Archive for February, 2012

Lemon Pudding Cake and February Books

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I feel I should begin this post by letting you know that I’m not going to provide the recipe for this Lemon Pudding Cake. While this cake wasn’t a full-scale disaster, it just lacked a little something. It wasn’t delicious, and only delicious recipes are allowed around here!

It’s partially my fault – I took a simple Lemon Pudding Cake recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and tried adding white chocolate chips. The result was not bad, but a bit sweet. Normally I don’t ever complain about sweetness, but this time around the white chocolate drowned out the tartness that is the soul of lemon desserts.

There is a reason I’m still posting about this cake. I learned a lesson today, and I think it’s worth sharing: when you’re craving lemon, just make Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars. There’s really no need to stray away from them – they are the absolute perfect mix of tartness and sweetness. And that is the moral of this story.

On to our second order of business: book reviews for February. As mentioned previously, at the end of each month I am going to write up a quick review of whatever I’ve been reading.

This month, I read two books.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

I picked this up while at Powell’s during my recent trip to Portland. It is essentially a memoir, a memory of the best summer of the author’s life. It was 1945, and Marjorie and her best friend Marty decided to go to New York City, find a job, and have an adventure. They were lucky enough to land jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., right on Fifth Avenue. Up to this point there were no women working on the sales floor.

This is not a book filled with deep thoughts. It dwells on fashion, celebrities, and dating. I really liked it though. There was something warm and relaxing about reading through a person’s most cherished memories.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

This is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy. I actually do like this series, although I can’t quite figure out if I’m ok with that. It is certainly violent – there is more blood than I enjoy reading about, but not so much that I feel the need to quit reading. I think it’s addictive because I feel as though I’m right there in the midst of the situation, and I’m always panicked about what step Katniss is going to take next in order to survive. I’m definitely looking forward to the movie and will be picking up the third book ASAP.

I hope you’re all having a good week! Here’s to properly delicious recipes and good reads in March!

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Chocolate Bread with Chocolate Butter

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

As I write this, it is Thursday night. I’ve officially decided that Thursday nights are on my list of Favorite Things. I really like Thursdays because the next day is Friday, and all the best tv shows are on.

Another one of my favorite things is my sister Halley, aka Frantic College Student.

Poor girl! I remember those days. Always faced with the dilemma: Should I stay up until 3am and study? Or should I go to bed now and get up at 3am to study? I usually ended up doing one or the other of those at Starbucks…yet another of my Favorite Things.

But now, down to business. As you could probably guess, a couple more items on my list include chocolate and bread. So, why not have both together??

I first discovered chocolate bread at Bakery Nouveau. It was moist and delicious, almost like a pound cake.

This version is a little more bread-like, and is a yeast bread. But it is also rich and is full of chocolate flavor.

But there was no need to stop there – might as well add chocolate butter!

A couple notes: I used David Lebovitz’s recipe for this bread. His post was thorough and detailed, and I had no inclination to make any changes. Because of this, I’ll just send you over to his post for the recipe. It can be found at: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/04/chocolate-bread-recipe/.

I followed his advice and invested in bread flour. I couldn’t find Dutch-process cocoa, but purchased Premium Cocoa instead. It is a mixture of natural cocoa and Dutch-process and worked well for me. I also chose not to include nuts.

The chocolate butter is from Paula Deen – recipe is located here (see the last paragraph): http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/chocolate-bread-recipe/index.html.

This bread was so good – I highly recommend it! I think it would be great for breakfast.

Have a great weekend!

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Green Power Juice

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I am always looking for ways to creatively fit vegetables into my diet. In the past, I’ve added spinach to my berry smoothies, which works really well. However, I knew the time had come to try something a little more intense – juice!

This recipe consists exclusively of fruits and vegetables – no sweeteners allowed!

I’ll have to admit, I had some anticipatory anxiety before tasting this one…there are a lot of veggies. But I closed my eyes and took a sip and was surprised to find that it was just right! No adjustments needed.

It definitely tastes healthy, and you can tell there are vegetables involved. But the apples/grapes/cucumbers bring a sweetness and smoothness that counteracts the kale and spinach. I actually really like this…I’m going to start drinking it a couple times a week.

I’m pretty sure this juice is so healthy that it consists of negative calories, which totally justifies dessert later! Bonus!


Green Power Juice

Adapted from Health.com

Serves 2

Ingredients
1 cup sliced kale (from about 3 large leaves)
1/2 cup chopped baby spinach
1 cup seedless green grapes
1 English cucumber, thickly sliced
1 small Granny Smith apple (4–6 ounces), cored and cut into chunks
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ice

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until completely smooth, scraping the sides of the blender occasionally. Add more water or ice as needed. Strain juice if desired. Before serving, garnish with a fresh kale leaf and a cucumber slice (optional). Refrigerate up to 2 days, and shake before serving.


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Mascarpone Chocolate Mousse in White Chocolate Cups

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

I firmly believe it is healthy to step out of your comfort zone every now and then. It tends to be…uncomfortable, but I’ve found that something new and worthwhile is often waiting to be discovered on the other side.

That was an overly philosophical way of introducing these white chocolate cups filled with mascarpone and chocolate mousse. I decided to make these because I wanted to use up the rest of the pricey mascarpone I purchased for these cupcakes. Also, while I gravitate toward simple recipes, I think it’s good to take on something a little more challenging every now and then!

The result was so worth it. These were good.

I’ll admit I was nervous about creating the white chocolate cups, especially when it came to peeling off the paper liner.

The moment of truth arrived, and I emerged victorious!

A couple notes:

I actually used 4 ounces of mascarpone and 4 ounces of cream cheese. This worked out totally fine for me. However, I hesitate to recommend fully replacing the mascarpone with cream cheese, just because those two cheeses aren’t precisely the same thing. (If you risk it and it works please let me know!) Honestly, mascarpone is worth the price, at least every now and then. It is just so creamy and dreamy and it gives the mousse a unique flavor.

Secondly, I would recommend bringing the cheese to room temperature before beating it with the chocolate. I had some initial difficulty combining the whipped cream with the firmer chocolate/cheese mixture.

I hope you make these! Make them on a day when you are feeling focused and creative. Good luck!

Mascarpone Chocolate Mousse in White Chocolate Cups

Recipe adapted very slightly from Giada De Laurentiis

Makes 8 cups

Ingredients
8-9 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
White chocolate curls, for garnish

Directions
Line 8 muffin cups with paper liners. Melt white chocolate slowly in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Coat the bottom and sides of each paper liner with about 1 tablespoon of white chocolate, using a pastry brush. Be sure and make this first coat relatively thick and even, and coat all the grooves in the liner. Let the cups freeze for about 30 minutes or until the chocolate is firm.

Re-melt the white chocolate and spoon it into the cups, giving the bottom and sides a second coat. Freeze for an hour or until the cups are set.

Melt the semisweet chocolate in the top of a clean double boiler, stirring until smooth. Let it cool completely.

With an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream and sugar in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese, orange peel, vanilla, and melted semisweet chocolate in a large bowl just until smooth and glossy (about 30 seconds). Do not overmix.

Fold whipped cream into the chocolate mixture in two batches.

Carefully remove the wrappings from the white chocolate cups. If the wrappings stick too much, let the cups sit at room temperature for a few minutes and try again.

At this point, you can transfer the mousse to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe it into the white chocolate cups, or you can simply spoon the mousse into the cups.

Sprinkle the white chocolate curls over the mousse.* Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate overnight and then let stand at room temperature about 1 hour before serving.

*To make white chocolate curls: slightly soften a bar of white chocolate by placing it in a warm room or under a lamp. (You could also hold it for a few seconds in the air over your double boiler as you melt the other chocolate.) Use a vegetable peeler to carefully carve curls from the bar. Chill on top of foil until ready to garnish the cups.

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Jessie's Kitchen Chronicles