Popcorn Cake

May 12, 2015

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It may not be pretty but it is delicious!  It was my birthday this past weekend and I made my request for Popcorn Cake.  Everyone asks me, “what kind of cake are you making for yourself?” NONE!  I would not have a cake if I had to make it for myself!  I love to bake and I would make anyone a cake, but I refuse to make my own birthday cake!  I often hear that people do not want to bake for me because I am bake.  So silly!  I don’t expect a big and wildly fancy cake, anything that anyone makes for me is wonderful!

I posted last years Birthday Popcorn Cake, but this year I was there for the making!  It was ridiculously humid on my birthday so Mom held off making the cake for as long as she could before family arrived.  If you are not from a humid climate let me tell you, popcorn and humidity do not mix well.  The moisture makes the popcorn very chewy, almost like gum.

Mom was not overly impressed that I wanted to take pictures but oh well, it’s my Birthday! haha

Mom’s Version of Popcorn Cake

*nothing is measured – hence why Mom does not bake!

Marshmallows
Butter
Popcorn
Mini Eggs

Directions

1. Put this much butter in a large pot and melt on low

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2. Pour this much marshmallows on top of the melted butter.  Melt on low, stirring occasionally

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3.  When marshmallows are almost melted, start popping popcorn. Mom popped 3 bags

Pour the popcorn in a medium bowl and pick though, making sure no kernels make it though to the big bowl

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4. Pour marshmallows over top

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5. Add Mini Eggs and stir

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6. Ditch the spoon and get your hands in there!  haha, Mom was struggling with the spoon, she buttered up her hands and started ‘mixing by hand’.  Though this is not suggested as the marshmallows are HOT!

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7. Press into a well greased bundt pan

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8. Wrap in and let set

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9. Enjoy the ‘extra’ that didn’t fit in the pan

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This is the best part! Just like when you are making Rice Krispy Squares, the warm marshmallows make it so gooey and delicious!  When it is warm it just seems so much sweeter! I like to sit down with the bowl and a fork…

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10. When the cake has set, turn it onto a cake tray.  It will probably stick, you will need to ease it out with something that will not scratch your bundt pan

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Slice with a serrated knife and enjoy!

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This was delicious! Mom did an awesome job, once again!  Thank you so much!


Chocolate Cake

May 9, 2015

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Last week was Dad’s Birthday, this year he requested a chocolate cake with chocolate icing.  I didn’t want to do just a plain cake so I went looking for new icing techniques.  This one caught my eye and turned out pretty good!  Cake was delicious also, rave reviews!

Happy Birthday Dad!


Daring Bakers Do Focaccia

April 27, 2015

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For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch

Focaccia? I had heard of it, but didn’t really know what it was, other than a bread.  AHHH! More bread!  I had to do a little research to find out what it really is.  Basically, focaccia is an Italian flat bread, seasoned with olive oil and herbs and is sometimes topped with a variety of toppings, (putting me in mind of pizza).

Rachael, the host, provided us with four different recipes to use but also gave us the option for use a different one we liked.  As this was totally  new to me I immediately went to Google, and Pinterest to search out more visual instructions, different options and variations.  I was happy to see there were MANY variations with very different results.  While searching  hundreds of recipes on Pinterest I saw this one, Focaccia Bread from Handle the Heat, to me it looked perfect!

Focaccia Bread

Adapted from Handle the Heat

1 3/4 cups warm (110-115°F) water
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
2 tsp parsley + more for sprinkling
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 1/4 cups (23.63 or 670 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Garlic
Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, 2 teaspoons of the chopped rosemary, sugar, and half the flour.

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2. Stir to combine. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and on low speed add in the remaining flour, salt, and 1/2 cup olive oil.

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** I was very concerned with the amount of olive oil going in this recipe, a full cup!  I am not a huge fan of the flavour of olive oil, but I went with it…

3. Once the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, or until smooth and soft. If the dough is really sticky, add in another tablespoon or two of flour.

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4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.

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5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, at least 1 hour. Make ahead: place the dough in a large plastic bag, or divide in half and place in two plastic bags, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge or for a few hours at room temperature. Proceed with the recipe.

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WOW did it rise!  I don’t think I have ever had this kind of success with dough rising – I was kinda excited and hopeful!

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6. Coat a baking sheet with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. (I made 2 smaller ones instead of a big one, so divided the oil between 2 pans)

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7. Put the dough onto the pans and begin pressing it out with your fingertips to fit the size of the pan. Coax and stretch the dough to fit the entire pan, or just about.

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8. Spread your fingers to make little holes all the way through the dough. ( I found a wooden spoon handle worked better)

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9. Cover the dough with plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F.

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10. Brush the focaccia with the olive oil on the pan and sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt and the remaining parsley.

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** for my second one I grated fresh garlic and fresh Parmesan cheese

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11. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before cutting and serving.

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They look and SMELL delicious!

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Nice and golden on the bottom

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I am not sure why, but I was expecting a ‘dense and tough’ bread.  Nope. The bread had a wonderful texture, soft and chewy.

Love it!

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The plain was so flavourful.  There was no taste of the olive oil which I had feared.  I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t taste the yeast.  Generally, when I make homemade bread it has a yeasty back taste to it, blah!  This was just perfect.  It didn’t need anything.

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The addition of the garlic and Parmesan was fantastic! It was like gourmet garlic cheese bread.

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Thank you Racheal for a wonderful challenge!  I wasn’t thrilled when I saw another bread challenge, but I was finally successful and I am optimistic about my focaccia future.  I am looking forward to trying it again with different toppings.


Mickey Mouse Cake

April 25, 2015

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I was asked to make a Mickey Mouse cake for a 1st/3rd Birthday party.  They showed me a picture of what they wanted and I think it looks just like it.  The empty space was for the big ‘1’ candle they had.  Happy Birthday Gabe and Charlotte!


The Hungry Caterpillar

April 18, 2015

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I was asked to make a Hungry Caterpillar Cake for a little guys 1st Birthday!   I was able to make all the food the Hungry Caterpillar ate through and the Caterpillar himself!

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This one turned out pretty good.  Hope he liked it!

He also got his very own cake to devour and make a mess of…love it! Can’t wait to see the after photos!!

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Doc Mc Stuffins

April 18, 2015

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I was asked to make a Doc Mc Stuffins Birthday Cake for Mackenzie’s 4th birthday.


Extremely Chocolatey Cheesecake

April 6, 2015

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Happy Easter!

We had our big family Easter dinner on Good Friday.  It is great to get family together over the holidays, I just wish everyone could have been there!  We had a wonderful dinner, not typical of an Easter dinner but delicious!  Mom cooked a huge pork loin and a large roast beef, both on the bbq.  She also made baked beans, broccoli cauliflower salad and coleslaw.  My aunts and uncles brought potato salad and macaroni salad, along with pickled beets and buns.  Everything was excellent, right down to the table set for 17!

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Another reason to love holiday meals with family is I get to bake!  This year Easter weekend fell on my Gramma’s birthday.  She requested lemon birthday cake, it turned out pretty good, you can see it here.  Now deciding on a cheesecake flavour! You would think everyone would get sick of cheesecake, but when asked it seems to still be the main request.  This time, I went with a simple flavour that I knew everyone would like (it is hard to please that many people with a flavour), chocolate.

I was feeling very confident in my cheesecake making, I have made quite a few and 99% have been successful.  I thought I would mix it up a little and try something different.  Aspects of  two different cheesecakes intrigued me.  I liked how The Brown Eyed Baker put cocoa powder in the base of her Chocolate Lover’s Cheesecake and how at Fine Cooking they whipped with melted chocolate right into the cream cheese at the beginning of the mixing process of their Extreme Chocolate Cheesecake.  They were both different as they used 4 eggs and no cream.  I incorporated all of these ideas into my Extremely Chocolatey Cheesecake!

 

Extremely Chocolatey Cheesecake

Filling

3 pkg cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
10 oz semi sweet chocolate
4 eggs
3/4 cup cream
1 tbsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Chocolate for shaving

Crust

1 1/4 cups Oreo Cookie crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp melted butter

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºC and start boiling water for your water bath

2. In a spring form pan combine cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter – press to form even crust

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3. Bake for 8 minutes and set aside to cool

Filling

1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and set aside to cool

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2. In the bowl of your stand mixer combine cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder.  Whipping until smooth

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3. Slowly add the, room temperature, melted chocolate

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4. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg

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5. Add cream, vanilla and pinch of salt

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6. Cover spring form pan with parchment paper and heavy foil wrap to keep water out

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7. Place in a large roasting pan and fill half way up the sides of the spring form pan with the hot water

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8.  Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

** and this is when things went terribly wrong….

ACK!  It cracked! What the heck?!? my cheesecakes don’t crack!  I was furious and shocked all at the same time.  And this was DURING the cooking, not even on the cool down!

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It didn’t just crack, this is a crater of epic proportions.  Seemed like you could lose a Smart Car in there.

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At this point I need to turn to plan B.  I can not nicely shave chocolate around the edges and serve this!  Thankfully, I had some chocolate left over and had to resort to a chocolate ganache

As I cover the edges in Milk Chocolate Chips I start preparing the ganache…

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Ganache

3 1/2 oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tbsp light corn syrup
3 tbsp cream

1. Melt chocolate and corn syrup in a double boiler

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2. Add cream and stir until smooth – I am still flustered at this point and forgot some pictures of the completed ganache

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3. Pour over top of cheesecake to hide the massive cracks!

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Done! Not at all how I had envisioned it, but it looks ok.

I did fill a few people in on the ‘secret crater’, they only laughed at me.  I was seriously stressed wondering how it was going to taste!

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Thankfully, it was delicious!  It got rave reviews.  It was so rich and chocolatey, sinfully delicious.  Now, if I could only figure out what made it crack? The flavour was there, but the presentation was not!

Any suggestions as to what happened????

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