Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Chocolate Treat

I love birthdays for many reasons. I love making someone feel special on that one day a year, which, in addition to other thoughtful things, always involves baking a birthday cake. A birthday cake is something so central and almost vital on a birthday and getting one home-made...always a special treat!

Well today it was a friend’s birthday and I took the opportunity to try one of my old classic recipes: A rich chocolate cake. This was one of the first recipes I tried back in sixth grade and I have nothing but good memories. I remember this one baking experience in Germany where my cousin Lea and I chose to bake this chocolate cake for our grandmother. The recipe asks for rum or brandy. Full of confidence, we picked up a bottle from the alcohol cabinet that appeared alcoholic from the labeling. At that point in time, we weren't exactly experts when it came to our alcohol knowledge. After adding a good gulp of it into the mixture, we realised we had just poured home-made Bilberry Liquor (similar to Blueberry) instead of Brandy.  Our baking skills were a disaster that day, as I can assure that we mixed up a few other things as well, but the cake magically still managed to taste amazing! So I decided to try it once more after several years. I figured things couldn't go as badly this time. To my pleasant surprise, the cake turned out absolutely perfect! A real beauty :)

Luckily once you pull the cake out of the oven (at which point the whole house smells amazing!), there is still the decorating to look forward to. I haven’t done much of it but am starting with cake decorating classes next week! Very exciting I have some kisses and pink pearls, what more does a girl want on her chocolate cake? 

And voila…Happy Birthday Kelsi!

Rich Chocolate Cake a la Stella

·      225gr butter
·      350gr dark Chocolate (chopped)
·      80ml warm water
·      5 eggs (separated)
·      280gr sugar
·      180gr ground almonds (I use closer to 120gr)
·      90gr Flour
·      1 Tbsp Rum or Brandy
·      1 tspn vanilla extract
·      200gr dark or semisweet chocolate
·      200gr butter

1.     Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm springform and line with baking paper.
2.     Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Add the water and stir until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
3.     In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar, until light and thick (approx 3-4 min).
4.     In a small bowl, mix the almonds and the flour (sieved).
5.     Fold the chocolate under the egg/sugar mix and then add the dry ingredients. Give the mixture a good gentle stir until all ingredients are combined. Add the rum or brandy and the vanilla.
6.     Beat the egg whites and fold into the chocolate batter. Pour the batter into the prepared form and smooth the top.
7.     Bake for 1 hour. Cool for 20 min and remove cake onto racks to cool completely.
8.     For the frosting, slowly melt the butter and the chocolate over simmering water. Cool the mixture until it has reached the right consistency to frost. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Scrumptious Carrot and Decadent White Chocolate Raspberry

I spent a lot of time baking over my Christmas holidays but unfortunately didn’t blog on any of it, not even did I take pictures! I need to step up my game a bit and that is most definitely one of my goals in the New Year – to blog more regularly. There were two cakes, however, I made over the break that I did snap a shot of and they were both so tasty that it is well worth sharing the recipe. Let me introduce you to a scrumptious carrot cake recipe and a decadent white chocolate raspberry cheesecake recipe. 

When looking for recipes to try out, I can literally spend hours looking through baking and cooking books, magazines and blogs as it involves looking at beautiful photos and leads to the fulfilling act of baking. I’m always on the search for the ultimate classics: best chocolate cake recipe, best brownie recipe, best chocolate chip recipe, best classic cheesecake recipe, and, and, and.

Well, this carrot cake definitely makes it onto my classics list. I’ve loved carrot cake ever since I can remember. The spices mixed with the carrots and topped off with that sweet cream cheese icing…heaven! The cake turned out exactly how I wanted it to, moist and full of flavor. Definite change for next time though? Leave out the crushed pineapple. Just not a fan of its stringy and almost crunchy-like texture in this cake. But that is purely my opinion. None of my family members complained about anything after their large slice of the cake.  Their response was that this cake belonged in a cafĂ©, which is exactly what I love to hear J So until I find a new one, this will be my classic carrot cake recipe. (See recipe below). 

Rasberry and white chocolate? A match made in heaven! Coming across a recipe that brings the two together…in a cheesecake…how can one resist?! This cake is probably one of my favorite recipes so far. A bit of crunch from the biscuit base, the sweet and almost refreshing taste of the fruit and an absolutely heavenly smooth cream on top. I made this cake for our Christmas dinner this year and the family loved it so much, they requested it a second time around within that same week! Even after freezing the cake, the taste is still amazing. I highly recommend it.

Next cake on this list? Definitely a chocolate cake. I have a chocolate cake recipe that I used a few times when I first started experimenting with baking back in sixth grade. I have very fond memories f it, although I haven’t tried it in a few years now. I’ll have to put it up to the test to see whether it is as good as I remember. 

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

150gr digestive biscuits (use more if you want a thicker base)
1/3 cup of melted butter (increase if you are using more biscuits)
300gr frozen raspberries (or frozen mixed berries)
2 Tbsp water
3 ½ tspns powdered gelatine
180gr good-quality white chocolate
500gr cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup (75gr) caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
185ml can light evaporated milk

1.     Line the base and sides of a 22cm springform pan with baking paper.                                                            
C    Crush the biscuits and mix the melted butter to form a moist cookie crumble mixture.  Press the cookie mixture into the base of the pan with your hands. Top with ¾ of the berries.
3.     Place water in a small heatproof dish; sprinkle with the gelatine and whisk with a fork. Place in a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until dissolved. Cool to room temperature but not set.
4.     Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave, uncovered, on high for 1-2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or until melted and smooth. Set aside.
5.     Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electrical mixer until smooth. Gradually, beat in evaporated milk, then the chocolate and cooled gelatine mixture.
6.     Pour the mixture into the pan over the berries; tap the pan on the bench to settle the mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Spread the remaining frozen berries on a plate lined with paper towel; cover and refrigerate to thaw overnight.
7.     Sprinkle the cheesecake with the thawed berries and serve. 

Carrot Cake Ingredients:
·      Oil and flour to grease two 9x9 inch square pans
·      2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached if possible
·      2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
·      1/4 tsp ground allspice
·      1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
·      1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
·      2 teaspoons baking soda
·      1/2 teaspoon salt
·      3 large eggs
·      1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
·      1/2 cup granulated maple sugar or brown sugar
·      1 cup vegetable oil
·      1/2 cup sour milk
·      2 cups grated carrots
·      1 1/2 cups crushed, well-drained pineapple

Ingredients For The Icing:
·      1/2 cup butter
·      8 ounces or 225 grams of cream cheese
·      3 cups of icing sugar

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brush oil on tube pan; sprinkle with flour, knocking out excess.
2.     In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda and salt.
3.     In another large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, maple sugar, oil and sour milk. With a rubber scraper, stir in carrots, pineapple and coconut; fold in dry ingredients until well combined.
4.     Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake 1 hour. Test for doneness using a toothpick inserted into the centre, which should come out clean. Remove from oven and leave cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes Use a table knife to separate cake from pan; invert onto a plate. Cool completely before spreading icing on and between the cakes. 

For the icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer combine icing ingredients and beat until 
smooth and thick enough to spread on the cake. 

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