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Friday, December 27, 2013

A Pint of Cream

As I look back on my 2013 year of baking one thing comes to mind as my favorite ingredient: 
A Pint of Cream.  
So, Here's to you pint of cream and all the wonderful things I made with you.  

Whipped Cream

  • 1 pint of Heavy Whipping Cream (16 oz or 2 cups)
  • 2 Tbs Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • Then do like the Devo and Whip it, Whip it good.  Now you have Whipped Cream, possibly the easiest thing to make.


  • 1 pint of Heavy Whipping Cream (16 oz or 2 cups)
For making butter do not add anything, just whip it past the whipped cream point about 10 minutes or so until it looks more grainy and separates into butter and buttermilk.
Strain out the butter chunks.
This is buttermilk.  Keep it for pancakes.
Take the solid butter and put it in cold water.  Not ice water, because the ice chunks get incorporated into the butter.  Mash it up a bit into small chunks.
Strain the butter again to get all the cold water out.
You do not need to save the butter water, you can throw that out.  Roll the solid butter chunks onto wax paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.
Store it in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks or in the freezer for a few months.
Fresh home-made butter.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 pint of Heavy Whipping Cream (16 oz or 2 cups)
  • 8 oz (1 cup) chopped semi-sweet chocolate or 1:2 ratio which I use for chocolate ganache fillings in cakes and cupcakes.  You need to whip this one like whipped cream after it has cooled.
  • 16 oz (2 cups) chopped semi-sweet chocolate or 1:1 ratio which I use for dipping or pouring chocolate on things.  It hardens faster so it is excellent for dipping, not whipping.
Heat heavy whipping cream until it just barely comes to a boil, then pour over chocolate chunks.
 Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth and refrigerate until cool.
Whip the 1:2 ratio for filling.
Just let the 1:1 ratio set in the refrigerator and it is ready to go for dipping.
and covering things.
All good things should end with chocolate.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Peanut Brittle

This was my first attempt at Peanut Brittle.  Bear with me here.  I think it turned out pretty good in the end, but timing and temperature is everything.  I was watching one of my many and multiferous cooking shows where they made peanut brittle.  I decided then and there that I must make peanut brittle... today... as in right now.  They made it look so easy.  It should be noted that I watch an inordinate amount of cooking shows.  So much so that if my husband walks in and the tv is not on a cooking show he thinks I am sick.
Ingredients Assemble!

Peanut Brittle

  • 1 and 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup Sorn Syrup
  • 3 Tbs Butter
  • 1 pound (16 oz or 2 cups) of nuts.  Any kind of nuts.  I used traditional peanuts.
  • In a medium sauce pan on medium heat.  (Sounds like the beginning of a cooking children's book.)  Add water, sugar, and corn syrup.  Medium heat, stirring occasionally, for +/- 25 min until it reaches 240 degrees.  Then add butter and nuts.  Stirring constantly, heat for another +/- 13 min until the thermometer reaches 300 degrees.  Then remove from heat and add baking soda mixture (in a small bowl add baking soda, water and vanilla) and stir in.  Pour onto a buttered cookie sheet and spread out briefly with a buttered spatula.  You may need two cookie sheets.  Let the brittle cool at room temperature for about an hour.  Now for the fun part.  Break it.  Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

Water, sugar, and corn syrup.
A small bowl of baking soda, water, and vanilla.
A buttered cookie sheet.
Bring sugar mixture to 240 degrees on medium heat.
Add nuts and butter.  I gave my peanuts a few pulses in the food processor because I like them a bit more chopped up than whole.
Continue heating to 300 degrees, then add baking soda mixture and remove from heat.  It was at this exact moment of careful candy thermometer degree monitoring that my brother called.  Sorry, Richard, I am not answering the phone right now but I must say you have impeccable timing.  You could not have called at a more inopportune moment.
Spread out on a buttered  cookie sheet to cool for about an hour at room temperature.
I let my husband break them apart.  He is an excellent breaker.
Then I added some peanut brittle to my Pumpkin Cupcakes.
We ate the rest.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Cupcakes

This time of year I crave for something pumpkin.  I love pumpkin.  I love pumpkin spice.  I cannot honestly say I love pumpkin flavored everything because of the infamous pumpkin milkshake that one year, but I like most things pumpkin.  

Pumpkin cupcakes

  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup + 2 Tbs sugar
  • ¾ cup canned pumpkin (half of a 14 oz can)
  • 1 and ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Mix together oil, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin.  Mix together dry ingredients, add to wet and combine.  Bake 325°F for 25 min. Makes about 24 cupcakes.
Mix together wet ingredients and sugar.
Add dry ingredients and mix together.  Using an ice cream scoop fill cupcake wrappers.
This batch made exactly 24 cupcakes.
I think Cream Cheese frosting goes best with pumpkin cake and cupcakes.  My twist is the cinnamon.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese (one package) microwave shortly until warm
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick) at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 – 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs Cinnamon - add according to taste. I tend to go a bit heavy on the cinnamon.
Peanut Brittle for garnish.  Peanut Brittle
Here I go all trying to be fancy and made peanut brittle to garnish my cupcakes.
Cupcakes without peanut brittle.
Cupcakes with peanut brittle.  I think they look nicer with that added touch of something crunchy.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Peacock Cake

My friend, Victoria, asked me to make a Peacock cake for her birthday party at Gardner Village.  It was a Peacock themed birthday party.  There would be 20 - 30 people.  Of course I jumped at the chance.  Who doesn't love peacocks.  I admit, I was a intimidated to make a cake for her because her mother, Jane, is a professional cake artist, so Victoria knows good cake.  She provided the peacock feathers and the cake topper which really pulled the look together and made it sing "I'm a Peacock Cake."
I started with the chocolate mousse filling, as it needed some overnight refrigeration time.  This is an easy chocolate mousse recipe, just 5 ingredients, and it's rich. 

Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse

  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream - whipped
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Cook marshmallows, milk, and chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Whisk together until melted and smooth - about 5 min.  Transfer pan to a large bowl of ice water.  Let stand, whisking occasionally until cool and thick - about 15 - 20 min.  In a separate bowl beat whipped cream and vanilla until, well, creamed.  Fold in whipped cream.  Refrigerate 6+ hours or overnight.

Heating up chocolate, marshmallows, and milk.
When they are all melted together transfer to an ice filled large bowl.  It needs to be big enough to fit the pan.  Whisking occasionally, let sit for 15 - 20 minutes until cool and thick.
In a separate bowl make the whipped cream.
Fold in whipped cream into cooled chocolate marshmallow mixture.  Refrigerate overnight.
What you don't see is me eating the chocolate mousse with reckless abandon.  Time for some cake.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

  • 2 and 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 and 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Beat together shortening and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.  Alternate adding buttermilk with dry ingredients to the batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 min.  Makes three round 9" and two round 6" cake pans.
Vanilla Buttercream frosting.  

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature or softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbs heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbs meringue Powder
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • Beat together shortening, butter, vanilla, and whipping cream.  Mix in Meringue powder and 1 cup or powdered sugar.  Mix in the rest of the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until well combined.  Add more whipping cream or powdered sugar as needed for the right consistency.

The bottom layer with chocolate marshmallow mousse.
I went with a light green bottom and a light blue top.  Instead of separating the frosting out in three colors, I finished the bottom green layer, added blue food coloring to the remaining frosting to make the blue layer, then added red to make purple for the peacock scroll work.
Top blue.  My yellow fondant flowers are in the background.  I forgot to take pictures exclusively of them.
Added more food coloring for purple.
Draw on happy peacocks.
I think the peacocks look a bit sloppy, but let's call it Impressionist instead.
Completed cake.

I have peacocks on all sides of the cake.

Yellow fondant roses.