Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Weekend - Leather, Cake, Coconut and a Family Dinner + Recipes (and a Funky Music Video that Ethan Likes)

If you had stopped by our house this weekend, you might have found that you could detect the smell of chocolate in the air, even outside. If you entered at another time, you'd find that it our home was wrapped in the smell of warm leather and wax. Our house was abuzz with activity this weekend.
On Saturday I made a German Chocolate Cake from scratch, and oh my, is it every lovely. The cake itself was easy and quick to make. (I am not sure that I will ever make a chocolate cake from a box mix again - it was that delicious and easy!) The coconut and pecan frosting that goes between the layers, now that was a trick and a process. I think it took me over 2 hours to make the frosting alone. And then there is the ganache - easy and silky, but oh so sinfully rich. Interestingly, both the cake and the frosting are not very sweet, and certainly not at all like the it-is-so-sweet-that-it-hurts-my-teeth kind of sweet that you get from a grocery store German chocolate cake. Next Friday is the Colorado Teen Literature Conference Committee and Author dinner. Each year I make the keynote speaker's favorite dessert and this is what A.S. King has requested. I wanted to make sure that the recipe is great - and it is. However, it is both expensive and takes a lot of time, as well as patients, to make the cake, so I will only make it for special occasions in the future. I'm thinking about making the cake and making it into a Black Forest cake by adding cherries and whipped cream for some other function.
Ethan and I also did more leather work. We both made belts. It is pretty cool to go from a belt blank (see below) to a nice, brown, decorated belt. It was a lot of fun.
Ethan was very clever when he figured out how to use the small tools we had on hand to make an anchor.

He also made a holster for when he is using his Leatherman tools as a pair of plyers. (I will add that photo soon.)

German Chocolate Cake
via:Bobby Flay & The Food Network

For the Cake:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light muscovado sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups strong brewed black coffee, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Butter two 9-inch-round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.

Melt the 12 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the muscovado and granulated sugars and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Add the coffee, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract and continue whisking until smooth and just combined. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour before frosting.

For the Frosting:
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup goat's milk or additional whole milk
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, cold
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons coconut rum (optional)
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Make the frosting: Combine the whole milk, coconut milk and goat's milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Keep warm while you prepare the caramel.

Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring until a deep amber color, 8 to 10 minutes. Slowly and carefully whisk in the warm milk mixture and continue whisking until smooth. Add the vanilla seeds and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the sauce is reduced by half and the consistency of a caramel sauce, about 55 minutes.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, vanilla extract, salt and rum (if using). Transfer the sauce to a medium bowl and stir in the pecans and shredded coconut. Let the frosting cool to room temperature, stirring it occasionally, before frosting the cake.

To assemble the cake, slice each cake in half horizontally. Place 1 cake layer on a cake round and spread one-third of the frosting evenly over the top. Repeat to make 3 layers, then top with the remaining cake layer, top-side up.

For the Ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted, for garnish
Coconut Whipped Cream, for serving

Make the ganache: Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl, add the hot cream and the corn syrup and let sit for 30 seconds. Gently whisk until smooth. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Set the cake on a wire rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the chocolate ganache over the cake, letting the excess drip down the sides. Sprinkle the top with toasted coconut and pecans. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before slicing.

Slice the cake and top with a dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream.


Heavenly Hummus Wrap
via: The Pioneer Woman

1 Tablespoon Butter Or Olive Oil
1/2 whole Red Onion, Halved And Sliced
1 whole Spinach Flour Tortilla (large)
1/4 cup Hummus (homemade Or Storebought) - More If Needed
1 whole Roasted Red Pepper (jarred), Sliced
3 whole Canned Artichoke Hearts, Halved
2 cups Mixed Greens
1 Tablespoon Your Favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette (homemade Or Storebought)
1/4 cup Feta Cheese Crumbles

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the red onions and cook slowly for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and deep golden brown. Set aside and let them cool slightly.

Grill the tortilla on a grill pan over medium heat for 1 minute, just until it has grill marks on the outside. (If you don't have a grill pan, just use a skillet.) The tortilla should still be soft and pliable; just with a little bit of color! Let the tortilla cool slightly.

To assemble the wrap, spread the hummus down the middle third of the tortilla. Arrange the cooked onion slices and the sliced roasted red peppers all over the hummus. Add the artichoke heart halves.
Toss the salad greens in the balsamic dressing, then lay them on the wrap. Finally, sprinkle the crumbled feta all over the greens.

Carefully wrap up the tortilla, tucking in the ends. Slice the wrap down the middle, share with a friend, and chow down!

Here's a video that Ethan is enjoying today:

No comments: