Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Healthy Almond Joys

I can't believe it's been months since I've blogged. I guess I'm not very good at balancing my life! :) Many of you haven't heard, but the SQD family is growing! Our baby is due in June, so needless to say life has been busy.

Before I got pregnant I was following a whole-food plant-based diet. I also gave up all processed sugar for 2 months! Can you believe it? I can't. Ha! These little Almond Joys got me through my bad sugar cravings and they are so packed full of nutrients. It's ridiculous that these are actually good for you. I make these for potlucks and family gathering and they are always a hit. I have made them individually and also as a 9x13 pan of bars. Either way, they taste great. Almond Joy is my favorite candy bar and these little treats have it beat! This recipe was adapted from my Health Coach, Cynthia Sumner. Side note: if any of you are looking for an awesome online Health Coach, check out Cythia's site Green Healing Leaf. Her program changed my life.

For those of you that are into "clean" eating or even Paleo, most of these ingredients may be familiar to you. Most can be purchased at a health-food store, bulk-food store or even Costco. I buy my pure maple syrup, coconut oil and chia seeds at Costco. I buy the macaroon coconut and Cacao powder at my local health-food store. I also make my own almond flour in my Vitamix or you can purchase that at a health-food store also.

Every time I share this recipe, people always ask me, "What is cacao powder? Is it the same as cocoa powder?" Cacao powder is basically chocolate in the raw and the "fruit" of the Cacao tree. It is very strong and kind of bitter on it's own. Raw cacao is an excellent source of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and sulfur. Cocoa powder is what we commonly see in grocery stores and use in our baking. Cocoa powder is basically the cacao bean that has been heated, roasted and processed. Because of this nearly all of the nutrients and antioxidants have been stripped away. Cacao powder is expensive (typically $16-$17 for 1 lb.) but a little goes a long way, so it lasts.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. This is one of our family's favorite raw treats. My kids love helping make them, too. If you'd like to see more raw treats or raw recipes, please leave me a comment. :)

Here's what you need:

3 c. finely shredded, unsweetened coconut (I use unsweetened macaroon coconut)
1 1/2 c. almond flour (just blend or process whole, raw almonds into a flour in a high-powered blender)
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. raw honey
1/3 c. softened coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp.sea salt
3 T. chia seeds

Chocolate Sauce:
3/4 c. coconut oil, melted
4 T. cacao powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. pure maple syrup, room temp


1. Combine coconut, almond flour, maple syrup, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, salt and chia seeds in a large bowl. Stir well until combine. Roll into balls. Place in freezer to set up. 

2. Make the chocolate sauce by combining coconut oil, cacao powder, vanilla and maple syrup together. 

Stir until smooth, drizzle over almond joy balls, top with an almond and a little shredded coconut and freeze until set. 

3. Store these in the freezer or refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes about 45 almond joys.


Enjoy and Happy Baking!

Printable recipe here.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Savory Pull-aparts

This last week was a little chilly which makes me crave soup. I wanted to make some homemade bread for dinner, but wanted something quick and easy. I love Monkey Bread, so I thought making some savory pull-aparts would be fantastic. If you missed my post on Monkey Bread, check it out. Those are also super yummy. This was an experiment gone right and my family loved it. If you haven't tried my Mom's recipe for multi-purpose bread dough, it's a must. It's great for pizza crust, Monkey Bread, cinnamon rolls, bread sticks, dinner rolls, etc. It comes together quickly and you don't have to knead it a long time. I hope you enjoy this recipe. It's perfect with soup and will be a total hit with your family.



Here's what you need:

Multi-purpose bread
-1 1/2 C warm water (about 120 degrees. You don't want it hot or it can kill the yeast.)
-1 TBS of dry, active yeast
-2 TBS sugar (can also use honey)
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-1 TBS oil (I use olive)
-3 to 5 C all-purpose flour (can also use 1/2 white flour with 1/2 whole wheat flour.) **You want the dough to still be slightly tacky, so use caution not to use too much flour. I typically only have to use 3 cups. It really depends on the brand and moisture content of your flour.

Dip 
-1/4 C melted butter
- 2/3 C Kraft Parm cheese (you can also use freshly grated Romano or Asiago cheese)
-1 1/2 TBS. Johnny's Garlic Spread Seasoning (I buy at Costco)

1. In large bowl combine warm water and 2 TBS sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle yeast on top of water and allow to stand for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. Once it's foamy stir in oil and salt. Add flour and stir. You can also mix flour in with your hands, but being careful not to overmix. This dough doesn't require a lot of kneading. 

2. Cover bowl with a warm, damp towel and allow to rise 10 minutes. You can allow it to rise longer which will result in even fluffier bread, bread but it's not required. 

3. Grease bundt pan and punch down dough. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Have 2 bowls to the side, one with melted butter and the other with the cheese and garlic seasoning mixed. Take chunks of dough and dip in butter and then roll in cheese mixture. Place around in bundt pan until the dough is gone.

4. Cover with a warm, damp cloth and allow bread to rise again until the dough doubles which takes about 15-20 minutes. Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown. 

5. Remove pan from oven and allow bread to rest in pan for 5-10 minutes. Flip out onto a serving platter. Serve warm and enjoy. You could also serve as an appetizer with a variety of dipping sauces (cheese, pizza, alfredo, etc.) 




Enjoy and Happy Baking!

Here's the printable recipe.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monkey Bread

I feel bad it's been so long since I've blogged. So much has been going on and I'll blog about that later.So many fun changes going on! My family has a tradition to have a Halloween party the Saturday before Halloween. When I was little I remember my Mom making homemade cinnamon rolls with homemade chili. I love making cinnamon rolls, but sometimes they can be time consuming. That's why I love Monkey Bread. It's tastes like a cinnamon roll, but can come together in under an hour and is a fun treat for Saturday mornings. I love that these remind me of my childhood. Plus, it's so fun to pull them apart when you eat them. Our kids love that!

This bread recipe is SO fast and easy and is one of our family favorites. I use it for bread sticks, cinnamon rolls, Monkey Bread, pizza crust, rolls, etc. It's a great multi-purpose bread dough. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Here's what you need:

Bread
-1 1/2 C warm water (about 120 degrees. You don't want it hot or it can kill the yeast.)
-1 TBS of dry, active yeast
-2 TBS sugar (can also use honey)
-1 1/2 tsp. salt
-1 TBS oil (I use olive)
-3 to 5 C all-purpose flour (can also use 1/2 white flour with 1/2 whole wheat flour.) **You want the dough to still be slightly tacky, so use caution not to use too much flour. I typically only have to use 3 cups. It really depends on the brand and moisture content of your flour.


Dip
-1/2 C melted butter
-1 tsp. real vanilla extract
-1 C brown sugar
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Glaze
-2/3 C powdered sugar
-1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract
-2-3 TBS milk


1. In large bowl combine warm water and 2 TBS sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle yeast on top of water and allow to stand for 5 minutes until it gets foamy. Once it's foamy stir in oil and salt. Add flour and stir. You can also mix flour in with your hands, but being careful not to overmix. This dough doesn't require a lot of kneading. **If Raisins are desired, add them to the dough now before the first rising.

2. Cover bowl with a warm, damp towel and allow to rise 10 minutes. You can allow it to rise longer which will result in even fluffier bread, bread but it's not required. 

3. Grease bundt pan and punch down dough. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Have 2 bowls to the side, one with melted butter and vanilla and the other with the brown sugar and cinnamon mixed. Take chunks of dough and dip in butter and then roll in sugar mixture. Place around in bundt pan until the dough is gone.



4. Cover with a warm, damp cloth and allow bread to rise again until the dough doubles which takes about 15-20 minutes. Bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown. 

5. Remove pan from oven and allow bread to rest in pan for 5-10 minutes. While bread is resting, make the glaze. In a small bowl, take powdered sugar, vanilla and 1 TBS of milk and stir. Continue adding 1 TBS of milk until the consistency is thick, but slightly runny. Flip bread out onto a serving platter and top with glaze. Serve and enjoy warm.



Enjoy and Happy Baking!

Here's the printable recipe.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Street Corn

Ok, I've never had "Street Corn" and I don't even know if there is such a thing, but if there were, this is what I'd imagine it to be. I love going to fairs and seeing everyone walking around with a big 'ole corn on the cob and I've always wanted to try it. But I think this version takes my food imagination to a whole new level.

**Update: My brother has informed me that street vendors in Mexico serve street corn that is rolled in cojita cheese and fresh lime juice. So there you go. There's your street corn lesson for the day. You're welcome. :)

I usually boil the corn when I make corn on the cob, but this time I baked it and it's SO much better. This version of corn only takes a few minutes longer to make, but it's so worth it. While the corn is baking, prep the sauce and grate the cheese. You can also prep the sauce ahead of time also. This is my new favorite way to eat corn on the cob. And for some reason knowing that Greek yogurt is in the sauce makes me feel less guilty for eating seconds. I guess it is *slightly* better than eating corn on the cob with just butter and salt. (Hey, it gives it some protein to all of you nay-sayers!) :)

Here's what you need:

-(6) ears of corn, husk intact

Sauce:
-4 TBS Greek Yogurt
-2 TBS mayo (can use fat-free)
-1 tsp. chili powder
-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
-1/2 tsp. salt
-zest of one lime
-juice of one lime

Garnish:
-lime wedges
-finely grated Asiago cheese

1. Place corn on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (You can also grill the corn for a few minutes on each side after it's baked so that you get grill marks and it will also slightly roast the corn. It just adds to the flavor, but it's not necessary.)

2. Prep sauce: combine all ingredients into a small mixing bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

3. Once corn is baked, remove from oven and allow to cool 2-3 minutes. Pull husk down from corn but don't remove as this makes a natural handle to hold on to. Take a butter knife and coat the outside of the corn with the sauce. Sprinkle or roll corn in grated cheese. Serve with a fresh lime wedge, squeeze fresh juice on right before eating and enjoy while hot.





Enjoy and Happy Cooking!

Here's the printable recipe.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mini Caprese Kabobs with a Balsamic Reduction

Oh my goodness! This Summer has been busy, but we've had some great time traveling and spending time as a family. I'm sorry that I haven't posted in forever. I've got a quick, easy, delicious and fresh recipe for you.

I love Summer because of all the fresh product readily available. My parents have grown a huge garden every year since the time I was little. I loved going out and picking fresh veggies, especially tomatoes. I'm not sure what else is better than a perfectly red, delicious vine-ripened tomato from your own garden. We started our own garden this year and we planted several varieties of tomatoes. We also planted basil, so I've been in heaven.

I love Caprese Salad and this is a little twist that makes a perfect appetizer or light lunch. You only need 4 ingredients: tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinegar. You need to use fresh mozzarella---not the hard, brick kind that you would grate for pizza. Fresh mozzarella is usually sold in a ball and the texture is really soft. The fresh stuff is a more expensive so I usually buy it at Costco in their specialty cheese section. I also love the Kirkland brand Balsamic vinegar too. I like using a balsamic reduction rather than just straight balsamic vinegar because it sticks to the tomatoes better, it doesn't absorb into the cheese, it tastes a little sweeter and that acidic "bite" is mellowed. And it makes for a gorgeous presentation. You can make the balsamic reduction while you assemble the skewers, so it really doesn't take extra time. You can make the kabobs a day or 2 ahead of time, but the tomatoes taste better if not refrigerated so I like to make mine the day I want to serve them.

Here's what you need: This made about 30 mini skewers.
-1.5 lbs. of cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes)
-1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into cubes
-12 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
-1 small pkg toothpicks (I like to use the ones with the wispy stuff on the tip)
-1/2 C balsamic vinegar

1. Put balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer about 10 minutes, OR until the mixture starts to thicken to a honey-like consistency. If you accidentally simmer it too long (molasses-like consistency), you can add a little extra balsamic vinegar and then simmer it again to the desired consistency. Remove pan from heat and set to the side.

2. Use 2 cherry tomatoes and 2 cubes of cheese for each toothpick kabob. I alternated every other one on the toothpick. Continue doing this until you have made the desired amounts of kabobs. Place them on a plate or serving platter.

3. Right before serving, drizzle the balsamic reduction over the kabobs and sprinkle a little coarse sea salt over them. You will not use all of the reduction, so you can save leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.





Enjoy and Happy Cooking!

Here's the printable recipe.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Beanilla Giveway Winners!

Thanks so much to everyone that entered the Beanilla Giveaway. I am so excited to give out these wonderful products for you to try. If you had fun entering this giveaway, please head over to the Beanilla Facebook page and thank them for sponsoring the giveaway on SQD!

Here are the winners!

Madagascar Vanilla Beans: Lael that left a comment saying, "I did it all - liked your FB page, left a comment, shared it, liked Beanilla's page, and am following your blog. Glad to have found you." 

I didn't hear from the first winner for the extract so here's the second winner:
 Mexican Vanilla Extract:  "Ranell and Brandon". If this is you, please contact me within 24hrs.

Congratulation to the winners! If you are Lael or Ranell and Brandon, please send me a message within 24 hours through the SQD Facebook page and include your name and address so that I can send it out to you! Please head over to the Beanilla Facebook page and let them know you won from the SQD giveaway and thank them for sponsoring the giveaway!


If you didn't win stay tuned because I have another giveaway coming up! :) Please tell your friends and family about SQD. The more followers we have means that we can do more giveaways! Yeah!

Have a great weekend and Happy Baking! :)

-Juli







Monday, June 17, 2013

Beanilla Giveaway!

You've heard me rave about my love of vanilla beans and how much I love the company Beanilla. The nice folks over at Beanilla were kind enough to sponsor a giveaway on our blog! Now you can try making your own Patriotic Trifle in time for the 4th of July with some delicious Grade A Madagascar vanilla beans or try making your own homemade vanilla extract.

Here's what's up for grabs:
-(1) Glass vial full of (3) plump, gorgeous Madagscar vanilla beans
-(1) 4oz. bottle of Beanilla Mexican vanilla bean extract

Enter the giveaway by doing these (3) steps:
1. Head over to the Something Quite Domestic Facebook page and "like" our page.
2. Find the Beanilla Giveaway picture at the top of our Facebook page. "Share" the photo and comment on the photo to tell us what you want to win.
3. Leave us a comment below to tell us what steps you did (including extra entries).

For (2) extra entries:
1. Become a follower of our blog by going here.
2. Head over to the Beanilla Facebook page and "like" their page. This is a great way to find out about new recipes and specials from Beanilla.

Beanilla Giveaway!
{www.somethingquitedomestic.blogspot.com}


Easy Peasy! Winners will be randomly picked via Random.org and will be announced on Friday, June 21st. Winners will have 24 hours to claim their prize. Good luck!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Strawberry Banana Trifle with Vanilla Bean Pudding

I'm not usually a trifle kind-of-gal, but this recipe has converted me. Thanks to my sweet cousin, Emily, for sharing this recipe. Trifles are fun to make because they look pretty and you can use your favorite fresh fruit. My favorite is strawberry banana. If you missed my post on how I created a Patriotic Trifle for the 4th of July, you can  read about it here. There are so many ways you can make a trifle, so use your creativity.

Oh my gosh. You have not experience a trifle until you've had this one. The vanilla bean pudding is so delicious that you will come back for seconds and thirds. The first time I made it my husband about died when he tasted it. I don't think my husband has ever asked to lick a bowl or the beaters in our 5 1/2 years of marriage, except when I made this pudding.

The pudding is made with sweetened condensed milk so it has a slight caramel, banana-ish flavor when mixed with the boxed pudding. It totally goes amazing with strawberries and bananas. If you read my post about the Patriotic Trifle, I mentioned my husband is allergic to bananas. I have made this with just strawberries before and it is really yummy also.  Just when you think the pudding can't be any more delicious and incredible, just add some vanilla bean paste to it. It's outta this world! And I love seeing those lovely little black flecks in the pudding. It seems so fancy to me. :)

I've told you about the place where I buy my vanilla beans. I mainly use Madagascar vanilla beans since they are the most versatile bean in baking, but the Tahitian beans are also incredible. If you want to try out the Madagascar beans, they are on sale right now! This is the best price I've seen and you get free shipping! Check out the sale over at Beanilla. AND some lucky person is going to win some lovely, gourmet Madagascar beans in my upcoming giveaway sponsored by Beanilla. Stay tuned!

Back to the trifle...You can use your favorite cake although I'm partial to a vanilla sponge cake, yellow or angel food cake. You can either cube a 9x13 cake or use (2) 8" or (2) 9" round cakes whole (depending on the shape and size of your trifle bowl) for a quick assembly of the trifle.

I don't recommend assembling the trifle any sooner than a few hours before you want to serve it as the bananas tend to go a little brown and watery even when coated with citrus juice). However; you can prep the cakes (freeze them) and the pudding a few days in advance. The pudding needs at least 3-4 hours to set up properly, so make sure you take that into account when making this. Make sure to keep your trifle refrigerated until right before you serve it.

Here's what you need:
-(2) baked 9-in round cakes (bigger or smaller depending on the diameter of your bowl)
-1 lb of fresh strawberries, sliced
-4 C ripe bananas, sliced
-2 TBS lemon juice

Pudding:
-(1) 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
-(1) 3.4 oz box of instant vanilla pudding (I like Jello brand best)
-1 1/2 C ice cold water
-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
-1 Madagascar vanilla bean (sliced and vanilla caviar removed)
-4 C heavy cream, 1 C reserved after whipping

1. In a small mixing bowl combine sweetened condensed milk, cold water and vanilla and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute until well-combined. Add the pudding mix and continue beating for 2 more minutes. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and then use the back of a butter knife to scrape out of the vanilla beans.  Add vanilla bean paste and beat until combine. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight. It's important to allow plenty of time for the pudding to set up so that the consistency stays when you fold in the cream.

Vanilla Bean Caviar. Delicious!

2. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold cream (except one cup) into chilled pudding mixture until color is mainly uniform with no white streaks in the pudding. Be careful avoid over-mixing. 


3. Prepare fruit and slice. Toss sliced bananas with lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Place first cake layer in the trifle bowl. Place bananas and strawberries right up against the glass all the way around (just for aesthetic purposes). Spoon pudding mixture on top of cake. Add a layer of strawberries and bananas on top of pudding. Repeat with the next layer of cake, put fruit up against the glass, spoon in a layer of pudding, another layer of bananas and berries, etc. Once trifle bowl is full, cover the top with the reserved whipped cream.



4. Make a decorative pattern on top of whipped cream. I like to use a pattern just with strawberries so that the bananas don't go brown when prepping ahead of time. 





Enjoy and Happy Baking!

Here's the printable recipe.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Patriotic Trifle

I went to a family party and my uncle had made an incredibly delicious trifle. I finally tracked down the source of the recipe and yy cousin, Emily, was sweet to share this recipe with me. I thought it would be so fun to make a holiday version of this trifle for the upcoming summer holidays.

Trifles are so fun to make because you can make them anyway you like with whatever fruit is your favorite or in season. The pudding in this recipe goes well with any type of fruit. You can also use your favorite cake. My favorite is a vanilla sponge cake, but if you are short on time I actually love yellow cake with this.

Most of you know my addiction to vanilla beans and extract in baking. I usually use Madagascar beans in baking because they are so versatile, but this time I tried Tahitian vanilla beans. Tahitian vanilla beans have a slightly fruity undertone that I thought would pair perfectly with the fruit and pudding. This was the first time trying Tahitian vanilla beans and I have to say that it was quite a treat. The beans are gorgeous, moist, plump and chuck full of delicious vanilla caviar. I couldn't believe how huge these beans were and they did not disappoint in flavor.

I buy all of my beans at Beanilla. They are my favorite company to work with because they have impeccable customer service, fast shipping, the beans arrive perfectly every time and the taste of the beans is exceptional. They also have the best selection of gourmet vanilla beans for the best price. They also have a great selection of vanilla extract making supplies as well as baking extracts. Beanilla is the one-stop shopping place for vanilla beans and extract supplies. I can't tell you how much I love them.


My whole world stopped when I discovered their vanilla beans and I use them in my baking all the time. They just add that extra special layer of flavor that separates your baking from others' baking. Look how gorgeous these are. The Tahitian is on the left and the Madagascar on the right. Tahitian beans are more expensive, but you get a lot more paste out of one pod, so that balances out the price. If you are just starting with using vanilla beans in baking, I recommend starting with Madagascar beans since they are the most versatile in baking.

Tahitian bean (left), Madagascar bean (right)

This trifle will knock your socks off and you will have to resist grabbing the bowl to lap up any leftovers. The pudding in this recipe is ridiculously easy to make, it tastes incredible and people may be knocking down your door to get the recipe. Whomever thought of using sweetened condensed milk as a pudding base was a baking genius. It has a slightly caramel, banana-ish flavor and then when you add some vanilla beans---holy cow! So yum! It pairs beautifully with any fresh fruit, but I love it best with strawberries, bananas and blueberries. My husband is allergic to bananas (I almost killed him on our first date) so some of my pictures do not include bananas. If you aren't against (or allergic) to bananas, definitely add them to this trifle for sure. If you are making the trifle with bananas, make sure to assemble your trifle the day you want to serve it or your bananas will go kind of brown and watery. The pudding also takes a few hours to set up, so be mindful of that when you are planning. I usually prep the pudding and prepare the fruit and bake the cakes while the pudding is setting up.

Also, if you are short on time you can make (2) 8-in or 9-in round cakes (depending on the diameter of your trifle bowl) and use them whole instead of cubing the cake. I also like the look of the whole cake layer and it is quicker to assemble, too.

Here's what you need: (Slightly adapted from my cousin's recipe)
-(2) baked 9-in round cakes (bigger or smaller depending on the diameter of your bowl)
-1 lb of fresh strawberries, sliced
-1 lb of blueberries
-4 C ripe bananas, sliced
-2 TBS lemon juice

Pudding:
-(1) 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
-(1) 3.4 oz box of instant vanilla pudding (I like Jello brand best)
-1 1/2 C ice cold water
-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
-1 Tahitian vanilla bean (sliced and vanilla caviar removed)
-4 C heavy cream, 1 C reserved after whipping

1. In a small mixing bowl combine sweetened condensed milk, cold water and vanilla and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute until well-combined. Add the pudding mix and continue beating for 2 more minutes. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and then use the back of a butter knife to scrape out of the vanilla beans. Add vanilla bean paste and beat until combine. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight. It's important to allow plenty of time for the pudding to set up so that the consistency stays when you fold in the cream.

Look at that gorgeous vanilla bean paste!

2. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold cream (except one cup) into chilled pudding mixture until color is mainly uniform. Be careful avoid over-mixing.

3. Prepare fruit and slice. Toss sliced bananas with lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Place first cake layer in the trifle bowl. Place bananas and berries right up against the glass all the way around (just for aesthetic purposes). Spoon pudding mixture on top of cake. Add a layer of berries and bananas on top of pudding. Repeat with the next layer of cake, put fruit up against the glass, spoon in a layer of pudding, another layer of bananas and berries, etc. Once trifle bowl is full, cover the top with the reserved whipped cream.



4. Make a decorative pattern on top of whipped cream with the fruit. I like to use strawberries around the bowl with a blueberry star in the middle.



Here are some other decorative ideas:

Trifle using whole cake layers. 

Love how this design turned out. So cute and festive! 


Enjoy and Happy Baking. This trifle will make a perfect addition to your 4th of July BBQ!


Here is the printable recipe.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Giant S'more Cake

I love planning and putting together birthday parties for my kids. We have a tradition to invite our whole immediate families to our children's first birthday. Since my daughter was born in the summer, I thought it would be perfect to throw an outdoor/camping themed party. I haven't had a chance to blog about the whole party, so stay tuned.

I wanted to have a s'more bar, so I thought it would be perfect to make a giant s'more for her birthday cake. I found the original idea on the Not Just a Housewife blog. I took those concepts and created my version of the S'more cake. I loved her idea for making the homemade graham cracker. The dough was so good and it was perfect being made in advance. It's a really great recipe and worked nicely for the cake.

I made (2) 9-in round chocolate cakes since we were going to be serving a lot of people. Although the giant graham crackers are so cute and even taste delicious, I didn't think people would want a big hunk of cracker with their cake, so I opted for a graham cracker cream filling. I have to tell you, the filling was to die for. I'm not usually a big graham cracker fan, but it totally worked with this cake. I wanted the cake to look like a real S'more, so I opted for marshmallow frosting (AKA "7 Minute Frosting") that could be toasted with a kitchen torch (thanks to my awesome friend, Missy, for that great idea). I also wanted the chocolate to look melted, so I thought chocolate ganache would be a perfect addition for that. 

So I didn't do a practice run with this cake before my daughter's birthday, so this was all trial and error. The flavors were so yummy, but there were a few aesthetic hiccups that I had to figure out the day of the party. So fortunately for you, you can learn from my mistakes. The biggest problem is that I made the graham crackers way to big and they were too thin, so they were kinda droopy when the top was placed. I did them a little bit smaller than a standard baking sheet. The next time I make this cake I will make them each about 10"x10". That way they are slightly bigger than the cake, but you won't have to deal with any droopage. :) Also, always always ALWAYS work with frozen cakes when you frost them. That prevents all of those little cake crumbs from getting in your frosting. It's especially important when using the marshmallow frosting. Seriously, frozen cakes are so much easier to work with.

So here's what you need. I'm going to separate it into each component:

Cake:
(2) 9-in round chocolate cakes, baked and frozen

Homemade Graham Crackers: (slightly adapted from Not Just a Housewife)
-1 C butter (2 sticks)
-1 C brown sugar 
-1/2 C dark corn syrup
-1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
-1 1/2 tsp baking soda
-4 C all-purpose flour
-4 TBS cold water

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla together in a medium mixing bowl. Add baking soda and flour and mix until incorporated. Add 2 TBS of water and continue stirring. Add a TBS of water at a time until you have a dough-like consistency. My flour was more dry, so I used all 4 TBS of water. 

2. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. Do not skip this step or the dough will be super messy to work with. 

3. Take a piece of parchment paper (mine is the size that fits a standard baking sheet) and sprinkle a little flour on op. Take half of chilled dough and begin to roll it out. You want it about 1/4" thick. Roll it out bigger than you need so that you can cut clean, crisp edges. Cut your rolled dough with a pizza cutter into a 10"x10" square. Repeat for the other cracker. 

4. Take a wooden dowel and make an impression in the middle of the dough. Then take the end of the dowel and make the circular impression to resemble a real graham cracker. 


5. Transfer the piece of parchment paper with the rolled out dough on top and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes until cracker is golden brown. If you bake less time then you'll have a softer texture, so make sure to bake enough time to ensure a cracker-like consistency and so that it doesn't fall apart when you assemble your big S'more. Remove from oven and allow the cracker to rest 5-10 minutes before transferring the parchment paper (with the cracker on top) to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before assembling your cake. 




Graham Cracker Filling:
-(1) 8oz. cream cheese, room temp
-3/4 C canned marshmallow cream
-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
-1/2 C prepared marshmallow frosting (the same you are using for the cake)
-2/3 C graham cracker crumbs, finely processed in a blender or food processor

1. In a small mixing bowl combine cream cheese, marshmallow cream and vanilla on medium speed until well-combined. Then add marshmallow frosting and graham cracker crumbs until combine. Refrigerate until you are ready to fill your cake. 

To fill cake: Place one cake layer down on frosting pedestal. Add graham cracker filling in the center of cake. Use a knife or an off-set spreading spatula and spread out the filling in an even layer to the edges of the cake. Place the next layer on top and then proceed to frosting the whole cake with marshmallow frosting.  



Marshmallow Frosting:
-1 1/2 C white sugar
-1/2 C water
-2 egg whites
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. cream of tartar 
-1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. In top of a double boiler combine all ingredients. Stir until ingredients are just combine. If you are using pure vanilla extract, your mixture will look brown. Don't worry; after you beat your frosting it will become white and glossy. While water is heating, beat all ingredients with an electric mixer at high speed for about a minute.

2. Place top of double boiler over rapidly boiling water and beat at high speed until mixture forms soft peaks (peak tops fold over). This took me about 3-4 minutes.

3. Remove pan from heat and transfer mixture into a separate mixing bowl. Continue beating on high speed until stiff peaks form and mixture becomes glossy and thick enough to spread. This took about 2-3 minutes.

  

4. Frost your filled cake. I like using a rotating cake pedestal for this step. If you aren't an expert at frosting a cake, don't worry because this frosting is forgiving and I think that adds to toasted look of being a marshmallow. In fact, I actually purposefully made the cake have some imperfections in the frosting so that I could get some toasted dimensions on the outside of the cake. 



5. Once you have frosted your cake, take a kitchen torch or a heavy-duty torch on the lowest setting possible to toast the outside. Be careful not to burn the cake. I practiced a few times with a spoonful of frosting before trying to toast the cake. You don't have to toast the top of the cake since it's going to be covered in ganache, but I did anyways so that I would have an even look once the ganache was on. I didn't want to have to battle melting ganache. 



6. Once your cake is toasted, top with cooled ganache and drizzle in on the sides so that it resembles melted chocolate. Make sure the ganache is barely warm or you will melt the frosting. 



Chocolate Ganache:
-4 oz. semi-sweet baking chips
-4 oz. heaving whipping cream

1. Combine baking chips and whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir mixture. If chocolate is not melted entirely, continue microwaving on high for another minute, stirring in 15-30 second intervals. 

2. Allow the ganache to cool so that it's barely warm to the touch. If the ganache cools too much it will become thick like frosting. If the ganache cools too much before you need it, just microwave it 10-15 seconds and stir before you drizzle. Make sure cake and ganache are chilled before assembling the cake.


Assembly of Cake:

1. I like using Wilton Cake boards. You probaly want to get a 10" circle or an 11x13 rectangle. I used the latter since my crackers were a lot bigger. You just need something that you can lift when the cake is assembled to transport it to where it will be displayed. 

2. Place one large cracker on the cake board. Carefully lift the cake and place on top of graham cracker. Carefully place the 2nd graham cracker on top. 


Cut, serve and enjoy! I wouldn't taken a picture of a slice of the cake, but it got eaten too fast! :) Here is the cake with the S'more bar.




Happy Baking!

Here's the printable recipe.