Alright, so it’s been some time since I’ve been writing. I know, I know — I am ashamed :( But things happen in this thing called life. Not to make excuses, but I was trying to adapt to the new schedule caused by my new job. Then I got a weird volleyball injury that took up my time trying to rehab that. Then I got really sick really fast around Christmas and found myself admitted to the hospital several times. Lucky for me this happened in December and January so I got to fulfill two massive deductibles back to back. Hurrah! And hospitals are not fun — especially when you get the bill months later and can’t decipher what charges came from where and from whom and for how much. I will say to my insurance company that your estimate on what a CT scan costs is sooooo completely off from what the hospital says ($800 estimate vs. $1700 charge). All that fun and the multiple docs couldn’t even tell me what was wrong; just treated the symptoms and see what could be managed.
Then after getting to know the hospital, I got a weird infection that sidelined me for over three weeks. Meds didn’t work, I was weak all the time, I couldn’t walk without getting dizzy (which is a challenge if you have to navigate stairs to get to your truck — not that I could drive anywhere even if I managed to make it to the garage). Things eventually cleared up, but since I missed so much work, I ended up losing my job. Which I guess is alright aside from the fact that I am penniless. I don’t blame them for firing me; it just sucks for me. So much for my first stint in Corporate America!
But losing my job meant that I could focus on the physical therapy for the injury that happened months ago. And lucky for me (or unlucky for me), I met my out-of-pocket maximum for the year back in January so no charge! Well fast-forward a couple of months and my knees are still shit. I can’t afford COBRA anymore so I guess I will have to tape them up and just go on with life.
And that is what I am trying to do — go on with life. I think I’ve done enough wallowing in self-pity and it is time to git goin’! I’m finally able to work out again (with some obvious limitations) and I’m getting back to what I love — FOOD! And booze, of course. Actually, right now I am in the Corner Brewery here in Ypsilanti trying to raise my spirits. Some pulled pork tacos and a Buzzsaw IPA can sure help with my mood, but more on that later! Although it is a bummer that no one wants to join me here — stupid friends and their stupid jobs and families and prior commitments!
But in all seriousness, I plan on getting back to blogging and sharing my foodie adventures. I did just take another trip up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and found some amazing pasties, and breweries , and wineries, and distilleries. . . . I’m also trying to make a theme cake (note the emphasis on trying). What’s wrong with a round cake? I can do those, no problem. Dinosaur shaped? Ugh, I need to practice this. A lot. Plus I have some posts that should have gone out last year (oops!), but they’re still relevant.
So Stay tuned! More food and booze and hijinx heading your way! And for no good reason — here’s my sweet idiot dog Cooper enjoying the summer sun!
Alright so this isn’t all that much of an experiment, but I’m doing this in a different way. But what I wanted to do is try to make some mini cheesecakes and clean out the pantry at the same time. I had a bunch of cream cheese in the fridge, but not enough to make a whole cheesecake; I had some raspberry coulis left over from the Marquis Roulade I made a few weeks ago; and there was some honey that I was just tired of looking at. Throw in some graham crackers and some frozen raspberries and it all made sense.
Actually there is a little bit of an experiment going on here. Instead of making the filling using a stand mixer, I tried to make everything in the blender. I was thinking to myself that this should work, in theory. It actually didn’t work out too bad. There was a little bit of work trying to get the blender going at first, but the batter was very smooth. Doubt that I could do this for a full cheesecake recipe though — my blender is too small.
It’s hard to figure out a recipe here. Like I’ve said before, I do have a specific formula for cheesecakes that I like to follow, so I just used that as a guide. I cut down a graham cracker crust recipe in half which I just sprinkled on the bottom of the tins or cupcake papers. My serious recommendation that I have for a recipe like this is to definitely use paper liners. One of the pans that I used is non-stick which I also generously sprayed with cooking spray — I still had to dig the cheesecakes out with a fork and spoon. Here’s what you need:
For the crust:
- 6 graham crackers
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. butter, melted
Pulse the crackers and sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs. Mix in butter and set aside.
For the filling:
- 3 8-oz. packages cream cheese
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 c. honey
- about 4 oz. frozen raspberries
- raspberry coulis
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard cupcake pans with liners.
2. Throw the cream cheese, eggs, and honey in a blender. Or you could beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth. Add the honey and combine. Then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. (See! Using the blender is easier).
3. Place a couple of tablespoons of the crust mixture on the bottom of each cupcake liner. Lightly press down and place 1-2 of the frozen raspberries on the bottom. Fill about halfway with the cheesecake batter. Add about 1 t. of the coulis and carefully fill the liner about 2/3 full.
4. Bake in the over for about 30 – 45 minutes, until the middle is set. Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely.
Not having power makes it difficult to blog. So this is a first for me — using my iPhone to do a quick blurb. But I figured “why not?”. What else have I got to do in this 97 degree F heat?
Being without power for several days is surprisingly not new to me since I bought my house. I’ve been here less than 3 years and this is probably the fifth time it’s happened. Once it occurred when my family was visiting from Florida last summer i think. Another time it happened the day of my annual Winter Feast. Almost cancelled it but folks came anyway — we lit oodles of candles, had a big fire going in the fireplace, and drank lots of Martha’s egg nog. When the power came back it was like Rockefeller Center in my living room during the tree lighting ceremony. We all cheered, drank egg nog, and ate some crackers whilst the hosts tried to salvage the pork loin that should have been roasting for the past few hours.
Now sure it’s annoying to look down the bottom of my hill and see my neighbors across the street flaunting their electricity like there’s no tomorrow with their fancy lamp post and string lights. But often, weird times like this are when we get our best life stories. I even started a new tradition because of it; now every year I start out my Winter Feast with every light in the house turned off. Everything gets turned on right before dinner, or before we start with the nog. And then there is much rejoicing!
But every time this happens some of the same weird questions and concerns pop up. Of course these all involve food safety and I should know the answers since I am ServSafe certified, but I still wonder…
How terrible is it if I’m starting to smell kimchi in my refrigerator, especially if I am 100% sure there should be none in there?
People drink warm milk all the time. One glass couldn’t hurt all that much.
Can you cook burgers just using “solar power”?
Hot dogs have lots of preservatives so those can last for a while on the counter, right?
If I time it right, I think I can pickle everything…. or make adobo for days…
Let me say this — PLEASE FOLLOW ALL SAFETY GUIDELINES SET FORTH BY THE FDA OR OTHER APPROPRIATE GOVERNMENT INSTITUTION!
That being said, here’s a Vanilla cheesecake with strawberries I made following all safety guidelines. Recipe to follow once I get electricity back. Stay cool everyone! And follow me on Facebook! And follow Daisy Cakes on Facebook!
Mental note — do not make pancakes while Hot Fuzz is on the tele. The concept itself wasn’t bad, and I am referring to the breakfast, not the movie, although I love the movie. Anyhoo. . . I wanted to make a nice anniversary breakfast and came up with some Apple-Pecan pancakes (since I had to use up an apple and had some pecans in the freezer). Plus I had an apple syrup / extract that was leftover from a pie that was made a couple of weeks ago.
Although a little charred, they didn’t taste bad. They just needed a little bit of extra syrup :) At least these pancakes are great makeshift doggie treats.
So here’s a recipe finally! I made this as a special birthday cake. What I didn’t realize at the time is that this makes a hefty cake. It didn’t even fit in my covered cake plate. And usually there’s no problems with finishing off a cake, but with this one — I had to cut it into quarters and freeze a couple of sections. This should really be no surprise since there are four layers of cake and eight layers of filling, plus frosting. And after thinking about it, I did go a little overboard with the non-cake aspects of the recipe.
This was adapted from bon appétit, with one change. Well, maybe a couple changes, and I did a couple different versions. The original recipe is a Devil’s Food Cake with a Peppermint Frosting and a double ganache filling. Well, I omitted the peppermint in the frosting (which was very much like a seven-minute frosting), and with the white chocolate filling, I added the zest of an orange, hence the name of my version. But keep in mind when you’re whisking the white chocolate, be sure to clean off the tines of the whisk (they’re called “tines”, right?), because the zest will get caught all up in ’em. There’s a different version of the cake that I made for a friend as a “thank you” where I just used the orange / white chocolate cream alone. That’s the one with the rosettes on it. Of course, I also I made a chocolate frosting for that one and coated it with toasted cake crumbs.
Now this recipe can seem a little complicated, but that’s just because there are several components involved. So if you break it down in that way, it’s not too bad. Or you can just omit certain parts and make up something else. Here’s what you need:
For the cake:
- 2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 T. baking powder
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
- 2 1/4 c. sugar
- 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 c. ice water
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9 in. cake pans with 2 in. high sides. Dust pans with cocoa and tap out excess. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in yolk. Add cocoa and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with ice water in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until just blended and smooth after each addition. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely. Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil; store at room temperature.
For the dark chocolate ganache:
- 1 1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
- 2 T. light corn syrup
- 14 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 1 hour. Can be made 1 day ahead. Before using, let stand at room temperature until soft enough to spread, about 30 minutes.
For the orange / white chocolate cream:
- 12 oz. high-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
- 3 c. chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
- zest of 1 orange
Place white chocolate in large heatproof bowl. Bring 1 c. cream to simmer in a saucepan. Pour hot cream over white chocolate. Let stand 1 minute; whisk until smooth. Whisk in zest. Cover; chill until mixture thickens and is cold, at least 4 hours. Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.
Add 2 c. chilled cream to white chocolate cream and beat until smooth and peaks form. Can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk to thicken, if necessary, before using.
Assemble the cake:
Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer on platter, cut side up. Spread 1/3 of dark chocolate ganache over cake. Spoon 2 c. white chocolate cream in dollops over cake; spread evenly to edges. Top with second cake layer, cut side down; spread 1/3 of ganache over, then 2 cups white chocolate cream. Repeat with third cake layer, cut side up, remaining ganache, and remaining cream. Cover with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Chill while preparing frosting.
For the frosting:
- 2 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. water
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 T. light corn syrup
Combine sugar, 1/2 c. water, egg whites, and corn syrup in large bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer. Whisk by hand to blend well. Set bowl with mixture over saucepan of gently simmering water; whisk constantly with hand whisk until mixture resembles marshmallow creme and ribbons form when whisk is lifted, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove bowl from over water and attach bowl to heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high-speed until mixture is barely warm to touch and very thick, 7 to 8 minutes.
Using offset spatula and working quickly, spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill.
Notes — Alright so I made a common mistake with the ganache filling. I accidentally overheated the chocolate which causes the chocolate to separate. I’m sure this has happened to lots of folks. So how to fix this? There’s lots of things that you can do to get things come back together. First of all, transfer everything into a new bowl to help cool things down. One of the things you can do is to gradually add some additional chocolate. This helps to temper it. You could also add some additional cream or butter; adding fat helps smooth things out. Immersion blenders can also prove very useful as well at this stage. What I did was a combination of all these and I also added a brick of cream cheese to this batch. Problem solved!. . . If any seizing or separating occurs when you’re working with chocolate, keep in mind that you cannot use it to coat anything anymore. It doesn’t matter if you fix it and everything looks fine — it will not coat properly! You can still use it for frostings though, or in brownie recipes, or things along those lines. . . This Devil’s Food Cake recipe is different from other recipes that I have. Most recipes that I know of combine the cocoa and some hot water together, which you then add to the batter. This one, as you’ve read earlier, combines the cocoa into the batter and adding ice water separately.