Happy Bison Birthday!

August 11th, 2009

I really like Bison… when one of my museum co-workers asked me what animal I like to see at the Zoo… I immediately responded “Bison!” which promptly messed up her survey. I followed up with flamingos and seals trying to help her out.  Bison are so cool! Big burly animals… I just like them… I mentioned this to my brother and his girlfriend this weekend… they iced my cake with a bison on it!

Yes, today is my birthday!  My mom made my favorite chocolate cake with the yummy custard icing this weekend.  My brother and his girlfriend decorated it… including a little Batman because I also have a thing for Batman!  This is the classic birthday cake in my family!  Delicious the day of… and even better the next day when the custard icing is cold…

The Best Chocolate Cake
(from Betty Crocker)

2 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour bottom and sides of 13×9-inch pan, two 9-inch round cake pans, or three 8-inch round cake pans. In large bowl, beat all cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s).
2. Bake rectangle 40 to 45 minutes, rounds 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool rectangle in pan on cooling rack. Cool rounds 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely.

The Custard Icing (from my grandmother)
1 cup milk
5 tablespoonfuls flour
½ cup or 1 stick butter, softened
½ cup Crisco
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoonful vanilla

Whisk the flour into the milk and cook over medium heat until it thickens like a custard. Remove from heat and cool-you c an refrigerate if you want. I always cut a circle of wax paper and place on the surface so a skin doesn’t form. Cream the butter, sugar, and Crisco. Add vanilla and the custard and beat at high speed until creamy.

What is a girl to do?

July 29th, 2009

Recently I had the remarkable pleasure to discover chocolate extract. I was excited as I looked at the delicious smelling thick chocolaty elixir. I had to have it and discover all that it has to offer…

Well, I’m having trouble figuring out exactly what to do with it. If you google chocolate extract, you will find that I am not the only one. Essentially, you can put it in baked goods to make it a little chocolateier or you can make a chocolate liqueur… well, I’m not one for fancy chocolate cocktails (I know, shocking isn’t it but I just don’t like sweet drinks), so I have started slowly doing the former… emphasis on the slowly because as Juan said the other day “you are never going to use that, are you?”

I am! I’m just very unsure of when to use it and when not too. A few weeks ago, I did an experiment. I made the family brownie recipe. I added chocolate extract to one batch but not the other. Then I had my friends and co-workers see if they could taste a difference. It was subtle but definitely there.

This past weekend, I helped host a bridal shower and made 72 little mini cupcakes (half chocolate and half vanilla!)… sometimes, I’m a bit insane! I had leftover vanilla buttercream (made with vanilla bean paste), so tonight I made some brownies and used the leftover icing. I tried the Best Cocoa Brownies adding a teaspoon of chocolate extract. Delicious!

Vanilla Buttercream
(from Ginny’s mom)

1 stick butter, softened
1 box confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla (paste)
1/2 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the vanilla and the milk a little at a time until it of spreding consistency.  Enough for two layers, a 9 x13, or 24 cupcakes.

5 minute chocolate cake?

June 2nd, 2009

At first I was skeptical… would cake microwaved in a mug actually taste good?  I was pleasantly surprised… Sure, it is not the best cake in the whole world but it does hit the spot after a long day at work.  Plus I didn’t dirty a ton of dishes like I did that last time I made a cake.  The next time I try it, I plan on adding more cocoa powder and chocolate chips.  It also needs maybe a 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Icing would be nice— A simple buttercream… yum…

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional— I think its a must!)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (Microwave Safe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. (My microwave is so old— it took about 5 minutes to cook).
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!
Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).