Tag Archives: Cooking

Mom’s Chocolate Cake vs. Mom’s Chocolate Cake

2 Jan

Yesterday, I baked my first cake of 2011 – Food & Wine’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake. This time I actually had an occasion to bake since it was Mandy’s birthday. The cake is your classic chocolate cake – light, springy, and rich with a creamy, fudgey icing.  If I liked milk it would be the perfect accompaniment.

Although F&W’s cake is called Mom’s Chocolate Cake, it’s not MY mom’s chocolate cake. My mom’s cake is delicious and baked every December for my dad’s birthday. It’s similar to the F & W cake, but the cake is denser. The difference is the use of brown sugar. My cake requires a simple syrup that in turn created a thin batter.

Anyway, the real story here is the icing. In recent years my mom can no longer get the frosting for her cake to set. One year, the frosting just stopped setting. Reason unknown.

This fact made me a bit nervous about preparing my frosting. Would it set? Let’s see:

So why does my frosting work? The process is identical to my mom’s frosting. She also uses an ice bath to cool and thicken the mixture. My friend believes the secret is the salt, but both our recipes call for salt. She explained to me last night that salt sets the mixture. Who knows? I think it might have to do with the cream in my frosting.

We may never figure out why my mom’s frosting doesn’t work, but either way, I’ve decided on my own solution. My mom’s chocolate cake and F & W’s chocolate frosting. The best of both worlds.

 

My Mom’s Deluxe Chocolate Cake

  • 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water

Stir chocolate with 1/3 cup water over low heat until melted. Cool. Cream butter andsugar until light and fluffy; add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Blend in chocolate withmixer.
Combine flour, soda, salt. Add alternately with 1 cup water on low speed. Beat just until well blended. Pour batter into well greased and floured pans.

(2)8” pan: 35 – 40 minutes

(2)9” pans: 30 – 35 minutes

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A Two-Day Affair with Cookies

13 Dec

It’s no secret I love to bake – cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, cupcakes – you name it and I’ve probably baked it. Though I need little reason to whittle away time in the kitchen, Christmas brings with it a “no excuses, just do it” type attitude when it comes to tasty treats.

I have a carefully crafted list of creations I only prepare at this time year, including caramels, toffee, and fudge. Each of these treats requires a bit more time and attention than your average cookie or brownie that’s worth the effort when gift recipients find homemade candy inside a package.

While candy takes precision, none of these treats amount to the commitment that is the palmier. These french cookies are a rare treat among Christmas cookie spreads. Slightly crisp on the outside, flakey on the inside, palmiers melt in your mouth.

My Gingersnap Palmiers are courteous of Martha Stewart Living, December 2006. The cookies require at least three hours of prep time in the freezer once assembled, plus another 30 minutes in the freezer once on the baking sheets. Between assembling and freezing the cookies it takes two days to make them. But, I promise the extra effort comes through in every bite.

A Menu Worthy of the Gilmore Girls

6 Sep

Impressive and delicious, this cake is a great finish to any girls night!

After all the fuss, Earl turned out to bring perfect weather to DC for the holiday weekend. Sunny and breezy you couldn’t help but spend time outside, unless of course you decided to hold a Gilmore Girls marathon like me.

I know, I know – Why would I host a TV marathon on such a perfect weekend? Thinking Earl might ruin my pool dreams I had already set my heart on a Gilmore Girls day…

Since @Akmcquade and @Fleuredeflorida were up for the gathering, we spent Sunday drinking, dining, and watching TV.

Thankfully @Akmcquade is in love with Gilmore Girls as much as me and understands the need to watch the show for hours on end. I finally have someone who gets all my show references and doesn’t look at me like I’m crazy!

No Gilmore Girls event would be complete without a feast, so I put together the below menu (sadly no pop-tarts, pizza, or Chinese food):

Everything was easy to assemble, colorful, light, and delicious. Can’t wait for our next Gilmore Girls event!

My 15 mins of Top Chef Fame?

24 Jun

Shortly after @dmbosstone posted his re-cap of last night’s Top Chef DC: Hail to the Chef my inbox started filling up with new messages. Odd right?

WRONG!

It turns out I am mildly famous in the DC blogging world today! We Love DC’s Patrick Pho selected my profound, 140-character insight tweeted out during the show last night as his “Tweet of the Day.” SCORE!

If you watched, you already know that this week’s challenge was to make a healthy school lunch for the students at Alice Deal Middle School. Like Patrick, I also loved this challenge because I believe that our society needs to do a better job teaching healthy eating habits at a young age.

However, in true Top Chef fashion all of the menus seemed out of place for the school lunchroom. Last time I checked the types of ingredients  being tossed around the Top Chef kitchen are only used when feeding the Romanov kids.

Which leads me to my now famous tweet:

valerieelstontweet

You read that right – sherry. As in the alcoholic substance sometimes used to cook with and create that awesome “flame affect” when you pour it in the pan. Just a standard ingredient on every school lunch menu where the lunch ladies have time to braise the main course.

Oh well, I was impressed with some of the dishes turned out on a $2.68 budget per child.

Now that we are Twitter friends, I’m trying to convince Patrick that a viewing party is in order! We can live tweet it up and have our very own quick fire challenge. I think it’s what the people want…

Fun Food Find Helps You Shop Seasonal

13 Jan

For Christmas I received the cookbook The Conscious Cook. The book takes a unique approach to cooking vegan that will make you think about the purpose and approach of your cooking.

By no means do I qualify as a vegan or for that matter even a vegetarian. However, I do embrace the book’s philosophy that when we focus on fresh, natural, and nutritional ingredients we feel healthier and more fulfilled.

During the summer walking around your neighborhood farmer’s market selecting produce for the week is an activity more than a chore. It’s easy to find inspiration, discover what’s fresh, and keep the philosophy of the “conscious” cook. But, once the slightest chill hits the air this Georgia girl only finds brilliance in her space heater.

Enter Epicurious’ Seasonal Ingredient Map. The interactive map allows you to search by location and month to find out what’s in season. Not only can you figure out what to buy in your area, but you can also find out what’s in season if you are taking a vacation. Knowing what’s fresh in a new area is a great way to select items on a menu or even select the restaurant where you want to eat.

I’ll still be making tons of the sweet, sinful creations that grace the pages of Bon Appetit. But in between baking binges I’ll be using Epicurious’ map to find cooking ideas year-round and keep my menus fresh and local.