Monday, June 17, 2013

It's a Big One

Nope, not a particularly long post today, but it's a BIG occasion: 
Last week, Big D. and I celebrated our Tenth Anniversary! Woo hoo! Some people might call this an accomplishment, I consider myself just plain lucky to have Big D. at my side. I am not going to write a whole long mushy post to my hubsters, because that just ain't my thang, but I will let the food do the talking, because where I come from, we express our love through food.
Sooo, in honor of The Big Ten, instead of celebrating out of the house in some hoity toity restaurant (our absolute favorite: ETC.-check it out one day- they have the best steak, um basically ever.) I decided it made more sense to celebrate where it all went down- right at home. I had a lot of fun planning an elegant dinner, and since it was just the two of us, I was able to really go all out:
Now, I feel kind of dumb showing you these pictures after last week's post, but in my defense, I was starving...hence the snapshot style photography:
And the Pièce de résistance:
That was mid heavenly bite. Here's what it looked like in the beginning:
I am drooling just looking at it. Is that really bad? Like laughing at your own jokes? Eh, if it is, too bad-this dessert is the stuff dreams are made of. And I'm talkin' seriously good dreams. Anyhoo, lucky for you, I shall share the recipe with y'all, so you can share the love as well:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Lava Cakes (Adapted from KevinandAmanda)
Since I wanted to keep this non dairy, all ingredients I used are non-dairy. You can swap out the dark chocolate for milk chocolate, margarine for butter etc. 
1/2 cup margarine, softened  
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 good quality dark chocolate bar ( I used dark chocolate with praline middle, and yah, it was amaaaaaazing.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 6 ramekins with non stick cooking spray. Using an electric mixer, beat margarine, brown sugar and white sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat for five minutes until creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking soda together. Reduce mixer speed to low and add in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide dough in half. Divide half the dough between the six ramekins and pat down. Put 2 chocolate squares in the middle of each ramekin. Divide remaining dough between the ramekins on top of the chocolate squares and pat down flat. Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes, until the edges are brown. As soon as you take them out of the oven, run a knife around the edges to make it easier to pop them out. Cool slightly, invert onto a dessert plate and serve warm with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup. 

* I froze the extra ramekins raw and defrosted them a few days later to bake for Friday night dessert- worked perfectly! Usually, with chocolate lava cakes, you cannot reheat them, because the gooey middle is essentially batter. Since this molten part here is pure chocolatey heaven, reheating them worked out perfectly! 

Until next time folks, 
Oh and by the way, notice how I did not wax poetic about the sheer deliciousness of our dinner. Because seriously- words do not do justice. Plus I really don't want to make you jealous. Cuz I'm so thoughtful like that.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Chocolate Bear Claw Ring

I think it's par for the course for every food blogger to self deprecatingly point out their first blog post. I seriously don't get why we do that. I don't show you those embarrassing glasses that I had in third grade, now do I? I see how it's inspiring for bloggers who are starting out  now to see a before and after of your work, but still. Let's keep the dirty laundry in the hamper, shall we? That being said, it happens to be that bear claws were one of my first posts. Well definitely one of my first "hit" posts. And yes, I cringe every time I look at the pictures. But, that's not why I'm bringing this up. For some reason I feel like the recipe wasn't written clearly. It's even hard for me to follow it when I print it out to make it again. I was pretty new to blogging back then, and still standing on wobbly knees. Nowadays, I feel waaaay more confident (a little too confident, some may say) so I thought it would be a great time to bring back this baby and bump it up a notch.

Danish Rings: 
Gorgeous, round yeast dough cakes that dominate Pinterest right around the holiday season.  Every time I see one, I think "Wow, that would be beyond awesome using the bear claw recipe. Like mind blowingly awesome." So who can guess when is the best time to make mind blowingly awesome cake? Hmm? Any takers? When my sister comes to town! She really needs a nickname. I think I shall call her Our Newest Addition. She of the Lost in Brooklyn story. Maybe I should call her Lost in Brooklyn? No, that just sounds like a song. Ok, moving along. Yes, that is the perfect time to give it whirl, and lo and behold, I was correct (as usual.) Seriously, this stuff is crazy. There is a reason why I make bear claws once every two years- I EAT ALL OF THEM. And I'm really not embarrassed to tell you that. It's that good.
Chocolate Bear Claw Ring
This recipe does have a few steps, but don't let it scare you. I actually find it easier to make this than cinnamon buns. It can really be divided up over 2 days-you can even freeze the chocolate cake and make the ring two weeks later. It also helps that you can refrigerate the yeast dough overnight and assemble the next day.

Yeast dough
3/4 cup milk, rice or soy work fine
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup margarine or butter, sliced into 1/2'' cubes
1/2 cup warm water
2 packages dry yeast (each package is 2 1/4 teaspoons, so here you would need 4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 eggs
4 3/4 cup flour

Heat milk until bubbles form around the edge, remove from heat. Add sugar, salt and margarine. Stir until margarine melts. Let cool. In a separate large bowl, add warm water and yeast. Let sit until yeast dissolves. Add the milk mixture, eggs and 3 cups flour. Beat with electric mixture for two minutes. Add rest of the flour using a spoon, mix until smooth. Cover the bowl with foil and refrigerate for 2 hours. (Not terrible if you do not have time to refrigerate- it just makes the dough easier to work with because its a very soft dough.) Dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to three days.

Chocolate Filling
One recipe chocolate cake, baked and cooled. I use this one. Not just for this, I use it for everything.
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups milk (again, soy or rice works fine)
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips- I actually forgot to put it in this time, and you really could not tell the difference.

Combine all the filling ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, in a food processor fitted with the "s-blade" Process on high until it has a smooth, spreadable, paste-like consistency.

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough in half. Roll out the first half on floured surface, into an approximate 9''x18'' rectangle. Spread filling over the dough as smoothly as possible. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips and press down. Now, here you can roll it up a few different ways. I tried one on each ring, and they both came out beautiful. You can either roll it straight like cinnamon buns, just make sure to keep it nice and tight. You can also fold over about 2-3 inches of dough, and continue folding, so the roll is more flat than round. Both looked very nice.  Connect the ends of the roll, and pinch together as much as possible. Transfer to a lined baking sheet. Once it's on the baking sheet, you can fix up the shape to a more round circle. Now for the fun part: Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice "cuts" around the perimeter of the ring. You should cut down all the way to the bottom of the ring, but only about half way to the middle. Does that make sense? Please email me if you need that clarified, or leave a comment. To give the ring a little flare, I twisted each cut, so that the middle part, with the chocolate, is facing up.  Repeat with remaining dough. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Allow to cool.

Chocolate Glaze (do not skip this step!)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons margarine
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 cup mini chocolate chips, for garnish (Yep, I forgot these too.)
Combine the glaze ingredients, except for the mini chocolate chips, in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir and transfer to a ziploc bag. Snip off the corner and drizzle over cooled ring. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. The rings freeze great, but there is absolutely nothing in the world like a bear claw fresh out of the oven. Well, I'm sure there are other things, but I'm trying not to think about it. I'm on a diet.

Ok, now because you guys are my friends (I hope?) or at least my husband,mother and sister-in-law,  I'd like to point out the difference between these pictures. :
Both pictures were snapped as the cakes were cooling on the counter: No natural light set up or anything, just my camera set on manual. As a matter of fact, the new picture was taken under our dining room light fixture, which is completely yellow, and at night. I think years of taking pictures helped improve my angle and composition, and learning more about white light and light balance has helped me edit the pictures better. Just an FYI for anyone wondering.

Keeping it real,
                   Have a great week!
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