Chocolate

Quick cocktail party appetizers #3 — Gluten-Free Black Forest Cakelets

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The layers are kinda hard to distinguish, but there are four layers of cake and three of filling.

Yes, yes — this isn’t an appetizer; that’s confession #1.  But this is Part 3 of my “series” about a not-so-recent bourbon tasting / cocktail party.  This was my dessert offering and it’s gluten-free!  Confession #2 — this really isn’t a Black Forest Cake.  Actually this is a version of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Chocolate Feather Bed, which is the background image of my blog.  One variation is that I have a middle layer of cherry preserves — so not a real Black Forest cake.  I do make a mean Black Forest Cake though!  And Black Forest Cake Day is on March 28th (which is my blogiversary in case I didn’t mention it before 🙂  And I think I’ve figured out my blogiversary give-away, but more on that later).  Confession #3 — it’s not exactly quick.  The cake itself bakes in 16 minutes, so that part is quick, but there is a lot of chilling involved, which takes time.

In my opinion, this cake is definitely better presented pre-sliced, as opposed to whole.  If it was whole, it would look like a giant chocolate slab covered with chocolate curls.  Which might not be too bad, if that’s what you’re going for.  But again — just my opinion.  It might be nice to have a giant chocolate block on your table; it could be reminiscent of the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001:  A Space Odyssey.  What a great theme party!!!  Everyone could wear space suits or ape suits, you could use one of those pod things as an entry portal, or maybe make one of those warp-light-tube thingies, and just play the Blue Danube on a loop.  But I digress, here’s what you need:

My ganache was a little bit grainy here. If that happens to you and you want to fix it, just re-melt the ganache and re-chill and re-whip. It's very forgiving. This is from a cake I made a while ago, but it stays truer to the original recipe (sans cherries).

For the cake:  (you will need 2 batches)

  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 c. sugar, plus 2 T.
  • 3/4 t. cream of tartar
  • chocolate curls (for garnish — I used dark, milk, and white chocolate just to add some visual interest)
  • Cherry preserves

1.  Coat a half sheet pan (17 1/4″ x 12 1/4″ x 1″) with shortening and line with parchment with a 2″ overhang.  Spray parchment with baking spray with flour (like Baker’s Joy or something like that).

2.  Preheat the over to 350 degrees F.  Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and allow to heat for about 20 minutes, which should be more than enough time to put together the batter.

3.  Melt the chocolate in a bowl (either in the microwave or over a double boiler).  Allow to cool until still fluid but no longer warm to the touch.

4.  Beat the yolks and 1/4 c. sugar in the bowl of a mixer on high for 5 minutes, until ribbon stage.  Scrape the chocolate into the bowl and mix on medium until fully incorporated, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.  Transfer to another bowl.

5.  In a very clean bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  With the beater off, add the cream of tartar; beat on medium until soft peak stage.  Raise the speed to medium high and gradually add the 2 T. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

6.  Mix in about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten.  Gently fold in the rest of the meringue and when incorporated, scrape into prepared pan.  Level off with an off-set spatula.

7.  Bake for 16 minutes; until .  In the meantime, prepare the batter for the next cake so it is ready to go when the other cake comes out of the oven.  Cover with a dry towel and allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

8.  Gently remove cakes from the pans using the overhang to lift.  Stack the parchment-lined cakes one on top of the other and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.  This makes the cakes easier to work with.

It's a sea of cake!

For the chocolate whipped ganache:

  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped fine
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla

1.  In the bowl of a food processor, chop chocolate until very fine.

2.  Scald the cream and with the motor running, gradually add the cream to the chocolate.  Process until smooth, just a couple of seconds.  Chill until cold, either in the fridge or in an ice bath.  Stir while chilling, about every 30 minutes; if using an ice bath you need to stir frequently.  Ideal temp is around 65 degrees F / 20 degrees C.  If it is too cold, it will not aerate well; if it is too warm it will not stiffen.

3.  In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, add the vanilla to the cream and beat on low for about 30 seconds, being careful not to overbeat.

Assemble the cake:

There are a couple of ways that you can do this depending on what you want to do.  You could assemble this on a serving plate and treat it as a regular cake (hold it in place with some frosting and then assemble).  I just kept the bottom section on the parchment, trimmed it after I assembled it, cut it into slices, and then served it.  Rose trims the cakes before assembly; I do it after because I wanted that very very clean edge.  Again, all depends on what you want.

1.  Using a sharp knife, cut the cakes into equal rectangles so that you have four equal layers.  Dislodge the cakes using a long metal spatula.

2.  Spread a layer of the ganache about the same thickness of the cake on top of the first layer.  Top with a second layer of cake.  Spread with a layer of the cherry preserves.  Top with another layer of cake, followed by the ganache, and the final cake layer.

3.  Spread a layer of the ganache on the top of the cake.  I sliced it into servings / cakelets at this point and then covered the tops with the curls.  You could just keep it whole and cover everything with the curls.  Serve!

Be sure to visit my page on Facebook!  You get access to exclusive content!  Jeez, I can’t say that without laughing.  But I do some quick posts, share some links and resources, and share some local events / retailers that may be of some interest to folks.  My bakery has a page as well; stop by there for a quick visit too!

German Chocolate Cake, pt. 2

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German Chocolate Cake

Remember when I posted about Michigan’s birthday and having a German Chocolate Cake?  Turns out I never posted a recipe.  So here it is!  What I came up with is a conglomeration of several different recipes that I’ve collected over the years and I honestly am not sure from whom I’ve adapted this.  A chocolate frosting is included here, which is optional (some folks don’t like a frosting on their German Chocolate Cakes).  This recipe makes 2 9-in. cakes or 3 6-in. cakes.  All the pics that I show here are for a 6-in. cake.  Here’s what you need:

For the cake:

  • 3/4 c., plus 2 T. Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. boiling water
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 4 eggs, separated, plus 2 egg whites
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and coat the sides and bottom of the pans with cocoa, tapping out the excess.  Then line with parchment rounds.

2.  In the bowl of a mixer, whisk together the cocoa and boiling water by hand.  Cover with plastic and bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  Then add the oil and egg yolks.  Start on low speed and gradually increase to medium, where you would mix for about one minute, scraping the bowl as needed.  Chocolate mixture should be smooth and shiny.  Beat in vanilla.

3.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture and mix on low until just combined.  Scrape down the sides and add the rest of the flour.  Beat on medium-high speed for about 1 minute, again scraping the sides as needed.

4.  On low speed, add the egg whites.  Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes.  Divide the batter evenly among the pans.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Unmold the cakes immediately, remove the parchment, and cool on racks.

For the filling:

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick butter, cubed
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/4 c. chopped toasted pecans

1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, yolks, and butter.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Reduce to low and cook for 2 more minutes.

2.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla (the mixture will bubble), coconut, and pecans.  Cool for about an hour, or until mixture becomes spreadable.  If the mixture is still loose, add some coconut and pecans to thicken the filling.  This can be stored in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 T. light corn syrup
  • 3 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 c. heavy cream

1.  To make the icing, place the chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and butter.

2.  In a medium saucepan, heat the cream to scalding.   Remove it from the heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let stand for 1 minute, then stir until smooth.  I always have a double boiler waiting just in case it needs some help with melting.

3.  Chill until it’s a spreadable consistency.

Assemble the cake:

1.  Using a serrated knife, cut the cakes in half to make two rounds from each cake.  You may need to level off the tops.  In the center of a cake round or serving plate, place a spoonful of the filling to help hold the cake steady.  Place the bottom half of a cake cut-side up.  Spread some of the coconut filling on top, using a palette knife to push it out to the edges (I use about 1/2 c. for a 6-in. cake.  If making a 9-in. cake, use 1/4 of the filling).

2.  Cover with the top of the cake and alternate layers of filling and cake.  If you’re using the frosting, I like to wait to just mound the final layer of filling on top after I frost the cake and top it with some pecan halves.  Otherwise, just spread the top of the cake with some of the coconut mixture.

3.  Again, this is optional, but you can use an off-set spatula or palette knife to frost the sides and top of the cake.  I like a textured finish, but if you want a smooth & shiny look to the cake, heat your palette knife or spatula in some hot water and run it along the sides of the cake.  You can also put a decorative border around the bottom and top edges of the cake.

Notes — I have seen versions where you can lightly brush the cake layers with some flavored syrup, with rum being the most common.  I don’t use that in this recipe, but I am all for boozing up!. . . If you make a 6-in cake, you will have one left over.  You can just freeze that and have it ready for some other time.  Right now, I have two in my freezer so all I need to do is make a quick filling, and I got a cake all ready to go!. . . hope the directions were clear because, I am a little fuzzy since it is almost 3:00 am as I write this.  Just let me know if there are any questions and I will get to them after I take a long nap.

The Orange Devil Cake

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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.

Here's a pre-frosted Orange Devil Cake

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.

Here's the other version of the Orange Devil with the chocolate frosting, cake crumbs, and orange / white chocolate cream

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.

A Rosy Orange Devil

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.

It’s been one of those days. . .

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So I’m having one of those days.  Actually it’s been a couple of days.  Last night, I had one of my worst games in recent memory (I play in a local volleyball league).  And it’s now spilled over to today.  I’m working on a couple of birthday cakes for the weekend and nothing ever looked quite the way they are supposed to.  The ingredients weren’t mixing correctly, the batter looked weird, and then they weren’t baking right.  And then it hit me halfway through the baking time — I never added any sugar!  Nice.  Ever wonder what cakes without sugar look like?  Feast your eyes!

I wonder what they taste like. Oh right -- terrible. Actually, it wasn't too bad. More like chocolate bread.
They look like little round pumpernickel loaves, or maybe giant whoopie pies.
They're nice and piping hot, though!

I just started a Facebook page for Jereme’s Kitchen so stop by and like my page because it’s just me so far!  I added a widget at the bottom of the sidebar.  It’s so sad — number of likes = 1 🙂

Have some German Chocolate Cake on Michigan’s 175th Birthday

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Happy 175th Birthday to the State of Michigan!  So in honor of Michigan’s birthday today and tomorrow’s National Chocolate Cake Day, I present this German Chocolate Cake.  Of course, from what I can discern, the (un)official state cake of Michigan is a German Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake.  It’s listed in Warren Brown’s book, United Cakes of America.  Now these two cakes are very close — one uses pickled cabbage, the other uses some sweetened coconut.  Those two ingredients are readily interchanged in any number of recipes, like kielbasa for example 🙂  See?  Virtually the same!

Did you know that German Chocolate Cake isn’t actually German?  It was named after Sam German, who developed a type of sweet, dark chocolate for Baker’s Chocolate.  This recipe was developed in his honor, using the chocolate that he created.  Originally, it was called German’s Chocolate Cake, but that was changed along the way, as things are wont to do.  Now this cake wasn’t in my normal rotation, but after a couple of special requests for it, I’ve decided to add it.  I couldn’t be happier with the results.

I used a chiffon cake for the base.  Chiffon is an oil-based cake that was really popular in the ’40s and people loved it because it stayed so moist.  The actual recipe was closely guarded secret until it was sold in the mid or late ’40s and later popularized in those box cake mixes you can find in the grocery store today.  So if you ever make one of those cakes from a box mix (ugh!), you will be making a chiffon cake.

So since National Chocolate Cake Day is on the 27th, I’ll be posting on my Orange Devil Cake and my Chocolate Ice cake in the next few days.  Stay tuned!

By the way, I got that Michigan birthday cake pic from the State of Michigan website.  I’m not sure if they found the image or developed it themselves, but I just wanted to give them a shout out.  Happy Birthday Michigan!

Chocolate Truffles Cake

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This is inspired from one of Martha’s wedding cakes.  I’m not sure what her recipe is, but I just love the concept of it — it’s a cake encased in truffles!  That has got to be good!  Now this is for that birthday party that I was talking about a while ago; it went with the raspberry cupcakes.  And since I made extra raspberry buttercream for the cupcakes, I used that to fill the cake.  So because it was for a party, I couldn’t cut it open to take a picture of a cross-section.  You could just use more ganache for a filling, or whatever buttercream you like.  Maybe a nice orange curd would be good.  Might be a good Halloween cake with the colors.

Like I mentioned before, this party was supposed to be pink and purple.  So I rolled some of the truffles in some purple dragées to keep in the theme.  This made 2 tall 6″ cakes.  I split the cakes in half so there’s four layers to it.  They did rise in the middle, but they settled after cooling.  Be aware that this is one of my more involved cakes.  Not that it’s difficult; it just has a lot of steps.  Here’s what you need:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. Dutch process cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray two 6 inch cake pans with cooking spray.  Line with parchment rounds; spray the rounds as well.  Sift together the dry ingredients twice (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt).  Set aside.  Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl and set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter for about 1 – 2 minutes.  Gradually adding the sugar, mix for about 3 – 5 minutes until fluffy.  Add the cocoa powder and mix for another minute.

3.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition (scrape down the sides, too!).  Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

4.  On low, gradually add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the water.  Scrape the sides and mix evenly.

5.  Pour half the mixture into each pan.  Bake for about 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool the cakes in the pans for about 15 minutes before turning them out onto cooling racks.

For the ganache frosting:

  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 2 c. confectioners sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla

1.  Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt over a double boiler.  You could just put it in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time since tempering the chocolate is not as important.  After completely melted, set aside.

2.  In another bowl, beat the butter until creamy for about a minute or so.  Gradually add in the sugar, mixing well to combine.  Beat in the vanilla and the melted chocolate.  Mix until smooth and well combined.  Set aside.

For the truffles:

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 lb. dark chocolate, chopped
  • cocoa powder
  • dutch process cocoa powder
  • purple dragée

1.  Place chocolate in medium-sized heat-proof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.  Once the cream starts to boil, pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let sit for about 5-7 minutes and stir to combine.  Cool in the refrigerator for around 30 minutes, until set.

2.  Using a small ice cream scoop, form balls around 1 1/2 in. wide.  Roll the truffles in either of the cocoa powders or the dragée.  Place in the refrigerator to harden for about 10 minutes.  Cut each truffle in half, and place back in the refrigerator until needed.

Assemble the cake:

1.  After cooling, cut out a small notch or sliver out of the sides of the cakes to act as a marker.  That way you can match up the marks when assembling the cake.  Split the cakes in half lengthwise so that you will have four even layers.

2.  Place a small dab of frosting on top of a cake round (or a serving dish) and place the bottom layer of one of the cakes.  Line the edges of the round with strips of parchment that are tucked underneath the edges of the cake.

3.  Spread about 1/2 c. of the frosting on the bottom layer and smooth out almost to the edge.  Top with the top layer of that cake, lining up the notches on the side.  Smooth out another 1/2 c. of the frosting on top.  Repeat with the other two layers.

4.  Frost the sides of the cake starting with the top and bringing the frosting down to smooth out the sides.  Smooth out the top.

5.  With a small palette knife or the back of a small spoon, place a dab of frosting on the back of a truffle half and attach it to the cake.  Repeat until the sides of the cake are covered in truffles.  You could try to make a fancy pattern here, but I just stuck with columns of the different truffles in random order.

Notes — As I mentioned earlier, the filling for the cake that I made was a raspberry buttercream, so if you just use the ganache frosting, you’ll probably need a double batch, depending on how much you use in between the layers. . . you could just make things easier on your self and use store-bought truffles, or maybe some Baci chocolates. . . I did (begrudgingly) eventually put some purple sugar flowers on top of the cake since those were part of the party theme.  I prefer to just have a smooth top of the cake. . . although I prefer the more irregular shapes of truffles, you could make perfectly round truffles for this.  That might be appropriate for a more formal event.  But they are called truffles because, after you roll them around in the cocoa, they look like those things that you pull out of the ground!

Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey

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This recipe has been making the rounds on the food blogs so I thought I’d give it a try.  For those who don’t know the story, a fellow food blogger (In Jennie’s Kitchen) experienced a recent tragedy with the unexpected death of her husband Mikey.  The two of them have two young girls, ages 8 and 3.  This recipe was one of his favorites and she had been meaning to make it for him, but sadly she never got the chance.

In his honor, I made this.  But I didn’t make it just for him, but for the folks that I love too.  So the next chance that you get, tell those special people in your life that you love them.  As Jennie writes in her blog, “. . . hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

_____________________________________________________________________

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

Serves 10 to 12

8 ounces chocolate cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.  Combine melted butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.  Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan.  Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Notes — I did follow an adaptation of this recipe that makes a 10″ pie.  I got that recipe from the blog The Shiksa in the Kitchen.