Several weeks ago, I offered to bring the cake for our November birthday celebration at work. All of the birthday kids requested chocolate, so when I saw this cake I had to try it.
Our celebration was scheduled for just a couple of days after I returned from vacation, so I made the cakes and the frosting before I left and just put them in the freezer. Upon my return, I made the peanut brittle and chocolate ganache, assembled the cake (except for the peanut brittle; I was saving that for the last minute).
When I got to work with the cake, I discovered that our celebration had been slipped a couple of weeks, so I gave the cake a second layer of plastic wrap and popped it in the freezer. I knew the brittle would keep and the cake and frosting had already been frozen. My only concern was the ganache, and I'm happy to say it turned out fine. I moved it to the refrigerator 24 hours in advance and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour (added the peanut brittle at this point) before serving. It's so dense that it was still very well chilled.
The recipes for all the components are listed below. To assemble the finished product, frost the frozen cake layers. Let sit in the fridge until ready for the ganache. Pour ganache (that's not hot) over the center of the cake and help it to the edges and over the side. Place in fridge to set. Just before serving, stick in peanut brittle pieces.
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake This is now my "go to" chocolate cake! It's that good.
1 1/4 c. sour cream
1 1/4 vegetable oil
1 3/4 c. water
2 1/2 T white vinegar
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
3 c. sugar
1 c. dutch process cocoa powder
1 T baking soda
1 t. salt
Grease and flour three 9" round cake pans. (I also line the bottom with parchment paper - no risk of anything sticking that way.) Preheat oven at 350. Whisk together wet ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and stir until smooth. Divide batter evenly into the three pans. Bake for 40-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze until ready to frost. Store the wrapped cake in the pan while frozen to keep it flat and to protect it from damage.
Cream the cream cheese and peanut butter. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time and blend until smooth. Store in ziploc bag in fridge or freezer until ready to frost cake.
Peanut Brittle(This makes about twice as much as you'll need for the cake)
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 T. butter
1/2 t. salt
1 c. raw spanish peanuts
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. baking soda
In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine sugar, water, corn syrup, butter, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 290 degrees. Stir in peanuts, cook stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 300. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and baking soda. Quickly spread mixture on large greased baking sheet. Cool, break into pieces, and store in airtight container.
1 c. Ghiradelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 T. vanilla
2 T. ligh corn syrup
Melt all ingredients over a double boiler until smooth. Cool, until close to room temp (so you won't melt the frosting), but still runny enough to frost the top and run down the sides.
My first soufflé! OMG! It was amazing. When it came out of the oven, the crusty top was tilted and a good 3 or 4 inches above the top of the dish. After snapping a few photos during the process, the battery in my camera chose that minute, the grand finale, to die. Silly me, rather than immediately grab my cell phone to get a photo, I took the battery out and put it in the charger before that Plan B occurred to me. It lost a bit of volume during that 5 minutes, but the texture was still light and fluffy.
This is another "recipe for one," but you could make multiple individual soufflés by increasing the ingredients. Any straight-sided, oven-safe dish with 2 cup capacity will work for a single serving. To make a large one to serve many, you will need to increase the baking time.
Variations: you may add 3 T. of finely chopped cooked green vegetables, sautéed mushrooms, or minced ham, in which case reduce the 1/3 c. of cheese to 1 T.
Source: Judith Jones, O Magazine, October 2009
2 1/2 t. butter
1 T. grated Parmesan
1 T. flour
1/3 c. milk
large pinch of salt
small pinch of paprika
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites
1/3 c. grated cheese such as Cheddar or Swiss, tightly packed
Smear 1/2 t. softened butter around inside of a soufflé dish, and sprinkle grated Parmesan over it. (I only had shredded Parmesan, so I put it in the food processor for a couple of minutes). Preheat oven to 425.
Melt 2 t. butter in a small saucepan, and stir in flour. Let cook over low heat for a minute, then remove from heat. Pour in milk (I used skim), whisking vigorously, and return to medium-low heat to simmer for a minute, stirring constantly as the sauce thickens. (I didn't notice a lot of thickening). Season with salt and paprika (I used a generous sprinkle of paprika, after all, paprika is my new favorite potato chip flavor). Remove from heat, and whisk in egg yolk.
Put egg whites in a very clean bowl and beat until they form soft peaks. Add a dollop egg whites to saucepan, and mix in along with about half of grated cheese (I used Sargento Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar). Fold in remaining egg whites and cheese; transfer everything to the prepared dish. Place dish on a baking sheet, and set it in the middle of the oven.
Turn heat down to 375, and bake 18 minutes, until soufflé has risen and top is lightly browned. (I took mine out after 18 minutes, and I was afraid that it might not be done. I don't like undercooked eggs, but it wasn't a problem. The fluffy eggs were definitely set and no longer wet. I think it might have been the appearance of the melted cheese that made me think it wasn't quite done. Trust the timer.)
As prepared with skim milk and reduced fat cheddar cheese, 12 WW points per serving.
Another "dish for one" from Julia Child's editor. She created this while working late one night on a cookbook manuscript when Julia said, "You make a nice little potato dish while I fix the meat."
My camera battery died, so this is from my cell phone. Let me be the first to say that I need a perfectly seasoned 4.5 inch cast iron pan and a food stylist. Even though mine don't look quite as nice, the flavor is great, reminiscent of the potatoes at DJ's Oyster Bar in Tampa.
Source: Judith Jones, O Magazine, October 2009
2 new potatoes, 6 oz.
4 tsp. butter
Peel potatoes, and slice very thin, 1/8 inch. Peel and mince garlic, than mash it with a generous pinch of salt, with the flat side of a large knife until it is a paste. (I used a mortar and pestle.) Work in about 1/2 t. butter.
Heat 2 t. butter in a small pan (4.5 inch cast iron or other small frying pan) over medium-low heat; lay in half of the potato slices, overlapping slight, to fill the bottom. Lightly salt and pepper, and smear garlic paste on top. Add rest of potatoes to make a second layer, again overlapping.
Cook, setting a small cover askew on top of pan. After about 8 minutes, turn potatoes, which should be brown on the bottom, by setting a sturdy plate on top of pan and flipping them over onto it. Heat rest of butter in pan, then slide potatoes back in and arrange them as neatly as you can. Cook semi-covered for 5 minutes, and uncovered for a couple more minutes, at which point they should be done and browned, both top and bottom. (I had to cook a little longer on both sides and increase the heat just a bit).
Slide them onto a plate and serve with salt and pepper.
I mentioned in a recent post that I missed cooking while I'd been traveling lately. The upside, of that time out of the kitchen, was the chance to do some reading. In addition to reading Julia Child's book about her life in France, I found a bunch of "recipes for one" by Julia's editor, Judith Jones. This is the only one I've made so far, but it was SO tasty, that I will definitely give some of the others a try.
Source: Judith Jones, O Magazine, October 2009
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. grated fresh ginger
1 pork tenderloin, about 3/4 lb.
3/4 lb. vegetables such as winter squash or root vegetables
1 t. olive oil
Finely chop the garlic, then add 1 t. salt and mash together. Smear mustard, mashed garlic, and ginger all over pork, and pepper generously. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 8, until ready to cook.
Preheat oven to 375, and place tenderloin in the middle of a baking dish. Rub vegetables with olive oil and season with 1/8 t. salt. Scatter the veggies around the pork in baking dish. Roast 30-45 minutes (or until thermometer inserted in pork reads 155). Remove meat and let it rest 5 - 10 minutes before slicing. If the vegetables aren't quite done, let them continue to bake while the pork is resting.
Yields 2 - 3 servings. Since these are recipes for one, Judith suggests that leftover pork be used to make a red flannel hash.
(I may try mixing all of the ingredients that go on the pork together next time. I found it difficult to smear the ginger on its own. I think watching the temp and not over cooking was key to the success of the recipe. The meat was so tender and moist, and it picked up wonderful, subtle flavors from the mustard, garlic, and ginger.)
I found this recipe in a magazine and loved the idea of cornmeal in a cookie, and the lemon zest makes the dough smell fantastic!
Adapted from: More Magazine November 2009
2 c. flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
1/2 t. coarse salt
10 T. butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
2 t. lemon zest
3 egg yolks
1/2 t. vanilla
4 T. black currant jam (I used huckleberry preserves)
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt. In another bowl, cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest until fluffy. Beat in yolks, add vanilla. Add flour mixture. Mix until no flour pockets remain. (I had trouble incorporating all of the dry ingredients and had to sprinkle a small amount of water on the dough to work it all in.)
Shape rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 1 inch apart on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes. Use a thumb or the end of a wooden spoon to make an indentation in each cookie. (I used a Pampered Chef tool.) The edges will crack when the indentations are made. Bake 5 more minutes.
While the cookies are still warm, fill the centers with jam. Transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Makes 28 cookies.
I've eaten brussel sprouts in the past, but I can't say I've enjoyed them. Lately, I've come across so many food blogs with recipes for roasted brussels sprouts. The bloggers describe the wonderful carmelization, texture, and flavor, so when I found this stalk of sprouts in the produce section, I just had to give it a try. I'm glad I did. In addition to the cabbage-like undertones, they take on a nutty, sweetness.
Brussel sprouts, ends trimmed and yellow or tough outer leaves removed
1 T. olive oil (I went easy on the oil, thinking of the WW points; it might be better with a little more)
1 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. black pepper, heaping (next time I think I'll use a level 1/4 t. of black pepper and add the tiniest little sprinkle of cayenne)
Preheat oven to 400. Slice the sprouts in half lengthwise. Toss with oil, salt and pepper in a baking pan. I used my large cast iron frying pan. Bake 30 minutes or until well browned, shaking the pan (or use a spatula if necessary) two or three times during baking to stir the sprouts a bit.
It's so nice to be in the kitchen again. I've been traveling and dining out a lot, and as enjoyable as that is, I've missed cooking and blogging about it.
My daughter made these over the summer, and now that she's away at school, they are the cookies she requested in her "care package." You can't beat this combination of flavors - hazelnut, chocolate, and toffee. I'm making a double batch. Some will go off to college; some will go into the freezer. Holiday baking has begun.
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
4 ounces English toffee, finely chopped, crushed Health or Skor bars will work if you can't find a bag of toffee bits
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped
12 ounce chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325. Grind oats in a food processor. Transfer oats to a bowl and add flour, baking powder & soda, and salt. In another bowl. cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Add dry ingredients; mixing until combined. Add toffee, nuts, and chocolate chips; stirring until evenly distributed.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. I am a huge fan of parchment. It makes pans easy to clean, and nothing ever sticks! Place teaspoons of dough two inches apart on parchment covered baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes. Cool on pan 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely on a rack.
We were in search of pierogi and the sign painted in the window pulled us in. There are several Pancake Square locations; we visited the one near our hotel and the Stary Browar Mall. My husband very aptly nicknamed it The Waffle House. This was probably the most "real" of the restaurants where we dined. Many of the others were very nice, special occasion places, likely to be visited by tourists or people in town on business. Unlike the other restaurants, the staff did not speak English, but they were able to offer us an English menu. Most of the seating was at a counter; many patrons were alone, grabbing a bite on their way to or from work. We had Russian Pierogi on two visits. The dumplings are served with sauerkraut and mushrooms. I'm usually not a big kraut fan, but this was so much better than what you buy in the states, not nearly so vinegary.
We also tried the chocolate banana pancake. It was delicious and at 6 PLN, about $2.20 quite a bargain!
We enjoyed a great meal at Morena, Wiener Str. 60. 10999, while visiting Berlin.
There's a Spanish theme to the decor and some of the menu items, but we ordered German food.
This is part of the Apple Pie Tour 2009. Bite size pieces of German pancake served with an applesauce.
The food was excellent. It was a great evening, due in no small part to the fact that our friend lives in the neighborhood and is fluent in German, although the staff was kind enough to speak English to us when they could.