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A young and slightly ignorant woman who has always loved baking and cooking, I want to make people happy with food as often as I can. I'm here to whisk away and explore!

Monday, August 12, 2013

True Love: White Chocolate Raspberry Cake

The things my parents have done for each other are amazing.
The kinds of hardships they've pushed through to become stronger is astounding.

Their love is the most mind blowing.
And they are just darn cute.

If I am half as awesome as you guys when I've been married 25 years it will be an honor (and probably a miracle...ha!)
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

I've always thought that chocolate and berries were a good way to celebrate true love.

This cake is small, only 6 inches, which is perfect for the world's best couple and their lucky kids. ;) And it is probably the best white chocolate raspberry concoction you'll ever manage to consume.

White Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake
3 c. flour
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
12 TB butter
4 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
1 c. buttermilk
2 c. frozen raspberries
Pint of fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Beat in the dry ingredients with the buttermilk in three additions. Fold in berries. Pour into two greased and floured 6 inch cake pans. Bake 40-45 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Let cool slightly on a wire rack and then turn out onto a plate to fully cool.
8 oz. white chocolate shavings or chips
1/4 c. cream
1/2 c. shortening
1/2. c. butter
2 tsp vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar
Extra cream if needed
Warm the cream in a saucepan until boiling, pour over the white chocolate, stirring until melted. In a mixer beat shortening and butter with the vanilla. Add sugar, beating to combine. The frosting will be dry and crumbly. Add the melted chocolate mixture and beat until smooth. Add extra cream one tablespoon at a time until desired texture is met.
Assemble the cake by spreading a layer of white chocolate frosting over one of the cakes and sprinkle raspberries over the top, crushing them slightly with a knife to bring out juices. Top with the remaining cake layer and frost all over with white chocolate butter cream. Decorate with fresh raspberries.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Nothing Better Than a Garden: Homemade Herb Syrups


Is there any place better than a garden?
I don't know, I think I would be hard pressed to find one. Except maybe a tea house, or a forest, a sledding hill, a big bed full of fresh fluffy pillows, a hammock in the sun, a cliff looking over a sea...
Okay. So an herb garden is one of many perfect places.

But really, try and be unhappy when you take a handful of something herb-y and crush it in your fingers. It's impossible.
There is a monstrous bush of mint in the back yard. It really is huge. Gigantor, King of the Mint. There isn't anything that's bigger, unless it's the bush of lemon balm.
A month or so ago my sister and I tied bundles and bundles of the herbs and hung them to dry on racks.

11 bundles of lemon balm? What on earth am I going to do with all that lemon balm? 9 bundles of Mint? A person can only drink so much tea before going crazy. (I can't believe I said that. I never thought my limits of tea drinking would be tested. But here we are.)

So I brainstormed and eventually set out to make syrup. Syrup is great fun. It smells awesome and you can use it in so many things.
Coffee drinks
Mixed Drinks
Iced Tea
Plain old Club Soda
((Also, everything always looks prettier in jars. It's a well known fact of life.))

Really, anytime you want to feel homemade and herbaceous you can add it to whatever your eating/drinking at the time and be awesome. You'll feel like Martha Stewart except not creepy and way cooler. (Am I allowed to say that? Because I do think that Martha is creepy and un-cool. I hope that's okay with everybody because c'mon. That fixating glued on smile and even-toned Stepford wife voice thing? Creeps me out. Heebie Jeebie levels off the charts stuff.)

Herb Syrups
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
3 cups of packed dried herbs or spices (mint, lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, whole anise seeds, basil, ginger root, or rose petals)
For lemon balm syrup, you can also add lemon slices or lemon juice, depending on your preference.

Also, a drop of green food coloring will make the mint syrup a pretty color if you don't want them all to look too similar.
In a high sided pot bring sugar and water to a boil. Lower heat to low-medium and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear about 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly! No burning sugar, that's no fun.
Add your herbs (and fruit slices if that's the route you're going. I used four small lemons sliced and one lemon's juice.) and simmer an additional minute.

Strain the syrup through a cheesecloth lined sieve and ladle into jars or bottles. You can choose not to line the sieve with cheesecloth, but you'll have a few leafy bits swirling around on the bottom of your jar. They don't harm anything, but if you want to avoid them for presentation purposes, stick with your cloth o' cheese.
Refrigerated, these will keep for 6 months. On the counter it's best not to keep them out for more than a week.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit: Coconut Citrus Meringue Pie

Remember a few days ago when I vaguely promised that there would be more pie before the month of July was up? Yeahhhhh...here's me delivering on that promise.
It was a toss up regarding flavors. It's summer, so something heavy and rich wasn't my favorite choice. Wasn't in the mood for chocolate, but I had made a few fruit pies already this month.
I was really going for strawberry pie, just because I hadn't eaten it in about six years or something, which is an absurd amount of time to go without strawberry pie.
But I had just made mint syrup that I wanted to use so I added Grasshopper Pie to the options. Whoohoo, it was getting better by the minute.
And then I knew that I had two cans of coconut milk in the pantry that had been sitting there forever...and who could say no to creamy coconut?

A Poll was organized, family members and twitter followers were surveyed anddddd. Coconut won out in the end. Go coconut! (It is an astounding nut, I have to say.)
But even in its astounding state, I didn't want to make plain old super delicious coconut cream pie. Depth and dynamic was needed. *hunt around the kitchen ensues* I considered putting the strawberries in, but that might not be the best flavor combo. Raspberries? Better...tart and sweet would be nice.

But then when lemons and limes were found in the bottom of the veggie drawer, I was sold. (I'm always sold when it comes to lemon lime. Citrus is kind like my spirit animal, except it isn't an animal, it's a fruit. So it's my spirit fruit? Fruit of the Spirit? Citrus is love and joy and peace. YES! Wait, no...confused.)
So, zesting and juicing and boiling, whipping, and folding. Hours later I sneak down to the kitchen to eat my appropriately chilled citrus coconut meringue pie and this happened.

I smiled. Someone had taken a slice already. It's good news when your family eats pie in the middle of the night.
So yes, you can practice your fruit of the spirit (mainly self control) while waiting for your pie to chill properly. Or you can just get straight down to "goodness" and slice into it early. No harm done. :D

Coconut Citrus Meringue Pie
1 pie crust, blind baked
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Juice and zest from one lemon and one lime
For Meringue:
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 Tablespoon sugar

Pour coconut milk, half-and-half, and lemon and lime juices into a large bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk together until smooth. Add sugar and cornstarch to a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly pour the milk and egg mixture into the pot, whisking as you go. Bring this custard mixture to a boil while whisking. Switch to a wooden spoon and boil one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, coconut, and lemon and lime zest. Spread the custard into pie crust. 

For Meringue:
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed in a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar one tablespoon at a time on high until stiff glossy peaks form and the sugar is dissolved. Spread over the pie filling, sealing the edges to the crust. Sprinkle the top with flaked coconut and a teaspoon of citrus zest. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until the meringue is golden. Cool on a wire rack for one hour, and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.