Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Heaven in a Jar

Pecan Praline Sauce

What if I told you all you needed to create the perfect holiday or hostess gift was 30 minutes of your time, 7 ingredients and a microwave. Yes, you can not only create edible liquid gold in a flash, but you will also be revered for you culinary prowess and held on a pedestal for providing a jar of bliss that will have your friends and family swooning.  In fact be prepared to make extra because they will be coming back for more.!This amazing sauce can used as a topping for cheesecake or bread pudding, or served with sliced apples as a dip. You can also just eat int straight out of the jar with a spoon! My favorite use, however is this...........................

Pecan Praline Sauce heated and served over vanilla bean ice cream!!

So, let's get started shall we?  Here is what you need:

  • Q2 medium sized Micro safe bowls (one with a lip for pouring)
  • 1 package of pecans (1-1/4 cup)-lightly toasted
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1-1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon high quality vanilla (not imitation!)
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
Makes about 4 cups of sauce


Pre heat the oven to 425 and place a cookie sheet with pecans in upper 1/3 of oven. Toast 2-5 minutes or until golden brown. Set a timer for this! Don't walk away and keep an eye on them at all times. Depending on your oven temp it may take more or less time and they can burn quickly!! 

Let pecans cool and then coarsely chop....leaving some whole

In micro safe bowl (without spout) put toasted pecans and 4 tablespoons butter in micro wave and cook for 5 minutes, stirring once in between.

In micro safe bowl (with spout) place remaining butter. Micro wave until melted (about 1min.). Add brown sugar, flour and corn syrup. Stir with whisk till blended. Cook in microwave on high for 5 minutes (or until there is no sugar grains left). Stir once in between cooking time.

Add 1 tablespoon high quality vanilla (not imitation!) and add the 2/3 cup evaporated milk. Stir this until all ingredients are mixed evenly

Pour into 8 oz mason jars allowing the pecan portion to be distributed evenly in all jars. Let sauce cool. After cooling, the pecans will rise to the top of the jar. Stir the sauce, mixing the pecans back in the middle. Place lid on jar and decorate as desired. I doubled the recipe twice and got Q12, 8 oz jars.

If you are giving this away as a gift I would suggest putting a label on it indicating that refrigeration is required. Not that I think this is possible due to it's deliciousness and the fact it will disappear immediately, but I am told that it will last up to 4 months if refrigerated. 


Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Buttercream Ribbon Cake

Much to my husband's dismay, I could literally spend days sitting in front of my computer, musing over the myriad of amazing cake/dessert blogs and web sites that feature the most clever tricks of the trade in producing culinary masterpieces that have everyone wondering...."how the heck did she do that?!!"

So, I am going to uncover a few of my jewels for you that I put a Holiday spin on that's perfect for an upcoming special event or gathering. I call it my Holiday Buttercream Ribbon Cake. The surprise is that as beautiful as it is on the outside, there awaits a very special surprise when you slice it for your guests....a red and white striped center that looks like a candy cane!

I will include the pictures of what I did to create this cake. However, for a more in depth explanation of the cake striping technique, I have attached a link to the most amazing website, My Cake School,  by the talented Melissa. I agree with her assessment to use a box cake mix (gasp!!) for this technique as the consistency of the cake batter has to be right for it to work. For mine I used Betty Crocker White cake.

As for the frosting, I use a recipe for Swiss meringue from Hindsight Bride or American buttercream from Both work great. Just don't use the canned frosting from the grocery store, as it wont work for this design.

For the Buttercream ruffle affect, I have included a  Ruffle Tutorial  from the amazing Melody Brandon of My Sweet and Saucy. She owns a bakery in Long Beach, CA that is fabulous and she is a true cake artist. She inspires me every day with her amazing creations! I have also included the steps of how I arrived at my design as well. Here is what you should have on hand depending on which recipe you choose for your cake and frosting.


  • 2 boxes White Cake Mix/baked per the My Cake School Instructions-I find that extra batter is necessary to accomplish enough striping.
  • Red Food Coloring
  • Eggs
  • Whole Milk or heavy cream
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Water
  • Confectioner Sugar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla
  • Unsalted butter-softened


Q2 8" cake pans
Q2 Petal Decorating Tips (you can find these at Michaels Crafts or any cake decorating supply store)
Q2 Large Icing bags
Q1 cake board or plate
mixer with wire whip attachment
measuring cups and spoons

So, below are the picture of the cake that I did with Red and White Batter with the My Cake School Method found HERE

After you have finished crumb coating the cake, place it in the fridge for 15 minutes to set up


Make sure you have all of your equipment layed out and ready to go. You will need a batch of either swiss meringue or american buttercream. You will also need your 2 pastry bags and 2 petal tips.

I put my pastry bags in large glasses to make filling them with icing easier


Next, you need to place  petal tips in each of your pastry bags and fill one with red icing and one with white. Get your cake out of the fridge and follow the tutorial below on how to proceed with making the buttercream ribbons

I have also included some pictures of my own design below for reference:

And here is what you should end up with when you are finished! Make sure to chill the cake for at least another hour before slicing!

Time to dig in and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Chunk Candy Cane Cheescake

When I ran across this recipe on the Internet, my heart stopped just at the title! Chocolate Chunk Candy Cane Cheesecake! In my book, anything that combines chocolate, peppermint and cheesecake has surely got to be a winner. And now, I can confirm, after giving the recipe a trial run, that this is unequivocally the BEST holiday dessert you could ever dream of serving your friends and family. Not only is is a showstopper, but it is easy to prepare and amazingly delicious! Here is what you will need:

INGREDIENTS-adapted from

I am seriously addicted to these cookies! Cool Mint Oreos ROCK!
  • 1-1/2 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 32 cookies)--I used the Oreo Mint cookies that are out now for the holidays and it really gave the crust a extra punch of mint. I used the entire package
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 (8oz) packages of cream cheese softened
  • 1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract---I usually throw in a couple additional teaspoons because I LOVE vanilla!
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2  cups semisweet chocolate chunks-I use Nestle
  • 1/2-3/4 cup coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies (about 24)-I found some pre crushed peppermint candy in a bottle at Marshalls. I have also seen this product at World Market
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels (I use Ghirardelli)
  • Garnish: 65 medium sized candy cane sticks-I bought 3 boxes (24 ea.) at Big Lots for $2 a box. I had to trim off the rounded tops and I cut half of them 3/4" shorter so I had a variety of heights

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a 9" springform pan.  Place cookies in food processor and blend until fine crumb is present and fully blended.

Combine cookie crumbs, melted butter and sugar and stir well. Press mixture on bottom and press up the sides of the pan about 3/4" and press bottom so crust is equally distributed. Place on wire rack with baking pan below for 14 minutes. Let cool.

Beat cream cheese at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk, beating just until blended. Add 1/3 cup whipping cream and next 3 ingredients. Beat until just blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Stir in chocolate chunks and half of the crushed candies.

Pour Batter into baked crust. Bake at 325 degrees for at least 55 minutes or until edges are set and and center is almost set. NOTE: The cheesecake may still giggle a little but this is OK. Don't over bake!. Turn the oven off. Immediately run a knife around edge of pan, releasing sides. With oven door slightly open, let cheesecake stand in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack. Cover and chill for 8 hours. Remove sides and bottom of pan.

For garnish: Pour 1 cup heavy whipping cream in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute or until  hot. Add 2 cups semi sweet morsels. Let sit for about a minute and then still until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.

Put a layer of wax paper under a wire rack and place the cheesecake on top of the rack. Pour the ganache mixture over the chilled cheesecake, starting in the center and allowing the ganache to spill over the edges.

Smooth the edges that did not get covered with an offset spatula. Allow a few minutes to set up.

Then, take candy cane sticks and place around the diameter of the cheesecake. I cut half of them down about 3/4" and alternated tall vs. short candy canes for a more stylized look. Sprinkle the remaining crushed peppermints on the top. Place back in fridge until chocolate has set up. When ready to serve allow to sit out at room temp for about 10 minutes.

Now place your masterpiece on a beautiful cake pedestal. Slice and serve, and prepare to be called a domestic Goddess or God and receive lots of accolades!!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake

There is a cute little community market down the street from me in Birmingham, MI (they are on twitter: @MarketSquareMI). They carry a large amount of grocery staples and wine/liquor and have an amazing deli and prepared food section. I usually shop there several times a week. While waiting in line a few days ago, I spied the magazine, The Best of America's Test Kitchen Recipes from Cook's Illustrated and The America's Test Kitchen TV Show. There was a picture on the front cover of the most beautiful slice of dessert. I scooped it up and added it to my purchases. Boy am I glad I did!! I have tried several of the recipes and all have been winners. My favorite so far is The Triple-Chocolate Mousse Cake. It is a tower of dark, milk and white chocolate that is a taste of heaven! It is smooth, creamy and decadent. It is not that difficult to make, just a little time consuming. However, it is well worth the time invested! This would be a fabulous dessert to prepare for any special event or dinner party. Your guests will think you are a master pastry chef who spent days in the kitchen. Here is the recipe:


6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
7 ounces Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 tsp. espresso powder
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs separated
pinch salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
5 tbsp hot water
7 oz Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt

3/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1 tbsp water
6 oz white Ghirardelli chocolate, chopped fine
1-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
Shaved chocolate for garnish

The Ingredients

THE BASE LAYER: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 9-1/2" by 3" spring form pan. Melt the butter, chocolate and espresso powder in large heat proof bowl over a saucepan filled with 1" of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool mixture slightly about 5 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla and the egg yolks: set aside.
In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 1 min. Add half of the brown sugar and beat until combined about 15 seconds. Add the remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides half way through. Using a whisk, fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Transfer the batter to the spring form pan, gently smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake until the cake's center has set but is still soft (it will spring back after pressing gently with your finer ) 13-18 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely about 1 hour. Make sure the cake is completely cooled!!! The cake will collapse as it cools. Do not remove cake from the pan!

MIDDLE LAYER: Combine the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl; set aside. Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, 2-5 minutes.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream, sugar and salt at medium speed until it begins to thicken about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form (another couple of minutes). Using a whisk, mix the cocoa powder mixture into the melted chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain. Spoon Mousse over the cooled cake and gently tap the pan on counter 3 times to remove any large bubbles; gently smooth the top with an offset spatula. Wipe the inside edge with a damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate the cake for at least 15 minutes while preparing the white chocolate layer.

TOP LAYER: In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water; let stand at least 5 minutes. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat add the gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth about 1 minute. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5-8 minutes until thickened.

In a clean bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream at medium speed about 1 minute until it begins to thicken. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form about 2 minutes. Using a whisk, fold 1/3 of mixture into white chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the pan over the bittersweet chocolate mousse layer. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until set at least 2-1/2 hours (the cake can be refrigerated up to 1 day). Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes before releasing from cake pan and serving.

The Finished Product!!

NOTE: when slicing use a hot knife to make a clean cut.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Airbrushing a Wedding Cake ornament

I had a wedding cake client that ordered up a beautiful buttercream layer cake with a silver bow cascading down the front. Traditionally, I hand paint everything that has any kind of edible silver on it. However, this bow was just too big. So, I bit the bullet and purchased an airbrush machine. Much to my husband's dismay I am now hooked. Next up I will probably be trying to spray tan myself and give all the neighborhood kids tatoos!
I researched the various options for an airbrush and they come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. I found through speaking to a large number of experts and doing some online homework that the KopyKake Brand is really the best choice. I chose the air master model which has adjustable settings for air pressure of 0-30psi giving you greater contgrol over details. Here it is: The cost is steep ($250) but you will have it for the long term and there are a million things you can do with it.
So, I delivered the cake last Saturday, 7/11 and I already recieved a home visit and beautiful thank you note from the bride and groom. I am very happy with the way it turned out and looking forward to doing some more airbrush work!