April 27, 2008

cheesecake pops

guess what time it is!





yay! it's daring baker's time!!!

not too long ago i blogged about making some chocolate mascarpone cheesecake pots from a book called, "sticky, chewy, messy, gooey" by jill o'conner. now, i gotta tell you i bought this book last september because i wanted a new book and this one was just too pretty to put down. as luck would have it, fellow daring bakers, elle and deborah (great name, btw ;)), chose to dare us to bake "cheesecake pops" from said book, pages 132-133. it was also the next recipe from that book that i wanted to try out.

a lot of other daring bakers had troubles with the actual baking times, most saying that theirs baked in 55 minutes. knowing this in advance of me baking mine was great. also my mom makes killer cheesecakes (like dark and white chocolate with an oreo crumb and coated in chocolate... not kidding) and told me exactly what to expect- jiggly like jello when you shake it, but a toothpick coming out almost clean. so 55 minutes it was. it never got golden on top, just slightly around the edges. i let it cool in the oven for about 30 minutes before pulling it out and onto the counter.

the next day when the kids were both at school and away at play dates i got to work making the balls. i tried using my tried and true cookie scoop, but it wasn't working out so good- i still had to use my hands to get the cheesecake to form properly. as soon as i started i wanted to stop. now i don't know why it happens, but some textures just give me high anxiety. i literally felt like i was going to either scream or cry. so i stopped, put all the mixture in the mixer, beat the crap out of it and stuffed it into my biggest piping bag. cheesecake is not the easiest thing to pipe! lol! and instead of nicely formed round balls of cheesecake i had beehives. s'okay. at least i didn't want to throw it across the room. the dipping was easy peasy. i melted some blue and white wilton candy melts in a double boiler on my loverly new range (on it's special small inner burner;)) and then quickly dunked them into chocolate jimmies, blue or pink sanding sugar, and non-perils. so pretty!
even though the pops turned out a little mis-shapen, i'm really happy with the end result- snappy candy coating giving way to creamy classic cheesecake that even pete schweddy would approve. mmmmm!

Cheesecake Pops
Makes 30 – 40 Pops
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

April 20, 2008

happy birthday papa!

friday was my dad's 71st birthday! on one of my many trips to the gourmet warehouse i saw these:my mom had asked us to get him some corn holders around christmas time, but i never got around to it until i found those. i also picked up a "butter girl". she was also at the gourmet warehouse, but i found them online here.





i can always remember growing up knowing that black forest cherry cake was my dad's favourite- but only the version from his mother's german cookbook. i made it last year for his birthday and so i made it again this year. it's fairly simple, using the beaten eggs for volume. one thing though... make sure your flour and cocoa is fully combined before folding it into the batter as it will deflate the eggs and you'll end up with a much denser cake. still tasty though. also, if you don't want to spend the dollars on the kirsch, just use the juice from the jar of cherries- i bet no one will even notice!


black forest cherry cake
chocolate curls:8oz semisweet bar chocolate
to make chocolate curls to garnish the cake, the bar or chunks of chocolate should be at room temperature but not soft. hold the chocolate over wax paper or foil and shave the bar or square into thin curls with a sharp narrow-bladed vegetable peeler. draw the peeler along the wide surface of the chocolate for large curls, and along the narrow side for small ones. handle the chocolate as little as possible. refridgerate or freeze the curls until you are ready to use them.

cake:

1tbsp butter, softened

6tbsp flour

10 tablespoons sweet butter

6 eggs, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1/2 sifted flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. with a pastry brush or paper towel, lightly coat the bottoms and side of three 7-inch round cake pans with soft butter, using about 1 tablespoon of butter in all. sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour into each pan, tip them from side to side to spread the flour evenly, then invert the pans and rap them sharply on a table to remove any excess flour. set the pans aside.clarify 10 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan by melting it slowly over low heat without letting it brown. let it rest for a minute off the heat, then skim off the foam. spoon the clear butter into a bowl and set aside. discard the milky solids at the bottom of the pan.

in an electric mixer, beat the eggs, vanilla and 1 cup of sugar together at high speed for at least 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and fluffy. combine the 1/2 cup sifted flour and unsweentened cocoa in a sifter. a little at a time sift the mixture over the eggs, folding it in gently with a rubber spatula. finally, add the clarified butter 2 tablespoons at a time. do not overmix. gently pour the batter into the prepared cake pans dividing it evenly among the three of them.bake in the middle of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a cake tester insterted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 5 minutes. then run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake and turn them out on racks to cool completely.

syrup:

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup cold water

1/2 cup kirsch (or just brandy, or juice from jar o'cherries)

meanwhile, prepare the kirsch syrup in the following fashion: combine 3/4 cup sugar and 1 cup of cold water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring only until the sugar dissolves. boil briskly, uncovered, for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and when the syrup has cooed to lukewarm stir in the kirsch.transfter the cakes to a long strip of wax paper and prick each layer ligtly in several places with the tines of a long fork. sprinkle the layers evenly with the syrup and let them rest for at least 5 minutes.

filling and topping:

3 cups chilled heavy cream

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1/4 cup kirsch (or brandy or juice)

1 cup poached pitted fresh red cherries, or 1 cup drained and rinsed canner sour red cherriesfresh sweet red cherries with stems, or substitue maraschino cherries with stems, drained and rinsed

if you are using fresh cherries for the filling, poach them in the following fashion: remove their stems and pits, then combine them with 2 cups of water and 3/4 cup of sugar in a small saucepan. bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, simmer for 5 minutes, or until the cherries are tender. drain them in a colander, discarding the syrup, and pat the cerries completely dry with paper towels.

in a large chilled bowl, beat the cream with a whisk or a rotarty or electric beater until it thickens lightly. then sift 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar over the cream and continue beating until the cream forms firm peaks on the beater when it is lifted out of the bowl. pour in the 1/4 cup kirsch in a thin stream, and beat only until the kirsch is absorbed.to assemble the cake, place one of the three layers in the centre of a serving plate. with a spatula, spread the top with a 1/2 inch of whipped cream and strew the cup of fresh or canned cherries over it leaving about 1/2 inch of cream free of cherries around the perimeter. gently set a second layer on top of the cherries and spread it with 1/2 inch of chipped cream. then seth the third layer in place. spread the top and sides of the cake with the reamaining cream.with your fingers, gently press the chocolate curls into the cream on the sides fo the cake and arrange a few chocolate curls and fresh or maraschino cherries attractively on top.
my sister made mini pineapple upside-down cakes! yummy!

April 16, 2008

so long ollie

Ollie Johnston, the last of the "Nine Old Men" who animated on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Bambi and other classic Disney films has died. He was 95.

thanks for everything, ollie!

April 12, 2008

meet bert

when we moved into our house we inherited a 24" Frigidaire electric range. i think this was only the second time i had ever lived in a place that had such a small stove. i started looking online at various manufacturers and thought long and hard about which one i was going to save my pennies for. i found a really cool looking thermador range that was 46" wide with 2 ovens (below is the 36" model) but when we went to trail appliances one rainy afternoon and i got to see it in person, i didn't like it so much. not only did it look huge in the showroom- which means in our wee kitchen it would be massive, it had curves where it shouldn't and parts of it seemed not as high quality as you'd expect for ten thousand dollars.

so a good wander of the showroom was in order...
...and then i met bert.

the picture above is the 36" 5 burner free standing range by bertazzoni. from their home page: "bertazzoni cooking products originate in Emilia-Romagna, a region world-famous for its food. Precision-engineered to the highest specifications by the Bertazzoni family, who have been making high-quality ranges since the beginning of the last century, every appliance bearing the Bertazzoni name represents an unwavering commitment to quality. " you can read the history of bertazzoni here.
the simplicity of the design caught my eye immediately! and who can resist a winged burner for the logo!?! so, research was in order. the knobs are metal, not plastic, and have a child safe feature so if the kids decide to cook and pass over the igniting, the gas doesn't leak. so smart! derek found out that there are many lovers of bertazzoni and that almost no one had problems with it.
i phoned trail appliances and was laughed at when i asked if they price matched to the states. so, we took our business to mount vernon, washington.
it took pretty much all day for derek and my dad to drive down and get it, hook up the gas, trips to the local hardware store, fix the leak... but wow, does it cook great! i made spinach and feta quiche, roasted potatoes- which fit side by side! and steamed veggies and garden salad. my recipe for quiche says to bake for 90 minutes and i put my oven thermometer in just to see how well it kept the temperature. lemme tell you, it didn't dip once. 350F on the dail was 350F in the oven. brilliant. absolutely brilliant!
after the kids were in bed i made chocolate chip, cranberry and cashew cookies. tomorrow i'm making bread.

of course, the best thing about a new appliances isn't the appliance itself, nor is it the goodies it creates. no, it's the box:

April 07, 2008

fruit fly



every year derek's dad travels to palm springs californa where his arthritis can have a little break from the wet wintry weather here in vancouver. every year he brings back the biggest grapefruits you have ever seen. now, i'm not the biggest grapefruit fan. seth, our little fruit fly, is. i was looking for something to bake with the grapefruits and came across this recipe from martha stewart's baking handbook. the recipe was, as usual, really easy to follow, and the cookies turned out okay. like i said i'm not big on grapefruit, but i think these would be just fantastic as orange and clove. i also rolled the first batch too thin even though i rolled it to 1/8"- i think they should be a little bit thicker, and you probably don't need to make a full batch of the filling- i had lots left over, and i put lots in the sandwitches.

after i got the first few sammiches put together, seth came up to grab a couple- one for himself and one for daddy- and i heard him say, "these are my favourite cookies ever!"

awe, thanks chubbers!

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

Grated zest of 1 Ruby Red grapefruit, plus 1/4 cup freshly squeezed juice
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg yolks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine zest with 1 tablespoon sugar; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and remaining sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg yolks, and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in reserved zest-sugar mixture. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the juice, and beat to combine.
Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out disk to 1/8 inch thick using a lightly floured rolling pin. Using a lightly floured 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place about 1 inch apart on prepared sheet. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes. Transfer parchment paper and cookies to rack to cool completely.
Using an offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon filling onto flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping flat sides down. Once filled, cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Grapefruit Cream Filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in honey. Add juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until filling holds together and is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside until ready to use.

April 02, 2008

here's just some random pics from our rainyish day at the dog beach...



April 01, 2008

cupcake cutthroats

derek showed me this little video that was posted on one of his green sites that he frequents, autobloggreen.com. it was so funny i thought i'd share it here, also it's cupcake cars, and who can resist a cupcake!?!