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Monday, February 14, 2011

Don't Forget to Include the Dessert!!

I promised everyone last week that I would put together a couple of desserts to truly WOW your mate. Well, after many agonizing hours of deliberation, I have come up with only one. One amazing and sultry chocolate cake. If your mate is anything like mine (who would marry some chocolate if it asked), this will earn you a nice feather in your cap!

Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake
This is a great and rich chocolate cake that is nicely layered with raspberry jam and chocolate ganache (don't worry, I will walk you through the process.

2 cups AP flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 cup water
3/4 buttermilk (don't have? add 1T vinegar to 1 cup milk to make own buttermilk)
3/4 veg oil (can use canola)
3 eggs

Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Topping
18 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 T raspberry jam
12 oz. fresh raspberries
Powdered sugar

Cake Prep
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Coat 2 9" pans with Pam spray
  • Line bottoms with parchment rounds - spray rounds
  • Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt in large bowl
  • Form well in center
  • Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil and eggs in medium bowl to combine
  • Pour wet ingredients INTO dry and whisk to blend
  • Divide into cake pans (~3 cups each)
  • Bake until toothpick is clean (~30 minutes)
  • Cool completely

Ganache and Raspberry Prep
  • Place chopped in medium bowl
  • Bring cream to boil in saucepan
  • Pour over chocolate and let stand 1 minute
  • Stir until melted and smooth
  • Transfer 1 1/4 cup ganache to small bowl, cover and refrigerate until thick to spread
  • Leave rest to stand at room temp to cool

Combination Prep
  • Remove cakes from pans upside down
  • Spread 3T jam on top of one cake
  • Spoon chilled ganache over and spread evenly
  • Slide second cake on top of first
  • Spread remaining jam on top
  • Pour half of lukewarm ganache over cake - spreading to sides
  • Freeze until ganache sets (~30 minutes)
  • Pour remaining ganache and freeze again
  • Remove and place raspberries on top and dust with powdered sugar
There you have it. Easy enough?!

Hope you have an amazing Valentine's Day. Make it count. Post comments about your experience.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Love is in the FOOD?!?!

Ahh, amour. Valentine's Day, one of the weirdest of the holidays for me as a child, is on Monday. This is the day where your wife, girlfriend, or both, expects to be wooed off her feet. Even after 10 years of marriage, this is something I still cannot get down. I have tried, gifts, and even Cookie Bouquets (I find I eat more of them than my wife). This is why I am super stoked for Monday. This is truly the first year I get to try to woo my love through her stomach. This is such a simple task...anyone can do it. Your significant other will say they like everything on the plate, just so they don't hurt your feelings. Just put some effort and planning into it, and things could not be better. Plus, it does not hurt you are saving a couple hundred bucks!

Here is my plan for Monday night.

First course is going to be a simple cheese fondue. Cut up some carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, apples and pears to have on hand for dipping. Next, grab a fondue pot...Cuisinart has a nice electric one so you don't need the Sterno.

Chipotle Cheese Fondue
2 cups Gruyere Cheese
2 cups Emmenthal cheese
1 1/2 T cornstarch
2 cloves, halved
1 1/3 dry white wine
1 T Lemon juice
Touch of nutmeg
3 canned Chipotle chilies in adobo, minced
  • Toss cheeses together with cornstarch.
  • Rub inside sauce pan with garlic, leave inside
  • Add wine and lemon juice
  • Bring to boil and stir in cheese mix
  • Bring back to simmer and through in nutmeg, chilies and pepper to taste
  • Transfer to fondue pot and serve.

Main course: Pan-Seared Strip with Red-Wine Pan Sauce and Pink-Peppercorn Butter
Pink Peppercorn Butter
1/4 cup butter
1 t minced thyme
1 t honey
1 t whole pink peppercorns

1 10 oz NY strip
2 t extra-virgin olive oil
1 t minced thyme
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup beef stock

Pink Peppercorn prep
  • Combine first 4 ingredients and mix with fork until peppercorns are crushed.
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • With plastic wrap, form into disk and chill

Steak prep
  • Rub steak with oil
  • Sprinkle thyme, salt and pepper
  • Let stand 30 min
  • Heat skillet and add steak
  • Cook to desired (3 to 4 per side for medium rare)
  • Transfer to plate and tent foil
  • Add 1t oil to skillet and add shallot and saute till softened
  • Add wine and boil until reduced by half, stirring often
  • Add stock and salt
  • Remove from heat and throw in butter mixture (Congrats, just made a beurre rouge)
  • Cut steak against grain and divide among plates.
  • Top with sauce

Can serve this dish with asparagus, broccoli or your favorite side.

There. Simple, yet effective.

Now go out there you crazy kids and have a great time on Valentine's Day. Enjoy your loved ones. Or better yet, try to make everyday Valentine's Day. You don't have to wait for a "special occasion" to tell that someone special how much you love them.

On Monday...desserts!