thanksgiving = Pies. I didn't want to add a lot of work to a month that is already chockfull of baking and cooking so I chose three pies in hopes that the group could multi-task and contribute to the cOven and their Thanksgiving meal!

I'm from Texas so I couldn't resist the traditional pies we Texans love, pumpkin and pecan...but these recipes have a few extra ingredients that will hopefully make them special. I threw in an apple pie recipe (also with a twist) in case there are those that don't care for either pumpkin or pecan. Feel free to use the crust recipes below our your own."

The links are google documents so you will be able to save or copy them more easily than from the blog. Happy Baking!


Apple Cheddar Cheese Pie

Pumpkin Pie with Rum and Cream

Chocolate Pecan Pie


NPR's Vodka Pie Crust

Alton Brown's Pie Crust







Try and post sometime between the 25th and the 30th. And as always if you want to link to the Lovely Lady Baker you are welcome to.

November 2, 2009

TMM: Spicy Molasses Cookies

For this month's EBcO recipe I made Spicy Molasses Cookies. I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed at first; I'm not really a cupcake person and I hate the smell of molasses so I figured I had to pick the lesser of two evils in picking a recipe to make this month. I decided on the cookies because I was really, really not into the cupcakes.

I love a pleasant surprise...


October 31, 2009

Apple "pie" Cupcakes


I miss the pie crust. Here's my picture.

More later.

October 29, 2009

Apple Pie Cupcakes


The Dynamic Baking Duo ate the middles out of 24 cupcakes and lived to tell about it. Read all about it here!

Apple Pie Cupcakes


It's a cool, rainy, fall day in Kansas today. Seems like perfect apple pie weather, so Jonathan and I decided to try the Apple Pie cupcakes. We followed the recipe with only minor variations. The batter seemed pretty simple and straight forward. When it came to making the "pie filing" we backed off some of the butter since there was already so much in the cake itself. I also added a small handful of fresh blueberries to add some color. And because apples and blueberries are a happy combination in my mouth. I only had two Granny Smiths on hand, but I do think a third would be ideal. When it came to assembling, I decided to use a small scoop of ice cream instead of the icing. I also think it would be great with whipped cream too - maybe with some pumpkin pie spice mixed in. As I cut out the cones a piece of my mother came out in me. It's a shame to not have a use for the cones. I suppose they could be worked into the final assembly/display some how. However, if the cupcakes were chocolate they could make very cute little witch's hats for Halloween. Which brings me to my final thought, the combination of ingredients for this cupcake idea seem endless.....strawberries & cream, pumpkin pie filling, fresh peaches, all chocolate, cream cheese filling with raspberries...

October 24, 2009

October - Molasses Cookies


Hope you all had a good time with both recipes. I chose just to make the cookies. Can't wait to see all of your posts!



Check out my full post at The Lovely Lady Baker

October 9, 2009

Rolly Polly Pretzels

These were a real hit with our family. We love Auntie Ann’s pretzels and so that was the recipe of choice for me. The recipe did not seem overly fussy. I got the dough ready during the day and finally got around to the shaping in the evening. This was the trickiest part for me. I didn’t know about rolling them in mid-air. (Those of you who figured this out early – you are crafty!) I was trying to roll them out on our kitchen counter – and they kept shrinking. I rolled, they shrank. I rolled, they shrank. I gave up. Needless to say, I ended up with pleasingly plumb pretzels: Auntie Ann’s distant, fat relatives. Their deliciousness made up for their chunky character. I only made four that evening and I put the rest of the dough in the freezer for a future treat.


I chose the cinnamon/sugar mixture for our sprinkle. I loved them. David loved them. Jacob loved them. Emma loved them. Emma is asking me to take out another batch from the freezer so that we can have some more deliciousness this weekend. Hmmm, I think I will...in fact, I hear my daughter poking through the freezer right now...

October 6, 2009

Sweet & Savory


I finally made my pretzels this past weekend. Better late than never, right?

I have to admit, I've never been a big fan of the plain pretzel. It just seems so boring. The only one that ever stole my heart was the cinnamon sugar version from Auntie Annie's. So... I figured I should give that one a try (you can refer to Christina's blog for that recipe), but even that sounded a little bland for the easy bake cOven. There's a lot of pressure to be at least a little gourmet here. Hence, the need to try out a second, more savory flavor. I took a pizza crust recipe from my favorite cookbook, From the Earth to the Table by John Ash, and adapted it to a pretzel. I added sun dried tomatoes, and a mix of fresh herbs including basil, thyme, and chives, to the original recipe and then topped them with goat cheese (because goat cheese makes everything better), some cherry tomatoes, and a few more sprigs of thyme. I think they turned out quite well!

SLEZTERP

Oops. Well, at least I am not the only one who didn't know what a pretzel looks like. Unfortunately, I was the only one who didn't know I didn't know what a pretzel looks like until all the pretzels were made. (Thanks, Jay, for pointing out my misshapen knots of buttery bread.) Whatever. They tasted delicious.

Since I was short on time this month, I was forced to make these on a week night. So we had pretzels for dinner! Three courses: salted ones as an appetizer; cheesey, peppery ones for the entree, and cinnamon sugar ones for dessert. Jay tried one with raspberry frosting left over from a cake I made recently--not so good, apparently.

I chose to make the Auntie Anne's recipe with 1 cup of wheat flour subbed in for 1 cup of the all purpose flour. It made a slightly heartier, nuttier pretzel. Right out of the oven--YUM. I will definitely make these again.

October 5, 2009

What Does a Pretzel Look Like?

H.C. loves pretzels. We go through at least a 1 lb bag a week and I don’t eat them. Pretzels are brown so they look “natural” and “healthy” but they are 100% white flour and a lot of sodium. Contrary to what this might sound like, I am really not the food police…ask anyone how many jelly beans I can put down. But, I sometimes feel guilty about buying that many pretzels for H.C. to consume.

So, I decided to play with the Alton Brown's recipe and come up with a whole wheat version. I chickened out trying 100% whole wheat but 2 cups of WW flour and the rest bread dough made for wonderful dough that held together well. They baked up well, were chewy in the center, had a nice crust, and were a robust color. I heartily recommend this adaptation.

I confess, there was a touch of smugness as I worked the dough by hand (no dough hook for this yeasty person!) And then I rolled out the first rope and it dawned on me, “What does a pretzel look like?” I think I shaped the first one 4-5 times before it came close. It took 2 more “trials” to master sealing the ends of the rope to the bottom of the arc so it didn’t unravel in the boiling water. Then 3 more trials to figure out that the dough needed to be shaped on a cookie sheet and then turned upside down on a wide spatula that had to be submerged in the boiling water before the pretzel dough would release from the utensil. I started to sweat. I only had two more blobs of dough. I needed one good one for a picture. I had already reneged on my commitment to the group by not making the chocolate cake. Would eCoven vote me out with strike two? Would I bring shame to the Lovely Lady Baker and to the Townsend family as a whole? (Overdramatic perhaps,but similar thoughts filtered through the flour dust in my head.)

In the end, I posed my best effort, camouflaged the rejects in a mound and attempted angle shots in an effort to replicate some of the artistic pictures some of you have produced. The woman who lives with us sat and watched me for over a half hour and finally commented, “I have never seen you act like this.” Then she wrote down, “Dana taking pictures of pretzels on the deck” and dated it. The heading of her list: “Dana having fun.”

October 4, 2009

Cinnamon & Sugar


Not actually being a fan of pretzels, I only opted to try the Auntie Ann's recipe. I've never used yeast before, so I wasn't sure what I was looking for when I went to the store. It comes in such a cute little package-not intimidating at all! My dough came out very sticky so I used a lot of flour when rolling out the long ropes. I found that I liked the thiner robes/smaller pretzels better since they were easier to eat in a couple of bites. Needless to say, they were so delicious once just fresh from the oven that I probably ate about seven of them. I will definitely be making these again.

October 3, 2009

Dynamic Baking Duo does Pretzels


We're starting our own blog. It'll be a little bit Easy Bake Coven, a little bit music, a lot movies, and some books and things. It's not that we don't love you, it's just that I'm trying not to work at home so much so need some hobbies. Knitting isn't cutting it. So our pretzel post is our very first post over there at our new blog. Visit if you'd like. Happy baking to all and to all a good night!

September 29, 2009

TMM: Soft Pretzels

Proofing, stretching, twisting and boiling. Needless to say this was a bit of a fussy recipe; but it was a fun project, with terrific results.

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Continue Reading EBcO September: Pretzels

Pretzels! [or Nicole successfully uses yeast]


I may be the pie queen, but I have not had success in the past with yeast. At one point, it decided it didn't like me and refused to rise. (Have you ever had unleavened pizza crust - not tasty.) So I had decided I would just avoid yeast and therefore avoid this problem. Thankfully, Christina posted these recipes and I had to tackle a leavened bread item. As it turns out, yeast and I are now on speaking terms again. In fact, we might be on our way to becoming BFF's.

I credit this success to Christina, and also Alton Brown for writing a good recipe. Anyway, I made Alton's recipe, but dipped the pretzels in the soda water from the Auntie Anne's recipe, instead of boiling. Then I brushed them with the egg yolk, and sprinkled some with fleur de sel, some with sel de provence and some with raw sugar. I also left 2 unsprinkled. As you can see, they rose and browned well. Husband tried the sea salt version, I tried the salt de provence. We were both pleased - great texture and flavor. I just wish I had finished baking them before 10:50 last night, so I could have eaten one fresh out of the oven! Guess I will just have to make them again!


September 9, 2009

September Recipe: Soft Pretzles

Here are two recipes for you to try - you can do both or one or the other. I watched the episode of Alton Brown's pretzles and have had this Auntie Ann's recipe looming in my recipe box for a while. Be creative, add in herbs to make savory pretzels or develop a genius dipping sauce. This will be the base and you get to provide the creativity.


I will post this recipe to my blog on the 25th and will close the link on the 27th. Please email me with questions!


Homemade Soft Pretzels - Alton Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt

Directions

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.


Auntie Ann's Pretzels


1 1/2 cup warm water

1 1/8 tsp. active yeast (1 1/2 pkg)

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1 1/8 tsp. salt

1 cup bread flour

3 cups regular flour

2 cups warm water

2 Tbs. baking soda

To taste coarse salt

2−4 Tbs. butter (melted)

Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water in mixing bowl; stir to dissolve. Add

sugar, salt, and stir to dissolve; add flour and knead dough until smooth

and elastic. Let rise at least 1/2 hour.

While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda water bath with 2 cups warm

water and 2 Tbs. baking soda. Be certain to stir often.

After dough has risen, pinch off bits of dough and roll into a long rope

(about 1/2 inch or less thick) and shape. Dip pretzel into soda solution

and place on greased baking sheet. Allow pretzel to rise again. Bake in a

450 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Brush with melted

butter and enjoy!

Toppings:

After you brush with butter try sprinkling with coarse salt.

Or for Auntie Anne's famous cinnamon sugar, try melting a stick of butter

in a shallow bowl( big enough to fit the entire pretzel) and in another

bowl, make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. dip the pretzel into the

butter, coating both sides generously. then dip again into the cinnamon

mixture.

August 31, 2009

(Naughty) Chocolate Mousse Cake

Yum.

The book from which I pilfered the recipe is call BIG FLAVORS, by Jim Fobel. Every single thing I have made from this book has be fabulous, and this cake really was no exception.

I never really have much occasion to bake a cake like this. When I do, it means that Jay (the husband) has to eat cake for a week. I don't think he minds that much, though. Since it was my month to choose the cOven recipe, I took the opportunity to impose on all a recipe that's off the charts, above and beyond, decadent. Unfortunately, the only special occasion I had to take it to was a camping trip. So I quartered it up, stuffed it into several tupperware containers, and threw it into a cooler. It was one camper's birthday that week, so to the trip he brought his left over birthday cake; other campers surprised him with another birthday cake; and then there was mine. We were pretty caked out, but no one was complaining.

I made the cake over 3 days. I would highly recommend allowing the filled cake to chill overnight. It allows the flavors to really meld together. I realized as the glaze started cooling quickly on top of the chilled cake that I've actually never glazed a cake before. So of course, I made the rookie mistake of working too slowly. The glaze thickened and hardened on top, and I had to make extra glaze to finish off the sides. More chocolate! O the horror!

Next time, I think I would make the primary glaze out of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Other than that, I'm happy.


Naughty Chocolate Mousse Cake
from Jim Fobel's Big Flavors
yields 12 servings

INGREDIENTS

Cake
8 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 T unsalted butter
4 large eggs, separated
¼ t salt
½ c sugar divided
1 t vanilla extract
2 T all-purpose flour

Filling
1 ½ c heavy cream
2 T sugar
⅛ t salt
12 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 T unsalted butter, sliced
2 egg yolks
2 t vanilla extract

½ c seedless raspberry preserves
2 t brandy or rum

Milk Chocolate Glaze
¼ c milk, scalded
8 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped

Dark Chocolate Glaze (optional)
2 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 T hot water

Garnish
Fresh raspberries and whipped cream


DIRECTIONS

1. Make the cake layers. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or waxed paper; grease the paper.

2. Combine the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over (not touching) barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove the top of the pan and let cool slightly, until just slightly warm, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a large, deep bowl, combine the 4 egg whites with the salt. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually beat in ¼ c of the sugar and beat until almost stiff. Reserve; do not rinse beaters.

4. In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks with the remaining ¼ c sugar. Beat with the same beaters at high speed until thickened and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla; beat in the melted chocolate mixture. Quickly stir in about 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to lighten. Sift the 2 T flour over the top and fold in gently. Fold in the remaining beaten egg whites.

5. Divide the batter between the 2 pans, spreading it quickly but evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; when the surface is touched lightly it will spring back when done. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.

6. Run a knife around the edges of each cake layer to loosen from the pans. Invert a plate or cardboard round over each and turn out the layers, tapping firmly, if necessary, to free. Peel off the paper and set aside to cool completely. If a layer should break, do not worry, the pieces can be put together and the filling will hold them in place. (The layers can be made well in advance; wrap tightly and freeze.)

7. Make the filling. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and salt over low heat. Bring to a simmer and keep warm.

8. Put the chocolate in a food processor and finely grind. Add the butter, egg yolks, and vanilla and pulse to blend. Add the hot cream mixture and blend until smooth. Turn out into a medium bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Chill the filling, stirring occasionally, until firmed up and thickened but not set, about 1 hour.

9. Beat the filling with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy, 20 to 30 seconds.

10. Assemble the cake. In a small bowl, stir together the raspberry preserves and brandy or rum. Place 1 cake layer upside down on a serving plate. Spread the top with half of the raspberry glaze. Turn all of the chocolate filling onto the cake and spread into an even layer. Spread the remaining raspberry glaze over the bottom of the second layer. Invert the later over the chocolate filling. Hold a spatula vertically, even the filling all around the edge. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and chill until set, 1-2 hours, or as long as over night.

11. Make the milk chocolate glaze. Combine the milk and milk chocolate in the top of a double boiler and place over barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth.

12. Remove the plastic wrap from the cake. Spread all of the warm milk chocolate glaze over the top and let it run down the sides, smoothing with a spatula to coat and chill until set.

13. Make the dark chocolate glaze. Combine the semisweet chocolate with 2 T hot water in the top of a double boiler. Let stand until the chocolate melts and then stir until smooth. Turn the chocolate into a small plastic zip-lock bag or make a small, parchment paper cone and fill with the chocolate. Snip a 1/16–inch hole at one corner of the plastic bag or at the tip of the cone. Beginning in the center of the cake, decorate the top with a tight spiral design. Make small chocolate dots all around the outer edge and one in the center. Chill until set.

14. To serve, cut into 12 wedges and lift off slices with a spatula. If desired, decorate each with fresh raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.
I hosted a housewarming "fiesta" last week so it proved to be the perfect occasion to try the chocolate goodness cake. To keep with the "fiesta" theme I used Mexican chocolate and added some cinnamon and cayenne pepper once it was melted. I should have added more because you could barely taste it. The cake turned out smaller than I thought it would. I like higher cakes, so if I did this again I would probably double it to have four layers as opposed to two. I also baked the cake a couple of hours before the party. I actually liked the cake better then next day since the raseberry filling had time to seep into the cake layers. As you can see from the photo, people were not shy in grabbing a piece!

Chocolatey-ganachy-goo (or delicious chocolate cake)



I decided I would make and share this cake for a momentous occasion - the season 3 premiere of Mad Men! Some friends took care of the dinner, I handled dessert. As it was hot that weekend, and my apartment is sans conditioned air, I talked my landlord into letting me use his fancy-pants convection/conventional oven. This was nice, as I was able to avoid the usual fear that coincides with using my flame-throwing gas oven. The batter went together nicely and baked up well. I waited another day or so before making the filling and frosting, and the cake layers held up great. I, too, had some mess in the frosting of it, but am a fan of a hand-made gateau cake anyway, so I decided to just go with it!
As usual, I had a few substitutions due to preference/ingredients on hand:
_Cognac instead of rum mixed with the raspberry jam (it's my baking/cooking liquor of choice)
_Jam had seeds in it because I couldn't find any without. No one seemed to mind.
_I mixed bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate in all parts of the cake.
_There was no milk chocolate & dark chocolate frostings... Just the dark chocolate made into a ganache and loaded onto the cake.

It was so rich. I found that fresh whipped cream helped to cut the richness of the chocolate. The raspberries also helped add a nice fresh burst to the bites. Such a sinful treat!

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake:
There are few things I have consumed that are better than the Chocolate Mousse Cake – but not many. That said, I’ve come to two conclusions:


1. This cake is an expression of love. Its the kind of cake one would bake for someone if they truly loved them.
2. Twilight’s Bella undoubtedly would have stayed human had she tasted this cake before Breaking Dawn.

It took me three days to finish the cake. I would recommend adding a fourth day and using Day 1 to shop for the ingredients, sit down with a glass of wine to read the instructions, and plan Days 2 – 4. The most important thing to keep in mind is to allow enough time. The rest is straightforward and the instructions are manageable. If the instructions are followed with some care, one will have an incredible cake worthy of any special occasion.
My notes on this cake include:

  • A funny little crust will form on the cakes when they bake. Put your freak-flag away – this is normal.
  • Be sure to remove both cakes from the pans when they are finished baking. I removed one at a time and spread the mousse on the bottom layer. When I removed the second layer, it broke and it was not so easy to hide this blemish.
  • I used chocolate chips for the chocolate and they were just fine.
  • I would not change a single ingredient. I loved every single flavor in this cake. All the flavors complemented each other to produce one very grown-up cake.
  • The cake is very rich – serve small slices.
  • Fresh raspberries are a nice addition and help to lighten the intense richness.
  • Serve with champagne or coffee.
  • You will be regarded as a super-hero if you show up with this cake.

August 30, 2009

"In which Sarah and Eric find themselves woefully underprepared for making a cake" or "More adventures with Eric and eggs"


Looking at this recipe, we quickly realized that we are not adequately equipped for making something so fancy-pants as a chocolate mousse cake. We are bread and cookie people. Perhaps strange considering chocolate cake would definitely be on my death-row-last-meal-menu. We've gotten very used to it being just the two of us, so we don't tend to have extra kitchen/food items on the chance that we'll one day have to make something or that we'll have loads of guests. We don't have condiments in our fridge (neither of us like them) and we only keep around kitchen utensils that we use regularly. So when looking over this recipe, we realized that 1. Neither of us had ever made a cake from scratch and 2. We were lacking many of the necessary tools for making said cake. So we now own cake pans and the rest we were able to compensate for with a little creativity. You can live without a double boiler and a sifter. Even all our wax paper was at my work where it had been used for a carpet-ice skating activity with preschoolers. A greased and floured pan though, works every time.

I called Lovely Lady Baker before starting this recipe for a bit of a pep talk and her main advice was to not let the flour-less cake overcook. I'm glad she told me as much. The cake itself was fairly straightforward but cooked in less time then indicated in the recipe. The rest of the components were also fairly straightforward, there were just so many steps! With chilling required between each major component, it took two days for us to finish this cake. Yikes! I was so tired of chocolate, butter, and eggs that we ended up skipping the dark chocolate glaze at the end. Due to Eric's aversion to raspberries, we substituted strawberry preserves with fresh strawberries in between the layers and around the edges. Other than that, though, we followed the recipe pretty exactly.

The cake itself turned out to be a crowd pleaser. We took it to a party, and I feel a little bad when all of the other desserts were ignored. It was super rich, but served cold and in small servings was delicious. The tartness of the late-season strawberries cut some of the sweetness of the chocolate and the texture of the flour-less cake went perfectly with the silky mousse. I'm not sure if we will make this again anytime soon based on how long it took, but if you're looking for a special cake for a chocolate-lover, I'd definitely recommend this one.

After Lovely Lady Baker's picture of her perfectly glazed and decorated cake, I wanted to show our messy version. I love a little mess though. That bit of wayward chocolate is just begging to be scooped up with your finger.