Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Perfect Cake...March Challenge!

YAY!!! First how excited was I to get to make a cake?? I love to make cakes, and decorate them. True, Decembers challenge was a cake, but it was the holidays, and just impossible to tackle. This one I was most excited, and we had so much we could do with it. Morven chose this fantastic recipe for us, Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours. Seeing some other items in a popular event Tuesday's with Dorie, I may have to go find this book! I will say the only link that I really have for it comes from Quirky Cupcake. If she is not the actual even holder do let me know cause I am unsure where to go to get much info on it, I just go there often as I am addicted to Cupcake Hero! ha-ha. OK, sorry for that little off track switch up back to CAKE!!! I being not a raspberry fan, set out to find a filling I wanted to try. And since I really wanted to make it good, I wanted something different and homemade.
I took a few days, and then I came across a recipe for Gingered Lime Curd. OMG!! how pretty would that be? Bright White cake with a contrast of Bright Green curd. and mm soo tasty to boot. So that is what I am gonna make, and did. And what else?? ohh I can just make it as my St. Patrick's Day treat and use my 4 leaf clover cookie cutter and the fantastic green glitter sent to me in my BBM from Angel's Bento Blog. (ok so apparently I had the urge to link as many people as possible in the challenge blog this month, go see em all, they kick ass lol). The down fall is that I couldn't actually make it until Easter...since it was my only day off to do it. But it was all in the heart of St. Patty's day!! The curd I made the day before, and have posted below for another event, Tasty tools. How perfect was that?? It is super good, tangy and a bit sweet and just yummy. I couldn't wait to taste it in the cake!!
So I started my day making the cake, true, I slept in, first day off in so long, I did sleep until about 11am. So after IM's with a great friend and emails, I got my tush into the kitchen. Prepped the pans and ingredients and had at it. It really was a fairly simple recipe. Nothing too time consuming, and easy to read and follow, the process over all made me quite happy. And the batter hehe....its one tasty batter. Oh come on you all can't tell me you didn't at least lick the spoon. I for one couldn't resist, knowing the lemon was in there I had to have a little taste!!
The cake's baked up nicely and quickly. And while the cooled, I set out to make the Icing. Now, the cake was good, pretty white, fluffy. But the Icing, now I know I made it in school..but I do not remember it being so amazingly fluffy and tasty? It's so not that have buttercreme one is used to. It is fantastic. I love it! Took a little time, with the beating until cool, but let me tell you, it was so worth it, I will most likely use this as my basic Buttercreme recipe from now on, it was just that great. Not too sweet, not heavy ..just wonderful!! The Whiteness was amazing as well, all that butter, and vanilla and lemon, and its white!! Fantastic I tell you.
So with out further Ado...I give you:
The Perfect Cake:
Words from Dorie
Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.

For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Playing Around
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.

Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.
It is definitely a versatile cake. You can do just about anything with it. The lemon in it is light enough that all it does is enhance anything else added to it. I will make sure to add this to my make again and test other flavors out, how could I not?? After the tasting at work, I definitely going to try to make this with a Tequila syrup for the cakes..and one co-worker said " Man I know the idea of Beer and cake is just wrong, but a Corona would go perfectly with this cake, the lime, cake and a Corona Perfect!! " lol Thanks Morven for a great challenge!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tasty Tools!

So how Ironic is it that the monthly challenge is right around the corner, and in the process of thinking of what I want to add to it, I come across the recipe I have been wanting to try, but nothing to put it with. But this cake let it be possible, and then I see this event, How Perfect!! Gingered Lime Curd will be wonderful, as Most of the time I am grating a dozen limes and some fresh Ginger. Sounds like a grater event to me and Thought use it for TastyTools! . So I decided it needs to sit in the fridge over night, might as well get it made before work.
Now I have to admit, I read the recipe a couple times, but didn't think about how long grating that many limes could take, and the cramped hand involved. But the scent in my kitchen ..mmm I never realized just how yummy Limes smelled, it was heavenly and tropical and it helped me forget the damn 2 inches of snow that fell over night, in March mind you. But, once all grated I was ready to juice such limes. Dang it where is that stinking Juicer?? yea, I forgot the amount of time it takes to find those little things you don't use that often. But a good 10 min and I found it and set out to juice them, again...wonderful smelling Limes. I am so going to look for some lime air freshener now ha-ha.
I have all the items ready to go, and I reread it, thinking shouldn't there be cornstarch or something, I mean its curd, similar to the lemon we did for the Pie right? Well maybe this one is just different. I was thinking I would have this wonderful Bright Green filling to stand against the whiteness of the cake; and as I follow the directions and I whisk away I realize, its not so much a curd as Pastry Cream. Thats what I am making, wonderful Lime pastry cream. So it wasn't that bright green, but still it smelled wonderful and looked oh so creamy. I then realize, I am to strain it, noo I don't want to. All that wonderful zest, I want it in the cream but I know I have to incase there are any little bits of cooked egg grr. Fine, I will follow the recipe do as it says, tweak it later if I can.
The cooking takes literally no more than 10 minutes it came together so quick! I guess the hard part was just getting everything together. And of course, once I am done straining it, I can't not lick the tart cream of the spatula. So tart and quite a lovely color and woohoo green specs, some of the zest made it through the strainer !! YAY!!! Now to let it sit until I make the cake, so You only get to see the cream itself, not in use until the Challenge post, But that will be wonderful!!
What a great way to start the day, sleep in late, Get up make Lime Pastry Curd!

Ginger Lime Curd:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup grated lime peel (from about 12 limes)
1 Tbsp grated peeled fresh ginger
pinch of salt
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

Whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, lime juice, lime peel, ginger and salt in a large metal bowl to blend.
Place bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch simmering water); whisk constantly until curd thickens, about 8 minutes. Remove bowl from over simmering water, whisk butter into curd. Strain through fine strainer set over bowl; discard solids in strainer. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd; chill overnight. (curd can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
Great event Joelen, can't wait to see the next tool you come up with!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pot Pie!!!

Ok I think I made it in time. I so wanted to make pot pie. The hubby doesn't like them so I never ever get them. And in my thought process of Pot pies, and searches for ideas, I realized that I couldn't really make just 1 little pot pie, that would be a waste, so needed to make something he might eat. So I thought and searched for ideas. And what I came up with was..A Pizza Pot Pie! How could one who LOVES pizza not try this?? Of course, the other problem is that I am working soooo very much, and really had no time to make it. I pulled off the last day of the event. The morning before work. Hoping to eat it before I left, cause well I would get nothing else to eat. SO for my submission for Mini Pie Revolution: Pot Pies I give you The Pizza Pot Pie!
I must say, I am quite pleased. I was bummed thinking damn I need to make pizza dough, and really no time, I thought of cheating and going to just buy pre-made dough, then it hit me, I have tart dough in the freezer! woot for me being smart for once and freezing half my dough ha-ha.
it was very simple to do, and for my life at the moment I need simple. And I did cheat on 1 thing, I used some jar pasta sauce. I just couldn't bring myself to pull that off and get it posted before work. But its so very simple and super good.
Pizza Pot Pie:
2 tbsp garlic flavored olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1 cup Italian sausage, browned and crumbled
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup baby spinach
2 cups grated Italian cheese blend, mozzarella, provolone etc..
1 cup sliced pepperoni
your favorite pastry or pizza dough
your favorite pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 350. On a sheet pan, prep your ramekins or bowls. I got 3 mini pots. Spray with non stick cooking spray and set aside.
Saute onion and mushrooms in olive oil. once starting to soften, add in the sausage.
once sausage is heated through, add spinach and heat to wilted and mixed with the oil. add olives and pepperoni. Heat til hot. Add about half the jar of sauce to pan and bring to simmer. Put about a big scoop of filling into each bowl. top with shredded cheese, and then more filling. Top with more cheese.
Roll out your dough, and top each pot with a thin round. Making sure its stretched over the pot and sticks to the side.
I brushed mine with more garlic olive oil, then sprinkled with salt, pepper and a spicy garlic bread blend that I have.
Put in hot oven.
Bake 30 min, til bubbly and golden brown.Now, keep in mind I used Pastry dough, which means lots of butter. So when I first looked in on them, I thought the dough was melting off the little pots lol. It stopped but still, so don't freak out, and I actually liked the flakiness of the dough over what the pizza dough would bring. It was quite tasty, and definitely warrants a bit of play time on different variations!
Am so glad I pulled off getting this made!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Birthday Treat!!

So what do you ask was the other project of the day? I had friend at work as me to make her something chocolate and peanut butter for her birthday. So I told her if I had time I would, and how could I not? So I spent the last few days going through some new cookbooks. Ok I love to bake, really bake anything, but with 2 jobs atm, I won't deny that if I can cut some corners using mixes to help me I will. So I picked up a couple cake mix books, to see if anything interesting stood out. And I saw this Peanut butter cookie pizza cake. I couldn't pass that up. SO thats what I made. its very simple and looks pretty tasty. And it used a great combo of simple things helping make the busy day not too bad.
Peanut Butter Cookie Pizza Cake:

1 package(18 oz) refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
1 package (about 18 oz) chocolate cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare the mix
1 cup vanilla frosting
1/2 cup peanut butter
1-2 tbsp milk
1 container (16 oz) chocolate frosting
chocolate peanut butter cups, chopped (optional)
peanut butter chips (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat two 12/1 inch round pizza pans with nonstick cooking spray. Press cookie dough evenly into one pan. Bake 15-20 min or until edges are golden brown. Cool cookie in pan 20 minutes. Remove from pan, cool completely on wire rack.
2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Fill second pan 1/4 to half full with batter. (reserve remaining cake batter for another use ..I Made a little cake for the hubby.) Bake 10-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan 15 minutes. gently remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
3. Combine vanilla frosting and peanut butter in small bowl. Gradually stir in milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until mixture is of spreadable consistency.
4. Place cookie on serving plate. Spread peanut butter frosting over cookie. Place cake on top of cookie. Frost top and side of cake with chocolate frosting. Garnish with peanut butter chips and chopped peanut butter cups. Ok I forgot to get the peanut butter cups ha-ha, but the chips I got, and I wrote happy birthday with some of the vanilla frosting. I am sure she will love it, and I think it looks pretty tasty myself!! and am already of thinking of other variations..S'mores or Birthday cake with sugar cookie dough and strawberry and such. MMM! Enjoy it sometime!!

An Easter Breakfast..err..Lunch?

Yes, my first day off in 18 days, and where was I?? In the kitchen..all day long in fact. I spent the Morning Baking the Challenge for this month. (Its wonderful can't wait to post on it!!! soon so soon..). And then It was time to get some food. I have been Craving Blueberry Pancakes. So thats what I did. I cheated, though and while at the store the other day picked up a box of Blueberry pancake mix. I know I know, scratch woman scratch! But I knew today was going to be busy, and wanted to make it a bit simple on myself. I had Blueberries in the freezer, and really just wanted the sauce to go on them. I put about a cup of berries in a pot on the stove. A bit of sugar..of course, sprinkle of my favorite cinnamon mix and a bit of flour to thicken (ran out of cornstarch and forgot haha...damn lemon meringue pies!!!). Bring to a simmer...turn down, smoosh the berries a bit so there is a mix of textures and mmm tasty berries, and wow would these be great on cheese cake, so gonna be made this summer I think.
and what is that bit of glare over them?? Steam..thats right I caught steam right off the hot blueberry sauced pancakes!! It was so hard to not just stop with the pictures and eat right then lol but I knew I needed to post them and wanted them good. and how could I not post the picture with steam in it?? I just made some brown sugar sausage links and eggs to go with them. It was definitely a great breakfast, and a great break between finishing the challenge and taking on my next project of the day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Blog Party: Pizza!!

So, this is my first Blog Party. And honestly, no clue if I did it right, or if I even know what I am doing. What I do know is I have wanted to make Pizza for soo long and this was the perfect opportunity. The down fall, I am exhausted, am on my 17th day straight of work, and another day to go before thoughts of a day off. So I didn't get the cool pics I wanted, cause well I was just too tired to come up with them. But damn it I made Pizza!!
My husband plays on a Pool League, and one night while with him we had a taco pizza, and he loved it and It was ok to me, but I thought hey I can do much better I am sure ;). So with the chance to make pizza that is what I did. I made my own Taco Pizza. Dough, meat, cheese sauce, cheese, olives, tomatoes, all the fixings. Good?? why yes it was, damn tasty in fact and I will definitely make this again. He loved it. Now I read that I was also to have a cocktail. Well, here is the problem. All the hubby wanted was Beer ha-ha. He said If we have pizza we have beer, cocktails are for another night. So I treated him to his favorite beer. So we have Taco Pizza and Beer. I had a cool collage I did do in Photo shop..for some reason, it only shows up blue =(. So I am just gonna put up some pics.Ok, well, sadly my excitement has died with mass photo shop frustrations. Everything I put together in there now comes out blue when I attempt to post it =(. So this is all I have for pics now which really kinda sucks lol. The Pizza was great so I guess that is what matters!!

Taco Pizza:
Favorite Pizza dough
Favorite Taco meet
Cheese sauce with salsa
sliced black olives
chopped tomatoes
shredded cheese
shredded lettuce

(yes, I even gave up on the finishing of the recipe, just that bummed and tired lol)

Press your dough into your greased pizza pan. Bake about 10min. Pull out of oven, spread the salsa cheese sauce onto hot dough to desired thickness. Layer with Taco meat ( I use Lawrys taco seasoning, is my favorite.) then Shredded cheese. Top with olives and tomatoes. Put back in 400 degree oven for 15min until dough is browned, cheese is melted and bubbly.
Bring out and top with lettuce. Let sit for about 5 min to let crust stiffen up and slice. I served it with sour cream and New Castle.
It was a very tasty PIzza, I hope my frustrations stop no one from trying it =).
I used a simple PIzza dough recipe, just didn't have the time to post it and am too tired at this point. lol have a great Party!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Battle Cupcake :MarshMallow!!

So, I excitedly logged onto Quirky Cupcake to see what I was up against this month. Deep down I was hoping for lemon. I love lemon and the other 4 flavors scared me ha-ha. So being that I didn't have to go straight to work that day, I logged straight on to see what it was. I had this feeling that it would be what it was...cause so many were excited at the idea. And as the screen loaded..there he was..Mr. Stay Puffed Marshmallow of the best scenes is the classic Ghostbusters ( I admit, I watched it a few days later, as I kept having this urge to do so..hmm I wonder why). So I am faced with Marshmallow. Ok so lets set this straight. I hate marshmallows. The ONLY way I eat them, is in Rocky Road ice cream. And I think thats cause the chocolate and nut goodness hides them well. The idea of a flaming burnt marshmallow on a stick makes me gag, and lets cover this sweet potato mess everyone has to have at Thanksgiving.....Can not stand that gelatinous goo on top. Just seeing it makes me go to the far end of the table.
So you see, the idea of coming up with anything Marshmallow just..didn't go over well. But I love this event, and was determined to not let that little freaky puff of gooey whiteness get the best of me! So I spent days ..and what is it I can only think of...Damn Rocky Road or Damn S'mores. I can't do those, I have no doubt that somewhere in the other 50 people in the crew of Cupcake Hero someone will do them too. But that was all that would come to my mind. Then finally I saw a sandwich ...Chocolate, Banana, and marshmallow gooey grilled sandwich. I have to admit, omg did that look amazing and I may try it ..marshmallow or not lol. But how do I choose which of the 3 to make?? I say screw it, make all 3. So thats what I did. Thats right, Marshmallow didn't best me, I beat it!!
Now, this was one hell of a learning experience.
1. I didn't realize that marshmallows baked into an item just melted into them with no appearance. I thought the chocolate would look soo cool with white specs and I cut it open..and omg where did those damn things go?? NOO!!!
2. They look so cool when you pull them out, cause they bubble up and all that and apparently melt down the side.
3. Did you know that marshmallows caramelize? What the hell is that golden caramel looking stuff making the cupcakes stick to the pan? I didn't make caramel.
4. Oh my damn is this stuff sweet!! So very sweet!!!

That was what I learned was so interesting really, am fully intrigued with marshmallows, not sure I really like them yet, but intrigued I am.
So, faced with 4 doz cupcakes, 3 different types I set off to work, I figured Battle cupcake would take care of my delima of which to choose to post about.
The Rocky Road cupcakes with chopped pecans, chocolate chunks, marshmallows and marshmallow frosting?
The S'Mores cupcakes with graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chunks, marshmallows, and chocolate marshmallow frosting?

or The Banana Chocolate Marshmallow cupcakes? Full of Marshmallows, Chocolate chunks and 2 very ripe mashed banana's with ..yup chocolate marshmallow frosting? Armed with a tray and carrier I headed off to work, certain that 1 of these cupcakes would come out the favorite and I would know what I was going to post about.Now, I work in a the Kitchen, do you know how many people I pass on the way to the kitchen?? and yup about 50 of them said ohh I want a cupcake ha-ha. That was a good thing, meant if they wanted them, my coworkers will to. And sure enough they did. each get 1 cup cake? nope the first few I hit were, ohh I want 1 Rocky Road and I want 1...S'mores. So I thought ok the banana will not win. Then the next 5 just wanted banana. Ok so I was wrong. Dang it which do they like? so in less than an hour, the cupcakes are gone, and which was the winner you are wondering.....Hell if I know. There was nothing bad to say about any of them. OMG!! I went armed and ready for battle cupcake and come back with, those were awesome and so on. Not this was definitely the best or anything helpful ha-ha. Yes I know, I shouldn't complain, it means I made 3 great versions of marshmallow cupcakes, but alas I am not suppose to post on 3 types, just 1 dang it just 1. It looks like Marshmallow may best me yet. But I won't let that happen, so I choose My own winner!! Since I love Rocky Road Ice Cream, I choose my Rocky Road Cupcakes, and I hope that I pulled off a tid bit of creativity with this one. I have noticed, that so many in the Cupcake Hero crew are amazingly creative, and they will have some awesome cupcakes.
This cupcake is my Chocolate cake recipe, with an added 4oz package of instant chocolate pudding mix in it. 1 1/2 c of mini marshmallows, 1 cup chopped pecans, and 1 cup of chopped semi sweet chocolate. Very moist, very tasty. And definitely NOT speckled with the whiteness of marshmallows on the inside. Ha-Ha. That just shocked the heck out of me, where did that 1 1/2 cups of freaky sticky puffs go?? and the couple little specks you see, that is the frosting, good try, they were nothing but chocolate in appearance. It wasn't until you took a bite that you got that sweetness of marshmallow and the sneaky chunks of nuts and chocolate. And that intensely sweet, sticky frosting, nothing but a tall glass of milk to wash this tasty goodness down. Quite the fun yummy cupcake. Despite the use of My hated Marshmallow feind, I would make them again, they were just too tasty to pass on.

Rocky Road Cupcakes:
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 c boiling water
3/4 c milk
3 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, at room temp
2 1/4 c sugar
3 eggs, at room temp, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 4oz package instant chocolate pudding
1 1/2 c mini marshmallows
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped semisweet chocolate, or chocolate of choice

Paper 2 - 3 cupcake pans with cupcake papers. preheat oven to 350.

Place cocoa in a heatproof bowl or glass measuring cup, slowly add the boiling water and stir until smooth. Stir in milk and set aside to cool to room temp.

Place the flour, baking soda, salt and pudding in a strainer or sifter and sift into a bowl. Whisk to mix well and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 45 seconds. With the mixer still running, slowly add the sugar, then stop the mixer and scrape the down the bowl. Continue beating at medium speed until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the eggs and beat well; stop atleast once and scrape down the bowl again. Add the vanilla and blend well.

Using the mixer on low speed or a rubber spatula, fold in about 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the cocoa mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl and folding just until the ingredients are incorporated. In the same manner, fold in half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining cocoa mixture and finally the remaining flour mixture. Fold just until incorporated. Finally fold in the the marshmallows, pecans and chocolate.

Scoop batter into prepared cups, about 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove pans to wire racks and cool.

Top with Marshmallow frosting... :
1 jar (7oz) marshmallow creme
1/2 c butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp milk

Remove, and discard lid and foil seal from jar of mashmallow creame. To soften marshmallow creme for easy removal from jay, microwave on high 15-20 sec. In large bowl, beat marshmallow creme, butter and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Beat in enough milk, 1/2 tsp at a time, to make frosting spreadable. Spread on cupcakes. (to make chocolate, melt about 1-2 oz of chocolate I did unsweetened and let cool slightly. Beat into frosting to preferred consistency).

I planned to garnish with marshmallows and chocolate, but after all the stinkin cupcakes I didn't have any left ha-ha. But they were tasty and that is what mattered, and work enjoyed them all!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Bento for me????

Thats right, I took my first dive into the addiction that is Bento. Not so sure if its an actual addiction, but I know that I have been very intrigued for sometime since my Friend at Angel's Bento Blog stuck the little piece of rice in my brain! So of course, I just kept thinking I HAVE to find a bento box, I can't make a bento without the box. Well Amazingly, she and I joined BBM for Feb..sending all our favorites to the partner we were paired with. Of course we also chose to send a duplicate to each other. How cool am I? I used something from Both my packages today!!
SO not only did I do a lunch Bento, but seeing as I have to be up early and have some time before the store opens, I made a breakfast bento as well, to eat while I do the opening paper work =). Smart!! I am woot. So the first one is My Breakfast Bento.Now, keep in mind, this is my first time, and I needed to take it simple, nothing super cute or creative, but at least I am eating breakfast. Not so sure it actually qualifies as a Bento, but ha-ha I am calling it one! I scrambled up some eggs with a tid bit of butter, fresh chives and salt and pepper. Simple and yummy. I have been sick, so I decided some Vitamin C would do me good, so fresh orange to go with it =). My cute sunny Bento and my cute little orange silicone holder. with more yellow and orange, hmm I just realized that ha-ha. So, for lunch, I wanted to make something fresh and kind of light, but that would hopefully satisfy me. I do have like a 9.5 hr day tomorrow and I can't leave the shop, so have to be able to eat. I found a recipe for Tomato, Bean, & Potato Salad with Gremolata in a magazine. It looks yummy so I thought why not. To my despair, I thought I grabbed parsley out of the kitchen at it home, today I realized its Cilantro. Nope that wont work. So I didn't do the gremolata, I just mixed the garlic and lemon with some Italian dressing I had. add a bit of salt and Pepper...mmm tasty!! The cool thing about this Bento is the lid unscrews to another smaller compartment. And what better to put in that, than my treat of Blackberry Peach Fool!! Woot lunch and dessert!! And what do you ask are those cute little butterflies in my salad?? Thats right, I used my little cutter from her box to shape the potato's into butterflies. There, imagination and creativity!! Again, not so sure if its a technical Bento, but its a start, and I am excited about them =). Here they are together =) my breakfast and lunch. I can't wait for tomorrow!!!
Tomato, Bean & Potato Salad with Gremolata
10 small new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 lb green beans, cut diagonally into slices
1 1/2 lb ripe mixed tomatoes ( I actually used halved graped tomatoes its what I had at the time) cut up. You can use any variety you like.
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 lb young spinach leaves
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp Gremolata (follows)
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 small lemon
2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
Handful of flat-leaf, Italian Parsley, roughly torn

1. Cook potatoes in large pan of lightly salted boiling water 10-12 min or until just tender. Add beans and cook for 2 additional minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water.
2. Toss potatoes and beans with tomatoes, scallions and spinach; season lightly with salt and pepper.
3. To make the Gremolata: Use a vegetable peeler to pare thin stips of rind form the lemon ( I just zested it ha-ha). Carefully remove as much white pith as possible. Finely chop rind and toss with the garlic and parsley; set aside.
4. Squeeze the lemon into the bowl of a food processor; add peeled tomatoes and Gremolata. Mix for 10-15 seconds. Pour over potato mixture and toss through.

Thats it. the picture in the magazine just looks sooo good, I couldn't pass up trying it. But I didn't get to try it all seeing as I didn't think that Cilantro will pass for parsley very well ha-ha!

Am I a Fool???

Usually Yes, I am ..But this is a different kind of fool. This is the Blackberry Peach Fool. Since I got my first BBM package, I have been itching to use those adorable little Martini Glass's. But I also wanted something simple, fruity and made me think of the warmth of days to come. So going through my magazines while being sick, I came across Blueberry Peach fool and said mm til I saw the Blackberries again on sale. I am beginning to wonder if They are my new favorite Berry, they keep being on sale when I go to the store, some sign or something. So I changed it slightly to use them instead of the Blueberries. So I set out to make a light fluffy dessert, well snack seeing as I ate it at 4pm well before dinner ha-ha.Berry Peach Fool (I kept it as Berry seeing as I think you can use any berry )
1-1/2 c chopped peeled fresh or frozen peaches
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c unsweetened apple juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
dash salt
1 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c fresh or frozen berries thawed

In a small saucepan, combine the peaches, sugar, apple juice, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes or until peaches are tender. Cool slightly.
In a blender, (I actually used a potato masher during the cooking process , wanting it a little chunkier.) process peach mixture until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Just before serving, whip cream until it begins to thicken. Add vanilla; beat until soft peaks form. Fold into the peach mixture. In parfait glasses, alternately layer blueberries and cream mixture.

Simple and very tasty!! and the cute little Martini glasses and spoons I got from BBM made them even better!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Woot!! My other BBM box!!

So when I joined the DB group, it was with my lovely Angel...from Angel's Bento Blog
We wanted to do it together and here we are =). So when I was going through our notebook, I saw this blogging by mail thing, I asked her about it and she told me what it was and gave me the link. Wow how did I miss that?? So we both signed up for it. Once we did we both decided that we would send each other a duplicate box of the one we send out to our assigned partners. I got my box from her on Friday, has been a long weekend so am just getting to post it, but wow was it cool!! She had been telling me so much and showing me so many different things about Bento's that I have been planning on attempting them on my own, and what is that in my box?? My first Bento Box of course !! Not only is that a little yellow bento, but underneath all that is a cute round blue one as well, woohoo!! I get to make Bento this week =) Am excited can you tell ;). So I opened the bot and lifted the handle of the oh so cute basket. One by one I took out my items. There were the 2 bentos, some chopsticks, An adorable coffee cup with a heart on it ( mm tea), a little sauce cup, some dipping stick thingys with sweet icing dip, some dried seaweed I can't wait to try, some wonderful stickers and stationary, little candies, a yummy cinnamon candle, some Vanilla Chai tea (for my new cup =) ). I also had 3 adorable little cookie cutters ( for cookies, or cheese or any other need to be made cute foods!!) Some little silicone baking molds (for baking or holding foods in my new Bentos!!) Some fantastic green glitter for the next cake I make (hmm the March challenge maybe?? I see an Irish theme for it!!)
This was so much fun, not only did I get 1 box but I got 2!! So a wonderful event BBM was. More on the BBM can be found from The Happy Sorceress.
I can definitely say I look forward to doing more from this event, and hopefully Angel and I will continue to do duplicate boxes, cause where 1 is awesome, 2 is even more fun!!!

I loved Both My boxes so much, and am so glad I Joined the group, thanks Angel you are the "Princess" and I love you and love that we are doing this together!!!