Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chocolate-Coconut Snowballs

My boyfriend's father loves sweets, but unfortunately suffers from Celiac's disease making him intolerant to gluten (which is found in lots of treats due to the flour involved). Lucky for him I love a good challenge.. so I am always looking for tasty gluten-free sweets to bake and he is always more than happy to test them out for me :) These Chocolate-Coconut Snowballs were part of his Christmas present this year and were a hit! They're basically chocolate macaroons and are ridiculously easy to make, involving only a few ingredients.

Chocolate-Coconut Snowballs
375 degrees. 10 minutes

4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

 Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together egg whites, sugar, and vanilla in glass-proof or stainless steel bowl. 
Fold in coconut flakes.
Place bowl over saucepan containing simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water).
Stir constantly to dissolve sugar.
When the mixture looks glossy and is hot to the touch remove from the heat. 
Add chocolate chips to warm coconut mixture.

Drop mounds on prepared cookie sheet.*
Bake 10 minutes or until browned on edges.

*Something I have found to be extremely helpful and clean, is the use of an ice-cream scoop for cookie dough or even cupcakes. The scoop allows for a perfect amount of mix each time and you don't have to worry about using your hands.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Holy Chocolate' Chocolate Cupcakes

If you like chocolate then you will love these cupcakes. It starts with a Chocolate Cupcake, add a little Chocolate Ganache and top it off with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

After the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I used a serrated knife to cut a small cone out of the center of the cupcake. The hole is then filled with Chocolate Ganache, and then topped off with the frosting. It's like a fudgey surprise in every bite :)

Chocolate Cake
350 degrees. bake time: 20-30min

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup buttermilk

-Beat sugar, butter, vanilla, almond. Add eggs one at a time
-Mix flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt
-Add dry ingredients into sugar mixture alternating with buttermilk 
   *when alternating always start with dry and end with dry ingredients*
-Prepare cupcake tins pour batter into cups
This recipe makes about 3 dozen cupcakes or 3 8-inch round cakes. This is the same chocolate cake recipe I used for the Mountain Man Cake.

Chocolate Ganache
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy/whipping cream
6 tbs butter

In a double boiler melt chocolate and whipping cream- whisking constantly. Once melted add in butter and whisk until smooth. Take off heat and let cool before using.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
3/4 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup (give or take) Whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cocoa powder
1/4 cup chocolate syrup (if you have it handy)
about 1/4 cup chocolate ganache

Beat shortening, butter and vanilla until creamy- mix in chocolate ganache. Slowly add powdered sugar and cocoa. Add chocolate syrup and whipping cream to reach the best frosting consistency. Depending on how chocolate-y you want the frosting, feel free to add more cocoa powder, syrup or ganache. 

*You can also just use melted chocolate chips if you haven't made the ganache.

Bananananana bread

Oops. It just so happens a few bananas happened to get too ripe and the only way to save them was by making them into delicious banana bread. I found a no fail recipe for Banana Bread on a while back and have stuck by it with a few additions of my own. Every once and a while I'll add a few chocolate chips, and with this batch I also added some cocoa to the mix. Since I was trying something a little new I just split my normal bath into two, which explains the thin slices- but don't worry it was still an office hit!

'Oh my goodness this is good!' Banana Bread
bake time: 35-45min

2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar or 1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 or 3 bananas)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk

chocolate variation: 
add 1 tbs cocoa powder
1 cup chocolate chips

-Preheat oven 350
-Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
-Cream sugar and butter, beat in egg, add bananas and vanilla
-Mix in sifted ingredients (add cocoa here)
-Stir in milk (add chips)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cakes for All

Disclaimer: Having just started this blog, these are all the cakes I've made up until now

I made my first tiered cake as a surprise for my best friend's birthday. Per request, I assembled a Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Icing into a two tiered purple and green cake. It was quite an adventure learning to work with fondant, but for my first time I had to give myself a pat on the back.

One cake down, and many birthdays to go I started on my next challenge. My boyfriend and his brother are a day apart, so why wouldn't I try to combine their days of birth on one 'mountainous' cake? I started with 2 Chocolate Sheet Cakes and added layer upon layer until a mountain was born covered with homemade Buttercream Icing. Before I even started on the cake, I spent a couple hours recreating Dustin and Chad in fondant, who would be climbing this Mountain Man Cake.

It was my task upon graduating from grad school this past spring to make the cake for our party. I, along with my 6 fellow graduating classmates, celebrated our successes by chomping into our homemade marshmallow fondant made Georgia Southern University eagle, that delicately covered the 3 layer White Mountain Cake with homemade Buttercream Icing.

T-rex holds a special place in my heart because he was my first paid-for-cake. A friend of mine was celebrating her youngest son's 2nd birthday and knowing my passion for cakes, asked me to create a dinosaur perfect for their beachfront birthday bash. This two day project was the most fun I've had making a cake. T's head, feet and arms are actually made of molded Rice Krispies treats covered with fondant and his body is the same White Mountain Cake I used for the graduation cake and Buttercream Icing.

I attended a Halloween party this past October and when asked to bring something, I immediately made it my own Halloween cake challenge. Being fall, I tried out a Pumpkin Spice Cake, with Spiced Cream Cheese icing and instead of going with the store bought fondant I actually used homemade marshmallow fondant to cover the Witches Brew.

My love affair with baked goods

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but one day I woke up and I was in love with baking. Now, this love affair didn't come completely out of the blue: I've baked a few dozen cookies in my day, dabbled with breads, and ripped open a package of Betty Crocker cake mixes a time or two, but it wasn't until a few years ago when my youngest brother graduated from high school that I decided to attempt a completely homemade cake...and that was the beginning of the affair. 

My first endeavor was a 3 layer chocolate cake with raspberry and chocolate ganache filling. It turned out better than I could have imagined and everyone else didn't seem to have too many complaints either. 

If there is something that you will learn about me and my cakes, I like to try new things and I'm always up for an adventure- I embrace my creativity and go in all the way. I hope you enjoy following my adventures, as much as I enjoy baking them...