Monday, December 24, 2007

Chocolate Malt Cake

My love for Paula Deen knows no bounds, esp. after making this cake from her Holiday Baking 2007 magazine.

I'm a big fan of chocolate layer cake, esp. devil's food and this blows anything I've ever had or made prior-- out of the water! It is slap-yourself-silly-delicious!

Chocolate Malt Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tspn baking soda
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
1 c. milk
1 c. malted milk powder
1 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 tspn vanilla extract
Chocolate Malt Icing (recipe follows)
Garnish: malted milk balls (and I used silver dragees to make it more Christmas-y ;) )

  • Preheat oven to 350. Butter & flour 3, 9-inch, baking pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In a small bowl, combine milk and malted milk powder, stirring to dissolve. Add milk mixture, oil and eggs to flour mixture, beating at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla, beating just until combined.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and let cool completely on racks.
  • Ice and garnish w/malted milk balls if desired

Chocolate Malt Icing
Makes 4 cups

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 c. malted milk powder
5 c. powdered sugar

  • In a large bowl, beat butter and cocoa powder at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
  • In a small bowl, combine cream and malted milk powder, stirring to dissolve. Add cream mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed to combine. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Lettuce Wraps

Here's one from the archives!
I started making this recipe 3 1/2 years ago when we were newly married and have tweaked it a bit here and there over time. So, here's the fruits of 3.5 years of eating for you!

Lettuce Wraps

1 c. 10 minute brown rice or reg. brown rice cooked in veggie broth
2 tsp olive oil
1 can chopped water chestnuts
1 lb lean ground turkey/chicken
¾ c. sliced scallions
4 Tbsp bottled peanut sauce
2 Tbsp lite soy sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
12 large whole leaves from 2 heads boston lettuce (A nice head of iceberg will work too)
2 c. thinly sliced cucumber (I grate)
1 c. sliced radishes and shredded carrots
½ c. cilantro sprigs

Garnish: Lime Wedges

1. Cook Rice
2. Prep all veggies
3. Prep Dipping Sauce for Wraps: 3 Tbsp Peanut sauce, 1 Tbsp lite soy sauce, 1 Tbsp lime juice, 1 Tbsp water
4. Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add turkey, breaking up very small, cook 5-6 minutes.
Add ¼ c. scallions, water chestnuts, 1 Tbsp each peanut sauce & lite soy sauce and the minced garlic. Cook two minutes more, stir in rice, remove from heat.
5. To serve: I usually put the veggies(including lettuce) on fun platters, in oval bowls and serve each person their own bowl of turkey/rice and dipping sauce to make their own wraps with – YUM!

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's that time of year again..........

.........for me to lose my mind and decide to bake for friends and family. After a week of feverish slaving in the kitchen, it looks like Willy Wonka's candy factory blew up in my house. Each nite before bed, my husband and I peel off socks covered in caramel, peppermint and peanut brittle bits. And today I am free! We mailed the last 4 boxes of goodies to family and I am at last at peace.

I really don't know what drives me to such heights of foolishness. But, I guess until I come to my senses, family & friends are able to enjoy the home baked insanity that comes out of my kitchen.

I simplified my packaging this year with assorted ribbon from Michael's, shipping tags bought from Office Depot (hand stamped and written upon) and cellophane bags to contain the goodies. The cello bags were inspired by Ina Garten who used them during a holiday baking episode of Barefoot Contessa. I ordered them from Cello bags- Cheap, sturdy and convenient, they also provide a modest portion size. And to top it off, they are also an attractive vehicle through which to showcase your goodies. When thinking about the mass quantities of treats everyone would consume throughout the holiday season and how I'm trying to watch my own waistline in anticipation of a trip in March-- the cello bags were the perfect solution so that everyone could have a taste of each, but the chances of overindulging would be next to none.

Here's one of my standby, favorite Christmastime recipes-- Peanut Brittle, courtesy of Gale Gand.

Cinnamon Peanut Brittle
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand

1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups roasted salted peanuts
1 teaspoon baking soda

Combine the water, sugar, cream of tartar and corn syrup in a medium-size heavy saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Bring to a boil over medium heat. After it boils, stir the mixture occasionally. Boil the mixture until it reaches 340 degrees F. The color should be deep golden brown. Remove from the heat and, working quickly, stir in the cinnamon with a wooden spoon. Stir in the butter until melted, then the peanuts and baking soda.

Pour the mixture onto the oiled cookie sheet with sides and spread it out a bit with the back of a wooden spoon, to about 1/4-inch thickness (it may not fill the whole pan). Let harden, uncovered, in a cool place, 30 to 45 minutes. (To wash the saucepan, soak it overnight.)
Using your hands, and wearing cotton or plastic gloves if desired to keep off any fingerprints, break the brittle into pieces. Store in an airtight container.