Search This Blog

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Death by Chocolate Cake

For Mother's Day my Mom, the best Mom in the World, requested a chocolate ganache cake.
Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Mix together:
1 and 2/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Mix together:
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
Make a well in the flour sugar cocoa mix.  Add wet ingredients.  Mix well.  Bake 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Makes 2x 8" or 9" pans.
I did a Chocolate Buttermilk cake with Chocolate ganache filling, chocolate glaze and chocolate curls.

Chocolate Ganache filling
1 cup whipped cream, briefly bring to a boil.  Use hot cream to melt 1/2 cup shaved semi-sweet chocolate.  Refridgerate until cold.  Whip.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze
1 cup heavy whipped cream, briefly bring to a boil.  Use to hot cream to melt 2 cups of shaved semi-sweet chocolate.  Pour over the top of the cake and refidgerate until hardened.
Chocolate Curls
3 ounces of chocolate
1 Tbs shortening
Microwave 30 seconds at a time and stir until smooth.  Pour over the bottom of a metal cookie sheet.  Spread out in a thin sheet and stick the pan in the freezer.  When cold enough scrape with a metal spatual and the chocolate "should" curl.  If it crumbles it is too cold and wait a  minute for it to warm up more.  If it scrapes off and does not curl, put it back in the freezer for a minute and try again.  Store successful curls in a bag in the freezer until ready to stick on the side of the cake.

This is my Mother's Day card I made.  I felt like being crafty with construction paper, scissors, and glue.
I love my Mommy so much.

Rainbow Flowers Cake

This is my final in Cake Flower Decorating class.

 I think I have an obsession with butterflies.  These are my sister's butterfly wedding cupcakes.
 My sister's ice cream wedding cake.
 My Tiger Swallowtail butterfly tea pot cake with mini cupcakes.

I also have a few butterfly T-shirts.  A book on how to identify North American Butterflies.  Butterfly notebooks.  Butterfly bookmarks.  I guess there are worse things to obsess over.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs are my go-to fancy dessert that I think is easy.

Cream Puff or Eclair.  Cream Puffs are round, Eclairs are elongated.
Mix together 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup cornstarch.
Boil 2 cups water and 1 stick of butter + 2 Tbs (10 Tbs butter total)
When the water-butter is at a full boil add the flour/cornstarch and turn off the heat.  Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth then add 6 eggs one at a time mixing them in completely before adding the next egg.  Stir until the mixture is smooth.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon out cream buffs.  I use an ice cream scoop.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool.

Pastry Cream - Not so easy.
3 egg yolks, beaten.
Mix together in a medium sauce pan until dissolved:  2 cups milk,  1/8 tsp salt,  2 and 1/2 Tbs cornstarch,  3/4 cup sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Add a few spoonfuls at a time of the milk mixture to the egg yolks so they don't scramble.  Add the egg yolks to the milk mixture.  Stir that all together and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and add 2 Tbs butter and 1 tsp vanilla for flavor.  Refrigerate.  Cover with plastic wrap so the wrap touches the top of the cream to keep it from forming a skin on the top.  It takes a few hours to cool.

When cool, fill the Cream Puffs with Pastry Cream.  You can do this a couple of ways:
1 - Fill a pipping bag or plastic bag with Cream. Using any metal tip, insert into the puff and squeeze some pastry cream into the puff until it oozes out the sides.  This is my preferred method.
2 - Cut the top off the puff, remove the insides, spoon fill with cream, then add the top back on.  This is takes forever, but you get to eat the cream puff insides as you work.
3 - Using any of the above two methods use instant pudding as a filling instead of pastry cream.  Or ice cream would be good.

Leave plain, dust with powdered sugar, dip in chocolate, or make some fancy chocolate design on top.  Enjoy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

J and K: Origins

In the time before time J and K met, fell in love, and got married. Just like that. Not as exciting as Wolverine Origins, X-Men Origins, Avengers Origin, or Batman Origins, but nevertheless this is our story.

I started working for KB Toys in February 2001. They went bankrupt in 2004-2005, there are still a few stores here and there. I was going to college full time and needed a part time job to support my lavish lifestyle which included such mundane things as gas, food, college tuition, and text books. I went to Utah Valley State College (UVSC) now Utah Valley University (UVU), but I referred to it as Utah Valley High School because 1) it was the place to go right after graduating High School and getting your pre-requisites done before transferring to a much more prestigious school such as BYU or UofU and 2) The parking was terrible, much like high school parking lots. My manager, Jen, went on Baby-leave in and a new manager transferred down from Pocatello, ID named Jody to fill the position. I assumed Jody was another girl, since our last manager was a girl. I found out 15 minutes before our new managers arrival that Jody was a guy. Yet again I now assumed (Ass out of U and Me), that Jody, being named Jody like a girl, would be some effeminate weak chinned gay-ish guy. So wrong. In walks our new manager, a very masculine biker-esque looking 6’2” with long hair down to his waist wearing a tie dye Darth Maul T-Shirt. Being only 5 feet tall myself and coming from a very vertically challenged family I have always been intimidated by tall people. I literally squeaked and ran away.
J’s first impression of me as I squeaked and ran away, “Well there goes a timid mouse.”
He called me squeaky for weeks. I refused to talk to him unless I absolutely had to about work. But I was strangely attracted to him by his smell. It was so weird. I have never before or since been attracted to anything by how it smelled, but I wanted to be next to him because he smelled good. Our previous manager decided to quit after Baby leave and be a full time Mommy so Jody’s position as store manager became permanent. I decided that I was stuck with him and had to talk to him so one night I started a conversation, “Are you familiar with Anime? I am currently watching Record of Lodoss Wars and reading Blade of the Immortal.”
I was just getting into anime, manga, and comic books and other then my cousin, of whom I was borrowing everything from, I was kind of desperate to find someone who knew the words “Anime” and “Manga”.
Little did I know that Jody once managed a comic book store, Ozone, up in Pocatello and was a veritable encyclopedia of all things rpg, card games, comics, anime, and manga.
When I was in Young Women’s (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints youth classes for girls ages 13 – 18) they had a lesson on the kind of man we wanted to marry, and should date. They had us write a list of traits that we wanted in our future husbands. The list was supposed to read something like this:
1 – Return missionary
2 – Wants to get married in the temple
3 – Wants to have start a family and have lots of kids

My list read:
1 – Star Wars fan (preferred over Star Trek, but Star Trek would be acceptable since my parents are Trekkies)
2 – Marvel Comics (again preferred over D.C. comics because Spider-Man is my all-time favorite)
3 – Sci-fi Fantasy movie buff (Princess Bride, Star Wars, Willow, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, X-Men, etc… remember this was before Lord of the Rings and Serenity)
Upon finding out how much of a geek he truly was my attitude towards him did a 180 degree turn around. I started asking about him at work. I knew he lived with another KB Toys manager, Jayson, while he was looking for his own place, and every time I got the chance to work with Jayson I would ask about Jody. Was he married? Why does he wear a ring, (made it in art class and he likes wearing rings)? Is he seeing anyone? Does he have kids? What is the dating policy at KB Toys? I made up some stupid excuse that I was starving and really craving French fries and asked if he wanted to go to Denny's with me after work. Which he did. He brought me examples of his art work, he is an artist, and recommendations for more anime and manga.
While flirting and being totally infatuated with J I also knew it was never going to turn into anything serious. I was moving to Las Vegas at the end of summer semester to be a nanny for my aunt who lived in Henderson. I was transferring to the biology program there at UNLV. I was also trying to date other people before I moved and didn’t want to commit to anyone until after I graduated college. My focus was on finishing my Bachelors degree and starting a career in the field of biology. Las Vegas would be a nice chance for me to get out of my comfort zone. Going from living with my parents to living with my aunt and uncle would be my first taste of freedom.
I turned in my two weeks notice at KB Toys. Then I asked J out on a date. I did this by stating that I really wanted to see Final Fantasy movie, but the only person who would go with my was my little brother, then 9, and it would be really awkward. If only I could find someone to go see Final Fantasy with me. Heartfelt sigh while looking at Jody. I am so the drama. But I grew up with the rule that girls do not ask guys out. The guy must ask the girl out on a date or it doesn’t happen.
I do not know how to flirt. My sisters did it all the time. I watched them manipulate any guy they wanted to do anything they wanted with the bat of an eyelash and a pouty lip. I do not have that ability, never did. I am not subtle in the slightest. I am a very blunt, get directly to the point, at times a cold tactless person. Passive aggressive manipulative subterfuge is not in my nature. I truly envied girls that can just look at a guy and he would buy them whatever they wanted. My clearly transparent excuse for trying to get J to ask me out to see a movie actually worked. I asked him out on a date and he agreed. It was our first date.
Date number two did not go as well. Trying to portray the outdoors nature loving stereotype, which I am not, I decided that we should hike Mount Timpanogos. I had done it a few times before (and hated it every time) and thought that it was a perfect date activity. We could hike, showing off my perceived athletic abilities, and have lots of time to talk and get to know each other better since you cannot talk during a movie. Then it rained. Thusly washing out all of my faked nature loving athleticism and turning our “get to know you better” conversation into an excruciating long complaining song of how wet, cold, and miserable I was. Then we went to Shoney’s and got hot food and hot chocolate. And somehow, after that horrible experience, he still continued date me.
My parents first impression of J. “I am so happy you are dating someone” and “Well, I can see why you like him. He looks like Qui Gon Jin (Jedi fron Star Wars: Phantom Menace.  Terrible Star Wars movie, but I love Liam Neeson.  J also loves Liam Neeson.  We are united in our love of Liam Neeson.)”
My last day at KB Toys was really sweet. J bought me a Barbie Farewell Cake, “To KB Toys Princess, We’ll miss you.” I don’t remember much of our last conversation before I left. It went something like:  “Well, since I might not see you again…” Then he leaned down and kissed me. I was shocked. Hello, this is my shocked face. I responded with something like, “I like that.” And kissed him back. We had our first kiss right before I left.
We decided to try writing each other and do the whole long distance relationship thing. I told J not to expect me to write him back. I was planning on enjoying a single and carefree lifestyle in Las Vegas and looking forward to meeting new people and hopefully other guys to date in the Singles Ward so I still didn’t consider our relationship serious or that it would be a long-term thing. Besides, he wasn’t Mormon, so I wasn’t supposed to be dating him anyway. I grew up being told that I was not supposed to date non-Mormons. My parents did not object to me dating a non-Mormon. They were actually thrilled I was seeing anyone. I was the anti-social outsider with no friends who suffered from social anxiety and panic attacks.
But being the responsible person I am, I wrote him anyway. I wrote my first two letters addressed to KB Toys store front since J did not have a permanent address yet. I also sent off an e-mail to his Dad since he didn’t have his own computer yet. Silly boy, kept writing me back.
I was a nanny for two years in Henderson, NV. The first year they paid me, the second year I just lived there and helped out with the kids while I went to UNLV, majoring in Biology, and held a few small part time jobs on campus through their work-study program. I went on ONE disastrous date with an English Education major/ BMX biker who dropped me off at a house party then ditched me for the hot tub. I had to catch a ride with a group of his friends to get home. My Self Defense teacher ask me out on a date, but I declined. He later apologized and realized that was very unethical to ask a student out. That was the extent of my 2 year single carefree enjoying my early 20s dating life in Las Vegas.
J and I continued to write each other hand written letters at least once a week or more. Both I and my new family looked forward to receiving his letters in the mail. He would sent me bouquets of flowers and would write short stories for me, and to entertain the kids. I wrote 4 -5 page long narratives about any mundane thing I could think of in my life. We also spent a lot of time talking to each other on the phone. I went through many phone cards, since I didn’t have a cell phone yet, so I wouldn’t rack up the phone bill for my aunt and uncle. His cell phone bill hit close to $400 one month, that’s when he decided to get a new phone plan. As soon as I got a cell phone the texting started, at least 20 times a day or more. When I would drive back home for the holidays we would go on dates. He even came out to visit me in Henderson a few times.
Jody fulfilled my life-long dream of going to the Excalibur Dinner Show. It was the best date ever. I like to have attainable goals and life-long dreams. But as well as we got along together and as much as I really liked him there was always the nagging, “…but he’s not a Mormon” problem. Religion or the Boyfriend. A dilemma I never thought I would have to face.
Christmas 2001. I was back home in Utah for Christmas vacation. This dilemma was bothering me so much I decided to do something about it. As I mentioned before I am not a subtle person. I took him to Temple Square on the pretext of seeing the Christmas lights. While overlooking the reflection pool and up at the beautiful Salt Lake City Temple I went for it.
“Jody. I’m going to get married in the temple. Let’s find a sister missionary and have you fill out the card.” Then we walked over to the visitor center, I hunted down the first sister missionary I could find and asked if he could fill out a card so J could get a Book of Mormon and the missionaries to come to his house. She was surprised at my request, but eager to get things going.
I went back to Las Vegas and waited. The Book of Mormon never came. The missionaries never came. Our sweet sister missionary from Temple Square actually called J a few times to see if they had come yet. They hadn’t. J finally went to Deseret Book at the mall and bought himself a Book of Mormon. I took the Book of Mormon class at UNLV institute Spring Semester 2002 so I could read it with him and answer any questions he had. J was actually half way through reading the BoM before the missionaries finally showed up at his doorstep.
To be continued...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Whoopee Pies

Whoopee Pies or cake sandwiches.  I did  the traditional chocolate cake with marshmallow filling type of Whoopee Pie, but like with all Cakes, any flavor will do.                                                           
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt - combine dry ingredients and set aside
Cream together 1 cup brown sugar with 1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter.
Add 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla

Mix that all together and alternate adding dry ingredients with 1 cup of buttermilk until everything is equally combined on delicious.  I am a dough eater.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and for large whoopee pies (traditional) use an ice cream scoop to scoop out 6 cake blobs about 2 inches apart.  Repeat on a second parchment paper lined baking sheet.  It takes two sheets, 6 blobs each, to make 12 mini cake halves to put together 6 whoppee pies.  I used a mini cupcake scoop and was able to get out 20+ mini whoopee pies.  Bake 350 degrees for 12-18 minutes until when you touch it they bounce back or use a toothpick to see if it comes out clean, then it is done.  

Marshmallow filling
My recipe calls for Marshmallow fluff, I could not find anything at any store (and I tried 4) that says marshmallow FLUFF on it, so I used Marshmallow Cream which is in abundance.
2 cups marshmallow cream - If you don't have enough cream, melt mini marshmallows in the microwave and add that.
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 and 1/4 stick melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt.
Stir together until well combined.  It makes a gooey mess.  I poured the marshmallow goo into a one gallon zip lock bag, cut the tip, and piped it onto the flat side of half the cakes.  Then I put the other half of the cake on and stuck them in a cupcake paper.  Enjoy.