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Monday, May 30, 2011

HCB: Chocolate Raspberry Trifle

Moist Chocolate Genoise used to be my favorite chocolate cake. It has since been replaced by Miette Tomboy. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to this trifle. What's not to love? Chocolate genoise + chambord infused sugar syrup + creme anglaise + fresh raspberries = yummyness (this is a new word I made up.) And just when you think it could not possibly get any better, add raspberry flavored whipped cream to it = heavenly yummyness.

This trifle - like the Saint Honore Trifle, feeds 16-20 people. I don't have that many people to feed, so naturally I want to halve the recipe. But there's still the question of what to use as a serving dish. When I made the Saint Honore Trifle, I baked the cake in a cupcake pan and used wine glasses. It worked pretty well. But we have since then broken almost all our wine glasses, except for one. So I went to Walmart over the weekend to get more wine glasses. I found a set of 4 goblets for $5. As I walked away from the aisle, I saw some small plates and stuff that caught my attention. I stopped to check them out, and then I saw these cute mini trifle dish for less than $2. SCORE! I grabbed two of them and abandoned the goblets.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

Hello hello! Welcome to the 1st installment of HCB continuation. Now that Marie has finished baking through Rose's Heavenly Cakes, the rest of us who wants to finish the book will have to continue baking without our fearless and witty leader. I'm sure I speak for everyone that Marie will be, if not already, greatly missed. I always obsessively look forward to her Monday post and her mid-week LC NC summary. Now I have to settle for obsessively writing my own post and LC NC summary. I can't promise that I'd be as witty (actually, I know I'm not as witty), but I can try to be as fearless.

As you can see, I've updated my blog to have the links of everyone's blog. A couple of bakers who haven't posted in the last 2 months were excluded. Please do let me know if you are still interested to be part of a group (and please bake as soon as possible :)), and I would add you to the list.

Now onto the summary...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

HCB: Barcelona Brownie Bars

I was so looking forward to making this, hence why this is the 1st item in this HCB continuation bake through. I recently saw a couple of post in Rose's forum about how good and chocolate-y this is. Needless to say, I was intrigued. We all need a chocolate fix every now and then (if not all the time) and this one sounds like it fits the bill.

The cake is so easy to make. It takes just as long to make this cake as weighing all the little cavity of the silicone mold with 45 grams of batter.

First you toast some pecans in the oven for 7 minutes. While that is cooling, melt some chocolate with a LOT of butter. If you're making the full recipe, it's 9 tablespoon! Once it's all melted, whisk in the eggs and vanilla. I love that Rose gave the instruction on mixing by hand, which is what I ended up doing. It's nice not to dirty up 1 more thing!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HCB continuation: Let's finish the book!

Starting this weekend I will bake the remaining 21 cakes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes (remaining is bolded and underlined because I'm so excited :)). I hope you guys will join me. It will be fun!

The rules are the same and we will have 3 week scheduled baking and 1 week of free choice. I will do a mid- week Last Cake, Next Cake roundup of everyone's post.

In the next few weeks I will change my blog format to have everyone's links on the side (though I will do some cleanup and only people who have been posting in the last 2 months will be included, unless you are temporarily absent due to health/medical reasons or due to life changing reason - like having to move :)). Having the links on my blog will make it easier for everyone to see who posted last. It will also be easier for me, as I was reminded that I missed both of Lola's free choice posts (here and here). Sorry Lola!

I hope no one mind that I'm following Marie's format on a lot of things. I know Marie is fine with it and even nicely suggested that I could change things up if I want to. But I want to keep it the same because I like to be consistent and also it's easier that way (haha), for me and for everyone else. The focus now is to finish the book and eat the cakes, of course.

In case anyone's wondering, here are the list of cakes that I plan to bake (listed in order of the book):
Swedish Pear and Almond Cream Cake
English Gingerbread Cake
Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache
Bernachon Pale d'Or Gateau
German Chocolate Cake
Angel Food Cake
White Gold Passion Genoise
Red Fruit Shortcake
Chocolate Raspberry Trifle
Pure Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ginger Cheesecake with Gingerbread Crust
No-Bake Whipped Cream Cheesecake
Lemon Canadian Crown w/ Ladyfingers
Peanut Butter Ingots
Plum Round Ingots
Coffee Chiffonlets w/ Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream
Individual Pineapple Upside Down Cakes
Deep Chocolate Rosebuds
Molten Chocolate Souffle and Lava Cakes
Barcelona Brownie Bars
Mud Turtle Cupcakes

I know the first two weeks we have chocolate cake back to back (my bad!), but the rest of the schedule it won't be like that. Also, I plan the cake with berries/summer fruits during the summer, where they would be best and more readily available. I'm looking forward to them :).

My email is if anyone has any questions/comments and would like to contact me directly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

HCB: Zach's La Bomba

The name of this dessert makes me think of the 1980's song called "La Bamba." Do you know this song? It goes like this:

Para bailar la bamba
Para bailar la bamba

Se necesita una poca de gracia
Una poca de gracia
Para mi, para ti, ay arriba, ay arriba
Ay, arriba arriba
Por ti sere, por ti sere, por ti sere

Unfortunately I don't have the song so I didn't quite dance to it as I was making this dessert (yes I know Monica will say she wants to see a video of the dancing! FAT CHANCE my friend LOL).

Back to the cake. This is the last week of the official HCB club. So sad!!! The last year and a half had been so fun. And yes I know we are still continuing, but without Marie! Marie, will you do a guest post or a LC NC sometimes? Pretty please with a cherry on top?????

Sunday, May 8, 2011

HCB: White Velvet Butter Cupcakes

I've made the cake version of this cake (okay that sounds weird) last year, frosted with milk chocolate ganache. The cake was good but the ganache was too sweet for me, so I only used a thin layer and have leftover in the freezer.

This time we are frosting it with the yummy golden neoclassic buttercream. I had made a whole batch of neoclassic back in March to frost Mini Vanilla Bean Cupcakes and had 1/2 quantity leftover in the freezer. I'm excited to use it now (and also excited that I don't have to make it again, making this the fastest cupcake made in Knitty Baker's history :)).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mark Bittman's Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish

I hardly cook shrimp at home. Hubby doesn't like it and I prefer to make something that we both enjoy. But I saw this dish the other day at Mark Bittman's website and it really attracted me. Perhaps because of the title. Perhaps because we just went to a nice tapas restaurant, and Bittman called this dish a spin on Spanish tapas. Or maybe it's just because I was hungry when I look at the photo. Who knows!

In any case, I made it. Bought myself 1/4 lb of shrimp. Doesn't sound like a lot but I'm feeding only myself and even at 1/4 lb I got about a dozen shrimps. I followed all his seasoning guidelines and instruction pretty much exactly. The dish came together really fast, the longest time being peeling all the shrimp!

Tasting impressions: 
It's pretty tasty and good. I don't know if it qualifies as the best but it's definitely simple. If you like garlic this is a good dish as the garlic smell really shine here. I think next time I want to up paprika as it wasn't very hot. Perhaps a little cayenne would be in order, to add a little kick.

You can find the recipe on Bittman's website here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Last Cake, Next Cake

For this week's free choice, not only we have lots of participation but some people bake extra cakes. I wonder if people are getting psyched in their efforts to catch up.

Monica made both Golden Almond Lemon Cake and the Carrot Cake. Now that she finally own the Heritage Pan, she danced around her kitchen and put the Golden Almond cake together, all in a matter of minutes. This cake is not only easy but would make a "perfect gift-away gift cake. I really loved it.  This is one of those cake that if you wait they will taste even better the next day and the next and the next." For the Carrot Cake, she took Rose's recipe and went to town with modification, adding exotic ingredients like crystalized ginger, orange zest, and walnuts (okay, these aren't exotic ingredients, per se, but they sound exotic inside a carrot cake). The birthday girl -who she made this for -loved the cake, "and most of the guest loved it as well."

Vicki baked not only two but three cakes!!! First was Heavenly Seduction Coconut Junior Mint Cake, named so because she accidentally grabbed peppermint extract instead of coconut. Next, she made Blueberry Round Ingots (the original recipe calls for plums). These are her favorite out of the three financiers, "the beurre noisette really stands out in this recipe." Vicki ended her free choice with Spice Cake with Peanut Buttercream. She remembered her brother made Peanut Butter Cupcakes when she was 5 year old, thinking that peanut butter cupcakes seemed odd to her. She doesn't share her childhood opinion anymore, calling this cake "a nice spice cake, very lightly flavored.  The Peanut Buttercream has such a soft texture with the butter and cream cheese."

Alice also made the Golden Lemon Almond Cake. She was inspired to make this cake after seeing - in-person - Rose's demonstration of it the week before. The cake was a hit with her and her husband, with words like "sublime", "best cake yet and ridiculously moist." She liked it so much she's thinking of making it again this weekend.

Jane made the Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache. This cake is becoming her favorite because "it is so incredibly easy to make, easy to impress, and creates excellent dinner conversation as everyone tries to guess the mystery ingredient." Jane seems to have fun friends as they spent 15-20 minutes trying to guess the mystery ingredients and came up with interesting ideas: "Rum? Vodka? Citrus flavored liquor? Mayonnaise? Mustard? Cumin? Tarragon? Roasted Red Peppers? Paprika? Cream Cheese?"

Andrea, who is back after a 2-month-hiatus, baked a 6 inch German Chocolate Cake to satisfy her craving. This is not any ordinary craving, as she 4 months pregnant. Congratulations!!! The cake was a bit dented on one side, though you can't tell from the photo as she frosted the cake with ganache. She "liked how moist the cake was, but wished the filling was a little sweeter."

Lois made the Apple Upside Down Cake. She loved the toasted walnuts on the cake and made extra, knowing it will go on beet salad. She also can't wait to try "this cake with cherries, toasted almonds and Amaretto whipped cream."

Jennifer made the Hungarian Jansci Torta, a cake she's "been dying to make ever since the group made it in October 2009." Though admittedly she hasn't been "THAT dying to make it as I've waited until the last free choice of the bake-through to make it." Jennifer, who is always renaming her cakes with all sort of clever verbage named this one "Sorry Your Marriage Wasn't As Good As Your Cake." She frosted her cake with leftover raspberry ganache from May 2009 in the freezer and added this cake to her breakfast cake list. It is "lovely, light and chocolatey."

Katya made the Southern Coconut Cake with Silk Meringue Buttercream for her friend Jessica's birthday. "The icing was fluffy, the cake was fluffier." Katya was especially proud that she's "able to transport the perfectly frosted cake without a blemish through nearly an hour of bus and walking and street fairs, etc..." She considered the birthday cake a success due to the fact that a 3 year old at the party invited her to a sleep over.

Kristina made Tiramisu, which she said is one of the easiest cake in the book - once you have all the components ready. She calls the cake "the perfect late afternoon pick-me-up." She also admit that she is "slowly joining the dark side" as she started to enjoy coffee-flavored dessert.

Next week we have the White Velvet Butter Cupcakes. It uses 3 egg whites, so it's a good opportunity to use your stash of egg whites. If this cake doesn't interest you, keep in mind that you can make 2/3 or 1/3 of the recipe. Yes you can! All you need is a calculator and a dash of bravery. The frosting you can make ahead and you can flavor it 7 different ways! The harder route of fruit sauces (apricot, raspberry, strawberry), the easier route of citrus oil (orange, lemon), chocolate or coffee. Or you can keep it plain. I'm curious to see what everyone come up with.

The week after we have Zach's La Bomba. This cake calls for blackberry or blackcurrant tea, which you might think is easy to find, but not necessarily so. My local grocery store has 20 brands of tea (yes 20!) and not a single one is blackberry/blackcurrant tea. I've heard Twinnings and Lipton has this flavor but I don't see it (maybe it's one of those rare to find, only-produced-in-certain-season flavors). In any case, you might want to start hunting for those teas. I got mine at Teavana, the tea is called "Blackberry Mojito" (love the name). It's a green tea but it's not very green. They do require you to buy a minimum of 2 oz, so if you're not a tea drinker, $7.80 might not be a price you want to pay. In that case, you can always steep some frozen blackberries with a regular black tea. It should work.

The 9 sentences that I just wrote about tea ends this guest post of Last Cake, Next Cake. Marie is back next week - with hopefully a bunch of photos of croissants, macarons, and Brittany's scenery so we can ooohh and aahh over them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

HCB Free Choice: Coconut Cheesecake

I made this cake back in February and have been "saving" it for a free choice.

In keeping with tradition, I feel compelled to do complicated math with this recipe, so I made 1/4 recipe, which means I need 30 grams of vanilla wafers. Not feeling like I want to buy a whole pack of wafers to use only 30 grams of it, I opted to use my stash of Rose's sugar cookies that's in the freezer.

For 1/4 recipe I used 4 sugar cookies (about 1 1/2 inch x 3 inch). I wish I had taken a picture of the sugar cookies (it was 4 bunnies), but I forgot.

Mashed the cookies, mixed them with melted butter. I skipped the flaked coconut.

For the filling, it calls for cream of coconut. I had bought a can of it at the liquor store. It took several trips to 4 different stores until I found one. When I got home, I look at the ingredients, and found several items that are questionable. Generally if I can't pronounce the ingredients I don't buy the product. And generally I checked it at the store. But I was so excited to have found cream of coconut that I skipped this habit. So instead of using the cream of coconut (it's still in the pantry today next to a bottle of dark rum), I used leftover coconut milk from the Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake that I made the week before. (In case you are all wondering, the leftover coconut milk still smells good and tasted good after a week.)

From making the Heavenly Coconut Seduction Cake the week before, I knew that I couldn't just substituted the cream of coconut with coconut milk. Cream of coconut contains sugar, whereas coconut milk doesn't, so if using the coconut milk the sugar amount needs to be increased. Not sure what to do, I thought to have a look at the other cheesecakes in the book. The ginger cheesecake served the same number of people (10-12), and used the same amount of cream cheese. All the other variable are different (amount of eggs and sour cream) but if I look at the other cheesecakes the variable are even more different. I then decided to follow the sugar amount of the ginger cheesecake. But, hang on a minute, the sugar amount is the same. I looked at the other recipes, and the sugar amount is somewhat comparable. Not sure what to do, I decided to add 10 grams of sugar.

Aside from the drama of coconut milk and confusion of sugar amount, the cheesecake is easy to put together.

I used my mini heart silicone mold (Wilton) and I think 1/4 recipe yield 6 cheesecake. I don't remember for sure as I forgot to take notes (I know... bad! bad!)

Tasting impressions:
Though I am not a big fan of cheesecake or coconut dessert, after 2 weeks of eating coconut dessert in a row, it is growing on me! This cheesecake is really good. It is not too sweet, just enough for my taste (so I'm glad I didn't add too much sugar). The texture is great, just like a cheesecake is supposed to be. Hubby loves it. He loves coconut dessert, so he's in dessert heaven for a couple of days.