Double Chocolate Mousse Torte

Written by JaNae on . Posted in Cakes and Cupcakes, Desserts

Double-Chocolate-Mousse-Torte

A few weeks ago we were invited to a Sunday dinner, and I volunteered to bring dessert. I knew I wanted something a bit fancier as this was to be a more formal dinner setting. Maybe I’m strange, but I feel a certain amount of pressure when selecting which dessert  to make. There are just SO many amazing dessert recipes out there and only so many dessert making opportunities – one has to be selective.

When I found this double chocolate mousse torte from my trusted recipe source  I knew it would fit the bill.  It was amazing – so amazing that a week later one of the dinner guests emailed to ask if I’d be willing to make it again for a group of 30 she was hosting a dinner party for. If you need a fancy schmancy dessert to impress, this is the one. Trust me. Recipe found here.

Double-Chocolate-Mousse-Torte2

Toffee Crunch Cupcakes (My Favorite Cupcakes To Date)

Written by JaNae on . Posted in Cakes and Cupcakes, Desserts, Food

Toffee-Crunch-Cupcakes

I love cupcakes, AND I make a lot of them. There are so many good ones to choose from, but if you asked me today what my absolute favorite one is, it would most definitely be these toffee crunch cupcakes. They are simply divine! They may require a bit more prep than your regular vanilla cupcake with buttercream (which definitely has a rightful place in the cupcake world), but these chocolate cupcakes with ganache, toffee and caramel frosting are totally worth the extra effort!

About a month ago I was asked to donate 60 cupcakes of my choice for a fundraising event. In choosing which cupcakes to make, I decided I would make 30 of my husband’s favorite, vanilla cupcakes with raspberry cream cheese frosting, and 30 of my favorite, these toffee crunch cupcakes. While I can attest that the vanilla and raspberry cream cheese cupcakes are most scrumptious, it was reported that the toffee cupcakes were cleaned out first. If you ask me, they are pretty impressive little cups of cake!

Toffee Crunch Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS

CUPCAKES
2 c white sugar
1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c cocoa
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 eggs
1 c milk
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 t vanilla
1 c brewed coffee (I use brewed Pero)

GANACHE AND TOFFEE
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 c heavy cream
3 T butter
2 packages (8 ounces each) toffee bits

FROSTING
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 c all-purpose flour
3 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c milk
2 t pure vanilla extract
24 T butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature
1/3 caramel sauce (store-bought or homemade)

DIRECTIONS

CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat with electric beaters on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in the hot coffee or Pero by hand. The batter will seem extremely runny, but don’t worry! Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Makes about 30 cupcakes.

FROSTING: In a medium sized saucepan combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it boils and becomes thick, a bit thicker than pudding consistency. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the mixture to cool until room temperature (this is very important!). Once the mixture is cooled to room temperature, beat in the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter is fully incorporated. Increase the speed on your mixer to medium-high, and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Gently fold in the caramel sauce. If your frosting is a bit runny, allow it to sit at room temperature to firm up a bit.

GANACHE: In a small saucepan, heat the cream on the stovetop until it barely begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to sit in the warm cream for a minute or two, and then stir until the mixture is silky and smooth. Add the butter and stir until smooth. Chill the ganache in the refrigerator until it is a piping consistency. Stirring it every 5 minutes or so helps it cool evenly, and if it gets to hard, let it come to room temperature until it softens again.

ASSEMBLY: Pour the toffee bits into a bowl. Use a piping bag with a large round circle tip to pipe the ganache in a ring around the edge of the cupcake. Dip the piped ganache into the toffee bits. Fill another piping bag with a large decorative tip (I used a large star tip here, but I’ve used round or a french tip as well), and pipe a swirl of frosting in the center of the cupcake.

Recipe Source: Originally seen from Baker’s Royale, cupcakes slightly adapted from allrecipes.com, and frosting and ganache from melskitchencafe.com.

My Favorite Honey Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

Written by JaNae on . Posted in Breads (yeast), Food

Picture of Bread

I grew up with an amazing mother who made all our bread.  I think she realized that making bread rather than buying bread for a family of seven was much more affordable and delicious.  My mother is actually quite famous in her small town for her delicious white bread.  As a kid, I loved coming home from school and smelling that fresh baked bread aroma.  My mom would always serve us up a warm slice lathered in butter – comfort food at it’s finest.

I knew that I wanted to carry on the tradition of homemade bread for my family, and while I can’t say I’ve never bought a loaf or two of bread from the store, the majority of the bread we eat comes for my kitchen.  While I do make my mom’s white bread often, I try to keep my family on the whole grain variety.

I can’t tell you how many whole wheat bread recipes I have tried through the years.  There have been many that I have found and loved, but I keep coming back to this one given to me by a friend several years ago.  It comes together fairly quickly for a yeast bread, requiring only one rise time, and bakes up beautifully.  It has a soft, chewy texture and holds up well enough to slice up for sandwiches.  The recipe makes five 4×8 inch loaves.  I usually freeze three or four of the loaves, and I’m always delightfully surprised at how well the thawed loaves hold up.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

INGREDIENTS
5 1/2 c hot water
2/3 c honey
2 T yeast
2 T dry milk powder
2/3 c oil
2 T gluten
2 T salt
13-14 c whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard red wheat)

DIRECTIONS
Generously coat five 4×8 inch pans with non-stick cooking spray. In an extra large mixing bowl combine the hot water, honey, yeast, dry milk, oil, and gluten. Mix well and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture should begin to foam during this time.

Add 7c of whole wheat flour and the salt to your water mixture and mix well.

Continue to add remaining flour until you have a firm dough. You may not need all the flour. The dough should be sticky to the touch but firm enough to be rolled into a small ball in the palms of your hands. Knead dough for 5 minutes in a mixer, or 10 minutes by hand.

Form dough into 5 equal sized loaves. Allow the dough to rise in pans until the loaves have doubled in size. Preheat oven to 400. When the bread has fully risen, bake it in the oven for 5 minutes at 400, then decrease the oven temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven when the bread is nice and browned on top. Let the bread rest in the pans for 5 minutes then remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Store bread in large twist tie plastic bags at room temperature or in your freezer.

Caramel Fondue

Written by JaNae on . Posted in Appetizers, Christmas, Desserts, Food, Holidays

apple with caramel fondue
About a month ago I saw the darling idea to fill mini jars with caramel dip and set an apple on top as gifts.  A week later, when a friend made the most delectable caramel dip, I knew I had to get her recipe and make these fun little packages of fall bliss!

The caramel fondue is perfect!  Sweet, creamy, buttery…divine.   Simple and quick to whip together…the most difficult part is waiting for it to cool long enough so you can have a spoonful (or three) without burning your tongue.

I found my mini jars at Walmart, and since apples are in peak season, these make perfect inexpensive and delightful gifts.

Caramel Fondue

INGREDIENTS
1/2 c butter
2 c brown sugar, packed
1 c light corn syrup
2 T water
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla

DIRECTIONS
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and water and bring mixture to a boil.

Mix in sweetened condensed milk, stirring constantly. When mixture reaches thread stage (about 2-3 minutes) remove pan from heat and add vanilla.

Serve caramel warm or at room temperature, or store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to a month. Reheat on low power in microwave or over low heat on stove adding 1-2 teaspoons of water if the caramel is too thick.

Individual Rainbow Cupcakes

Written by JaNae on . Posted in Cakes and Cupcakes, Desserts, Food, Holidays, St. Patrick's Day

individual rainbow cupcakes
With spring around the corner and St. Patty’s Day fast approaching, I’ve been eyeing bright rainbow cakes all over the web.   I made 40 of these cuties for a church event last week.  These individual rainbow cupcakes added so much color to the evening, and they were delicious.  This white cake recipe is scrumptious when combined with a lemony Swiss meringue buttercream.  Served in clear plastic cups, the individual servings were perfect for a buffet table and would work at any party or gathering.  So cute, you must give these a try!

Rainbow Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS
CAKE
1 c butter
2 1/3 c sugar
5 egg whites, room temperature
2 t vanilla
3 c all-purpose flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c whole milk
red, orange, yellow, green, and blue gel or paste food coloring
10 clear plastic cups

LEMON SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
9 egg whites
1 1/3 c sugar
1 c butter
1 t lemon extract

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. With parchment paper, line how ever many 9×13″ pans you have. I have three and just reused them.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.

Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (It’s about 1 c each), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans – the batter will spread to be quite thin. Bake for 10 minutes each.

When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.

To make the Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it’s completely smooth, it’s done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.

Using various sizes of cups or circle cookie cutters, cut 10 circles from each color of baked cake. Use the smaller circle for the bottom purple layer and use gradually larger circles for the layers on top. Place purple circle in the bottom of a plastic cup, and put a dollop of buttercream on top. Repeat with other layers. Pipe frosting on top layer.

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