Saturday, August 10, 2013

Are You In The Mood For Chocolate?

Browse through my blog a little bit, or check out my labels (toppings) over to the right and you'll find 20 chocolate cakes, 50 blog entries that include chocolate, 8 brownie recipes, and even a picture of me trying to eat a giant 11 pound slab of chocolate

I love chocolate. Everytime I open my cupboard to grab a teaspoon of baking soda or baking powder, I'm always tempted to add cocoa powder. It doesn't matter what I'm making, baking, or cooking, I want to add chocolate. 

These tasty cupcakes fulfill that chocolate craving. Starting with a creamy chocolate cheesecake base layer, they round out with a fluffy chocolate cake, and are topped with a thick, luscious chocolate frosting. 

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
These are a gift. 

Chocolate Cheesecake
16 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup cocoa powder
3 eggs
Whip all ingredients together until smooth and creamy

Spoon 2-3 tablespoons into cupcake liners 
Bake at F300° for 10-12 minutes or until barely set
While cooking, prepare chocolate cake
When done, remove from oven and increase temp to F350°

Chocolate Cake
4 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Beat well until creamy

1 cup flour
½ sour cream
¾ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
Stir just until ingredients are incorporated

1 cup melted butter
Whip until smooth

1 cup flour
½ cup sour cream
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
Stir just until ingredients are incorporated

Pour over baked cheesecake and place back in oven
Bake for additional 15-20 minutes or until cake springs back to the touch
Remove from cupcake tins and cool on wire rack

Chocolate Frosting
+/- 2 cups powdered sugar
½ cup cocoa powder

3 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
½ cup butter
½ cup milk

Pipe large swirls over domed cupcakes
Sprinkle with chocolate jimmies or chocolate chips

Yields 36-42 cupcakes

More triple chocolate cake: Comatose Cake
2 years ago: The Three B's, Banana Butterscotch Bundt Cake
3 years ago: Stand by Me, S'more Macarons
4 years ago: Rain or Shine, Campfire Cookies

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Almost Never A Disapointment

The reason I am so belated in writing about Disney World is because it's so hard to come home! Reminiscing and browsing through our pictures just makes me all the more excited and geared back up to go! We started planning this years trip more than six months in advance to ensure reservations at the newly opened 'Be Our Guest' (honestly the biggest reason we visit Disney World is for the food)! We are now just shy of a 12 week wait until our trip!

Because three months is barely bearable, I'm ready to share with you our three most memorable dining experiences from our 2012 trip to Disney World. (Looking through these pictures, and seeing how little my babies were, makes me realize how long ago it really was!)

As part of the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot you have the opportunity to enter the ancient Aztec Temple of Quetzalcoatl and take the Gran Fiesta Boat Tour guided by the Three Caballeros Donald Duck, Panchito Pistoles, and José Carioca. This upbeat, humorous log ride is a fun way to start your trip in Mexico, and the lines are always short. The best part about it is that while on your Boat Tour you get a perfect, tantalizing view of the San Angel Inn Restaurante.

Mexico is a unique pavilion with a number of dining choices, but we've always been drawn to San Angel Inn Restaurante because of the atmosphere, background and mood. (It's very reminiscent of the Blue Bayou restaurant inside New Orleans Square, part of Adventure Land in Disneyland Park.) The restaurant is within the temple, behind the attractions, the vendors and shopping, the museum and the small historical models and tours, and is covered by a romantic, starry night sky and encircled by a river with a volcano in the distance.

San Angel Inn Restaurante
Walt Disney World Epcot Theme Park
World Showcase & Mexico Pavillion
Disney World, Florida
(407) 939-3463
Online Reservations

Our server, Juanito, at San Angel Inn Restaurante was quite literally, of any restaurant I've ever dined at, incomparable. Attentive but not crowding, intuitive without smothering, in fact if I didn't know better I would have thought he was our personal butler. The minute we took the last sip of our drinks, he showed up magically to refill them. He recommended foods that fit our personal tastes, and he was so patient with our over-tired babies who got a little bit of spice on their tongues.

This was our favorite restaurant of the trip, not just because of Juanito, or the ambiance, but because of the heavenly food!

We opted for the Traditional Mexican Dinner which included a full three course dinner. For appetizers we enjoyed Tostadas de Tinga; tortilla chips covered in chicken, chipotle, beans and sauces. For our entrées we devoured the Fish Tacos; flour tortillas stuffed with fish, cabbage and the most succulent spices including chipotle-lime aioli and green tomatillo sauce; and for dessert we dined on Crema Bavaria; a mousse topped with fresh berries and cinnamon.

Kona Cafe
Disney's Polynesian Resort
Disney World, Florida
(407) 824-2000 (not for reservations)
Online Reservations

The Polynesian Resort is incredible, to say the least. One can only expect the same from any restaurant housed within the perimeter. The Kona Cafe did not disappoint, though visually it's quite unassuming. The meal began with a complimentary loaf of Macadamia Nut Bread and if you have any question as to how delicious this bread was, just know that I felt compelled to take pictures of my entire family eating it.

The fabulous meal only began with the bread, though I would have been satisfied without anything additional. We ordered the children a plate of Mickey Ravioli which was simple and enjoyable.

Gabriel enjoyed the Togarashi Spiced Ahi Tuna which was accompanied with a tempura fried vegetable maki roll. It was amazing. It was cooked to perfection with a perfect sear and tenderness.

I dined on the Teriyaki Style New York Strip Steak with pineapple teriyaki glaze (I can't turn down anything cooked with pineapple). It was as good as steak can be with a slight crunch to the exterior, and both delicate and sweet meat.

My only complaint of the entire experience was that as we were winding down our meal, our server took away our remaining half loaf of Macadamia Nut Bread without even asking. I had intended to finish it, take it back to our hotel, or simply keep it in my possession, but she snatched it away so quickly I couldn't even protest. It's nearly a year later, and I'm still upset about it...

I'm torn over Hollywood Studios. Half the time I tell myself I'm never going back until our children are older and beg us to go there. The other half of the time I tell myself I don't want to miss any of the parks during our annual visit, and surely there is something there I'm missing. Yet every time we go I think it's a dud. There are a few worthwhile attractions, but they are sparse, and I've yet to encounter any food that isn't wholly terrible, except for some ice cream near Tower of Terror. They've opened up a few new things there since our last visit, and to be fair, I'm looking at the attractions on the Disney website and there are several things that I don't think we've ever experienced.

One thing I can say with absolute confidence, and it's something that is worth repeating: the food is horrendous. Do any Google search for 'Disney World Hollywood Studios Food' and you'll get the same results.

Sci-Fi Theater and Dine-In Restaurant 
Hollywood Studios
Disney World, Florida
(407) 939-3463
Online Reservations

We originally made reservations at the 50's Prime Time Cafe, but we were ready to leave the park, and starving to boot, but our reservation wasn't for another 2 hours so we popped into the Sci-Fi Theater to see if they had availability. Afterwards, when we stopped into the 50's Cafe to cancel our reservation on the way out of the park it did look rather inciting. The hostesses were asking everyone why they were late, telling them how hard Mom had been working on dinner, and the furniture and settings looked directly out of the 1950's. We will likely try to eat there for the 3rd time at some point (on our first visit to Disney World we accidentally booked a reservation at Hollywood and Vine, thinking it was the 50's Cafe, and it was also terrible).

The novelty of the Sci-Fi Theater Restaurant can't be beat. Aliens plastered all over the walls, a very cheesy futuristic decor, and seating behind the hood and dashboard of a car facing a giant movie screen. One of the allures of this restaurant is that you can watch old Sci-Fi movies while you eat. This is simply not true. They play five or six different clips of movies (more like commercials or promos than actual clips) that are on a running loop, over and over and over again. It's extremely dark, the wait for your food is exhausting, and the food is just plain inedible.

Yes, the shakes are good. But seriously? It's nearly impossible to go wrong with ice cream.

1 Year Ago: The Happiest Food on Earth, 2011 Disney World Dining Reviews
3 Years Ago: Hold Music, Boulangerie Patisserie Review
3 Years Ago: Raise A Toast, Biergarten Review

Friday, May 17, 2013

Crossing Over

I think you've crossed over into obsession once you start creating recipes for the frosting you want to use. Though, this isn't exactly frosting as much as it's an amazing concoction disguised as an overload of sugar. 

All types of sneaky fingers will find their way into this mixture. 

Originally, this idea gave birth to a simple cookie pizza: Chocolate chip cookie crust, peanut butter chocolate frosting and the grand poohbah of them all... - candy bar crumbles. 

That morphed into cupcakes: Chocolate chip vanilla batter, peanut butter chocolate frosting and the grand poohbah of them all... - candy bar crumbles. 

Now, we have:

Candy Bar Brownies

Chocolate chocolate chip brownie batter, peanut butter chocolate frosting and the grand poohbah of them all... - candy bar crumbles. 

A pretty simple idea that has given birth to total decadent domination over the world's 3 basic desserts - cookies, cupcakes and brownies. Check. 

I found a fab scratch brownie recipe because I was making these for Gabriel's producer at work and couldn't go with a box mix. My changes are listed here.  

1 ½ cups flour
3 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-2 cups chocolate chips 
Sift together and whisk until well combined

Make a well in the center and add:
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ¼ cups melted butter
Stir just until batter comes together

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 casserole pan
Bake at F325° for 45 minutes, reduce temperature to F275° and cook an additional 30 minutes or until done

While still warm, frost with peanut butter chocolate sauce and chopped candy bars. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving. 

1 year ago: Little Mother, Apple Spice Cake
2 years ago: Free Soda & Snacks, Mt. Dew Cupcakes
3 years ago: Failed Fusion, Chocolate Carrot Cake
4 years ago: Happy Birthday Alex!, Comatose Cake

Friday, April 5, 2013

Black Tie Chocolate Affair

I truly, madly, deeply love Red Velvet Cake. It's not quite my favorite - that award stays with my chock full of yumminess Carrot Cake, but it's up there. I love the look of it, the flavor of it, and of course, the uniqueness of it.

Lately though, I just can't bring myself to pour two bottles of red dye into a cake - not since becoming much more conscious of what makes up most of the shelf foods we eat. I did find a beautiful rendition of this cake using beets I had planned to try, but didn't want to experiment on Valentine's Day. Since, truthfully, the only purpose in the dye is for coloring, it can easily be omitted. 

Chocolate Velvet Cheesecake Cake

This five layer cake is heaven sent. It is a great holiday dessert, (Valentine's day ♥) a wow someone you love dessert, copy cat Cheesecake factory dessert, or indulge yourself dessert. 

You have many excuses to eat this cake! 

16 oz cream cheese
½ cup sugar
Mix together until light and fluffy

Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sour cream
Beat until thoroughly mixed

Pour batter into two 9" round springform pans lined with parchment paper
Bake at 325° F, 20 minutes, or just until cake is set
Allow to cool completely then remove outer rim of springform pan
Place cakes inside freezer 

3 sticks of butter (1 ½ cups)
1 ½ cups sugar
Beat until incorporated and fluffy

4 eggs
Beat until batter changes to lighter color

1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
Mix just until ingredients are mixed in

1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoons vinegar
Mix just until ingredients are mixed in

1 ½ cups flour
Mix just until ingredients are mixed in

Evenly divide batter between three 9" round pans lined with parchment paper
Bake at F350° for 25 minutes, or until cake springs back to the touch
Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then invert on cake rack to cool completely

3+/- cups powdered sugar 
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat until soft, creamy and spreadable

Remove cheesecake from freezer and peel off bottom of pan and parchment paper
Assemble cake beginning and ending with chocolate layers, and alternate with cheesecake layers
Apply a thin layer of frosting between each layer
Apply crumb coating to outside and top of cake, then frost cake with remaining frosting
Cover with chocolate shavings

2 years ago: Free Soda and Snacks, Lemon Lime Mt. Dew Gamer Cupcakes
3 years ago: Veto Week, Chocolate Chocolate Mint Cookies
4 years ago:  Words of a Prophet Day Two, Blackberry Pie

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You Put the Lime with the Coconut

I have all these recipes I want to share with you sitting in my drafts folder, most are both made and photographed, some are just ideas, but they're all waiting for me to have time to type them out for you with a little anecdote. I will admit that with twin toddlers running around, naptime is as much for me, as it is for them. 

A friend of mine recently had an adorable little baby join their family, so I was eager to help their family with dinner to help them through the transition. I know that for me, dinner was the most welcome  gesture in those first few weeks. In fact, that's all I remember - it was mostly a blur. 

For this sweet family, I treated them to a dessert I'd been thinking about for over a year. I'd just never executed it. Fortunately, I made enough extra to whip up an additional tiny cheesecake to sample myself. 
Coconut Lime Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

Sounds decadent, doesn't it? It was! It was extremely tart, but balanced out beautifully with fresh blueberry sauce and whipped cream.

½ cup minced coconut flakes (use blender)
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
Melt butter and mix into crumbs
Line bottom of 9" springform pan and bake for 7 minutes at F350º

16 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lime zest
Whip until smooth and creamy

3 eggs
Beat until well mixed

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup lime juice
1/2 cup minced coconut flakes
Pour over crust and bake at F300° for 25-30 minutes or until set around outer edges
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing outer rim

Blueberry Sauce
Pour over cake before serving

1 year ago: Lunch Lady Bars, High School Lunch Peanut Butter Bars
2 years ago: 3.14 Pi(e), Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie
3 years ago: Where We Jet, Rice Krispy JetBlue Route Map
4 years ago: Happy Birthday Gabriel, Sushi Cake 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Just In Time For Valentine's Day

I just need one thing on Valentine's Day: lots and lots of chocolate! Lots and lots of chocolate! I don't care how you give it to me, just give me lots and lots of CHOCOLATE!

Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

 The peppermint flavor in this mousse lends a cool, and refreshing bite to this decadent dessert, however, the flavor is scant and does not overpower or reduce the primary essence of chocolate. The resulting balance is perfect harmony.

Chocolate and Peppermint have always had a fondness for one another, but they are in love in this amorous dessert - and you will be too. 

I'm a big fan of See's Candies Peppermint Twists. They are hard candy peppermints that are airy and creamy and begin to instantly dissolve in your mouth, or when in contact with something wet. I use them in a lot of my baking, and in my Candy Cane Pecan Sweet Log, because of this unique factor. They can be smashed, flaked, or diced, and when added to a dish they will slowly melt into that dessert leaving pockets of enticing flavor. You can make this dish with regular old peppermint flavoring, but it won't be as special.

Dissolve 2 tablespoons flaked Peppermint Twists (or finely crushed candy canes) into ¼ cup hot water
Alternatively, you could opt for 1/2 teaspoon peppermint flavoring)
Stir to dissolve candy
Set aside 
In a separate bowl whip ½ cup heavy cream to stiff peaks
Set aside 
Bring a saucepan of water to a low rolling bowl
In a metal bowl combine:
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
Peppermint water mixture
Fit metal bowl over saucepan and stir until mixture has doubled in volume and is starting to thicken
Remove from heat
Stir in 6 ounces chopped chocolate, your choice
(I used 2.5 ounces Callebaut #821 Milk Chocolate, and 3.5 ounces Guittard French Vanilla Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate)
The mousse will taste like the chocolate you choose - you won't regret using high quality chocolate 
Continue stirring until mixture has cooled to room temperature
In a separate bowl combine
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
Whip to stiff peaks
Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture until well incorporated
Then fold in whipping cream, just until combined
Pour into individual serving dishes (6 small or 4 large)
Allow to set for a minimum of 2 hours in the fridge and up to 24 hours 
When ready to serve, top with dollop of whipped cream and a spoonful of flaked peppermint candy

Looking for something different to surprise the people you love in your life this year, or maybe something in addition? Click here for 7 more Valentine's Day Recipes from Fahrenheit 350°!

One Year Ago: Cheap Date, Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Two Years Ago: Love and Adoration, Tart Cheesecake Cupcakes
Three Years Ago: Sundae Crêpes, Raspberry Orange
Four Years Ago: Happy Birthday Melinda!, Chocolate Almond Cake with Walnut Cream and Vanilla Mousse Frosting

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Paying Homage

A new year always brings about ridiculous resolutions that never stick, and wild claims and accusations about becoming a "new you" - as if something was wrong with the person you were 30 seconds ago. While growth and knowledge increase our experience and understanding, our toxic culture encourages us to never be satisfied and constantly reach for something out of our grasp so that we never appreciate what we do have. We are losing the ability to find bliss and contentment amongst the abundant blessings of our lives.

I've recently been thumbing through my ancient version of my Better Homes and Garden's cookbook. I'm realizing how many of these recipes have been erased from our repertoires. I was recently reminded of a trip I took when I was about 10 years old to see my sister in Mississippi. I was flying standby, courtesy of my Aunt Becky who worked for Continental, and on the way home I got stuck in Boise, Idaho. My mother called an old childhood friend she went to high school with who welcomed me into her home and her family for the evening.

My memory may be skewed slightly by my perceptions as a young child, but I remember their home being a log cabin with no electricity (this is confirmed). I remember we carried around lanterns after the sun went down. All the furniture was hand made from beautiful wood and stained an incredible dark red shade of alder. She homeschooled all of her children who ranged from teenagers to young toddlers, and I became fast friends with her daughter who was my age.

What I remember most, however, was that she had the most exquisite disposition. I remember seeing her again, nine years later when my brother passed away, and all those warm, wonderful feelings came rushing back to me, just at the sight of her face. 

I want those feelings to reign supreme in my home. I want to envelope my children and those in my life with a candor and love that is unceasing and unconditional. I want my home to be peaceful; homage to a simpler time when we worked for and appreciated the things we've been given. A place where we don't forget why we are here, and what we want to accomplish.

I've always believed that food creates your atmosphere; that food can change your mood and build bridges. This year, in 2013, I'm going to continue thumbing through the ancient recipes of our ancestors and refashion and revision them!

To start:
Lemon Pudding Cake (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens pg. 162)

This mildly tart treat is confection, pastry and cake all combined into one. It is sweet, scintillating and scrumptious. It's a multidimensional dish. The top is moist and cakey, but gradually turns into a custard pudding. Not to mention, they are simple!
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter with rind from two lemons
Add scant ½ cup lemon juice
Stir to combine 
¼ cup flour
¾ cup sugar
Whisk together with lemon mixture 
¾ cup water
¾ cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
Stir until incorporated  
In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites
Fold into batter 
Pour into 6 ungreased ramekins, placed inside a deep casserole or baking dish
Fill dish with a minimum of one inch hot water
Bake at F350° for 45 minutes
Remove from oven and enjoy either warm, or chilled and most definitely with whipped cream
When I went to collect my pictures, my computer ate them. All the pictures shown above link to the sites where they were taken from.

One year ago: Surprise Treat, Apple Cream Cake
Two years ago: In A Rut, Boston Creme Pie
Three years ago: Sweet Comforts, Candy Bar Pizza
Four years ago: Creating Beauty, Cheesecake

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