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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

whoo hooo! my first daring bakers challenge!! swiss roll ice cream cake!

well besides the fact that i am super excited to finally be able to participate in the daring bakers challenge, i am super excited to share this post with you... its quite the feast for your eyes!! this was a really fun first challenge because of all the different baking techniques i needed to use, so it kept me quite busy! i kept the flavors pretty simple, i didn't want to go way out of the box on my first attempt and totally blow... so i played it safe... and i have to say, my little Neapolitan swiss roll ice cream cake was quite yummy! it was a perfect treat for these hot summer nights!

the recipe for this month’s challenge was brought to use by Sunita, of Sunita's World- life and food... the recipe has been adapted from the swiss swirl ice cream cake taken the Taste of Home website, in which slices of Swiss roll are used to line a bowl and then filled with vanilla ice-cream, hot fudge ice cream topping and chocolate ice cream... but we get to fool around with the recipe and make it our very own...

here you go everyone... i hope you enjoy it!

homemade vanilla bean ice cream:
taken from dorie greenspans "baking from my home to yours"
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 moist and plump vanilla bean
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar

1. bring the milk and cream to a boil in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan
2. scrape in the vanilla bean seeds and the bean pod into the heated cream, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes, then return to heat and bring back to boil
3. meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until very well blended and just sightly thickened
4. still whisking, drizzle in about 1/3 of the heated cream to temper the eggs yolks
5. whisking all along, slowly pour in the remaining hot cream
6. pour the mixture back into the sauce pan, and cook over medium heat, until the custard slightly thickens (between 170 - but no more then 180 degrees)
7. strain the hot custard to remover the vanilla bean and any pieces of cooked egg
8. refrigerate the custard until well chilled before churning into ice cream

after the custard had been churned into submission and a creamy ice cream was in its place, i halved it... one remained vanilla bean, but the other was the base for a strawberry white peach ice cream.

for strawberry-white peach ice cream:
1 pint of fresh strawberries, cored and sliced
2 white peaches, peeled and diced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. sugar
1 pint of homemade vanilla bean ice cream

1. combine strawberries, peaches, lemon extract, and sugar until well blended and swimming happy together in their juices
2. refrigerate for at least 2 hours so they have enough time to get to know each other and macerate, this will help the strawberries and peaches to release some of their natural juices
3. soften the vanilla ice cream and fold in the fruit
4. freeze until your ready to gobble it down!

chocolate swiss roll with sweetened vanilla mascarpone:
swiss roll ingredients:

8 ozs. chocolate
2 tbsp. rum, or brandy
3 tbsp. water
7 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt

1. preheat you oven to 350, and line a 15x13 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper and grease thoroughly
2. over a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the water and liqueur until smooth, set aside
3.beat the egg yolks and the salt until thick and pale, then stir in melted cooled chocolate
4. whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form
5. add a dollop of the egg whites to the yolk mixture to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites

6. carefully pour the batter onto the prepared pan, and spread evenly
7. bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, cover with parchment and a damp towel, and let cool for 1-2 hours

for the mascarpone filling:

6ozs. mascarpone
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
and heavy cream, add little by little to reach desired consistency

in mixer, with a paddle attachment blend all of the ingredients together until smooth and creamy

to assemble the swiss roll:
1. invert the cake onto a piece of parchment that has been dusted with powdered sugar
2. spread the filling evenly across the cake
3. carefully start rolling the cake, pausing at each turn to make sure it is holding tightly
4. refrigerate for a few hours, slice and enjoy!
for the hot fudge center:
i have been using this recipe i found on "smitten kitchen" for homemade hot fudge, and i always have a mason jar full of this goodness in the fridge, ready for when the ice cream monster attacks my will-power!
to assemble the swiss roll ice cream cake:
1. arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other... then begin to arrange the swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl...cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes)
2. soften the ice cream you want to place on top, for me it was the vanilla bean... then take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices... spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl... then recover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)
3. add the homemade fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm ( at least an hour)
4. soften the second ice cream, which for me was the strabberry-white peach and spread it over the fudge sauce... cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set
5. remove the plastic wrap, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl... turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. *if the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water, the bowl should come away easily.
look at that ooey gooey chocolate fudge seeping out of the center of the cake... to quote dj tanner... "oh my-lanta!" <--- you catch what i'm throwing right?! haha... happy baking everyone!

roasted tomato and veggie quiche!

hello there peeps! here is a very simple and satisfying dish that is so versatile that you can eat it for any meal of the day... take some pie dough, veggies, eggs, cream and cheese and voila! savory baked goodness!
for this particular quiche, i sauteed some veggies: carrots, bell peppers, zucchini, and onions in a light tomato sauce... i cooked this down until all the liquid had disappeared... i put this aside while i readied the tart pan... i had some pie dough all rolled out and ready to go (it's always nice to have homemade pastry dough on hand, but hey, store bought is just as good... and a time saver too!!) once the dough was placed and pressed into the tart pan, i pricked it a few times with a fork, and baked it for 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven...
while the pie crust was baking, i prepped the filling... in a medium sized bowl, i lightly whisked together 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (i used a blend of monterrey and cheddar), and salt and pepper... now to assemble... i spread the veggies onto the bottom of the crust, and then poured the egg and cream mixture evenly over the veggies... but i wasn't done yet... i had this lovely ugly ripe tomato staring at me, so i sliced it up, and placed it on top... then i put it in the oven for 25 minutes and baked it until nice and firm... let it cool before serving, and enjoy!!
mmm...mmmm... delish-ious!

happy baking everyone!

strawberry lemonade cupcakes!

hey everyone! how's your summer going so far? is it as hot where you are? it has been sweltering here in cape may! luckily for me, living right on the water has it's advantages... not only a gorgeous view... but a lovely sea breeze to help tame some of this heat... and you'd think this heat and humidity would stop me from putting the oven on to bake just about everyday, but i just crank up my air-conditioners and I'm good to go!

so here's a yummy and refreshing treat for all of those hotter then hot days... a delish-ious and light lemon cake, filled with fresh strawberries and white peaches with a bit of strawberry mascarpone, and topped with a sweet lemony buttercream... ahhh... sooo good!

vanilla lemon yogurt cupcakes:

dry ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
wet/fat ingredients:
8 tbsp (1 stick) melted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 XL egg whites
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, and 1-2 tbsp of fresh lemon zest
1 1/8 cup vanilla nonfat yogurt
1. preheat oven to 325°F and prep cupcake tins with paper liners
2. sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
3. in a small bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar, and using your fingers rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant, then in mixer, beat together melted butter and sugar until combined, then add egg whites and beat until mixture is smooth and light, and then stir in the lemon juice.
4. add flour mixture in two additions, alternating with the yogurt.
5. bake for 20-25 minutes, until cupcakes are barely golden on top, remove from oven, let cool in tins for 10 minutes, then cool on wire rack.

to make the filling: i took a pint of fresh strawberries and one white peach, and diced them up, and coated them in 1 tbsp. lemon extract, 1 tbsp. sugar and a few splashes of strawberry vodka, and let it all play together for a few hours in the fridge... i then took some mascarpone and lightly sweetened it with the juices from the macerated strawberries... for picture purposes i added a little bit of pink food coloring to make it POP!

stay cool, and happy baking everyone!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

how about some take 5 cupcakes!

so i was asked by a friend to make a take 5 cake for her and a couple of her lady friends, which by the way, has become one of my most requested cakes by friends and neighbors, so if you haven't already checked it out, go on and feast your eyes on it... it's so sinful... so anyways, after i was done baking the three layers of indulgent chocolate cake, i had just enough batter left to make me and my favorite boys a few tasty cupcakes! so here they are... take 5 inspired cupcakes... and as i have said before... this combination of flavors is just to die for... please enjoy!!

happy baking everyone!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

espresso fudge cheesecake... need i say more!

why hello there... are you ready for something so amazing... so delish-ious... so breath taking... oh screw it! i'm just gonna get down and dirty with it... try this recipe... just do it... i've been a fool for so long... i looked at this recipe time and time again, pushing it aside for others... but i was wrong... oh so wrong... but now i submit to its amazingness... and so shall you...

espresso fudge cheesecake, adapted from "smitten kitchen":
the chocolate crust:

1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies or 9 ounces of homemade chocolate wafers
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 tablespoons hot melted unsalted butter

the ooey gooey ganache:
1 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream
20 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup KahlĂșa or other coffee-flavored liqueur

the amazing espresso filling:
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum or coffee flavored liqueur
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee crystals
1 1/2 tablespoons ground whole espresso coffee beans, finely ground
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 large eggs

the sourly-sweet topping:
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

make crust:

finely grind cookies, chopped chocolate, brown sugar, and nutmeg in a food processor. add butter and process until crumbs begin to stick together, scraping down bowl occasionally, about 1 minute. transfer crumbs to 9-inch-diameter spring form pan with 3-inch-high sides. wrap plastic wrap around fingers and press crumb mixture firmly up sides to within 1/2 inch of top edge, then over bottom of pan.

make ganache:
bring cream to simmer in large saucepan. remove from heat; add chocolate and KahlĂșa. whisk until chocolate is melted and ganache is smooth. pour 2 cups ganache over bottom of crust. freeze until ganache layer is firm, about 30 minutes. reserve remaining ganache; cover and let stand at room temperature to use later for decorating.

make filling:
position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°F. using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until blended. scrape down bowl, making sure you get to the bottom, where little pockets of unmixed cream cheese love to hide. beat in flour. stir rum, espresso powder, ground coffee, vanilla, and molasses in small bowl until instant coffee dissolves; beat into cream cheese mixture. beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
then pour filling over cold ganache in crust — it will go nearly all of the way to the top, then place cheesecake on rimmed baking sheet. bake until top is brown, puffed and cracked at edges, and the center two inches moves only slightly when pan is gently shaken, about one hour. transfer cheesecake to rack. cool 15 minutes while preparing topping (top of cheesecake will fall slightly, making room for topping), meanwhile make sure to maintain oven temperature.

make topping:
whisk sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl to blend. pour topping over hot cheesecake, spreading to cover filling completely. bake until topping is set, about 10 to 15 minutes. transfer cheesecake to rack. refrigerate hot cheesecake on rack until cool, about three hours, then decorate with reserved ganache...
then... bask in its amazing awesomeness... grab a fork and dive in... you deserve it!

i mean come on... look at the size of this monster... this poor Lego fireman stands no chance...

happy baking everyone!

i jumped on the bandwagon! maple bacon cupcakes!!

well... i finally gave in... i jumped on the bacon cupcake bandwagon... and i must say, i might never get off... ohhh man... these are amazing... seriously heaven...

i got the final push to make these from my sister and her boyfriend... they just got back from a trip to seattle and portland (my sister ran her 4th marathon... she's a beast! :) ) and while they were out there they visited a well-known sweet spot called voodoo doughnuts where they ate the maple bacon doughnut... so, when they visited me, they talked and talked about how awesomely delicious these were... so... i caved... and all i can say is thank you...
i took some plain vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and topped them with a maple infused cream cheese frosting and topped them with some extra crispy bacon... i urge you to try these... you will not be disappointed!!
maple cream cheese frosting:
2 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (try and use pure, not the stuff you throw on everyday eggos!)
heavy cream

1. in a stand mixer beat cream cheese and butter until well blended
2. alternately add in confectioners sugar and heavy cream until you ready desired consistency
3. blend in maple syrup
4. chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly

happy bacon everyone! hehe! i know... i'm a dork... :)

happy 5th birthday to my super boy jack!

hey everyone! i just want to share with you an awesome post...

if you couldn't tell by the title, my biggest little man just turned 5... i'm still in shock... i cannot believe he is 5 years old already... i cannot even imagine my life before he came along... i'm so proud to be his mommy...

okay okay... enough of the mushy mom stuff... and on to the cake and the party... the theme... super hero training camp... how cool is that! with the help of my awesomely talented neighbor, i had super hero capes and masks made for all the little super heros that were attending the party... but the thing was they had to earn them...

first they had to silly string the bad guy (just like spider man), they had to beat up the villain (using some over sized and over stuffed hulk hands to beat down on a bop-bag) they had to find the pieces of kryptonite that were hidden in the playground and place it safely in a lead box, and finally they had to take down the villains (my hubs and my sister boyfriend) by wrapping them in toilet paper... and then they graduated and received their capes... it was a success...

here's super ben... i'm telling you, the minute this little guy had his cape on he started to strut... it was hysterical...

here's jack with some of the kryptonite...

now for the cake...
i decided to make a dummy cake for the centerpiece, using styrofoam circles... and i covered and decorated it with fondant... the idea was to make it look like super jack was busting out of the center of the cake, and i think it looked super adorable... and made 3 dozen cupcakes, each with wither blue, red or yellow buttercream (you know, those bold superhero colors!)... and each had a star on top which was cut out from airheads (thanks mom!)
it was so windy that the candles wouldn't stay lit long enough for us to sing, so my dad (who bythe-way always has something handy) had this firecracker sparkler thing which came in super handy...

here's jack after he blew out his candles... so cute...
here's a behind the scenes glimpse at me hard at work...
and a close up of my fondant super jack! i love that face!

happy birthday jack! and happy baking everyone!

p.s. i think i said super in the post like a bagillion times :)

a couple of things i have been up to... enjoy!

hey everyone... i'm back! i know it's been a while, but i have been super busy (i think i've used this excuse before... hehe! )
so here's a quick round up of what i have been busy creating in my kitchen...
here's a elmo inspired cake for a little boy's first birthday... i was really happy with the cake (a triple layered chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and cookies and cream filling), but i wish i could have made elmo cuter... i tried giving him some texture, but then he looked goofy... i wish i could have made the elmo i envisioned... you know what i mean... i had this whole idea of how i was going to make him, but i made myself crazy trying... so here he is... not the bestest of elmo look-a-likes... but all in all the cake was cute...

here are some ohio buckeye inspired cupcakes i made for my lovely neighbor morgan... they were chocolate cupcakes, with a rich peanut butter filling topped with a vanilla caramel buttercream... topped with fondant ohio state monograms, and fondant buckeye leaves with buckeye nuts... i thought they came out super cute...

happy baking everyone!

Monday, July 12, 2010

just checkin in!

hey ya'll... just checking in... i've got loads to share with you... i've just been super uber busy... i know, i know... no excuses... but hopefully i'll get some time to post my goodies within the next 2 days... until then...
happy baking everyone!