Thursday, February 13, 2020

Black Forest Cake - Swiss Pastry Shop Style


I like to win.  I am a competitive person.  I am probably even more competitive than you (see what I just did there?)  At a basketball game recently, Andrew was in the middle of shooting a free throw and someone yelled “your shoe is untied.”  I looked around to see if Spike Lee or Drake, well-known sideline hecklers for the NBA, were attending, but no, it was just a dad of a player from the other team.  So that makes me mad and David has to remind me to keep my retaliation commentaries in check.  Is this a healthy, necessary level of competitiveness for an 8th grade basketball game?  Is this what we need to be competitive about?  It is highly unlikely that my kid is going into the NBA and I am ok with that.  My self worth isn’t diminished by that fact.  Let’s push our kids to find the cure for cancer or teenage anxiety and depression or hunger or inequality.  Or heck, let’s just push our kids to be decent human beings who balance their own drive to be the best with the wisdom of building up a team around them.  "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships." --Michael Jordan


My brother and I are competitive with each other.  You know, who is mom and dad’s favorite?  This is one of his favorite cakes – it’s the “uncake” with no flour and it’s oh-so-good.  Is this cake my attempt to get in his good graces as the favorite child?  Or is it a consolation prize?  You decide.

Ingredients

Meringue

  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped Cream

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
Topping

  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar, grated
  • 1.75oz (or similar) container of chocolate sprinkles 

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an 8-inch cake pan and a pencil, outline the cake pan to form circles on each piece of paper. Turn the paper face-down on the baking sheets.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a large pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and raise the speed to high until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully fold the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar into the meringue. Transfer the meringue into a gallon sized plastic bag (insert the bag into a sturdy container, like a quart size measuring cup and fold the edges of the plastic bag over the container.  After you fill and seal the plastic bag, snip off a corner so you can pipe the meringue.  Pipe a disc of meringue inside each circle.

Bake the 3 meringue layers at 200 degrees for 2 hours until meringues, or until they are dry and crisp but not brown. Turn off the heat and leave meringues in the oven for 4 hours or overnight. 

To make the whipped cream “icing”, beat 3 cups of whipping cream with 6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar.  As it thickens, add in 1/3 cup of sugar.

When the meringue is cooled, peel it off the parchment paper.  Carefully spread some of the whipped cream on top of the first meringue layer and then sprinkle with grated chocolate.  Repeat 2 more layers.  Spread whipped cream on the top and on the sides.  Sprinkle the top with the grated chocolate bar and pour the chocolate sprinkles on the sides.


Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookie


Make your own mark.  What a wonderful world it would be if everyone focused on making their own mark rather than acting cool because your mom/dad is successful or living vicariously through your child’s accomplishments in sports, the classroom or whatever stage it might be (and let me be clear, I am not saying that every kid with a successful parent or every parent with a prodigy child falls into this category!).  Drew Brees’ wife, Brittany, said in an ESPN interview that there is one thing that decides whether a person is truly famous or not: “only if you make this world a better place.”   Take a moment to reflect – what did you do today to make the world a better place?  What kind of mark are you making?

It's cookie season.  If you don’t have a cute little cousin selling Girl Scout cookies, call me or make your own.  Betty Crocker made her mark with quality, basic recipes.  Elizabeth made these with her friend, Zoe, and raved about how great they are (and people, Elizabeth doesn’t even like oatmeal!)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening (or substitute another ½ cup, aka 1 stick, butter)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (or 1 cup raisins), optional
Preheat oven to 375.

Mix all ingredients except oats, flour and chocolate chips in a large bowl.  Then stir in the oats, flour and chocolate chips.  

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart.  Bake 9-11 minutes or until light brown.  Remove parchment paper with cookies still on top and place on baking rack to cool.  Once cool, remove cookies from parchment paper.




Thursday, January 16, 2020

Double Chocolate Pancakes


It should have been a glorious occasion – having your braces removed after 2+ years.  Instead, he walks out with a frown.  “What’s the matter?” my wide eyes say.  “Let me see,” I cheerily encourage. And he opens his mouth (with perfectly straight, white teeth – I had forgotten what they looked like) and declares “I have a retainer.”  Yep, that’s kind of typical – darn that orthodontist for protecting our investment of time and money. Then he continues “there is a wire – on the front of my teeth.”  Apparently “no one” has this.  He is the only person without either a clear retainer or one that is permanently affixed on the back side of your teeth (so you can’t see it).  The countdown has begun for when he can stop wearing the retainers (which are ruining his life, mind you) full time.  87 days, in case you were wondering.

For the new year, I decided to subscribe to New York Times Cooking.  For about a year now, they would send me an email with all of these tempting recipes and unless you are a subscriber, you can’t access them.  Psych!  This recipe caught my eye, of course: 1) Bobby Flay, 2) chocolate.  As we were eating them (and receiving rave reviews from Elizabeth and David, my toughest critics), we were discussing whether you would serve this for breakfast or as a dessert.  We decided: both! (and kept eating).  

For traditional and homemade pancakes, check out these recipes.

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (I opted out of this ingredient)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used Kosher)
  • 3 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (or mini semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • Salted Caramel Sauce, warm, recipe follows
  • Confectioner's sugar, optional
  • Raspberries, optional

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or other coarse sea salt

Whisk together the eggs, both kinds of sugar, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the egg mixture and whisk until just combined. Fold in the chocolate, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes. 

If you want to make the entire batch of pancakes and serve all at once, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.  

Heat nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Brush with butter and continue heating until the butter begins to foam. Drop about a 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan. Bake until bubbles start to form and burst, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook to set the other side, another 1 to 2 minutes. As the pancakes are ready, put them in a single layer on the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.  

Stack the pancakes on plates, drizzle with the warm caramel sauce, and top with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar and some raspberries, if desired.

Salted Caramel Sauce:
Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup cold water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, without stirring or touching, until the sugar turns a deep amber color, 8 to 10 minutes (watch it carefully – it turns golden and then burns very quickly).  

Meanwhile, warm the cream in a small saucepan or in the microwave.  When the caramel is ready, slowly whisk in the cream and continue simmering until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and salt until combined.  Serve warm.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Captain Rodney's Cheese Bake


Time to break that new year’s resolution around eating healthy – all for the sake of football!  There are some big games coming up.  What are you going to serve?  A hot, gooey cheese dip – your family and guests can’t go hungry – all for the sake of football!

Amy and Frank introduced us to this addictive dip.  A couple of notes – if you don’t have a Sample House nearby with the Captain Rodney’s Boucan Glaze or you don’t want to order 2 bottles from Amazon or we don’t live close and/or you feel strange asking for a half cup of mine, do not fret – rename the dip “Charleston Cheese Dip” and you’ll be fine because it’s essentially the same thing.

May your team win!!  

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 6 butter crackers, like Ritz, crushed
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Captain Rodney’s Boucan Glaze 
  • Chips, crackers, or pita chips to dip – my pref: Frito Scoops

Mix first 4 ingredients, then spread into a square casserole dish.  Sprinkle crackers on top.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle bacon on top and drizzle with Boucan glaze.  Serve with your favorite chips, crackers, pita chips, etc.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Lemon Chess Pie




Happy New Year!  Have you made your resolution(s) yet?  During a dinner conversation a few nights ago, Todd commented “we have all been humbled.”  How honest and true – whether it is personally or professionally or a little bit of both, we have all been humbled in life – so the question is, how do you handle the not-Facebook or Instagram-worthy posts?  How do you respond?  What do you resolve to do differently?  In the new year, I hope to be more action and less talk to make myself, my family, my friends, my community, my country, and my world a little bit better.

Thank you, Mimi, for another great recipe.  If I hear Andrew tell me one more time just how good this pie is… and thus a blog worthy recipe is shared.

Happy birthday, Jen!!

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup minus 3 tablespoons milk, warm
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pie shell, unbaked
Cream 6 tablespoons of butter, ¼ tsp salt, 2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon flour until smooth.  Add 4 eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each. Add 2/3 cups minus 3 tablespoons warm milk and 4 tablespoons lemon juice. Mix well.

Pour into unbaked 9-10 inch pie shell  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Decrease oven temp to 300 degrees and bake for another 45-50 minutes.