Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kahlua Cake

Wow! This picture about sums it up. I found this recipe last week on Love & Olive Oil, except she had used bourbon in hers. However, I read the recipe and moved on with my life. Then, this week, I had to buy Kahlua to use in my Irish creme cookies. The store only had one size of Kahlua (large) and the recipe only called for a small amount. So here I was thinking, "What am I gonna do with the rest of this Kahlua?" Yes, you might say, "White Russians!" But I enjoy my wine and I wanted to do something unique with it besides drinking. After taking a little trip down memory lane, I remembered reading this recipe and thought, "This is it! I'll make this cake and substitute Kahlua for the bourbon." Yes!!!! So glad that I remembered because this cake was (is) delicious.

The cake is slightly dense, but very moist, and you occasionally hit a hot pocket of Kahlua. The ganache between the layers is spot on and the buttercream is light and fluffy. I could literally eat the whole cake (okay...maybe not the whole cake). And I'm sure you could substitute other alcohol as well....just have to try it out.

Kahlua Layer Cake (extremely slightly adapted from Love & Olive Oil)
     Makes 1 8-inch layer cake (about 16 servings depending on how big of a slice you want)

For the Cake:
1 vanilla bean split and scraped, seeds reserved
1/2 cup Kahlua
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
5 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp almond extract

For Buttercream:
4 ounces dark chocolate
6 ounces milk chocolate
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

For Ganache:
4 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp Kahlua

Combine the Kahlua and vanilla bean together in a small bowl. Steep overnight or as long as possible before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line 3 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, butter, and reserved vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically as needed. Add almond extract.

Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Immediately add the Kahlua (discarding the vanilla pod) and mix until combined.

Divide the batter among the cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the tops are lightly browned and springy. Removed from the oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of the pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Allow to cool completely. At this point, the cakes can be frozen until ready to use.

For the ganache, place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring the cream to a bare simmer over low heat. Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir until smooth. Add Kahlua. Set aside and allow to cool until thickened slightly. If it's too thick, you can add a little more hot cream and stir until smooth.

For the buttercream, melt chocolates in the microwave or double boiler over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add cooled chocolate and beat until smooth. Add heavy cream and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar and/or heavy cream as necessary until desired consistency is achieved.

To assemble: level each cake with a long serrated knife. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or platter. Place 4 strips of parchment or wax paper just under the edges of the cake to keep the platter clean. Spread half of the ganache evenly over the top of the layer, followed by about 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining ganache, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and last cake layer, flat side up. Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow "crumb coat" to set. Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream.

Enjoy! I know I did :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

So-so Cinnamon Rolls

Yes - I know my cinnamon rolls aren't that pretty. But considering this is the first time I've made any sort of dough from scratch, let alone cinnamon rolls, I think they are quite ok. The taste, however, needs improvement. There were 2 different versions of the cinnamon roll recipe in Baking Unplugged: one for if you were making cinnamon rolls immediately and one for if you wanted to start them the night before then bake them the next morning. I chose to do the overnight cinnamon roll recipe and I believe that I may have let them refrigerate for too long. They had a slightly yeasty, doughy flavor.

Oh well....maybe I'll have to make a batch of the original recipe for comparison???

To make these, you start with the following basic sweet dough recipe (Baking Unplugged, Nicole Rees):

3 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1 - 1/4 oz package fast-acting yeast
1 cup very warm water (115 degrees F)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt

Combine half the flour with the yeast in a medium bowl. Stir in the water until well combined. Cover the bowl and let ferment for 30 minutes. Stir the melted butter, sugar, and salt into the dough. Stir in the remaining flour as best you can to make a shaggy, stiff dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and begin to knead.

As you knead, sprinkle only tiny amounts of extra flour onto the board to prevent the dough from sticking. Rely on a bench scraper to help fold the dough over itself, since it will be sticky. Do not add more than 2-3 Tbsp of flour during the 10 minutes of kneading. Place the dough in a lightly buttered mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.

Cinnamon Rolls (Baking Unplugged, Nicole Rees)
     Makes 9 rolls

1 recipe Basic Sweet Dough
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Gently press out excess air from the sweet dough recipe. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and shape into a rough rectangle. Roll into a 11" x 14" rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread 2-3 Tbsp of the soft butter evenly over the dough to within 1/8" of the edge. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle the mixture over the butter evenly.

Roll the dough up lengthwise, starting to roll from the long edge. Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log on the board to that it's seam side down. With a serrated knife, gently trim 1/2" off each end. Cut the log into thirds then cut each third into three slices. Arrange the slices evenly in a buttered 9" square pan, cut-side down. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Bake the rolls for 24-28 minutes, until the edges and tops are browned and the rolls near the center of the pan are no longer doughy. Top with glaze.


3 Tbsp cream cheese, very soft
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until no lumps remain. Spread evenly on the cinnamon rolls.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Irish Coffee Day

                                    Happy Irish Coffee Day!

Imagine my surprise when I found that every day throughout the year has a "food day" associated with it. While I can't bake something every day to celebrate, I figured I could occasionally do something. I mean....who doesn't want to celebrate and appreciate food?? After finding out that today was Irish coffee day, I decided I didn't want to do a traditional Irish coffee, but instead, bake something that contained the ingredients common to Irish coffee. Thanks to Pinterest, I found a recipe for Irish Creme Delights that were easy to make and really easy to eat :)

Irish Creme Delights (from Better Homes & Gardens)
     Makes 48 bite-sized cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua)
1 tsp espresso powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 recipe Irish Creme Frosting (see further down)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine butter and shortening and beat on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup sugar, coffee liqueur, espresso powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt and beat until combined. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Add in the flour.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup sugar and ground cinnamon. Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool. Spread Irish Creme Frosting on top. If desired, sprinkle with additional cinnamon.

Irish Creme Frosting

3 Tbsp softened butter
1 Tbsp coffee liqueur
3 cups powdered sugar
1-3 Tbsp half-and-half

In a medium bowl, combine softened butter and coffee liqueur. Beat on medium to high speed until combined. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Add in enough half-and-half to make frosting easily spreadable. Top cookies and enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Ta-dah! I converted the gingerbread cookie recipe that I posted earlier into a cupcake! Then, I added a homemade vanilla cream cheese frosting. All of that = one luscious cupcake! While my piping skills need a little work, I think the picture above is pretty damn perfect.

Gingerbread Cupcakes (adapted from Baking, Unplugged)
     Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, soft
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp dark molasses
1 large egg
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line your cupcake pan with liners. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugars, and molasses until fluffy with no lumps. Beat in the egg and salt until smooth and creamy. In another bowl, combing the flour, baking soda, and spices. Add 1/2 the flour combination to the mixing bowl then add 1/4 cup of the milk. Repeat. Mix until well combined. Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake pan (I used an ice cream scoop to get an even distribution). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Let cool for 3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, I found a wonderful recipe on Glorious Treats. She also shows you ways to change the flavor from vanilla to chocolate, strawberry, etc. I just stuck with the basic vanilla cream cheese in order to better highlight the gingerbread flavor.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (from Glorious Treats)
     Frosts 22-24 cupcakes or frost and fill a two layer 9" cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, set at room temp for about 10 minutes
8 oz cream cheese, directly from the fridge
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered confectioners' sugar
1 to 4 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined. Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar and blend on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until it begins to get fluffy. Slowly add the heavy cream (1 Tbsp at a time) until the desired consistency is met. Don't add too much or it will slide right off your cupcake. Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute. Use right away or keep refrigerated.

Eat and enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta

Last week at work, my coworker and awesome friend, Jenna, brought a Lean Cuisine Grilled Chicken Caesar dinner to work. It smelled absolutely divine. And, according to her, it was. After thoroughly inspecting her plate and examining the box, I decided to remake this meal tonight. Served with Texas Toast, it was a very satisfying meal.

Can't you see all the deliciousness in there? While not as creamy looking as the original, the portion size was much bigger than their serving and the Caesar taste definitely came through. Very pleased with this meal. You should try it too! Here's the recipe:

Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta
      Serves 4

1 lb chicken breast, grilled and diced
2 cups broccoli, steamed
8 ounces whole wheat pasta (any kind - I used penne because that's what I had in the pantry)
2 Tbsp canned diced tomatoes, drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fat free Caesar dressing

Boil the pasta as directed on the box, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, and drain. While doing so, sautee the broccoli, chicken, and garlic in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes. Add the pasta to the skillet. Add the Caesar dressing and thin out slightly with the reserved pasta water. Toss together and serve.

Up next: Gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I converted the gingerbread cookie recipe into a cupcake recipe. However, I have to perfect it just a tad before showing y'all the finished product. They are yummy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Espresso Gingerbread Cutouts

Drumroll please......
Finally! The espresso gingerbread cutouts are here.... in 3 different ways! These cookies are absolutely delicious. Gingerbread cookies were never a favorite of mine. I prefer something chocolate, dipped in chocolate, rolled in chocolate (you get the picture). However, these cookies were soft and chewy with just the right amount of spices. In essence, they were a perfect cookie. And that was just by itself. They only got better when I decorated a few of them in a couple different ways.

Doesn't it look yummy? That beautiful shade of brown is from all the ingredients, not from over-baking the cookies (maybe that's why I usually don't eat gingerbread? It's usually too crispy and crunchy for me). Here's the recipe:

Espresso Gingerbread Cutouts (Baking Unplugged, Nicole Rees)

1 cup unsalted butter, soft
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp dark molasses, preferably Barbados style (note: I ordered mine through Amazon)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp instant espresso powder (note: I ordered mine from King Arthur's Flour)
3/4 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

The day before: In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugars, and molasses until fluffy with no lumps. Stir in the egg, espresso powder, and salt until the dough is smooth and creamy. Stir in the flour, baking soda, and spices, until combined. Form the dough into a rough rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The day of: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough in half. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll out half of the dough into a rectangle 3/16" to 1/4" thick (this took some arm power and sweat!). Freeze the sheet of rolled dough until firm (15 minutes). Roll out the other half in the same manner. Cut out the cookies, using one chilled half at a time, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are firm and the centers are set. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


For the above topping: reconstitue 1 tsp of espresso powder in 1 cup of hot water. Pour 1 cup of confectioner's sugar into a cup. Add 1 tsp of the reconstituted espresso powder at a time to the powdered sugar until it is smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

For these cookies: melt 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate baking bars then dip the cookies into the melted chocolate.

These cookies are definitely worth trying out. Yes, they are a little time consuming and require a little sweat and muscle power, but the end results are a satisfyingly sweet and spicy cookie.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Pizza and Salad....Done Light!

Instead of a baking entry, I thought I would share with y'all the supper I made Monday night in honor of Meatless Mondays and the beginning of one of my New Year's resolutions: to lose weight. This meal was filling and tasty...and light! Both recipes were adapted from a favorite food blog of mine, Love & Olive Oil. You should check out this site. Everything this couple makes looks absolutely yummy.

I started off the meal making a side salad composed of heirloom tomatoes. It made for an awesome side dish as well as an amazing picture.

The recipe (adapted from Love & Olive Oil)

1/2 medium cucumber, chopped into 1/4 - 1/2 inch cubes
3 Heirloom tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup thinly sliced, uncooked red onions
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
Fresh torn basil

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and let stand in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Tip: The longer you let it marinate in the fridge, the better it tastes.

Next, I made the main portion of my meal: veggie pizzas.

The recipe (adapted from Love & Olive Oil)

4 medium fat-free tortillas
4 tsp olive oil
1 small can of sliced black olives
1 cup shredded, fat free mozzarella cheese
4 large eggs
1 cup roasted red peppers (packed in water, not oil), sliced into strips
4 large red onion rings
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Brush 1 tsp of olive oil on each tortilla. Scatter the red peppers and black olives over the tortillas then sprinkle with the cheese and rosemary. Place an onion ring in the center of each tortilla and crack an egg into the center of the onion ring. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the egg whites turn from a clear color to a white color, then turn on the broiler and broil for about 1-2 minutes to finish setting the eggs. Serves 4.

I chose to leave my egg yolks runny. If you don't like that, feel free to cook your eggs on top the stove while baking the tortilla pizza, then just top your pizza with an egg. You can also choose to top your pizzas with fresh, torn baby spinach (I forgot to do that!!!). I realize the pizza doesn't make for a pretty picture, but it'll make you want to smile pretty once you take a bite.


Update: Check back on the marble bundt cake blog to see the changes I made to the recipe. Also, I have received both the molasses and the espresso powder I was waiting for to make the espresso gingerbread cookies. Stay tuned!