Monday, November 24, 2008

cinnamon chocolate mousse pie

ok, so we had our annual "friendsgiving" this weekend and i made two pies for it. the traditional pumpkin and a family favorite, cinnamon chocolate mousse pie. we have a tradition in my family that my mom makes special meals for our birthdays. a special breakfast (saved for the weekend), a special dinner and a special dessert. all of our choosing. well, this pie was always my birthday choice all through high school. i loved it. in fact, i loved it so much that my freshman year of college, i wanted to make it and i had never made much more than cookies at that point. so i called my own personal baking guru—my mother—to give me the play by play. i haven't made it in a long time for some reason but i think i need to make it more often, this sucker was a crowd pleaser at friendsgiving. it got demolished within minutes and loads of praise, which always makes a baker happy. this pie has a regular crust, lined with a cooked meringue, with a thin layer of chocolate, then a cinnamon mousse topped with a chocolate cinnamon mousse.

you need a 9" baked pie shell, and i thought i'd share a few tips about what i think helps make a good pie shell. you all might already know this, but if you don't these are things that helped me try to master the crust.

1) DO NOT OVERMIX. it will be flakier and lighter the less you handle the dough.
2) the thinner you make the crust, the better.
3) i think shortening makes a better crust than butter
4) there needs to be some salt in the recipe
5) fold over the ends then scallop the edges with your fingers for a nice presentation

6) if you need a pre-cooked shell, a lot of people use pie weights or beans. i just prick the crust all over with a fork then bake it for about 10 minutes. this helps the steam escape without creating bubbles in the crust while it bakes.

on to the rest of the recipe:

2 eggs, seperated
1/2 t. vinegar (i only had rice vinegar and that worked just fine.)
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. water
4 c. heavy cream
1 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon

beat together egg whites, vinegar and salt until almost stiff but not dry. gradually add sugar and beat until stiff. spread meringue over bottom and up sides of pie shell. (if you have a deep dish pan, that would work better for this pie). bake in 325° oven for 15-18 minutes until lightly browned.

melt chocolate chips over hot, not boiling water. beat together room tempurature egg yolks lightly. thoroughly blend yolks into melted chocolate. add water. spread 3 T. of this chocolate mixture over the cooked and slightly chilled meringue. chill remainder of chocolate until it begins to thicken. beat together cream, sugar and cinnamon until very thick.
spread 1/2 of whipped cream mixture over chocolate mixture in pie shell. fold chilled chocolate mixture into remaining whipped cream. (it helps to make a divot in each layer so the the layers don't get too high.) pile this on top of pie. chill at least 4 hours.

Friday, November 14, 2008

can't live without: my bosch

i truly adore my bosch. my good friend abe helped me get a good deal on this beloved machine last year and it's been so dreamy to make bread ever since. when i first started making bread, i used my kitchen aid. which is fine, but the motor just can't deal like the bosch. it's such a smooth process now. i can knead the bread in there for 10 minutes without that gear smell that happened before with the smaller motor in the kitchen aid. and it has a 16 CUP CAPACITY. yes, 16 cups. so i can make huge batches of other tasty delights (i also sort of hate the word tasty thanks to one of julia's ex boyfriends, but whatever). some people think it's crazy to have both a kitchen aid and a bosch. but those people don't have both and cannot concieve how wonderful life can be with this kind of kitchen excess.

all my love,

Sunday, November 9, 2008

caramel cake

i wanted to make a caramel cake after i saw it after one of my food blogs i follow. i found this recipe in a book one of my sisters gave me for christmas last year. i love the idea of making anything summer and anything with caramel, so it seemed like the perfect choice! my parents were in town and i made it for a family dinner at my sister's and my dad isn't a big fan of cake. we are definitely a pie family but especially him. so when i was like "i know it's cake, but what do you think?" he said, "it's good for cake!" i think that's probably the highest compliment a cake could receive from my father.

the frosting was really tricky and maybe i didn't do it right or something but i had to mess with it. and since it's more of a brown sugar frosting than a caramel sauce it retains some graininess from the brown sugar. the cake part is very moist (ew - that word is so gross but what else do you use when you are talking about baked goods??) because it's not very healthy. this is supposed to be an old southern recipe so what do you really expect? but oh my is it good.

caramel cake:

2 1/1 c. all purpose flour
2 c. sugar
2 T. cornstarch
1 T. baking powder
1/8 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 t. butter extract, optional
1 1/3 c. warm buttermilk

brown sugar frosting:
1 c. unsalted butter
2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2 t. corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla extract

preheat oven to 350°. Generously spray two 9" round cakepans with cooking spray and place pans on a large, parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (i just used a 9x13 since i was traveling with a warm cake out of the oven to my sisters. that, and it's just easier.)

in a mixer bowl, place flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and blend ingredients. add butter and blend to break up butter into dry ingredients to get a grainy mixture. blend in eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, butter extract, and buttermilk to make a batter, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally to ensure batter is evenly blended.

spoon batter into prepared pan(s). bake until cake springs back when gently pressed with fingertips, 30-35 minutes. (i had to bake longer cause of my pan choice.) cool in pan(s) 15 minutesbefore unmolding onto a wired rack to cool.

for brown sugar frosting, place butter, brown sugar, baking soda, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla in a 3-quart saucepan. cook over low heat until mixture thickens and reaches a soft ball stage (234°). if you don't have a thermometer, cook mixture 20 to 30 minutes until a bit of mixture seems to hold together like soft taffy when dropped on a clold plate. you can increase heat to make it cook faster, but slow and steady makes for better results.

remove frosting from heat and let it cool and thicken. you cand whip half the frosting with a mixer on medium speed 2 minutes and then on high 1 minute to lighten. use this to frost cake together; it will spread like frosting. pour remaining slightly warm frosting over top layer of cake and let it drip down. this cake freezes well. **(so, after i made the frosting, i had to transport it immediately into tupperware and take it with me. when i got to the house, it was sorta hard and weird looking. after dinner i had my mom help me and we decided to whip it and add a bit of milk, then warms it up again. then it cooled off a touch and we inverted the cake and poured it all over the top. it stood up pretty well and everyone seemed to like it. so i wonder what was supposed to happen vs. what did. if anyone tries this with different results, please let me know what you did!

Friday, November 7, 2008

cream cheese tarts: revisited

i posted pictures of these before but forgot to share the recipe. i made adjustments to the crust and topping (gingersnap cookies) for a more fall feel, but the basic recipe is the same.

3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 T. lemon juice
2 t. vanilla
cookie wafers (nillas, oreos, this time i used a gingersnap - gluten free for a co-worker)
(could garnish with cherries or fruit if made with a nilla wafer or something like that)

beat all but wafers and chosen garnish until well-blended. line cupcake pans with foil-lined cupcake papers. place a wafer in bottom of each. fill with cream cheese mixture 2/3 full. bake in 350° oven for 20 minutes; cool. garnish with crushed leftover cookies or fruit filling. makes 30 cakes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

buttermilk biscuits

i made these for a soup party my friend rachel threw when i was in LA last weekend. i think i have a little bit of southern soul in me, even though i grew up in california. i just always want to make these and other southern recipes. in fact, i'm going to make some caramel cake tonight that i will post in the near future. but back to the biscuits, they are my favorite recipe and have a tiny bit of sweetness that sets them apart.

2 1/4 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. plus 2 T. sugar
1/2 c. shortening
2/3 c. buttermilk
1 egg

add first 6 ingredients in mixing bowl. cut in shortning to make coarse crmbs. add buttermilk, then the egg. mix with fork until dough follows fork around the bowl. knead on floured surface 5 or 6 times. (DO NOT OVERMIX). roll or pat into 1/2 inch thickness. cut with 2 inch cutter. place on ungreased baking sheet. bake at 450° for 10-12 minutes or until brown. makes 12-14 biscuits.