Birthday cake icing

For years I have owned a checkerboard cake pan and finally decided to attempt to make this layer cake.  First and foremost, I want to emphasize–this takes time.  I planned two days to prepare the cake, chill the cake, and make and decorate the cake.

And by no means, am I any sort of expert.  I call myself a cooking and baking enthusiast.  But, over the years, I have developed confidence in trying many new recipes and experimenting with my own recipes and modifications.

This icing recipe is not an experiment.  It came directly from the pages of Martha’s American Food cookbook.  It was made exactly as she recommended.  And, it is an amazing recipe.  Although she does not say to chill the cake after icing, I highly recommend that step.

The icing is perfect consistency for spreading on a layer cake, but needs to firm up for serving.  I also feel that by chilling the cake prior to icing, allows the cake to firm up as well.  There is nothing worse than a layer cake that is sagging, tilting, or falling over.

If ever thinking of making a layer cake, consider this recipe, it is delicious. This recipe made 7 1/2 cups of icing.  I had about 1/2 cup left over after frosting three layers.  Certainly, the quantity could be changed based on your cake size.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, 1/2 cup plus 1 cup boiling water, 4 1/2 sticks unsalted butter SOFTENED, 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, pinch of salt

Heat and melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Remove from the heat and allow to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  Combine the cocoa with the boiling water in a bowl. Dissolve.  Beat softened room temperature butter in a stand mixer, with the sugar and salt until fluffy.  Add melted chocolate slowly and then add in the cocoa mixture.

Use immediately.  The icing will be soft and free-flowing and covers the cake very well.  To firm up the icing, chill in the refrigerator.

And about the cake itself, the pan is the key to the checkerboard cake.  You can use any two types of cake mixes, or any of your favorite cake recipes.  The pan does the work.  I baked the cakes for 25 minutes, chilled, and leveled the tops prior to assembling the layer cake.  These pans provide an easy release and there were no worries with the results. I used a Chicago Metallic checkerboard cake pan, but many others are also available online, including one from Wilton.

I always have a nice feeling when I bake a cake for the one I love.

 

Chocolate topped ice cream treats

For those of you who love an ice cream treat, but just can’t have a whole bowl, here is a great way to portion out a delicious dessert.  I scoop out Edy’s Vanilla ice cream into eight large cookie balls with my cookie scoop.  Freeze them on a tray and then make a quick ganache topping.  This time I melted 6 ounces of semi sweet chocolate with 4 ounces unsalted butter (or 6 ounces to be able to dip the ice cream balls) and 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup in a double boiler on the stove top.  When the ganache is melted and ready, working quickly, pour over the ice cream balls or dip the ice cream into the ganache.

The treats could be topped with sea salt, sprinkles, or chopped nuts.  Return to the freezer immediately until just ready to serve.  They must chill at least 30 minutes to set for presentation.

Snowman Chocolate Bark

From another food blogger (theDecoratedCookie.com) comes this great idea for snowman chocolate bark.  The directions were very easy to follow.  And, the result is very cute. Just perfect for the winter season, especially for children of all ages.

Very few ingredients are needed. To make the bark, I used these ingredients: 16 ounces of Ghirardelli dark chocolate melts, 1 tablespoon shortening, Ghirardelli white candy melts, pretzel sticks, white sprinkles and decors, black and orange icing.

Place a silpat mat on a baking sheet.  Melt dark chocolate chips and shortening in the microwave following the directions on the candy bag.  Spread on the silpat mat to fill as much of the tray as possible.  Arrange the white candy melts into snowmen.  Add the broken pretzel sticks for the arms.  Sprinkle the white sprinkles and decor around the bark.  Decorate the snowman heads with the black and orange icing.

Place the baking tray in the refrigerator to set the bark for at least 30-45 minutes.  At that time, the bark can be removed and broken into segments for serving.  Individual bark pieces could be used as a garnish alongside an ice cream dessert.

Chocolate nut candy

After shopping the chocolate shops up North, I decided to try to make my own chocolate candy.  The key to this recipe is buying upscale dark chocolate. I used Ghirardelli chocolate for this recipe.  I used my smaller slow cooker to melt the chocolate, so I would not have to monitor the temperature as closely.  It was a very easy process.

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I used one 16 ounce jar of unsalted dry roasted peanuts, but any type of nut would work with this technique.  I used 24 ounces of Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate baking chips and mixed both together in the cooker.  The mixture cooked on low for 1 1/2 hours. I turned off the cooker and allowed to cool for 20 minutes.  Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper.

I allowed the candy to harden for several hours, packed in a covered container separated by waxed paper and stored in the refrigerator until serving time.  Perfect.

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