Also, if any more experienced Bloggers, or people associated with any other media or food brands I mention read this, can you tell me the appropriate way to link or cite your material to give you credit?
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I was inspired to do some baking this weekend: "Baking is science for hungry people." (Questionable Content No. 1679) So, I made cakes and pie, and this past weekend we had some friends who had just moved to Charlotte over for Sunday dinner. They liked the desserts I made; so I'm posting the recipes (maybe next time I'll remember to take photos before noming).
I started with a store bought cake mix, made half the recipe, and divided it into two 4 inch mini-cakes so I could have two flavors. P.S. I highly recommend the Arrowhead Mills Organic cake mixes, both Vanilla and Chocolate. For this I used the Vanilla as a base.
Cake 1: Blackberry Filling with Lemon Whipped Cream
1 1/2 Cup Blackberries
3oz Magners Cider
1/2 TBSP Honey
1-2 TSP Lemon Marmalade (homemade)
I used some left over Farmers' Market Blackberries and made a fruit compote for a filling. I reduced about a half cup of blackberry puree (about 1 cup and a half of blackberries) with some Magners Cider and honey, then added lemon marmalade I had on hand. After a few hours, I added some water and reduced again (probably unnecessary). I let it cool and added a tiny amount of gelatin to thicken the compote.
Lemon Whipped Cream
8oz Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
Pinch of gelatin
1/4 Tsp Lemon Zest
I poured the cold whipping cream into the work bowl of my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer, added the sugar, and began whipping it to med-stiff peaks. I took about 1/4 of a packet of gelatin, placed it into a 1/3 cup measuring cup, added water and heated over the stove to "bloom". I added about 1/3 of the gelatin to the cream as I was whipping it to have the foam hold its coherence. After 2-3 minutes, I grated a small amount of lemon zest, probably about 1/4 teaspoon, into the whipped cream and mixed for a few seconds to combine.
Next, I took one of the cooled vanilla mini-cakes, cut it into 2 layers and spread the compote between them. I thin iced the cake with some homemade Lemon Whipped Cream frosting. (If a more experienced baker can give me a good explanation of the difference between icing and frosting, I'd appreciate it.)
One note: Probably would have worked better to have chilled the whipped cream and the cake before icing.
Cake 2: Aztec Chocolate Ganache Cake
This flavor is inspired by my favorite chocolate, the Vosges Haut Chocolat Red Fire truffles, bars, and cookies, that I got to eat when living in Chicago. I recommend everyone eat as much as they can find.
80z Dark Chocolate Chips
80z Heavy Cream
1/3 Tsp Cayenne Pepper Powder
1/3 Tsp Chipotle Pepper Powder
1/3 Tsp Chili Pepper Powder
1/3 Tsp Cinnamon
Put the cream on the stove in a small sauce pan, and simmer over med-low heat for 3-4 minutes. Put the chocolate in the work bowl of your food processors (I used an 11 cup) and pulse 4-5 times to crumble. Add the simmered cream to the chocolate and pulse 5-10 times to combine. Add the spices.
Next, I spread some ganache between the other divided mini-cake. I then chilled the remaining ganache in the work bowl of my stand mixer, along with the whisk attachment, and cake for about 1 hour. Then, I pulled out the ganache and began whipping air into it with the mixer to make it more a frosting than a filling. I again added about 1/3 of the previous gelatin for cohesion. I then frosted the second cake. Finally, I let my wife/ sous chef lick the bowl before washing up.
I'll post about the Key-Lime Pie later...