{twd} chocolate caramel hazelnut cake

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I went to the very edge of CAKE FAIL, but made it out on the other side with HEAVEN ON A PLATE.

Yes, my cake might not look like much. It doesn’t look like the elegant picture in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours. I overcame a lot of obstacles to make it, but it was worth it–so worth it.

  • This week’s Tuesdays with DorieChocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake–calls for jarred chestnuts. Week after week I would walk down the baking aisle at my local gourmet grocery store and see the jarred chestnuts thinking, “one day I will buy you for a recipe”. Of course, because this is the way things happen, this week the store didn’t have them. I also didn’t have the required sweetened vanilla chestnut spread. I did find and buy unsweetend chestnut puree which I figured I could sweeten myself  the next time I make the cake (and there will be a next time).
  • Not having enough time to drive all the way to Whole Foods/Los Angeles, I made the cake with toasted hazelnuts, Nutella, and instead of brandy–I used Frangelico.

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  • I made 1/4 of the cake batter recipe, 1/3 of the ganache, 1/8 of the syrup, and 1/8 of the glaze. In retrospect, I should have  made more glaze.
  • I baked the cake in my 4″ round pan. I should have used two pans. I knew I should have used it. I was feeling lazy and didn’t feel like prepping the second pan. The cake rose like crazy and overflowed like one of those constantly erupting volcanoes in Hawaii. Luckily, once I scraped away the overflow parts I was able to salvage two 1/2″ layers.

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  • I made the ganache a couple days ahead and it was too hard to spread directly on the cake. I had to wait for it soften a bit.
  • My glaze wasn’t smooth. I blame this on not making enough and having to play with it a lot to coat the cake.

In the end, all of that doesn’t matter because this cake was good. Thank you to Katya of Second Dinner for hosting this week. If you would like the recipe, visit her blog or buy the book.

Oh, I almost forgot. I had extra ganache, so I made truffles by rolling balls and dusting with cocoa powder.

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{twd} Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart + Giveaway

I’m still recovering from my whirlwind weekend in San Francisco for Blogher Food 2009. Every time I visit the City and the Bay Area, I get a little sad because I don’t live there anymore and I have to remind myself to visit more often.

Lunch at the conference was sponsored by a frozen pasta meal company that shall not be named. It was awful and that is putting it mildly. Rocco DiSpirito (who is gorgeous in real-life) was there promoting the products and trying to convince all us food bloggers that frozen meals are great and that he has a freezer full of them. We were encouraged to Tweet the frozen pasta meal company and Rocco during the meal to ask questions about the product. The Tweets were projected on a big screen. If your question was picked, you won some prizes.

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Fueled by the wine served at lunch and encouraged by the women sitting at my table, I tweeted Rocco and asked him: “Hey, I’m newly single. Want to go out?“. It was fun and carefree, but Rocco never responded. :'(.
Prior to asking him out, one of my questions about the frozen pasta meal company was picked and I won some prizes which I will now share with you.


I have a copy of Rocco DiSpirito’s Rocco Gets Real: Cook at Home Everyday. If you would like it, let me know what you think. Should Rocco have responded? Did he miss a great opportunity? 😛 Please leave a comment and let me know your opinion by 11:59pm on 10/5. Winner will be randomly selected.

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Thank you to Carla of Chocolate Moosey for selecting this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. I made the full recipe and served it a dinner party. It was very delicious and people enjoyed it. I loved the crunch the nuts added. Oh, and I used honey-roasted cashews because I couldn’t find honey-roasted peanuts and sprinkled the tart with cocoa powder. If  you would like the recipe, please visit Carla’s blog or buy the book.

{twd}my tribute to dorie’s tribute to katharine hepburn brownies

Apparently, in addition to her film accomplishments, Katharine Hepburn was known for her brownies. I did not know this. After imdb-ing her, I’ve also realized that I’ve never watched one of her movies. The closest I’ve come to “watching” her in a movie is seeing Cate Blanchett play her in The Aviator. I really need to catch up on my classic movie watching.

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, A Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies, is Dorie Greenspan’s tribute to the famous brownies. My tribute to the brownies is ice cream. More specifically, Peanut Butter Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl and Chocolate-Covered Cacao Nibs.

The brownies had just the right amount of gooey-factor and were fudgey with a hint of cinnamon. Loved them. Co-workers loved them.

See exhibit #1, email from co-worker (masked to protect the innocent):

From: ##### Monday – July 6, 2009 10:28 AM
To: Wendy
Subject: OMG

Browwwwnnnnnniiiiiieeeeessssss Yummy Yummy Yummy.

But the ice cream, yes the ice cream was an absolute dream. This is my new favorite flavor. I made Peanut Butter Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop and swirled in Creamy Caramel Sauce also from the book and I also added in some chocolate-covered cacao nibs. You can find the recipe for the ice cream HERE. I need to figure out how to successfully bring ice cream to work. I was thinking about buying dry ice.

Thank you to Lisa of Surviving Oz for selecting this week’s recipe. She isn’t a member of Tuesdays with Dorie, but designed the new logo. Isn’t it cool? If you would the recipe, either buy Dorie Greenspan’s Baking… From My Home to Yours or visit Lisa’s blog.

{sms} Butterscotch Caramel Cashew Bars

I’m back in the swing of things with Sweet Melissa Sundays. The pick of the week was the very delicious, the very gooey Butterscotch Caramel Cashew Bars.

A brown-sugar shortbread cookie base is topped with a butterscotch caramel topping and then sprinkled with whole cashews. Very easy.

Thank you to Pamela of Cookies with Boys for selecting the recipe. If you would like the recipe, please visit her blog.

{TWD} Fleur de Sel Caramel & Cardamon Crunch Bars with Coffee Ice Cream

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I’m eating way too many of these bars while watching the Red Carpet and the Oscars. They’re so good, the bars. The Oscars, I’m sure will be long and drawn out. But I’ll watch the whole show anyway.  And eat these bars–with Coffee Ice Cream!

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours, is Carmel Crunch Bars.

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The bars were quick and easy to make and bake. The cookie base is a brown-sugar shortbread with finely chopped chocolate {I used semi-sweet}. The original recipe called for cinnamon. Because I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to grind cinnamon, I substituted cardamon. Plus I thought cardamon would pair well with the espresso powder {and Coffee Ice Cream!} and chocolate  in the recipe.

Once the base is done baking, it is topped with more finely chopped chocolate {semi-sweet again} which melts for a couple minutes in the just-turned-off oven.

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Instead of using Heath Toffee Bits for the topping, I chopped up some  homemade Fleur de Sel Caramels I had left over from November’s Daring Bakers challenge.  This created a nice caramely layer over the chocolate.

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The Playing Around suggestion with this recipe is to make Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Bars. I love making {and eating!} ice cream, so of course I would take up the suggestion. I made Coffee Ice Cream! from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. You can find the recipe here.

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Thank you to Whitney of What’s left on the table? for selecting these absolutely wonderful bars. You can find the recipe on her blog. YUM!