Monday, July 27, 2009

Chocolate Italian Cream Cake

My mom will be 50 years old tomorrow, and my dad and neighbors planned a surprise party for her last weekend. And of course, when it comes to birthday parties, cake is a must. My mom's favorite cake is italian cream cake, so I decided to mix it up this year and make a chocolate italian cream cake because you know that older women cannot resist the lure of anything chocolate.

Ingredients:
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tsp vanilla extract

frosting:
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 (16-oz) package powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 F and grease 3 8" round cake pans.

Separate the 5 eggs.

Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Beat butter and shortening until creamy.

Gradually add sugar, beating well.

Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition.

Stir in coconut, chopped pecans, and vanilla.

Fold in egg whites.

Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cakepans.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove cake layers to wire racks, and cool completely.

For frosting, beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Combine powdered sugar and cocoa; gradually add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with powdered sugar mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in pecans. (I left the pecans out so that I could decorate the sides with them.)

Spread Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Blondies

Just when I thought I was safe, that peanut butter craving started to hit once again. With a bag of cookies already sitting on the counter, I knew that another batch of cookies just wouldn't cut it. I had to venture into unknown peanut butter territory this time. So, what about peanut butter brownies? Oh ho. No, peanut butter blondies. With a new photography light at my disposal, I have even more photos to share.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter chips

frosting:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 325 F and grease a 13"x9" baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream the peanut butter, butter, and sugars.

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Add the flour and baking powder to the creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Stir in chips. (I used chocoalte chips since that's all I had on hand.)

Spread into the greased baking dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

For frosting, in a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, cocoa, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla.

Grandually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Frost brownies. Sprinkle with chips if desired. Cut into bars.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I made this ice cream quite a while ago, and I actually made 2 batches of it, but it all got eaten before I had a chance to photograph the final product...Yeah, this stuff is that good.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups hulled strawberries, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar (divided)
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz cold cream cheese, cut into chunks

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the strawberries and 1/4 cup of the sugar..

Let stand until the juices are released and the sugar dissolves..

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk. Let stand, stirring once or twice, until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes..

In a heavy, nonreactive saucepan, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar, the lemon juice, cream, and gelatin mixture. Bring almost to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring, until the gelatin dissolves. Let cool slightly. Transfer the cream mixture to a food processor. Add the cream cheese.

Process until the mixture is completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the strawberries, processing in pulses just until the berries are chopped moderately fine..

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tiramisu

My boyfriend left me for a month this summer to go off to Europe and have fantastic adventures with his friends, leaving me behind with nothing to do but pour my heart into baking and playing the guitar.

Okay, sob story over. There is a happy ending. I've gotten pretty decent at playing the guitar, I started this blog to archive my ridiculous amounts of baking, and he brought me back a present which made this post possible. Yes, this present was a cookbook, but not just any cookbook. An Italian cookbook. He knows me too well to know that this is seriously the best present I could ever ask for. Forget jewelry, just give me a new cookbook and I'm happy as can be. The cookbook is full of pictures and recipes and is without a doubt my favorite one to date. So, without hesitation, I flipped to the dessert section in the back and picked a staple Italian treat. Tiramisu.

Ingredients:
3 large eggs, separated
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 lb mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
8 oz sponge fingers
1/4 cup very strong black coffee
5 oz semisweet or dark chocolate, coarsely grated
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Grab a 9"x13" baking dish (or as the book says, a "large dessert dish") and set aside.

Separate all the eggs and place the 5 egg yolks in a mixing bowl.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is very pale and creamy.

Keep 3 of the egg whites.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt in a large bowl until stiff.

Stir the mascarpone into the egg yolk mixture. Then fold in the egg whites.

Spoon 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture innto the pan and sprinkle with half the chocolate.

Add a layer of the sponge fingers, dipping them in the coffee before arranging them in the pan. (I skipped this step since I can't stand coffee, which is too bad since I'm supposed to be a coffee-loving college student.)

Add another layer of mascarpone cream. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and top with the remaining sponge fingers, dipping them in the coffee before arranging them in the pan. Cover with the remaining mascarpone cream. Dust with the cocoa and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

After trying the tiramisu sans coffee, I'm starting to think that maybe I should just suck it up and use the coffee despite my personal feelings. I really think that it is missing some flavor dimention without it. Hot chocolate, perhaps?

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