Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mopsy's Party Cake!

It's vanilla with vanilla cream filling and wild raspberry jam between the layers. Pink butter frosting.

White Cake Supreme

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¾ cup shortening
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup milk (preferably whole)
5 eggs whites (reserve yolks for filling)

Grease and lightly flour two 9 x 1 ½ inch round baking pans. Set aside. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. In mixing bowl, beat shortening on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition till just combined.

In small mixer bowl, with clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the batter, and turn into prepared pans. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Place on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool thoroughly.

Slice each cake layer in half horizontally. Spread each layer with raspberry jam, then with almost third of this basic cream filling. Frost the cake with butter frosting, tinted if desired, (recipe below), chocolate decorations, and one pink candle.

For chocolate decorations, melt 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips with 1/2 tablespoon shortening. Spread into a rectangle on a sheet of waxed paper, and let sit until it nearly sets. Cut shapes out with a knife or cookie cutters and then allow to harden completely. Finally, plop them on a frosted cake however you like.

Toffee-Mocha Cheesecake

I created this cheesecake for Mom's party. It was yummy. Feel free to fiddle around with the ingredients as your tastebuds demand.

About 3 1/2 cups crushed chocolate crumbs (out of thriftiness, I use generic oreos, but chocolate graham cracker crumbs also work, and you could add some finely chopped almonds, too.)

If using generic oreos, stir in about 1/3 cup melted butter, enough to help the mixture stick together. If using chocolate graham cracker crumbs, stir in 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup melted butter.

Press onto the bottom and 1 and 3/4 inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan. Bake for five minutes in a 350 degree oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

three packages regular cream cheese, softened (8 oz. each)
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature, gently blended
1 additional egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coffee
1 bag Heath bits or about 2 cups crushed chocolate+toffee pieces (see recipe below)

1 cup sour cream
instant cappuccino hot drink mix OR finely-ground coffee (powder-like consistency) and sugar

Additional toffee (large-chunk homemade)

In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat until very hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons ground coffee (NOT powder-ground). Let steep for about five minutes or until very strong. Strain the grounds out with cheesecloth and set the coffee-cream aside.

In a mixer, mix the cream cheese just until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix just till combined. Add the heavy cream mixture, vanilla, and, if desired, either powder-like ground coffee or mocha cappuccino drink mix powder, to taste. (I bought a tub of mocha cappuccino mix for rolling truffles, and I just dumped in a bunch, to taste, to create a strong mocha flavor). Gently stir in one cup of fine toffee bits (either Heath bits or crushed homemade toffee).

Pour cheesecake batter into chocolate crust and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the center is almost set. (Center can be a bit soft still, but it should not be glossy.) Cool in cracked-open oven for ten minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust. Cool for one more hour and then refrigerate overnight to let the flavors ripen. Before serving, mix one cup sour cream with cappuccino drink mix OR powder-ground coffee and sugar, to taste, and top the cheesecake. Sprinkle on about 1 cup toffee bits and additional large-chunk toffee (see recipe below).

This cheesecake was delicious, but I might add a bit more cream cheese to it the next time I make it. (Perhaps another 4 oz.?) Anyway, yum. I hope you enjoy it like we did.

Place foil or a cookie sheet under the cheesecake because many springform pans leak.

Dip a knife in warm water before cutting the cheesecake, and wipe and dip again in warm water before making each cut in order to make clean cuts.

Butter Toffee

Note: I only made a ¼ batch of this to top the cheesecake.

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
12 oz. semisweet chocolate (chips are fine)
1 cup finely chopped toasted nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, and/or cashews) if desired

Grease a 15x10x1 inch pan  (for a quarter batch, use a 8 x 8 pan); set aside.

In a 3-4 quart saucepan (if making smaller batch, use a smaller pan), melt butter and sugar over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Avoid splashing sides of pan. Carefully clip a candy thermometer to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring only if mixture begins to scorch, until thermometer registers 290 degrees, soft-crack stage (about 15 minutes), brushing down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in water if needed.   Mixture should boil at a moderate, steady rate over entire surface. Remove from heat; remove thermometer. *** If you want to make English toffee, let the mixture reach 300 degrees (hard-crack stage) before removing from heat.***
Pour mixture into prepared pan; spread evenly. Cool about 5 minutes or until it begins to set and then score the surface. Sprinkle with chocolate pieces; let stand 2 minutes. Spread chocolate over candy. Sprinkle with nuts, if desired, and press into chocolate. Cool several hours or until set.
Break or cut into pieces and store in a tightly covered container.

*When in doubt, always use a lower heat rather than a higher while making candy. If the temperature is rising steadily (even more slowly than you’d like, it will reach the desired temp.). Burnt toffee is not tasty and the pans are a pain to clean (how do I know this, you wonder?).
*Be sure that the thermometer is not touching the pan, or the reading will be inaccurate.
*Test your candy thermometer first by placing it in a pan of boiling water for several minutes. It should read 212 degrees. If it rises above or does not reach 212 degrees, add or subtract the difference (e.g. if your candy thermometer reads 206 degrees in boiling water instead of 212 degrees, then only cook your toffee to 284 degrees).
*If you don’t use a candy thermometer, you can use the cold-water test for candy, though it’s not as easy. When the toffee mixture becomes golden and it’s been close to 15 minutes, drop a small amount of the hot candy mixture into a bowl of cold water. When it cools and is removed from the water, the candy will separate into strands that are hard but not brittle. To test for the hard-crack stage for English toffee, do the same thing. When the candy has reached the hard-crack stage, it will separate into hard, brittle threads when removed from the water.