Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

I love the things that can be done with fondant, but although nobody seems to acknowledge it, the stuff doesn’t really taste very good.  Years ago I saw the recipe for white chocolate (which I adore) plastic but had forgotten about it until I saw it again recently and thought I’d give it a try.  It still isn’t quite as good as plain white chocolate but it is much better than fondant.  After I did these, I got a suggestion that I tried on a new batch which made them even better.  Being artistically challenged, I was having trouble with the petals drooping unless I kept them pretty thick (as you can see in the pictures the cupcakes are thicker and the how-to pictures are thinner) and she recommended keeping a cup of ice water handy and dipping them in.  That worked much better and faster than trying to refrigerate them after each step since my hot little hands were making the chocolate too soft.  The quick dip in the ice water helped them to keep their shape.  I loved these cupcake papers and with the roses, they looked quite special for the birthday girls.
For the cupcakes I used the recipe Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes, from More From Magnolia but for each cupcake I put two maraschino cherries in the middle of the batter and added a little of the maraschino cherry juice to a swiss buttercream.  I know the recipe is on a wedding site but the recipe is great and even has a video to go with it.  For the last step, I added about 1/4 cup of the maraschino cherry juice to give it a touch of flavor and a nice pink color.
Printable Version for Making White Chocolate Roses
Now for the roses:
First a day ahead, make the white chocolate plastic which is basically white chocolate and corn syrup melted together.  When you’re ready to begin you’ll need plastic wrap, small pastry roller or rolling-pin (you can use your fingers if you don’t have one but this works faster) and a medium to large size bowl filled with ice water.  If you want to color the white chocolate, you can knead in some food coloring (paste works best) or as I did, use a food color spray and some cake glitter after they are assembled.  Keep the white chocolate plastic wrapped in plastic except the portion you are using or it will dry out.
Cover a cutting board or table with a large piece of plastic wrap and have another piece the same size set aside.  For each rose, pull off a very small piece of the chocolate and roll it into a cone shape.  Roll about twenty very small  (between 1/4 and 1/2 inch at the most) balls making some really small, some just a little larger and some a little larger placing them about 2 inches apart on the plastic.   You don’t have to be precise, flowers are never exact anyway and they will look more natural that way (in case you can’t tell, as well as being artistically challenged I’m not a perfectionist but if it suits you, go for it and make them all consistent – I’m hoping to improve both speed and accuracy with practice).   You can make more or less petals (for buds) and larger or smaller cones and petals for different size roses.

Roll into balls

The next step is to cover them with another layer of plastic wrap then flatten the balls (not the cone) using the pastry roller.  I gave them a little dent in the middle, then pushed out each side.  Again it’s up to you how perfect you want your petals to be.  I did find that using the ice water later allowed me to make them much thinner which I thought made them more realistic although the thick ones did hold up a little better. Refrigerate them while making the next batch.

Making White Chocolate Roses

Making White Chocolate Roses

After the petals and cones have firmed up, take the cone and starting at the top gently wrap a petal around it.  Add petals overlapping each one until you have the size and shape you want.  If the petals start to droop dip them into the ice water for a second or two and they will firm up.  When you’ve finished again place them in the refrigerator so they will keep their shape.

Making white Chocolate plastic roses

White Chocolate Plastic Rose put together

The next step (if you didn’t already color the white chocolate) is to either spray or use a brush to paint color on.  I used the spray and when that was dry, a little cake glitter.

White Chocolate rose finished

Here’s how it looked.  I also made a few red ones.  The spray did tend to make some “dots” but I kind of liked it.  If you don’t just spray a little lighter or use a paintbrush if you want to just do the tips of the petals.  I plan on trying lots of different flowers, it was quite fun and they came out pretty well considering my lack of talent.

Red White Chocolate Roses

Here’s some other pictures.

Chocolate Maraschino Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses

Best Thin Pizza/Flatbread Dough

Best Thin Pizza/Flatbread Dough

Pizza Oven

Pizza Oven

No news here, I still love pizza and having recently spent some time with my brother and sister-in-law who have a real outside wood fired pizza oven I just had to do one more pizza post (not the last I’m sure).  Getting the oven ready is quite a process involving several hours of loving attention, special wood and lots and lots of smoke, but the result was worth it – especially since I wasn’t the one providing the loving attention!

Smokey Pizza Oven

Chef Tom hard at work

I like thin crust, thick crust and everything in between and have found this recipe to be even better than my original favorite (recipe here).  The main difference is the high gluten flour that I don’t always have on hand so I still use the other recipe as an alternate.  This dough is simple to make, easy to shape and can be rolled very thin almost like a cracker (popular with the designated taste tester – Husband).
Printable Recipe Pizza Dough

  • 3 3/4 cups Hi-Gluten Four
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, enough to make a smooth, soft dough
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning (optional)
Mix together all the ingredients except the water in a food processor, mixer or bread machine (or of course you could do it by hand) add water and process until it is well mixed and smooth (you may need a little more or less).
Allow to rise in a covered, oiled bowl for 1 hour or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  If refrigerated, let it come to room temperature when you’re ready to use.
Shape the dough to the thickness you like.  It makes a great thin, almost cracker like crust or flatbread.
Cover the dough while you preheat the oven and a pizza stone if you have one to the highest setting your oven allows.
Add your pizza toppings, or if making flatbread, brush it with plain, garlic or herb flavored oil and seeds or shredded cheese.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes until the crust is crisp and the toppings (for pizza) are cooked.
The Daring Bakers' Challenge:  Povitica (really great nut swirl sweet bread)

The Daring Bakers' Challenge: Povitica (really great nut swirl sweet bread)

Povitica

This was another challenge I could totally appreciate – a great sweet bread with nuts, cinnamon and sugar swirled throughout!  As a special bonus, this one is pretty good for a workout – lots of kneading and rolling but totally worth it.    Thanks so much to Jenni of The Gingered Whisk where you can find her beautifully photographed and detailed instructions.  I followed them (below) and it came out perfectly.  It makes 4 good sized loaves so I only filled 2 and froze one of the completed loaves and the dough to make two fresh ones for Thanksgiving when we will have some houseguests.   I plan on filling one with apple/cinnamon/honey caramel and the other with strawberry jam.  There will be a nice variety but nothing too heavy so the appetites will be safe for the big meal.  I think I’ll make another batch for holiday gifts too!

Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Povitica

Printable Recipe
Ingredients
To activate the Yeast:
2 Teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
½ Cup (120ml) Warm Water
2 Tablespoons (30ml/14 gm/½ oz/2 sachets) Dry Yeast
Dough:
2 Cups (480ml) Whole Milk
¾ Cup (180 ml/170gm/6 oz) Sugar
3 Teaspoons (15 ml/18 gm/2/3 oz) Table Salt
4 Large Eggs
½ Cup (120ml/115 gm/one stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
8 cups (1.92 l/1.12 kg/39½ oz/2½ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided
Walnut Filling:
7 Cups (1.68 l/1.12 kg/2.5 lbs) Ground English Walnuts
1 Cup (240ml) Whole Milk
1 Cup (240ml/225 gm/2 sticks/8 oz) Unsalted Butter
2 Whole Eggs, Beaten
1 Teaspoon (5ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Cups (480ml/450 gm/16 oz) Sugar
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) Cinnamon
Topping:
2 Tablespoons (30 ml/28 gm/1 oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter
Directions:

To Activate Yeast:
1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes
To Make the Dough:
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.
6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: I did not use all 8 cups of flour
8. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)
9. Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.
To Make the Filling
10. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.
To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
16. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
18. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.
19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
20. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
21. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
22. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
23. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.
24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
25. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.
26. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
27. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of ½ cup (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
31. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
32. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
33. Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
34. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.
35. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.

The Daring Cook Challenge:  Moo Shu Pork

The Daring Cook Challenge: Moo Shu Pork

Moo Shu Pork

 
The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.  Once again this was a new one for me and sadly for my family, in an area of cooking where I do not normally excel.  I consistently overcook everything I try to stir fry –  it will be not done, not done, not done, mush!    With great trepidation, I went for it and followed the wonderful directions provided pretty closely (not my usual “recipe is just a suggestion”) and was pleasantly surprised that it turned out quite well.  Probably not fine dining quality but certainly edible and didn’t get the “never make this one again” from the taste testers.  The pancakes and sauce were great and the filling was pretty good.   Considering my past, this is a resounding recommendation for the quality of the recipes.  A downloadable copy of the full instructions with photos is here  Moo Shu Pork Recipe.
Here’s what I did:
I followed the pancake recipe exactly:

Thin Pancakes:

Makes 24-30 pancakes
Preparation time: about 10 minutes plus 30 minutes’ standing time
Cooking time: 45-50 minutes
Ingredients
4 cups (960 ml) (560 gm) (19¾ oz) all purpose flour
About 1½ cup (300ml) (10 fl oz) boiling water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vegetable oil
Dry flour for dusting
Directions:

  1. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Gently pour in the water, stirring as you pour, then stir in the oil. Knead the mixture into a soft but firm dough. If your dough is dry, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, to reach the right consistency. Cover with a damp towel and let stand for about 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly dust the surface of a worktop with dry flour. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until smooth, then divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a long sausage and cut each sausage into 8-10 pieces. Keep the dough that you are not actively working with covered with a lightly damp dish cloth to keep it from drying out.
  3. Roll each piece into a ball, then, using the palm of your hand, press each piece into a flat pancake. Dust the worktop with more dry flour. Flatten each pancake into a 6 to 8 inch (15 cm to 20 cm) circle with a rolling pin, rolling gently on both sides.
  4. Place an un-greased frying pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, lower the heat to low and place the pancakes, one at a time, in the pan. Remove when little light-brown spots appear on the underside. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve.
I also followed the sauce recipe exactly using the honey and peanut butter options.

Hoisin Sauce:


(source: http://recipes.epicurean.com/recipe/13249/hoisin-sauce.html)
While most restaurants, or at least those at which I have ordered the dish, serve this with plum sauce, none of the cook books or online recipes that I have seen have referred to that as being traditional. Most that reference serving it with a sauce call for it to be served with hoisin sauce.
Ingredients
4 tablespoons (60 ml) soy sauce
2 tablespoons (30 ml) peanut butter OR black bean paste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) honey OR molasses
2 teaspoons (10 ml) white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) garlic powder
2 teaspoons (10 ml) sesame seed oil
20 drops (¼ teaspoon) Chinese style hot sauce (optional, depending on how hot you want your hoisin sauce)
1/8 teaspoon (⅔ ml) black pepper
Directions:
Simply mix all of the ingredients together by hand using a sturdy spoon.
At first it does not appear like it will mix, but keep at it just a bit longer and your sauce will come together.
And finally I followed the stir fry recipe almost.  I did skip the dried black fungus – just couldn’t do it as neither I nor some of the taste testers like mushrooms.  In their place I added some carrots and water chestnuts.

Moo Shu Pork:

 
Serves 4
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking time: 6-8 minutes
Ingredients
2/3 cup (1 oz) (30 gm) Dried black fungus (‘wood ears’)
½ lb (450 gm) pork loin or butt
¾ cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) bamboo shoots, thinly cut
3 cups (6 oz) (170 gm) Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) vegetable oil
2 scallions
1 tablespoon (15 ml) light soy sauce
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rice wine
A few drops sesame oil
12 thin pancakes to serve
Directions:

  1. Soak the fungus in warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse and drain. Discard any hard stalks, then thinly shred.
  2. Thinly cut the pork, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.
  4. Heat about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep to one side.
  5. Heat the remaining oil. Stir-fry the shredded pork for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the fungus, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and scallions. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining salt, soy sauce and wine. Blend well and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add the scrambled eggs, stirring to break them into small bits. Add the sesame oil and blend well.
  6. To serve: place about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of hot Moo Shu in the center of a warm pancake, rolling it into a parcel with the bottom end turned up to prevent the contents from falling out. Eat with your fingers. 
Each of the three components that comprise the complete Moo Shu dish are served separately, and the diner prepares each serving on his or her own plate. Most restaurants provide four pancakes, a serving of Moo-Shu and a small dish of hoisin sauce as a single serving. To prepare each pancake for eating, the following is the most common process: a small amount of hoisin sauce is spread onto the pancake, on top of which a spoonful of the stir-fry is placed. In order to prevent (or, realistically, minimize) the filling from spilling out while eating, the bottom of the pancake is folded up, then the pancake is rolled, similarly to a soft taco. Once rolled, the prepared pancake is eaten immediately.
I’m considering this one a great success!

Bavarian Apple Cheese Cake Tart

Bavarian Apple Cheese Cake Tart

Bavarian Apple Cheese Cake Tart


I recently made this for a graduation dinner party for a friend who went back to college and completed her degree.   I found the recipe at Food.Com and modified it slightly.  You can get their recipe Bavarian Apple Cheese Cake Tart or here is my version.  The crust is very light, the filling sweet but thin almost like a pastry cream so the apples are the star.
Printable Version Bavarian Apple Cheese Cake Tart

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups apples, peeled,and sliced fairly thin (I used granny smith as I like them a little tart and make sure you immediately place them in a bowl filled with cold water and about 1/4 cup of lemon juice to keep them from browning)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce (I used honey caramel)

Instructions:

  1. Mix butter, flour, 1/2 cup of the white sugar and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla.  Press into greased 10″ springform pan covering the bottom. (The dough was softer than I expected but it came out perfectly when baked.)
  2. Mix cream cheese, 1/2 cup white sugar, eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  3. Pour into the springform pan on top of the dough.
  4. Combine the apples, brown sugar and cinnamon and arrange in a nice design over the cream cheese.
  5. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Drizzle with caramel sauce just before serving.