Sunday, October 19, 2008

Devil’s Food Cake for an Angel

I attended my first post-birth baby shower today for a good friend in our neighborhood. I had high hopes for making petit fours for the special event. As you can see from the picture, the petit four making did not go well. My first attempt was a sponge cake baked in a jelly roll pan. I wanted to go the traditional route and sponge cake recipes looked more appealing than genoise. The sponge cake was delicious, but inconsistent. In my attempt not to over stir at the end and ruin the airy egg composition, I did not fully incorporate my ingredients. So, parts of my sponge cake were delicious and others were just egg whites cooked. So, I thought maybe pound cake might be safer and possibly more predictable. I didn't have any recipes for chocolate pound cake, so I ventured to the internet. I found what I thought would be a good recipe, but the batter would have filled my 9 x 5 loaf pan to the top. Nervously, I split it between two and then proceeded to under cook the cakes when my toothpick came out clean. Sigh. Determined to make some sort of cake, I turned to my Cooks Illustrated baking cooking book and chose the Devil’s Food Cake recipe. It promised to be a decadent chocolate experience. Thankfully, this cake turned out nicely and tasted wonderful. Perhaps a bit less stable than most cakes I have made, but delicious and almost brownie-like. I will try again someday, but three cakes in one weekend is more than I ever care to do again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Snickerdoodles are a new cookie to me. I did not grow up eating them, so I don't really have any preconceived notions of what they should be. When I discovered they were a favorite of a dear friend of mine, I decided to add another cookie to the repertoire. To my delight, these were tasty and easier to make than traditional sugar cookies that require rolling out dough. I searched several sources for my recipe and decided on one from that got high marks from over 1800 people ( Coming off my success with chocolate chip cookies, I substituted half the flour in the recipe with bread flour. I also sifted my dry ingredients (minus the sugar) together to help keep the cookies light. I was leery of the shortening in the recipe, but I decided to let that one slide this time. Using my small cookie scoop, I squeezed 5 dozen cookies out of this recipe. They were light, chewy, and delicious. The perfect size for eating 6 in a row without thinking. Sweet tooth beware!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Apple Pie

Two weeks ago we went apple picking with our four-year-old. Cameo apples were ripe. They were so good that we picked two baskets full of them, munching on fresh apples as we went. Since we have a 7-month-old baby in the house, I cooked up some crock pot applesauce and froze it in cubes for him. The rest of us enjoyed homemade apple pie - three of them so far! I make my pie crust with butter. It tastes great and is easier to roll than one made with shortening. Then I fill it with six cups of apples, 1/2 cup sugar, juice of one lemon, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon. To top it off, I make a crumb topping of flour, brown sugar and butter. Served with ice cream, there is no better dessert.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Friends were coming for dessert a few weeks ago and I wanted to impress. So I pulled out my copy of Nigella Lawson's How To Be a Domestic Goddess and began flipping through the pages. I knew chocolate was a favorite so I flipped to the section conveniently marked "Chocolate." And there it was . . . Chocolate Mousse Cake. Basically it is a flourless chocolate cake taking its structure from eggs instead of flour. Using Callebaut chocolate and organic eggs I set to work. It was really very simple. All I had to do was melt the chocolate with some butter and sugar. Whisk that together with egg yolks. I whirred the egg whites to soft peaks and then folded in the chocolate mixture. I poured it into a springform pan wrapped in foil. Dunked it in a water bath and pushed it in the oven. An hour later, out came this dreamy cake. So yummy. And they were impressed. Very.