Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dulce de Leche "Love" Cake

Being that I have such a sweet tooth, I like most desserts. My top favorite flavors are definitely chocolate, vanilla, caramel, coconut and strawberry.  I think most people like caramel and I love the versatility of it.  I actually saved some of the leftover to add to my hot cocoa and and lattes:)  I made this Dulce de Leche cake using a combination and modification of Williams-Sonoma and Toba Garrett's yellow cake.  After much experimenting I find that yellow/vanilla just doesn't taste as good and moist if you don't use at least 4 eggs and buttermilk. Toba's recipe actually calls for 5.  For the caramel, I boiled 1 cup of sugar and a 1/4 cup of water until it turned amber (no stirring).  Then, I added a cup of heavy cream and stirred constantly with a wooden spoon.  Once the cakes were completely cooled, I spread a thick layer in between the layers.
For the frosting, I made my favorite- Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  I reduced the amount of granulated sugar by almost 1/4 cup and instead beat in 2 tablespoons of the caramel.  I LOVE Swiss Meringue because it's so light and fluffy and not too sweet. I frosted the cake and drizzled lukewarm caramel over it. Piped on a heart in honor of Valentine's Day.  I got amazing feedback about this cake and look forward to making it again.  

Happy Valentine's Day:)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Caramel Brownies

As stated in my last post, one of the things I would not want to live without is chocolate.  I LOVE chocolate! So, I've been craving brownies for a while but I'm kind of particular when it comes to them. I want the perfect balance between moist and cake-y and rich and fudge-y.  After looking at different recipes for a while, I went with this one with just a few modifications on the caramel. I made my own using sugar, a little water and heavy cream and just drizzled on top after baking. Overall, these brownies tasted just OK to me, too dense and not cake-y enough. Not quite what I was looking for but the flavor is definitely more developed the next day.  So the hunt for the perfect brownie recipe continues....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Bread Fix

There are some things I hope to never have to give up- chocolate, rice, and bread.  I'm a proud carb head and would more than likely give up all meats before giving up carbs.  Ever since I started making bread last summer, I have not purchased any store-made bread. It is so much more enjoyable for me to make my own with ingredients I know are fresh.  Recently, I decided to step it up and actually bought bread flour. Boy, does it make a difference! I buy the organic bread flour by King Arthur which I generally find at Whole Foods. I slightly modified a recipe (see below), to add in a little more whole grain and reduce the sugar, from one of the best blogs for bread.  I've made it with the original recipe as well and it is DELICIOUS! Had 2 slices with toast and a bowl of Farina. Life is good:)

After kneading the dough for 5 minutes in my Kitchen-Aid, I let it rise for an hour in a greased bowl.
Put it on a floured piece of parchment paper and divided it in half. (Had to add a little more flour because the dough was too sticky.)
Degassed it by rolling it out into a rectangle.
Tightly rolled up to fit into a loaf pan.
Pinched the seams and placed in greased loaf pan.
Let rise for an hour then brushed with egg wash.
Baked for 30 minutes. Loosely covered with foil after 20 minutes.
Let cool on rack for about 10 minutes.

Ingredients modified from Cooking Bread:
  •  cup water (lukewarm 110 - 115F)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (room temp.)
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4  + 1 tbsp cup sugar 
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons instant yeast

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Birthday Cakes

I celebrated my birthday this weekend and as strange as it may seem to some, I made my own birthday cake.  I wanted my cake EXACTLY the way I wanted it!  Plus, it was nice to share another homemade treat with my friends.  A bunch of my girlfriends and I got manicures and martinis then went to have dinner at an Indian restaurant.  We had a great time and I felt extra special from all the love shown to me:)  Here are some more pics of the cake I made (Chocolate with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream):
It was so moist!

While I was planning my own birthday celebration, I got a request to make 2 red velvet cakes for a sweet sixteen.  I stayed up all night making these and they came out great!
Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Buttercream

I love birthdays:)