Birthday

Joyeux Anniversaire Petit Gourmet

Thank you so much to all who voted for me in the last Project Food Blog challenge!

Up next is challenge number three, a celebratory challenge in which we were asked to organize and host a “Luxury Dinner Party”.

Place setting
I was thrilled this challenge coincided with my son’s birthday. Because, let me tell you… this young man is my little gourmet! Not only does he love being my taste-tester, he enjoys and often even offers to lend a hand when I’m in the kitchen. Something that very rearly occurs when it comes to non-kitchen related tasks.

His palette is also quite sophisticated… he started refusing to order from the children’s menu at restaurants a long time ago. Those options were just not *good enough* for him.

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A big thanks everyone who has already voted for me in Project Food Blog Challenge #2, if you haven’t voted already you still have time voting ends Wednesday September 29th just click on the heart to show some love. 😉

September 2010 – Daring Bakers’ Challenge

My attempt at a Halo Reach Decorated Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie

This months Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

The inspiration for these cookies originated from a certain someone in my household who happens to love this game, and who kept dropping subtle hints (reminding me of it’s release date every chance he could, naming all his friends who have already bought, etc.) that he would love to have this game for his birthday which happens to be this Wednesday.

He was so excited when he saw me making these, he automatically asked if he could help decorate them! Once I was done outlining them, we both took off on a flooding mission… good times!

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This is quite an embarrassing post… but instead of sweeping my mistake under the rug I will go ahead and come clean with you. After all we learn from our mistakes and no one is perfect, right?

It was Saturday afternoon and all was well. That is, until my nose caught a whiff of something burning in the oven. I opened the door, faced the disaster and ran to grab a sheet pan to catch any future brownie spillage. I closed the oven door and proceeded to run and grab my camera so I could capture this precious moment and share it with you.

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525,600 minutes measured in sweets

Well everyone, today my little blog is 525,600 minutes old +/- depending on what time you read this post. 😉

So, I thought it would be the perfect day to share with you how I measured this year:

“In daylights, in sunsets,
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?

How about love?

How about love?

Measure in love.”

OK, enough with the mushy stuff… let’s celebrate!

Devil's Food Chocolate Cake
What better way to celebrate than with a slice of cake right? This cake was inspired by the little “TLC Cake Crew” image I proudly began displaying on my blog as of April.

Devil’s Food Cake
adapted from Baking Illustrated by the Editors Of Cook’s Illustrated

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa
1 1/2 cup boiling water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plain cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate covered cocoa nibs (optional garnish)
9 large strawberries (optional garnish)

Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9×2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment, then dust with flour and knock out the excess or spray them with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine the chopped chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over it and whisk until smooth. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until combined for about 3 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium; add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined, for about 10 seconds. On low speed start adding about 1/3 of the flour mixture then about 1/2 of the chocolate mixture, repeat and and with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined, about 15 seconds. Make sure you don’t over beat the batter.

Remove the bowl from the mixer; scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and stir gently to thoroughly combine.

Devils Food Cake Batter ready for the oven
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans and smooth the batter to the edges of each pan with a rubber spatula. Place 2 pans on the lower middle rack and 1 on the upper-middle rack. bake the cakes until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-21 minutes.

Devil's Food Cake right out of the oven
Cool the cakes on a wire rack 15-20 minutes. Run a knife around each pan perimeter to loosen. Make sure the cakes have cooled off completely before you assemble the cake.

Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-1/4 cups Nutella
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
milk

Cream together the butter and shortening. Whisk together the cocoa and sugar, and gradually add to the creamed mixture. Add one tablespoon of milk at a time until desired consistency is reached. Finally add the hazelnut spread and vanilla and blend until smooth and creamy.

Chocolate Hazelnut Crumb Coat
Devil's Food Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate chips

In a medium saucepan heat up the heavy cream, make sure it doesn’t come to a boil. Stir in the chocolate chips and whisk to combine. It’s ready to use once it has cooled down to room temperature.

Devil's Food Chocolate Cake

To Assemble
Place a thick layer of Chocolate Hazelnut Frosting between each layer of devil’s food cake. Then coat the entire cake with a thin layer of the frosting and place in the refrigerator to harden. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and finish frosting the cake with a thick layer of frosting.

Place a ring of chocolate covered cocoa nibs on the base of the cake. Drizzle the cake with ganache starting from the center. Dip the strawberries in the ganache and place on top of the cake.

Snippit “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical Rent, written and composed by Jonathan Larson

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Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

This past weekend my husband and I flew to Mexico to attend my Aunts 90th birthday.

Unfortunately the boys weren’t able to join us on this trip. I did however, make sure I left a little piece of me with them before I left.

To kickoff the birthday festivities my uncle celebrated mass in her honor.

Uncle
Mom, Aunt, Uncle

A trio of young whippersnappers.

Jose and I with my Aunt

After mass we all headed over to the potluck party. Daughters and daughters-in-law each contributed their “specialty dish”. Everything was fantastic since they are all amazing cooks. It must run in the family. 😉

Leftovers were equally divided so everyone got to take home a little taste of everything.

Leftover distribution

She celebrated this very special day in company of siblings, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and friends.

Some of us had longer flights than others…

Cindy & I
Ana Silvia & I

During the short visit I was also able to spend time with some of my closest friends from Elementary, Jr. High, & High school.

Friends since elementary
High School buds...

We had a great time, but we are glad to be back with the boys!

Coffee Ice Cream

Coffee Ice Cream

adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely round coffee
2 oz chocolate covered espresso beans, whole or chopped

In a medium saucepan warm the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream. Once the milk is warm remove from the stove, cover, and let it steep at room temperature for at least 1-2 hours. The longer you let it steep the more intense the coffee flavor will be.

Place the saucepan back on the stove and reheat. In a large bowl pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream, and place a large strainer on top. Slowly pour about half of the warm milk in a thin stream into the egg yolks while whisking constantly to warm the egg yolks. Now return the egg yolks back into the sauce pan.

Over medium heat stir the ice cream base with a wooden spoon making sure you scrape the bottom of the pan while you stir until the ice cream base thickens and coats the back side of the wooden spoon.

Pour ice cream base through the strainer and stir it into the heavy cream. With the wooden spoon press on the coffee beans held in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible. The coffee beans can be thrown away at this point.

Add vanilla extract and ground instant coffee, stir well to combine. Cool over an ice bath then finish chilling the ice cream base in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Pour ice cream base into your ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s instructions. About 5 minutes before the ice cream is done churning add in your whole or chopped chocolate covered espresso beans. Pour ice cream into a sealable plastic container and place in the freezer until throughly frozen.

Coffee Ice Cream Base
Coffee Ice Cream
Coffee Ice Cream

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