Queen of Sheba Cake

Oh Julia, you do know best. You changed the world of home cooking forever and we are so grateful for it. No one will be able to impact the professional and domestic inspired way of cooking like she did. When I first purchased her very famous book I could barely contain my excitement every recipe is pure gold. We try to cook out of it as often as possible all the recipes we have made taste perfect. This cake was no exception. It was dense and moist, and the rum flavor just made it sing. The frosting, oh my goodness, the frosting. I could have ate a bowl of it, and for someone who does not like chocolate frosting at all this was a big deal. This frosting tastes like chocolate silk. My one word of advice for this cake is do not, by any means skimp on the quality of the chocolate you use. You will taste the difference and for utter and complete decadence use a high quality 55-65% cocoa chocolate bars or buttons.

Since I had not made this cake before I wanted to make a small sample to test it. To see what I may have to change in regards to temperature, technique, and flavor. Why would I question Julia Child? Well it was because I have never made an almost flour-less cake like this before so I was a little concerned, completely unwarranted as it turned out perfect of course. When the trial cake came out of the oven Frank would not stop eating and said “I want to smear this all over my face, it’s so good.” In the movie Julie and Julia they make this cake seem very decadent as Julie’s husband smears it all over his face moaning “it is so good”. We used to laugh at it and think how odd, and what a waste of cake. Now we completely agree with the reaction in the movie it is spot on. This is now his favorite chocolate cake, and it was hard for him to admit that after the Chocolate Ginger Cake.

The recipe was taken directly from the book. I didn’t make any variations or changes, so the recipe will not be posted. I highly recommend you pick up Mastering the Art of French Cooking: by Juila Child. This is a book that should be in every cook’s kitchen, even if you think you cannot cook. The way the recipes are written makes it so that just about anyone with any amount of skill in the kitchen can succeed at making french food and just might learn a few things in the process. Now that I say that I think that maybe I should send my sister-in-law a copy…

Bon appétit!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

A repost and an anniversary of sorts!

I got a text from a close friend that just said she was coming by to make chocolate chip cookies. No reason other than just “it’s a long story”. It ended up being for one of those great “I win” moments in a relationship when someone presents you with “the best” of something and it ends up being sort of unmemorable. Then you get this smirk on your face as your mind starts going and you know you can do better or know someone whose is better. Being almost as competitive as my friend is, I was all for this cookie competition.

It also happens to be just over a year since my old oven broke and was replaced with the new one I have now. The first test of my new oven involved this classic cookie so it is very fitting (and freakish coincidence) that I’m making them again. Oh what a pain that was, to get a new oven through our apartment’s management company. Just getting it installed and working correctly was a day full of phone calls and complaints and some frustration on the part of the guy who finally hooked it up. I made these for my husband and also a thank you to my building manager who had to put up with me calling him and nagging about the stove more times than should have been necessary.

These are really good cookies but wow did I have some problems with consistency yesterday. Every time I bake a recipe that uses U.S. customary units I have such inconsistent results that I’m disappointed and irritated until I make them right. Thankfully I remembered the advice of all great pastry chefs and I busted out my kitchen scale and weighed my ingredients this time and officially converted my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe to metric. It makes a such a huge difference and results in the perfect cookie every time. Some day I will write a post singing the praises of using a kitchen scale like this one for baking, but in the mean time I hope you give it a try. You will be very pleased with the consistant results you get and how much sense it makes to weigh dry ingredients (and sometimes wet, like egg whites) rather than measure by volume.

Continue reading

DBC: Low Fat Apple Pecan Muffins

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles. I had my recipe in mind from the second I had seen the challenge published. I wanted to create a healthy breakfast muffin of my own with my favorite ingredients.

The inspiration for these came from my grandma’s apple sauce cake. Growing up in Washington State, we had a back yard full of trees with fresh fruit to use. Apples were used in a lot of our desserts, my favorite being an applesauce cake. Translating it into the muffins was quite easy. At first this may seem to be a slightly difficult or time consuming recipe but trust me when I say this is one of the best muffins I have ever had. It turned out just perfect! Aside from the streusel topping (which is optional, but comes highly recommended from my husband to not omit) this recipe contains no butter or oil and very little sugar. The final result is still a light, moist and quite flavorful muffin that is perfect for that walk to the bus, or quick breakfast before driving to work.

I ended up being short on muffin cups so being my industrious self, I cut out 4″x4″ squares of parchment and pleated them to use as muffin cups. They turned out really cute and I think I will be using them again, since they just look fun. Next time I will add a tutorial, I promise.

Continue reading

Caramel Pecan Rolls

What is the use of having a cookbook if you don’t make at least one recipe from it? For a while now we have owned Damn Good Food by chef and owner Mitch Omer of Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis. We’ve been there many times now and everything on the menu is absolutely amazing. I wanted to try something different that I have never made before, so I went with their Caramel Pecan Rolls. I just made half of the books recipe and some aspects were failing for me so I had to make some slight changes. Otherwise, it was superb. They were a lot easier than I first thought. The dough itself is slightly sweet rather than being bland and letting the filling and caramel carry it. My husband keeps raving about it as he finishes off the last of them. The caramel itself isn’t overly sweet either which gives the rolls a nice rounded flavor that doesn’t make you run for a glass of milk to wash it down. I’m going to make these the next time my mother-in-law comes to visit as she adores caramel pecan rolls, and I will use any opportunity available to impress her.

Continue reading

White Cake Cupcakes

This recipe is a white birthday cake recipe that I found and wrote down from an old cookbook at my mother-in-laws. It required a lemon but I did not have any on hand, so I replaced with some vanilla paste and it tinged the cake slightly so I didn’t get that white birthday cake look. However, after one bite I didn’t care these were amazing with a very tender crumb that was still light and moist. I haven’t made cupcakes in a while so I was thrilled to finally make something new.

I will use this recipe again frequently if the opportunity allows. I must try this with lemon because it is probably divine, just replace the vanilla with lemon juice and zest. I had some basic swiss buttercream in the freezer from earlier in the week. To use frozen frosting defrost it and then whisk it up, add in the food coloring and is perfect for quick cupcake needs.

On very high recommendations I bought some americolor gels and I used the violet in the frosting and I am beyond happy with the gels. They are bright, vivid, and true rich colors. I threw out my other colors and replaced them, these color gels are just amazing. If you have not had a chance to try them out and jump on that bandwagon do so soon. I cannot say enough good things about this AmeriColor Gels pack, it has all the basic colors you would need.

Continue reading

Meyer Lemon Macarons

I am one of those people who actually prefers lemon or citrus flavors over chocolate. Not having the ingredients to make a lemon tart like intended, I gave into the macaron madness. This batch turned out so perfect and consistent with the last couple batches, I think I’ve finally mastered the suckers and I can justify a slight ego boost. Now my friends, it’s your turn.

Continue reading