Friday, September 14, 2007

Who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?

Double Chocolate Birthday Cake

"You can't have your cake and eat it too."

I understand the saying, and yeah I've experienced it plenty of times, like most people. But as a baker? Nope, doesn't happen. Well, except for the occassional failed recipe. But usually I can have my cake and eat it too. Just not too much or I'll have an expanding waistline, which I do NOT want.

If you are a chocolate lover like me and looking for a great chocolate cake you might want to give my go-to chocolate cake recipe a try. I searched high and low for what would become my "tried and true" chocolate cake recipe and wouldn't you know it was under my nose all along? On the back of the Hershey's Dutch Proccessed Cocoa container I found euphoria in the form of cake.

Want the ultimate sinfully delicious cake? Definitely top the cake off with my "tried and true" chocolate frosting - Fantastic Double Fudge Frosting.

Double Chocolate Birthday Cake

Hershey's "Especially Dark" Chocolate Cake

2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Fantastic Double Fudge Frosting

1 1/4 c. sugar
1 c. heavy cream
5 (1 oz each) squares unsweetened chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring sugar and heavy cream to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring so that it doesn't boil over.

Remove pan from heat and add unsweetened chocolate, stir until completely dissolved. Add butter and stir until melted, then add vanilla, stir to combine. Refrigerate. When icing is cold, beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon. Frost cake.

Frosts 1 2 layer cake or single layer medium size sheet cake.

*All credit goes to Ayun Halliday author of Dirty Sugar Cookies for original frosting recipe.

Oh, and if you're wondering if "Merfday" is some unusual little known holiday yet undiscovered by you, the answer is no. Well, sorta. I made the cake to celebrate my long-time friend Meredith's recent birthday. Together we're two very silly girls, always coming up with goofy nicknames for our friends and family, and for as long as I can remember we've all known her as Merf. Me? Well, I'll just leave y'all to wonder about my alias...

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Chip Off The Ol' Block

Salsa is such a great summer food isn't it? I crave chips and salsa year round, but all those fresh veggies of summer just make me think about and crave it that much more during summer. It's not a constant craving though, and I think that is in large part due to my very specific guidelines for what makes for a GOOD salsa.

I love fresh salsa. Like I said, I'm pretty picky though. I've tried many, many varieties of store bought salsa, and the stuff from the jar just doesn't get it for me. Maybe there's a brand out there I haven't tasted yet that would suit me, if so I'd love to find it. I have found a few brands in the refrigerated section that that I liked. What makes a winning salsa to me? The fresh, natural flavor of simple ingredients: tomatoes, onion, peppers, cilantro and a little lime. Texture is a huge thing for me. I don't like chunky salsas, I want mine finely minced, almost pureed even. And nothing too spicy, I like a little bit of a kick, but nothing that makes me break into a sweat or leaves the outside of my mouth burning. That's just no fun!

baked lime tortilla chips

One of my biggest culinary wishes is to master the art of making irresistable salsa and guacamole. I've tried making each one time and failed so badly with both that I've been intimadated by the idea of trying again. People swear it's so easy to make both, you just chop some ingredients up and throw them together. That's what I did, but somehow I found them both to leave so much to be desired it wasn't even funny.

Homemade tortilla chips? Those on the other hand I can whip up and willingly devour in a flash. I lucked up and found a totally tasty salsa on a recent shopping trip, so a batch of my homemade flour tortilla chips were in order. I love the restaurant tortilla chips that are loaded with salt and a hint of lime. If you haven't had them before and you've got a Qdoba Mexican Grill nearby, run, quickly and order up a batch. And eat some of their warm 3-cheese queso while you're at it. It's faaaantastic!

My homemade tortilla chips are hardly the same as those at Qboda - they're baked not fried, and the tortillas are much thicker, the ones at Qboda are paper thin. But mine are virtually guiltfree and still really good. Sometimes different is good right?

Baked Lime Tortilla Chips

4 10-inch flour tortillas
2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
juice of 1 lime
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tortillas into 8 wedges and place on lined baking sheet. Brush top side of tortilla wedges lightly with oil. Drizzle evenly with lime juice and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until tortillas start to crisp but do not turn brown.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Best Brownies? Or is there one better?

Continuing my search for my ideal brownie I tried out another recipe, this time for Allrecipes' Best Brownies. I often turn to the site when looking for a new recipe because I find the reader reviews and ratings to be helpful. But are they always accurate? I'm not so sure they are. Ever the chocolate lover, how did these brownies turn out? Well, for over 1,000 allrecipes members they are pretty fantastic, racking up a whopping 4 1/2 stars. The important question, how did these brownies rate with me? The recipe was easy enough and by all accounts a success. Still they are not my ideal brownie. The batter was nice and thick like a brownie batter should be, but the brownies themself were very thin. I also thought they were pretty sweet, which I'm not so much complaining about, but they weren't chocolatey enough for me. When I think of brownies I think of deep rich chocolate flavor, with a fudgy texture. This recipe falls somewhere nicely in the middle of cakey and fudgy, which was fine by me, but I definitely need a richer chocolate flavor. I generally don't add icing to my brownies, and since these were so thin I skipped icing. I'll likely give this recipe a shot again since the batter was mixed up and in the oven in less than 15 minutes, but next time I'll double the amount of batter used for the pan size and I'll use dutch process cocoa powder in place of regular cocoa powder.

"The Best" Brownies

Reviews: 1,611 Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Best Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.

In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To Make Frosting: Combine 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup confectioners' sugar. Frost brownies while they are still warm.

Labels: , , , ,

Directory of Food/drink Blogs Food & Drink Blogs - Blog Top Sites