December 19, 2013

Lime Crêpe Cake (with White Chocolate Pastry Cream) GF

Ah, Kristen! As if I didn’t have enough sugar being thrown around my kitchen already… Smile with tongue out Despite the busy-ness of the season, it is fun to participate in the Challenge! Lime & White Chocolate are quite the festive combo – anyway.747599601040_1After a recipe for crêpe cake caught my eye, I decided to make one that was gluten free. And lime. With some creamy white chocolateness slathered between the layers.ejcrêpe
I wanted to try a new process for pastry cream that I’d been reading about. (I figured if it “lumped” too much, I could always blend it smooth with my Cuisinart® Smart Stick, right?)
I mixed all the pastry cream ingredients {{gasp}} except for the butter & chocolate pieces into the saucepan.ejcrêpe I whisked until all was smooth; then heated & whisked until the mixture thickened. ejcrêpeRemoving from the heat, I stirred in the butter & chocolate. Total delicious smoothness! Not a lump to be sieved out before cooling!ejcrêpeI had to make a special trip all the way outdoors to our Mexican Lime in the back yard. I had worried that our little freeze last week might have damaged some of the year-round fruit and/or blossoms. But everything appeared to be well.ejcrêpeI blended all the crêpe ingredients and then let the mixture set in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. In the meantime I had my tallest son retrieve my vintage M’sieur Crêpe (first revealed here) from the upper cabinet.ejcrêpeI set up my work station and got busy! ejcrêpeHad a bit of trouble with the pan releasing the crêpes without cracking. Sad smileejcrêpeNevertheless, I stacked them on a plate with about two tablespoons of the white chocolate cream between. It was then that I found (in the cooled pastry cream) that I hadn’t either a) chopped the chocolate fine enough, or b) thoroughly whisked the chocolate enough before cream cooled. (I have a feeling the answer is c) both of the above!) Ah well – it tasted lovely!ejcrêpeAs I placed the final crêpe atop the stack, I decided to make a ganache to finish it all off. Here I ran into two problems: 1) I had no more white chocolate, and 2) I wished to impart a little lime flavor to the topping. How I solved my problems also became a bit of a problem: I 1) decided to use white chips instead of chocolate, & 2) decided to use lime juice to try to cut said chips awful sweetness.DSCN9360I also elected not to go to the bother of retrieving my double-boiler from the bottom of the back of the corner cupboard. I gently heated the half & half in a saucepan over a low burner. The chips blended tolerably, but certainly tried to seize as I mixed in the fresh lime juice.ejcrêpeHere is the recipe:ejcrêperecipe
What matters to my guys, ultimately, is how does it taste?ejcrêpeThey really could care less how beautiful, or otherwise, a dessert looks.ejcrêpeCheck out the links below for some more lime & white chocolate recipes:

November 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Harrison!

My baby turned 14 the other day. Overnight he also grew enough to make me the shortest one of the family. PDRM1503We held a family celebration after church. We had Mediterranean chicken in the crockpot waiting when we got home.1150915_10201930619255882_1352647646_nThe birthday boy always gets to choose his cake for dessert. H specifically asked for peanut butter cheesecake with chocolate crust and caramel topping. I knew I could oblige him, and make it gluten free in the process.

The day before I baked the cheesecake, I made Fauxreo cookie dough. (I cannot emphasize enough how i.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e. these were!)ej-pbfauxI did not bake the cookies for a crumb crust – I just made the crust with about 2 cups from that recipe.ej-pbprep(I made sure my pan was ready for the coming water bath! I had lined it with parchment and wrapped the bottom with foil.) Pre-baked the crust for 15 minutes in 350° oven.DSCN9161To my 24 oz. of softened cream cheese I added 1&1/2 cups creamy peanut butter and 1 cup honey. ej-pbmmmmWhipped it for about 5 minutes.ej-pbtasteIt tasted wonderful (and I’m thinking about using it for an apple dip for Thanksgiving!)ej-pbeggAdded 3 eggs.ej-pbminiStirred in 1 cup mini chips.ej-pbbakeBaked it in a water bath at 300° for about 75 minutes. (Bake until filling is set.)

I topped it with a honey caramel:

  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 c. cream
  • 4 oz. butter
  • 1 T. vanilla extract

and topped that with chocolate ganache sprinkled with Snickers® chunks.ej-pbsnickHere’s what it looked like just before slicing:ej-pbahhh

…and here’s a piece just prior to devourment:(Yes, that is a paper plate. I was sick & had a houseful of guests – don’t judge.)

Orange Cardamom Compound Butter

I’ve been watching all those “Chopped” Thanksgiving episodes to see if someone pulls oranges & cardamom out of their basket… Not having much luck with The Food Channel’s offerings, I decided to try my hand at something simple with this month’s Improv Challenge’s ingredients chosen by Kristen: cardamom and orange.ej-co-4treeI’m thankful there’s a lovely orange tree in our back yard; but I did have to go to the Asian market to find my cardamom.ej-co-5orangI “loosely” followed compound butter recipes I found all over the web. For my taste, however, next time I’ll use less cardamom, a little more honey and add smoked paprika, I think. Here’s what I made:
  • 1 lb. butter, room temperature
  • 2 t. fresh-ground cardamom
  • 2 T. orange zest
  • 2 T. fresh orange juice
  • 2 T. honey
Beat all ingredients until well blended. Transfer to plastic wrap, roll into “log” and refrigerate. Here’s my story in pictures:ej-co-1butterej-co-2spiceej-co-3groundej-co-6zestej-co-7juiceej-co-8whipej-co-9logej-co-11chicksej-co-10slicedI stuffed the skin of two chickens. ej-co-12trussThey were roasted at 425° for 60 minutes.ej-co-16roastedI also made a pilaf utilizing the compounded butter.ej-co-13pilaf
ej-co-14pilafhotej-co-15pservedej-co-17theendShort work was made of the hens…

November 12, 2013

Lighting up the Glow Worm

Of all the characters in “James & the Giant Peach”… well my son had to go and get assigned Glow Worm.
His first lines in the play explain that he’s not a worm, but a lady firefly (you know, they don’t have wings…)
His basic costume was simple: I found a nice (women’s) suit for $1 at Goodwill on Thursday. (THAT was not a simple task a couple weeks before Halloween!) I did have to take in the waist of the trousers quite a bit.DSCN8850My most important task, according to the director, was to light up Glow Worm’s butt! She purchased a variety of light strands that I brought home & played with until I found the one I thought would work for this costume.DSCN8810The tone of our production’s set & costuming was a throw-back to 1940’s England. I was inspired with the brilliant idea that Glow Worm would wear an apron that “she” could turn around to the tail area when it came time to light it up.
I found a wonderful pattern from Wild Ginger for a “Petal Apron” that I sized for my actor.DSCN8799I backed the iridescent fabric on two of the petals with some light yellow cotton from my stash.
With the center backing panel I used invisible thread to stitch on the lights!stitchedI was so impressed I took it into the darkened laundry room to try to get a visual.

Very carefully, then, I attached the iridescent front to the petal. (Uhhhh… using a serger around fragile wires was quite frightening to me!) Next, all three petals were stitched to the band/tie.DSCN8852 Apron complete!
I took video of the entire mannequin in the dark to make sure it had the effect I wanted.

I fashioned a hat with the remaining fabric.DSCN8862
My boy was a hit!

(Please excuse the “ocean” waves down front…)