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!

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Almond Toffee

I have been a little on edge lately while job hunting, and baking is what helps me unwind.  It is like therapy for my stressed nerves.   Stirring a pot of boiling hot liquid sugar or whipping up a perfect swiss meringue frosting is as calming to me as yoga, actually more so.  My mind is focused and doesn’t wonder at any little noise or slight  distraction.  It is just going through the steps of baking, the measurements, the numbers, conversions.  I am a science and math geek at heart.  Probably why I take to baking and candy making so well.   Lately, I am on some kind of super sweet kick I usually bake once, maybe twice a week.   This is out of my norm, but I have not satisfied my sweet tooth yet.   After one bite it just wasn’t what I was looking for, and I am done with it and on to the next recipe.  I cannot find just exactly “what” I am looking for, so my poor husband and his co-workers are stuck with all these sweets.

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Apple Almond Coffee Cake

Usually there is something that inspires me to cook, a memory, an event coming up.  This time it was just to get rid of ingredients in my pantry.  The bonus is it’s something that my husband can take to work for breakfast with a yogurt.  Also, it turned out a lot better then I thought, the spices were great and subtle, and it isn’t an overly sweet cake. This would make a lovely addition to your brunch table or tea/coffee with guests.  I of course made some changes, but those are shown below.  Hope you enjoy.

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Mocha Almond Shortbread Bars

I love shortbread cookies, and with a cup of  tea it’s is so perfection. I ran across these at a local cafe and eatery in uptown(Gigi’s). They were so amazing! I ordered this huge bar of this coffee shortbread cookie with almond slivers and chocolate chips pressed in it was just crumbly buttery bliss, and just over halfway through I realized I was supposed to share with my husband.

A few months ago I sent a batch to my Aunt Maria, she said they were very good and was going to be sharing with my other aunts when they were stopping by the coming weekend, I never got the result but I hope it was good. I knew they were a success because my husband was trying to eat them as I was putting them in the tuperware to send. The recipe is basic, simple and quick. What else could you want in a cookie? Oh, chocolate? Yep! It has that too.

Mocha Almond Shortbread Bars

  • 1 c Unsalted Butter, room tempature
  • 2/3 c Frosting Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • 1 tbsp Espresso Powder
  • 1 tbsp Water, boiling hot
  • 1/8 cup Chocolate Chips, finely chopped
  • 2 c Unbleached Flour
  • 1/3 c Slivered Almonds, crushed
  • 1/3 c Chocolate Chips

In a 9×13 pan. Line with a 20″x9″ piece of wax paper so it forms a type of tray so you can lift the bars out of the pan when finished cooking.

In a stand mixer on medium cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.   In a small cup combine the vanilla and almond extract, espresso powder, and boiling water.  Stir until the powder has dissolved.  With the mixer on medium speed add to the butter mixture until well combined.

Turn mixer down to low and add in the flour until well combined. The dough will be soft and sticky similar to sugar cookie dough. Fold in the finely chopped chocolate chips into the moist dough. Turn it out into the prepared pan and press down pushing into the corners of the pan. When the dough is leveled sprinkle the almonds and other portion chocolate chips on to the dough and gently press down into the dough to secure.

Cover and place pan into the fridge for 1 hour.

When ready to bake preheat oven to 350°F

Bake for 18-20 min until edges are lightly browned and center is firm to the touch.

Cool for 30 min remove from pan by lifting the ends of the wax paper and place on a cutting board. Cut into 12 bars and store in air tight container for upto two weeks.

Adapted: Annie’s Eats