Monday, September 29, 2008

Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Remembering birthday is something most of my family does not seem to know how to do, for it seemed everyone almost forgot about my Nana's birthday. My dad is the worst at remembering birthday. Sadly, he'll forget mine, my moms and my brothers from time to time. I try my best not to forget birthdays. I feel horrible if I forget one. I feel as though that I need to have they're birthday to be a great day!

My Nana's didn't want much for her birthday. She really just wants to ignore the fact that it is her birthday. I think anyone that gets older and older doesn't want to get older and older, you know?

Any who, all she wanted to do was have a family get together. Which included her sisters, my grandfathers brothers, her son (my dad) and his family, and a handful of her friends. I adore my Nana, really, I do. So I wanted to make a nice cake that I know she'd like. She loves chocolate (any woman would) and she's a big pistachio eater. She always has some around the house, ready to be snacked on.

When I came across this recipe on Jens blog at use real butter, it was perfect! It was absolutely perfect for her! And she agreed. She loved it. As well as everyone else. It has a nice salty addiction to it (and we all love salt) and it was just an overall huge hit with everyone. Not to sweet, soft and had enough in each bite.


Chocolate cake
Makes one 9×3-inch round cake. Double this recipe to get a 4 layer cake.

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, plus extra for greasing
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. red raspberry vinegar
1 cup water

Pistachio Vanilla Buttercream

8 oz egg whites
16 oz sugar
1 lb butter, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups shelled pistachios


6 tbsps heavy cream
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a sifter and sift onto wax paper or a bowl and set aside. Coat 2 9×3-inch round pans with butter on the base and sides. Place circular parchment in the bottom and brush with more butter.

2. Melt the unsweetened chocolate over water bath or in the microwave (be suer to keep stirring to prevent burning). Set aside.

3. Beat sugar and butter together in mixer fitted with paddle. Beat on medium for 1 minute, then on high for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and beat on high for 15 seconds after the addition of each egg. Add vanilla and vinegar and beat on high for 20 seconds. Add the melted chocolate and mix on low for 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. Boil water and operate the mixer on low while adding the sifted dry ingredients. Mix for 10 seconds. Carefully add the boiling water and continue to mix on low for 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium and beat for 5 seconds. Pour batter into pans.

5. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until toothpick test is clean. Remove from oven and allow cakes to cool in pans for 20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

1. For the pistachio and vanilla buttercreams, combine egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk constantly over a bain marie until 140F is reached. Place on mixer with balloon whisk and whip until stiff. Turn down whip speed to 3rd and whip until cool to the touch (this takes a while - should be cooler than your hand).

2. Change to a paddle and gradually add soft butter by tablespoon pieces. Mix to emulsify. Once desired consistency has been reached, add vanilla. Blanche the pistachios in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain and place the nuts in a cotton towel. Fold the towel over the nuts and rub vigorously to loosen and remove the skins. Toast the skinned pistachios on a baking sheet for 15 minutes at 325°F. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Reserve a few whole ones for garnish. Finely chop the remaining pistachios.

3. Take 2/3 of the buttercream frosting and fold in the pistachios. Save the remaining third of the buttercream for frosting the cake.

4. For the ganache, bring the cream to a boil and remove from heat immediately. Pour over the chocolate (making sure to cover all of the chocolate) and let sit for a minute. Stir until the ganache is smooth and evenly mixed. Put in the refrigerator until firm enough for piping.

To assembly
, cut off the dome tops of the cakes. Slice your cakes into two layers. Place the base of one cake on the serving plate or a cake board. Spread 1/3 of the pistachio buttercream over the layer. Repeat twice more. Top the cake with the other base slice (upside down, so base it facing up). Coat the sides with the vanilla buttercream (a thin layer spread around the entire cake). Then frost the entire cake with the rest of the vanilla buttercream. Decorate the cake with chocolate ganache however you like and garnish with whole pistachios and/or any extra chopped pistachios. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Lavash Crackers

For whatever reason, blogger hates me. I had a long, elaborate post about these crackers. I come to see my post and discover that it's not there. I had it on a timed post. I don't think I'll ever do that again... Since I'm a bite crammed in work, I'm going to make this quick, nice and sweet.

This months Daring Bakers Challenge was Lavash Crackers. These crackers were a bit... annoying, if you ask me. I'm a perfectionist, and they were rather, well, rugged most of the time after baking. But, I made several batches of these being that the taste was delicious! I chose to use sea salt, rosemary, black pepper and garlic for these crackers. They're all pretty much my favorite spice, so I thought I'd combine them all for these crackers.

I also wanted to try and get fancy with these crackers. I poke holes into them. I try to make all of them even (I even measured because I wanted to have them all perfect!) and I poked 7 in each cracker. I was a bit nervous how they would turn out... I was unsure as to how they would bake. Whether they would rise or not. But, they turned out great. And these will be something I know I will make time and time again.


Lavash Cracker
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart


1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. sesame seed
1 tsp ground cumin
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. Put the active dry yeast with the water and let it sit until it bubbles, about 5 minutes.

2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the yeast mixture with the flour, salt, cumin, sesame seed, sugar, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. If your ball is dry and not wet enough, add in some water by the tablespoonfuls.

3. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled.

4. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

5. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.

6. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Raspberry Honey Mustard Sauce

1 jar (12 oz. size) black raspberry jam
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup prepared mustard

1. In small pan, combine jam, honey and mustard, stir constantly, cook over medium heat until jam melts and sauce is smooth. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

One the course I choose to do this year for my senior year in high school was Nutritional Living. Reason being was, well, I thought it'd be good to learn more about healthier foods and healthier ways of cooking. I mean, I'm a junk food, meat, sweet addict. To learn how to have meat as well as sweets in a healthier way, I thought it'd be good for not only me, but for the people I cook and bake for, you know?

This class is about health foods. So, I found it kind of funny how the first thing we we're going to make were Peanut Butter Cookies. Go figure. Not that I'd obey though. Since peanut butter cookies happen to be one of my all time favorite cookies! Peanut butter cookies are the best cookie choice for milk. Well, that's just me though. Most like chocolate chip cookies or, the famous one, Oreos. But I'm a peanut butter cookie girl ;]

The recipe we made in class was a basic peanut butter cookie. The same recipe I've used many many times with my mom and my grammys. It's a classic. Classics are the best!


1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine shortening, peanut butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs. Stir thoroughly till combined.

3. In a medium bowl, shirt flour, powder, soda and salt. Slowly, add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture.

4. Roll into 1 1/4 inch bolls and place on baking sheet. With a fork, make a criss-cross pattern on the top, flattening it slightly.

5. Place in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Once done, let sit for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Yields 6 1/2 dozen 2 1/2 inch sized cookies

Monday, September 8, 2008

Orange Cranberry Bundt Cake

Football is back. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of football. I'm more of a baseball kind of girls. However, here at my house, football is everything. My father is obsessed with football and has since he was in high school to college. You'll definitely know if footballs on or not with him here. You'll hear him screaming at the top of his lungs going "Go, go, go, go!!!" or "What was that!?", and of course, "Yea!!!!!!"

We're FSU fans here. Go Seminoles. I usually watch the big games with my family when they're on. It can be pretty entertaining. Especially when you see the coaches faces turn red from anger. Or when the ref just does a horrible call. I get a kick out of it. I find it funny to see how everyone reacts. It's usually the same. Everyone yells.

Anyways, for the fact that football is coming back, my dad decided to have a family BBQ on Saturday. I wanted to do something to. So I baked. I was going to do a Carrot Cake, but then I came across this recipe over at Culinary Concoctions by Peabody and decided to try it out.

I've never never gotten a bad recipe from her site. All her recipes are fantastic and they never let me down. They're all just amazing. And so was this. I decided to switch the dates that she used and added dried cranberries instead. The smell of is was lovely. Moist and dense and so mouth watering delicious.


For the Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large egg
Zest of 1 medium orange
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup dried cranberries

For the Glaze

1 cup powder sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 10-12 cup Bundt pan.

2. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed about 1 minutes, until fluffy. Add the sugar and cream on medium-high speed about 30 seconds. Add the eggs all at once and continue creaming for one minute. Add the orange zest and vanilla; beat until combined.

3. Add about half the flour, the baking soda, and the salt; mix on medium-low speed until just combined. Add the buttermilk and mix on medium-low speed until just combined. Add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined. Gently stir in the dates.

4. Spoon the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cake cool in the pan about 10 minutes. Invert it onto a rack and cool at least 20 minutes before glazing. Transfer cake to a serving plate.

5. For the glaze, combine the ingredients together and whisk until it becomes a creamy orange color. Pour glaze over cake.Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chocolate Chunk Coffee Cake

During this time of the year, when summer is slowing starting to traverse into fall, that I start to get tired of eating anything light and want something a little more heavy. Not so heavy that I feel like I'll gain weight from eating, but heavy enough to where I feel more satisfied about what I just ate. Having to avoid all the sweet I did, it gets rather depressing.

I love eating coffee cake. But its something that I don't care to eat till fall and winter are here. It like how I don't really enjoy pie unless it's fall, or smoothies unless it's summer. I'm pretty picky as to what I eat and when in the year I eat it. It's just how I've been raised I guess.

I didn't come up with this recipe. I found this fabulous recipe from Pete at The only different that I did from his was I did chocolate chunks aside from chocolate chips. Chocolate chunks just sounded better to me at the moment. I also added nutmeg to the cake batter and salt. I thought it would give it more of a tasty kick.

The cake was very enjoyable. The was chocolate chunks to every bite (which I really liked!!). It turned out so light and fluffy and just melt in your mouth delicious. It made a very delicious breakfast with coffee.


1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. water
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup chocolate chunks

1. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chunks. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter, 1 cup white sugar, and eggs. Add the sour cream, vanilla and water.

3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, soda, nutmeg and salt. Combine into the wet ingredients.

4. Pour half of the batter into a greased and floured 9×13 inch pan. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon, sugar and chocolate chip mixture on the batter. Pour in the rest of the batter and top with the rest of the cinnamon, sugar and chip mix.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let it cool for at least an hour before cutting into it, or the chocolate chips will be too melty and it will be hard to get out of the pan.

Genesis of a Cook
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