Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chocolate with Francois - Chocolate Pudding Cake

It is such an honor to be the "host" of a food group.  You bake together with your friends and then one day you get to choose the recipe that your group bakes together.  This month I got to choose and I chose Charlie's Chocolate Pudding Cake from Francois Payard's Chocolate Epiphany cookbook.  In our Chocolate with Francois group, we choose a recipe per month to prepare together and we post on the last day of the month.

In Francois' recipe, he uses certain percentages of chocolate with each recipe. Here is a guide for this:
30-40% = milk
50% = semisweet
60% = bittersweet
72% = extra bittersweet
99-100% = unsweetened
I had to figure this out because this recipe called for 50% chocolate and I had no idea what Francois was talking about! I learn something every time I cook with one of my groups. This cake is full of delicious, rich, yummy chocolate. And who doesn't like chocolate, right?

We have a small group but the recipes are really interesting and challenging.  This one, however, was easy to put together.  I made a few mistakes along the way, but I got rave reviews on the end result.  This cake is uber chocolate so if you are not a chocolate fan you should not even consider making it.  If you are, you'll be in heaven with each delicious bite.

First, I got some ingredients together. 

 Then mixing of the batter:

It was a nice thick beautiful batter.
You bake the cake in a water bath.  After cooking, you put in the freezer for a little while.  For me, it was a week before I could get back to it to glaze it.  The instructions said to run hot water over the bottom of the pan so that it releases the cake.  I had to run a knife around the edges several times and let it sit in the warm water for a while before I finally managed to get the cake to come out of the pan.  So as you see, there are some rough edges where I was prying with my knife!  It finally let loose and came out.
After making your glaze, you pour over the top of the cake making sure some drizzles down the sides.  Francois says after the cake sits a while and the glaze hardens a bit, to tap the back of a spoon on top  and make the glaze crack.  Well, my glaze never got hard enough to crack.  But it was delicious anyway!
This is my finished product.  I accidentally deleted from my camera the best photo I had of the cake, so this one will have to do.  Chandler and I indulged in a piece, but you cannot eat a large piece of this cake at one sitting.  It is extremely rich.  I took some friends at work a slice and it was a huge hit with them.  All in all, I definitely would make this cake again for a special occasion and for chocolate-holic friends.  Thank you Francois.   Check out our group and see if the other bakers liked it.  Thank all of you who made this fabulous cake with me this month!!!
Here is the recipe:

For the cake:

Vegetable cooking spray, for the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces 50% chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

For the glaze:
7 ounces 50% chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Procedures
For the cake:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF. Spray the sides and bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with vegetable cooking spray. Dust it with flour, shaking off the excess, and set aside.
Bring the butter to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate to the pan. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and eggs together until just combined. Stir in the chocolate mixture, then the cream. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 18 minutes, then put a piece of aluminum foil and a baking sheet over the top of the cake, to keep it from rising too much and to keep it moist. Lower the oven temperature to 360ºF and bake for another 20 minutes. The cake will be just set around the edges, and very loose in the middle, like a pudding. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool to room temperature while still in the pan. Place it in the freezer for at least 45 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
For the glaze:
Combine the chocolate and corn syrup in a small heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour it over the chocolate. Whisk the chocolate mixture until smooth. Let the glaze stand at room temperature for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter.
To finish the cake:
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place a wire cooling rack on top of the paper. Remove the cake from the freezer, and dip the bottom of the pan in hot water to unmold it. You want the pan to be just warm enough for the cake to come out smoothly, but not melt. Flip the pan out onto the rack and tap the pan until the cake pops out.
Pour the glaze over the cake, using a spatula to even out the top and help the glaze run down the sides of the cake. Carefully, with a serving spatula, lift the cake from the rack and place it on a serving platter. Allow the cake to come to room temperature for 30 minutes, which will give the glaze time to set up. Using the back of a spoon, lightly tap the top of the cake in a large "figure eight" swirl, going from one end of the cake to the other. Serve at room temperature.

CEiMB - Creamed Spinach

This week Liz of The Not So Skinny Kitchen chose Creamed Spinach.  I love raw spinach.  Cooked spinach is not so great for me.  So I was not really excited about this recipe, but I tried it anyway.

The Gods however, were not with me on this one.  First of all, I did not have any chicken broth so I used buillon cube (fake broth).  It made the spinach pretty salty.
Second, I wasn't sure reading the recipe how thick the cream sauce was supposed to be.

And third, and the worst of all, AFTER I mixed in the evaporated milk, I noticed it was a little off color.  So I looked at the can and it expired in 2009!  It was too late.  It was already mixed in the spinach.  My husband assured me it would be fine.  I quickly googled (my favorite past-time) and there were many comments on there that said expired milk would be fine to use as long as the can was not puffed up.  However, there was this ONE comment that said there was a reason they have expiration dates on the cans - because after that date it is unsafe to use and it would poison you.   We ate it.  Here's hoping.

I think I'm just a raw spinach type of girl.

Monday, March 21, 2011

TWD - Honey Nut Brownies

Suzy of Suzy's Homemaker chose this week's Honey Nut Brownies.  If you know me, you know I never turn down a brownie!  Unless they have mint in the middle of them - ok I'm not a big fan of those.  But I love peanut butter brownies, butterscotch brownies, blondies, deep chocolate brownies, any of them!  So I was excited to make these.

After I got everything mixing up, I realized my honey jar was not going to give me a full cup of honey as the recipe required.  Rather than take off to the store, I decided to substitute Karo syrup to finish out my cupful.  I also used semi-sweet chocolate instead of the bittersweet.  I added pecans.

I usually have trouble with my brownies rising as tall as I would like.  But these babies exceeded any expectations on rising! 

Chandler says they taste more like chocolate cake than a dense brownie.  We really liked them!  They were very moist.  My only negative is that I would have liked for them to have been a bit more chocolatey.  Maybe frosting them would have added that.  If you like cake-like brownies, you will love these.  You can get the recipe at Suzy's blogspot.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CEiMB - Savory Chinese Chicken Salad

Danica's Daily is the hostess this week for our CEiMB group.  You can go to her blog and check out her version of this Chinese Chicken Salad.  Get the recipe here:   Ellie's Savory Chinese Chicken Salad.

Happy St. Patty's Day to you! 

I was very excited about Danica's choice because I had contemplated making this salad several times but just never did.  Unfortunately, my salad is lacking a key ingredient.  Green cabbage.  It called for both red and green. I remember choosing a head of green cabbage at the store, but somehow it got lost on the way home.  I checked my trunk, everywhere and could not find my green head of cabbage.  I keep thinking one day I will look in my pantry and there will be a head of green cabbage in who knows what condition. 
If I made this again, I think I would just use romaine lettuce.  I'm not a huge fan of the raw cabbage.  We really enjoyed it for our lunch on Saturday.  One ingredient in it that I love is water chestnuts.  Love them!!  I also chopped my carrot instead of shredding it and it would have been prettier had I shredded.
I loved the salad dressing on this.  Very tangy with an Asian flair.
Thanks Danica and I hope everyone in my group enjoyed this as much as I did.
Leaving you with a little funny . . . .

Monday, March 14, 2011

TWD - Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins

It's sunny here.   After a long cold rainy week last week, that is very exciting to me.  And today, I made Citrus Currant Sunshine Muffins thanks to our host Lauren of Bella Baker who chose these.  Check out her blog to get the recipe.

They were very easy to mix up.  Took no time at all.

I followed Dorie's advice and mixed the zest and sugar with my fingers.  It smelled so good!  And I took my orange and I squeezed it to death trying to get a cup full of fresh juice from it.  I'm telling you I squeezed that poor orange so dry if it had lips it would have needed some chapstick.  It came to just about the required one cup when I finished.
 I used craisens in these because I just really like craisens.
I was trying to do more than one thing at once (i.e. laundry, clean kitchen, cook chicken salad) and I overcooked them just a bit. Or. . . maybe 20 minutes was just too long in my oven. At any rate, they were still good muffins but just a tiny bit on the dry side.  I saw right down after I made these and just enjoyed one all by myself.  They were not too citrusy, just the right hint of orange flavor in them.  Check out Tuesdays with Dorie to see what the other bakers did with this recipe!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

CEiMB - Aromatic Beef Stew with Butternut Squash

It is raining here.  And I do mean Raining with a capital R.  Felt like I needed a boat or paddles at least to get to work today.  I love it when it rains overnight and then sunny during the day.  Wouldn't that just be perfect?  We have had a lot of snow, then last week it was sunny, and now cold and rain.

So. . it's raining and it is a great night for stew.  My sweet friend Kayte over at Grandma's Kitchen chose this week's recipe for our Craving Ellie group.  Go over to her blog to see how she cooked it up and to get the recipe.  If you are interested in joining our group, click on Craving Ellie and check out the other bloggers and all the good food coming up.

As for the stew, somehow I was not excited about adding butternut squash to stew.  I do trust Ellie Krieger though to produce healthy, delicious recipes.  I was "tweeting" with Marthe and Kayte earlier today and they were cooking it up and it sounded so good.  So I gave it a go. The verdict?  We liked it, but next time I think I would leave the cinnamon out.  I also wish my meat had been a little more tender.  Crock pot would have worked great for this.  It said to serve with couscous, but I served with rice.


Earlier in the week our TWD group made corniest corn muffins and luckily I still had two muffins leftover which went really well with the stew.


I have to give kudos this week to my husband, Chandler.  Chandler loves the food I cook and he hardly ever complains.  And he does a lot of the grocery shopping for me which helps tremendously.  He sometimes makes mistakes - like tonight.  He got my diced tomatoes, but forgot the tomato sauce.  I just substituted some spaghetti sauce out of a jar for the tomato sauce.  Hey, whatever works, right?  He's just my best friend and in case he reads this blog this week, I want him to know how much he is appreciated. 

Is anyone watching Off the Map on tv?  I just love that show.  Sort of like Grey's Anatomy in the jungle.  Comes on Wednesday nights at 9 CST.  Try it.  And one of the main characters (Martin Henderson) isn't so bad either.  What do you think?

Monday, March 7, 2011

TWD - Corniest Corn Muffins

Hostess this week in our Tuesdays with Dorie group is Jill of My Next Life.  You can go to her blog here and get the recipe for today's delicious muffins.  http://jillbuker.blogspot.com/  I do not know Jill personally, but I think I might work with her niece who is a lovely young lady.
Being a southern gal, I make cornbread a lot.  It has been a staple food in my life as long as I can remember.  My mom made cornbread every night for our dinner or "suppah as she would say."  She mixed it up with cornmeal and buttermilk and baked it in an iron skillet that had hot Crisco shortening sizzling in it. So I was very excited about these muffins.  They are comfort food to me.  While traditional cornbread or corn muffins do not contain corn kernals, I usually put cream style corn in my cornbread.  Dorie's recipe calls for the whole kernals though and let me tell you - these are some good muffins!  We loved them!!  Thank you Jill for a great pick this week.

We went to a Mardi Gras party last Saturday night and had a blast.  Thought I would share a photo of me with two of my good friends.  They looked so cute!