Chocolate peanut butter ganache

Often I’ve heard the question, “What is ganache?” I’m not sure of the technical answer to that but my answer is usually that it’s melted chocolate with heavy cream. Sometimes I add a little butter for a glazed look but that’s the long and short of it. It is very versatile. When it’s chilled, it’s able to be piped onto a cake or cupcake as well as used for truffles.  When it’s more of room temperature or heated it can act as a glaze. I generally use it as a filling for cakes as well as for using the drip technique on top of cakes. I’ve been asked to do a tutorial of sorts but I’m not a huge tech girl so I’ll give you what I’ve got!

Step 1:

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Pour about 2/3 cup of heavy cream into a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave until hot but not boiling. Time varies with wattage but mine takes a little under 2 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2: Measure out about one cup of chocolate chips. I use semi sweet but you can use bitter or unsweetened .

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Step 3: Measure out about 3/4 cup Reese’s peanut butter chips. Have the chips out and ready for when the cream comes out.

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Step 4: Once your cream is done and hot, immediately add both cups of chips to the bowl and let sit for about 45 seconds. This allows the chips to melt and makes less stirring for you!

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Step 5: Stir vigorously until you get a nice smooth glazed look, similar to the picture on the left. Sometimes mine has some small chunks in it but for what I’m using it for, it doesn’t bother me and it tastes amazing! Smell that peanut butter yet??? Yum!

 

wp-image-2037314809jpg.jpeg    Here’s the finished product being cut into.  I did have a video for you guys to show you how to do the drip technique but I’m having a difficult time putting it on here.  So how I do it is I take a chilled and frosted cake and spoon the ganache onto the top and use a spoon to maneuver the ganache across the top of the cake and over the sides where I want the drip effect.  You want your ganache to be slightly warmer than room temperature to do this technique. If it cools too quickly then it won’t glide smoothly over your sides, however if it’s too warm then you’ll have more like stripes down the side of your cake than actual drips. Have fun with it! Work with it! My kids love when I experiment with ganache because of the science of it. It can totally change it’s usage just by a few degree change. It can be a solid or gel-like or a liquid glaze. Frankly, I’ve used it in all three ways! I hope this was helpful for those of you who have asked me for this info even though I didn’t get the video on here.  If you decide to go have some fun with ganache, leave me a comment! I’m also now on Facebook so come check me out there! Thanks!

 

 

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It’s been so long…

Ok so I tried.  And I failed miserably! I tried the parenting, homeschooling, running a household, blogging and starting a business thing. Sooo the blogging went to the wayside because the others couldn’t! However I’m going to try this again. I have been baking my little heart out and getting new customers! I’ve had my ups and downs but I’m learning so much. I’ve had a request or two for video tutorials on here so I’ll try my hand at that possibly at some point. I’ve worked on watercolor techniques and tie dye cake pops as well as drip techniques and chocolate lace wraps! The insane heat wave we are having here is not helping my case, as cake pops are cracking and melting and a baking oven all day keeps the house hot, but I’m making it work. Oddly enough I find that baking is more of a stress reliever than some other things most people think of. Sure, I love sitting on a beach all day but I guess you know your passion when you look forward to getting back to work! My son’s birthday is next week and I’m itching to try something new! Although his favorite is my Reeses cake so guess I won’t be doing much experimenting with his cake. But hey, who doesn’t love a chocolate cake lathered in peanut butter and chocolate and Reeses????

A Cake for Mom

20160507_151406.jpg   So obviously this year it was easy to figure out what we were doing for dessert this year for Mother’s Day since my newfound passion for baking is curing everyone’s sweet tooth over here!  I wanted to work on a couple new techniques and chose today to do that, because everyone knows that Mom is going to like whatever I make, even if it’s terrible! Ha! This one was actually for my mother-in-law.  I wanted this to be a deeper blue than it turned out to be, but she loved the color nonetheless.  I baked two 6″ round,  2″ high vanilla cakes. I then decided to “torte” them, or in other words, I cut each of those in half.  This made this more of a 4-layer cake because I wanted to add some strawberry filling to this small cake as well. On the sides I used the “spoon effect” technique. I wish I had taken more pics but I was more focused on the learning myself! I took a round piping tip and made 5 dots all the way up the side of the cake. I then took my cake spatula and smeared the dot.  About halfway through the smear I’d do another row of dots and repeat that process.  I found this fairly simple, although I did easily find myself going crooked and had to restart this process a couple of times to get it right. On the top I used a super large open star tip and did basically a bunch of C’s, if you would. I then placed some fresh flowers in the center just for color and effect. It seemed kind of boring by itself. One lesson I learned is this produced a cake with TONS of buttercream on it! Much more than I like and also it made the proportions a little off for those of us with a mild sweet tooth. Overall the cake was delicious. I’ll be a little lighter with the buttercream next time but it was still a success! I’m thinking with a little tweaking this cake could be a winner.  Now, as for my mom…she’s not a huge cake person so I’ll have to be getting creative for her Mother’s Day celebration next weekend! Stay tuned for what I’ll create for her! Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mothers out there!

Hope you like strawberries…

20160428_124543.jpg   I had the honor of making a cake and some cupcakes for a Hurry Home party last night for one of our military friends who is going overseas to serve our wonderful country.  His request was vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting, so I took care of that, but what fun is that for the baker?! I wanted more of a challenge as well, so I ended up making this strawberry goodness! This cake is a 2 layer cake with a homemade strawberry filling in the center and vanilla buttercream, garnished with fresh strawberries.  Now I learned my lesson from the last strawberry cake I made and I reduced the amount of filling I used in the middle.  I also decided to take a more dense and dry batter and add a package of strawberry creme Jell-o pudding mix I had found at the store. Well the smell that came out of the bowl while I mixed it was heavenly! This was the second time I had used the pudding mix in a cake and the first time was the failure/success of the lemon cake pops. These cakes came out perfectly this time! They were a very light pink color when you cut into it which was a nice touch to the strawberry filling in the center. This cake was an epic success! I didn’t even get a chance to get a picture of a cut piece because it was gone so quickly, so I’ll be making this one again. Unlike the recent cookie dough cake which was way too sweet, this cake was lighter and not nearly as overwhelmingly sweet. I have a feeling this will be one I’ll make quite often during the upcoming summer months.  It’s a perfect dessert to a nice grilled dinner.  This would even be nice with a lighter frosting instead of the vanilla buttercream. It would make it more like a strawberry shortcake.  Strawberries are coming into season and I’m determined to make as many strawberry baked goods as I can! I find it’s much easier to utilize the fruits as they’re in season because they come out much fresher and are often cheaper at the local market/orchard.  I’ve got the Spring Fever and now I’m ready for summer!

Eggless Cupcake Challenge

I didn’t get a chance to blog yesterday, as I was working on a hmmm project I guess you’d say.  I have a friend who has some severe allergies, and many of them being food allergies. One of those is eggs. Eggs?!?!? Let me tell you something… I never in my life realized how many things have eggs or egg product in them!  She brought me this Egg Replacer powder and I basically looked at it like “What the heck do I do with this???”. I’m always up for a challenge though, and I have felt especially bad that she hasn’t even been able to eat any of the treats I have made. I even thought about making her a fruit basket but then I found out she’s allergic to just about all the fruits I use as well! So I started digging online and researching some egg substitutes and how to use the egg replacer powder. It was actually quite interesting. At first, I tried it with a simple cake mix (although the box says it doesn’t work well with it). I wanted to get an idea of what I was working with and wanted to make something easy for her to be able to make on her own if it actually worked. She isn’t a fan of the from scratch baking.  I mixed the powder with a little water and then added it to the mix in place of the eggs and stuck them in the oven. The cupcakes came out ok visually, a little lighter than usual and obviously flatter than usual since eggs are part of the leavening in the batter. However, they were the strangest consistency! They felt squishy, yet heavy.  Then when I went to taste one and break it apart, it was as if the whole thing fell to crumbs. They weren’t dry, dense crumbs, as corn bread would be.  They were more like moist, velvety crumbs but when you touched them and put them together, they’d turn to a dough. I was absolutely befuddled by this. I had never really felt something that consistency. The closest thing I can compare it to is the “Moon Sand” that’s out for the kids now, or kinetic sand. It was really interesting, but they tasted good!

Next, I wanted to try it in a scratch recipe.  I chose a lemon cupcake recipe since she isn’t allergic to lemons and it would give her a little flavor. I found the egg replacer worked a little better in this type of recipe, but I still had a problem with the rising and it being slightly crumbly. The taste, however, was still quite good. I decided to make some homemade vanilla buttercream and pipe them onto them and let her try them to see what she thought. She loved them! I was so excited for her. I’m still not done with this challenge though. I want to try to tweak the consistency. I read to try gelatin with the egg replacer so I want to try that. I also read to use soda as an egg substitute as well. So I have much more work to do and experimenting with this, but overall she was happy that I produced something edible without eggs that she could actually enjoy! I’ll take any suggestions if any of you have them though, especially regarding consistency.  It was an interesting challenge but I’m up for more research!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake

20160426_144044.jpg  This is my newest concoction.  I call it a chocolate chip cookie dough cake.  This is honestly just one I got inspiration for while walking down the aisle at the grocery store. It is a layered cake (2 vanilla cakes), with the center being chocolate chip cookie dough and a thin layer of chocolate ganache.  I added chocolate chips to the side and mini Chips Ahoy on the top with crushed cookies in the center.  I will tell you I was quite proud of this one since I actually kinda threw it together how I wanted to create it, not from some online pic or tutorial.  We cut into it at a friend’s birthday dinner tonight and it had layered quite nicely. We took a bite and it was absolutely delicious, until about 4 or 5 bites in when the reality of all the sweetness kicked in!! Needless to say, there wasn’t one of us who was able to finish a whole piece, but everyone agreed it tasted wonderful. I’ll have to work on it, but if you were a true dessert connoisseur, this would probably not be a problem for you to eat! Ha!  I also took some time and made some cake pops to take to our volunteers at a voting spot in my city today.  They were quite excited! After such a long day at the polls for the primaries in my hometown today, they deserved some tasty treats!

 

The Snickers Masterpiece

So I’ve been wanting to experiment with this cake that I found online recently. I’m a huge Snickers fan and thought the idea of turning it into a cake was ingenious! I’m a huge fan of Jenn of Cookies, Cupcakes, and Cardio and she was the inspiration behind this cake.  She made hers slightly different and I added my own touch to the cake as well as using my own cake and buttercream recipe, but it turned out pretty well overall!  The sugar and caloric content are probably deadly, but it sure was a lovely cake and tasted AMAZING!!  Thanks to Jenn for her clear and easy tutorials, this was fairly simple to make, while looking like I spent lots of time on it!

The version I made is a 3 layer cake, two chocolate and one vanilla. The first filling layer is caramel and crushed peanuts, with a vanilla buttercream dam.  The second layer is fun size Snickers and a thin layer of buttercream to help them stick.  I added a layer of chocolate cake onto that and then crumb coated it in a vanilla buttercream.  I then used a chocolate ganache and caramel to do the drip effect on the top and sides.  Finally, I chopped up some of the mini sized Snickers and some peanuts and put them in the middle! Lovely!  Looked exactly how I wanted it to! The one thing I’ll change about this next time is I would crush the Snickers in the middle layer, as when we cut into the cake it somewhat “collapsed” I guess you’d say. It didn’t cut through the Snickers very well. Other than that it was wonderful! Using this cake idea as a format, I’m thinking you could do this with any kind of candy! The possibilities are endless.

Now, another thing I did, which was a total experimentation and inspired by my husband actually, is I took the cake scraps from leveling my chocolate cakes and turned them into cake pops.  I’d like to call them Snickers cake pops.  I added a little of the buttercream I had from the crumb coat, some of the leftover chocolate ganache, and some of the caramel I had leftover and this made the “dough” for the cake pops. I then dipped them in milk chocolate and covered them in crushed peanuts.  Wow! These turned out pretty well too! In the trial phase I’d say maybe a little less crushed peanuts as they did overpower the rest of the flavor a little, but still no complaints about the taste! Either one of these would be a great idea for the Snickers lover in YOUR family!

It’s Here!

20160420_161708.jpg Dash of Sweet Mixer 2.0 is here!!  Isn’t she a beaut!? Yes, I’m probably way too excited over this. You’re probably thinking I’m crazy but when baking is your passion and you’ve been without a mixer and then get this lovely piece of equipment, it’s like Christmas, Mother’s Day and my birthday all wrapped up in one!! I chose a refurbished Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer which I found on Ebay. As I explained away the sense in spending that kind of money on an electric mixer to my husband, I hoped and prayed as I opened the box that this piece of machinery would prove it’s worth! Well it did. Even just opening the box and trying to remove it, the weight of it was a little unnerving. One thing is for sure, the sucker is sturdy. Also, it’s going nowhere when I turn it on and it works it’s magic.  The color, Raspberry Ice, is so me and just as it looked in the picture online.  I washed it up and christened it today, making mini cheesecakes, vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, as well as vanilla and chocolate round cakes for a layered masterpiece I’m attempting tomorrow.  It’s my personal opinion that this mixer has already been well worth the money in one day!  I’d like to say my husband would agree as he didn’t hear me griping and complaining trying to get my poor little old mixer to work.  This thing is super sturdy, easy to use, and best of all, it allows me to be hands free as it mixes!  This allowed me to clean up a little as I went, or get another ingredient I may need, or grab a quick utensil or towel.  I’m guessing this is why almost every baking tutorial I watch has one of these or something like it! It’s a whole new world.  I was thrice as productive today as I would have been with my old mixer. The wattage on the new one allows things to get done twice as quickly, as well as what I said about being hands free allowing me to do other things at the same time.  I am love, love, loving this mixer and I’m back in the baking business!  Tomorrow it will take the buttercream test.  A nice, thick, gooey batch of buttercream should really have this thing flexing its muscles. While I did have another sunken cake today, instead of being discouraged I just moved on and made another one cuz I was so excited to use this mixer! Some days it’s just the little things. Can’t wait to see the things I can create now. Thank you to my wonderful husband for supporting me and getting me what I need to do what I love!

New Type of Sweets

I may be without a mixer, (which btw should be here tomorrow!! yay!) but I found a way to make and create anyway! Today I tried my hand at a fruit bouquet.  It’s hard to see some of the fruit but I attacked a pineapple with a couple cookie cutters, one a flower shape and the other one a butterfly shape.  I found that as long as you cut your slabs of pineapple thick enough, the cookie cutters work quite well. If they’re too thin, like a couple of mine were, they end up splitting when you insert the skewers.  Another interesting thing…I bought a cantaloupe to make melon balls for it.  I thought the orange would be a nice punch of color to it, however when I cut open my cantaloupe, the inside was green!  Of course the first thing I did was Google “Why is my cantaloupe green????”  The first obvious answer online was, “Cuz it’s a honeydew.”  Well now I don’t claim to be the smartest crayon in the box but I do know the difference between a honeydew and a cantaloupe! ha! So anyway, I never got an actual answer since there were so many different ones, but I tasted it and it tasted like a lovely nicely ripened cantaloupe, so I was good with that. It didn’t add the orange color I would have wanted but still turned out nicely nonetheless.  Stuck the skewered fruit in a tin flower pot filled with some flower foam that I found at the dollar store and added some kale around the edges of the pot for a leafy look and to cover some of the sticks and foam and there you go! I, of course, couldn’t take just fruit to an event, even if some of it was coated in chocolate. I needed to make sure we had a dash of sweet! So I then took some Oreos and smothered them in chocolate. There! Now that’s more like it for me!  As much as I enjoyed doing this kind of stuff today, I really do miss my baking so I can’t wait for my mixer to get here so I can try more experimenting! But for now, it’s nice to know the venture outside of my box proved worthwhile.

Spring Fever

Well, since the mixer is down and out it’s kind of hard to blog about treats and sweets.  However, as I began the slow and tedious process of Spring cleaning today, I was inspired to bring up what I call “Spring Fever”. If you’re a homeschool parent, you most likely know what this means for us. In my part of the country the weather is getting sunny and warm and absolutely gorgeous. Know what that means??? No one in their right mind wants to be stuck inside the house at a table doing school work! This is one thing I LOVE about homeschool!! I, personally, try to do a lot of my “boring” (if you would), stagnant desk work type of school during the winter when we’re stuck in the house anyway. Then, come Spring, I bring out my secret weapons.  This is the time of year that when I get weary of the constant “Can we go outside yet??” I began to find out what kind of outdoor educational things my town or nearby cities had to offer, at a really affordable price or even free! The town I live in is very historical so there is an abundance of resources at my disposal. For example, if I drive 5 minutes down the road, my children and I can stand at the exact spot that the Declaration of Independence was first read in my state.  A couple of weeks ago, we stopped in at one of the historical sites where they gave us a free demonstration of a day in colonial life in our state. He was even decked out in the attire they wore at that time.  The kids learned about what they ate and how they cooked it, they played games they would have played back then, learned how they cooked, bathed, did chores, and how they slept.  We also found out they do guided tours of the historical section of our town and they’re also dressed in colonial attire when they do this. I don’t know about you, but my kids get a kick out of how they dressed back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.  We also have local museums that are very reasonably priced or free of charge. If you get the membership, you not only support your community, but you can take the kids there as often as you want for the year. We do our nature walks during this time of the year as well. We can learn about our heart rates, and what muscles to use and stretch, what animals/insects we see on our walk. Even make a scavenger hunt for them to do on the walks! So for those of you whose homes get attacked with the Spring Fever plague as well, these types of solutions have worked very well for our family. Find out what resources are available to you in your town, or nearby towns. You’d be surprised at what is offered and what can allow you and your children to not only enjoy the beautiful weather, but maybe even have a hands on Science or History lesson!  You can go to your state or city’s website for this kind of information. I’ve learned more about my town’s history by doing these kind of things with my children than I EVER did in all my years of textbooks in school. If you venture out and try it, let me know what you did and how it went!  Here’s to a cured case of Spring Fever for you and yours!!