Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

17 10 2010

Ganache is surprisingly easy and, in my opinion, a much richer, classier alternative to frosting. I used this to make and decorate my beetnik cake. It was easy to work with, looks great, and tastes even better!

ganache

This recipe is from the June 2009 issue of Bon Appetit.


Ingredients:

•5 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
•1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
•1/ tsp vanilla extract
•3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
•3/4 cup sugar


Directions:

ganache 11. Place chopped chocolate, butter and vanilla in medium bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine cream and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
ganache 33. Pour hot cream mixture into bowl with chocolate and let stand 1 minute.
4. Whisk until melted and smooth.
5. Chill ganache until thickened and spreadable (about 1 hour).


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Beetnik Cake

17 10 2010

beetnik cakeI decided to finally make and share this recipe for beetnik cake: a chocolate and beet cake with subtle flavor and beautiful color. It goes well with raspberries (the batter even smells like raspberries) and chocolate ganache.

While the name of this blog has nothing to do with the cake with the same name, the two undeniably share a name. Plus, beetnik cakes are made with real beets, so this should be of interest to most veg cooks.

Thanks to Vegalicious for providing the inspiration and recipe!


Ingredients:

•3 large beets (to make 1 & 1/2 cups pureed beets)
•3 eggs *egg substitute to make vegan
•3/4 and 2 Tbs cup vegetable oil
•1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
•1 tsp vanilla extract
•2 cups all purpose flour
•1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
•1 1/2 tsp baking powder
•pinch of salt


Directions:

beetnik cake 11. Preheat the oven to 425º F.
2. Wash the beets, trim the ends off and cut in half. Place in a large baking dish and add a little water to steam them.
3. Cover in foil and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the beets are easily pierced with a knife.
4. After letting the beets cool some, slip off the skins under running water.
5. Puree the beets in a medium bowl.
6. Add eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla and mix well.
7. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
beetnik cake 28. Add the beet mixture to the flour mixture and stir until thoroughly combined – thickness should be similar to a brownie batter. You can add up to 1/4 cup water if too thick.
9. Pour the batter into a prepared (oiled and dusted with flour) 8 x 9 baking dish and place in the preheated oven to bake for 30-40 minutes. The cake is done when the center of the cake springs back.
10. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Let the cake fully cool before preparing (cutting, forming, frosting, etc.).


beetnik cake 3Serving Suggestion:

This cake has been layered with a raspberry filling in the middle and slathered with a bittersweet chocolate ganache. Of course, the decorative aspects are completely up to you! But, whatever you decide, get creative and ambitious! I NEVER bake and I managed to do this, which, in my humble opinion, looks AND tastes pretty great!


Tips:

•The beet puree can be made in advance. So if you want to spread out the cake prep, that’s a great project to do ahead of time.
•This cake works great if you cut into thin layers and layer with a rich and sweet filling (such as raspberry filling or ganache). It also goes well with walnuts which you could just add to the batter before baking.
•Use cake scraps to mold 3-D design, using ganache as both glue and primer. Then mix butter cream or another white frosting with food coloring to serve as paint.






Oatmeal Et Cetera Cookies

25 05 2010

To be completely upfront, I am not much of a baker. Desserts are only a once-in-a-while craving, and I only recently have been able to bake without burning everything. But one dessert I have always enjoyed was the “health cookie” from Java’s Cafe in Rochester, NY. While not the exact same thing, this recipe is inspired by that filling, sweet, nutty, gritty cookie that got me through so many study nights in college. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

•1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
•3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
•1/2 cup granulated sugar
•2 large eggs
•1 tsp vanilla extract
•1 cup chunky peanut butter
•1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
•1 tsp baking soda
•1 tsp ground cinnamon
•3/4 tsp salt
•2 cups steel-cut oats
•1/2 cup dried cranberries
•1/2 cup sunflower seeds (unsalted, roasted)
•3/4 cup walnuts (raw)
•1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate morsels


Directions:

oatmeal et cetera cookie 11. Preheat oven to 350 ºF.
2. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar with a wooden spoon until creamy. It’s a great exercise and if you roll your eyes and scoff at this, just think: electric kitchen appliances are a relatively new invention… (But if you insist on using a mixer, beat on medium speed until creamy.)
3. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.
4. Stir in peanut butter.
oatmeal et cetera cookie 2

Tip: If using natural peanut butter (as you should, ALWAYS), be sure to set out in advance so it gets to room temperature. If needed, spoon into microwavable container and heat on high for 30 seconds (or until softened).

5. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and incorporate into wet mixture.
oatmeal et cetera cookie 36. Add oats, cranberries, sunflower seeds, walnuts and chocolate morsels and mix well.
7. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
8. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet and remove to wire rack. Cool completely.


Tips:

•The best part about this recipe is that it’s so adaptable. Use nuts, seeds and dried fruits you already have laying around. This is just my preferred version using ingredients I love and always have in the cupboard.
• Freeze the cookies and enjoy them for up to 2 weeks!