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Monday, January 12, 2015

Chocolate Truffle Cake

Winter is "birthday/anniversary season" in our house.  It starts at the end of November, when Abby's birthday sometimes falls on Thanksgiving.  Our wedding anniversary is in mid December and my birthday is on Christmas.  Then we have daughters' birthdays just after New Year, on Valentine's Day and on the 2nd of March.  Bruce's birthday is mid-February and both of my parents birthdays, plus both of his siblings have birthdays in there as well.  So along with the REGULARLY SCHEDULED BIG HOLIDAYS,
we celebrate all of our birthdays from the end of November until March 2nd.  So I am posting dessert recipes as you all begin your New Year Resolutions to eat more healthy.  Sorry!!!  Save this for when you are not eating as healthy; like your summer birthday.

We get tired of birthday cake (really any sweets after the long holiday season) so I have fruit tart.  Some of us choose just ice cream and some pie.  Rachel chose to celebrate her birthday with this rich (once a year) Chocolate Truffle Cake.  It really is just a flourless cake.
It's easy to make and has only 5 ingredients; 6 if you count the raspberry sauce.

Don't skip the pan preparation or your cake will not come out......EVER.  I lent a pan once to a friend to make this cake and she returned it with dimples and dents all over the bottom of the pan after trying to bang the cake out with knife handles and who knows what else.  She never did get the cake out in one piece and I had to throw the pan away.  It was pretty amazing looking but so out of shape it was unusable.
I like to strain my eggs after beating them to remove the chalazae ( the little twisty white things that center the yolk in the shell).  They will ruin the smooth texture of the cake but you can leave them in if you want.
Your batter will be grainy at first ( like a brownie ) but keep whisking and the sugar will melt and 
the batter will become smooth like this after a bit.
Pour your batter into the pan and smooth the top.  I like to give the pan a few "whacks" on the counter to bring any air bubbles up to the surface before baking.  
Excuse the poor lighting.  It was dark!!! All of my photos need some better lighting.  You can put a candle in it for "The Birthday" (and you might want to center your cake a bit better than I did.
I serve this with a sauce made from my homegrown raspberries (albeit frozen at this time of year) and some unsweetened whipped cream.
You'll only need a small piece.  This is rich, flourless cake!

Chocolate Truffle Cake
8 ounces of dark sweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup of butter, room temperature and cut into tablespoons
1 ½ cups of granulated sugar
5 eggs, beaten until foamy

Ganache:
12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup of heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F.
Prepare an 8-inch cake pan.  Out of parchment paper, draw and cut a circle for the bottom of the pan.  Measure the sides of the pan and cut strips to completely cover the sides of the pan plus 1 inch for overlap.  Butter the bottom and sides of the pan lightly.  Push the strips against the side of the pan, overlapping the ends slightly.  Push the circle into the bottom and smooth it out.  Make sure the parchment strips and circle completely line the pan.

Cake:
Melt the chocolate and stir until smooth.  Remove from the heat and cool for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the butter, bit by bit; beat with a wire whisk until smooth and incorporated.  Add the sugar, beating 1 minute with the wire whisk.  Add the eggs and beat until the batter is well mixed.  Pour into the pan and set the pan into a slightly larger pan.  Pour hot water into the larger pan so it is about 1 inch deep. 
Bake for about 1 ½ hours until the cake is cooked through.  Cool for 1 hour.  The cake should fall in the middle. 
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Ganache:
Boil the cream and take it the pan off the heat.  Add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is melted.  Refrigerate it until it is spreadable.  I do this while the cake is cooling. 

Invert the cake onto a plate and remove the parchment.
Spread the ganache on top and sides of the cake and refrigerate it until serving.

Take the cake out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving and put a pool of raspberry sauce under a slice of drizzle some on top of a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.

Raspberry sauce (optional):
Put about 4 cups of raspberries (fresh or frozen) into a pan.  Add about ¼ cup of water.  Heat until boiling.  Cook for a few minutes and then strain through a mesh strainer, pushing the pulp through but leaving the seeds in the strainer. Discard seeds and add sugar as desired.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*This sauce is great over any cake and even poured over fresh fruit.  I serve it over breakfast grapefruit.





Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I have not blogged for a long while.
I have a good excuse.
I've been busy.

I can't post photos of it all, because I'd hate to give away all the Christmas surprises.

But my fingers have been flying; I have callouses to prove it.

Here are a few of the things I've been doing:

 Bleaching "once green" bottle brush trees.



 Nougat or Big Hunk...
Sadly, our last remaining large maple on our parkway had to be cut down.  The trees on our street date back to the 1930's and they are just dying.  You may remember a few years ago when a tree on our parking strip broke off at the trunk in a windstorm and buried two of our girls' cars that were parked under it.
The remaining tree had to go.  It was a sad day for us.
Next spring, we'll be planting new ones.
Can you believe it was the middle of December in this photo, taken last week from the front door?  The temperature hit the high 60's.
Where is our snow?????

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nougat...Big Hunk Copycat Candy

November and December have flown by...fast.

I did make some deliciously chewy and retro candy.  Did you eat Big Hunk candy as a child?  It was my favorite. If we were at a movie theater, it was the chosen treat.  Forget popcorn.  I could have that at home any time but a Big Hunk could be made to last the entire movie and then some.
I told my Mother I wanted to make it when I was about 10 years old.  I was convinced that all I needed was some flour and shortening right?  It was white after all.  Mom told me I couldn't make it but I was certain I could and bless her heart....she stood by and let me try.  Yeah...it didn't turn out so well.

Flash forward a few years years later to this week.  I got this great recipe from my daughter and made a batch of Big Hunk, or nougat, which is the correct name for this delightful candy from my childhood.
And it is delicious and surprisingly easy!  You'll need a candy thermometer to get just the right "chew".  And who would have guessed that it is actually made with marshmallow creme from a jar.
One batch made many, many pieces; which is good, because no one missed a few while they were being wrapped and there were still more than enough to go into the treat bags for the neighbor gifts.
So if you need a quick last minute treat before Christmas... make sure you have some MARSHMALLOW CREME on hand.  Shortening just won't work.  But then you knew that already.

Big Hunk Nougat

3 cups of dry roasted peanuts (about 18 oz.)                      
1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla
3 jars (7 oz. each) of marshmallow cream                        
6 tablespoons of butter
2 1/4 cups of light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 1/4 cups of sugar

Spray an 11 x 17-inch baking sheet (a half sheet tray) with non-stick spray; sprinkle it evenly with the peanuts and set aside.  Take a bit of the butter and grease a large bowl.  Place the marshmallow cream in the mixing bowl and set aside.  Combine the corn syrup and sugar in a saucepan and place over it over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil.
Place a lid on the pan and leave it for 2 to 3 minutes to wash any sugar crystals down into the pan. Remove the lid and add a candy thermometer to the pan.  Bring the syrup to a rolling boil and cook it
to 280 degrees (at sea level).  The syrup will make a soft crack sound when dropped into cold water and it should be firm but pliable when picked up with the fingers.  Adjust the temperature for your altitude.  At my altitude water boils at 202 degrees F. so I cook this syrup just until it reaches 270 degrees F.  Remove syrup from heat and allow to cool 2 minutes in the pan.  Pour the sugar syrup over the marshmallow cream.  Do not scrape the pan.
Add butter, vanilla and salt.  Fold all the ingredients together using a wooden spoon.  Pour the mixture over the peanuts and spread evenly on the prepared sheet.  
Allow nougat to stand at room temperature for 3 hours or until firm.  
Cut into bite-size pieces and wrap in wax paper or cellophane wrappers immediately.  If you let the candy sit without wrapping it may flatten and stick to the adjacent pieces.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Girl Mouse in a Flowery Dress!



Julie Williams' newest pattern.  I am working on the Boy Mouse now.  Julie always does a boy and a girl version of her patterns.  My girl is a little bit pudgy.  I am  loving her though.  I will be adding her to my basket of toys in the studio.






















Monday, November 10, 2014

Mouse Girl in a Flowery Dress

Those of you who check in here regularly may have noticed I am particularly fond of Julie Williams' (Little Cotton Rabbits) knitting patterns for stuffed toys.  I think they are the cutest toys out there and Julie's pattern instructions are meticulously written and her projects are photographed step by step.  

I was thrilled when Julie sent me an advance pattern of her newest creation the Mouse Girl.

I knit the Mouse Girl in a Flowery Dress up almost immediately after receiving the pattern.  
And is it ever cute!!!!  Look at that cute little pink tail and the shell ears.

Julie also has a Mouse Boy pattern as well.  I can't wait to get started on him too.
Go on over to her blog and check out her wonderful creations.