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Category: Food Friday

Valentine Raspberry Chocolate Cake Recipe [Food Friday]

Posted in Food Friday, and Recipe

When I saw Sweetapolita’s Dark Chocolate Raspberry Buttercream Cake, I knew that was what I wanted to make Ryan for Valentine’s Day. I was trying to be ambitious because I have made few cakes from scratch, and no icing. However, I knew I didn’t want to be over-ambitious and set myself up for failure. I thought the Swiss meringue buttercream in the original recipe might be a too challenging for my first frosting, so I found a generic buttercream frosting recipe, knowing I would add fresh raspberries. I also did not follow the original recipe for the cake. When I mentioned to Ryan that I wanted to make him this cake for Valentine’s Day, he balked at the inclusion of coffee, in spite of my assurances that he wouldn’t be able to taste the coffee. I tracked down this coffee-free chocolate cake recipe and decided I liked the idea of making my first two layer cake since the recipe makes two 9-inch cakes.

I followed both the chocolate cake recipe and the buttercream frosting recipes exactly, though I doubled the frosting recipe since it says it will only frost one 9-inch round cake. I found that a single batch would have easily frosted my 2-tier cake, but was able to use the leftover frosting the next day when I made essentially the same cake for a food day at work.

I made the cake first so I would be able to clean everything while the cake was baking, then use the time while the cake was cooling in order to make the icing.

I combined the following dry ingredients and just allowed the stand mixer to run on its lowest setting with the paddle attachment:

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

 

Next I slowly incorporated all the following wet ingredients while the mixer was running, adding the boiling water last:

2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used whole vitamin D milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (I just boiled it in the kettle while the dry ingredients were mixing, then poured it straight from the kettle to the mixer)

The batter is very runny, but makes for a very deliciously moist cake.

I had read somewhere (maybe on Sweetapolita?) that one should use parchment paper to line cake pans. I did so, and it was great for clean-up, but the edges of the cake were deformed by the parchment paper. I’m not sure if I could have avoided this if I had folded the edges to fit the pan or not. The cake did not stick to the parchment paper much at all, so I didn’t have any issues with the cake breaking, so that was a relief.

As the recipe suggests, I cooled the cake in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transferred them out of the pans and onto a cooling rack.

Once the cakes were cooling, I began working on the frosting. Making a double batch in my mixer may have been a mistake due to volume. I had to take about half the mixture out, and then slowly reincorporate it. I’m still not sure if I was able to get the texture right, but the flavor was good.

A single batch is 1 pound of softened unsalted butter and 2 pounds of confectioners/powdered sugar, plus a pinch of sea salt, a Tbs of vanilla extract (I did not use the clear vanilla extract the recipe suggests), and about 6 Tbs of milk/cream (I used whole milk).

After the frosting seemed relatively acceptable, I added about 6 oz. fresh raspberries to the double-batch of frosting. In spite of the small amount of fruit, the frosting ended up very pink and flavorful. In spite of thinking that more fruit would be needed, based on my experience, I don’t think you need more unless you want a stronger flavor/different consistency (thicker). I’m also uncertain why a lot of recipes recommend adding pink food coloring as the frosting was already very pink.

Once the frosting was finished, the cake was pretty well-cooled. I was a little generous with the frosting filling since I had made so much frosting… (pictured below is the nearly 1 inch of frosting filling in between the two layers of cake)

The cake didn’t end up quite as lovely as I wanted, probably partially due to my non-expertise and practice at frosting cakes. However, I wanted something a little nicer than a sickly pink cake to give Ryan. Additionally, the thick frosting gave no clue as to what kind of cake was underneath, so I wanted to hint at the chocolate cake within. I decided that a heart made of fresh raspberries and dark chocolate chips would suffice, and was pleased with the result.

Having never made a layer cake myself before (I think I helped my cousin make one once), I was incredibly excited that I was able to clearly see the layers after cutting into the cake.

Overall, I was incredibly pleased with how the cake tasted. The cake itself was very moist, and the frosting wasn’t as sweet as I feared with all those pounds of sugar in it (I think the raspberries helped a lot here). I would definitely like to make improvements in the future on my presentation, and when I made the cake again for work, I used less frosting which I think was a better flavor ratio for me (as I’m not a big frosting fan).

Food Friday: Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Posted in Food Friday, and Recipe

This Friday, I went off another recipe from Skinny Taste, this time for “Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps.” As usual, I made a lot of changes.

Bee’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

1 lb ground chicken
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, diced
1/8 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp sesame oil
1/8 cup white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 packet Maruchan ramen Oriental seasoning packet (I would have used the garlic, scallions, and the extra sauces from the original recipe, but I forgot to buy them, so I used what I had around the house)
12 romaine lettuce leaves (mine were of varying sizes, which worked out fine)
1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts
1 cup match sticked carrots (about 3 small carrots)
1 cup match sticked zuchinni (about 1/2 small zuchinni)
Sriracha sauce as desired (red chili sauce)

Directions

1. Combine ground chicken, shitake mushrooms, and celery in a bowl.

2. Begin heating 1-2 Tbsp of sesame oil in your pan (I used a kawali (Filipino wok), but any wok or frying pan should work well) using medium heat.

3. Combine remaining sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and at least half the ramen seasoning packet.

4. Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture and allow to marinate for at least 10 minutes.

5. Carefully transfer the chicken mixture to the hot pan (it may pop and sizzle a bit from the moisture).

6. Brown the chicken mixture, incorporating the remaining ramen seasoning and black pepper as it finishes cooking.

7. Serve the chicken and fresh vegetables, allowing people to add the desired amount to their romaine leaf.

8. Add any sauces you enjoy, such as Sriracha sauce.

9. Wrap the leaf around your filling and enjoy!

Food Friday: Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Posted in Food Friday

This Friday, I made spinach lasagna rolls. I mostly went off SkinnyTaste’s Spinach Lasagna Roll recipe, but I did tweak a few things: I used fresh spinach, and I used full fat ricotta. I chose to leave off the Parmesan (I find it makes food to salty for my taste), and substituted a cheese blend for the “part skim mozzarella.” I chose to use a pre-made sauce instead of following their recipe (though I think in the future, I will try to make my own sauces, though not necessarily the one from SkinnyTaste). Finally, in spite of the recipe saying it made filling for only 9 rolls, I ended up having enough filling for 11 rolls. This means the nutrition facts shown in the recipe are off a bit from what I made.

My take on the recipe:

Ingredients

11 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped then wilted
15 oz full fat ricotta cheese
1 egg
fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
12 oz Great Value Chunky Mushrooms & Green Peppers pasta sauce (not sure how they used 32 oz with the directions they have)
1/2 cup Great Value finely grated Fiesta Blend cheese

I started by boiling the noodles, and chopping and wilting the spinach.

Next, I combined the egg, ricotta, salt, pepper, and spinach in a bowl:

 

 

I laid the cooked lasagna noodles on a clean kitchen towel to allow them to cool and dry slightly. I would make sure you don’t under cook the noodles too much, or it’s easy to break them when rolling the noodles (I broke one completely, and part of another).

After the noodles were cool enough to handle, I spread ricotta mix on them. I did not measure out a 1/3 cup like the recipe suggested, so that may be why I ended up with filling for 2 extra noodles. Additionally, I realized I did not have wax paper on which to fill and roll the noodles, so I just used a flexible plastic cutting mat:

 

 

I gently rolled the noodle, careful not to roll it too tightly:

 

 

 

As the recipe suggested, I ladled somewhere around a cup of sauce into the bottom of the baking dish, and after placing the rolled noodles seam-down in the dish, I ladled more over the top. I think I ended up using a lot of sauce, even though it ended up being a little over a third of what the recipe originally called for.

Finally, I sprinkled a small amount of the shredded cheese on each lasagna roll, and baked in the oven at 350F for 40 minutes. I am not sure why it takes so long to bake, but it turned out well after that length of time.

 

 

Pam was kind enough to bring over dessert, so we had a bonus last night: strawberry angel food cake!