Sunday, July 28, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Torte

We could also call this "The Torte of Doom"-- not because it was so yummy (although it was), but because it took me two tries, a totally wrecked kitchen, and one minor fire to get this torte made. Bad things happened in my kitchen during the production of this dessert. 

You can see failed attempt one (the curdled mess) and miscellaneous kitchen destruction above. So the first time I tried to make this, I definitely curdled the eggs (I will tell you more about that in the recipe). The second time, I set one of my kitchen towels on fire melting the chocolate. Oopsy. 

All joking aside, I thought this was going to be an easy recipe-- but I was surprised by all the places this torte could go wrong. I have tried to make notes about my specific experiences and places that you can definitely learn from my mistakes. The end result is definitely worth it-- the husband ate a quarter of it in just about one sitting (and he will hate that I shared that on the interwebs). :)

Flourless Chocolate Torte

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (for dusting the pan)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 lb (16 oz) semi- or bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
5 large eggs, separated
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Butter the inside of a 9-inch springform pan, cut parchment paper to fit the bottom, and dust the inside with cocoa powder. 

In a double boiler or glass bowl set over simmering water, melt together the butter and chopped chocolate. Stir frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add cooled chocolate to the yolks, whisking constantly. (This is where I made my first mistake-- I didn't let the chocolate cool enough before I added it to the eggs-- and I subsequently scrambled the yolks. Gross. You should wait until the chocolate is almost room temp, but not solid, before you add it to the yolks.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks appear. Add the powdered sugar, and continue to whisk until the whites hold stiff peaks. 

Using a rubber spatula, fold in about a quarter of the whipped whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Once you've done that, add the remainder of the whipped whites to the chocolate and fold them in gently until no white streaks remain. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap to release any bubbles. Bake about one hour, or until edges are puffed and pull away from the pan. Cool in pan on wire rack. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Torte

Who doesn't love chocolate and peanut butter? Apparently everyone in my family loves it-- I barely had time to get pictures of this torte before it was gone! And speaking of pictures... is my brother photo bombing the torte. He is always so appropriate and helpful. :). I made this dessert last week for my family-- everyone was in town and at my parents' house for the big Fourth of July celebration, so I made a different treat every night. My parents are the best hosts in the known world, so this was the least I could do. This torte was one of the only desserts that I got a chance to photograph before it was eaten!

I've made this a few times with great success. There's very little baking involved which makes it great for summer -- but be aware that it does make a lot of dirty bowls as you assemble it, so be ready. It also looks super-impressive when you take it out of the springform pan. And did I mention that it's really, really good? Yeah. It is. :)

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Torte
From Annie's Eats:


For the Crust
1 package Oreo cookies, finely crumbled
5 1/3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted 
Pinch of salt

For the Crunch
1/2 cup salted peanuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg

For the Filling
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp whole milk
1/4 cup salted peanuts, finely chopped

For the Topping
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
Honey roasted peanuts (optional)
Mini Reese's cups (optional)

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350. Butter or spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Combine the Oreo crumbs, butter, and salt in a bowl and toss with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool. 

Make the crunch: In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Toss with a fork and set aside. 

Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip with 2 cups of cream with the whisk attachment until it holds medium peaks, then beat in 1/4 cup powdered sugar until it holds medium-firm peaks. (This can also be done in a large bowl with a hand mixer.) Scrape the whipped cream into another bowl and refrigerate until needed. 

Wipe out (don't wash!) the bowl you used to make the whipped cream-- in the same bowl, use the paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese with 1 cup powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in peanut butter, milk, and remaining 1/4 cup of chopped peanuts. 

Using a large spatula, gently stir about a quarter of the whipped cream into the mousse to make it easier to work with. Then, stir in the crunch using the spatula, making sure to evenly distribute it throughout the mousse. Carefully and lightly fold in the remainder of the whipped cream. Scrape mousse into cooled crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours-- cover once mousse has set. 

Make the topping: Warm 1/2 cup of heavy cream in the microwave (approx a minute and half). Place chopped chocolate in a large liquid measuring cup. Pour warm cream over chopped chocolate and let sit for 4-5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Pour ganache over the top of chilled torte-- smooth ganache to edges of torte with a small offset spatula or knife. Ring the top of the torte with mini Reese's cups and scatter honey roasted peanuts over the ganache, if desired. Chill torte until ganache is set. Remove from springform pan and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

This summer is busy.  Right now I am writing this post next to the pool-- sounds great, right? In reality I am watching a 5 year old swim class that C is taking, so it's not as cool as it sounds. :) We've been so occupied that June has flown by, which is good and bad-- we are all happy with the fun things we've been doing but it's hard to believe that summer is almost halfway over!

Of course, one of the things I love about summer is having all my family in town for the Fourth of July-- and trying all kinds of new recipes for them. I made these baby cakes this week for the first time. They are so cute! It's nice too because everyone gets their own cherry, which is always the best part of pineapple upside down cake. The hardest part of this recipe is getting the cupcakes out of the pan-- I would recommend running a sharp knife around the edges or using a toothpick to loosen up edges before you flip the pan-- otherwise they stick, and you ending up flinging them all over the kitchen on accident (not that I did that or anything). 

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes
From 128 St Johns:
Makes 12 cupcakes 

Ingredients: Batter
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla 

Ingredients: Topping
6 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
12 maraschino cherries
12 rings of canned pineapple 

Preheat oven to 350. Spray cupcake pan with cooking spray- be sure you get all the surfaces of each well. 

In the prepared pan, place 1/2 Tbsp butter and 1Tbsp brown sugar. Put the pan in the oven as it heats-- allow the butter to melt (about 5 min). Remove from oven and set aside. 

Place 6 Tbsp of butter and the milk in a small saucepan. Warm over medium heat until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool. 

In the cupcake pan, place a cherry in the middle of each well, then arrange a pineapple ring around the cherry. You will probably have to cut the ring to make it fit in the bottom of the cupcake well. Push the cherry and the pineapple lightly to the bottom of the cupcake well. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. 

Alternate adding the warm milk/butter and the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary and beat until smooth. 

Divide the batter between the cupcake wells-- this batter was very thin, so I put it in a liquid measuring cup and poured it into the wells. They will be very full, but it's ok-- the cake doesn't rise a whole bunch. 

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. 

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5-7 minutes, then run the edge of a sharp knife around the edge of each cake, or use a toothpick to loosen the edges. Turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack or other flat surface. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Watermelon Sorbet

Hello friends! It's been awhile. It's also been a pretty crazy year. We have been busy bees around here. 

I ran my first half marathon. C played on a successful baby soccer team. And we had two graduations: I finished my masters and C finished VPK. Not pictured: the ridiculous and expensive and unnecessary hospitalizations (one each for me and the husband), the Teacher of the Year award I won, and my husband's pie for running a 5K in under 20 minutes. He's inhuman. 

But none of that is food-related-- and  that's why you're here. So: watermelon sorbet. It's very sweet-- sweeter than I imagined-- and also pretty low-calorie (about 88 calories for half a cup). In a shocking turn of events, it actually tastes like watermelon-- and not the fake watermelon, either. Like a super cold watermelon that's been sitting in the fridge for a long time. It's easy to put together too, which is nice. I definitely recommend it for these hot summer nights-- and I bet it would be excellent for the 4th!

Watermelon Sorbet
(From David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop)

3 cups watermelon "juice" 
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

Watermelon juice: Remove watermelon flesh from rind and remove seeds. Chop and purée approximately 3 cups of watermelon in a food processor. This should give you about 3 cups of "juice". Remove any hard chunks of runs that may be in the juice. 

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat about 1/2 cup of the juice, the sugar, and the salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir the sugared juice into the remaining 2 1/2 cups of watermelon juice. Mix in lime juice. 

Cover and chill thoroughly; freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. 

So-- I am going to try not to go MIA again for a year. I was definitely in the kitchen making some cool stuff and now I am sad I didn't get to document it and share it with you. Hopefully things will stay slightly more sane this year...but I certainly am not counting on it. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Snickerdoodle Brownies (Dairy-Free)

In about two hours, I'm supposed to go running.  I reaaaaally don't want to.  Really really really really.  It's hot.  I tweaked my ankle at the beach today.  I'm tired and sore from yesterday's workout.  All I really want to do is sit and gawk at Pinterest.  And then watch True Blood and gawk at Eric.  Sitting and gawking are all I really feel up to right now.  But I'm going to go.  I'll hate every minute of it but I will go.  Because once it's over, I will feel glad that I did-- I always do.  You never really finish a workout and think, "Well, geez, I wish I hadn't done THAT."  :)

The other reason I'm going is so that I can eat (at least) one of these snickerdoodle brownies.  As I've said before, cinnamon doesn't top the list of my favorite flavors, but husband and daughter love it, so I do more with cinnamon than I would on my own.  These smell fantastic, and I like that the base for the cookie has brown sugar in it.  The smell has me thinking about fall...maybe when I get home from my run, I will gawk at fall recipes on Pinterest while watching True Blood...

Snickerdoodle Brownies
(Adapted to be dairy-free from My Own Sweet Thyme)
Makes one 9x13 pan

2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup soy margarine*, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 Tbsps granulated sugar
2 tsps ground cinnamon

*I use Willow Run soy margarine to make this dairy-free.  You can also use butter here.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with Pam. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.  Add the dry flour ingredients to the butter/sugar and mix until incorporated.

Spread batter into prepared pan.  (This is a very sticky batter-- I had to fight with it a bit to get it spread evenly and into the corners of the pan.)  Combine the granulated sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl-- mix well.  Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the batter.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack to cool.  While brownies are still warm, cut into squares.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Milky Way Brownies

I am distracted. 

Normally I am very good at multi-tasking.  In fact, I am a multi-tasking machine.  But not so much today. 

I decided I wanted to watch a movie.  I also wanted to get the blog updated with this recipe.  Usually doing both at the same time wouldn't be an issue, but the movie is totally capturing my attention.  So-- I am going to let the pictures and the recipe speak for themselves.  :)

Milky Way Brownies
(From My Baking Addiction)
Makes approximately 40 mini brownies

For the brownies:
3/4 cup butter, cubed
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
Approx 40 mini Mily Way candies, frozen for at least an hour

For the caramel sauce:
15 caramels (I used Kraft)
2 Tbsp heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray the wells of a mini muffin pan with Pam or other cooking spray.

Put the butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat for 2-3 minutes on 50% power, until the butter is melted.  Stir thoroughly until chocolate is completely melted.

Add sugar, eggs, salt, and vanilla-- whisk until combined.  Gradually whisk in flour until just incorporated.

Spoon brownie batter into the wells-- approx 2 tsps.  Don't overfill the wells!  Press one Milky Way into each well-- press it down firmly, until the top is level with the batter, but don't worry about covering the candy with the batter.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set.

Let brownies cool, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

To make the caramel sauce, combine the unwrapped caramels and the heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat for 30-second intervals on 50% power in the microwave, stirring after each interval (it took 4 30-second intervals in my microwave).  Stir until sauce is smooth.

Drizzle the caramel sauce over the cooled brownies and enjoy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mudslide Cupcakes

I just got back from Savannah, GA and let me tell you something-- those people know how to eat.  The food there is out of control.  I seriously gorged myself on Southern food and drink for about 48 hours straight.  We traveled with our good friends and had a fantastic time-- we stayed at a famously haunted inn, and I managed to scare the mess out of myself the first day, before we even walked into our room.  The story is that a broken-hearted girl threw herself out of an upstairs window and now haunts room 204, moving things around and generally being ghost-y.  So Joe and I end up in room 203-- literally right next door to the ghost room.  Wonderful.  So we climb the little stairs, turn the corner to our room, and that's when I see it.  There is SOMETHING IN THE WINDOW in the hallway.  I shriek and drop my bags and that's when I's a mannequin.  A really bad mannequin in a bad wedding dress and a worse wig, draped in the curtains.  That's what I am running from.  At this point Joe is laughing so hard that he can't unlock the door-- it was ridiculous.  Luckily, that's most supernatural experience that we had this weekend (although there were mysteriously falling cell phones in our friends' room)-- we devoted the rest of our time there to eating our way through Savannah.

Savannah is amazingly hospitable and full of wonderful places to eat and drink-- we have a new favorite from this trip, though.  It's called The Olde Pink House and it's literally some of the best southern food I've ever had.  And I grew up in Jacksonville and I have eaten my fair share of Southern cooking, so that's pretty high praise.  Anyway, that's our recommendation for food if you ever find yourself out that way.  :)  I also made my traveling companions stop and sample cupcakes at the bakeries-- I really had to twist their arms (ha ha).  There were some good ones, but husband and friends kept talking about these Mudslide cupcakes that I made right around the 4th of July.  I also promised some family that I would post the recipe for these, so now that I'm home, I finally have a minute to do it.  So here they are-- enjoy!

Mudslide Cupcakes
Makes about 22 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe from Annie's Eats)

9 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup milk (either whole or 2%)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the butter and sugar on medium-high speed, until fluffy (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the eggs one at a time-- scrape the bowl after you add each egg.  Combine the coffee and milk in a liquid measuring cup.

Add half the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter and mix until just incorporated.  Next, add the coffee-milk mixture and stir until combined-- the batter will look pretty runny at this point.  Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Spoon batter into cupcake pans with liners-- you should make these no more than 3/4 full, because these cupcakes rise and dome very well-- you don't want them to overflow.  Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.  When cupcakes are cool, core them in preparation for filling. 

While these cupcakes cool, I make the ganache and the icing.
Kahlua Ganache
(Adapted from

5 ounces chocolate, chopped (I used semi-sweet for this recipe)
1/3 cup heavy cream
3-4 Tbsp Kahlua

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.  Pour cream over chopped chocolate, add the Kahlua and let it sit for 5 minutes.  This is important!  Don't be impatient and try to stir too early (like I did the first few times I made ganache).  Then, whisk until smooth.  Let the ganache cool-- it will thicken a bit as it cools.  Fill the cupcakes with the cooled ganache.
Bailey's Buttercream
(Adapted from The Curvy Carrot)
2 sticks (16 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used clear for this)
5-6 Tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter.  Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Add three cups of the powdered sugar, one cup at a time-- beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl after each cup is added.  Add the Bailey's to taste (feel free to use more or less than what is listed in the recipe).  Add powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.  Transfer icing to another bowl and cover until ready to use.
Kahlua Buttercream
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbsp Kahlua
3 Tbsp hot coffee
In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter.  Add three cups of the powdered sugar, once cup at a time-- beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl after each cup is added.  Add the cocoa powder, Kahlua, and coffee and beat until smooth (make sure you start your mixer slowly here-- I definitely flung Kahlua and cocoa powder all over my kitchen). If necessary, add more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. 
To ice the cupcakes:  I once again used the swirl method from GoodLife Eats, which you can access by clicking on the link (the highlighted name).  The description and instruction there is very clear and easy to follow-- I would just end up confusing you-- so check it out over there.  :)