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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Salted Caramel Chocolate Macaroon Cake

I always wanted to try making a cookie cake.  Well, always, as in once I saw one on Pinterest.  Here is my first attempt at a cookie cake.  No reason.  No Celebration.  No Holiday.  No Birthday.  I just really wanted to make a cookie cake.  I also wanted to try a new recipe for Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting.  My new favorite flavor is Salted Caramel.  I am in the process of eating everything labeled Salted Caramel that I can get my hands on.  Bakeries Beware.  I'm on the hunt. 

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Shortening
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 4 oz Unsweetened Chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups of Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 3/4 cup Buttermilk
  • Cream together sugar and shortening.  Add eggs, vanilla, and chocolate.  If the chocolate is still warm it seizes up and turns into chocolate chunks and is difficult to mix in.  Mix the dry ingredients together.  Mix water and buttermilk together.  Alternate adding dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with wet until it is all incorporated.  Bake 350 degrees for about 30 min.
  • Note:  Omit salt, baking soda, and baking powder if using 2 cups of Self Rising Flour instead.

Salted Caramel Frosting

  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 2 Tbs water
  • ¼ cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • ½ cup Butter
  • ½ tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 package Dream Whip or some heavy cream to desired consistency
  • 3 cups Powdered Sugar
  • Stir together sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil.  Cook for about 10 minutes without stirring until it become a nice amber color.  Remove from heat and slowly add cream and vanilla.  Let caramel cool for about 20 min.  In a separate bowl beat together butter and salt.  Add Dream Whip or heavy cream and beat until combined.  Beat in powdered sugar, then slowly add caramel and beat until light and fluffy.  Refrigerate.

    Note to self: Make a double batch next time so I have extra frosting to shamelessly eat, alone, at night, with a spoon.

Chocolate Macaroons

I am still new at making French Macaroons so I have not perfected these tricky little cookies yet.  
  • 3/4 cup Almond Flour or Almond Meal.
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar or Confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbs Cocoa Powder
  • Put this in a food processor and blend for 15+ seconds.  Sift into a separate container.  It needs to be a really fine powder. 
  • 2 egg whites at room temperature.  Beat until they form soft peaks.
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar.
  • Add 1 Tbs at a time to egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy.
  • Beat in 1/2 tsp vanilla or other flavoring or colors.
  • Fold in 1/3 of almond-sugar powder into egg whites.  Repeat 1/3, repeat 1/3 until all the almond-sugar is folded into the egg white mixture.  The dough is thick and pasty at this point.  
  • Stuff it into a piping bag and pipe out 25 - 30+ small circles onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  
  • Let the cookies sit for 30 min at room temperature to set.  While waiting, heat oven to 325 degrees.  Bake on two baking sheet trays for 10 - 15 min.  Let cool for 10 min.
Note to self:  I made the cookies too big.  I think the cake would look cuter if I piped out smaller circles.  I am all about cute.  I also doubled the batch the macaroons just in case I ran out, but I made more than enough and just one batch would have worked.

I took this bad boy to my parent's house for dinner.  It is sort of our thing.  Every Sunday I visit my parents and Mom makes dinner and I bring dessert.  I try to make my dessert a surprise.  Mostly because I do not know until the last minute what I want to make.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Breakfast Scones

Bacon and Cheddar Scones.  This is a complete breakfast in one bite.  It has two of my favorite things:  Bacon and Cheese.  I am a big proponent of Bacon.  I love finding new ways to add Bacon to any dish.  Bacon makes everything better.  I love Bacon.

  Breakfast Scones

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 Tbs Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper, unless you are like me and really really like pepper, then add 2 tsp
  • 1 Stick (1/2 cup or 8 Tbs) Butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 and 1/2 cup grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 Green Onions, chopped
  • 10 slices of Bacon, cooked, and chopped
  • 1 cup Buttermilk, because buttermilk makes breakfast better
  • Add dry ingredients together and with a pastry cutter or food processor cut in butter cubes.  Add cheese, green onions, bacon, and buttermilk.  Mix that all together and briefly knead the dough into ball, then flatten into a disk.  Cut out 8 - 10 wedges, or more if you like your scones thin.  Set the scones on a parchment paper covered sheet pan and give them a good egg wash (1 egg + 2 Tbs water, beaten).  Bake at 400 degrees for 18 - 20 min.

This is another one of my "encouraging J to play" Game Food dinners.  Tomb Raider is just that awesome.
I tried to get a close up of the bacon bits.  I had some left over this time and ate them for lunch all week.  Now that I am out I am thinking of making another batch just so I can take them to work with me for lunch.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Muffin Tin Mini German Pancakes

I love German Pancakes.  I grew up with Mom making  German Pancakes for dinner.  We got to pick our own toppings; sweet like powdered sugar or maple syrup and savory like cheddar and ham.  I also love German Pancakes because  they are a quick and easy meal, and good for when I have eggs and not much else.  Coming from a family that raised chickens, we had a lot of eggs (and sometimes not much else).  My parents still have chickens, though not as many as we had back then.  This was one of my favorite egg based dinners.  My  husband alas does not share  my enthusiasm for German Pancakes.  He comes from German stock but still thinks they are bland and boring so I try to change things up a bit for him.

German Pancake

6 Eggs
1 cup Milk
1 cup Flour
1 tsp Salt
Mix everything in a blender then pour into a buttered pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes.  Makes 2 dozen muffin tin mini German pancakes or one 9" x 12" pan.
Then while they are still hot I added some shredded cheddar cheese. Because I love Cheese.  I love cheddar Cheese.  I love all  Cheese. Cheese is worthy of much love. You should love cheese too. Just saying.
I sauteed some green onions and fried up some bacon bits and put that in the blender with the rest of the mix.  (note bacon is dense, bacon sinks to the bottom of the blender, do not do that again,instead add after blending and pouring). Pour the batter into buttered muffin tins and bake as usual.
Muffin tins makes almost everything Bite Sized.  Bite sized is cute.  I am all about cute. I identify and empathize with cute. Cute is good. Just saying.  Bite Sized is also perfect Game Food.  J has been playing the new Tomb Raider.  Really good game.  I encourage him to play by making bite sized dinners for him.

I left a dozen without cheese so we could try them with and without.  I was surprised, we actually ate two dozen in one sitting.  They were that good.  Good is good. I hope you agree.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

I love quick breads.  I have a long and sordid history with yeast and bread making.  Other than the occasional burning accidents I have never had much trouble with baking these from scratch.  I rarely have two to three hours of time to spend watching yeast bread rise and I have not mastered, nor want to spend the time mastering the art of bread dough kneading.  My hands hurt for days afterwards.  Either I am kneading wrong, have not developed the stamina needed to kneading, or I have arthritis.  My only complaint with this quick bread recipe is that it does take a long time to bake, but the dough is easy enough with few ingredients.    

Irish Soda Bread (Herb and Cheese variety optional)

  • 4 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
    • 1/2 tsp Sage
    • 1/2 tsp Thyme
    • 1/2 tsp Oregano
    • 1/2 tsp Pepper
    • 1 cup Shredded Cheese (Cheddar, Gruyere, Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, etc)
  • 2 and 1/4 cup Buttermilk
  • Combine dry ingredients.  Add buttermilk last.  Briefly knead dough together and form a ball.  Bake on parchment paper or a greased pan.  Cut an "X" in the top middle of the dough.  Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 400 degrees and continue baking for 25 - 30 minutes until the crust is nice and brown.

We made grilled cheese, bacon, and tomato sandwiches with ours.  Or you can just slice off chunks and eat it with some butter and honey.  It also makes for an excellent soup dipping bread.