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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Milk Chocolate Creme Brûlée | Valentines Dessert

I can't tell you how simple creme brûlée is to make.  Much easier than making a cake or cookies for dessert.  You don't need to get out your big mixer, everything stirs together.  Even the ingredients are simple - as long as you have cream on hand.  

When Mike and I were in Italy for our honeymoon, we treated ourself to one fine dining experience.  For dessert, we had a milk chocolate creme brûlée with poached pears.  I've recreated the creme brûlée for us many times in the last six years.  I came across the Individual Heart Ramekins, $6
 and thought it would be the perfect thing for a special Valentines dinner.

In the Barefoot Contessa's most recent book, she shared her version of Chocolate Creme Brûlée.  I simplified her recipe (eliminating scalding the cream on the stove, used the microwave instead) and swapped the bittersweet chocolate with milk chocolate - my personal preference.  Her original Creme Brûlée recipe can be found, here.

Milk Chocolate Creme Brûlée
makes 4

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar + more for topping
3 cups of heavy cream
8 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Heat oven to 275 degrees.  Heat the cream in the microwave until hot, add the chocolate and stir until melted.  In a batter (pourable bowl) whisk the eggs and sugar together.  

Slowly add the chocolate cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly - making sure not to add to quickly or it will cook the eggs.  Add vanilla.

Place ramekins in a casserole dish.  Pour chocolate mixture in ramekins.

Place on the oven rack.  Using a small pitcher or measuring cup, pour water in the casserole until it reaches half way up the ramekins.  (Doing it when it is already in the oven saves from sloshing the water into the chocolate mixture on the way to the oven.)

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until only a little jiggly.  Remove from oven, let cool.  When cool, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

When ready to serve, sprinkle sugar on top.  Use a kitchen torch to caramelize, or place it until a hot broiler for 1-2 minutes.  The top will be crunchy, caramelized and sweet.

This is a great recipe for entertaining because it can be made in advance (even a couple of days, or the morning of), then torched before serving - if you are using a kitchen torch, then it is fun for the guests, too.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Coeur a la Creme | Recipe & Photos

Oh, you guys are in for a treat.  The result was so creamy and light, but full - almost like a very moist and creamy cheesecake... but much softer and much more luscious.  It was so simple to make - Emma helped me with the entire thing.  We whipped the cream cheese and powdered sugar, then added the room temp cream cheese and vanilla bean paste... then she scooped it into the cheesecloth lined mold - doing all of the spreading herself.  

So many times there is a lot she can help with, but I have to do some of the intricate work (much to her resistance), but this she did all by herself.  It was nice that it was completely error-proof, there was no way to mess it up.  The mold does all of the work for you - as long as she got (most of) the filling in the mold, it was perfect.

While Valentine's Day is a romantic holiday, when you have kiddos it becomes a family affair, too - and she is going to love presenting this special dessert to Dad after our Valentine's Day dinner.  Of course, as it is still three weeks away, we'll need to make another one ; )

The Coeur a la Creme Molds ($14.50) are officially in stock in my store, ready to ship.  So for those of you that ordered earlier this week, yours are on the way.  If you order now (I think only 20 or so are left?) they can be sent out today.

I followed the Barefoot Contessa's recipe (link below, her photo to the left), which was very very simple.  

The raspberry sauce was a cinch to make, too.  You simple cook raspberries and sugar with a little bit of water for 4 minutes, then processes in food processor with raspberry jam.  I only had 1/2 cup of strawberry jam (instead of 1 cup of raspberry), and it still worked great.  I also did not add the Grand Marnier, because we were sampling on a Tuesady morning ; )

Here is the link to The Barefoot Contessa's Coeur a la Creme recipe.

Here is the mixture all wrapped up after sitting in the fridge over night.

I put the platter on top, then flipped it over.

Then just pulled the mold off.

And took off the cheesecloth to reveal the nice little pattern.

I did the raspberry sauce without Emma's help... boiling fruit and sugar + toddlers does not mix well.  She would've had her fingers in it... I know I could hardly help myself!

Then we poured the sauce all the way around and scattered raspberries.

I love the way the sauce spread into the scalloped edges of the platter.

For a dinner party, I would just scoop big spoonfuls on everyone's plate and serve extra raspberry sauce on the side in a little pitcher for them to pour over.

You'll be so impressed by how simple and delicious this raspberry sauce is.

Sampling time!  It was sooo creamy and rich - almost just like slightly sweetened thick whipped cream.  If you were serving it for a party, you could serve it with little cookies or graham crackers.  I can't wait to try a savory version with herbs and drizzled with honey, served with crackers.  I also think a lemony version would be fun for spring and summer.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


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Dripping Milk Chocolate Heart Cake

This is the simplest and maybe most enticing project I prepared for the collection - this Dripping Milk Chocolate Heart Cake.  Of course, you can make any sort of cake in the Heart-Shaped Cake Pan, but I've had this dripping chocolate idea going around in my head for a while.  We frequent a local bakery (Dolce Baking Co. in PV, for locals) that always has a case full of cakes with ganache dripping down the sides - it is a very alluring effect.  I'm not so hot on ganache, so I made my favorite Milk Chocolate Glaze/Icing (melted butter, cocoa powder, powdered sugar & milk - think Sheet Cake icing).  Oh, my goodness.  YUM.  And easy... this could start to be a problem.

In full disclosure, I used a boxed chocolate cake mix.  I under-bake just a little to make sure it is moist.  The melted butter glaze adds an extra layer of moisture, making the cake so, so, so good.

This picture, right?

I'll walk you through how I made it.  It was very simple, but a couple of things really help to make sure it turns out beautiful.

Supplies Used :

Heart Pan, $14

Parchment Paper, 100 for $8 

I started with the cake pan and a piece of parchment paper.  I placed the cake pan in the bottom corner of the parchment and traced it to make a heart-shaped parchment piece for the bottom of the pan.

Next cut two strips (one along the top and one along the side) that are at least 2" wide.  These pieces will go inside the perimeter of the pan to keep the sides from sticking.

I buttered and floured in the corner of the pan - this is where the two pieces of parchment will meet, so I want to make sure there isn't any leaking/sticking.

I put the heart-shaped parchment piece in the bottom, then did a line of butter all around the inside/sidewalls - this helps the straight pieces stick to the pan so they don't flop around when you are filling with cake batter.

Put the other two pieces around the perimeter of the pan - piecing them together so they cover the entire thing.

Ready for cake batter.  I filled 3/4's the way up.  You could do less if you want to make extra cupcakes.


I leveled off the top, which will become the bottom.  This makes it sit more level.

Flip it over onto the cake stand - I do this by leaving the cake pan on the counter, putting the cake stand upside down on the cake pan, then invert.

Peel the parchment pieces off.  See how nice and neat the parchment makes the cake?!

I use a measuring cup to mix together the glaze.  Recipe link below.

You're looking for the constancy of pancake batter.  Too thin and it will run all over, too thick and it won't go anywhere.  A quick zap in the microwave also helps to liquify it a bit.

Pour the glaze onto the cake.  Pour right in the middle.

Take a spoon and gently coax the glaze to the sides, just allowing it to spill over a little at a time.
Work quickly, as the glaze will set.  In just a couple of minutes it will start to harden.  You need to get the drips started before then or it won't dry smooth.

Part of the magic of glaze is that it is self-leveling.  It will naturally smooth itself out and look pretty - as long as you don't touch it once it starts to dry/harden.  

The little drips turn themselves into bigger, yummy drips. 

The Milk Chocolate Glaze Recipe is the same I used in this Milk Chocolate Cupcake post.  The heart sprinkles are coming back again this year because they are always requested.

I'm looking forward to using this technique with layered cake, too.  Can you imagine a mocha buttercream in between two layers, then dripping chocolate glaze?  Or maybe raspberry buttercream?  I would love to know what you try.

Supplies Used : 

Heart Pan, $14

Parchment Paper, 100 for $8 

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