My Cake Decorating Gallery

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chocolate Eclairs - Another Daring Baker Adventure

Well, things have been busy at work and with summer weekends so I am going to keep this post a little short. I finally found time to fit in my second ever Daring Baker challenge for the month of August - Chocolate Eclairs, hosted by Meeta K , a Daring Baker. The recipe consists of three parts: a pate a choux (too nice out to bother with the special characters, sorry), pastry cream, and chocolate glaze.

I made these on Saturday at my parents' house while we were smoking some ribs. Actually I had baked the little pate a choux fingers at my house and then put them in a tupperware, which was not the "cool and dry" storage I had expected it to be... (the little guys have moisture in them and being locked up made for a steamy storage!) They still stayed reasonably puffy and were plenty tasty to fill with a new kind of filling my mom and I had wanted to try, marshmallow butter cream, and also topped with a ganache chocolate topping.

I strayed quite a bit from the original recipe but from what I understood with the Daring Baker "rules", we just had to keep 1 of the two - filling or topping - a chocolate one. I stuck with the printed pate a choux recipe, which came together pretty easy.

The whole recipe can be found here on Meeta's website,, so I will skip writing it out. It was a recipe from Pierre Herme's book "Chocolate Desserts."

The pate a choux (a dough used for many pastries, including cream puffs..) seemed like it was a little lumpy in my mixer but they recipe held true and it did come together smoothly. It also filled my pastry bag up to the rim so next time I'd wait and fill my bag in two shifts. I made all different kinds of shapes of "chubby fingers" and also some round ones for cream puffs, which The Husband prefers with ice cream. I baked them according to the directions and as expected, the larger shapes that I made did take a few extra minutes to "golden up."

After whipping up some Marshmallow buttercream and some chocolate ganache at my parents' house, it was time to cut these little fingers open and fill and top them! We ran out of the marshmallow cream and my mom wanted to try fresh heavy cream whipped with vanilla and sugar. We all agreed this was a better flavor with the pate a choux combination.

Over all, this was a good experience and was my first time trying a pate a choux by myself and "the right way" so I would be happy to do it again in the future. Thanks for a great challenge!

Marshmallow Buttercream
as seen on Martha Stewart and online in other recipes

1 stick softened butter
1 jar of marshmallow cream, 7-8oz
splash of vanilla
powdered sugar, to taste, up to 1 cup

Cream the butter with a hand mixer and then beat in the marshmallow cream. Flavor with vanilla or another extract of your choice and add powdered sugar to increase sweetness to your taste, possibly up to a cup. Use for cupcake or cake filling or as a frosting. Very easy and pretty tasty.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

Another trial from Betty Crocker. I was flipping through her cookbook and wondered if there was an interesting dessert that I had all the ingredients for... The Husband and I agreed that Hot Fudge Sundae Cake sure sounds tasty, whatever it may be (there was no picture!)

It is a very odd pudding cake, actually, where the cake batter starts on the bottom but ends up baking and rising to the top. Underneath, you're left with a gooey chocolate sauce... to serve with ice cream, of course! It was very fun to make, because you just mix the batter right in the cake pan - no extra bowl to wash later!

I must admit, I'm not sure if I'd make this again. It was... good... just not the chocolate flavor I was expecting, maybe. Maybe it needed some chocolate chips or nuts or marshmallows or something in there to add some zing. It was nice to have your own built-in chocolate sauce with a warm cake, to help melt that pesky chilly ice cream.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
From Betty Crocker
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup nuts, optional
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (again)
1 3/4 cup very hot water
Preheat oven to 350. In a 9in ungreased square cake pan, mix the flour, sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder, and salt together. Then, mix in the milk, oil, vanilla with a fork until smooth. Add nuts here, if using. Spread evenly over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over top the batter and then the 1/4 cup of cocoa. Pour the water over everything evenly. This looks like a soupy mess but does turn into a cake!
Bake 40 minutes or until top is dry. Cool 10 minutes, if you can wait that long (it helps thicken the sauce up more).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Andrea's Mexican Bruschetta from Heaven

We just bought a smoker (more on that in later posts...) and for our first-ever use of the thing, we had some friends over for a BBQ. Andrea, known for many delicious recipes appearing on this blog and also as the co-founder of The Cooking Club (that rarely meets, and soon to be more rare with her upcoming move to the south).... brought the fixin's to try a new recipe from one of her favorite TV chef personalities - Sam the Cooking Guy from Discovery Heath's "Just Cook This!"

Mexican Bruschetta was the recipe and it sounded tasty to the both of us, and I was really excited to try it out. All my bruschettas seem to be the same thing (though good) - roasted red peppers, basil, goat cheese.. and The Husband doesn't like goat cheese. I was happy to see Mexican Bruschetta featured monterey jack, something everyone likes!

Andrea had already created the yummy tomato topping so I had no clue what was in it. She's been busy and I was happy to find this recipe online so I could post about it asap. This is one of the tastiest bruschettas I've ever had! I like that it is unique, with the Mexican spin (instead of Italian.)

She had brought two crusty italian loaves of bread and we decided to go all out and cook up both of them, so we added a few ripe tomatoes fresh from my garden to make sure we had enough tomato topping. It worked out PERFECT and out of the two loaves and only 6 people, there were only 2 small squares that weren't eaten. Everyone loved this bruschetta.

Having just found the recipe, I am surprised to see how easy the topping is. I thought there has got to be more to it... maybe lime juice or other fun spices? Nope.. not here.. just simple basic delicious stuff. It's a perfectly balanced combination, so make sure you use the fresh garlic and not the pre-minced stuff in jars. The end result is a crispy crusty bread with a soft pillowy interior, topped with a juicy, fresh-mex combination and gooey cheese. Yum!

Andrea's Mexican Bruschetta from Heaven
also as found on Sam the Cooking Guy's show "Just Cook This!" on Disovery Health

1 long sourdough baguette (or like Andrea, use two rustic crusty Italian loaves or whatever bread of your choice - maybe something pre-sliced!)
1.5 lbs of fresh ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced pretty small
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of cilantro
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, or 12 shakes of ground cayenne pepper like we used
3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (note: 3/4 cup before you shred, otherwise use more pre-shredded cheese)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat broiler. Slice bread down the center and place cut-side up on baking sheet to brown ever so slightly under the broiler. Remove and side aside.

In a bowl, mix tomatoes, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, red pepper and cheese.

Cover cut side of bread with tomato mixture. (Top with a little extra cheese if you're feeling especially naughty, like we were!) Place under broiler until the whole things begins to brown and the cheese begins to melt—about 2 minutes.

Remove and slice into serving pieces.

Makes 16 to 20 pieces

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Crock Pot Magic: Pork Burritos

This is a recipe from the little Taste of Home "Slow Cooker" recipe booklet that I impulsively bought while standing at a grocery store checkout. That little booklet has resulted in several tasty dishes for us this year so it was a good impulse buy. This is the best mexican pulled pork recipe that I've tried in my slowcooker and I'd make it again in a heartbeat. It made perfect soft tacos! The "sauce" that you pour over the pork is incredibly tasty, you can taste it after you blend and you know you're in for a delicious supper in several hours.

It also allowed me to use my submersible blender which made the "sauce" preparation and storage a snap!

Pork Burritos
From the Taste of Home Slow Cooker Recipes booklet

1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3 to 4 lbs)..(I used 2 lbs and it was enough food for at least 12 tacos!)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, undrained
1/4 cup chili powder
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon salt
10 flour tortillas (8 inches), warmed

Toppings for burritos as desired (avocado, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, salsa, rice, beans, etc)

For the "Sauce," this was easy to make the night before and store in the fridge overnight so I could pull it out with the pork in the morning to start the slowcooker before I left for work.

In a blender (or in the plastic container with snappable lid that came with your submersible blender), combine the tomatoes, chili powder, garlic, lime juice, honey, jalapeno, and salt. Blend and process until smooth. Either cover and store in fridge overnight or pour over pork which has been already placed in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or until meat is tender.

I am typically gone for 10-12 hours and this recipe held up well and was extremely tender and had no problems with the extra time.

I removed the pork from the juice and placed in a serving bowl and used two forks to shred the pork. Your delicious pulled pork is ready to be served on a tortilla with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

The burritos were so tasty that I did not take a picture when I had a burrito all dressed up, so you're stuck with just the picture of the pulled pork from the serving platter. Juicy, zingy, and delicious.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

2nd Anniversary Celebration

Apparently the traditional gift for your 2nd anniversary is cotton! Neither of us followed that idea but.. maybe next year -- leather!

The Husband's task was to pick a restaurant for a nice dinner and surprise me. It didn't quite turn out that way and I also had a part in deciding... based on our Entertainment Book coupon and previous knowledge that the food is excellent, we couldn't think of a better place than to go to Mario's! I already blogged about the main restaurant - Mario's of Detroit - but this time we went to the Mario's in Troy. The recipes are pretty much the same, the prices are slightly cheaper (you don't get the relish tray and you have to choose between a soup or salad, not both!), it's a little more casual, and it's way more convenient. We got to sit outside (and marvel at the oddity of "Professional Karaoke" singers) where tons of elderly people were ordering their Lobster Special of the evening.
Tim and I ordered our usual - Chateaubriand - the large chunk of tenderloin which they slice at the table, with all the fixings (including bread, soup or salad, pasta, potato, veggies, and ZIP SAUCE.) It was delish and we had plenty to take home!

I decided to take more pictures since all of my orignial Marios photos were very dark because there is hardly any lighting in that dining room. So please enjoy my updates on their Pasta Course and what it looks like when they serve and slice the tenderloin.

I really like their pasta sauce here, it is delish! I don't expect to ever order anything else at this restaurant, but I bet their other dishes are pretty tasty.

Here we are - the server is cutting the tenderloin in half and asking if it is done to our liking. Yum!

And here's what it looked like once the tasty stuff was plated. If you're looking for a really good steak and especially if you have an Entertainment book card, and you find value in eating tenderloin in the comfort of your own flip-flops, try Mario's of Troy... you'll love it!

Mario's of Troy

1477 John R Rd
Troy, MI