Monday, March 21, 2011

Whipped Cream Cake

This week's Heavenly Baker free choice had one requirement.  Simplicity!  I did not want to mess my whole kitchen up with a dessert that took 92 steps and 113 bowls.  I wanted a simple, straight forward cake that tasted great.  I finally decided on the Whipped Cream Cake.  How much easier could you get?  I didn't even need to let butter come to room temperature because the only fat in this cake is whipping cream.  I quickly sifted the dry ingredients, mixed the wet ones together and then folded in the dry.  Easy Peasy!  As I was pouring the batter into my cake tin, the aroma hit me.  Actually it kissed me!  This batter has the most delicious smell and so I had to taste.  After pouring the batter, I licked the spatula and OH MY GOODNESS!!!  I could have eaten a bowl of this stuff. 
I decided to keep it simple so I mixed together some strawberries and dried figs, warmed some jam with a little bit of Chamboard and off we went to dessert paradise. 
If you are looking for a simple white cake, send me an email and I will give you the recipe (unless you already have Heavenly Cakes of course).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Apricot Sour Cherry Crumble

It's crumble time baby!  I love crisps and crumbles.  I don't really know the difference so I name my desserts as the day leads me.  Yesterday was a crumble day.  Life has been spinning a web around me lately and so crumble seemed appropriate.  I decided to make a stone fruit crumble because I had them in my freeze.  I think I told all of you about my fruit hoarding disease.  I just can't seem to let them out of the freezer and then the fruit gets freezer burn, well last night I made a break through.  I opened the freezer and took out some apricots and sour cherries.  Last year was a particularly good apricot year so I froze a bunch.  They were so fragrant and juicy last year.  It was really hard to believe how taste-y they were.  (Side note - my parents are from Serbia and they always tell me how the fruit of their childhood was nothing like today's tasteless mealy messes.  I image apricots of their youth tasted like the apricots of last year and let me say - they are right!)
I wanted to try something new with my crumble.  I wanted to know if I substitute the tapioca or cornstarch with Bird's Custard Powder, would I get a creamy, vanilla scented crumble.  I knew that custard powder had corn starch in it and so I tried it.  It worked great.  I loved the flavor and the texture and I definately noted a creaminess that really added depth to the dessert.

Apricot and Sour Cherry Crumble

3-4 cups fruit (in this case apricot and sour cherry)
1 heaping T. Bird's Custard Powder
3 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste
1 c. quick oats
1 1/2 c. crushed cookies
1/2 cup almonds
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the fruit, custard powder, sugar and vanilla paste in a bowl.  Spoon fruit mixture in individual oven safe dishes. 
Combine melted butter, cookie crumbs, and oatmeal in a bowl.  Stir well.  Spoon over fruit mixture. 
Place dishes on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes.
Enjoy plain, with whipped cream or ice cream!

Please note that these types of desserts are as flexible as their names.  You can use any fruit with any flavoring, cookie or nut.  Feel free to play around with it. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chocolate Midnight Cake

I was never a big fan of calling a super moist chocolate laden cake "Devil's Food Cake."  What is that all about???  Who would do such a thing?  And so... I am going to call it Chocolate Midnight Cake!  I LOVE that name!  It is descriptive and intriguing and it just sounds good.

I embarked on this cakes journey with excitement and a little trepidation.  I do not have the best luck with chocolate cakes.  They are usually not chocolate-y enough and generally dry and crumble-y.  Well... it must be something that I am doing wrong because most of the other baker's cakes look great and moist and deliciously chocolate-y.  Not mine my friends.  Mine was dense (not good dense), dry and bitter (not luscious).  The frosting was also disappointing.  It took WAY too long!  I was hoping for a creamier frosting with a slightly thicker consistency.  Instead, I found the frosting to be a little thin and the cocoa added too much bitter dryness. 

For those of you that know  me, you know what a terrible sport I am and so... I will not be posting a picture of my hidious cake.  I am going to let all of you enjoy my fellow Heavenly Baker's cakes without the embarassment of comparing it to mine.  I will take myself to the opposit end of the "Featured Baker" spot and sulk.  The end.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beef Burgundy

I joined the Cook's Illustrated recipe testers about a year ago and it has been  a lot of fun so far.  I got an email from them late last week and I was so excited when I opened the link and found that Beef Burgundy was the recipe.  What fun!!!  I started by searching Meijer for salt pork.  I never purchased it before and after searching for 10 minutes I found it next to the bacon.  Duh!!  By the time I got home it was after 7 and I was looking at 3 hours of cooking.  As I started prepping, I had such a Julie/Julia moment.  I felt like Julia was coming to dinner and I had to deliver.  Silly, huh?!?  Anyway, I started chopping and browning and before I knew it, my house smelled like a French Bistro awaiting dinner guests.  Wow, the smell is really incredible.  Unfortunately I can't share the recipe quite yet but it is coming and when it does, get ready!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding 2.0

I am a little late posting this (it was supposed to be posted on Monday) but I was bit by the lazy bug and am just recovering.  Monday night I had every intention of heading straight home from work and baking up a storm.  Well, work was CRAZY and I needed a little retail therapy to heal my wounded spirit.  I stopped at Marshall's and bought the cutest little white scalloped dishes for serving who knows what and a strainer.  I really needed it all.  ;)  Anyway, I digress, Tuesday I came home from Pilates and made my cakes.  My biggest change to the recipe was removing the beer and using water in its place.  I have no desire to use beer in anything.  Everything about it makes my stomach churn.  The water worked just fine.  I also decided to split the batter up into two different pans.  First I started with my square cupcake pan (Another HAD to have!)  The results were really cute.  I really liked the perfectly shaped little square cakes.  Then I poured the remaining batter into a pudding tin and baked it rather then steaming it with the lid on.  Again, I was pleased with the result.  I made the toffee sauce - which is oh so very good!  I wanted to end up with a sweet and salty dessert so I sprinkled the toasted pecans with fleur de sel. 

I plated, photo-ed and enjoyed!  Do not be intimidated by this old fashion dessert.  It is definitely worth making and enjoying!!