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Still on my homemade pudding kick. It’s so simple to do, I just have to experiment with flavours. Obviously, chocolate and peanut butter isn’t much of an experiment. It’s well-established fact that the two go together. But since I’ve never had peanut butter pudding (not even from a box mix!) I thought I’d give it a go.

Nothing says “peanut butter” like a crocus…. right? Ok, not really. But I’m still trying to figure out some food photography stuff, and introducing some “props.” Your thoughts on the flower? The colour scheme?

 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layered Puddings

Peanut butter pudding:

1/2 cup sugar

5 tsp cornstarch

1/8 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups whole milk (don’t use anythign other than whole milk!)

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup smooth, natural peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, mix all the dry ingredients. Add milk and heavy whipping cream, and stir until the mixture boils. Let boil one minute, then add peanut butter. Return to a boil, and let boil one minute more. Remove from heat, and add vanilla extract. Let cool slightly.

Chocolate pudding:

6 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch

2 tbsp cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk (again, only use whole milk)

1/2 cup whipping cream

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1 tsp vanilla extract

Again, combine the dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add milk and heavy cream, and stir to a boil. Let boil one minute, then add chopped chocolate. Return to a boil, and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool slightly.

Whipping cream

1 cup cold whipping cream

1 tbsp sugar (optional)

Whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form.

In a wine glass (or other glass container), fill 1/3 of the way with peanut butter pudding, 1/3 with chocolate pudding, and 1/3 with whipping cream. Or alternate this in any way you see fit for dramatic effect.

The peanut butter pudding can be overpowering, so try to use a little more chocolate pudding to the peanut butter pudding.

I promise the next post will not be about pudding. Enjoy!

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How’s that for alliteration? Mmhmm!

In honor of Macaron Day (in France), I think it’s only fitting to have a post about macarons. I made four varieties, just to test out some new flavours. Some were winners, some were phenomenal!

From left to right: lemon, blueberry pancake, mint chocolate, and chocolate lavender.

I know I didn’t quite get the technique right; the macarons don’t have that little “foot” that many others have, but I was more interested in getting the flavour combinations down. The mint chocolate was very tasty and classic, the chocolate lavender was both rich and light, the lemon was especially tangy, and the blueberry pancake? Holy crap, it tasted just like a pancake… here’s how I put it all together:

Macaron Recipe

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup ground almonds

3 tbsp cocoa powder (or 3 additional tbsp of ground almonds, if you’re not making the chocolate macarons)

2 egg whites

5 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon mint extract, or 1/4 cup dried blueberries

Blend the cocoa, powdered sugar, and ground almonds together so they are very fine. Beat the eggs whites to medium stiff consistency, then slowly add the granulated sugar, while beating, until stiff consistency. At this point, add the mint extract, if you’re making mint macarons. VERY CAREFULLY fold in the almond mixture, being careful not to overfold. If you’re making the blueberry pancake macarons, this is the time to add the dried blueberries. Scoop the entire mixture into a piping bag with a #12 tip. Spray two baking sheets with water, then line with parchment paper. Carefully trace 1.5″ diameter circles all over the paper, and pipe the mixture until it fills each circle. Bake at 375 F for 15-18 minutes, then let them cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

Sandwich the cookies with jam, caramel, or ganache, and let them sit for a day (covered), if at all possible. The flavours really mature after a day, and the texture is much better if they sit and rest!

For the lemon macarons, fill each cookie with a 1:2 ration of lemon curd to vanilla buttercream. For the blueberry pancake macarons, use a small amount of maple flavouring to the vanilla buttercream to get a nice, maple syrup taste.

For the chocolate lavendar macarons, fill each cookie with ganache, and then roll them in dried lavender.

Each mint macaron was filled with plain old rich dark chocolate ganache.

Give the blueberry pancake macarons a try! I know they sound weird, but they were incredible!

Salt Lake City is slowly making it’s climb out of the deadly grip of winter. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a fan of winter; the poor air quality, the freezing cold, the harsh driving conditions, and the grey sky all conspire to make me feel depressed and down. Lately, the Salt Lake valley has made the gradual change to warmer weather, and slowly, ever so slowly, buds are forming on the bare trees, with promises of warm weather and a nice, pleasant summer. To celebrate this semi-frozen awakening in nature, I thought I’d make some semifreddo, which literally means “semi-frozen.” Totally appropriate!!

Unfortunately, the weather is terribly unpredictable, and I couldn’t get any proper light in my living room, so these are the best photos I could manage. I will make this dessert again, and will have better photos next time. Until then…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made the semifreddos in a 3-inch ring mold, layering different flavours to give the dessert a different effect, and to make them look a bit fancier. Because I wanted them to have some stability, it seemed easiest to put the creamy mixture on top of something, so I made some pate sucree, and cut the dough into 3-inch round discs. As a result, there are quite a few recipes, steps, and processes for this dessert, but they are all listed below!

Pate Sucree

1 1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

Place all ingredients (except egg) in a food processor. Pulse until fine crumbs form. Add egg and process just until the dough comes together. Be careful not to process more. Gather the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll into a thin disk, about 1/4″ thick, then cut about six 3-inch circles. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and baking in a pre-heated oven (350 F) for approximately 10 minutes. Do not let the dough turn golden, or it will be too hard. Let cool completely, then place inside 3-inch round ring molds.

Chocolate Hazelnut semifreddo

1/4 tsp gelatin

3 tbsp water

3/4 cup heavy cream

3 tbsp honey

2 tbsp sugar

1/8 tsp salt

3 large egg yolks

1/2 cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread (or ganache, if you have it).

Sprinkle gelatin over 1 tbsp water. Beat the cream until soft peaks form. Stir together honey, sugar, salt, and remaining water in saucepan, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil without stirring until 238 F. Meanwhile, beat the yolks until they are thick and pale, about the entire time it takes for the sugar mixture to reach 238 F. Reduce the speed to medium, and SLOWLY pour in the hot sugar mixture. Add the gelatin to the hot pan so it warms, then beat it into the yolk mixture. Fold in the whipped cream, and split the mixture in half. Melt about 1 tbsp of the chocolate hazelnut spread until it is pourable (but not hot), and gently fold into one of the egg/cream mixtures until combined thoroughly. Let chill.

With remaining chocolate hazelnut spread, cover three of the pate sucree discs with a thick layer, using more if necessary. Add the chocolate semifreddo mixture on top, about halfway up the ring mold. Top with the plain semifreddo mixture, and smooth until flat. Add a small dollop of chocolate hazelnut spread, or some sifted cocoa powder for a garnish. Freeze for at least two hours.

Blueberry lemon semifreddo

Use the same semifreddo directions as above. Instead of separating the egg/cream mixture in half, leave the mixture together, and gently fold in the lemon curd (recipe below), but don’t combine completely. Leave some streaks of lemon.

For the blueberry layer, process 1/2 cups blueberries with 1 tbsp sugar. Soften 1 tsp gelatin with 1 tbsp water. When the gelatin is thick, gently warm the gelatin in the microwave, then add to the blueberry mixture. Fill each pate sucree-lined ring mold halfway with lemon curd semifreddo mixture, then add the blueberry layer, then top with the remaining semifreddo mixture, and top with whole blueberries as a garnish. Freeze for at least two hours before serving.

Lemon Curd

6 tbsp butter

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2/3 cup lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

Cream the sugar and butter in a mixer, then add the lemon juice and eggs. mix as well as you can. Put in a saucepan and cook until the temperature reaches 170 F. Remove from heat and add the lemon zest. Chill the entire pan in an ice bath, and then strain (though this wasn’t necessary when I made it). Refrigerate for at least a day, with plastic wrap resting ON TOP of the lemon curd to prevent a skin from forming.

A little while ago I made some chocolate cookies. I had some left over dough that I had to do something with! So I baked that dough up, crushed up the cookies, and made some verrines out of them.


A verrine is the actual name of a glass container, but has become the name of a diverse selection of multi-layered desserts of various textures and flavours in a glass. In this instance, I used some chocolate ganache, strawberry compote, chocolate mouse, and chocolate cookie crumbs to put together a delightfully rich dessert! The whole thing was very easy to construct, especially when you have a bunch of “spare parts” from other baking projects.

The cookie recipe can be found here.

The ganache recipe is here (just omit the kahlua and espresso powder/coffee grinds).

The chocolate mousse is very easy to make. Just take a cup or so of cream, and whip it to soft peaks. Melt about 1/4 cup chopped chocolate in a microwave, and slowly pour into the whipped cream, as it whips to stiff peaks.

The strawberry compote is VERY easy. Takeabout 1 1/2 cups whole fresh (or frozen) strawberries. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the berries, adding 2-3 tbsp of sugar (optional). When the fruit softens, mash it as you would mashed potatoes. Let the mixture cool.

Combine all of the ingredients in whatever order you please! I did some cookie crumbles, some ganache, some chocolate mousse, some strawberry compote, and then repeated the process.

This just wouldn’t be a food blog unless I posted something sweet and Valentine’s-themed. Though I’m not really doing anything for V-Day (besides indulging in my love affair with Super Mario 64), I made these cookies in advance to mail out to my Meem, who just had a(nother) nasty ankle surgery…

These are some simple chocolate cookies, cut in various shapes and sizes, then sandwiched with a layer of hazelnut chocolate spread, strawberry jam, or apricot preserves. Here’s the recipe for the cookies, loosely adapted from the Confetti Cakes book:

2 1/3 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

6 oz chocolate morsels

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla extract. Slowly melt the chocolate in a microwave or double boiler, and add to the butter mixture in a steady stream while mixing. Sift remaining dry ingredients together, and slowly add to butter mixture. Roll into a log, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an hour or so. Roll the dough out to be about 1/2″ thick. Using a circle cutter (about 1.5″ in diameter), cut circles and bake on prepared pan at 350 F for approximately 8 minutes. When the cookies have finished baking, quickly take them out of the oven and cut the desired shapes. Using a small round cutter, flower cutter, or heart cutter, cut a small window in half of the cookies  you make, so that each cookie (comprised of two cookies) has one cookie that does not have the window, and one cookie that has the window.

Let the cookies cool, and then spread the window-less cookie with store-bought hazelnut spread, strawberry jam, apricot jam, or any other filling of your choosing. Sandwich with a windowed cookie of the same shape, then eat and enjoy!

Back in the day (waaaay back in the day), I had the dream of opening a recording studio in my homeland of Coal Creek Canyon, Colorado. I wanted to name the recording studio “All the C’s”. Incidentally, I also had a cat named C. Seriously, just the letter “C”. And no, it didn’t stand for “cat”. I’m far more creative than that.

Since that dream has faded (and because it’s an illogical notion to open a recording studio in a remote canyon), I’ve forgotten about “All the C’s”. But now, the name can be reborn–in cupcake form!

YUM!

So, these are your basic chocolate cupcakes. No, I’m not giving you my chocolate cake recipe. It’s something I’ve spent 3 years perfecting. However, I will discuss my frosting and ganache filling!

Coffee Ganache filling:

1 part cream

2 parts coarsely chopped chocolate

2 tbsp kahlua

1 tbsp fresh finely ground coffee

Heat the cream until boiling. Put the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Pour hot cream over chocolate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, then slowly stir in ground coffee and kahlua. Stir until the mixture thickens. You can refrigerate this and whip it, if you so desire. Alternatively, replace the fresh coffee grinds with instant espresso powder. With a pastry bag and a bismarck tip (or a star tip), fill each cupcake until it is about to burst. You really can’t have too much filling, so don’t be shy!

Chocolate frosting:

1 scant cup coffee chocolate ganache (from above recipe), melted until pourable (but not hot)

2 tbsp kahlua

8 tbsp room temperature butter (NOT margarine or shortening)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 tbsp fresh finely ground coffee

Cream butter and sugar together. Add coffee grounds and kahlua. Continue to mix while slowly adding coffee ganache. Add more powdered sugar to make the mixture as thick as you would like. With a pastry bag and tip (I used some kind of star tip, but I don’t remember which), create swirls on top of your cupcakes.

The freshly ground coffee gives just a hint of coffee flavour, as does the kahlua. For a stronger coffee flavour, use instant espresso powder or good quality coffee extract.

I’m also a big fan of the photograph. I think I’ve come a long way with my photography skills, don’t you?! =)

I’m easily annoyed when things aren’t spelled properly. Unfortunately, I’ve no idea how to spell macarons/macaroons. When I see the word “macaroons” I immediately think of the somewhat dense and overly sweet coconut cookies that are often half-dipped in chocolate. That’s not what this post is about…

After reading a number of blogs that talk about les macarons, and learning about Laduree while reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (my new favourite book!), I just had to try out a recipe for macarons…

Every blog/website/etc I looked at espoused a variety of techniques, tricks, and claimed the macaron to be the most difficult of all things to bake!

I felt challenged. Seriously. My bakery masculinity was put into question. Turns out, macarons are no serious threat. Check ’em out:

YUM! This has to be my favouritest photo ever. I just really like it!

The macarons (from left to right) are:

Rasbperry, with ganache and raspberry filling, and

Chocolate, with ganache and caramel filling.

 The recipe I used was:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup ground almonds

3 tbsp cocoa powder (or 3 additional tbsp of ground almonds, if you’re not making the chocolate macarons)

2 egg whites

5 tbsp granulated sugar

Blend the cocoa, powdered sugar, and ground almonds together so they are very fine. Beat the eggs whites to medium stiff consistency, then slowly add the granulated sugar, while beating, until stiff consistency. VERY CAREFULLY fold in the cocoa mixture, being careful not to overfold. Scoop the entire mixture into a piping bag with a #12 tip. Spray two baking sheets with water, then line with parchment paper. Carefully trace 1.5″ diameter circles all over the paper, and pipe the mixture until it fills each circle. Bake at 375 F for 15-18 minutes, then let them cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

Sandwich the cookies with jam, caramel, or ganache, and let them sit for a day (covered), if at all possible. The flavours really mature after a day, and the texture is much better if they sit and rest!

Trust me, they were very, very good. And for the lucky few who got to taste them, well they keep telling me they want more! I’m hoping to create some new flavours in the future; cardamom vanilla, basil lemon, orange, pistachio, green tea, etc…. help me out by giving me some flavour ideas!

There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than with nudity cake.

That being said, the following post has photos that are MILDLY objectionable. Avert your eyes, close your browser, or… whatever, if you are easily offended. I’m not responsible for your sensibilities. Besides, these are PHOTOS OF CAKES! It’s not real nudity, so get over it!

For whatever reason, people like cakes of an erotic nature. I guess that’s why there are so many erotic bakeries out there in the world. Well, here’s my contributions to this mildly respectable niche market (I say mildly respectable because pulling off life-like anatomy does take some skill!)

=)

Yea….. umm… the best is that the black dye used for the…. er…. hairs…. well, temporarily stains lips, teeth, and tongue. So, for all those eatin’ pubes… WE ALL KNOW!

I’m quite proud of the lace-work on this one. See! Totally respectful and (slightly) elegant!

Those are definitely two of my favourites. Again, tasteful, right? Some nice lace-work, a seductively placed rose… rose petals… chocolate everywhere. YUM!

I’m not going to lie… I enjoy doing cakes with some lace-work/bra action. Why? Well, because then I don’t have to worry about the nipples being asymmetrical, off-centre, or just plain wrong. Case in point:

And this happy fellow? Well, I know it’s not exactly naked/nude/exposed, whatever, but it is funny. A friend of mine had a porn and pasta party. So… I did what I could to come up with clever-ish titles for his porn tapes. I welcome any other suggestions, in case I do future porn tape cakes!

So, awhile back I made some tartlet shells. I actually made about a dozen, froze them, and periodically (when I’ve had a bad day or just need something sweet), I pull one out of the freezer, toss some whipped cream, some ganache, peanut butter, or caramel sauce in the shell, and top it with some heated frozen berries, fresh fruit, or nothing at all.

This is an easy, quick way to wash away all the negativity of the day. I can’t say that a lot of people have enjoyed these, because, well…. I’ve been nourishing my Inner Fat Kid, and have been eating them all. Gotta love it!

The recipe is from Greatest Ever Chocolate, from Parragon Publishing. My friend in South Africa got this book for me for Christmas last year. I’ve only tried two or three of the recipes, but so far they haven’t steered me wrong!

Chocolate Fruit Tartlets

 

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

2/3 cup butter

3 tbsp powdered sugar

2-3 tbsp water

1 ¾ oz/50 g semisweet chocolate

½ cup chopped mixed nuts, toasted (optional)

12 oz/350 g prepared fruit

3 tbsp apricot jelly or red currant jelly

 

Sift the flour and cocoa into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.

Stir in the sugar. Add enough of the water to mix to a soft dough. Cover and chill for 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and line 6 tartlet pans. Prick the dough with a fork several times, and line with a little crumpled foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the dough is crisp. Let cool completely.

Melt the semisweet chocolate. Spread out the chopped nuts on a plate. Remove the pie shells from the pans, spread melted chocolate on the rims, then dip in the nuts. Let the chocolate set.

Arrange the prepared fruit (strawberries, peaches, kiwi, berries, etc) in the tartlet shells. Melt the apricot jelly with a tablespoon of water and brush is over the fruit.

 

Alternatively, fill the tartlets with ganache, whipped cream, peanut butter, caramel sauce, etc. and top with the fruit of your choice. Eat right away, or refrigerate (if you use apples, bananas, or other fruits that oxidize quickly, brush with the apricot jelly or lemon juice to prevent browning).

It seems the holidays never end. I think that’s a pretty popular sentiment this time of year. I recently had another holiday party to go to, so of course, I took a cake! The top tier of the cake below is maple walnut cake with maple buttercream frosting, while the bottom tier is chocolate cake with peppermint buttercream frosting. Yes, that’s exactly the same as the cupcakes I made for another holiday party. Yes, the two parties were just a day apart. And no, I can’t think of any flavours more holiday/season specific than maple and chocolate with peppermint. Don’t judge me!

This took quite a bit of time to concoct, but it was worth it. I struggled a lot with the quilt design, since I’ve never done one before. And I sort of ran out of bows for the topper. Lesson learned. Always make twice as many as you think you need. And my royal icing was a bit runny, so my border looked… interesting. And no, I don’t know what prompted me to paint my cake base with gold luster dust. Again, don’t judge me!