Sunday, April 5, 2015

Kosher for Passover: Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free, too!)

Happy Easter/Happy Passover/Happy spring holiday of your choosing!  I'm just happy that the sun is finally out and the temperature is warming up - I've got the window open a tiny bit as I write this and it feels wonderful!

Our family Passover Seder was on Friday.  Naturally, mom asked me to bring a dessert.  I was originally going to go with my old Passover-standby of Apple Matzah Kugel, but decided I really wanted to step outside the box.

Joe's mom is gluten free, and I vaguely remembered making a chocolate cake for her birthday back in September.  I knew the cake itself was gluten free, but I couldn't quite remember if it had any leavening agents in it (baking soda/powder, etc). though I do remember thinking that it was delicious.  I managed to dig up the recipe from my stash, and, lo and behold, it's kosher for Passover!

It's actually the perfect recipe if you know someone who has any type of wheat allergies.  There is no flour whatsoever called for in the recipe, so you don't have to try and switch it out to something that can be eaten.  Since it doesn't call for any flour, you also don't have to try and sub it out for any kind of matzah meal, which means it doesn't end up tasting faintly of matzah like most homemade Passover desserts do.

This is a mousse style cake, so it's really super light and fluffy.  I served it topped with a little bit of homemade whipped cream, but a light dusting of powdered sugar would be sufficient, too.  This came out slightly different than the way I originally made it, but I liked it better this way, I think.  When I made it the first time, it was really dark chocolately and super rich.  This time, I used two different kinds of chocolate, which gave it a more well-rounded flavor.  When I made it for Joe's mom's birthday, the cake sunk a little, but it was the whole cake that sunk - this time around, the middle sunk more and the edges stayed where they were.  That probably has more to do with the temperature in my apartment than with anything else. 

As you can see from the photos, I had a hard time slicing and serving the cake in the way I wanted to.  I melted the butter and chocolate in the microwave instead of using the double boiler method, so that may have changed the consistency just enough to make my cake a little less stable.  I had left this on the counter overnight, but next time, I'll probably try putting it in the fridge or freezer to see if that makes serving it any easier.

If your family is anything like mine, they won't care what it actually looks like - they'll just be thrilled to be eating a dessert that tastes like "regular food"!

Kosher for Passover (and Gluten Free) Chocolate Cake

8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks butter
8 egg yolks
1 1/4 c. sugar
5 egg whites

Preheat oven to 250°F.  Grease an 8" springform pan and set aside.

Using the double boiler method, combine butter and chocolate and stir until melted.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolk and sugar.  Mix until the eggs are a light yellow color.

Slowly add in the chocolate sauce and stir to blend thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.  Add half of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture and beat until combined.  Fold in the remaining egg whites.

Pour batter into the pan and bake for one hour and fifteen minutes (75 minutes).  Remove cake from oven and set on a wire rack to cool.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I found this recipe on Pinterest in.. November? December? Around the holidays, at any rate.  Joe drooled when I told him about it, so I promised him I'd make them.  Gingerbread is probably one of his favorite holiday flavors.  Then, like any good future wife, I promptly forgot all about it.  Until a couple of weeks ago, that is, when I saw this recipe in my cabinet and said, "Oh yeah! Gingerbread cupcakes!" and decided to make them.

The recipe as it was provided needed some help, but what I've provided below is my adaptation.  The batter gives you enough for about 18 regular sized cupcakes.  This was one of those pins that just provides the recipe and doesn't link back to the original source, so unfortunately, I don't have the slightest idea where these came from.

Even with the changes I had to make, these came out AMAZING.  As in, I can't wait to make them again incredible.  Like, thinking about trying them in my square muffin tin, wondering how many mini cupcakes this would make and if it would bake well in an actual bread pan sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.


Enough already - just go get in the kitchen and make these!

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cupcakes*:
1 1/2 c. flour
2 Tbsp ground ginger
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground gloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 c. butter, softened to room temperature
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
4 eggs
3 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 oz. butter, softened to room temperature
4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1-2 Tbsp milk or heavy cream, as needed

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners (or spray well with non-stick spray).
Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla and molasses and mix until smooth.  Stir in flour and spices.

Spoon batter evenly into cupcake liners.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.

Cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the cinnamon.  Add in the sugar, one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly until combined.  Add milk 1 Tbsp at a time, as needed, until desired consistency is reached. Beat 3-5 minutes until frosting is fluffy.  Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.

*note: you'll notice that there is no leavening agent in this recipe.  That is correct.  DO NOT add any baking soda, baking powder, etc.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mini Blueberry Pancake Muffins

Today's National Pancake Day, so I wanted to make sure you had an easy way to partake in the celebration.

I used boxed pancake mix for this, partly because that's what we had on hand and partly because this was a fairly spur of the moment idea.  Joe's mom usually gives us a box of breakfast stuff every year for Christmas, so we pretty much always have pancake mix in the cabinet.  Perfect when you just want to whip some up super quickly. 

These are definitely going on our "make again" list.  Joe and I LOVE breakfast for dinner, but it can be awfully time consuming and intensive for just the two of us.  We'll sometimes get friends together and cook for them, which doesn't make pancakes/french toast, bacon and home fries any less time consuming, but does make it feel more worth it when you're cooking for five or six people than just for two.

Awhile ago I saw something online that suggested doing this and mentally filed it away for a rainy day.  Or, in this case, a Sunday that included the conversation, "shoot, it's 3pm, what are we making for dinner?".  Heather to the rescue! 

Mini Blueberry Pancake Muffins

Grease a 24-count mini muffin tin and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix up 2 cups of your favorite pancake mix. 

Spoon your pancake batter into well-greased mini muffin tins. 

Top with blueberries (or other topping of choice) and bake for 11 minutes. 

Let cool for a couple of minutes and use a sharp knife to help you get them out of the tins.  Serve with maple syrup for dipping.

I got about 36 minis out of 2 cups of batter, which was perfect for just the two of us.

What are your favorite pancake toppings?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

No recipe for this one today, folks.  Just a nice little story and a few photos.

My friend Sarah is getting married in March.  On Pi day, in fact (that's 3/14/15 if you're wondering).  Sarah and I haven't been friends for super long - maybe about a year, give or take.  Actually, we met on our wedding planning website, Offbeat Bride (shameless plug).  I was on the local forums and she seemed cool, so we became Facebook friends so we wouldn't spam everyone else with our conversations.  And then we took a workout class and we got to be real life friends.

Funny how life works sometimes, isn't it?

She had mentioned her upcoming bridal shower a few times, but I didn't ask if there was anything I could do to help because I didn't want to be the asshole that assumed they were invited when they really aren't.

Then one day I got an email from one of her bridesmaids, asking me if I could make cupcakes for the party.  Alas, there was one little hitch - Sarah has asked that they look like a wedding dress.  I said I absolutely could do it, no sweat.  Then, I started Googling.

Thankfully, it was actually pretty easy.  I just had to make my cupcakes like normal and then arrange them into the shape of a wedding dress.  No problem, right?  HAHAHAHA.  Getting the shape right was about a million times harder than I had anticipated.  It got to the point where I was texting OTHER friends photos and asking if it looked the way it was supposed to.  One of my suuuuuper helpful friends even went so far as to say "sure... if they were white!" Thanks for that helpful advice, my dear (yeah, I'm looking at you).

Sarah's colors are blue and silver, but I knew I wanted to leave the frosting white.  I ended up getting a silver colored posterboard and a strand of blue adhesive gem thingies at the craft store.  The gems were on some flexible backing, so it was easy to shape them around the cupcakes to make it look like a sash.  I don't generally bake for complete strangers, so I was a little nervous but totally excited - this was my first real shot at making Elfie's Edibles an actual thing!  I definitely shouldn't have been, since everyone told me that they looked and tasted great.  For as quickly as they got gobbled up, I'm sure these were real compliments.

This was super fun and a little time consuming, but totally worth it.  Congratulations, Sarah (and Shawn)!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Holiday Picture Post

WARNING: This post is REALLY picture heavy!
* * * * * * * * * * *

Happy new year, guys!

I apologize for the radio silence the last number of weeks.  I've been CRAZY busy in the kitchen!  No lie, this past weekend was the first weekend that Joe and I didn't have some time of commitment to attend to, holiday related or otherwise.  Other than a few errands, we basically hung around in our PJs all weekend and it was FABULOUS!   I'm glad we were able to get that free time, because between my friend's wedding stuff and our own wedding stuff, I think things are about to get hectic for a little while.

I've been wanting to work on improving my decorating skills, and I figured this holiday season was as good of a time for that as any other.  I didn't make too many new recipes; instead, I worked on making some of my current recipes reflective of the holiday season.  To that end, there's really not much to blog about - I don't want to share the same recipe with you 47 different ways.  Instead, I'll just share some pictures.  There may be one or two things missing, but this is more or less everything I made between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Thanksgiving isn't complete without pie, but I didn't want to do a regular ol' pie.  Lattice top is WAY easier than it looks and my family was blown away.
While on the phone discussing the Thanksgiving dessert menu with my mom one night, Joe walked into the room and loudly announced that he wanted "Turkey cake".  The man didn't elaborate any further, so... I made turkey cake!

After Thanksgiving, my friend Sarah and her almost-husband Shawn had a party.  Naturally, they asked/told/requested that I bring a dessert.  That afternoon, I posted on FB that I had made an awesome thing and couldn't wait to show them.  When we walked in, Sarah grabbed the pan out of my hands and uncovered it to see what I made.  She promptly yelled for Shawn to get in the kitchen and take a look; he immediately summoned everyone else to behold my Christmas brownies.

I also went to my best friend's house to hang out with her, her son, and their new baby while her husband was at work.  She had a few gingerbread kits and her toddler was bursting with excitement to make one with me.  He picked the Christmas tree one and this is how it came out!

In September (October?), my mom gave me part of my Chanukah present really early: a Star of David bundt cake pan and a bunch of Jewish-themed chocolate molds.  She said I "didn't have to" make any special desserts for Chanukah, but I am also smart enough to realize that she wouldn't have given it to me so early if she didn't think that would be a fantastic idea.

We didn't really need that much food or desserts since it was just the 5 of us, but I wanted to use a little bit of everything that she'd given me.

First up: white, dark and milk chocolate candies!  The blue is also white chocolate.  I was trying to play around with the stars to make them two tones and the one on the top right corner and the one just below it came out just as I had hoped!  I also really like the way the dreidels and circle ones came out.

One of the molds that my mom got was of the entire Jewish alphabet.  Never one content to just leave things as-is, I decided to spell everyone's Jewish name (well, minus Joe since my gentle Gentile doesn't have a Jewish name) in chocolate.  A couple of the letters ended up breaking during transport when they got squished between the other candies, but everyone was digging through the little container to see if they could find their letters.  This one was the hardest, if only because the molds only had one of each letter and I needed one letter a few times, as you can see below.  Other than that, the molds were super fun and really easy to work with, though I do need to get some type of squeeze bottle to make the two-tone thing a little easier.

 Besides my mom's latkes, this one was definitely the superstar of our little Chanukah party.  It's a lemon bundt cake with a vanilla drizzle icing.  I was a little worried because I'd never made a bundt cake before (in fact, this was attempt #2 because the first one didn't cook all the way through) and I wasn't sure if this was going to be as light and fluffy as I had hoped.  YOU GUYS.  I'll probably end up doing a separate blog post about it, because everyone loved it.  Joe loved it so much that he went out of his way to tell me how incredible it was.... and then he asked me to make it again and/or make it into cupcakes.

This year, we had multiple Christmas celebrations.  On Christmas day, we went to Joe's dad's house for a little bit, then we went to his mom's for dinner and gifts.  That Sunday, we went to his aunt's house for the big celebration with all of the extended family.  These family gatherings are usually a potluck event of sorts, where the host will make one or two of the main items and then ask for everyone else to bring a salad/side/dessert to make the complete meal.  Naturally, I volunteered to make cupcakes.

These were by far the most time consuming thing I made this holiday season.  I mean, the chocolates were time consuming, but I was able to do other things while I had them chilling in the fridge or freezer.  These were time full hands-on time consuming.  I took a break of about 30 minutes halfway through, but decorating 2 dozen of these took me about 2 hours.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find a way to streamline it any better.  That said, seeing the look on the little kid's faces when they saw these?  PRICELESS.

Can you figure out everything that Santa's made out of? 

So - how did I do?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Coffee Cake

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite parts about the weekend is the laziness that comes along with the free time.  Even if you have plans - and I know this time of year, we ALL have weekend plans - it seems like everything's a lot more fluid than it is during the week.

During the week, my mornings aren't rushed per se - I intentionally wake up super early to give myself plenty of time to prevent that - but they're definitely regimented.  I wake up at the same time, my workouts are always between 30-50 minutes.  I have breakfast at just about the same time every morning and leave the house at the same time, too.  Like I said, not rushed, but definitely structured.

Morning breakfast is usually fairly quick - a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, sometimes a bagel, always a cup of coffee.  If I'm lucky, I get to read 10-15 pages of whatever book I'm currently reading; sometimes, I do some light housework - a quick load of dishes, or sweeping; sometimes, I have to sit down and pay some bills.

On weekends, I love having a long, leisurely breakfast, where I can relax with my book and soak up two (!) cups of coffee.  Every since I was a kid, coffee cake has been one of my favorite treats.  For me, it's pretty much everything I want in a "treat" style breakfast.  The topping is cinnamon-y and full of flavor; the cake is fluffy but flavorful, it's filling and delicious.

I don't even know where I found this recipe, but I was so excited when I stumbled on it.  I did have to make a few changes, which you'll see below.  I didn't have cake flour, so I had to do some substituting with all-purpose flour and cornstarch.  I've never use cake flour before and never had homemade coffee cake, so while I can't speak for how this compares, I know that both Joe and I were thrilled with how this came out.  Joe's already asked me to make it again and he told me it's better than the store bought stuff, so I'm counting this one as a total win.

The streusel topping that the original recipe called gave me a TON left over.  The recipe below is the halved version so you won't end up with leftovers.  I stuck mine in the freezer and I'm thinking that it'll go perfectly on some muffins or an apple crumb pie.

If you're looking for something special to bring to a holiday potluck or you want to make something special but quick for breakfast on Christmas morning, I think this is precisely what you're looking for.  If you want to save time, you can definitely make this head of time, too.  It's delicious straight out of the pan, but you can also pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it back up, which will also give your kitchen that freshly-baked smell.

Coffee Cake

For the Cake:
1 1/4 c. cake flour*
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp butter, divided, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. buttermilk

*If you don't have cake flour, this is a substitution:

For 1 cup cake flour:
1 c. all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp flour
+ 2 Tbsp cornstarch

For 1/4 c. cake flour:
Using a standard 1/4 size measuring cup, add 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch.  Fill the remaining amount with all purpose flour.

For the topping:
2 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbsp melted butter, melted and still warm
3/4 c. cake flour*

*If you don't have cake flour, this is a substitution:

For 1/4 c. cake flour:
Using a standard 1/4 size measuring cup, add 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch.  Fill the remaining amount with all purpose flour.

To make the topping:
In a medium sized bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon and butter.  Add flour and stir until mixture is crumbly with a thickness like cookie dough.  Set aside to cool to room temperature while you make the cake.

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease an 8" square cake pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and baking soda.  Add the butter, one piece at a time.  Continue beating until the mixture looks like wet sand, with no visible butter chunks remaining.  Add egg, yolk, vanilla and buttermilk; beat until light and fluffy.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle topping evenly over cake.  Bake until the crumb topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving.  Store tightly covered for about 5 days.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are certainly not new to the internet, but they're to my kitchen and my mouth.

As for what they are: a little slice of heaven on earth.

No, that's not quite right.  Well, it is, but that doesn't help you.  It's really like your two favorite cookies got together and had a baby.

Make chocolate chip cookies.  Put oreo inside.  Pour glass of milk.  Enjoy.

I've seen this online before and passed them by, assuming that they were difficult and time consuming to make.  They're not.  Well, they are a little time consuming, but only by a few minutes compared to regular chocolate chip cookies.

I used my normal chocolate chip cookie recipe, then added about an extra cup of flour so the dough would be a little stiffer and more likely to do what I wanted it to do.  You can use double stuff or regular Oreos for these - whatever your little heart desires.  I made most of mine with regular but threw in a few double stuff for a surprise.

You're basically using two chocolate chip cookies for every one Oreo stuffed cookie, so you'll only get about 24 cookies or so out of this recipe.  The thing is, you really only need to eat one, since it's kind of the equivalent of eating three cookies at once.  Joe thought these were a little too sweet, but my brother, friends, 2 year old nephew and a coworker thought they were perfect (okay, so my nephew didn't *quite* know what to make of these bad boys, but he was still interested).  If you're debating about which cookies to use, I would suggest the regular Oreos.  The reason here is simple: this cookies are HUGE.  It's easier to eat and enjoy when you can actually get it in your mouth to take a bite... and when you can dunk it in a nice glass of cold milk.  Mmmm.

Have I sold you yet?  Go make some right now!

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter, room temperatue
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3 1/2 c. flour
2 c. chocolate chips
approx. 24 Oreo sandwich cookies

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine butter, eggs, baking soda and sugars.  Mix in flour, one cup at a time.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, place one scoop of cookie dough in the palm of your hand and lightly flatten.  Place one Oreo cookie on top.  Place a second scoop of cookie dough on top of Oreo; use your hands to mold the cookie dough around the Oreo. Repeat for remaining dough and cookies.

Place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart (you can pack them a little tighter if needed as they don't expand too much).  Bake for 10 minutes until very lightly golden brown.  Let cool on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes, them transfer to wire rack to cool completely.