Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers - Feb. 2009

Woo! My first Daring Bakers Challenge! I can't believe it! Unfortunately I was unable to participate in the January challenge but I'm so glad that this month has given me no problems and I've been able to complete the challenge!
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

For my Chocolate Valentino cake (a flourless chocolate cake that's traditionally shaped like a heart) I used some positively fabulous Callebeaut 72% cocoa Mexican chocolate (provided by the wonderful Miss Linda at Cities Cupcake Boutique!), with just a smidgen of the much more familiar milk chocolate.

The recipe consisted only of three ingredients: Chocolate, Butter, and Eggs. The eggs were separated, and the egg whites beaten to stiff peaks then folded into the cake batter. The recipe warned against over-beating the egg white because it would result in a dry cake ...and I thought I took heed, but my judgment was slightly off - because my cake was definitely way too dry. The flavor was rich and complex. I just wish the texture would have been right (more moist and less crumbly). I'll just be sure not to over beat the egg whites next time.

For the ice cream, I started with a traditional Philadelphia Vanilla Ice Cream recipe (Philadelphia style ice cream lacks eggs...which many ice cream recipes rely on). The original recipe looked something like this:

6 cups light cream
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla

I used half and half in lieu of the light cream. I also added some French Vanilla coffee creamer to the mix. In retrospect, I would have used a little less coffee creamer, as I felt the corn syrup flavor was ultimately detrimental to the "fresh" flavor of the ice cream (I don't really know what I'm talking about...I just know that I don't like the taste of corn syrup).

My final recipe looked like this:

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half and half
2 cups french vanilla coffee creamer
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp vanilla

I dissolved the sugar in about a cup of cream/half & half/creamer that had been heated up in the microwave. Then I dumped the whole thing in my fun Ice Cream maker that Chase got me for my birthday 2 years ago (Thanks Chase!!!). The result was a WONDERFUL smooth, creamy, light ice cream. Chase and I both agree it beats just about anything we've ever had (besides that corn syrup taste). Wow. You just gotta try it.

The final element of the challenge was to create a sauce to go over the cake/ice cream. I went with a classic caramel sauce. The only other time I've made a caramel sauce was for a salted caramel frosting. I browned the sugar until it was very dark, which lent it an almost coffee-like bitter flavor. I was determined not to brown it to that extent this time, and as such, I think I undercooked the sugar. So the caramel sauce was a little bland. Oh well! I'll get it right one of these days!

Even though my "go" at this challenge was not without it's share of mistakes, the final product elicited such comments as, "This is the best thing I've ever had!" So give it a go! You won't be sorry!

The cake recipe:

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

Vanilla Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups half & half
2 cups French Vanilla creamer
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. sugar

Mix together cream, half & half, and creamer in a bowl. Pour about 1 cup of the mixture into a microwaveable bowl (I used a pyrex cup measure) and heat in the microwave 1-2 minutes (keep a watch on it and make sure it doesn't bubble over). Take it out and mix in sugar. Stir until dissolved. Stir this mixture back into the rest of the cream, half & half,and creamer and then stir in the vanilla. Freeze this in your ice cream make according to manufacturer instructions.

Caramel Sauce

3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. water
1tsp.freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. butter

Combine sugar, water and lemon juice. Cook on medium heat without stirring until deep amber in color. Once it reaches the correct color, take it off the heat and add the cream (it will bubble) and stir until smooth. Add in the butter.


Thanks Dharm & Wendy for a great challenge this month!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Busby Love!!!

Well, last weekend, I drove up to my mother's house to pick up my 8 week old bundle of fun! Her name is Busby, and she's a beautiful morkie (half yorkshire terrier, half maltese) and she's just getting into everything!

She's absolutely adorable. She lives here now, with our other dog Gershwin (her daddy) and they just have a grand ol time!

All at once now...."Awwwww!!!"
Look at her cute floppy ears!!! and her little nose!!!!! It's so small...her nose is about the size of a pencil eraser!

hehe! I'm gonna love this girl forever! I love doggy noses!

Aww!! She's got white under her chin, and on her belly....and.....

White at the tips of her feet!!

awwww. puppy feet!! She only weighs about 1 or 2 pounds right now...but she sure is strong!

Ahh...the look of inquiry... "Can I chew that?" "How much longer do I have to sit here?" "What else can I go destroy?"

More pictures when she grows up a bit :)

In the meantime, check out her beautiful brothers!

Morkie Puppies!

(there's also a light brown female - but her picture is not on that particular listing.)

There's nothing in the world like puppies!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Spiritual Formation

Oh geez. Where do I start? Well, I'm reading a book right now: The Great Omission by Dallas Willard.

I hope to give a more formal review on the book later on, but I just finished reading my chapter for today - and I wanted to share some of what I was reading. I don't know what to think about it yet, other than it's extreme importance in (my) Christian spirituality.

From Page 62:
"The gospel is not just "Your sins can be forgiven." The gospel of the entire New Testament is that you can have new life
now in the Kingdom of God if you will trust in Jesus Christ. Trust the whole person of Christ in everything he touches - which is everything."

"If you preach a gospel that has only to do with the forgiveness of sins - you will be as we are today: stuck in a position where you have faith over here and obedience and abundance over there, and no way to get from here to there." (Willard goes on to state that the bridge to get from here to there is discipleship, and the church does not do a good job of teaching us how to be disciples and walk with Christ. Too often, it's how to "save souls".)

Page 66
"What transforms us is the will to obey Jesus Christ from a life that is one with his resurrected reality day by day, learning obedience through inward transformation."

Colossians 3:5-17

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[a] 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Verse 17 illustrates the whole-life nature of our spiritual formation in Christ.

My summary of this: (I think my passage choices are just a little disjointed and difficult to understand..I'm sure the only reason I understand it is because I just read it.)

A. Christians are unaware that they are able to live
an abundant life in Christ...right now. We are more often than not taught that our reward for trusting in Christ is given to us after we die (heaven).
B. Therefore, many Christians are unfulfilled in their spirituality, and the full implications of a Christian life (on ourselves, our friends, family and our community) are never realized.
C. The solution is to become an obedient disciple of Christ.

Well, I'm still chewing all this over. Just wanted to share what I was thinking about! (Any thoughts anyone may have are more than welcome, and will be very helpful, I'm sure!)