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. :)