Autumn Plum Cake

easy-plum-cakeEvery autumn, the New York Times publishes the same plum torte recipe. It has something of a cult following. My friend Denise, a scratch cook who is rather particular about the recipes she endorses, raves about this torte. So, I gave it a try.

It’s good. Really good! The recipe is included here. I had larger plums on hand, so I used slices rather than halves. Whether this recipe is a “torte” or a “cake” is in the eye of the beholder. I’m going with “cake,” as for me the word “torte” conjures up images of complicated, many-layered German desserts. This recipe is blessedly simple. It is quite similar to Rustic Apple Cake, with different fruit. Enjoy this cake (torte?) with a cup of coffee as you watch the leaves fall.

Chocolate Cheesecake Roll

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If chocolate chip cheesecake and homemade sweet rolls fell in love and had a baby, the result might be this Chocolate Cheesecake Roll. One taste and you’ll understand… you need this in your life. Equally perfect for breakfast or dessert, Chocolate Cheesecake Roll can be enjoyed while still warm from the oven OR can be frozen to be frosted and enjoyed later. On second thought, when the aromas of fresh bread and chocolate waft through your kitchen, I doubt the finished product will ever see the inside of a freezer.  😉

WIN_20160208_152324Ingredients (Makes 2 loaves, serves 16)

For the bread:

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter Continue reading

Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

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Here’s a new spin on an old favorite, a truffle that tastes like a peanut butter cup! While some truffle recipes are a bit fussy, these Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles are super easy. You can use either creamy or chunky peanut butter, depending upon the texture you prefer. You could even substitute the peanut butter for something a little fancier, like almond butter or crème de marron. Be creative and have fun!

WIN_20160214_123938Ingredients (Makes about 36 truffles)

4 ounces semi sweet baking chocolate

1/2 cup peanut butter Continue reading

Chocolate Orange Cremes

WIN_20160219_201527Candy making doesn’t need to be complicated. Today’s recipe is super easy! You don’t need any special equipment – no candy thermometers, tempering surfaces, molds, tubes, brushes… none of that. If you have a pot and a mini muffin tin, you have all of the equipment you need to get started.

WIN_20160219_164032If you want – but this is entirely optional – you could use an inexpensive plastic candy mold instead of (or in addition to) a mini muffin tin. The molds shown here were purchased for about $2 each at a local craft store. I purchased them simply to test them alongside a mini muffin tin, and I can confirm – the mini muffin tin works just as well. If anything, the muffin tin is a bit easier to work with, because the larger size is easier to coat evenly with chocolate.

I spent about an hour making the plate of Chocolate Orange Cremes shown above. They are delicious – it was time well spent!

WIN_20160219_164101Ingredients (Makes about 30 candies)

1/2 pound of bulk chocolate coating (milk or dark, such as Ambrosia brand) -AND/OR- Wilton brand Candy Melts (any color)

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

WIN_20160214_162404Directions

Step 1) Melt chocolate. You can microwave chocolate coating to melt, just make sure to stop the microwave every 30 seconds to stir. I melted my milk chocolate coating in a double boiler, and melted a small quantity of orange-colored Wilton Candy Melts (to drizzle over candies) in the microwave. It really doesn’t matter how you melt your chocolate, just stir frequently and don’t burn it.

WIN_20160219_171757Step 2) Fill mini muffin tins or candy molds about 1/3 full with melted chocolate, and use a small spoon (a baby spoon works well) to push the chocolate up the sides of the tin/mold to coat the surfaces. Don’t worry, this is easy.

Step 3) Place coated tins/molds in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.

Step 4) While tins are cooling, beat together cream cheese and orange juice concentrate with an electric mixer. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until smooth.

WIN_20160219_181605Step 5) Remove tins from the refrigerator. Use a small spoon to fill each chocolate lined tin about 3/4 full with orange creme filling. Important – do not spread the orange creme filling right up to the top of the mold, especially along the edges! Just fill the molds 3/4 full. Return the tin/mold to the refrigerator for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Step 6) Remove tins from the refrigerator and spoon melted chocolate evenly over the top of the filling. It’s important to form a “chocolate seal” between the top and the side edges.

Step 7) Return filled molds to the refrigerator until chocolate is firm and looks a bit cloudy. To remove cooled Chocolate Orange Cremes from their molds/tins, simply turn the molds upside down and wiggle the candies a bit. They’ll pop right out!

WIN_20160219_195738Step 8) If desired, melt a small quantity (about 1/4 cup) of candy melts in an accent color (I used orange). Pour melted chocolate into a small zip-lock bag and cut a very small corner off of the bag. Use this homemade pastry bag to decorate your Chocolate Orange Cremes!

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

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What’s even better than sneaking chocolate chip cookie dough from the mixing bowl?

How about safe-to-eat cookie dough dipped in chocolate?

Try this recipe. Happy Monday!  🙂

WIN_20160214_125852Ingredients (Makes 36 truffles)

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons white sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

WIN_20160214_1309241/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1 tablespoon milk (if needed)

1 pound milk chocolate bark

WIN_20160214_162404Directions

Step 1) Cream together butter and sugars.

Step 2) Stir in vanilla extract, salt, flour, and chocolate chips. Dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a ball. If dough is too dry and crumbly, sprinkle up to one tablespoon of milk over the dough and stir until a large ball forms.

WIN_20160214_175302Step 3) Roll pieces of dough into small balls, using approximately 1 teaspoon of dough per piece.

Step 4) Cover little dough balls and chill for at least one hour.

Step 5) Melt chocolate bark over low heat in a double boiler, stirring frequently.

Step 6) Use either a fork or a toothpick to dip each dough ball in chocolate. Set dipped truffles on a baking sheet lined with foil.

Step 7) Chill dipped truffles for one hour, either in a refrigerator or outside, depending upon your climate and the time of year.

Step 8) Store Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

 

Grandpa John’s Flourless Chocolate Cake

WIN_20160130_121602Grandpa John likes chocolate cake. No, Grandpa John loves chocolate cake… but Grandpa John is watching his carbs. No worries. Here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, we love a good baking challenge!

This cake was inspired by the Chocolate Heaven Cake posted at ditchthecarbs.com. Suspecting that Grandpa John’s sweet tooth was just a bit stronger, I used dark chocolate chips with a lower cacao content to cut the bitter undertones. I also added a bit of almond extract and peanut butter, because we love peanut butter around here!

WIN_20160130_100016Ingredients

10 oz bag of dark chocolate chips (53% cacao)

3/4 cup real butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

6 eggs

6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon sugar or other sweetener (I used stevia crystals)

1/4 cup “real” creamy peanut butter (not hydrogenated)

WIN_20160130_103228Directions

Step 1) Melt chocolate chips and butter together in a large skillet over low heat (you’ll be glad you used a LARGE skillet later). Stir constantly to avoid burning the chocolate.

Step 2) Once chocolate is melted and mixture is completely smooth, remove skillet from heat and set aside.

Step 5) In a separate bowl, whip together eggs, whipping cream, and sweetener on high for 5 minutes. The mixture will fluff up very slightly and will turn a pretty lemon yellow color.

Step 5) After the egg mixture is beaten, your chocolate mixture will have cooled enough to proceed. Stir your extracts into the chocolate mixture.

Step 6) Take your time here… slowly fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Add about 1/4 of the egg mixture at a time, carefully whisking everything together before adding more egg mixture. Aren’t you glad you used your larger skillet now?

Step 7) Once your batter is thoroughly mixed (you shouldn’t see any streaks of egg), carefully pour your mixture into a well greased baking dish. I’m using a 9 inch Springform pan, but a pie pan ought to work just as well.

WIN_20160130_103911Step 8) Spoon peanut butter into a snack size bag and snip off one corner of the bag as shown above. Use this homemade pastry bag to draw a design with peanut butter onto your chocolate cake batter.

Step 9) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or until set.

This cake slices easiest when very cold. Enjoy!WIN_20160130_121719

Easy Chocolate Fondue

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This chocolate fondue requires only three ingredients – what could be easier? While a fondue pot works wonderfully, it isn’t essential. A double boiler or even a small saucepan can work just as well (use a low heat, to avoid scorching). Try chocolate fondue for your next party, movie night, or stay-at-home date!


WIN_20160101_200024Ingredients (Serves 6)

1 pound milk chocolate

1 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur

Treats for dipping (marshmallows, pretzel sticks, and strawberries work well)

WIN_20160101_201022Directions

Step 1) Combine chocolate and half-and-half in a fondue pot (or top of a double boiler). Melt over low heat, stirring constantly.

Step 2) Just before serving, stir in Irish cream liqueur. Enjoy!

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Delicious!