Friday, June 23, 2006

Ganache Love

This. Cake. Makes. My. Knees. Weak.

I made this little darlin' for my friend Stephenie's surprise baby shower. It was supposed to be this cake minus the ball and chain and with a few baby birds around the picket fence. BUT.... the top cake didn't come out of her pan as planned and when I was trying to put the wings on the birds the lady bird's head fell off and it made me REALLY mad. So I said many unlady like words, wadded up all the fence slates (all 50 of them), threw the painstakingly crafted bluebirds away and just let the cake be ganached. Which honestly I think is quite beautiful. This was the first time I have worked with ganache and I am officially in love. Deep and profound love. I couldn't get enough of it. I just keep pouring on layer after layer after layer of this stuff..... and it never wavered.

The cake is from Kate Sullivan's book.... and I have to say it is giving Colette's Chocolate Bourbon cake a run for it's money. This cake is dense and very moist. It really is fabulous to cut and carve, but most of all it is delicious. I added a bit of orange extract to the batter to give it a little warmth....It has a really great taste. The cake is not at all too chocolately or sweet. It's mellow but not bland. Really good.... and with a thick layer of semi sweet ganache piled on top... it was fabulous. Only half the cake was eaten at the shower (thank god) so I ate the rest one forkful at a time. When things are really good that is the way I like to eat them... just one forkful at a time. It's my way of absolutely savoring every little bite.....

One Delicious Chocolate Cake (Kate Sullivan)

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs, room temp
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 ½ cups buttermilk, room temp
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ cups strong coffee

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour sides and bottoms of pans. Set pans aside.

In large bowl of mixer, stir together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir in the sugar.

In small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix into the dry ingredients. Stir in the buttermilk, melted butter and coffee. Divide batter evenly among pans.

Bake at 350 for around 50 minutes. Transfer to wire cooling rack.

Easy Foolproof Ganache

18 ozs semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon liquor or flavoring (optional)

Heat cream until nearly boiling. Pour over chocolate chips, cover and let sit 10 minutes. Whisk chocolate and cream (and flavor if using) until well combined; dark, smooth and glossy.

Let sit at room temp until cooled. To thicken, beat with hand mixer for a few minutes. Also thickens over time as it sits.

Refrigerate in airtight container for up to a week. To restore to spreading or glazing consistency, heat and stir over double boiler for a few minutes until softened.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Peachy Keen

Yum... Peaches are here. I bought this huge box of peaches from a little produce stand on the side of the road right outside of Athens, Alabama. Isom's orchards. They are really well flavored peaches.... rich and succulent. My husband ate 3 right when I got them home. As soon as I got home with them I immediately started searching the cookbooks to find that "perfect" peach recipe. After considering a peach trifle, peach upside down cake and a peach pavola I finally decided to try my h and (again) at a good old fashioned pie. As you may know, I have a serious pie crust handicap...... it's just something that no matter how much I try, I just can't get it right. I have tried several different pie crust recipes, but it always comes out wrong. Never flaky and crisp like promised. Never. And this one was no different.....

The filling, though, certainly made up for the cardboard like crust. Those tasty peaches married beautifully with the sugar and cinnamon.... and smelled oh so delicious as it was baking. I want to make this again but with a ready made pie crust.... I am so tired of ruining perfectly good pie fillings with my horric attempts at crust.


Ahem.... sorry about that... a brief moment of crust induced insanity. Anyhow, as I was saying, this filling is really really good. But you know, I think it has a lot to do with the quality of peaches. So when you try it, make sure you have fresh juicy peaches with a strong flavor. Those pitiful little ones at the local grocery store won't make the cut....

Fresh Peach Pie

5 ½ cups fresh peaches, sliced
1 cup sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan; set aside for syrup to form. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and let cook for 10 minutes or until peaches are tender. Remove from heat and add in butter and vanilla, stirring well.
Roll out half of your pastry and fit inside 9 inch pie plate. Spoon filling in.... Cover with other half of pastry and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 25 to 30 more minutes until crust is lovely and browned.