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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bundt Cake

In celebration of some friends' anniversary, I made this cake while babysitting for them at their house. So far, they don't seem to mind being guinea pigs for my baking adventures. They have reported that this cake was good, so I'll take their word for it. (I trust their tastebuds!) I added some chocolate ganache to the cake, which made for a rather nice presentation.

This recipe hails from Culinary in the Desert Country, which he adapted from Canadian Living. It seems to be quite a keeper. I forgot my camera, so no pictures to share yet; however, Joe has a good photo on his blog so you can see what it looks like.

For the filling:
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the cake batter:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
3 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons sour cream
12 tablespoons butter, softened
1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

To make the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese and butter until combined. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla. Be sure to scrape down the sides. Pour in sugar and flour, mix until combined. Fit a pastry bag with a large plain tip and scoop the filling into the bag. (I didn't use a tip on the pastry bag, and it worked just fine.) Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the batter:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a medium metal or glass bowl, add cocoa and whisk in boiling water. Add in chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Mix in sour cream.

In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in vanilla. Alternatively mix in the dry ingredients and the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until combined with each addition.

Spray a bundt pan with a nonstick spray that has flour included (like Baker's Joy or Pam with Flour). Spoon a little less than half of the batter into bottom of the bundt pan. Using the pastry bag that has the peanut butter mixture, carefully pipe a ring of the filling over the center of the chocolate batter. Pour the remaining batter on top and gently tap the pan to remove air bubbles.

Bake until top springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached - about 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the cake and carefully turn over - remove the pan and let cool completely.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps

I said previously that the holidays make me feel all "Martha Stewarty"; to prove my point, here's one of the goodies I'm giving as gifts this year. And, yes, it's a Martha recipe (slightly adapted). It's pretty simple and easy to double (or triple) the recipe, but it's also somewhat time consuming since you have to roll them out & in sugar twice. These cookies received my husband's nod of approval, so they pass the "share-able" test. Plus, I think they look neat, too. *One warning: your hands will get very chocolatey.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons instant coffee (or espresso powder)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used semisweet chocolate chips)
1 tablespoon milk
confectioners sugar, for coating

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare baking sheets with parchment or a Silpat. (Do this while your hands are still clean!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, coffee (or espresso), baking powder, and salt. In a stand mixer (the dough will fairly stiff), beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients; beat in milk just until combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

Place confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar twice. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I'm Back!

My apologies to those who kept checking this blog over the past week to find no updates whatsoever. I wasn't trying to be a slacker; on the contrary, I've been a very, very busy girl. I completed my final 3 courses and will graduate tomorrow (finally!) with dual graduate degrees. Oh, and I've been trying to get up my Christmas decorations, clean the house, and, yes, do some baking. Okay, I've been doing lots of baking, so much that I didn't stop to take pictures. (We're talking non-stop, all day long yesterday!) So, I'm back, at least for a week. I'll be out of town during Christmas, but I'll try to post some of the recipes of the goodies I'm giving as Christmas gifts. In case I don't get back here before Dec. 25, I'll wish you a Merry Christmas! I hope you celebrate with lots of family, friends, and good food!