Simple advice for a better life.

Dark Chocolate Ganache CakeMy daughter’s birthday was fast approaching, so I was researching many cake recipes with lots of dark chocolate (her favorite ingredient).

For the past three years I have been making her favorite Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling, but this year I wanted to do something different.

She selected a Dark Chocolate Torte with Dark Chocolate Ganache, so I took her up on the idea, and baked the above pictured torte.

The original recipe was posted by Tarra Knight from Texas, in Taste of Home, however I tweaked it a little, and printed my version here.

It earned high marks from the birthday girl, and all the guests.

This cake freezes very well, but the fresh raspberries had to be removed before freezing, and replaced with fresh ones before serving ( we served the leftover cake  at Thanksgiving).

 Cake Ingredients:

  •  4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Bakers chocolate for baking)
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup hot coffee (I used Dunkin Donuts Caramel flavored)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used Gold Medal Unbleached)
  • 1 cup dark Cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup warm water ( for torte punch)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (for torte punch)

Ingredients for Ganache:

  • 14 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I use Baker’s chocolate for baking)
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups heavy cream for whipping (1 1/2 pint)
  • 7 tsp. light corn syrup

Cake Directions:

  1. Line the bottom of 3 – 8 inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and grease it generously (I also dab a little Crisco under the paper to keep it in place).
  2. Place the chopped  chocolate in a medium bowl, pour the hot coffee over it, and stir with a whisk until all chocolate melts, and smooth mixture forms.
  3. Cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, adding sugar gradually, until creamy and light lemon color (the mixture resembles vanilla pudding).
  5. Mix in the oil and vanilla.
  6. Gradually add the chocolate mixture, continuously beating.
  7. Set aside.
  8. In another bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  9. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, alternating it with gradual addition of the buttermilk.
  10. Divide the batter equally between the three cake pans.
  11. Preheat the oven to 325 degree F.
  12. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the toothpick test is clean.
  13. Remove from the oven, and cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  14. Remove from pans unto wire cooling racks, to cool completely.

Ganache directions:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. Place a medium saucepan on the stove, pour in the heavy cream and corn syrup, and bring to boil.
  3. Pour the boiling cream over chopped  chocolate, and stir with a whisk until smooth and creamy.
  4. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, to cool it off slightly, stirring occasionally.

Assembling the torte:

  1. Slice off the “hump” from each cake top, to create even and flat top cake rounds.
  2. Cut two rectangular pieces of waxed or parchment paper, about 6 inches wide.
  3. Place these two pieces slightly overlapping, on a cake platter.
  4. Place the first cake round on top of the waxed paper.
  5. Prepare the torte punch by mixing the warm water with the vanilla extract.
  6. Dip a pastry brush into the torte punch, and brush the  cake top with it to moisten it.  Use 1/3 of the torte punch on each layer.
  7. Spread 1/2 cup of ganache on top of the cake.
  8. Place the second cake layer on top of the ganache.
  9. Sprinkle the cake top with the torte punch, as previously.
  10. Spread 1/2 cup of ganache over this cake layer as well.
  11. Place the third cake layer on top of the ganache, with the trimmed off top down.
  12. Spread the rest of the ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Decorate the top with candy, or fruit.
  14. Keep it refrigerated for couple of hours, or overnight, to firm up the ganache.

Enjoy this yummy torte, which is very “chocolaty” rich, yet semi-sweet at the same time.

 

Exotic Banana Bread Bananas are such a staple food in our house (great source of Potassium to prevent muscle cramps), so we hardly ever run out of them, but at times there are few very ripe ones left over, hence perfect time to whip up some banana bread.

This week was one of those times with several very ripe bananas, which contributed to this newly concocted recipe for an Exotic Banana Bread.

It is a light recipe, since it has less sugar and fat, than my other recipe for Decadent Chocolate Banana Bread, posted earlier.

This banana bread is very light and airy.  The coconut and cinnamon flavors add to its exotic aroma.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal all-purpose unbleached flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I use kosher salt)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 2 large bananas, mashed (nicely ripe…even if they begin to get little brown spots all over its peel)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (you also may use coconut oil, I did not have any on hand)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate morsels (or you use raisins, craisins, nuts, or other dry fruits)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Incorporate all ingredients with a whisk, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with brown sugar and white sugar, until very light and creamy, resembling cake batter.
  3. Mix in coconut extract, oil and bananas.
  4. Gradually add in flour, and mix well to incorporate.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Generously grease and flour a loaf pan.
  8. Pour the batter into the greased pan, and bake 60-70 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then remove onto a cooling rack to cool completely, before slicing into serving pieces.

Exotic Banana  Bread

Enjoy!

Barn style Birthday Cake with a bunch of farm animals cupcakesFarm Animal cupcakes - sheeps, pigs, chicksFarmer McAidan's Barn Birthdy Cake

My two-year old grandson’s favorite song is “Old McDonald had a farm”.  He also enjoys books about farm animals, and just loves riding with his dad on a tractor, while mowing their lawn.

His mom knew exactly what theme he will select for his second birthday party, so it turned out to be “McAidan’s” Farm theme.

Today I will share some pictures of decorations and creative party foods, from that happy event.

stash of stuffed farm animals to decorate the party room

The fireplace mantel held all the “near and dear” stuffed farm animals, which my grandson loves to snuggle up with.

Barn Door and farm animals - wall decoration                                 Barn and farm animals - toy and table centerpiece

 

The 7 foot high barn door wall decoration was creatively constructed by his mom, out of red wrapping paper, and white strapping tape, accessorized with cow print balloons, as well as few oversize cow and pig balloons.

His toy barn filled with farm animals, served as a center piece on the main food table.

Cowboys or farmers attire for party attendees  Hats and bandanas

All his friends were offered a cowboy hat and a bandana, to wear at the party, and to keep.

His daddy’s cowboy boots came in handy, and served well as an appropriate sign holder.

Party favors

In addition to the hats and bandanas, the little cowboys/farmers left the party with a personalized bag filled with all sorts of goodies.

Lemonade - as pond full of ducksThe swimming duckies - close up view

A large vessel with a convenient spigot, was filled with delicious lemonade, representing a pond full of swimming yellow duckies.   What a great idea!

Party food - deviled eggsFarmer McAidan's Veggie snacksFruit Patch - fun party food

Part of the snack menu were Deviled Farm Fresh Eggs, as well as a variety of berries and veggies from the McAdan’s Berry and Veggie Patches.

Trail Mix - as Chicken FeedPretzel Sticks - Hay

 

Other munchies included Chicken Feed (trail mix), and a bucket of Hay (pretzel sticks), as well as

Rice Krispies snacks - as Hay BalesOreo cookies taste better as tractor tires

Hay Bales (Rice Krispies Treats), and Tractor Tires (Oreo cookies).

The main menu had an abundance of barbecue foods, salads, other desserts and beverages.

Water slide into a water poolTractor rides

It was a beautiful day, so the very energetic two-year-olds, and some of their older and younger siblings, enjoyed many outdoor activities, including age appropriate sports, tractor rides, and most of all, an inflated water slide with a pool.

I had so much fun creating this post, and hopefully you enjoyed reading it, as well as getting fresh party ideas for that special little one in your family.

Please share your ideas with all of us.  Thank you.

Farmer McAidan's Barn Birthdy Cake

Jello CheesecakeMy sister, who lives in Krakow, shared several Eastern European recipes with me, which I will prepare, and post for your enjoyment.

Today I will share a No Bake recipe for a Low Fat Jello Cheesecake, which is very simple to prepare, presents itself very nicely, and it is refreshingly delicious.

Jello Cheesecake is much lighter than a traditional cheesecake, and to make it even lighter, you may use 1/3 less fat cream cheese, which I tested on one of the layers, and it held up as well as the regular cheese.

I used regular jello, since I do not like the taste of sugar free jello, but you might want to try the sugar free if you wish.  My selection of jello leaned towards citrusy flavor, but you may choose a more fruity one.

I decorated my cheesecake with blueberries and grapes, but any fruits may be used, or left out all together.

Jello Cheesecake - serving

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 8 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (regular or light)
  • 4 cups of water, separated
  • 1 – 3 oz package of Orange Jello
  • 1 -3 oz package of Lime Jello
  • 1 – 3 oz package of Lemon Jello
  • 1 – 3 0z package of Strawberry Jello
  • 1/8 tsp. Orange Extract (to add to Orange Jello)
  • 1/8 tsp. Lemon Extract (to add to Lemon Jello)
  • Fruit of choice for garnish (I also used few fresh mint leaves)

Directions:

  1. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring-form cake pan, and set side.
  2. Pour 1 cup of water into three different saucepans, and bring to boil
  3. Pour the Orange Jello into  one of the pots, the Lime into another, and the Lemon into the last one.
  4. Turn off heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved, add extract, and set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, mix one 8 oz package of cream cheese, until creamy.
  6. Add the first jello, once it is partly set, but still has the consistency of yogurt.
  7. Beat in with the cheese until a smooth mixture is formed.
  8. Pour this jello/cheese mixture into the spring-form pan, and smooth it evenly with  a spatula, or a spoon.
  9. Place it in the fridge to set.
  10. Meanwhile work on the second package of cheese and next color jello, and set aside, and do the same with the third cheese and jello.
  11. Remove the cake pan with jello from the fridge and spread the second cheese/jello mixture over the first one, and place it back in the fridge to cool.
  12. Then do the same with the third cheese/jello mixture, and place it in the fridge.
  13. Boil 1 cup of water in a sauce pan, and prepare the Strawberry Jello, same way as the ones above.
  14. Set aside to cool off to room temperature.
  15. Now it is time to decorate the top of the Jello Cheesecake with fruits, if you wish.
  16. Gently pour the cooled Strawberry Jello over the fruits, and return to the fridge for couple of hours to fully set before serving.
  17. Before serving, remove it from the fridge, run a knife around the edges of the cake close to the side of the pan, to loosen it up.
  18. Remove the sides of the spring-form cake pan, but leave the cake on the pan bottom, and place it on a serving platter.
  19. For easier and cleaner cuts, dip your knife in a warm water, before slicing the cake.

It is a wonderfully refreshing dessert on a hot summer day, or anytime of the year, and for any occasion.

Enjoy!

 

Fresh Fruit Sheet Cake  -  Plum fillingThis fresh fruit filled sheet cake is so light and airy, it practically melts in your mouth.

The cake is light not only in texture, but also in calories, due to no butter or sour cream, unlike many other delicious recipes.

Great recipe for beginner bakers, as it is quite simple to prepare, easy to slice, and really tasty.

Excellent as an after meal dessert, or a wonderful accompaniment to a refreshing cup of tea of coffee.

Ingredients:

  •  6 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup Canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Fruit Filling:

  • Fresh fruit of your choice (I used 8 Red Plums sliced into eight wedges)
  • 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, ground
  • pinch of cloves, ground

Directions:

  1. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 baking sheet with parchment paper.  Use Crisco to grease parchment paper bottom and sides.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 340 o F.
  3. In a large mixer bowl, beat the egg whites until they begin to fluff up (about 2 minutes).
  4. Gradually add sugar, and keep on beating.
  5. Add one egg yolk at a time, and continue beating.
  6. Mix in vanilla.
  7. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
  8. Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture (I used a spatula).
  9. Scoop out into the prepared baking sheet, and smooth it out evenly with the back of a spoon, or a spatula.
  10. Arrange cut fruit on top of batter, to evenly cover it.
  11. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves (you may use other spices to complement the fruit of your choice)
  12. Sprinkle over fruit.
  13. Bake in preheated oven for 40 -45 minutes.
  14. Remove and cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  15. Lift out the baked cake with parchment paper onto cooling rack, to cool completely.
  16. Cut into serving pieces, and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Enjoy!

 

 

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