Explosion Cake

 

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My granddaughter and I saw this in a magazine, not knowing how “famous” it was and decided to make one.   If you have a collection of sprinkles you might like to use, it is a great way to use them all, or at least most of them.   It is a really fun cake to make, with all the different colors and layers.  It looks like a regular cake (with lots of sprinkles) till you cut the first piece.

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It is a very simple recipe and easy to make, but you do need six six-inch cake pans.  I actually only had five but had a springform, the right size for the sixth.  The only thing I did notice is that the springform, which was dark took about 2-3 minutes longer to cook, so that is something to aware of if you are using different colored pans.  I may just buy a sixth six-inch pan today.

The basic recipe is a simple white cake and if you are not a “baker”, you could use a boxed white cake.  I baked the cakes two at a time, so I did not crowd the cakes.  Luckily I have two ovens, so it did not take long.

FROSTING

8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

16 ounces cream cheese, cold

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

32 ounces powdered sugar

CAKE

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon table salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1½ cups granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1⅓ cups milk

Food coloring

Nonstick cooking spray

 

Preparation

Cake:

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and put the oven rack in the middle of the oven (if you are using a convection oven, set it to 325°F).

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until they are really mixed together. You have to mix all the dry ingredients together first so that there are no clumps in your batter, which will create white spots. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter and sugar together, until they become fluffy. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula so it’s all mixed in from the sides.  Be sure all the butter is blended, so there are no lumps of butter.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter-sugar mixture, with the mixer on medium speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.

5. Add the vanilla to the milk and set it aside.

6. Mix about 1/3 of your dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture, then blend in half of the milk, always mixing on medium speed.

7. Mix in the second third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining milk mixture.

8. Stop the mixer for a few seconds and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl as you go, then mix in the last of the flour mixture. Make sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth. You don’t want any lumps, but don’t overmix it so stop the mixer as soon as the batter is smooth.

9. Divide the batter evenly into six portions. They don’t have to be exactly identical, but you want them to be close: You can use any small bowls that are all the same size: Just slowly pour the batter into each of the bowls a little at a time until they are all at the same height (it’s about 1 cup of batter per bowl).

10. Color the batter individually in rainbow colors: I used purple, turquoise, green, yellow, orange, and pink for our six-layer cakes. Start with a tiny drop of food coloring, stir it in completely, then add more until it is your desired color (the baked cake will come out pretty close to what you see the outside will be a little brown, but that gets covered with frosting).

11. Spray six 6-inch round baking pans with cooking spray, then pour the colored batter into the greased pans.

12. Bake the cakes two at a time for 8 minutes without opening the oven door. Then rotate each pan so the front faces the back. Bake for another 8 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it into the middle of the cake (cakes are very sensitive. The less you open your oven, the better your cake will come out! I don’t know exactly why, but I know it).

13. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes (when they’re warm, they’re really fragile, and that’s when they tend to break.) Then flip them over onto a baking sheet or cooling rack and let them cool completely before you frost them.

Frosting:

Use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter until it is smooth. Add the cream cheese and blend it together until there are no lumps. Then add the vanilla. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.

Mix in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time on the lowest speed otherwise, it will fly everywhere! Use the spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth.

Be sure it is all perfectly blended or you may lumps when you go to frost the cake.  It is a fun project.  We used the cutouts in the middle to make what I called the “The Leaning Tower of Caka.”

Assembling:

This is the fun part:  Cut a circle using a 2 inch or so biscuit cutter on five of the six layers.  Put a little frosting on the plate, so the first layer will adhere.  I use commercial cake cardboard available at Walmart, Joanns or Michaels.  Add the first layer, then frost it with nothing in the middle.  Continue to the top layer.  I do a thin coat of frosting over the entire cake, then put in the refrigerator till it is hard.  That makes it easier to put on the final layer of frosting.  There are several YouTubes online that walk you through how to do it.

The outside is a little tricky.  I put the entire cake in a big bowl in my kitchen sink and handful by handful, from the bottom up, added the sprinkles.  It was amazingly easy this way and quick.  Add a little touch-up and you are done.  The fun part is cutting the first piece of this cake.

Be ready as it can make a mess!  I think I am still cleaning up sprinkles!   I put ours in a tray with higher edges, so it would not go all over the floor. We photographed and delivered it to our local Fire Department.

Explosion Cake

Tarta de Santiago Recipe – Spanish Almond Cake

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An authentic recipe for the Spanish Almond Cake found on the Camino de Santiago.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Gluten-Free

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (1 3/4 cups) whole almonds, preferably blanched
  • 6 large eggs separated
  • 1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 drops almond extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Instructions

  • Finely grind the almonds in a food processor.
  • With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a smooth pale cream. Beat in the zests and almond extract. Add the ground almonds and mix very well.
  • With clean beaters, beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the egg and almond mixture (the mixture is thick, so you will need to fold it quite a bit).
  • Grease an 11-inch springform pan, preferably nonstick, with butter and dust it with flour or spray with cooking spray. Pour in the cake batter, and bake into a preheated 350°F for 40 minutes, or until it feels firm to the touch. Let cool before turning out.
  • Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar. Or, if you like, cut a St. James Cross out of paper. Place it in the middle of the cake, and dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar, then remove the paper.

Notes

Stencil the top of the cake using the traditional cross symbol of Saint James.
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Tarta de Santiago Recipe – Spanish Almond Cake

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

I found this article online and made a few corrections and additions, but it has great information.

These baking mistakes threaten your beautiful bundts, bread, and bar cookies. Here’s what you should do instead…

In cooking, you’re encouraged to riff: Edamame in your stir-fry? Sure! A splash of rice wine vinegar in your pan sauce? Why not! Curious about herbes de Provence in your chicken rub? Give it a whirl!

In baking, however, creativity should be directed toward what you decide to make and how you decorate it—not how you cook it. That’s because baking is a science; cooking is an art. Science has rules. Art? Not so much.

You don’t read the recipe.

As you do with any IKEA furniture, you should read through the steps and gather your tools before you start mixing and whipping. Otherwise, you might get started and realize you’re one short a cup of cocoa powder of what your recipe needs. Or worse, you’ll start mixing up the dough for the birthday party you’re going to tonight and then realize it’s supposed to chill overnight. Oops!

The fix: Pull your recipe up on your phone, or get it from your cookbook. Read the ingredient list, and assemble everything that’s listed. Then, read the directions. You can even go so far as to “pretend” each step. This way, you can double check you have every ingredient and every appliance or tool you need.

You decide to wing it instead of measuring the ingredients.

The “a little of this, a little of that” mentality may suit you well in cooking, but in baking, it could backfire. After all, consider this: cookies, cakes, and bread contain many of the same ingredients: eggs, flour, sugar, butter, for example. In the right ratios, they make a specific type of baked good. In the wrong ratios, they could be a disaster. That’s why it’s vital to measure every ingredient, from the flour to the tiniest bit of cinnamon.

The fix: Use your measuring spoons and cups. You need the right ratios to get the best results. Save the winging it for your salad dressing.

You don’t respect the comma.

Has the comma in “1 cup flour, sifted” ever confused you? What about the comma in “1/2 cup pecans, chopped”? The comma is telling you something very important. Do you know what?

The fix: The comma is telling you to first measure the ingredient and then perform the task. Measure the cup of flour, then sift it. Or measure the half cup of pecans, then chop them. There’s a big difference between half a cup of chopped pecans and half a cup of pecans that were measured, then chopped. It can dramatically affect your final result.

You use liquid measuring cups for dry ingredients (or vice versa).

Liquid measuring cups and dry measuring cups measure things differently. Though it’s not a significant amount, it’s enough that it could affect the texture of your final product.

The fix: Use wet measuring cups (typically, the glass type you pour from) for everything liquid: water, oil, honey, milk, molasses, corn syrup, etc. Use dry cups for everything else, from flour and sugar to chocolate chips and yogurt. With the dry cups, be sure to use a flat surface, like the back of a knife, to swipe across the top of the cup to remove excess before adding to the batter.

You dip your measuring cup into the flour.

Dipping a measuring cup into a bag or jar of flour packs the flour into the well of the measuring cup. It may seem like the easiest way to scoop flour, but you’re actually getting more flour than you really need. Too much flour will turn into dense bread, hard cookies, and stiff cakes.

The fix: You need the same amount of flour each time to get consistent results, and you can do this in two ways: The less accurate option is to use a spoon to lightly scoop flour into a dry measuring cup, then use a flat edge (like a knife) to level off the flour. The most accurate way to measure flour is with a digital scale. A cup of all-purpose flour should be 130 grams.

You don’t preheat your oven.

We’ve all been there: You’ve just finished rolling out a tray full of cookie dough only to realize your oven is cool as a cucumber. So to save time, you turn the oven on and just stick the pan in any way. Bad idea. The quick and sudden heat is an important part of the baking process. If the dough heats slowly, you may have a mess on your hands.

The fix: If you realize the oven isn’t pre-heated when you’re ready to bake, just let the dough or batter sit while the oven heats up. Most ovens can be heated in about 10 minutes time. If you’re working with a temperature-sensitive dough, pop it in the fridge until the oven is ready.

You’ve never measured your oven’s temperature.

I have some bad news: Your oven could be lying to you. Just because it says 350°F doesn’t mean it really is. That means your brownies or pastries may not bake properly because your oven could be too hot, or even too cool. And 25°F in one direction can make a big difference in the final product.

The fix: Invest in an oven thermometer. Hang it from the grates in your oven the next time you turn it on. Let the oven pre-heat fully, and then see what the thermometer says. That will give you an idea of how correct your oven is—and how you need to adjust the oven when you bake in it.

You substitute baking powder for baking soda.

They might share a similar name, and they even look similar out of the box. But baking soda and baking powder are quite different. Baking soda must have an accompanying acid (lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk, for example) to activate it; baking powder, on the other hand, has that acid already. If you use the wrong one, your baked goods will take a hit.

18 Bad Baking Habits You Need to Stop

Lemon Bliss Cake

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This wonderful recipe was from King Arthur Cake and is a lovely golden lemon cake, extra-moist and nicely tangy due to its fresh lemon juice glaze. Baking this cake in a Bundt pan turns it from everyday to special-occasion, perfect for everything from birthday parties to an elegant dinner.

Baking gluten-free? For great results, substitute King Arthur Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour for the all-purpose flour in this recipe; no other changes needed.

AT A GLANCE

PREP: 
BAKE: 
TOTAL: 
YIELD: 12 to 16 servings

INGREDIENTS

CAKE

  • 16 tablespoons (1 cup) unsalted butter*, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour
  • 1 cup milk, whole milk preferred
  • finely grated rind of 2 medium lemons OR 3/4 teaspoon lemon oil
  • *If you use salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe to 3/4 teaspoon.

GLAZE

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice; the juice of about 1 1/2 juicy lemons
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

ICING (OPTIONAL)

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt, first until combined, then until fluffy and lightened in color. 
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once all the eggs have been added, and beat briefly to re-combine any residue.
  4. Measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Whisk the baking powder into the flour. Add the flour mixture to the batter in three parts alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. The batter may look slightly curdled when you add the milk. That’s OK; it’ll smooth out as you add the flour. Mix until everything is well combined; the batter will look a bit rough, but shouldn’t have any large lumps. Stir in the grated lemon rind or lemon oil.
  5. Thoroughly grease a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, leveling it and smoothing the top with a spatula.
  6. Bake the cake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. A pan with a dark interior will bake cake more quickly; start checking at 40 minutes.
  7. While the cake is baking, make the glaze by stirring together the lemon juice and sugar. Microwave or heat over a burner briefly, stirring to dissolve the sugar. You don’t want to cook the lemon juice, so microwave just until very warm, but not uncomfortably hot — less than 1 minute should do it. Set the glaze aside.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven, and carefully run a knife between cake and pan all around the edge. Place the pan upside down on a cooling rack. If the cake drops out of the pan onto the rack, remove the pan. If the cake doesn’t drop onto the rack, let it rest for 5 minutes, then carefully lift the pan off the cake. If the cake still feels like it’s sticking, give it another 5 minutes upside down, then very gently shake the pan back and forth to loosen and remove it.
  9. Brush the glaze all over the hot cake, both top and sides. Let it sink in, then brush on more glaze, continuing until all the glaze is used up.
  10. Allow the cake to cool completely before icing and serving.
  11. To ice the cake: Mix the sugar and salt, then mix in 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, adding just enough additional juice to create a thick glaze, one that’s just barely pourable. Drizzle it artfully over the completely cool cake.
  12. Store the cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

 

Lemon Bliss Cake

10 European Desserts to Try

One of the things I love about travel is trying all the different foods that countries are famous in each area.  I try to do a little research before traveling to make sure I know what I should try.  I found the following article helpful and can’t wait to try the following.  I do not have recipes attached, but I might have to start finding them and trying them at home.

On The Great British Bakeoff, Paul Hollywood had the contestants attempt to makePastéis de Nata, and it was not one of the more successful endeavors, so not sure if I am going to try that one.

Europe’s cultural diversity manifests itself in its cuisine, from Italian pasta to French escargot. But for those travelers with a sweet tooth, this appetizing variety extends to the continent’s many mouthwatering desserts. Forget about your diet if you’re planning a trip soon, here are ten European desserts you have to try.

Rødgrød

Rødgrød
You’ll find fruity rødgrød if you visit Denmark, but the similar rote grütze can be found just across the border in northern Germany. Served hot or cold, it’s bursting with summer berries like redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, and blackberries. The fruit is cooked with sugar and some form of starch, like semolina or potato starch is added to make the pudding. Custard or cream often accompanies the dish to balance the acids in the fruit.

Pastéis de Nata

Pastéis de Nata
Pastéis de Nata is the traditional Portuguese custard tarts that are small enough to fit in your mouth in one go. The best place to find them is in the Pastéis de Belem bakery that’s been churning them out in their millions since 1837. The proof of the quality is in the length of the queue, which snakes around the block whatever the time of day. They sell about 50,000 of these delicious tarts every day, which surely makes them a contender for western Europe’s favorite dessert.

Gelato

gelato
Italy’s dessert menu might encompass tiramisu, pannacotta, and zabaglione (all fabulous!) but its gelato is legendary the world over. Every imaginable flavor can be found, on street corners, at pavement cafes, and in fancy restaurants. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the same as ice cream, however. If what you see is heaped high above the edges of the container, it’s full of air and not the real deal.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis
This baked French dessert originates from the Limousin region and was popularized in the 19th century. It is usually made with black cherries, though raspberries, plums or blackberries are occasionally substituted. The fruit lines a baking dish and a thick batter is poured over the top. Traditionally, the cherry stones are left in, adding an almond-like flavor to the dish.

Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel
Apfelstrudel is one of Austria’s greatest exports. Layers of thinly-rolled dough are filled to bursting with sweet apples, juicy raisins and a liberal measure of cinnamon. The first recipe dates from Vienna in 1696 and it’s just as popular today in the city’s many coffee houses.

Sticky toffee pudding

Sticky toffee pudding
Peruse the menu in any British gastropub and you’re almost guaranteed to find sticky toffee pudding. This dense, dark pudding is topped with lashings of toffee sauce and served with cream, ice cream or custard. It’s rich, so save plenty of room for dessert if you plan to try it.

 

Flan

Flan
A flan is not a flan when it’s from Spain. Instead of receiving a small tart or quiche, order flan in Spain and you’ll be presented with a tasty crème caramel. To make it, a caramel syrup lines a mold and warm custard are poured on top. It’s cooked in a water bath to ensure the custard doesn’t curdle and flipped over to serve once cooked and set.

Waffles

Waffles
If there’s one dessert synonymous with Belgium, then it’s surely waffles. Known as gaufre to the nation’s French speakers and waffels to Flemish speakers, the two most popular kinds hail from Brussels and Liege. Buy one from a street stall and eat it straight from the paper, dusted with icing sugar. In a cafe, you’ll find them served with fruit compote, Nutella or Chantilly cream, but hold off on the maple syrup as that’s not the way it’s done on home turf.

 

Baklava

Baklava
Layer upon layer of rich, flaky filo pastry bound together with sweet honey and lavishly sprinkled with nuts, baklava is understandably the Greeks’ most popular sweet treat. But though they’ll argue the toss, it actually originated in the city of Istanbul in Turkey before migrating east. That’s still Europe, at least in part. Wherever you try it, it’s delicious.

Black Forest Cherry Gateau

Black Forest Cherry Gateau
Germans know a thing or two about cake, but its most famous cake is not quite what it appears. That signature bake, Black Forest Cherry Gateau, was invented, so they claim, in 1915 at the Café Agner in Bad Godesberg near Bonn. It’s so popular it even has its own food festival. The key ingredient is the “Schwarzwälder kirschwasser”, a potent cherry brandy which made its way across the border from Switzerland but is named after the Black Forest region of Germany. Without the kirsch, it’s just a chocolate and cherry cake.

10 European Desserts to Try

Chocolate Caramel Cake

This is my go-to cake for special occasions, as every always loves it. But you do have to love chocolate ~ Caramel ~ English Toffee!  It is a simple recipe, but the add-ins make it rich and delicious.

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The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (King Arthur available at Amazon)
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • One jar of the best caramel topping you can find, kept in the refrigerator to make it harder.
  • English Toffee
  • Big Malted Milk Balls

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.   Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring. Then line with 9″ round parchment paper and spray again.  (I buy the pre-cut rounds by Wilton – available at Walmart)
  • For the cake:
  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  • Using a serrated bread knife, cut each layer in half so you have four layers.
Putting it together:
  • Make the Chocolate Buttercream recipe shown below.  Pipe or spoon a ridge of the buttercream all around the outside of the first layer.
  • Fill the center with the now hardened caramel
  • Put on the second & third layer and repeat
  • Frost the cake with rest of the frosting (there always seems to be a bit too much)
  • Put the English Toffee in a ziplock bag and crush with your rolling pin or meat pounder.
  • Decorate how you like with the Malted Milk Balls

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Serve with Champagne and have a wonderful time.

Chocolate Caramel Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

One of the young women I work with has a birthday today.  Since she likes to eat gluten-free. I decided to make a Flourless Chocolate Cake.  My “go to” for recipes is America’s Test Kitchen, so I pulled a couple of recipes from online and made one.  I don’t know if I did not follow the directions perfectly or what, but it looked awful and all the butter in it melted to the bottom of the pan in a big goo.  That baby hit the trash.

Luckily I bought extra chocolate and made King Arthur’s version as it had received five starts.  It looks pretty darn good.  Flourless

This flourless cake, featuring both chocolate and cocoa is RICH! A chocolate ganache glaze takes it over the top. Since it contains neither flour nor leavening, it’s perfect for Passover and those following a gluten-free diet.

Cake

  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa preferred

Glaze

  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan. See “tips,” below.
  2. To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can do this over a burner set at a very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
  4. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.
  7. Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
  8. Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.
  9. To make the glaze: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.
  10. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.
  11. Yield: 8″ cake, 8 to 12 servings.

Tips from our bakers

  • You line your pan with wax paper instead of parchment. While wax paper shouldn’t be exposed to direct oven heat, it’s fine when used between cake batter and pan.
  • If desired, garnish cake with 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted in a 350°F oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. I used Chocolate Curls described below. 
  • For cleanest slicing, use a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry. Repeat dipping knife in hot water and wiping dry for each slice.

I added chocolate curls and yellow M & M’s since the Birthday Girl hates yellow.  Thought it might be funny.

How to Make Chocolate Curls

 Ingredients
  • 2 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons butter (or shortening)

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate & butter in the microwave on 30% power until smooth.
  2. Pour onto the underside of a baking pan using an offset spatula to spread the chocolate thin as possible.
  3. Place in the freezer for 3-4 minutes or until firm. Using a spatula or scraper, scrape the chocolate off the pan and make curls. If the chocolate begins to soften too much, pop it back into the freezer for a couple of minutes.
  4. Once curled, place the pan back in the fridge until ready to use. Transfer the curls to your dessert using a spatula.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

The Birthday Party

Birthday Girl

Every grandmother should have the opportunity to have a birthday part for their granddaughter.  It brings joy to all involved, but I didn’t realize is that it also brought stress.  (in a good way)

It had been about twenty or more years since I had a party for kids.  My sons are grown and in their thirties.  Back in the day it was very easy for me.  One of my sons was born the day before Halloween, so we had a scary ghost and dunk for apples, eat the donuts off the rope line, walk through the cardboard castle, filled cooked spaghetti worms, grape eyeballs and etc.  The other two sons were born in the summer, so we had outdoor scavenger hunts, big picnics at the park and always had a wonderful clown named Flutterby, who came with chicks and ducks.

My beautiful granddaughter, Claire has a birthday in December.  In Washington that means you either have a party in the house, or go somewhere like Chucky Cheese.  Being there is not Chucky Cheese close by, I volunteered to have it at my house.  Luckily Claire had been here most of the summer and made some friends at the local Boys and Girls Club.  I was worried about getting anyone to attend.

I love to entertain and usually find it quite easy; but to entertain a group of seven year olds, I was now out of my league.  I asked a former student for some advice and the director of the Boys and Girls Club and we came up with a plan.  I told my sons I was more worried about this than a dinner party with six courses, as it had been a long time since I had been around that many children.

So the plan came into being.  The party would be Saturday morning from 10 AM till 12 PM.  We would make personal pizzas, have a first floor scavenger hunt, play “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, eat cake and ice cream and open presents.  By the day before we had nine children that were going to come.  I had baked a cake for the party and a cake for our more formal dinner at a restaurant.  I had party favors, had ordered the donkey game online, as no one sells it anymore, and made a scavenger hunt of funny stuff.

Pizzas went well, but I did not make enough red sauce.  My sons organized the lines and the cooking and getting the right pizza to the right person. My husband made Mimosas for the adults and everything actually went well.  The scavenger hunt started and I realized within minutes, they did not need twenty minutes to find everything and reset the timer to five more minutes.  Four of the nine found everything on the list, so there went my prizes.

Pin the tail on the donkey was next.  I learned that you had to put tape on each tail, as I seemed to have forgotten and having a solid mask was sort of important. One of parents handed me tape for each one.  The one that was closest to where the tail belongs got cake and ice cream first after Claire. It was her birthday and even though she did get the tail directly in the appropriate spot, we had to change the see-through blind fold.

Cake & ice cream was a breeze and even though I took the ice cream out too soon and it was pretty melted, it seemed to be eaten just fine.  Only had to wipe a little off the floor and luckily had enough chocolate milk containers for all.  As gifts were being opened, I thanked everyone for coming and for their gifts.

All that worry and it went quite well.  Claire had such a good time, she took a two hour nap (her choice) in the afternoon and then we all went out to dinner.  Then I came home and went to bed.  Tired Grandma!

The Birthday Party

Happy Easter

Easter was always a special day in our lives when my sons were young and we were a family of five.  The boys were dressed alike, of course I had a new hat with matching dress or visa versa and we all went to church and shared Easter Egg hunts and Pot Luck brunches at one of our houses.  It was a wonderful of great friends, good food and happy children chasing around the yards in a frenzy looking for the best egg or surprise, as we hid trucks and etc.

As the years passed and the boys grew and we moved away from that community, Easter has become quieter.  I no longer have that great group of friends to say to “Come on over and bring the kids”, so it looks differently these days.  My youngest son came to dinner, so I had a lovely morning cooking.

Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Almond Cake is wonderful with a cherry infusion and chocolate ganache frosting.  After a taste we sent it next door to my neighbor having a bigger get together.  Dinner was simple with a butterflied, rolled and stuffed leg of lamb.  Using Giada De Laurentils recipe, it was a tad dry, so would add a stock bath in the pan next time.  The Arugula Salad sitting on Ricotta was tasty, but I would use a lot less dressing than she called for in her recipe.  The Artichoke Risotto was perfection.

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Happy Easter

Searching for the Perfect Italian Dessert

A group I belong to is having an Italian Dinner, so I thought it would be fun to make the dessert.  Doing a little research, I decided an Almond Cake with Whipped Cream laced with Gran Marnier would be one good one, but my favorite might be Tiramisu.  I have not made one, so tried two different recipes and invited my good friends, who just happened to be Italian for a tasting.  It was impulsive and fun.

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The first recipe used Ladyfingers laced with dark rum, but I did not think the presentation was very pretty.  But is surely did taste

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The second Tiramisu was made with two sponge cakes cut in half and laced with brandy. This one is much prettier, but the brandy was not as good.  So for the final it will be a combination of the two.

Be sure not to leave Ladyfingers out if you have a cat.  They were all over the floor in the morning.  I don’t think he ate many of them, but he sure did make a mess.

I find baking soothes my soul.  On a gray day, (which we have a lot in Washington) it makes my happy.  I don’t really ever eat what I cook, so pass it on to friends.  My local Fire Department is the recipient of many desserts.  I never baked too much when I was younger as I was always busy with my three sons.  They are grown, I am mostly retired and do not sit around very well.

Yesterday I made a Caramel Chocolate Cake, that tastes a lot better than it looks.  My step sons came by and loved it.  The caramel frosting did not set up, so it just kept rolling off the top, kind of like a slow lava lamp.

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It is wrapped and ready to go to the local firemen.  I have not gotten any complaints yet.  Chocolate – Cake – Caramel – FREE!  No wonder no complaints.

I think people need to do what ever they need to do to be happy.  Baking makes me happy, so I bake.  Do something to make yourself happy every day.

Searching for the Perfect Italian Dessert