Thursday, January 27, 2011

Classic Pound Cake

Classic Pound Cake with fresh blackberries and whipped cream.

I find it very odd that I keep posting dessert recipes in January, which is after all, supposed to be the month for New Year's Resolutions and inevitably includes diet and exercise.  Maybe it's the cold weather and warm fire, but it always makes me want to bake.  Which means, if I am going to stick to all my resolutions, I have to start going door to door with pieces of cakes and tarts.  Don't you wish you were my neighbor?

The crumbly part is my favorite.

So no worries!  This is a super simple, super delicious, super tasting classic pound cake.  It was actually fun to make.  I don't know.  I am weird that way.  Lots of mixing is my drug of choice.  Nothing more calming than whipping something.  If you don't mind a little vigorous beating, you'll be just fine.  And, if you take a long walk around the block, sharing pieces of your cake, your body will be fine too!

Too pretty to eat?

Quick History Lesson:
Where did the "pound cake" get its name?   It is not because you gain a pound when you eat it, but rather the recipe traditionally called for a pound of each of four ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs and flour.  Though most modern recipes have changes the proportions slightly, you can still make a fabulous cake with just these four ingredients.  I did add vanilla for flavor, so technically my recipe has five ingredients.  You can add any flavoring you want.  Almond would be delicious, or orange, lemon...mmm.  This is a great go-to recipe for unexpected visitors because most people have these ingredients at home.  Enjoy!

Guess who made this piece disappear?

Classic Pound Cake
1 pound butter, softened
6 eggs
1 pound powdered sugar
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cream butter with sugar until light.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add flour, mixing only until smooth.  Pour into 10-inch greased and floured fluted tube pan.   Bake at 325ºF for 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in pan before turning out on wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mocha Chocolate Mousse

Mocha Chocolate Mousse

I know how to make the tummies in my house very happy! And you know tummies can be happy, right?  Rich, creamy, homemade mousse will do the trick.  This is my husband's very favorite dessert!  I have been promising to make chocolate mousse for awhile and on Saturday I finally had a little time. (You know, three day weekend and all.)  I have looked at lots of different recipes, so I combined a few and took a chance.  It turned out great.  We loved the combination of chocolate and coffee.  The kids weren't that thrilled with the mocha flavor (I didn't say they didn't eat it) so I made another batch without the coffee.  Both were great, but the hubby and I agreed that the mocha version is the best!

Quick note before you start: First, use good quality chocolate.  Your final product is only as good as the individual ingredients, so try a great tasting Belgian or European style chocolate.  Next, mousse is actually pretty easy to make, you just want to be sure to use fresh eggs and make sure there are no cracks.  Remember, we are using raw eggs in this dish, so if you are particularly concerned about salmonella, I would stay away from this dessert.  Finally, no short cuts on the beating!  Beat, beat, beat those egg whites (and also the whipping cream).  The firmer the egg whites and whipping cream, the firmer and denser the mousse.  The mousse will still be light when you first spoon it into the dishes, but will become firm as it sits in the refrigerator.

Mocha Chocolate Mousse
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons brewed coffee (strong)
2 large eggs, separated

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

In a medium-sized bowl, heat the chocolate and butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir well and add the coffee.  Heat for another 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir until smooth. If necessary, repeat in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. Then whisk in the two egg yolks. Refrigerate this mixture while you whip the egg whites and whipping cream.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), whip the two egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add two tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, yet the whites are still glossy and not dry. Set aside.

In another bowl, whip the heavy cream with the remaining one tablespoon sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator and stir a couple of spoonfuls of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Next,  fold the remaining whites into the chocolate mixture, gently but thoroughly. Fold in the whipped cream.

Spoon the chocolate mousse into four individual serving dishes. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.  I serve the mousse with additional homemade whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Feta Dip with Pita Chips

We love Greek food in our house.  Olives, feta cheese and pita bread is all I need for a yummy meal.  Add a Greek style salad and my heart and stomach are very happy.  I have lots of go-to recipes for a good Greek meal, many inspired by our dining out experiences. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Apple Dumplings, Gang!

Apple Dumplings, Gang!

I love apple dumplings!  Each year on our birthday, my mom let us choose our favorite dessert for her to make and mine was never just plain old birthday cake.  I usually requested one of two desserts, both of which are Southern favorites...Apple Dumplings or Mississippi Mud cake. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monkey Bread

Christmas Morning Monkey Bread

Don't you love that ooey-gooey, pull-apart sweet bread called monkey bread?  My mom makes it every Christmas.  This year we asked her to share her secret.  She claims that her accidental discovery of sugar-free vanilla pudding is the key to extra gooeyness. (That and a little extra butter).  Who are we to question?  We are only to eat and enjoy!  Some people add nuts to this concoction, but not all the kids in our family are keen on nuts, so Grandmama makes it without.