Saturday, January 30, 2016

Italian Lemon Cream Cake

I was thinking about how I could the last of the lemons that a sweet friend had given me when I came across this recipe for a lemon cream cake from An Italian In My Kitchen and I knew that I wanted to try it. I tried it and it was good, but I just knew that I had to tweak it a bit, 'cause I love a really tangy punch. It was a hit with my favorite taste testers and I think you might like it too. 

~~Italian Lemon Cream Cake~~

2 cups + 1 tablespoon flour 
1¾ cups icing/powdered sugar 
4 eggs
⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
7 tablespoons butter melted 
Zest of two lemons
2 teaspoons baking powder 
½ teaspoon salt
7 drops of lemon oil
Juice of the 2 lemons

Lemon Soak
Take 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice and simmer over medium heat till the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool

Lemon Glaze
Mix 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 -2 tbls fresh squeezed lemon juice until smooth.

Let's do this
Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour a large bundt cake pan.  In a stand mixer  beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed until they are light and fluffy. Melt the butter and let it cool completely. Zest the peel of two lemons and set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then alternating with the cream gently fold into egg mixture with a spatula, keep folding in until mixture is combined. Last gently fold in lemon peel, lemon oil drops and melted butter, pour into prepared bundt pan and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes. While the cake is still warm use a pastry brush to pat the cake with the lemon syrup. When the cake has completely cooled drizzle with the lemon glaze. Now it's time to enjoy a slice!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Double Chocolate and Walnut Braid

Our ingredients for this month's Improv Cooking Challenge were bread/pastry dough and chocolate. Can I just say that I love working and playing with bread or pastry dough of any kind. It's one of my most favorite reasons to be in the kitchen. And chocolate well, I never need a reason for chocolate.
A few days ago I wanted to try something really ambitious with some yeast dough for this month's cooking challenge.  I'm talkin chocolate babka ambitious. Yeah, the stuff of Sienfeld and David Lebovitz. Life however had other plans, as it often does, and I had to go another route. 
I had to take the easy road. :( I am happy however with the end result. What I ended up making was a double chocolate walnut braid with puff pastry dough. Super easy to do and so very elegant too. And did I mention it was delicious. I had seen a version floating around the internet, which I did try. I made it with a Cadberry chocolate bar and some raspberry jam. I didn't like the way it came out though. The chocolate was way to runny and overall it was just messy and not so pretty. So I played around with some ideas that where in my head and I think it worked perfectly. My taste testers sure gobbled it up pretty quick.
So here's what I did. ~~
Use 1 sheet of Pepperidge Farms puff pastry dough, straight from the fridge. Place it on a silicone cooking mat that has been placed on a cookie sheet. No need to grease it.

Cut 8 diagonal strips on each side. Use  a butter knife so you won't damage your mat. Mine weren't perfect, but they still worked. Cut the end triangles away first.  Now there is what you need for the filling:
3/4 cup roughly chopped chocolate morsels. I gave mine a whirl in the blender.
1/3 cup coursely chopped walnuts
2 tbls brown sugar
1 tbls flour
Spread this mixture onto the center portion of the puff pastry. Use the fold lines as a guide. Fold the end pieces over and then the fold the diagonal cut strips alternating over each other and finish with the last ones pinching lightly to seal. At this point you can do an egg wash if you want.  Bake at 350* for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with some melted white chocolate when the braid is still warm. Serve warm with coffee or for an over the top chocolate experience serve with a cup of hot chocolate. 
Check out some of the other tasty chocolate and dough/pastry creations from this month's challenge.