Friday, February 20, 2009

Individual German Chocolate Cakes

UPDATE: I realize I didn't give credit here where it was due. This recipe I believe comes from the King Arthur Flour website, but I actually found it in a magazine I'd had for a while...can't remember which one though.
This was good, but in the future I would like to try a different home-made cake with this.

3/4 cup unsalted butter*
1 3/4 cups Baker's Special sugar or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons espresso powder (I used instant coffee)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup cocoa
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups cool water
*If you use salted butter, reduce the salt in the recipe to 1/4 teaspoon.

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1/3 milk chocolate chips)
1/2 cup whipping cream

6 tablespoons unsalted butter *(if using salted butter, omit the 1/4 tsp salt)
*1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup half and half
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pecan flavor, optional
1 cup shredded or flaked coconut, sweetened or unsweetened, toasted**
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted*

Preheat the oven to 350̊F. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan.

To make the cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, espresso powder, baking powder, and vanilla till very smooth and creamy, beating for 5 minutes. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl after you’ve added the first 2 eggs. Stir in the cocoa. Add one-third of the flour to the creamed mixture, then add half the water, another third of the flour, the remaining water, and the remaining flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally throughout this process. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake in a preheated 350̊F oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

While cake cools *toast the pecans and coconuts till golden brown in a 350̊F oven **(if you use sweetened coconut, only lightly pack the brown sugar otherwise it may be too sweet). Place the pecans and coconut into separate 9" round cake pans, and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes, watching carefully towards the end, as the coconut will brown quickly. Remove from the oven, and stir the coconut to mix evenly.

Back to the cake (after 10 mins cooling): run a table knife all around the sides of the pan to loosen the edges. Place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on a cookie sheet, put the sheet, parchment-side down on top of the cake and turn the whole thing over. The cake should settle onto the cookie sheet. Lift off the pan, and allow the cake to cool for 5 more minutes. Use a 2 1/2" to 3" round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut 12 circles out of the cake. I cut three 3" cakes for our special dinner, then cut the rest 2 1/2". Next time I'll do them all 2 1/2" as they are rich.

Carefully transfer the cakes to a cooling rack, right side up, and allow them to cool. As for the leftover scraps, snack on them (baker’s privilege!) or save them for trifle.

Icing: Heat the chocolate chips and cream till the cream is very hot - not boiling. Remove from the heat, and stir till the chocolate melts and the mixture becomes smooth. Don’t panic; it’ll look very sloppy at first, but keep stirring and it’ll become a smooth, rich glaze.

Working with one cake at a time, grasp it in the center with thumb and forefinger, and roll it through the chocolate like a wheel, to coat the sides. Place the coated cake onto a piece of parchment paper, to catch any drips. Repeat with the remaining cakes. In the end I had left-over chocolate so I filled in the tops of the cakes...the more chocolate the better, I say!

To make the topping: Combine the butter, salt, half and half, and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the flavors, coconut, and pecans. Let this sit a couple of minutes if it is still runny. If it gets hard before you're finished topping your cakes, just warm it a little and it should be fine. Spoon the topping evenly atop the cakes; you’ll use about 2 tablespoons for each (depending of course on the size of cake you cut).


Yield: 12 servings

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Soft Pretzels

Mmmmm Gooood!!

This recipe is a conglomeration of a recipe my d-i-l shared as well as some others I've found over the's pretty good.

1 1/4 cups fairly warm water
2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp yeast (I use Fleishmann's Quick yeast)
3 1/2 - 5 cups flour (I used one cup whole wheat flour, the rest white)

Mix water, salt, brown sugar and yeast in mixer. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix until well incorporated. Then add remaining flour, kneading until you have a smooth soft dough (about 10 mins).

At this stage you can put the dough in a covered bowl in the fridge overnight if you wish. OR
Let rise for about 1/2 hour.

Divide the dough into 9 pieces and roll each piece into a rope, about 18 inches long, about the width of your finger. (Alternate - I roll into a 12x8 rectangle and cut into 1" strips. Fold each strip in half lengthwise and pinch edges to seal - then roll into rope)
Shape into an upside down U on your counter. Bring the ends together and twist them. Flatten the ends and bring to the top of the pretzel and press into the dough making it look like a pretzel.

Place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise for 45 minutes or
until double in size.

Mix 2 tsp baking soda with 1 cup boiling water and brush gently over the pretzels.  (Or you can have a pot of gently simmering water and add 2 Tbsp baking soda in which you dip the pretzels one at a time for about 30 sure to flip the pretzel half-way through this process.)

Then, beat one egg and 1 tsp water well with a fork in a small bowl, again brush gently over the prezels.

Sprinkle with one of your favorites:
Coarse salt
Sesame seeds
Cinnamon sugar

Bake in hot oven, 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Brush with melted butter and serve warm.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Italian Sweet & Sour Sausage

Quick, Easy & Tasty!

UPDATE: This recipe was given to me by a friend at work when I was desperate for a quick supper idea. Have made it many times since and we love it.

1 ring farmer sausage (I had double-smoked)
1 680 ml tin Hunt's Italian Tomato Sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar, not packed
1/4 cup vinegar

Slice the sausage and brown either in a pan or in the oven.
Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over sausage.
Simmer all for an hour.
Serve with rice or mashed potatoes

This is what I had so it's what I used this last time -
I think the flavour was better than ever.

1 540 ml tin Aylmer's Accents Italian Tomatoes
1 398 ml tin Hunt's Onion, Herb & Spice Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar

Recipe for pretzels to follow

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Toblerone Cheesecake

Prep time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 8 hours or overnight

Got this recipe along with a Toblerone bar a few years back. If you like peanut butter and chocolate combos like I do, you'll enjoy this.
I had temporarily misplaced the recipe, which was still on the little recipe card from the grocery store and was so happy to find it on the internet. Hope they don't mind I borrowed the picture.

11/4 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted2 pkgs (250g) cream cheese, softened1 cup smooth peanut butter1 cup sugar1 bar (100g) Toblerone Chocolate, chopped (I buy the honey and almond nougat 400g size ; keep the other half in the freezer for the next cheesecake - or a good snack :)1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Combine chocolate crumbs and melted butter. Press onto bottom of a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form pan. Chill.
Beat cream cheese, peanut butter and sugar on medium speed of electric mixer until very smooth. Stir in chocolate. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Spoon into spring form pan.
Chill 8 hours.
Sauce: 1/4 cup whipping cream1 bar (100g) Toblerone Chocolate (Milk or Bittersweet), chopped
Bring cream to a simmer over low heat; remove. Add chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Cool. (I actually do this step in the microwave. Heat the cream until scalding but don't boil, add the chocolate and stir until melted.) Cool. Pour over cake and place in refrigerator, OR pour over each slice as it is served.
Makes 12 - 16 servings.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Baked Potato Soup

A delicious version of my favourite soup at Tony Roma's - adapted from a recipe posted on Top Secret Recipes.  They use cornstarch to thicken it while I just like to use extra potatoes and blend them with my immersion blender before adding the cut potatoes.  That way the onions get blended too and no one has to worry about onion chunks :)

I need to take a picture next time I make it so you'll have a visual...

3-4 med potatoes (baked) (3-4 cups chopped)
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup white onion, diced
2 Tbsp flour
4 cups chicken stock (I like to use my homemade chicken soup broth)
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/8 tsp thyme
1 cup half-and-half cream

shredded cheese
crumbled cooked bacon
chopped onion greens

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake the potatoes for one hour or until done. Cool.
As potatoes cool prepare soup by melting butter in a large saucepan and saute onion until light brown. Add the flour to the onions and stir to make a roux.
Add chicken stock, water, mashed potatoes (or I some of the chopped potato and use the immersion blender to make a smooth stock) and spices to the pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Cut the potatoes in half, scoop out the potato and chop into 1/2-inch sized cubes. Add potatoes and half-and-half to the soup and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer another 15 minutes or until thick.

To serve, spoon soup into a bowl and top with shredded cheese, bacon and onion bits.

The only other touch I may add is seasoned croutons!