Chocolate Temptation Cake

There are some days when everything just goes so right.  This was one of those days.  I had my first piece printed in the local newspaper and although it doesn’t seem like much, it meant a lot to me.

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It all came about when an acquaintance,  Lorraine Eaton, wrote a cookbook titled “Tidewater Table.”  She happens to work for the local paper.  They came up with the idea that if anyone made a recipe from her cookbook and wrote about it they would publish the piece in the paper.  Well, I certainly wasn’t going to turn down a chance at notoriety for a day, so of course I had to get the book out and figure out something to make!

There were many good ideas, but I made my decision when I saw the picture of the “Chocolate Temptation Cake.”  Who doesn’t love chocolate?  I for one could live on chocolate but what made this even better was the fact it had hazelnuts and raspberries in the cake.  This recipe was from Williamsburg’s Marcel Desaulniers, the author of several chocolate-centric cookbooks, including “Death by Chocolate.”   I had to try to make this, despite the fact it was a bit of a challenge.

It really wasn’t that hard to make, just time-consuming.  The hardest part for me was skinning the hazelnuts, if you can believe that.  Those skins just didn’t want to come off!  The taste however, was well worth the time into it and would be a great ending to any dinner party you had.

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Try this recipe, try the cake and buy the book.  It will be a great addition to your collection!

Chocolate Temptation Cake

Course Dessert
Prep Time 6 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 7 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 tablespoons melted)
  • 6-1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2 ounce pieces
  • 2/3 cups egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup egg whites

FOR THE GANACHE

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 10 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2 ounce pieces

FOR THE FILLING AND SAUCE

  • 1 1/2 pints red raspberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • (I would double this)

FOR THE CURLS

  • 1 ounce solid piece semisweet chocolate

Instructions

  1. Lightly coat the insides of two 9-by-1 1/2 inch round cake pans with melted butter. Line each pan with parchment paper, then lightly coat the parchment paper with more melted butter. Set aside.

  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

  3. Heat 1 inch of water in bottom of double boiler over medium heat. Place the remaining butter and 6 1/2 ounces of semisweet chocolate in top half of double boiler. Tightly cover the top with film wrap. Allow to heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir until smooth and hold at room temperature.

  4. Place 2/3 cup egg yolks and 1 cup sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle. Beat on high until lemon colored and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat for additional 2 minutes.

  5. While egg yolks are beating, whisk 2/3 cup egg whites ina large stainless-steel bowl until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.

  6. Using a rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the beaten egg yolk mixture. Add a quarter of the beaten egg whites, and stir to incorporate, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.

  7. Divide between the prepared pans, spreading evenly and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes. During baking the surface of the cake will form a crust; this crust will normally collapse when the cake is removed from the oven. Adjust the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Invert cakes onto cake plates. Remove parchment paper and refrigerate the cakes for 1 hour.

  8. While cakes are cooling, prepare the ganache. First toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 5 minutes in the 450-degree oven. Remove from the oven, and immediately cover with a damp towel. Invert another baking sheet over the top to steam the skins off. After 5 minutes, remove the skins from the nuts. Allow the nuts to cool to room temperature. In a food processor fitted with metal blade, chop nuts into 1/8-inch pieces.

  9. Heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, 4 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup sugar in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Place 10 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces ina stainless-steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate, and allow to stand for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir until smooth.

  10. Remove 1/2 cup chocolate ganache, and combine with chopped hazelnuts. Hold this mixture at room temperature to use for the filling. Remove another 1/2 cup chocolate ganache and reserve under refrigeration for 1 hour (this 1/2 cup will be used to decorate the Temptation) Hold the remaining chocolate ganache at room temperature until needed.

  11. Puree the raspberries and 1/2 cup sugar in a food processor fitted with a steel blade for 12 to 15 seconds. Transfer to a stainless-steel bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

  12. Assemble and decorate the cake. Remove the cakes from the refrigerator. Using a cake spatula, spread 1/4 cup raspberry puree over the one cake. Spread the puree evenly to the edges. Spread the ganache and hazelnut mixture over the raspberry puree. Spread the ganache evenly to the edges. Invert the other cake layer on top of the ganache covered cake. Press the cakes together. Using a very sharp serrated knife, trim the top and sides of the cake so they are even. At this point, the cake must be refrigerated for 30 minutes.

  13. Remove the well chilled cake from the refrigerator. Pour the room temperature chocolate ganache over the cake, spreading the with a spatula to create and even coating of ganache on the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 20 to 25 minutes to set the ganache.

  14. Transfer the 1/2 cup well chilled ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a No. 2 star tip. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Pipe eight to 12 stars on the top of the cake.

  15. Using a vegetable peeler, shave chocolate curls from the 1 ounce piece of chocolate directly onto the center of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour before slicing.

  16. Temper the cake slices at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours before serving. Portion 1/4 cup raspberry puree onto each plate. Place a slice of cake in the center of each plate and serve.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

If we all had one thing from our past that we all agreed was a favorite, I would have to guess that it would be warm chocolate chip cookies just pulled from the oven.  Add to that, a cold glass of milk and that chewy, gooey cookie was the only thing that seemed to make homework tolerable when I would walk in the door from school.

As the years went on, I made chocolate chip cookies for college roommates, my husband and finally my children and the cycle continued.  Well, okay….I really didn’t make them that often but when I did they still loved them like I had when I was their age.

Like most people, I always used the Toll-House recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag.  I mean, what other recipe was there?  However, I have to say over the last few years I haven’t thought they were very good.  I’m not sure if it was me or the recipe, but they just didn’t taste the same.

It was time to change tradition.

As luck would have it, I was watching the Food Channel one Saturday morning and there it was on the show “The Best Thing I Ever Made.”  Chef Elizabeth Falkner was making Chocolate Chip Cookies and calling them the best ones ever.  Yes, you and I both know what happened next.  I made them.

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They were the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies ….EVER!

The edges were crisp and the inside chewy.  They were gooey and easy to make and so good I wouldn’t change a thing about this recipe.  It does seem a bit sacrilegious to say, but I will never go back to Toll-House again.

Trust me. Ditch the bag of chocolate chips and try these.  It’s worth the break in tradition.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 8 Tablespoons butter, softened but still cool
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped the size of chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and brown and granulated sugars until smooth but not over mixed. (If you opt to use a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes) Add the egg, vanilla and salt and stir just until combined.

  2. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and stir gently just until combined. Add the chocolate and nuts if using and stir just until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

  3. Position the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  4. Scoop up 1-inch balls of the dough with a spoon for mini scoop and set them 2 inches apart on the prepared pans. Bake the cookies, rotating the pans after 7 to 9 minutes, for 13 to 17 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. If you like very soft cookies, bake them for 13 minutes. If you like your cookies crisp, bake them for 17 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool. These cookies are best the day they are baked, but they will keep in an airtight container or cookie jar for up to 4 days. If they last that long.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green TomatoesI grew up in the North where things like okra, hush puppies and fried green tomatoes were a foreign language.  The first time I even heard about fried green tomatoes was when the movie by the same name came out.  I watched it, and I saw the things she was putting on the plates and I wondered at the time why anyone in their right mind would want to eat something like that.  Fried tomatoes?

Living in the south you have to adjust….most times in a good way.  What’s that saying?  When in Rome…..?  I’ve been here long enough that I feel I am a southerner, so when the time came a few years ago and I saw Fried Green Tomatoes on the menu, I had to try them.  Well, either the southern humidity finally got to me or we were on to something good.  Fried Green Tomatoes?  OH YES!

As it usually is in my world, once I like something, I have to try to make it.  And it has must right.  I have tried many recipes but I believe I have finally got one that has become my favorite.  With a few tweaks here and there I have adapted this from Southern Living to a point where I think it’s worth sharing.   It’s got a nice tang, a little spice and a lot of crunch and you can always add a garlic aioli or basil mayonnaise for added enjoyment.

So for you Yankees…..you may have won the war, but you’re missing out on some good eating.   I hope you try this because you will be glad you did.

Bon Appétit Y’all!

Fried Green Tomatoes

Course Entree, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 medium green tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices
  • Canola or Vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine eggs and next 3 ingredients. Set aside.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup all purpose flour and , panko, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or pan.
  3. Dredge tomato slices in remaining 1/2 cup flour, dip in egg mixture, and dredge in panko mixture.
  4. Pour oil to a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 inch in a large cast iron skillet, heat to 375 degrees. Drop tomatoes, in batches, into hot oil, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels or a rack. Sprinkle hot tomatoes with salt.
  5. (You can keep cooked tomatoes warm at 250 degrees in the oven).

Fantastic Fig Spread

When I was growing up my closest connection to figs were in the Fig Newtons my mom used to buy.  I wasn’t a big fan.

Then came the bunko game a few years ago.  We all brought a dish to share and the only thing I remember from that night of eating was the basket my friend Leigh brought.  It had a small dish of fig jam in it and I don’t recall, but I’m sure I ate the entire thing myself.  I could not believe that was what figs really tasted like.

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After that I became obsessed with figs.  We bought a small fig tree the first year, with no results.  The next year we bought more fig trees and solicited advice from the sales rep.   He knew more than we did apparently, because that year I harvested five figs.  (yes, I did say the number five).  This year, we tried netting, something for the bugs and some fertilizer and we have a bumper crop!  I have so many that I can make Fantastic Fig Spread!

I don’t know where Leigh got this recipe from but I’ve made it before and it truly is fantastic.  In the past when I have made it (from store-bought figs) I have followed the recipe exactly.  This year I opted to add a little orange flavor to it and it was…..dare I say it?…FANTASTIC!!

This is an easy recipe and if you’ve never canned anything before this would be the one to start with.  Give it a try.  You will love it so much that next year you’ll be planting fig trees like I did.

As Ina Garten would say, “How easy is that?”  Enjoy!

Fantastic Fig Spread

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh figs, trimmed and quartered (I would chop a little smaller)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 12 ounces dried figs, stems trimmed and chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest

Note: you can add 2 tablespoons orange zest and 1/2 orange juice to the above ingredients if desired.

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat, cover, and cool overnight.

  2. Stir jam, and bring to a boil over medium-high het. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until jam is thick, stirring often.

  3. Meanwhile, sterilize jars and lids: Submerge jars in a large pot filled halfway with simmering water, and lids in a small pot of simmering water. Keep jars and lids in hot water until ready to use.

  4. Remove jars one at a time from hot water and fill with jam, leaving 1/4-inch head space. Seal with lids. Place canning rack or cake rack in bottom of a large pot, and return sealed jars to pot, adding extra water to cover jars by 1 inch, if necessary. Bring water to a boil and boil ten minutes. Remove jars from water and cool completely.

  5. **Once cool, check lids. They won’t have that “pop” in the center. If they do, use them immediately or throw away.

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