Monday, November 29, 2010

the 12 days of Christmas cookies

Ally, here.

So we've got some exciting news for you. Becca and I are about to embark on the most exciting 12 day journey of the season! We're taking on Food Network's 12 Days of Cookies. We'll bake them, one day at a time, share our baking troubles and triumphs, and probably gain a significant amount of weight.

I had the honor of kicking off the 12 days of festivities with Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies. Can you take a wild guess which Food Network star created this recipe? Definitely Paula Deen.

These cookies are incredibly simple and require very few ingredients. And they are surprisingly light and fluffy. But beware that the dough takes a few hours of refrigeration before they are ready to bake.

The 12 Days of Cookies- Day 1- Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

Here's what you'll need:

-8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 stick of butter, at room temperature
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 box moist chocolate cake mix
-confectioners' sugar

Here's what to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Use an electric mixer to cream the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.

3. Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract.

4. Beat in the cake mix.

5. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. This will make it easier to shape the dough.

6. Coat the bottom of a small bowl with confectioners' sugar.

7. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls, and coat with sugar. (I just rolled the dough balls around the bowl until they were covered.)

8. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

So here are a few warnings from my experience with these cookies. I'm going to recommend using a spoon to mix in the cake mix, rather than an electric mixer (unless you have a kitchen-aid) because the dough stuck together so much that it completely coated my beaters and rose up to get stuck inside the holes connecting the beaters to the mixers. So that was a bit of a mess that you could probably avoid.

I'll also warn you that the dough is going to be really sticky as you form it into balls. Once you coat it with sugar, it's very manageable, but I had to wash my hands about 10 times during the whole baking process. So be warned.

And my final recommendation is the addition of chocolate chips. I added these to the last batch I put in the oven, and it added an extra burst of deliciousness to the cookie. The husband insists that the cookies were perfect without the chocolate chips, and said he preferred the consistency of the originals, but I like a little extra something in my cookies. So if you're in the mood for chocolate, spring for the chocolate chip addition. It's well worth your while.

Check back soon for more 12 Days of Cookies! You're going to love it!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

the ultimate cake

Ally, here.

Alright, folks. Before we begin, I must tell you that this is probably the most complicated dessert I have ever made. And it is not something you should try to create on the fly. This cake was time consuming. And it is probably the most unhealthy thing I have ever tasted. But it was so good.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let me tell you about this cake. It is all things wonderful. It is chocolate. And coffee. And buttercream frosting. And heath bar. And ganache. And maybe a little bit of heaven.

I was perusing TasteSpotting (a little morning ritual of mine), when I spotted this cake. And even at 7 am, it sounded heavenly. And when I followed the link over to Recipe Rhapsody, I knew I had to make this cake. And I had to make it today. Now, I must say that the recipe author has perfected her cake crafting and decorating, which I certainly have not. So please ignore my amateur cake decorating, and my somewhat lackluster presentation. The cake still tasted great.

Here's what you'll need:

-1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I didn't go whole wheat on this one, in hopes of making it as wonderfully unhealthy as possible)
-2 1/2 cups sugar
-2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
-1 1/4 teaspoons salt
-2 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
-1 1/4 cups warm water
-1 1/4 cups buttermilk
-1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

mocha buttercream:
-1/4 cup Kahlua
-1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals
-10 oz semisweet chocolate
-6 egg yolks
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup corn syrup
-4 sticks (1 lb) unsalted butter

-4 oz semisweet chocolate
-1/2 cup heavy cream

yummy toppings:
-toffee bits
-Heath bars (if you aren't a toffee fan, replace these with some other crunchy dessert)

Here's what to do:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease two round cake pans.

2. Combine the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs, yolk, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mix until smooth.

3. Divide the batter between the two cake pans. Bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for about 15 minutes. Then remove them from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

buttercream frosting:
1. Microwave the Kahlua until boiling. Remove and add instant coffee, stirring until the coffee is dissolved. Set this aside and let it cool.

2. Microwave the chocolate for 30 seconds and stir. Continue heating in 15-second intervals, stirring inbetween, until chocolate is melted. Set this aside and let it cool.

3. Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl.

4. Combine sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, constantly stirring the mixture until it comes to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and pour into the egg mixture while the mixer is running. Beat until the mixture is room temperature.

5. Beat the butter in a bowl until fluffy. Then add to the egg mixture, a little at a time, beating until well combined. Once the chocolate and Kahlua mixtures are cool, beat those into the buttercream until smooth.

1. Microwave the chocolate and cream in a microwave safe dish for one minute. Stir, and continue heating in 15-30 second intervals until the mixture is smooth. Set aside until it comes to room temperature.

putting it all together:
1. Place one cake layer on a plate and spread buttercream over the top. Place the second cake layer on top and frost the top and sides with the rest of the buttercream.

2. Press toffee bits into the sides of the cake. (This was one of the hardest parts for me. I ended up just throwing the toffee at the cake and hoping it would stick. If you have better luck, let me know.)

3. Break Heath bars into pieces and place on the top of the cake.

4. Pour the cooled ganache onto the top center of the cake and spread so that it pours over the sides.

5. Indulge and enjoy! I found that refrigerating the cake for a bit before serving helped hold everything together and made it taste even more delicious.

And there you have it, folks. The most complicated, but most wonderful cake I've ever had the pleasure of creating. Once again, many thanks to Recipe Rhapsody for providing the recipe and the sugar coma.

If you're feeling ambitious, go ahead and try it yourself! You're going to love it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sunday Chicken

It might be that I'm becoming more domestic with every blog, but this time I really did feel like my mother.
Oh well, she's the best cook I know so I'm okay with this.

On Saturday Chad and I ventured to the Red Stick Farmer's Market again and found a lady selling "Farm Fresh Chicken"

Couldn't resist. It was about $3/lb and we ended up paying $9 so hooray for chicken for dinner and sandwiches!

Thank the Lord the Farm Fresh Lady had taken all the gross insides out for me.  If she hadn't, I would have had to Google some videos on that. So from taking it out of the wrapper, it was on with the roasting.  I adapted the recipe from our hero, Ina Gaten's 'Perfect Roast Chicken'.  Added a few things since I'm a sucker for extra flavor.

Roast Chicken 

1- 3lb whole chicken
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 head of garlic
1 lemon
3 springs fresh parsley (don't need to chop, just the whole leaves)
1 T dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 small can Campbell's Chicken Broth
olive oil

Stuff the inside of the chicken with half of the lemon. 
Put whole garlic cloves (with skin), some of the onion, rosemary, and parsley inside chicken also.
Rub the outside of chicken with olive oil, S&P
Place other half of lemon, the rest of the onion, garlic, parsley, rosemary, and the 2 bay leaves in the bottom of the pan/crock pot
Put chicken on top of the broth mixture

You can cook it in the oven, but for me the most domestic part of this 
was putting it in the crock pot while at church.
(yes yes, go ahead and laugh at a 21 year old cooking in crock pot on a Sunday afternoon.  I have!) 

Sometimes you might need to tie the legs together with twine, but since my crock pot was small it held it together for me.
Turn the crock pot on Low and cook for 2 1/2 hours

Viola! Roast Chicken.