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Monday, January 30, 2012

Rum Balls

Oh rum balls. So easy. So yummy. Such a great use of baking leftovers.

Rum balls are super simple to make. First off, they're made with leftover cake. Or, if you're like me and never have this thing called "leftover cake" you can just whip up a box cake. Doesn't matter what type. Just use whatever has been sitting in the back of the pantry for the last year or two. I used a yellow cake, but enriched the favor with a few tablespoons of cocoa powder, a tablespoon or so of coffee grounds (yep, straight out of the bag. They add richness) and a few tablespoons of rum. Bake as directed on box and then let cool.

After the cake is cool, cut a piece or two, frost (leftover frosting is suggested) and eat. Now you have "leftover cake". With this leftover cake, put it into a mixing bowl, add about a cup or two of frosting (I had some white frosting from some cupcakes I made a two weeks ago and some cream cheese frosting from awhile ago). Add a little rum (I used bacardi gold) and gently mix until it forms a thick paste. Don't mix for too long. Chill the cake-paste for about an hour.

When the cake paste is cold, roll into small balls. Roll the small balls in whatever you have lying around. I used coconut, red sprinkles, and cocoa powered. You could also used diced nuts, melted chocolate, nonpareils, etc. When done, freeze overnight.

Now, eat them. 


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Key Lime Pie

I've been in the mood for Key Lime Pie. Light, perky, and tart, key lime pie. Nothing tastes more of summer or Florida, and that sounds perfect for the end of January to me!

I've never made a traditional key lime pie before, only the Frozen Key Lime Pie I've written about previously. While I've had key lime pie a few times around the S. Florida area, I've never had a great desire to make one myself. There are a few types I've tried. Some have a thick layer of meringue on top like a lemon meringue pie, while other have just small dollops of whipped cream. Both are equally yummy, even if they don't have exactly the same consistency.

When trolling the internet I found recipes in both styles, but for me the deciding factor was, as usual, possible waste. The base of the key lime pie, the custard part, is made of egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and lime juice. And of course, to have egg yolks, you need to separate the yolks from the whites. While its easy to use the whites later in other recipes (or breakfast) I prefer to use them immediately so I don't forget they're sitting in the back of my fridge. Therefore, I selected a recipe that called for use of the egg whites in the meringue.

If you're in the mood for a summery treat, I highly recommend this recipe. Its so easy and has such a nice result. It can truly be made in under half an hour. I really hope you make this recipe.

Key Lime Pie
1 pre-made graham cracker crust (easy to find at all stores) or make your own (if you really want to... but the store bought ones taste the same
6 eggs, separated
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice (or regular lime juice)
Lime zest from 4 key limes, or 2 regular limes
1 cup sugar

In a mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sweetened  condensed milk until light and fluffy (about 8 minutes). Fold in the lime juice and zest until just combined. Pour into the pie crust and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350. In a very clean bowl, whip the egg whites into a foam (use some cream of tartar if needed). When the foam begins to build, pour in the sugar. Continue to whip until you get stiff peaks. Pour the meringue on top of the lime custard and move it around to cover. Put the pie in the oven (center rack) until the meringue gets gold tips (12-15 minutes in my oven, but keep an eye on it). Cool for 5 hours and enjoy!


You can almost hear the ocean, right?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Jalapenos

There has been a momentary lapse in baking around my apartment. Its due to a combination of wedding planning and school work. Just before the semester began my research was recently published (yay!) and there has been a surprisingly large amount of press buzz around it. I know, press buzz? But seriously, the research has huge implications for early autism detection which makes it a big draw for the media. Its great that we are getting so much attention (its extremely rare and difficult to get this type of attention) but its taken a lot of work and time.

So, instead of a new recipe, I'm going back into my photo bank to find something that I made a few months ago but never got around to posting. I present to you...

I couldn't get a picture before one was eaten!

Bacon Wrapped Cheesy Jalapenos!

15- 20 small jalapenos
8 oz light cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any other cheese you prefer)
1 packet of vegetable soup mix
1 package of bacon

Mix the cheeses together with the soup mix and let it sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, while wearing gloves, cut off the top of the jalapenos, and slice them down the side. Remove most of the seeds and membrane (the more that is left, the hotter these will be). Using a spoon or a pastry bag, squeeze the cheese mixture into the jalapenos. Wrap each stuffed jalapeno in a slice of bacon (or half if you have more peppers than bacon slices), and secure it with a toothpick. Place on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet (they get oozey and messy) and bake at 375 for ~15 minutes or until the bacon is cooked. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving.

These can be made ahead of time and baked just before serving. They're a great treat for game-day!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chocolate Lava Cakes

2012? When did that happen?

I can't believe how quickly 2011 went. This time last year, I was newly engaged, trying on dresses for the first time, looking at locations, and stressing about all the big wedding decisions.

My hansom puppy
Right now I'm stressing about wedding stuff, but not the big things anymore. Now I'm stressing about music selection, napkins, shoes, nail appointments, hair styles, favors, place cards, guest books, reservations, rings, and RSVP cards. And it seems like every time I check something off my list, there are 2 more things added. Just this morning I remembered that we needed to get our marriage licence. And that I have to find something for Brutus (our ring bearer) to wear that's not too formal and goes with our theme but then again he's a dog, so what does it matter, but theme is important and yadda yadda yadda.

Its really a strange feeling and I'm pretty sure I'm slowly driving all my friends crazy with all these wedding details. But at the same time, I'm pretty sure they love it. Ugh. I'm tired. I totally get why people pay big money for wedding planners. It would be nice to have someone to take care of all these details. Oh well.

So, as I buy favors, spanx, chose between two nearly identical cocktail dresses, and try to lose the last 10 lbs, I bake. And what's better than warm, gooey, chocolate cakes (because that will help with those last 10 lbs, right? Right???)?

Chocolate lava cakes are one of those impressive desserts that will stun a crowd, but are super easy to make. I've seen many recipes for them online and in cook books, but for this recipe I went straight to my trusted Betty Crocker Cookbook (New Edition). I followed the recipe nearly exactly, except that I added peppermint extract. What can I say... I can't leave well enough alone. Plus, peppermint is awesome.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Baking cocoa
6 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped (or chips)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs butter
3 large whole eggs
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups powered sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (optional but highly recommended)

Directions: (If serving immediately) Heat oven to 450 degrees. Grease bottoms and sides of six 6-oz custard cups with shortening (I used pam); dust with cocoa.

Melt the chocolate chips with the butter (microwave, stirring every 20-30 seconds), and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and egg yolks with a whisk until well blended. Beat in 1 1/2 cups powered sugar. Beat in melted chocolate mix and the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the custard cups. Place the cups on a cookie sheet with sides (for easier removal from the oven).

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the sides are set and the centers are still soft (the tops will be puffed and cracked). Let stand for 3 minutes. Run a small knife along the edges of the cups to loosen. Immediately place a plate on top and flip, removing the cup. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or berries. Serve warm.

If you need to, you can make the batter up ahead of time. Pour into the custard cups, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a day or two. If you do this, bake for 2-3 more minutes. Because it was just Chris and I eating them, we made two each night, and it was no problem.

With peppermint frozen yogurt, because I'm watching my weight
Enjoy! And Happy 2012!