Monday, July 14, 2014

Chocolate plus Raspberries= CAAAKE

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Have you ever had a cake that just melts in your mouth after every bite? Do you love the way raspberries explode into your mouth like a bright and refreshing summer day? I do. This recipe is easy to make will make your guests drool every time you serve it. I especially like it with a fresh cup of #Peet's Coffee.

I made this cake for my friends son's surprise 50th birthday. The party was fun and this cake made it memorable for everyone. Won't you try it too? And don't forget to share it with your friends on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake w Whipped cream

1 box devils food cake (follow recipe and add these extra ingredients)
1 extra egg
1 box chocolate pudding
½ C sour cream

1 carton of Pastry Pride whipped topping found at Smart&Final or Cash&Carry

Ganache: recipe below

Bake cake in two round cake pans using parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan according to directions on the box and remove from oven when tooth pic comes out clean. I used an extra large round pan for mine. Cool. I know I know. You are going to make a comment about how you shouldn't use boxed cake mixes. Well I have to disagree. By adding these extra ingredients, the cake turns out perfect every time. I can't tell you how many times I have made this dessert for various functions like retirement parties, book club meetings, and special dinner parties.

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You can make these ahead of time and freeze them. Defrost at room temperature when ready to decorate.
Ganache: Use 1 pint of heavy whipping cream, 1 ½ C  good quality dark chocolate like #Guittard or #Ghiradelli, 1 T unsalted butter, 1 teas vanilla, and 1 T Karo corn syrup. Prepare by heating cream in a heavy med size pan until steamy not letting it come to a boil. Take off heat and add remaining ingredients and stir until all chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool.

Split each cake in half and brush with Kahlua, or coffee w simple syrup. 

Whip up Pastry Pride using half a carton at a time because it expands.

Clean two baskets of raspberries and dry on paper towels.

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Assemble cake by slicing and making two layers. Place bottom layer onto a platter. Brush generously w simple syrup. Frost 1st layer w 1/3 of ganache. Sprinkle 1/3 raspberries onto ganache. Place 2nd layer on top of raspberries and brush w simple syrup. 

Place cake onto cooling rack w sheet pan underneath to collect extra ganache. Pour ganache on top of cake and repeat until all of cake is covered. Decorate w/ Whipped Pastry Pride. Sprinkle remaining raspberries on top. I happen to have chocolate shavings from #William Sonoma to decorate the sides, but you can make your own.

This cake is definitely my favorite. You're gonna be screaming YoYoYoYoYoYoYoYo after you try it.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Blenheim Apricot Preserves Make Summer Sweeter


It’s that time of year when I’m inspired to make apricot jam.
It’s a tradition to drive to Brentwood in mid June and purchase 3 cases of Blenheim apricots. (I planted my own Blenheim tree last year, but the critters ate them all!) I love to give the jars to friends and relatives as a hostess gift all year long.

 I call Wolfe Ranch in the beginning of June and make an appointment to come by and get the apricots when they are first picked.


 I will then come home, separate the apricots on sheet pans lined with paper towels and wait until they are good and ripe before starting my preserves.

I always use the less sugar Sure Jell fruit pectin (pink package) because it is not as sweet and somewhat healthier. I set out all the ingredients, have the jam jars and lids cleaned and sitting in a hot water bath, have the wax melted in a sauce pan on the stove, have the food processor on the counter next to my measuring cups, lemon juice freshly squeezed, and butter and sugar out ready to go. 


Next, I wash the apricots and cut them in half. I pulse them in the food processor and also cut some of them up with a small knife. DO NOT puree. Then I follow the cooked jam recipe exactly from the Sure Jell package.

  •  I measure exactly 6 cups of apricots into an 8 quart deep sauce pan and stir in 2 Tbsp lemon juice and 1tsp unsalted butter.
  •  Measure 4½ C sugar into a separate bowl. 
  • Mix ¼ C of sugar from measured amount into a small bowl with 1 box of Sure Jell.
  •  Stir pectin-sugar mixture into fruit
  •   Bring mixture to a full rolling boil on high heat stirring constantly.
  •  Stir in remaining sugar quickly and return to a full rolling boil for exactly 1 1/2 minutes.

  •  Remove from heat and ladle into prepared jars. Fill to within 1/8 inch of the top of the jar. Ladle in paraffin wax.

  • Cover with lids and screw bands on tightly. When cool, wipe off any excess jam on the outside with a warm wash cloth. Enjoy!
Have you ever made jam? Leave a comment for me.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Exploring Napa, Oxbow Public Market and Yountville

There is nothing better than spending the day with one of your nieces in Napa. I was lucky enough to be able to steal Michelle away and enjoy the day with her in the wine country.
Michelle is getting ready to begin her externship at Stanford Hospital as an audiologist. She has been living in San Diego for the past four years studying, playing volleyball at the beach and going out with friends. Her family has missed her, especially me. So I wanted to celebrate her accomplishments and introduce her to my world.
Michelle and I headed out early and ventured over to Oxbow Public Market. We visited Marshall’s Honey stand first and tasted all the different varieties.  Here’s more @ Marshall’s.
After that we explored the grocery aisle that sold various gourmet specialties, fruits, veggies, and looked at the different gluten free flours. Since we hadn’t had breakfast we grabbed a bite at the taco stand. I ordered the salmon ceviche tostada; sorry I forgot to take a picture and Michelle ordered something with a fried egg on top. Delish!  
We ran across Napa Valley Distillery Tasting Salon.
We were impressed by the technique in which you are supposed to use when you taste each liquor. Paul Martin was our mixologist and he taught us how to take a breath in, sip the liquor, then swallow, and then breathe out slowly in order to get the full flavor/effect.
For our tasting Paul set up a vodka, an anise flavoured gin (my fav), a plume brandy, a Manhattan, a mint julep, and a Meyer Lemon liquor.

Since I try to visit my Dad at the Veterans Home every couple of weeks, I thought I could combine a little fun in the mix as well by taking my dad and Michelle to Domaine Chandon.