Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve we do Christmas with my family and do a progressive dinner. We started out at my sisters house for dinner then we come to my house for dessert. This year I had plenty of desserts and we had lots for Christmas Day. At my house we also have a game tournament which I started as a surprise last year. We play round one connect four, round two checkers, round three battleship, and round four is operation. It is a lot of fun, my sister won this year, I beat out my brother who was last years champion in the first round. :) So next year hopefully someone in my family will win!! If you win you get the trophy I made up and have to return it the next year.

So for dessert we had:
Chocolate Mousse cheesecake, this time the cheesecake was not sugar free :)
Here is the cheesecake recipe I used, I just did not make it with a crust and left out the raspberries: Then I put a thin layer of chocolate cake for the crust, then cheesecake, then a double batch of chocolate mousse :
Mousse layer:
8 ounces milk chocolate chips
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup water divided
4 Tablespoons butter
6 egg yolks
6 Tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped

Have your cream whipped and chilling in the fridge.
1. Melt chocolate with 1/2 cup water and butter on low, stirring until smooth.
2. Cool for 10 minutes.
3. In heavy saucepan, whisk yolks, sugar and remaining water.
4. Cook and stir on med heat until mixture reaches 160*, about 2 minutes or I do it until it starts to bubble.
5. Remove from heat; whisk in chocolate.
6. Set saucepan in ice and stir until cooled.
7. Fold in whipped cream.
8. Spoon on top of cake.
9. Chill.
10. After it has chilled then you can form it better into something that looks like a cake
11. Then add chocolate layer
12. Then add decoration chocolate and icing if desired
Chocolate top layer:
This is approximate, I never have measured. Mix maybe 1/4 cup milk chocolate and 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips with maybe 1/4 cup heavy cream or just enough to almost cover the chocolate. Melt all together. Should not have too much cream or it will be runny and really soft, but it needs enough so the chocolate is not hard hard when it dries. Pour over top of mousse and cake and spread around.
Then shave chocolate for top decoration and chocolate chunk pieces for border or you could make cocoa frosting for pipping around edges.

My dad does not really care for cheesecake so these were just mini chocolate mousse cakes. See recipe above for mousse. Then I used a new pan where it makes little cake bowls and I filled them with the mousse.
My sister requested cake balls which is what these are. They are red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, smashed together then rolled into balls. Then covered in chocolate. Mine are not as pretty as I would have liked, but I guess it's the taste that matters and they said they were great. Here is how to make them a bit more cute, I just did them in a hurry:

This is a sugar free cheesecake. I tried to make it like a turtle cheesecake. It has a pecan crust, then I made a caramel sauce and put on top of the pecans but I think most of it cooked out since it was in a spring form pan. Then my sugar free cheesecake and then a sugar free chocolate gnash for the top. Here is the cheesecake recipe: Then I used a pureed pecan and butter crust and melted sugar free chocolate chips with cream for the topping

This is a sugar free Strawberry dessert. It is pretty good. It has a meringue type crust, then strawberries, whipped cream, and sugar free jello. Here is the recipe:

Then I had lots of candy, I made the pumpkin dip that I mentioned from Thanksgiving and everyone loved that. I had lots of cookies which barely got touched. Homemade hot chocolate and just way too much stuff to eat in one night! :) It was a great Christmas this year, I hope everyone else had a great one also!
Pumpkin dip:
Buckeye bars:
Hot Cocoa: Here is the main recipe. I tested this many times and I think it is best with 1/2 good dutch cocoa and 1/2 Ghirardelli cocoa that has ground chocolate in it. Then my family also likes it with peppermint so I take 7 regular size candy canes and grind them into powder and add the to mixture for a great peppermint cocoa.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas 1st Celebration

Well last Saturday started the 1st Christmas celebration with my husbands family. I baked away all day Friday and this is all I came up with:

It is not my pretties cake, but when it come to taste it is amazing! Is is a layer of chocolate cake, a small layer of strawberry frosting, then a layer of cheesecake with some strawberries in it. Then a thick layer of chocolate mousse and covered in all chocolate gnash. Then the decorations are in white chocolate. It is delicious. I do have to say that the cheesecake I made was sugar free :) can't say anything else was. :) Here is a picture of the inside of the cake after a few people got a piece. It actually got put in the fridge and forgotten about later so I think my husbands work will get to enjoy it tomorrow.
Then I made a pecan pie. This one is made with brown sugar and white Karo, it was really good! I forgot to cover the edges of the pie crust so it got a little dark but still tasted great!

Then I did an array of cookies. Sugar cookies my daughter helped decorate, then a new creation of pumpkin pinwheels, then ranger cookies, the best chocolate chip cookies ever and finally white chocolate chip cocoa cookies. All great cookies.

Then I did take some buckeye bars, peanut butter balls, chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered cherries.
All were a hit. Now I get to do it again Christmas Eve, stay tuned for what I will come up with for that! :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cookies and Rice Krispie Treats

Well, today was my daughters Christmas party at school and we could not go empty handed so this is what we brought?

Rice Crispy treats shaped like Christmas ornaments. It was fun and easy. Just make normal Rice Krispie treats and add some red food coloring to the marshmallow part after cooked them mix in your rice Krispies. Then I put on some gloves, sprayed them with a little pam and then rolled the rice Krispies up into balls. They do not stick to the gloves and pam. Then I let them dry a bit and melt some green chocolate. I put it in a Ziploc bag, cut a small slit at the corner and drew the design on the side. Then melted milk chocolate and made little u's in waxed paper and let them harden, then put a small circle of chocolate on the top of the ball, let dry and repeat, then when your second layer is still wet take your dried u's from your waxed paper and stick it on top of the wet chocolate to make your hook holder. Then you have an ornament! :) It was a huge hit, everyone thought they were so cute!

Then of course some Christmas sugar cookies. I had made some of these previously and had them cut and baked and put into the freezer so today I could just pop them out, ice them and they taste like they were just made. The icing I put on these is simple it is about 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 tsp karo syrup, and enough milk to make it spreadable. Very yummy!

Then of course over the last couple weeks we have made some other candies. My daughter and husband made chocolate covered peanut butter balls (his granny's favorite). We all made white chocolate covered pretzels (his dad's favorite), our cherries (his 98 yr old papa's favorite and everyone else) should have some juice in the middle now and be delicious. If you leave them out of the fridge awhile they get softer. Then we made some Buckeye Bars ( except I used a real chocolate for the top not the cool whip type. I like it better and you use chocolate and add some cream to make it softer and that will be delicious), which is a peanut butter bar similar taste to the balls, just easier to make :) I have not made as much candy as normal this year so maybe I will make more? Tomorrow will be a baking and making day so we will see what is created. I think a chocolate mouse cheese cake, pecan pie and ???? If you have any suggestions or recommendations please feel free to share and maybe I will make it! Saturday starts Christmas celebrations with my husbands family.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Crazy Socks and Cupcakes

Today I kept busy baking cakes.

The first one I started with was a crazy sock cake. It is to match the invitations for a crazy sock bounce party. I think it was a pretty creative theme. (She designed the invitations and has her own business, here is her link, you should check her out! The socks made the cake look really cute. They defiantly took some time to create but well worth it in the end. This cake is chocolate on the bottom layer and strawberry on the top layer and then covered all in cream cheese frosting. This is one of the few cakes I have covered in cream cheese frosting it is a little harder to work with because it is so soft. But it turned out great! I did have to bake the strawberry top layer twice due to it not baking fast enough before I had to go pick up my daughter. So I turned down the temperature and let it bake an hour extra. :) It seemed to be fine, but since it was for someones special day I thought I better bake another one. So the good news is we all got to eat strawberry cake (which by the way tasted just fine). Then I let my daughter decorate the leftovers to take to daddy's' work. She had a blast! They will be eating icing with strawberry cake. :) (there is a lot of icing on the cake)

So here is the crazy sock cake:There are socks all the way around Then I got to make some cupcakes. These are chocolate with buttercream icing and they really like my icing so I made sure to swirl lots on each cupcake. :) They are just generic cupcakes for a boy's party. I hope they will love them!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chocolate Covered Cherries

Well, today being December 1st started the Christmas candy making season. If you are interested in making homemade chocolate covered cherries it is best to start now so that by Christmas the centers have plenty of yummy juice. I can’t say I love making them, but the family sure does love eating them. They are a long process and a little messy. The first year I made them I said I would never do this again, but of course when everyone loved them now I seem to make them every year.

So here is what I do:

(I did four of these recipes and made over 100 cherries)
I used four bottles of Maraschino cherries – took the stems off and drained them on a paper towel so I guess it comes out to about a bottle of cherries per recipe, although I do put a lot of filling per cherry.

First mix the white part for the middles:
3 TBSP butter
3 TBSP corn syrup
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Mix all the ingredients until smooth, then put in refrigerator to firm up while you get everything else ready.

Then I take small muffin/cupcake papers/liners and put a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom so when you put the chocolate covered cherry in it has a bottom and nothing can leak out.

Now it is time to make the middles:
You can spray your hands with pam cooking spray to help the white center not stick as bad to your hands.
Take a small amount of the filling and put in your hand, make flat, put cherry in and then roll in ball.
Then put them on a lined waxed paper cookie sheet and continue this process until finished. If your white filling gets sticky you can put it back in the refrigerator to firm up. As you can see from my picture, they are not all pretty, but it gets the job done. You can also repeat the pam cooking spray to help with the stickiness.
Then put in refrigerator about an hour to let them firm upAfter firm you can melt your dipping chocolate, any kind either the disks or the almond bark will work great. Melt until smooth.
Then take one cherry and dip in chocolate try to drain off excess chocolate and then put into your chocolate lined cupcake liners. Make sure you can’t see any white or filling liquid or your juice will flow out in the coming weeks. After your chocolate has firmed go back and look to make sure you can’t see any liquid or white, if so lightly cover with more chocolate. You want them solid so nothing leaks out.
Then put in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks so the centers can become liquefied.