Monday, September 26, 2011

Swiss Black Forest Cake

Let me get straight to the point.
This cake is heavenly.
The chocolate cake layers are incredibly moist, and the filling is so creamy and light, you almost feel nothing at all. 
I think this cake makes a wonderful gift for any occasion.
I baked mine for my mom's birthday a few months ago, and everyone absolutely ADORED it.
Especially because it was baked in a 7-inch pan, it was perfect for a 'leftovers-free' birthday cake! My mom hates having large cakes and pies in the refrigerator because it takes up so much space, so she always tries to slice'em up and store them in a small container.
But I hate doing that, because if I store it that way, the cake gets all out of shape and it loses so much frosting in the process of putting it in and out of containers!
That's why I usually bake smaller cakes - so that we can finish it on the spot:)

Swiss Black Forest Cake
Recipe adapted from hotpolkadot
Makes one 7-inch cake
For the Cake:
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons boiling water
3 eggs
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cake flour (or substitute)
For the filling:
7 g/0.25 oz powdered gelatin
1/4 cup water
3 cup whipped cream (I used cool whip)
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1-15 oz can pitted maraschino cherries, drained, syrup reserved
3 tbsp spiced rum
For Garnish:
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, grated or shaved
12 pitted maraschino cherries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 7-inch spring form pan and set it aside.
In a small heavy sauce pan combine the chopped chocolate and water then bring it to a slow boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove it from the heat once it thickens to a pudding consistency and stirring leaves temporary lines in the surface. Set it aside and let it cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer and the whisk attachment beat the eggs and sugar until they triple in volume. Gently but quickly fold in the cake flour half at a time until it's just incorporated. Next fold in the cooled chocolate mixture.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 23 - 28 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. The top of the cake will rise while baking then lower slightly when it's done and feel springy to the touch. The sides will also shrink as they pull away from the pan.
Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and allow it to sit for 10 – 15 minutes before releasing the cake from the spring form to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, make the filling. In a medium bowl combine whipped cream and sugar. In a small heatproof bowl combine the gelatin and water. Let it soften for about 5 minutes then place the bowl in a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin is dissolved. Set the gelatin mixture aside and let it reach room temperature, then add it slowly to the whipped cream. Stir in vanilla extract.
Drain the can of cherries and reserve the syrup. Set aside 12 cherries to top the cake later. With a cake leveller or a long serrated knife level off the top of the cooled Chocolate GĂ©noise Cake and slice it into 2 even layers and put one into a mousse ring/springform pan, or wrap it around with parchment paper. In a small bowl combine the reserved cherry syrup and spiced rum then drizzle it evenly over each cake layer. Spoon in 3/4 of the filling and push in the drained cherries. Top with the remaining cake layer and spread half of the remaining filling over it. Pipe rosettes around the cake with a piping bag and top each with a cherry. You can keep the stems on if you'd like, but I didn't have enough pretty cherries with stems, so I just took them all out:)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Biscottis are wonderful complements to a warm cup of coffee or tea.
Well, that's what I heard.
I've never had biscottis before in my life, let alone bake any, so I had no idea what they were supposed to taste like. I usually prefer soft or chewy cookies, rather than hard ones, so I always skipped the biscotti recipes when I looked through cookbooks or websites. 
But I guess it was about time I at least tried some, just to know what it's like.

Not too sweet, but full of flavor, these crunchy little cookies are indeed yummier when they are dunked in warm coffee. The original recipe had white chocolate coating, but I felt that if those were dipped in coffee, they wouldn't really soak up anything, so I threw in some chocolate chips in the batter instead:)
They actually taste wonderful, and I would bake them again soon - probably with a dash of cinnamon to spice'em up!

But umm... I still prefer soft and chewy cookies.

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Biscotti
recipe adapted from cinnamon, spice & everything nice
Makes 5 dozen biscottis
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Add eggs one at a time, beating at low speed with an electric mixer. Mix in vanilla extract. Add dried cranberries and chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Divide batter into two, and shape each one on a cookie sheet into a rectangular log, about 15 inches long and 2 inches wide. 
Bake for 30 minutes, until edges are golden brown; cool on a wire rack until warm to the touch. Transfer logs onto a cutting board and slice diagonally into 1/4-inch thick cookies. 
Arrange back on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 20 minutes, depending on how crisp you want them.
Cool completely on wire rack.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rosy Apple Tart

My view of apples have changed so many times during my life.
At first, when I was about 3 years old, apples were like 'my dad's fruit', because he used to pick apples for me and my sister from apple trees every weekend. We would eat them on the spot, dripping apple juice all over ourselves, munching them down happily. 

Then, I started to like strawberries, and my love for apples slowly diminished. I thought apples were too hard, and my mom insisted on eating the peels as well, even though I hated them. 

But then I came to America, and I discovered millions of different varieties of apples that I could buy, and I was amazed. 
Gala, fuji, honeycrisp, grannysmith, red delicious...
It was ridiculous! (in a good way)
So I just HAD to try all the apples that I could find in stores, and I started to love apples again! Fuji apples are by far my favorite apples to snack on, and honeycrisp apples for baking.

Then there was a time when I was obsessed about restricting myself from sugar because I found out that my grandfather had diabetes, so I simply didn't eat any fruits at all, except tomatoes (is that a fruit?). 
But now, I LOVE fruits! I still try not to overeat them, but I tend to use them a lot for baking, and apples are especially versatile, so they're back on my 'like' list again:)

This rosy apple tart tastes just as good as it looks. I'm sure a lot of you will be able to make it way prettier than mine, and mine's not exactly perfect, but you get the idea, right?
It's supposed to resemble a rose garden, the rolled apple peels being the roses, and the chopped pistachios being the umm... green background:)
Anyways, I had a little trouble with the roses, so it didn't turn out as beautiful as I had hoped it would, but it tasted DIVINE, and that was enough for me. For now. 

Oh, FYI, this is tart doesn't have the best crust in the world, but it works for me. It's more like a crumbly crust rather than a flaky one, so you might want to use another tart shell recipe if you like flaky crusts.

Rosy Apple Tart
makes 1 9-inch tart
For the Crust:
40g/1.5 oz ground almonds (almond flour)
100g/3.5 oz cake flour
40g/1.5 oz powdered sugar
1/3 tsp baking powder
60g/2 oz unsalted butter

1/2 egg

For the Almond Filling:
160g/5.7 oz ground almonds
110g/3.5 oz powdered sugar
120g/4 oz unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2-3 drops vanilla essence

For the Apple filling:
2-3 large apples, peeled without breaking, peels reserved
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the Roses:
4 large apples 
1 cup salted and roasted pistachios, in shell, coarsely chopped
1/4 of Almond Filling

For the crust:
In a large bowl, or in a food processor, combine flour, ground almonds, powdered sugar, and baking powder, or pulse a few times. Put in butter and eggs into bowl or food processor, and cut into the flour with two knifes or a pastry blender, or pulse until mixture forms a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours in refrigerator. 
Roll chilled dough into a 10-inch circle and fit into the tart pan. Prick many holes in the bottom with a fork, and bake in a preheated 320F oven for 20 minutes.
Let cool completely.
For the Almond Filling:
Cream butter with powdered sugar in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer. Gradually add eggs and egg yolks, and beat in vanilla essence. Stir in ground almonds with a spoon or a  spatula. Reserve 1/4 of the filling in a ziploc bag, for garnish.
For the Roses:
Halve 6 apples (including the ones for the filling AND the roses) horizontally. Peel apples with a paring knife, peeling around the apples without breaking it. Lay them out nice and long on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 4 minutes. Cut off small corner of the ziploc bag and pipe reserved almond filling along the apple peels.
Roll them up to make them look like roses, and secure with rubber bands. 
For the Apple Filling:
Chop apples (they should be already peeled, since you made the roses with them) finely and toss with the rest of the apple filling ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until softened.
To finish:
Spread almond filling on cooled tart shell. Spread the apple filling on top. Arrange the roses on the apples after taking the rubber bands off; press down to secure. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 30-35 minutes.
Sprinkle chopped pistachios on top to make a green garden.

Slice and enjoy!

The Moistest Blueberry Crumb Cake.. EVER.

I love Martha Stewart's recipes. 
Her recipes almost always guarantee success, so I browse her website practically everyday. Once I start browsing, I just can't stop. The list seems to go on forever, and there are loads of creative recipes that I've never even thought of.
But of course, there are plenty of classic ones that bring me a feeling of 'home, sweet, home', and this blueberry crumb cake is definitely one of them.

This cake is the yummiest, the moistest, and the most tender crumb cake I have ever baked. 
Usually, when I bake things in a square pan, the edges become a little firmer than the inside, but this cake is moist and tender right until the very edge of it. When I hold it in my hands, they kind of feel marshmallow-y and very soft, and they almost fall apart because of their tenderness. The streusel crumbs on top have a very slight crunch, but they're still on the softer side. And they don't even have a lot of butter in them! But don't get me wrong. It is NOT over-tender.
I have tried this recipe 3 times, each with cherries, blueberries, and peaches, and all of them turned out absolutely amazing. This is going into my 'best recipes' file, and I highly recommend you try it out too:)

Blueberry Crumb Cake
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
For the Cake:
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1+1/2 cup all purpose flour
1+1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1+1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp all purpose flour (for coating blueberries)

For the Streusel Topping:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper.
For the Streusel Topping:
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Cut in the butter with your hands or a pastry blender until large, moist crumbs form. Chill. 
For the Cake:
Combine milk and lemon juice.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar with and electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately until just combined. In a large bowl, toss the blueberries with 1 tsp of flour. Fold into the batter; spoon into prepared pan.
Sprinkle cake with streusel topping. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely. Cut into squares.


Giant Cream Puffs with Chocolate Frosting

One of the many advantages of baking at home is that when you make cream puffs...
These cream puffs, filled with creamy pistachio pudding and frosted with sweet, sugary chocolate icing, were made simply to satisfy my own cravings:)
I didn't care how they looked, or how messy they got; I just wanted to gobble, gobble, gobble!
Although, I have to say, they look pretty scrummylicious to me;)
Overall, these were heavenly. The icing was a little too sweet for my taste, but then again, I used semisweet chocolate instead of unsweetened chocolate because that was all I had, which probably made a huge difference. Oh, and I also made some other healthy substitutions, so I didn't feel guilty at all.
I got this recipe a few months ago from my cooking teacher, and after we made them in class, everyone was licking the frosting and filling off their mixing bowls!

Giant Cream Puffs with Chocolate Frosting
recipe from my cooking teacher
makes 6
For the Cream Puffs:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
2 eggs
Dash of salt
1/2 tsp sugar, if desired

For the Filling:
One 4-serving box of Jell-O instant pudding and pie filling, any flavor
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup whipping cream (I used 2 cups fat free cool whip)

For the Frosting:
1 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp butter
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
2 tbsp hot water

For the cream puffs:
In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, salt, and sugar, if desired. Bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, stirring vigorously over low heat until the mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. (The batter may look curdled, but this is normal, and it will become smooth in the end. No worries!) Drop by scant 1/4 cupfuls about 3 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake on the lowest rack in a preheated 400F oven, until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Cool in the oven with door slightly open.
For the Filling:
Chill 2 bowls with beaters. Whip whipping cream in one bowl until stiff. In the other bowl, mix pudding mix and milk. Mix for only 1 minute at high speed. Fold the pudding and the whipped cream (or cool whip) together thoroughly. 
For the Frosting:
In a microwave, heat unsweetened chocolate and 1 tsp butter in a microwave safe bowl. Stir in sifted powdered sugar and hot water, 1 tbsp at a time. Beat until smooth.
To assemble:
Cut off the tops of the cooled puffs and pull out any soft dough. Save the tops. Fill puffs with filling, replace tops, and frost with chocolate frosting. Refrigerate until serving. 

Make ahead: Make the puffs, filling, and frosting, and keep refrigerated. The next day, crisp up the puffs, after pulling out the insides, in a preheated 350F oven for 5 minutes. Cool, then assemble.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Moist Cocoa Brownies

I'm so into brownies these days. 
For the last few months, I've been obsessed with cakes covered in whipped cream, so I had them practically everyday. I'm still not over it, but two weeks ago, this amazing book of brownies caught my eye.
It was full of awesome bars, brownies, and blondies recipes, and I just HAD to buy it.
Plus it was on a clearance sale!
I've tried three of the recipes so far, and all of them turned out great.
This was my first brownie from the book, and it's moist and chocolatey, with some crunchiness from a handful of nuts; it's just like the classic, most basic brownies you can ever bake.

Moist Cocoa Brownies
Recipe very closely adapted from Good Housekeeping: Brownies
Makes 16 squares
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. 
Combine flour and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat; remove from heat and stir in sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, mix in eggs, then stir in vanilla extract. Stir in flour-cocoa mixture and mix until moistened. Stir in chopped nuts and pour batter into a 9-inch square pan lined with foil. Bake for 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then on a wire rack, until completely cooled. Cut into 16 squares. You can dust some powdered sugar on top just before serving, but to me it tastes gorgeous even without it:)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mini Raspberry Heart Cakes

Have you ever tasted a chocolate cake and had an irresistible urge to gobble down the whole thing?
I have.
And it's this cake right here.
And you can't even go for the rest of the cake because it is "portion controlled".
Hmm.. I say this cake is good for your waistline.

It's incredibly moist and soft, it practically melts in your mouth. I actually made this for my mom, who recently had a dental surgery, so that she could enjoy her food without having to bite into it too hard.
Of course, she enjoyed it too, but she said that the doctor told her to avoid sweet stuff.
Oops...I forgot about that. Silly me:)
So I ended up eating the whole batch with my dad!

I got this recipe from the Hershey's website, which has the most amazing chocolate cake photos EVER. Once I start looking at all the chocolatey treats, I sit in front of my computer drooling at them for at least 3 hours. I had a very hard time choosing which one to make, so I chose one that didn't yield a lot of servings. Just to experiment. This one was a recipe for two, but I doubled it and made four lovely mini chocolate cakes:)

Chocolate Sweetheart Cakes for Two

Recipe from HERSHEY'S 

For the Cake:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Frosting:
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 to 3 teaspoons milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 raspberries
Fresh mint leaves
Caramel syrup (optional - I used smucker's sugar free caramel syrup)

Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 8-inch square baking pan.
Stir together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add water, oil, vanilla, and vinegar; beat with spoon or whisk until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Transfer to cutting board. Using a 3-1/4-inch heart shaped cookie cutter, cut cake into 4 hearts. Spread chocolate frosting on top of two hearts. Press remaining hearts on top. Drizzle with caramel syrup, if desired, then garnish with raspberries and mint leaves.

For the Chocolate Frosting: Place butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50%) 20 seconds or until butter is melted. Stir together powdered sugar and cocoa; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beating with spoon or whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 1/3 cup frosting.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

About the Cinnaholic Baker...

I don't know where to start.
This is a very exciting moment for me, since I've always wanted to create my own blog about my baking experiences! Well... okay, this is my second blog about baking, but it's not quite the same. If you want to see my first blog, the link is right here -->
And you'll see why it's different.
I'm 16 and I've been baking since I was a little kid. I literally bake something everyday, and I hope to be a pastry chef when I'm older. I think my passion for baking comes from my mom, because she's the one who was obsessed with baking ever since she had me. She makes THE BEST pumpkin pies in the world, and even as I'm writing this, I can feel that indulgent taste in my mouth...



Anyways, I have a few recipes that turn out gorgeously every time I make it, so I'll try to post most of them on my blog.
I don't have the best writing skills in the world, but I hope you enjoy my blog and accompany me on my baking journey:)