Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rich Chocolate Cake with Fluffy White Frosting

Every so often at work we have a pot-luck brunch to celebrate birthdays. This week we had one to celebrate the winter birthdays and also to welcome back a co-worker returning from maternity leave. I am always bringing baked godos in to work and everyone seems to enjoy them, so I always sign up to bake something for these pot-lucks. This time I said I'd bake a cake. I didn't have much time this week so I was looking for a simple cake to make but also something I hadn't made before. I turned to a cookbook that my friend gave me featuring all chocolate recipes. I found a cake recipe in there that looked good and the frosting recipe that went with it also sounded good and was a kind of frosting I hadn't made before. I halved the recipe for the cake and for the frosting because the original recipe yielded a 13 X 9 cake and since I work in a small office, we didn't need such a large cake. Everyone said this cake tasted good and it certainly was chocolatey!

The frosting was described as being marshmallow-y and it did taste like that. I've never had a frosting like this before but it was really easy to make even though it required using a double boiler and a candy thermometer. It had very few ingredients and it set up nice.

Here's the recipe:
(Slightly adapted from Good Housekeeping Favorite Recipes: Chocolate!)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened (I used unsalted)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 9-inch round cake pan. (I sprayed with baking spray).

In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar at low speed until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium-low; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. The mixture may appear grainy.

Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert onto rack and cool completely.

Frost with Fluffy White Frosting:

1 large egg white
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a medium bowl set over a 3-4 quart saucepan filled with 1 inch simmering water, beat egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup and cream of tartar with hand-held mixer until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted and mixture reaches 160 degrees F on candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.

Remove bowl from pan; beat egg-white mixture until stiff, glossy peaks form when beaters are lifted, 5-10 minutes longer.

Frost cake with frosting using a narrow spatula. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

BAKED Sunday Mornings: Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet...who doesn't love red velvet? The best cupcake I ever had was a red velvet cupcake. This whoopie pie is very good. The cream cheese frosting goes perfect with the red velvet whoopies. I like that the whoopie pies only have a little bit of red food color in it so that they're a hint of red but not bright red. This recipe is pretty easy to make. I halved the recipe like I usually do. You cream the butter and add the sugars, then add the dry ingredients alternating with the wet ingredients. 15 minutes in the refrigerator while the oven preheats and then you pop these in the oven. Mine took 12 minutes in the oven. I tried to make them smaller but they came out pretty big once baked and with half a recipe, I made 10 cookies, resulting in 5 whoopie pies. I would love if I had one of those special whoopie pie pans to make my whoopies all the same size, but I was able to match these up pretty well. I gave these out to my friends and they liked them. A perfect treat for Valentine's Day (or any time of the year, in my opinion!)

For the recipe, and to see how the other bakers whoopies came out, head on over to  Baked Sunday Mornings. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nutella-Coconut Hot Chocolate

Happy World Nutella Day 2011 everyone! I can't remember the first time that I had nutella- it was a long time ago, maybe when I took French in middle school. Did you all know that Nutella is French? I remember my French teacher talking about nutella a lot back then. Anyway, today is a day to make something with Nutella in order to celebrate how awesome it is! I've baked with nutella before, but today I decided to keep it simple. I made hot chocolate using coconut milk and stirred in some nutella and then topped it off with toasted coconut. I love nutella and coconut together! It's been so rainy, icy and just plain dreary outside that it's the perfect kind of day to snuggle up on your couch with some nutella hot chocolate!

Here's the very simple, 3 ingredient recipe:

1 cup of coconut milk
1 heaping tablespoon of Nutella
1 tablespoon toasted coconut

Heat the coconut milk on the stove or in the microwave until hot. Stir in the nutella until melted and top with toasted coconut.

Enjoy! Head on over to World Nutella Day, created by Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso to see other recipes made using nutella!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bad Boy Chocolate Pizza

Wow, another post just after I posted those cookies yesterday? I've had some extra time to do some baking since my work closed today due to an ice storm and I left work early yesterday because the roads were so bad. I've always loved the idea of a chocolate pizza, but had never made one before. This recipe is from Max Brenner's cookbook, Chocolate: A Love Story. Have you ever been to Max Brenner's before? There's one in NYC and in Philadelphia. Last year I went to see the Rockefeller Christmas tree with my friends and we stopped at Bryant Park where they have all these shops during the holiday season. There, they had a Max Brenner stand and we all got his Italian drinking chocolate. It was seriously the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted! I dreamt about that hot chocolate! Then, this fall, my friend and I went to the city and went to his restaurant for lunch, where they serve french fries dusted with cocoa! The food was good and while I was so tempted to order dessert, as everything on the menu sounded delicious, my friend and I were heading to a few other places for sweets, so I passed. I'dhad this cookbook for awhile but hadn't made many recipes from it yet. I want to try a lot of recipes from this book but today I chose to make this dessert pizza.

The recipe includes a recipe for pizza dough or you can also use store bought pizza dough. I made the recipe included for the pizza dough but I don't know if I'd use it again. I followed the recipe exactly but the dough didn't exactly come together very well- it was very crumbly and I had to add extra water when kneading. It rose well for me, but I think I like my usual pizza dough recipe better. I also added some peanut butter m&ms and some leftover coconut from yesterday's cookie recipe. I loved all the different chocolates in this recipe!

Here's the recipe:
(From Max Brenner's Chocolate: A Love Story)

Pizza Dough:

1/2 cup water
1 envelope dry yeast
2 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 tsp salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for bowl

Heat the water to 110 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the warm water and yeast. Let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. In a food processor, blend the flour and salt. With the machine running, slowly add the melted butter and then the yeast mixture. Mix until the dough just comes together.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl, turning ocne so the butter coats the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until the dough doubles in volume, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and form into a ball. The dough can be used immediately or stored airtight in the refrigerator for 1 day.

Chocolate Pizza recipe:

Pizza dough (above recipe, or 1 pound store-bought pizza dough)
2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup nutella
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 ounce milk chocolate chips
1/2 ounce white chocolate chips
1 cup chopped large marshmallows or miniature marshmallows
(I also added coconut and peanut butter m&ms)

Position a rack on the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Roll the dough into a 9-inch round. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Using your fingers, make indentations all over the dough. Brush with the melted butter. Bake until the crust is crisp and pale golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Immediately spread the nutella over the pizza, then sprinkle with the chocolate chips, marshmallows (and any other chocolate candy you want to add). Bake until the chocolate just begins to melt, about 2 minutes. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Coconut Sugar Cookies

Boy, do I love coconut! When I saw this recipe on Piece of Cake back in December, I immediately saved the recipe to make. They just sounded so delicious! And, they are pretty easy to make. There are four different kinds of coconut flavor in this recipe- desiccated coconut, sweetened coconut, coconut extract and coconut milk. Since I halved the recipe as I usually do, the dough wasn't coming together enough (probably because I used half an egg and that's not really a scientific measurement...) so I added a few tablespoons of water and that worked.

My half recipe made 15 cookies.

Here's the recipe:
(Slightly adapted from Piece of Cake)

1 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons dessicated coconut
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 large egg, room temperature (I whisked an egg in a bowl and took out 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

For the icing and decoration:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 tablespoon white sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, dessicated coconut, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together the oil, egg, vanilla and coconut extracts in a small bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars until fluffy and pale in color, about 2 minutes.

Beat the egg mixture into the butter and sugar mixture on medium speed until well-blended. Scrape down the bowl and reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. The dough will be very soft.

Using a 1-tablespoon-sized scoop, portion the dough into balls onto a baking sheet. Pour 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar onto a plate. Dip the flat bottom of a glass into the sugar, and press onto each dough ball lightly to flatten each to about 1/4-inch thick, dipping the cup or glass again before pressing each cookie. Sprinkle some of the leftover sugar on top of the cookies before baking.

Bake the cookies until they are lightly golden and crisp at the edges, about 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool in the sheets for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cookies have cooled, whisk together the confectioners' sugar, coconut milk and salt in a small bowl. Toss together the shredded coconut and sanding sugar on a plate. Spread each cookie evenly with icing and sprinkle generously with the sugared coconut. Let the icing dry for about an hour before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week (the cookies will soften a bit after the first day).