Wednesday, June 12, 2013

German Chocolate Cake

Well, it happened. For the first time. We (Julia and I) took our first baking order! And in the mix? Two classics. Red Velvet, which of course you loyal fans know that I adore, and German Chocolate. I have never made German Chocolate before. I have never ordered German Chocolate before. I have never thought about German Chocolate before. And folks, as The Monkees and Smashmouth once said, "then I saw her face, now I'm a believer." 
It was really an amazing feeling to put labor into these little guys. We bought everything, made it all from scratch and delivered it this morning. And yes, I deliver food all of the time (corporate catering, duh), but there is something about your own creation that makes it special. The effort and the time and the money seem like nothing when you love what you do and you believe in your product. Once we go global, you won't be seeing these recipes live anymore, but until then, I will let you in on our secrets. Induldge, and as the Germans say, bitte. 

German Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Cake:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk or cream (if needed)

German Chocolate Topping:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1.5 cup shredded coconut 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans paper liners (ours made 24) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. 
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In a third bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk and flour mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. Fold the batter a few times with a rubber spatula to be sure it's mixed.
3. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, with a little bit of room for them to grow. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.
4. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and butter for 4 minutes. Add cocoa, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Let beat for 3 minutes. If it is too thick, add milk. If it is too thin, add powdered sugar. 
5. In a separate bowl, mix together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, pecans and coconut. Immediately put in fridge to help form it's shape. Pipe chocolate buttercream around the outside of the cupcake spoon topping into the center of the cake. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Homemade Take 5 Bars

Take five things in your life that you can't live without. Choose wisely. I mean really. Think about what matters and what doesn't. Think about those things that make your day worth living. The things that get you up in the morning. And then, keep reading.
I heard once, from someone far wiser than myself, that you need three things in life: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. Three things? Are you serious? Is that really all you need? But then I thought about it. The things that get me going every day are not material. The first thought in my head is absolutely never "I cannot wait to put on my new dress today," or "wow, I'm ecstatic to use my iPhone." The first things I think about (okay, maybe after the first few minutes of self loathing and alarm directed anger) are the people I care about and the amazing (and countless) blessings in my life.

But for me, it's really more than three things. It's five. Someone to love is just not enough for me. So I am breaking that one down. I need friends and a partner like I need air in my lungs. I need family (my mom, dad and sister) like I need the blood in my veins. So that's two right there. Something to do? Well, I need a job that has me feeling like I am making a difference. Something that drives me to be my best every single time I suit up and get out. And I don't just mean making it through the day. I want to make every day the best day. Beyond that, there needs to be a life outside of my job. I need interests outside of daily grind that are meaningful. To me, that's cooking, sports and seeing whatever I can soak in from wherever I am. So that right there is three and four. Lastly, I can agree I need something to look forward to. I am the ultimate planner. Just look at my calendar. Better yet, look at my father's, and you will see where I get it from. A blank day on my calendar means a blank day in my soul. Yes, I love relaxing and me time, but I get my energy from the zest of others. So seeing that I have an upcoming trip to Ireland and that I'm watching some of my best friends get married this year, or knowing that I will enjoy some delicious summer seafood on the Cape, or will hit up some summer festivals, that right there is enough for me.

So take five things. And make them count. Because in five things you can have something great. If you don't have the time or energy to identify what those things are, let me give you an alternative: a pretzel crust, peanut butter frosting, rich caramel, honey roasted peanuts and a chocolate topping. Now go.

Take 5 Bars
Pretzel Crust
2 cups crushed pretzels (make sure they are fairly fine with just a few bigger pieces)
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar

Peanut Butter Filling
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar (or less)

Caramel Filling
14 oz unwrapped caramel candies
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup chopped Honey Roasted Peanuts

Chocolate Layer
2 Cups milk chocolate
2 Tbsp heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350, and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. In large bowl combine crushed pretzels, melted butter and brown sugar. Stir to combine and press into prepared pan, packing tightly.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Cool completely.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat peanut butter and butter together until smooth. Slowly add in powdered sugar, beating until incorporated. We used about a cup and a half. Spread on top of cooled pretzel crust. Chill until ready to spread caramel.
3. In a medium heavy saucepan combine caramel pieces and heavy cream. Over a low heat, stir until melted and easy to pour. Let cool for a few minutes. Stir in honey roasted peanuts and spread over the peanut butter layer.
4. Melt milk chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave until spreadable. Spread over caramel layer. Chill until ready to cut into squares.