If you’ve read from this blog before, you most likely already know that I am NOT a baker. If I bake something, and it turns out, and I post it here, and I call it “my own” – you can rest assured that it is a fluke, a miracle, or a lie!
The exception, the fluke, if you will, is my carrot cake. I did “create” that. After making carrot cake after carrot cake over many years (and many years ago) I finally got a perfect carrot cake that I truly believe is the best you will ever have.
I do make a pretty mean cheesecake, but not because I’ve created anything new. But because I’ve discovered, while making many cheesecakes and by reading many other people’s opinions about cheesecake, and then stealing the best of their various ideas and putting them together, how to make a fool-proof cheesecake. My cheesecakes always turn out perfectly! For my three “must do” steps/tricks, go HERE.
Aside from that one cake and cheesecakes in general… I would no more be able to create a new and wonderful baked dessert than I would be able to take apart a car engine!
All that being said, I’ve found a woman, a blog, and a cookbook with pretty fantastic desserts! It’s called Sprinkle Bakes and I made the following Very Impressive, Very Beautifully Photographed, and Very Delicious cake from her very lovely blog for my cooking series last month.
In all honesty, I should just stop now and send you directly there. I’ve pared down her recipe to make it a bit more manageable, but I haven’t really changed it at all. Also, I should not post my photos, as they were taken with my iPhone at Les Gourmettes, in the rush of a cooking class for 16 students. Photos of food are not top priority in those moments. Cutting the cake and serving it to the lovely paying students, is! But I made the gorgeous decadent cake, so you shall suffer through my photos, then go over and see Sprinkle Bakes’ very professional photos and her very helpful step by step photos and be inspired and amazed!
Now, be prepared, not only is this cake a mouthful, so is the name of the cake!
On a quick side note: Congratulations to my friend, Larry Fitzgerald, who received a Man of the Year award yesterday. It is beyond well deserved. Now I wait for him to receive the overall NFL Man of the Year award when it is announced Super Bowl week. Fingers crossed. Larry lives up to his press, he truly is a wonderful man!
Oh, I almost forgot – Merry Christmas Eve! xoxo
December 24, 2012 1 Comment
One word about today’s gift from the kitchen. Bacon!
Almond, Chocolate, and Bacon Toffee to be exact. Yes, BACON in toffee!
It’s not something new. I didn’t dream it up. In fact, I’ve spoken of it before. I even made bacon peanut brittle just over a year ago. This year, I’ve decided to give the toffee a go at it.
You and your very lucky, and soon to be grateful, gift recipients will love it! Just be certain to chop your crispy cooked bacon fine … into little bitty pieces. I left mine a bit to big and although I still love that batch of toffee, it is better chopped more fine, as I discovered on my second batch.
On the tenth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me:
Tins of Bacon Toffee
Rum Glazed Eggnog Bread
Fennel Cured Salmon
Spicy Guinness Mustard
Two Jars of Mustard
Pumpkin Pie Spice
Homemade Kahlua Liqueur
Lemon-Sugar Hand Scrub
Cranberry Citrus Vodka
and a bottle of Tomato Dust
Silvered almonds are used in the recipe. You can find untoasted silvered almond and toasted slivered almonds at Trader Joe’s. You will need toasted almonds.
To toast the untoasted almonds; place nuts on a dry baking sheet and into a 350 degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times until nicely browned. That’s it, now you have toasted slivered almonds and you are ready to make your delicious toffee.
December 9, 2012 1 Comment
Today is Dave’s birthday. Connor came home from school for the weekend and HE, not I, made Dave’s birthday cake! All I did was take the action photos. Dave’s cake of choice is always his Auntie B’s Chocolate Cake. My mother-in-law sent me the recipe even before we were married so that I could make it for her boy who had moved so far from home.
Dave remembers the anticipation of The Beloved Cake when he would see a measuring cup full of milk, covered with a towel, sitting near the heater under the front picture window of his childhood home. You see, the recipe calls for sour milk. That old method of souring milk is no longer recommended since milk that is soured naturally may contain toxins. A safer, quicker, and much easier way to sour milk is to add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of 2% or whole milk and leave it sit on a counter for 15 minutes before using. All that being said, everyone in Dave’s family is healthy and happy after consuming many of Auntie B’s cakes that were made with naturally soured milk.
Happy Birthday, Dave! xoxo
October 6, 2012 5 Comments
This post should be called “Surprise Me Thursday – Part 4″ except we didn’t make this dessert on Thursday. No, we made it to serve 24 at our Teen Week graduation lunch on Friday. Although, I did find it on Pinterest… and originally I had planned to make it on a Thursday. Until, one of the students wrote down “Red Velvet Cake” on their menu suggestion card (which I have the teens fill out on Monday mornings), and I thought, “Hey this is the perfect opportunity to make those cute mason jar cakes I see daily all over Pinterest.” Two birds – One stone.
These are so delightful and oh so delectable, that they are now my “go to” party dessert!
By the way, we made the recipe twice to get 24 jar. You may double the frosting but don’t try to double the cake portion… instead, make two separate batches.
June 23, 2012 3 Comments
I don’t know what my record high is for the number of photos in one post, but this may top them all. Why would such a sweet, innocent, plain-Jane-looking, and in fact, angelic cake need so many (14) descriptive pictures? Because when we’re talking about angel food cake, we’re talking all about the “Incredible Edible Egg.”
Eggs truly are incredible! Perfection in a shell. Magical, if you will. They are the workhorse of the kitchen, providing the strength to bind ingredients, the power to rise and puff souffles, and the delicacy to act as the wings of an angel food cake. Simple egg whites whipping up into soft, fluffy, light as air, clouds of creamy goodness.
Egg whites are mostly protein and have no fat. When whipped, they hold air and their volume increases by up to 7 times. When whipping whites, what you are looking for is “peaks”. With soft peaks the bubbles are a little more pronounced, and when you remove the beating whisk, the peaks tip over. Stiff peaks stand up straight when you remove the whisk. Egg whites whipped to this stage are used in meringues and cakes when sugar is added.
Plus, once the sugar is added, you won’t need to worry about over-beating, and the meringue can be whipped almost indefinitely… but only once the sugar is in there, otherwise it is quite easy to over-beat the whites. They will become dry and separate into clumps. Once that happens – they are ruined.
A most important note: Egg whites simply will not whip in the presence of fat. Egg yolks contain all the fat in an egg, so if you drop a little bit of yolk into your whites, carefully remove it by scooping with a bit of egg shell, this works because the shell attracts the yolk (same is true if egg shell gets into your cracked egg -shell also attracts to shell). If there is more than a drop of yolk in the whites, just toss that egg out and start over. And always whip with a sparkling clean whisk and bowl.
Ironically, fresh cold eggs are easiest to separate but older room temperature eggs whip quicker and can achieve a bit more volume. Personally, I separate my eggs when they are cold and don’t worry about how fresh they are or even wait for them to come to room temperature, it is what it is!
The reason recipes often call for cream of tartar or lemon juice is because acid makes beaten whites more stable.
And the reason angel food cakes are inverted as they are cooling, is because this cooling method keeps the cake from collapsing or deflating once it is removed from the oven. (I think my photo of the cake inverted on a wine bottle looks like a table lamp… but maybe that’s just me.)
Hopefully all this is more than you ever wanted or needed to know about the wonderful egg - now on to the main attraction – The Cake!
Oh wait, one more thing… real quick… I had to make a cake ahead of time, then the kids made the cake in class. They frosted my cake and tomorrow I will show you what we did with the cake they made – Oh my word, you will L-O-V-E IT!
June 20, 2012 6 Comments
Today’s quick, easy, fun, and delicious recipe comes from my fun adventure-friend, Sheila. You remember Sheila – she and I went on that wild and crazy trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Flea Market, back in March. Yes, that Sheila!
The two of us were at Sweet Salvage on Thursday evening (if you are keeping track, it is true, I went twice in one day) and then out to dinner at the new NoRTH Arcadia on 40th Street. Shelia was telling me about a menu she had recently made for a group of women she gets together with monthly – and when she mentioned this cannoli take-off, I begged for the recipe. I didn’t really have to beg, she graciously agreed to send it to me. She doesn’t remember where she found it, but assured me that it tasted just like real cannoli. Wow, was she ever right – You will love it! Thank you, sweet Sheila!
Note: Next time I will add a little orange zest to the ricotta mixture. I’ve already edited the recipe below to reflect that addition.
April 23, 2012 4 Comments
Today we are making cupcakes, but first we need to start with a cocktail…. Did you know that the Irish Car Bomb is one of the most popular drinks in the world? Do you know what is in an Irish Car Bomb?
Irish Car Bomb
1/2 shot Bailey’s Irish cream
1/2 shot premium Irish whiskey
3/4 pint Guinness stout
Layer the Bailey’s and then the Irish whiskey in a shot glass. Pour the Guinness into a pint glass or beer mug 3/4 of the way full and let settle. Drop the shot glass into the Guinness and chug. Serves 1
Supposedly it is delicious- unless you don’t drink it quickly – then it will curdle and increasingly taste worse and worse. I wouldn’t know, I do not care for stout beer. One thing I do know is that if you take those three liquors and turn them into a cupcakes … WOW! The very best cupcakes I’ve had in a long long time. And positively PERFECT for St. Patrick’s Day!
March 9, 2012 2 Comments
My technical issues have been resolved. My lovely webmasters have “increased my quota” – whatever that is. What it means to me is that I can get back to blogging and posting photos to go along with my recipes. Thank you webmasters, you are the best!
I am going to be completely honest and straight forward with you about this recipe… it is NOT “easy-breezy”. In fact, it’s a big pain in the backside. Kinda makes you want to tackle it, doesn’t it?
No?!? Come on, a challenge is a good thing! The cookie dough is the problem. Well not a problem exactly, it is just a tad soft and not exactly easy to work with. But, I think it’s worth it. These are tasty little treats and besides, all the pictures I am providing you with demonstrating the caramel making process will make it all worth it! Now Keep Reading!
The cookie sandwiches were the dessert for the wedding shower cooking class I taught last weekend, and the same ingredients served as the makings for a Valentine’s tart for my sweetheart.
To transform the cookie recipe into a tart; spray a tart pan with Pam, line it with the rolled out cookie dough, refrigerate for 15 minutes and then bake the crust for 10 minutes at 325 degrees. Let it cool, fill it with the caramel. Make some ganache, top the tart with the warm ganache and refrigerate until firm. Finally, sprinkle the top with a little sea salt, just before serving. The tart is a whole lot easier than rolling and cutting out all those cookies! But cookies are what I first made, so a cookie recipe is what I have for you today.
February 16, 2012 3 Comments
I am finally letting my subscription to Family Fun magazine run out. I’ve been in denial for …oh, let’s say the past 8 years, that my family status (meaning the ages of my two remarkable and incredibly talented children) has long passed the prime target audience of this great magazine. Kinda like a 25 year old still subscribing to Seventeen Magazine… it’s just sad!
But, if YOU happen to have young kids or grand-kids, you NEED to get this magazine! There are SO many great ideas for crafts, vacations, recipes, backyard fun, parties, and on and on and on! But since my “kids” are 20 and nearly 24 – it is seriously time for me to let it go.
As a matter of fact, Family Fun was born the same year as Connor – founded in 1991 by Disney and it is the country’s number one magazine for families with children ages 3-12, with more than 2 millions subscribers. Now, if one of my two were to get married and have a child (BIG HEADS UP…that is the “right” order – BTW!) then, I will immediately re-subscribe! Until then, I shall reminisce with a couple of my favorite Halloween ideas taken directly from the pages of my beloved Family Fun…. Oh yeah, and here are my truly awful photos from when I could not remember how my own camera worked at 4 AM… yeah, good times!
October 15, 2011 5 Comments
I was searching for something sweet and quick to put together today for not only this post but to bring along to a lunch date I have this afternoon. I’m meeting up with my kids’ 1st grade teacher and her daughter and two granddaughters. We’ve stayed in touch all these years later, thanks in part to Facebook and this blog. Mrs. Tunheim (Ginger, to me) was both Marissa and Connor’s favorite teacher. In fact, Connor had her three times; 1st grade, 3rd grade, and during high school he went back and was a teacher’s aide in her class for a semester… yup we all love Mrs. T! Her beautiful daughter, Kim, assisted me one summer of cooking classes back when she was a single college girl. Kim is now married with two adorable little girls of her own, so I’m bringing along these sweets to share with them.
I also want to take this opportunity to extend exuberant, hearty, and heartfelt congratulations to my friend and colleague, Gwen Walters and her wonderful Pen & Fork, for winning Best Food Blog 2011 award given by Phoenix New Times! Yay Gwen!!! You can always check out Pen & Fork by just clicking on the link over there on the right side of this very page… it is AWESOME!
September 29, 2011 3 Comments