July 6, 2015

Whiskey Cake

Whiskey isn't my alcohol of choice, but it is for my close friend as well as my brother-in-law. I'm not opposed to it, and I like to incorporate it into baked goods. This one-bowl cake from How Sweet It Is seemed like an easy and delicious cake to make.

My frosting/ganache didn't set right, so I'm not sure if I slightly goofed my measurements there. And I ended up with quite a bit extra, which was delicious right over the spoon and darn tasty spread warm over vanilla ice cream.The ganache is a solid idea worth repeating.

The cake itself didn't wow me, although I liked the pieces of chocolate melted into the cake. Probably not a repeat for us, as there are other whiskey recipes like Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes or Honey Whiskey Cupcakes that take the cake, so to speak.

Whiskey Cake
1/2 cup hot coffee
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp.
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate. chopped 
Ganache Frosting
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Irish cream liquor

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8x8 inch pan with butter, and set aside. In a measuring cup, whisk the hot coffee and butter until the butter melts, and then set it aside until ready to use.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, whiskey and vanilla. Stir in the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt. Once it's about halfway mixed, pour in the coffee/butter mixture, and stir until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Pour the batter into the greased pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is just set in the middle. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the heavy cream and Irish cream in a small saucepan over low heat until it just bubbles around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir continuously until the chocolate melts into the cream and comes together. Let sit for one hour at room temperature, and then spread the ganache all over the cake. (You could probably halve the ganache recipe, plan to have extra left over (which is a good thing) or have a frosting layer that's extremely thick.) Makes an 8 x 8 cake.

June 30, 2015

Tex-Mex Cobb Salad

In an effort to balance the tremendous sweet tooth I possess, I was happy to find this salad on Foodie with Family. It's a great combination of flavors, and I've made a riff of it several times already this summer. It's fun to make a nice spread on a plate like she did, but it works just as well to toss everything into a salad bowl if need be.

This will continue to be a repeat, although I love it much more than my husband who protests many of the ingredients and had a rather boring salad. (Ignore the really poor quality photo. Check out the original post for pretty photos.)

Tex-Mex Cobb Salad
1 fresh ear of corn cut from the cob, or 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 heart of romaine lettuce, cored, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup fully cooked (canned or homemade) black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes or chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup black olives, drained
1 cup pulled pork or chicken
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cheese
1 avocado, cubed and sprinkled with lime juice to prevent browning
1 fresh lime, cut into wedges
1 cup Fritos

Place a cast-iron skillet over high heat, and let it get hot enough for water to skip over the surface when sprinkled on the pan. Add the corn and a generous pinch of salt, and stir. Let the corn dry fry in the pan for three minutes, or until the corn is fragrant, has released some liquid and has some golden brown spots. Transfer the corn to a plate to cool.

On a large serving platter, arrange the romaine lettuce. Arrange the remaining ingredients on top of the lettuce in strips. Scatter lime wedges over the salad, and serve with Fritos. Makes 4 entree-sized salads.

Dark Chocolate Key Lime Truffles

I've mentioned before how key lime pie became a favorite for me and my husband while on vacation in Florida. Not that we (I) ate a giant key lime pie milkshake for breakfast one morning (shortly after eating Dunkin' Donuts. How were we supposed to know we'd find milkshakes that morning at a fruit stand?)

So this recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction obviously caught my eye because not only was it key lime, but it also involved truffles and dark chocolate rather than the white that is usually associated with key lime. These little gems are good. There's a bit of a process that Sally uses, which results in truly creamy truffles. I didn't snap any pictures because I wasn't completely in love at first and then ate them all without pictures. Worth a repeat adventure, although no promises on photos then either.

Dark Chocolate Key Lime Truffles
3/4 cup heavy cream
zest of 2 limes
14 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
18 oz. bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 green candy melts

Heat the cream and lime zest in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir it until the mixture barely comes to a boil. Remove from heat, and allow the lime flavor infuse into the cream for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the chopped white chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. Add the lime juice and butter to the bowl. Do not stir yet. Set aside.

After 30 minutes, place the lime-infused cream back over heat until it barely begins simmering again. Remove from heat, and strain it through a mesh sieve into the white chocolate to remove the zest. Gently begin stirring the white chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula in one direction. Do not forcefully stir it. Use gentle, circular motions. Once all of the white chocolate is completely smooth, cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed on the top of the ganache filling. Let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour, and then transfer to the refrigerator for 5-6 more hours or overnight.

After chilling, the ganache filling will be smooth and a little soft, but still manageable.Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside. Make sure you have enough room in your refrigerator for the baking sheets because the truffles must chill after being rolled in the next step.

Measure 1 teaspoon of ganache filling, and roll between your hands into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet.(Keep wiping your hands on a paper towel or rinsing/drying them because clean hands work best for rolling the sticky stuff.)  Repeat rolling remaining truffles. Refrigerate the truffles as you melt the chocolate coating.

Place the bittersweet chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. Melt in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring after each increment until completely melted and smooth. Let the warm chocolate sit for 5 minutes to slightly cool before dipping.

Remove truffles from the refrigerator, and begin dipping into the chocolate. Place the dipped truffles back onto the baking sheets.  Melt the white chocolate and candy melts (if using) together using 30-second intervals. Using a fork or a squeeze bottle, drizzle over the truffles. Allow truffles to set at room temperature for at least 1 hour or chill for 30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator during warmer months, but serve at room temperature. Makes about 60 small truffles.

June 26, 2015

Twix Brownies

These brownies from Bake at 350 looked to be darn near perfect, although they have no peanut butter. The layers of goodness intrigued me, so they went on the to-do list for the booyah we're going to tomorrow. My tastes have changed since I was a little girl who turned down Twix because of the cookie bar. I've learned to like a lot more chocolate and candies through the years, although I still can't handle crunch or crisp.

These brownies are amazing! They might be one of my favorite brownies, ever, which is quite the statement. They are worth every bit of work. 

I had never used the caramel bits before, but I'm quite happy to have a partial bag left to play with. I could see these little guys being fun for lots of baking projects.

Twix Brownies
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs
1 cup  flour
17 (store-bought) shortbread cookies
Caramel Layer
1 (11 oz.) bag + 1/3 cup caramel bits
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9x13” pan.

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in sugars, and heat while stirring until hot to touch, but not bubbling. Remove pan from heat, and whisk in cocoa powder, vanilla, salt and baking powder. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Stir in flour.

Spread evenly in prepared pan, and bake for 25 minutes. Meanwhile, make caramel. Over medium-low heat, melt caramel bits and evaporated milk together, stirring frequently.

After 25 minutes, remove brownies from oven, and top with the cookies, pressing down slightly. Some brownie will still remain visible. Pour caramel sauce evenly over cookies. Return to oven, and bake for 5 more minutes.

Remove brownies from the oven, place on a wire rack and let cool completely in pan.

Once cooled, make the ganache by heating the cream to a simmer. Pour cream over chocolate chips, and let stand 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, slowly stir chocolate and cream until combined and thickened. Pour over  cooled brownies, using an offset spatula to smooth. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting. (I found they cut best after some time in the freezer to peel off the foil.)

Store brownies in refrigerator. Cut into 24 bars using a sturdy knife with up/down motions.

Oreo Brownies

Apparently I'm in the mood for brownies since I've bookmarked a couple brownie recipes over the past few weeks. These from Cookies and Cups caught my eye because my husband loves Oreos. Don't be fazed by my orange Oreos ... they might have been purchased on clearance and tossed in my freezer. (Don't judge me for my 50 cent Oreos. There's enough preservatives I'm sure they'd still be edible this upcoming Halloween.)

I wasn't expecting to be wowed by these, but I was. I've eaten two of the corner pieces already, even though they're for a party tomorrow. (It's OK, I have a second batch of brownies baking as well, so no one will notice a few missing.) They are definitely a repeat recipe!

Oreo Brownies
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt
11/2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
25 Oreo cookies coarsely chopped

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line 9x13 pan with foil, and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add in salt and the cocoa powder, and mix on medium until combined, 30 seconds to a minute. Turn the mixer to low, and add in the flour until incorporated.

Spread half of the batter into pan. Top with the Oreos,  and spread the remaining batter on top. Bake 35-40 minutes until center is almost set. Cool completely before cutting. Makes 24 brownies.