Friday, July 19, 2013

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Cake

So, last week was my birthday.  And you know what that means:  

B I R T H D A Y   C A K E ! ! ! 

I did my research and decided on this sweet and salty number.  It was pretty amazing.   And very rich.  I suggest either a strong cup of coffee to enjoy with it or a glass of milk.  The cake is very moist, rich, dark and chocolaty.  And then you spread caramel on top of each layer.  And then slather salted caramel chocolate frosting on top of each layer as well as frost the cake altogether.  Definitely make it a day ahead of time and keep refrigerated.  You will not be disappointed.

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Cake

 Cake Ingredients:
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 and 1/4 Cup Hot Water
2/3 Cup Sour Cream
2 and 2/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Butter (unsalted), softened
1/2 Cup Shortening
1 and 1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Large Eggs, room temp
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans.  I use silpats in the bottom of mine - but you can grease and flour the pans instead.

Step 2:  In a bowl, combine the sour cream and cocoa powder.  Slowly stir in the hot water.  Stir together until well blended.  Set aside until needed later.

Step 3:  In large mixing bowl, add the butter and shortening - beat until smooth and well combined.  Then add the white sugar and brown sugar and beat again until smooth and fully incorporated.
Step 4:  In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Step 5:  This is where you will combine the flour mixture and cocoa mixture with the creamed mixture.  To being, add 1/2 the flour and incorporate until well blended.  Add 1/2 the cocoa mixture and mix well.  Add remaining flour mixture and mix well.  Add remaining cocoa mixture and mix well.  Be sure to always scrape down the bowl between additions.

Step 6:  Divide the batter among the baking pans and bake for 25-35 minutes.  Ovens may vary, so be sure to test for doneness.  Once baked, remove from oven and cool completely.

Caramel Ingredients:

1 Can of Dulce de Leche (I buy mine at our local grocery store in the Hispanic section)

If you cannot find this product, you will want to use a very thick yet soft caramel.

Chocolate & Salted Caramel Ingredients:

1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 LB Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 and 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Cups Butter (slightly softened, but yet cool and cut into tablespoon chunks)

Step 1:  Add the chocolate chips to a large mixing bowl as well as 1/2 the can of dulce de leche.

Step 2:  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until boiling.  Add the salt and stir to combine.

Step 3:  Carefully pour the cream over the chocolate chips and caramel.  Cover the bowl and let stand for 5 minutes.
Step 4:  Uncover the bowl and stir the mixture with a large spatula/rubber scraper.  Stir until combined, but don't fret about getting it fully incorporated.  Just stir it enough to get it mixed up - then beat it with the electric mixer until smooth.  Start on low and slowly increase the speed to medium and beat for roughly 5 minutes, until it is fully cohesive and incorporated.  Next, while the mixer is still on medium speed - add one tablespoon of butter and beat until well combined.  Continue to add the butter, 1 piece at a time and incorporated, until all the butter has been added.  Continue to beat for approximately 5 minutes until fluffy and smooth. Refrigerate until ready for cake assembly.

To Assemble the Cake:

Step 1:  Chill the cake layers for at least a few hours.  This will really help you with the assembly.

Step 2:  Carefully slice each layer in half to make 4 rounds.  I should have take pictures, but I didn't (bad blogger!).  To do so, take a ruler and mark 1/2 up the side of the cake and insert a toothpick.  Do this four times around the cake (spaced as if there were a north, south, east and west).  Carefully, with a sharp serrated knife, score the cake by "connecting the toothpicks" with the knife. Once you've made that score, carefully slice through the cake.  You will know have two pieces.  Repeat this process with the other cake.

Step 3:  Place one cake on a large plate or cardboard round.  Carefully spread 1/3 of the caramel (dulce de leche) across the top of the cake.  To make it easy spread, you can heat it up a little bit in the microwave or a saucepan.  Next, spread about 1 cup of the frosting on top of the caramel.  Do not spread to the edges - only go about 1/2 from the edge.  The frost will disperse itself when you add the next layer of cake.

Step 4: Place the next cake round on top of the first frosted round.  Repeat the above steps by spreading on the caramel and then the cake.  You will do this again with the next layer.  Once you have three layers of cake topped with the caramel and frosting, add the last cake layer.

Step 5:  Frost the sides of the cake sparingly (crumb coat).  I recommend using an offset spatula if you have one.  Then, frost the top the cake sparingly.  Once it looks smooth, frost the cake again with the remaining frosting - starting with the sides and finishing with the top of the cake.

Step 6:  Decorate the cake at one's own will. It would be beautiful with some chocolate shavings.  We decided to pipe out some words on it :)

Keep this cake in the fridge!  The frosting is very delicate.  Let it come to room temp to serve.  Enjoy.
And  .. . Happy Birthday to Me :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

I have this love of oatmeal that is in-explainable.  I am at a loss of words for how I feel about it.  It makes me who I am today.  It completes me.  

Although, I must admit . . .I don't like prepared oatmeal aka a bowl of mush.  Yuck.  Can't stand it (it's a texture thing).   I do enjoy oatmeal in all other forms though:  granola, pancakes, cookies, breads, muffins, etc etc etc.  

And thus, I was searching for a new breakfast option.  The protein bars I so love are a little bit spendy.  So, I thought I would try to find something else to have for breakfast.  I'm not a health nut by any means.  But, I do love oatmeal and I like something sweet in the mornings.  As well, it must keep me full until lunch time.  These seem to fit the ticket for me.  I tweaked this recipe.  Next time, I may try to sub some applesauce in place of the oil.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

4 Cups Oatmeal
1.5 Cups Flour
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
4 Eggs
3/4 Cup Canola Oil
3/4 Cup Raisins
3/4 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 Cup Coconut Flakes (unsweetened)

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.  Measure out the dry ingredients into a large bowl (oatmeal, flour, both sugars, salt and cinnamon).  Stir together to combine.

Step 2:  Add the eggs and oil to the dry ingredients.  It may be a little tough to mix together using a spoon - I  ended up using my hands to mix it all together.

Step 3:  Add in the raisins, chocolate chips and coconut.  Mix well.  Holy Moly . .. does this look good already or what?!?!?!?!

Step 4:  Spray a 9x13 cake pan and press mixture into the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes - until it is slightly puffy and the edges are starting to turn golden.

I cut the pan into 24 bars.  1 bar = 240 calories, 2 grams fiber and 5 grams of protein.  And they are delicious!!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Deviled Eggs

Every once in while you might crave a little super-simps savory treat.  This fits that ticket:  Deviled Eggs. No occasion needed.  

Deviled Eggs

6 or 7 Hard Boiled Eggs, Peeled and Silced in Half
4 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
1 Teaspoon (generous) Yellow Mustard 
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper

Step 1:  Place mustard and mayonnaise in a small bowl.  

Step 2:  Remove the yolks from the eggs and add to the bowl with the mayo/mustard.  Mash together until smooth.  Add pepper and mix thoroughly.

Step 3:  Carefully divide the mixture among the egg whites.  I like to use my little scooper.  It makes it go quickly and cleanly and seems to measure out the perfect amount!  If you don't have a scoop, you can use a spoon.  

Viola!  Deviled Eggs:

Optional Step 4:  Garnish!  I typically sprinkle the deviled eggs with paprika.  But why stop there?  You can garnish with almost anything.  The sky is the limit!  In the below photo I garnished each with paprika and two of each with the following:  bacon bits, black sesame seeds, green onion, capers, parsley, broccoli and salami.  Now, that's what I call a sampler!