Saturday, November 12, 2011

Birthday Fun

These three funny looking thing-a-ma-jigs are what my honey got me for my birthday!

Any guesses on what they are? : )

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mini Cakes

It was my birthday a couple weeks ago. Usually my sweetie makes me a cake, but my parents were here and things were crazy, and it slipped by without an actual cake getting made. So, a couple days after, when I was home and all my family was gone, I decided to brighten my own day by making myself a cake. Instead of baking and frosting one giant one that I knew we would never get through, I decided to make a couple individual size cakes.

I still made a large sheet cake, but cut out circles and made mini layer cakes. Fun! Plus, I ate the scraps of the cake much faster since all I had to do was grab a chunk and chow down, without all that extra frosting fluff to weigh things down. Hehheheh...

The result was perfectly tasty! It was lovely to have a bitty cake to share with my honey, with all the tasty toppings, but not have to worry about having tons left over. I made my favorite Deep Dark Chocolate Cake for the base. It's my aunt's recipe, and I've made it since I was a kid. I haven't found a richer, more moist cake yet! The only change I made to her original recipe was to use buttermilk instead of regular milk and coffee instead of water. The coffee intensifies the chocolate flavor. Lovely!

Then I made a vanilla-brown sugar mousse for the filling, and to finish it off a nice, shiny chocolate ganache. The mousse was perfectly creamy and dreamy, and the ganache provided the perfect dark chocolate finish. So much better than a typical buttercream!

Then I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon on the top. I love, love, love the pairing of chocolate and cinnamon!!! The cinnamon brings such a great warmth to the chocolate, and just complements it perfectly. Mmmm.

Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake

1-¾ cup
2 cups Sugar
¾ cups

1-½ teaspoon
Baking Soda

½ teaspoons
Baking Powder

1 teaspoon
2 whole Eggs
1 cup

½ cups

2 teaspoons

1 cup
hot coffee
Combine dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients except coffee; beat on medium speed for two minutes. Stir in coffee (batter will be thin). Pour into two greased and floured 9″ pans. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.

Vanilla Brown Sugar Mousse

1 1/2 cups of cold whipping cream
1 small package of vanilla pudding
3 tbs brown sugar

Beat cream until stiff peaks form. Mix in pudding and brown sugar until smooth.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of chocolate chips

Warm chips and cream over a double boiler until melted. Add cream as needed to thin ganache to smooth, pourable consistency.

To assemble Mini-Cakes:

Use a round biscuit cutter to cut even layers for your cake. Place a cake layer on plate, spread with mousse, and repeat twice more. Frost the entire cake with mousse, including the top. Next, spread ganache over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top liberally with cinnamon.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cheese, glorious cheese!

Well, I've been busy. Busy eating lots and lots of cheese! Sadly, however, all my cheese is now almost gone. : ( So, I will have to occupy myself with blogging about it's tastiness. Until I can make it back to Denver...*plotting*
So! Here are the lovelies I picked out. It was so hard to choose! But, I finally narrowed it down to these five.

Fromage d’Affinois

Region: Castilla- Rhone-Alpes, France
Cheese type: Bloomy- buttery and rich
Milk type: Pasteurized cow
Age: 2 months
The official description:
"This French innovation may look like pudgy brie, but it's actually much creamier. The mild, buttery flavor has a sweetness that goes very well with champagne and fresh fruit. Fromage d'Affinois may remind you of a triple-creme, so loaded it is with silky fat. But that texture is achieved by "ultra filtration," which breaks down the fat molecules in the milk in order to further disperse them through the paste. The result is a thick, nearly whipped spread of tangy, milky goodness. It's one of Our Top 10 sellers, every year, without fail"

This is the one that I discovered awhile ago at Whole foods. I blogged about it here.
I loved it so much, that I decided to buy a nice large wedge of it again. Good decision! It was just as creamy and delicious as the first time around.

This little beauty is quickly making it's way into my favorite cheese list. I'd love to have it around all the time! It was also the cheese that got eaten the fastest!

Smoked Mozzarella

There isn't a listing on the website, so you'll just have to rely on me for this one!
When I picked this, I was expecting the soft, fresh mozzarella with a bit of smoke flavor. Smoked mozzarella is something I've been wanting to try for a long time, so I was excited to find it. However, it was less soft and fresh than I was expecting. It was kind of a blend of an older mozzarella and a fresh one. And, the smoke was a little overwhelming.

So, at first I was a bit disappointed. But, then I decided to try it in a quesodilla, with some Tomato Basil Soup. Ooooh buddy. It was a hit! The sweetness of the mozzarella really came out when it was dipped in the acidic tomato, and the smokiness was toned down to just the perfect hint. Mmmm.


Region: Castilla- Basse-Normandie, France
Cheese type: Hard, dry and caramelly
Milk type: Pasteurized cow
Age: 18-24 months
The official description:
" This hardy cheese from Normandy couldn't be more different from its neighbor Camembert. Looking like a cratered, dusty cannonball, Mimolette is infamously difficult to open for its super-hard, craggy countenance. Inspired by Dutch Edam, it has since gone in a unique direction; the appearance and floral aroma of the rind is the work of tiny mites, specially evolved to cheese. The French call them 'tiny affineurs' for their important role in the aging process. Its electric-orange paste has sweet, caramelized depth and smooth, fudgy finish."

This one I've been DYING to try since I first discovered Murray's! It just sounds soo tasty. I was expecting something more like the Five Year Gouda, with a bit more sweetness and crunch. But, I was surprised to find that it tasted almost more like a hard cheddar.

It also was a bit smoother, without the crunchy bits of a Gouda. It does have a hint of sweet, caramel notes, but really has the depth of a full bodied cheddar. Husband really loved this one. I enjoyed it as well, but still would go for an aged Gouda first. : )


Region: Castilla- Emilia Romagna, Italy
Cheese type: Hard, dry and caramelly
Milk type: Raw cow
Age: 2 years
The official description:
"A distinctive buttery aroma hints at the barrage of nutty sweetness and spice followed by a salt-caramel finish. We're quite sure that the squat 80 pound kegs of cheese are made from raw, partially skimmed milk in Parma - thanks to strict D.O.P regulations. We choose 24 month wheels; any younger and we miss the intensity, any older and the salt and sandy texture overwhelms. Those white specks there are clusters of amino acids. They reflect proper aging and create a delightful crunchy texture. You can put parm on anything, but a traditional approach might involve ribbons of proscuitto and a swirl of Lambrusco."

This one I got for the pure classic value! I had just learned that this is actually the only authentic version of parmesan there is, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Boy, is it tasty! It just has that extra depth of flavor and bite that just isn't quite there with the knock-off kinds. And it smells sooo good. Of course, it's a bit too expensive for every day use, so I will still use the generic stuff for normal cooking. But it's fun to pretend that we live in Italy every once in awhile. : )

Vignotte Triple Cream

This one is also not listed on the website, but here's the little description that was on the packaging.
"Vignotte has milky sweetness, that pleasant mushroomy aroma, fluffy spreading texture, plus it's socially sanctioned to smear on crackers and eat straight-up."
The texture of this little cheese was unbelievable! So silky. It literally just melted right into your tongue. Mm. The flavor was a tad bit strong, but mostly just tasted like a really strong Brie. We ate some of it, but also mixed some into mashed potatoes. Brie makes a great mashed potato, and it balances out the mushroomy flavor so nicely!