Thursday, January 7, 2021

CHRISTMAS AND 2020 ARE BEHIND US!

I try always to stay positive, but at times in the last year, that has not been easy. So much loss and sadness for so many families. I pray that 2021 is a better year; a time of healing, both from Coronavirus, and as a nation. 

I want to share a few of our Christmas memories. Once again, my husband and I hunkered down and enjoyed the best of the holiday. We did a lot of eating, listened to Christmas music non-stop, and enjoyed a huge fire every day during the season.

Our cat, JoJo enjoyed those fires, too!

First I want to start with one of my favorite holiday treats...

EGGNOG

Growing up, we made homemade eggnog every Christmas. It's easy to make and tastes quite different from what you buy in the store. It actually tastes like...EGGNOG!

This is not in the dietetic category, but it IS the holidays!

Ingredients:

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups milk

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1/4 tsp. vanilla 

More nutmeg for topping

Preparation:

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and creamy. 

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, milk, nutmeg and salt. Stir often until the mixture reaches a bare simmer.

Add a big spoonful of the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously. Repeat, adding big spoonfuls of the hot liquid one at a time to temper the eggs.

Once most of the hot milk has been added to the eggs, pour the mixture back into the saucepan on the stove. 

Whisk constantly for just a few minutes until the mixture is just slightly thickened (or until it reaches 160 degrees). It will continue to thicken as it cools.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour the eggnog into a pitcher or other container and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled. 

Serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

Store in the fridge for up to one week, but bet it won't last that long!

Many enjoy eggnog with a little rum. I prefer bourbon.

Since I had the homemade eggnog, I decided to make an Eggnog Cheesecake. I had never heard of Eggnog Cheesecake so thought it was an original idea. Of course, when I googled it there were hundreds of recipes. Why invent the wheel. I found this recipe on the Allrecipes site. 

EGGNOG CHEESECAKE

Ingredients:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. melted butter. I used 4.
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

3 (8oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
3/4 cup eggnog
2 eggs
1/4 cup bourbon. Original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp. rum.
1 tsp. nutmeg. Original recipe calls for pinch of nutmeg.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, nutmeg, sugar and butter. Mix well and press in the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool. I did this the day before and stored in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.
Preheat oven to 425. In a food processor combine cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and eggnog. Process until smooth. Blend in eggs, rum (or bourbon) and nutmeg. Pour mixture into the cooled crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. 
Reduce heat to 250 (I reduced heat to 275. 250 seemed too low.) and bake for 45 -50 minutes until center of cake is barely firm to the touch. Allrecipes recommends removing from the oven immediately. I suggest turning the heat off; opening the oven door and let the cake set in the oven for about 30 minutes. This almost always avoids cheesecake cracking. Remove from oven and let the cheesecake cool completely on a wire rack before removing the rim.
At first, I was disappointed this cake was not thicker, but it really is perfect just as it is. Rich, creamy, eggnoggy and delicious!
I considered topping with whipped cream, but decided that would be gilding the lily so served as is. 
It was a hit with my husband, Jerry!

The next Christmas recipe I want to share is Shrimp Bisque. I decided our Christmas menu was so big and Shrimp Bisque is so rich, that I would serve the Shrimp Bisque on Christmas Eve. I started this recipe the week before by making a luscious fish stock. My dear brother and his wife sent us live lobsters from Maine for my birthday back in the summer. After devouring the lobsters I saved the 'bones' with this bisque in mind. You could use all shrimp shells or a combination of any seafood shells and I think it would be as good, but the lobster lends a very beautiful and unique flavor. Like so many soups you can improvise!

SHRIMP BISQUE


FOR THE FISH STOCK:
2 lobster bodies
4 cups shrimp shells
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
Salt/Pepper
1 bay leaf
Enough water to cover all shells. In a large soup pot bring all ingredients to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Strain. 

FOR THE BISQUE:
4 Tbsp. flour
6 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup very finely diced shallots
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup Marsala wine*
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire
1/4 white pepper, or more to taste
Dash of Old Bay Seasoning
Dash of smoked paprika
4 Tbsp. tomato paste
Salt
1 lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined, roughly chopped. Keep 2 shrimp per serving whole for garnish.

Preparation:
In a large pan melt 6 Tbsp. butter. Add shallots and saute until soft. Whisk in flour and continue cooking over medium heat until the roux becomes golden brown; about 5 minutes.  
Slowly add 2 1/2 cups of fish stock to the roux, whisking constantly to ensure that it stays smooth.
Whisk in 4 Tbsp. tomato paste. Add creams, Marsala, lemon juice, Worcestershire, pepper, salt, Old Bay, and smoked paprika. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add both the whole and chopped shrimp and cook over low simmer until shrimp just turns pink; about 7-10 minutes. Garnish with the whole shrimp. Chives or chopped fresh tarragon would add a nice garnish, as well.

*You do not need a fancy or expensive sherry or marsala, but please do not use cooking sherry. This is what I use.

This is one of my favorite soups! 
I'm going to close today with a few more photos from our Christmas...


Deviled Eggs and Polish ring always appeared at Christmas Eve growing up.
We would not have had smoked salmon with mascarpone cheese garnished with green olives!




The traditional Peppermint Stick Ice Cream.


JoJo enjoys doing jig saw puzzles. So does his Mama!



Christmas morning sunrise.

LOOKING FORWARD TO MORE JOY, HEALTH 
AND HAPPINESS IN 2021!

...AND, MORE COOKING!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

www.cookwithcindy.com

Monday, December 21, 2020

PINA COLADA TRES LECHES CAKE!

 Last year I made this cake for my dear friend, Joyce Prim's birthday, and this year she requested it again. One of the things that makes me happiest is pleasing people with food so I was thrilled she wanted the cake again on her special day.

Happy Birthday Dear Joyce!

This cake is basically a traditional Tres Leches cake, but with the addition of coconut milk for one of the tres milks, pineapple, a little rum, and topped with toasted coconut to give it a Pina Colada flavor. It really should be called a Cuatro Leches cake because by the time you frost with whipped cream you have 4 milks, not 3, but who's counting. It's darn delicious!


Ingredients:

FOR THE CAKE:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

6 large eggs, separated

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk, Shake the coconut milk vigorously before you measure it out.

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. rum

1 cup canned crushed pineapple chunks, slightly drained

FOR THE LECHES:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 tsp. vanilla

6 Tbsp. rum

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla 

1 Tbsp. rum

1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut, toasted

Preparation:

TO MAKE THE CAKE:

Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium high speed until thick and pale in color, and falls in ribbons when you lift the whisk, about 5 minutes. You can also do this with a hand mixer, but the standing mixer makes it much easier. 

Stir in the coconut milk, vanilla, and rum. Gently fold in the flour mixture.

In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on medium high speed to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter in 3 additions. Stir in half of the pineapple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan, Sprinkle the remaining pineapple on top of the batter. Bake until cake is golden brown and the center bounces back when touched gently, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely.

TO MAKE THE LECHES:

Combine the coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Add the vanilla and rum.

Use a skewer or fork to very gently poke holes in the cake, pressing them all the way down to the bottom. This allows the 3 milks to penetrate the cake. Pour the leches mixture over the cake, careful to cover it all. It will be quite goopy. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. it takes time for the cake to drink up all that milk!

TO MAKE THE TOPPING:

Whip the heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar, vanilla and rum, and whip to soft peaks. Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake. Top with toasted coconut. 

It was a happy, joyous celebration. Wishing you many more Mrs. Prim! I greatly look forward to the next birthday celebration!

This will be my last blog of 2020.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

 FROM THE HEART AND SOUL

 OF MY KITCHEN TO YOURS!


www.cookwithcindy.com











Tuesday, December 15, 2020

MILK AND COOKIES FOR SANTA!

 This year I have decided to surprise Santa with something a little different.

GINGER BISCOTTI AND GINGER BRANDY

Let's start with the "cookies". This recipe came together very easily. It's a basic biscotti, but is embellished with beautiful spices, in this case primarily ginger. Biscotti originated in the Tuscan city of Prato and are traditionally flavored with almond. They are twice baked so super crunchy, one of the things I love best about this classic Italian biscuit. I also like the fact that they are not too sweet. In Italy you might dunk your biscotti in a sweet glass of Vin Santo.  This Christmas Santa may dunk his in a sweet glass of ginger brandy.  I found the recipe on the King Arthur Flour site. If you are a fan of ginger, you will love these biscotti's!

Ingredients:
6 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
2 cups flour (Of course this recipe calls for King Arthur, but that's the brand I usually use anyway!)
1 cup finely diced crystallized ginger (Dicing this is quite tedious, but I thought it should be done by hand since the crystallized ginger is so sticky. I assembled all the ingredients and diced the ginger the day before I put the biscotti together.)

Here are the biscotti's all formed
and ready to go in to first bake.
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or line with parchment paper one large baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs. The batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed, add the flour and crystalized ginger, mixing until smooth. The dough will be quite soft and sticky, but should hold its shape when you drop it from a spoon. 

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and shape it into either one large log-about 14" long by 2 1/2" wide and 3/4" thick. I shaped into two logs (same width and thickness), but thought they would be easier to manage if they were smaller. Using your wet fingers, smooth the top and sides of the log.

Bake the  dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on the pan from 5 to 25 minutes. I let them cool for about 20 minutes. Using a spray bottle filled with room temperature water, lightly, but thoroughly spritz the log, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit makes slicing the biscotti easier.

Reduce oven temp to 325 degrees.

Wait another 5 minutes, then use a serrated knife to cut the log into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. Cut at a 45 degree angle for longer biscotti or cut straight for shorter biscotti. 

Set the biscotti on edge on the same prepared baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes until they feel very dry. They'll still feel a tiny bit moist in the center, if you break off a piece, but they'll continue to dry out as they cool.

Remove from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container to preserve their texture. If the biscotti are not as crunchy as you'd like, keep on the rack uncovered, overnight to continue drying. That is what I did and froze them next morning. They can be stored at room temperature for a week, or longer if you freeze. 

NEXT, THE BRANDY...I THINK SANTA WILL BE VERY HAPPY THIS YEAR!

GINGER BRANDY
Ginger Brandy can be made either with brandy or vodka. I did quite a bit of research and combined a few recipes to come up with this.

Ingredients:
1 750 ml bottle vodka (I used Smirnoff 80 proof.)
1 1/3 vanilla bean, split
Zest of one large orange
1 cup fresh ginger root, I grated some and then sliced the rest thinly
Simple syrup, recipe follows

Preparation:
Mix all these ingredients together in a large jar. Store in a cool, dry, dark place and shake a couple times a day. On the 4th day add sugar syrup.

I wanted to darken the color of the Ginger Brandy so started the simple syrup by placing 2 cups of white sugar in a large, dry saucepan over a medium high heat. Wait for the sugar to begin to melt and deepen in color. Carefully (it will spit up) add 3 cups of water. Reduce heat and stir until the crystalized sugar is dissolved. I added about 2 1/2 cups of the simple syrup to the Ginger Brandy, tasting as I went, to make sure it didn't get too sweet. 

Continue storing the brandy for another couple of days and then strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the larger ingredients and strain again using coffee filters. Let it sit another couple of days to 
mellow. Very gingery. Not too much alcohol-about 40 proof and perfect sipping for a cold winter evening.

CHRISTMAS IS 10 DAYS AWAY!



I want to share our Christmas menu with you. As with Thanksgiving, I will prepare a feast for two!

💚GENEROUSLY STUFFED CRAB MUSHROOMS

🍤RICH, SPICY SHRIMP BISQUE

🎀JUICY TENDERLOIN OF BEEF GRILLED OVER MESQUITE FIRE, SERVED WITH FRENCH BERNAISE

💝CLASSIC GREEN BEANS ALMONDINE

🎄CREAMY, PARMESAN GARLIC MASHED POTATO

🎅EGGNOG CHEESE CAKE

I will also make a batch of Peppermint Stick Ice Cream as it is my husband, Jerry's favorite, but we may not eat that on Christmas Day. I think we'll have enough food for 2 as it is!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!

MUCH LOVE DURING DIFFICULT TIMES!

STAY SAFE, HEALTHY, AND ENJOY THIS BEAUTIFUL HOLIDAY IN NEW AND DIFFERENT WAYS.
The top tablecloth has been part of our Christmas tradition for my whole life!
My Mom used to cover a card table that she placed in the corner of our dining room
and then filled with pies and desserts! It was known as the dessert table.
I made the holly-leaf tablecloth on the bottom for my Mom about 30 years ago.

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM










Sunday, November 29, 2020

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE AND SCENES FROM THE RABBITT'S 2020 THANKSGIVING FEAST!

I am not sure I will ever make Pumpkin Pie again for Thanksgiving as this pie was richer, tastier and had a creamy, beautiful texture. I found the recipe online and changed it up a bit by making it with a Ginger Snap crust. I also thought serving the pie with ginger infused whipped cream would make it extra special. It did! And finally, my good friend and fellow foodie, Dorita Pina, told me she always roasts pecans using maple syrup instead of sugar and thought this would also be a nice touch on our Thanksgiving Day pie. Brilliant Dorita! The nuts were very crispy and flavorful making an attractive border on the pie.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH PIE

Ingredients: FOR THE FILLING
 3 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (I used roasted cinnamon for added flavor.)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups roasted butternut squash, pureed

Ingredients: FOR THE CRUST
1/2 cup Ginger Snaps, crushed
1/2 cup Graham Crackers, crushed
3/4 cup pecans, very finely chopped (I used my Mini-Max food processor.)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. dried Ginger powder
5 Tbsp. butter

That sounds like a lot of butter, but it really keeps the crust together and as it pre-bakes becomes caramelized. Bake the crust in a 350 degree preheated oven for about 12 minutes. If doing ahead of time let the crust cool completely, then cover and place in fridge until ready to fill.

Ingredients: FOR THE ROASTED PECANS
1 lb. pecan halves
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 large egg white, beaten until frothy
1 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients and spread nuts out on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with PAM. Bake in 300 degree preheated oven for about 45 minutes until nuts are nicely browned. Stir a couple times as they bake to make sure all the nuts crisp up evenly. Cool. This is also many more nuts than needed to ring the pie, but the nuts store well in a covered jar for up to a week.

I roasted twice as much squash as needed for the pie, but it's nice to have it all cooked in the fridge. I also roasted and pureed the squash the day before Thanksgiving and made the crust day before, too. On the morning of the holiday I made the filling, baked the pie, made the maple candied pecans and infused the whipped cream with ginger. 

Ingredients FOR GINGER INFUSED WHIPPED CREAM
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 inch knob of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced 
2 Tbsp. of candied ginger, chopped.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream with the gingers over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off heat, but let it cool in the pan. Strain through a fine mesh sieve pushing on the ginger to extract flavor. Chill thoroughly before whipping. I also like to chill the beaters in the freezer before whipping and place the chilled cream in freezer for about 5 minutes before whipping. This allows the cream to whip much faster. 

TO ROAST THE SQUASH:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and salt lightly. Place the squash on a foiled baking sheet and roast for about 40 - 45 minutes or until squash is very tender. Let cool and then scoop out the squash from the skin. Because it is so tender it is easy to mash with a large fork. Set aside. 

TO MAKE THE FILLING:
If doing all the same day, reduce oven temp to 365 degrees. 
In a large bowl beat eggs thoroughly. One by one, add sugar, spices, salt, vanilla, cream and squash puree. Pour the mixture into a 10 inch pie plate. I still had a little mixture left over so made a mini pie in a ramekin. 

Bake on a baking sheet until filling is set, about 45 - 50 minutes. The center of the pie will still be a bit wobbly. Cool to room temp on a wire rack. Once cooled, arrange the Maple Candied Pecans. 


Here's the pie out of the oven, cooled with its Maple Candied Pecan edging. This pie sounds like a lot of work, but because you can do so many things ahead of time, it really is not.
And here's my husband, Jerry with JoJo 
on his lap, enjoying the first piece of pie!
...well, Jerry is! JoJo not so interested.

Last time you saw our complete menu. The brined and smoked turkey was a huge hit. I brined the bird for 2 days prior to smoking. This is the brine I used:

TURKEY BRINE
2 gallons water
1 1/2 cups Kosher salt

3 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. black pepper corns
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 large sprigs of fresh sage

Combine all and stir until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. I used a turkey oven roasting bag to brine the turkey, which worked well. Place the turkey in any food-grade bucket or brining bag. Seal and place in a large roaster in case your bag starts to leak, which mine did. Turn the turkey morning and night to ensure that all sides benefit from the brine.

I had never smoked a turkey and was concerned it might dry out so also made an Apple Cider reduction to baste the bird as it smoked.

APPLE CIDER REDUCTION
Reduce by half: 2 cups apple cider, 3 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1 stick cinnamon. This can also be made a few days in advance. 

I couldn't believe how burnished the skin became. This bird was moist, juicy and flavorful. And, VERY smoky!

Since I had the smoker going I decided to smoke some chicken livers to make BOURBON INFUSED LIVER PATE with smoky bread toast points!
You can find these recipes on my blog. The only difference is I smoked the chicken livers for about 20 minutes before continuing with the recipe. I served the pate with a Cranberry Ginger Sauce and Onion and Apricot Jam. These recipes are also on my blog, but if you need help finding them, please just let me know. Pomegranate seeds were the perfect contrast to the creaminess of the pate.

Here are a few more scenes from our holiday eating extravaganza...





OUR GATHERING WAS SMALL, 
BUT IT CERTAINLY WAS FESTIVE, 
FUN, AND FILLED WITH LOVE!

I HOPE YOURS WAS, AS WELL!

ON TO THE NEXT HOLIDAY!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM 
MY KITCHEN TO YOURS!

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM





Friday, November 20, 2020

THANKSGIVING 2020!

 Here we are at another holiday during the time of Coronavirus. What a troubled and disturbing year it has been, but I remain hopeful that things on all fronts will improve and life will return to something that feels a bit more familiar, normal and safe. In the meantime, I am grateful for so much: My husband whose love and support is endless; the fact we live in a beautiful, rural area allowing me to walk and enjoy nature; and the love of friends and family who I continue to enjoy both near and far, and so much more! We just celebrated my husband Jerry's 76th birthday, which has come to be known as the "kick-off" to the holiday season. And now on to Thanksgiving. I'm going to start by sharing the soup we will have as a starter on Thanksgiving day.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH GREEN APPLE SOUP

Ingredients:
1 large butternut squash, cut in half and seeded
1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
2 Granny Smith apples, cut in half and cored
Olive oil for drizzling.
Liberal Salt/Pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider





Preparation:
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare veg and apple. Drizzle with oil. Salt generously. Roast for about 30-40 minutes until veg is just starting to caramelize and squash is very tender.

Let the veg cool. Peel the skin off the butternut squash and put in a large soup pot. Smash up the squash with a large spoon. Scoop the apple out of the skin. It will be very soft. Add to the pot. Drop in the onion and add 4 cups chicken stock and 1/2 apple cider. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Cool slightly and blend either with an emulsion blender or add all to your blender and blend until very smooth. Taste for seasoning. Salt/pepper as needed. I also add a dash of white pepper to help counter the sweetness of the soup. Serve this soup, hot or cold, with a scoop of Greek-style yogurt and thinly sliced green apple. I really like it best cold! This soup tastes like Thanksgiving in a bowl!

RABBITT'S THANKSGIVING MENU

Smoked Chicken Liver Pate Garnished with Pomegranate seeds
    Served with Caramelized onion, Apricot/Shallot Jam and Smoky Bread toast points

Roasted Butternut Squash and Green Apple Soup

Applewood and Sage Smoked Turkey with Apple Cider Glaze
Traditional Herb Stuffing
Sweet Potato Puree with Pecan crust
Creamed Boursin Spinach
Cranberry Ginger Relish
Freshly Baked Rolls

Butternut Squash Pie with Ginger Pecan crust topped with Ginger-infused Whipped Cream

I think that meal should feed the two of us!

I will brine the turkey for 24 hours, then marinate, and finally smoke the bird brushing with an Apple Cider glaze. 

We celebrated Jerry's birthday, which was Friday, November 13, for the entire weekend. Birthday night we had a rack of lamb, gruyere scalloped potatoes and roasted asparagus. For dessert I made one of his favorites, a blueberry cheesecake! Here is Jerry on our birthday morning walk...Looking good Mr. Rabbitt!
Saturday night we made pizza's on the grill. Thank you to my old friend Trudy G. Silverman who suggested I put the pizza right on the grill! It will take me a couple times to perfect the grilling technique as I had a little trouble controlling the heat, but they were delicious!


THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY!

WISHING YOU THE HAPPIEST 
THANKSGIVING POSSIBLE!

WITH LOVE...

WWW.COOKWITHCINDY.COM












Monday, November 9, 2020

LET THEM EAT...

 CAKE!

A small group of us recently got together to 'safely' celebrate my good friend, Jan Burke's very special, big birthday. We won't say just how big, but as far as I am concerned every birthday is big and special. I love birthday's!  When I learned that chocolate was her 'favorite' I went on a search for the richest, most luscious chocolate cake recipe and I found this Chocolate Truffle Layer Cake recipe online. This one may just take the cake! 

Apparently the cake was a lucky accident created by a Los Angeles baker, Kimberly Sklar, who took her cake out of the oven a little too early. She had used creme fraiche in the batter and discovered that the cake was super moist and fudgy, so instead of cooking longer decided to go with the mistake. She layered it (all 6 layers!) with even more chocolate in the form of white and dark chocolate ganache. If you are a chocolate lover, this is your cake!

Jan is on the left, and our host,
Bonnie Ungerecht on the right.


CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE LAYER CAKE



Ingredients for...THE CAKE

10 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped and divided 6 oz./4 oz.

1 stick unsalted butter (I like to use Kerry Gold.)

1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract (Again, good quality; such as Nielsen-Massey.)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup water

2/3 cup creme fraiche (6 oz.)

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Preparation for the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (This is the easiest thing you will do in making this cake!)

Butter two 15x12 inch jelly roll pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, melt 6 ounces of the chopped chocolate with the butter and vanilla over very low heat, stirring gently. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa with the water and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Let cool slightly, then whisk the mixture into the melted chocolate. Whisk in the creme fraiche.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs, egg yolks and both sugars at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the chocolate mixture. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt and transfer to a sifter or a sieve. Sift the dry ingredients and fold into the cake batter with a large spatula until fully incorporated.

Spread the batter evenly between the prepared pans and sprinkle with the remaining 4 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Bake the cakes in the lower/middle third of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the centers spring back when lightly pressed; shift the pans halfway through baking. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans. Cake can be made and refrigerated for up to 3 days in advance or frozen up to 2 weeks.

Ingredients for...WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE

1 pound white chocolate, chopped (I used Ghirardelli.)

3/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Preparation for the White Chocolate Ganache:

Set a medium bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. The water should just touch the bottom of the bowl. Add the white chocolate to the bowl and melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat. Pour off the water in the saucepan and wipe it out. Add the heavy cream and butter to the saucepan and heat until the butter is melted and small bubbles appear around the edges. Whisk the hot cream mixture into the white chocolate. Set the bowl in a cool place until the ganache is firm enough to hold its shape, at least 1 hour. 

I had no idea these steps would take so long and did not allow quite enough time for my ganaches to set so as I assembled the cake the layers got a little uneven. Next time I will allow more time!!

Ingredients for...DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

1 1/3 cups plus 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation for the Dark Chocolate Ganache:

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream until small bubbles appear around the edges. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate melts, then whisk until smooth and shiny. Set the bowl in a cool place until the ganache is firm enough to hold its shape, at least 1 hour.

Ingredients for...CHOCOLATE FROSTING:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1/4 cup corn syrup

6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. brandy

1 pound unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

Bittersweet and white chocolate shavings for garnish. I skipped this step as I ran out of time.

Preparation for the Chocolate Frosting:

In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate over very low heat, stirring frequently. In a small saucepan, whisk together the granulated sugar, corn syrup, cocoa and water and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the brandy and melted chocolate. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. 

In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, beat the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate mixture. At low speed, beat in the confectioners sugar.

NOW THE ASSEMBLEY BEGINS...

The original recipe went into elaborate instructions as how to create forms to cut the cake into even pieces and how exactly to fill this cake. I'm going to share what I did, which seemed much simpler. 

The sheet pans are 15x12 inches.  Gently flip the pans onto your counter or a cutting board using your hand to ensure the cakes pop out in one piece. The trick here is to not break the cake. Carefully remove the parchment paper. Now cut each sheet pan of cake into 3 equal pieces per pan, so 3 pieces of 5 inch x 12 inch cake making a total of 6 pieces between the 2 pans. Trim the edges with a sharp to remove any crusty edge, but make sure each of your pieces is the same size. 

Place the first layer on a serving plate or tray. I used my mesquite wooden cutting board as my cake platters were not large enough. Spoon a generous dollop of the chocolate frosting onto the first layer creating about 1/2 inch even layer of frosting over the first cake layer. Add a layer of cake on top. Spread 1/2 of the white chocolate ganache on this layer and top with another layer of cake. Top this layer with 1/2 of the dark chocolate ganache and repeat with 2 more layers, alternating the white and dark chocolate ganache. 

Keep the sides as even as you can as you build the cake. My cake had a little tilt to it! Top with the final layer of cake. Coat the sides and top of the cake with a smooth layer of chocolate frosting (I used all the frosting that was left); refrigerate briefly to set the frosting. Garnish with the chocolate shavings.

Refrigerate until firm. Using a hot knife, cut the cake into slices while cold and let it come to room temperature before serving. In the excitement of the celebration I ignored those last 2 steps, which also resulted in a less than perfectly even final presentation, but it sure did taste fantastic. And, the birthday girl and other guests seemed very happy with this rich, decadent, gooey chocolate cake!
Our gracious host, Bonnie, offered to cut the cake!

Don't let the many steps involved in making this cake discourage you. It is truly worth the effort for a special occasion or holiday.

THAT'S IT FOR TODAY!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AGAIN, DEAR JAN!

...AND MANY, MANY MORE!

HOLIDAYS ARE FAST APPROACHING.

WE WILL MAKE THE MOST 
OF THE FESTIVE SEASON AHEAD!

KEEP ON COOKING AND KEEP THE FAITH!

www.cookwithcindy.com