Monday, April 28, 2008

Peppermint Chocolate Cake

This is the cake recipe I used in the grad cake in the post below. It's a wonderfully moist, fudgey cake, and dense enough to use if you're making a tiered special occasion cake. Adapted from Cooking Pleasures Magazine. Honestly, one of the most superb cakes I've made in a long time - not just the decoration part of it, but the cake itself was just to die for. I'm going to be making it again and again, and without the mint, it's a very versatile recipe.

Peppermint Chocolate Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (good quality semisweet chocolate chips work, too; that's what I used)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour (all purpose is fine if that's all you have; I used it and it worked)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream (I used 1 cup 2% yogurt thinned with about 1/2 cup buttermilk)


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened (light is fine; it's what I used, but DON'T use fat-free!)
3 1/2 - 4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease & flour the bottom of a 9" springform pan and cut a disc of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan.

2. Over a bain marie, or directly in the bottom of a KitchenAid Mixer bowl, melt together the butter and chocolate. Stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.

3. Depending on what you're using, put the chocolate in a large mixing bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. If using a KitchenAid, beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the peppermint and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Alternately beat the sour cream and flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, beginning with sour cream, until smooth. DON'T OVERWORK. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Remove from pan.

5. To prepare the icing, beat the butter and cream cheese together until very smooth. Add the peppermint extract. Add 3 1/2 cups icing sugar and combine until smooth. Keep adding more icing sugar until you get a nice, creamy, but not runny consistency.

6. Ice the cake. Eat it.

If you want, glaze with: 1 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, 1 tbsp unsalted butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract melted together over a bain marie until smooth.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Cake!

I couldn't wait to post this! This is the graduation cake I made for my brother's grad from a music technology program.

I'm so pleased with how it turned out I almost feel like crying. I thought perhaps I'd lost my touch, but I think the spark is still in me somewhere... My hands are shaky because of meds, but this is the nicest cake I've done since culinary school! And it's culinary school quality, too.

Thanks to my roommate for allowing me to photograph it since I still don't have a camera.

More later! In the meantime, drool!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Today, I did something ridiculously stupid while baking a cake.

If you don't know this, I have a mental illness (or three) and right now I'm going through a significant medication change. Read about it here.

The point of this confession over here on my foodblog: my brain is functioning way below normal levels right now.

So, this morning I was making a cake for my brother's graduation. (I still have no camera, but will hopefully get a picture tomorrow when we have the celebration for the graduation, and I can get my sister-in-law to take some photos with her camera.) I did this in my KitchenAid Mixer and while I was mixing the wet ingredients together on speed 2 with the paddle attachment, I for some strange reason stuck my hand into the bowl to scoop out a bit of batter to test.

My hand got caught between the side of the bowl and the turning paddle.

If I had a camera, I would have taken a picture of the huge, swollen, purple bruise surrounding the knuckles at the base of the index and middle finger of my right hand, and the red puffiness of the knuckles themselves.

I'm not in any pain, but the bruise is spectacular and I suspect tomorrow my hand will be wee bit stiff and sore.

Oh yes. I am an idiot.

Lesson? It's obvious, isn't it? Don't bake a cake for your brother's graduation.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pastry Chef in the Making!

Still awaiting my new camera, and it's getting annoying. Soon, I keep telling myself; be patient.

Meanwhile, here is a photo I thought you'd enjoy. Me at 7 (or thereabouts) with a cake I made for Brownies (as in Brownies/Girl Guides/Pathfinders /Girl Scouts). If memory serves (and it rarely does these days), this was auctioned off to raise money for something Brownie/Guide-related. Someone in Girl Guides bought the cake and was apparently quite happy with it.

The cake itself is a typical Betty Crackpot recipe from my mother's ancient Betty Crackpot Cookbook. Since it was winter, I decorated it with snowmen made from marshmallows stuck together with toothpicks and their hair and faces and clothing painted on with food colouring. My mom got me some Jujube Christmas trees and some colourful Smarties. The base was a piece of old paneling from our recent basement reno, covered with tin foil. The dress I am wearing, as well as the apron, were made lovingly by my mom.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lemon-ginger Frozen Yogurt

So, my camera died a couple of weeks ago, and though a new one is on the way, I'm reluctant to post anything here until I can take a photo of it! Ah, well. I'll give you something simple to tide you over. I made this amazing frozen yogurt recipe today. I subscribe to both Bon Appetit and Gourmet, having been lured with a screaming "professional" deal. I've never regretted it.

Lemon-ginger Frozen Yogurt

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt (I used 2% because I hate fat-free yogurt)
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used whole buttermilk)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel (I used twice this amount)


Bring water, sugar, light corn syrup, and grated ginger to boil in medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil 2 minutes. Strain into medium bowl and chill until cool. Whisk in yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions; cover and freeze. (Don't discard the strained ginger; it'll make a pretty garnish.)

I have this Cuisinart ice cream maker:

Man, do I love this machine! I've used it for so many things, including this lemon ice cream recipe, which is do die for. This is a really great appliance, and it's simple to use and makes fantastic products.

FYI, I've been using a web site called The Daily Plate to track my eating. If you haven't already heard of it, check it out - I highly recommend it. You can plug in a recipe of your own and create a nutritional label for it. According to TDP, this frozen yogurt recipe (which makes approximately six 1/2-cup servings) has 93 calories, 16.75g total carbs, 1.83g total fat, and 14.88g sugar. Not bad, eh?



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