Thursday, June 30, 2011

Creme de Menthe Truffles

I love mint chocolates.  :)

Stacey's Dark Chocolate Créme de Menthe Truffle Ingredients:

8 oz cream, organic
2.5 oz glucose syrup
20 oz El Rey 61% dark chocolate couverture
2.5 tbs butter, organic
1 oz Créme de Menthe liqueur
Chocolate Flake
Chopped El Rey white chocolate couverture
Chopped Guittard mint chocolate chips

I made these pretty much the same way as my other truffles, but I hand stirred instead of using the immersion blender with whisk attachment.  I decided to make these a little bit more interesting to look at so I rolled them in chocolate flake and chopped white and mint chocolates.

 Nummy...

Dark Chocolate Chambord Truffles

I had some cream I needed to use, so what better fate could it end up with than as part of a delicious truffle? :)

Stacey's Dark Chocolate Chambord Truffle Ingredients:

8 oz cream, organic
2.5 oz glucose syrup
20 oz El Rey 61% dark chocolate couverture
2.5 tbs butter, organic
1 oz Chambord liqueur
Chocolate Flake
Turbinado Sugar, organic

I made these pretty much the same way as my other truffles, but I hand stirred instead of using the immersion blender with whisk attachment.  And, I gave them the same treatment as my Scharffen-Berger Chocolate Truffles. I'm not as big of a fan of the El Rey dark chocolate - I think Guittard has richer flavors, but the El Rey behaves well, and is just fine in truffle form.  


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Brown Velvet Cake

Okay, my first attempt at red velvet cake without using food coloring failed.  It ended up just looking like a light chocolate cake.  It tasted pretty good though.  More varied flavors than a regular chocolate cake since I tried to use some berries to bring out more red.  I forgot... berries tend to turn brown when you cook them.

Stacey's Brown Velvet Cake Ingredients:

The Light Chocolate Cake
2 1/3c unbleached white flour, organic
1/4c cornstarch
1.5c sugar, organic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4c Scharffen Berger cocoa powder

1/2c canola oil, organic
2 eggs, organic
1 1/2c buttermilk, heated with cooked beets
1c pureed strawberries and raspberries (frozen, thawed)
1 tsp white vinegar

2 - 9" round cake pans, lined with parchment paper

The Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages cream cheese, organic
2 sticks butter, salted, organic
1 tbs vanilla bean paste
1/3c maple syrup
4c confectioners sugar

First, the cake.  I preheated the oven to 350F.  Then, took two beets, chopped them into little cubes and tried to heat them in the buttermilk.  The buttermilk started to separate a bit, so I decided to pull the beets out and cook them separately, hoping that their color would leech better once they were cooked.  Once I cooked the beets in a pot for a bit, I put them back into the buttermilk, which turned a nice magenta.  Still didn't end up being red enough, but I didn't know that.  I strained out the beet pieces.

Then I used my immersion blender to puree the thawed strawberries and raspberries.

I put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mixed with a rubber spatula.  I whisked the eggs into the oil a bit with a fork, and then I added all the wet ingredients into the dry and was careful to mix until just combined.  Never want to overmix cake.  I poured even amounts into the round cake pans.  I baked them for about 20-25 minutes, I think.  My notes say 20 minutes, but that doesn't quite seem like enough.  This is what I get for waiting so long to post...

The batter looked sort of red, but the cake came out looking like this:


I let the cakes cool, and then made the frosting. I warmed the butter and cream cheese slightly, just enough so that it could be blended in my standing mixer and not get all stuck on the whisk attachment.  I added the maple syrup and vanilla and then I added confectioners sugar until it was the right taste and consistency.  I added about a cup at a time, and 4 cups seemed to do it.


It was for a southern food themed party so I brought my frosting and my cake layers and assembled it there.


We cut into it and it ended up looking like this:

My poor brown velvet cake.  It tasted good, but it's definitely not a red velvet cake.  Back to the drawing board...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chocolate Mint Cake

AKA my new favoritest cake ever.  I bulked up the recipe for That Chocolate Cake (added a bit more of all the ingredients except for the eggs - probably 1/8 extra since I was using two 9" square pans instead of two 9" rounds). Cake came out pretty big though, so you probably don't have to bulk it up, and just have thinner layers.

Stacey's Chocolate Mint "Favoritest Cake Ever" Ingredients:

That Minty Chocolate Cake
2c + 2 tbs sugar, organic
1c unbleached white flour, organic
1c whole wheat flour, organic
2 tbs cornstarch
3/4c + 1 tbs Scharffen-Berger unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/8 tsp salt
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 tsp baking soda

2 eggs, organic
1/2c + 1 tbs sunflower oil, organic
1c + 2 tbs whole milk
1c + 2tbs boiling water
2 tsp peppermint extract

That Amazing Mint Ganache Frosting 
10 oz El Rey white chocolate couverture
16 oz heavy cream, organic
1 oz Creme de Menthe liqueur, green
Few drops of peppermint oil

Chopped white chocolate, green mint chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips

2 - 9x9" cake pans
Parchment paper

First I preheated the oven to 350F and lined the cake pans with the parchment.  Then I put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and combined.  I added the eggs to the oil and beat a little bit with a fork.  Then I added the oil mixture and milk to the dry ingredients and stirred gently until just combined.  I poured in the boiling water and then stirred slowly until everything was combined.  Last, I added the peppermint extract.  I divided the batter evenly into the two cake pans and put them in the oven.  I baked the cakes for 30 minutes, rotating the pans once at the halfway point.

I let the cakes cool and then put them into the refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap to keep in the moisture.

Then I melted the white chocolate and heated the cream to about 100F.  I poured some of the cream into the white chocolate slowly, keeping the emulsion.  Then slowly added the rest of the cream, and stirred until it was blended.  I added the liqueur and the peppermint oil last, stirred, and put the mixture into the fridge.

Once the ganache was cold (it was thick, but still runny) I used my immersion blender with the whisk attachment to beat the frosting until it was fluffy and the consistency of whip cream.  Then I chopped the white, mint, and milk chocolate to create the topping.

I put the first layer of cake from one pan onto a plate and then spread the ganache onto that layer.


Then I placed the second layer of cake on top and used the ganache to cover the whole cake.

I sprinkled the chopped chocolate on top and then got small handfuls and threw it at the sides. 

We sliced up the cake and multiple people had seconds, which is pretty uncommon for dinner with my family.  

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but seriously, this was one of the best cakes I've ever had, and definitely the best one I've ever made.  Probably not the prettiest cake ever, but it was amazingly delicious.  Toot! :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Honey Citrus Cake (powdered milk)

I wanted to try out a recipe using powdered milk instead of real milk to see how it would come out.

Stacey's Honey Citrus Cake (with powdered milk) Ingredients:

1/4c nonfat powdered milk
1.5c unbleached white flour, organic
.5c whole wheat flour, organic
2 tbs cornstarch
3/4c sugar, organic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs
1/4c blood orange infused olive oil
1/4c nonfat yogurt, organic
1/4c key lime juice
1c hot water

~1/4c orange blossom honey

1 8x8" baking dish
1 loaf pan

First I preheated the oven to 350F.  Then, I mixed all the dry ingredients together.  I put the lime juice in the water and microwaved it until it was fairly warm (about 135F according to my temperature gun).  I mixed the other wet ingredients in another measuring cup and whisked it lightly with a fork.  I poured both containers of wet ingredients into the dry and stirred gently until combined with a silicone spatula.  It was too much batter for just the baking dish (planned, because I usually bring one to work and leave one at home for me and the boyfriend to consume later), so I poured the rest into the loaf pan.  It was sort of a thin layer in the loaf pan, but enough for us.  :)

I put them both in the oven and took the loaf pan out after about 20 minutes.  The baking dish took about 32 minutes, and I rotated them about halfway through.

Once the cake cooled a bit, I spread the honey on top while it was still warm so it could spread easily into a thin layer.

Here's a cut piece from the loaf pan: 

It feels a little denser than the other cakes (although not as dense/dry as the Buttermilk Ginger Rum Cake), but that could just be because I needed a bit more water.  I think it tastes pretty good - more like a bread than a cake, which I prefer.  Despite all the decadent stuff I make, I like things to be on the lighter side.  :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Buttermilk Ginger Rum Cake

I had some leftover cream cheese frosting and some buttermilk from a cake I made this weekend, but haven't posted yet.  Thought I'd see if I could make another cake to put it on.  This is a lighter recipe than most cakes / muffins, so it tastes a little less heavy and more like a bread.

Stacey's Buttermilk Ginger Rum Cake Ingredients:
2c unbleached white flour, organic
1/2c whole wheat flour, organic
1.5tbs cornstarch
3/4c sugar, organic
1tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda

2 eggs, organic
1/4c spiced rum
1/4c sunflower oil, organic (can use any kind of cooking oil)
1.5tbs fresh ginger
1/2c warm water
1.5c hot buttermilk (1%)

8x8" glass baking dish
Loaf pan

Stacey's Vanilla Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
2 pkgs cream cheese, organic (16 oz)
2 sticks butter, organic (8 oz)
1 tbs vanilla bean paste
1/3c maple syrup
4c confectioners sugar


First I preheated the oven to 350F.  Then I combined all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stirred till combined.  I grated the fresh ginger with a large rasp until I had the 1.5 tbs worth.  I put the ginger, rum, oil, and eggs into a 2c glass measuring cup and then whisked it a little with a fork.  I poured that onto the dry ingredients and stirred a bit - it seemed too dry to continue stirring (didn't want to create too much gluten). I measured out the buttermilk to heat it up in the microwave and then poured it over the mixture and continued stirring.  It seemed a little too thick - this is the lesson I've learned with cakes / breads: the thicker the batter, the less tender and light the cake is going to be. Unless most of the thickness comes from butter I suppose, which will melt.  Oil cakes tend to be much less dense.

I microwaved the 1/2 cup of water and added it to the batter and stirred it gently.  Now that it was the right consistency, I poured it into the baking dish and loaf pan until there was an even level in each - about 1.5" of batter.

I baked them both at the same time but the loaf was done in about 30 minutes (rotating once at the halfway point), and the baking dish was done in about 40 minutes.

I spread the leftover frosting on top of the cakes once they were cool.  Once I post the other recipe (it was for a red velvet experiment that ended up not very red), I'll give instructions for the frosting.


I love cream cheese frosting probably as much as I love chocolate. :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chocolate Nutty Buttercrunch

I think most people don't recognize there is a difference between buttercrunch and toffee.  I blame See's.  See's Victoria Toffee is actually buttercrunch, at least, according to Chocolates and Confections: Formula, Theory, and Technique for the Artisan Confectioner, which says that toffee has to have milk proteins in it.  As a result, "real" toffee sticks to your teeth, which is why I love buttercrunch.  It's crunchy, sweet, and rich, but doesn't hurt my old lady sensitive teeth.  I started with a recipe from the book, scaled it back a bit, and then added nuts to the buttercrunch portion.  The book recipe says to put the nuts on the chocolate, but I thought it would give the nuts a better chance at staying crunchy if they were inside the candy.

Stacey's Chocolate Nutty Buttercrunch Ingredients:
2 sticks (8 oz) salted butter, organic
1c sugar, organic
1.5 oz water
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
~1.5c mix of raw (untoasted) peanuts and pepitos (pumpkin seeds)

Guittard 64% dark chocolate
Guittard 38% milk chocolate

Cookie sheet with silicone mat on top

I put the butter, sugar, water and vanilla bean paste into a 4-qt. sauce pan and began heating it over medium flame.  Once it started to bubble, I stuck in the candy thermometer (it was probably around 212F) and put the nuts in.  This way the nuts get a chance to toast inside the candy.

I stirred gently and constantly until it got to 298F, at which point I poured the candy out onto the silicone mat on the cookie sheet. I let this cool to room temperature.


I tempered the milk chocolate for the first side.  It doesn't really matter - you can choose either chocolate to go first.  I spread it out with a spatula on the top side.  After it set, I peeled the buttercrunch off of the silicone mat, and turned it over. I tempered dark chocolate for the opposite side.  
Once the chocolate set, I was able to break it into delicious crunchy pieces.  
Take that See's.  :)


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lesson Learned: Frozen Cream != Truffle Making

In case anyone was curious, I performed an experiment.  And failed... or succeeded since now I know what happens?  Anyway, I learned that you cannot use defrosted heavy cream to make truffles.  While making the truffles, the cream seemed a little separate-y after I boiled it, but the end result truffle mixture looked as beautiful and glossy as ever when I placed the plastic wrap on top to let it set last night.  Unfortunately, when I tried to roll them this morning, I ended up with this:


There are tiny little spheres in the mixture.  At first I thought somehow the sugar from the chocolate had crystallized, and that maybe it would taste grainy.  But, strangely enough, these little spheres tasted like chocolate, and they melted in my mouth. The mixture tasted exactly as I had expected (I was making Maker's Mark Whiskey truffles), but the texture was just all off and too soft to be rolled. It actually is an interesting texture and would probably make for a nice unique frosting or spread. Okay, I'm off to try and figure out what to do with this stuff...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blueberry Cream Truffles

I made these a while ago, but I'm just getting around to posting the recipe now.  If you remember my Spring Boxes, they were in there.

Stacey's Blueberry Cream Truffle Ingredients 

5 oz cream
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
2 oz glucose
34 oz white chocolate
4 oz lemon juice
1.2 oz freeze dried blueberries, powdered (1 bag tj's)

Guittard 64% dark chocolate
toasted chopped almonds

These are made just like the Lemon Cream Truffles, but I ground up freeze dried blueberries with my mortar and pestle (like in the Strawberry Cream Crunchies recipe), and added that in with the truffle mixture at the same time as the cream and lemon juice.

Once the truffles had set the next day, I used my 1-1/8" scooper to scoop out truffle balls. 
Then I rolled these in the palms of my hands until they were smooth.
I prepared little piles of toasted almonds which I sliced.

I tempered dark chocolate and then used my spiral dipping utensil to dip the truffle balls into the dark chocolate.  Then, I placed them on the piles of almonds with my dipping utensil.


Yummy.  These were probably some of my favorite chocolates.  I always liked the blueberry chocolates at See's, but I always found them to be too sweet.  I'm pretty sure they use a sugar based / fondant filling.  Since these are made with white chocolate, they are much less sugary sweet with a much more subtle blueberry.  They were a lot of trouble, but I'd make these again, just so I could eat some.  :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Honey Ginger Citrus Cake

This was another creation stemming from the wonderful Flavor Bible. I can't even tell you how much I love this book.  I had some key limes, so I looked up limes to see what tastes good with them.  This is the recipe I came up with afterwards.  I also had a lovely orange blossom honey that I'd gotten from the Alemany Farmers' Market, so I wanted to use that too.

Stacey's Honey Ginger Citrus Cake Ingredients:
1.5c unbleached white flour, organic
1/2c whole wheat flour, organic
3/4c sugar, organic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1c almond milk
2 eggs, organic
1/4c blood orange infused olive oil (from Sigona's)
1/4c nonfat plain yogurt, organic
1/4c key lime juice
1 tbs grated fresh ginger

2 tbs orange blossom honey (finishing touch)

First, I preheated the oven to 350F and got out 2 glass loaf pans. I put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mixed.  I heated the almond milk in the microwave for 1-2 minutes until it was about 115F. I think it helps cakes if they're not so cold entering the oven.  I put the oil and the eggs together and whisked gently with a fork, then added the yogurt to it.  Then, I put the ginger into the lime juice.  Then, I put all the liquids (minus the honey) into the dry ingredients and mixed with a silicone spatula.  I poured even amounts into the 2 glass loaf pans and then put them into the oven.


I cooked them for about 35 minutes, rotating the pans 180 degrees about halfway through.  After taking them out of the oven, I let them cool for about 10 minutes before I poured a tablespoon of honey over each one, spreading the honey out into a thin layer.  This is easier to do when the cake is hot because the honey gets thinner and runs more easily along the surface.


Everyone at work seemed to love this cake, one person telling me it wasn't like anything he's ever tasted before.  I loved the smell of this cake - it was so fragrant: floral and citrusy. Go Flavor Bible, go! :)

Golden Beet Melange

Sometimes I like to try to make salty things. The Flavor Bible has been my best friend.  It lists out all the ingredients alphabetically, and all the other ingredients that go well with that listed ingredient.  Then, if you're like me and don't magically know what tastes good together, you can use this book to create things and cheat.

Stacey's Golden Beet Melange Ingredients:

2 golden beets (large)
2 carrots
1 red potato (large)
1 yellow onion
2 tbs butter
1/4-1/3c fresh mint, sliced into thin strips
salt & pepper to taste

First I peeled the beets, carrots, and the potato.  I cut them all into 1 inch cubes and threw them all in 4-qt pot of boiling water with a dash of salt for 10 minutes.  Then I poured it into a colander to drain them.

While that was boiling, I cut the onion in 1/2 and sliced across the grain lengthwise. I put the onions into a pan with the butter to caramelize it.  This took a bit of time - I had the drained beets, carrots and potatoes sitting in the warm pot, not over the flame.

As the onions were caramelizing, I sliced the mint.  Once the onions were done, I put the onion butter mixture into the beet mixture and add salt and pepper to taste. I put 1/2 the batch into a saute pan and cooked both over medium heat to slightly brown the edges. There was a bit too much to get it to brown at all in just the pot.  At the end, I added the mint and tossed until the mint was wilted.


The boyfriend and I really enjoyed this - the mint was a really nice surprising flavor that went well with everything else. I only had 1 potato left when I made this, but I might want to do two next time for better balance.  Boyfriend made this chicken with wonderful guajillo tomato sauce and giant corn based off of a recipe from the Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday cookbook.  But, since I was cooking, I didn't really pay attention to what he was doing... In any case, here's a picture of our complete dinner. :)


Yummy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Photo -> Pastel Drawing #2

Took this photo of a stray cat at a plant nursery in Tiburon. 

Thought I'd try doing a reproduction of it with Prismacolor pastels.  
Meh.  I always struggle with white colored things.  Makes it hard to highlight. 

Chocolate Dipped Maple Candied Walnuts

I wasn't very diligent about this recipe because I was sort of experimenting.  But, here's the gist of it.

Stacey's Chocolate Dipped Maple Candied Walnuts
~3c walnuts
~1c sugar, organic
~1/3c brown sugar, organic
~1/3c maple syrup
1/2 stick salted butter, organic
~2-3tsp cinnamon (it was a quick dash from the costco container)
~1/2tsp nutmeg (I used a whole nutmeg and a spice rasp until it looked like enough)

Chocolate for Dipping
~1/2lb to 1lb couverture El Rey chocolate (I didn't measure)

So first I threw the walnuts in boiling water for about 5 minutes and drained them.  This helps take the bitterness off the skins.  I drained them and threw them into a pot where I had the rest of the ingredients (minus the chocolate) waiting. I stirred the nuts over a flame until they reached about 250F.  At this point, the sugar started crystallizing in a weird way so I figured it was because the nuts were still wet.  I decided to finish them in the oven.  I spread them on a silicone mat on a cookie sheet and put them in a 275F oven for 10 minutes, then cranked the heat up to 300F for 18 more minutes.

End result looked like this:


I waited for the nuts to cool to about 100F and then I put them in a container to cool over night.  The next morning, I tempered some chocolate and threw about 3/4 of the prepared nuts in there. I gently stirred the nuts and chocolate until they were evenly coated.  Then I spread them out on the silicone mat and cookie sheet to dry.