Birthday Blow Out

This week has been crazy! Actually the last 2 weeks with multiple performances at the Symphony back to back.The last fortnight ended with a big birthday bash for a board member and extraordinary patron of the Arts who turned 95!!!

Check out the pics on TimesUnion.com. THATS MY CAKE!

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Photo from Timesunion.com

 

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Maestro Miller, Dr. Medicus and Me! with the Cake. Photo from timesunion.com

And to come– a tutorial on how to make the white chocolate planks seen on the side of the cake.

Add a comment December 16, 2013

Walt Disney and French Toast

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On our belated honeymoon my husband and I went on a southern adventure. We drove down the coast, visited some friends in DC, North Carolina, and then on to Florida. I made a point of stopping at Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah because I adore their cookbook and now their establishment too. I highly recommend the Bourbon Bread pudding. Then we ventured on to Florida to hit up Harry Potter World and Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
I’ve adored Disney as just about anyone does, from the time I was a kid, mostly because I thought I’d become an animator.
My infamous French toast recipe is now been included on Spoonful a Disney blog for crafting and cooking. It’s one of 15 crockpot recipes and I myself can’t wait to try the semi homemade Caramel buns!

It’s kind of funny as things work out as just last night I was recommending the documentary Walt and El Grupo to my brother, a film about how Walt Disney became an American diplomat in South America during World War II. I mentioned to my brother it would make an excellent Christmas gift should he ever need an idea of what to get for me… I’m shameless.

Follow me on Instagram for Pics from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Magic Kingdom.

Add a comment December 10, 2013

Under Construction

underconstruction tce

Anyone who follows this blog with any regularity can see some strange changes in terms of appearance. So I ask your patience in baring with me while I revamp The Cake Eccentric with new design and a better layout! Meanwhile if you live in the capital region and want to learn how to cake decorate with me sign up for my upcoming classes at Hobby Lobby in Latham! This month they are 55% off!

Tuesdays (starting August 6th) 6pm-8pm
Basic Cake Decorating

Wednesdays (start August 7th) 6pm-8pm
Flowers and Cake Design

Classes are 4 weeks long and meet once each week on their designated Day. Class supplies list given upon reciept of registration. Go to HobbyLobby.com for a full schedule of upcoming classes.

Ohh and here are some pics from a wedding cake this weekend:

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Add a comment July 29, 2013

I<3 Macarons or Master of the Universe!

I’ve been dreaming about making French Macarons for over a year now. I get excited everytime I spot a picture of the colorful delicate sandwich cookie on pinterest or in one of my cookbooks, especially I Heart Macarons by Hisako Ogita.

Or when I got to work with the owner of Laduree at Jazz at Lincoln Center as we scrambled to find refridgerator space for the hundreds of Macaron filled gift boxes for a wedding. Or whenever I felt fancy enough to part with $15 or so dollars and saunter down to Bouchon at the Shops of Columbus Circle and and dive into 2 or more (their Macarons are huge) crunchy, gooey cookies.

I truly heart Macarons…except when it came to my prowess in executing them in my own kitchen. They delicate cookie can be an absolute Bear to make. Anyone whose made anything containing stiffened egg whites has probably had a few faux pas in the kitchen. I wasted and ruined more than a dozen egg whites and pounds of butter when I first endeavoured to make Swiss Merignue buttercream Frosting. And I won’t get back those hours of standing over a double boiler whipping egg whites and sugar to 200+ degrees only to find an hour later once 2 pounds of butter had been warmed to room temp and sliced and slowly incorporated that the thin and goopey syrup I rendered would never be the light whipped delicious frosting I’d intended. BUT I presevered and experimented and found that Italian Meringue Buttercream took slightly less time, less arm work and eventually I figured out just how to nail everytime.

Macarons apparently need the same finesse at least in my kitchen so after 3 attempts that resulted in the same milky goo and not a thick Macaronage (the proper name of perfectly mixed batter) I was PISSED!! Macarons are delicious beacause they are delicate with a smooth crunchy surface and a gooey center– not to mention the endless possiblities for filling, but the process is just a “delicate”. By that I mean Preparing them can be as finiky as working with a total diva celebrity even after I thought I could eye ball any meringue. So I poured over the internet on blog posts, youtube videos and tried to no avail to make the recipes in I heart Macarons work.

The anatomy of a macaron: domed, but not too rounded top, a smooth surface with a bit of sheen, no wrinkles or grease marks or cracks. The bottom of the cookie has a “pied” or foot. Its distinct and only perfectly made Macs have them. Heat, humidy and general weather conditions can mess your mac up big time…all that said they are worth the trouble.

After research heres the recipe I combined that ended up working for me:

3/4 c Almond flour– It cost like $12/ pound and you can make your own by grinding slivered (and peeled) almonds in a food processor

1 c powdered sugar– make sure its simply sugar, and does not contain corn starch– WHOLE FOODS powdered sugar does– there is just no reason for that

2 egg whites

5 tbsp granulated

2 tbsp water

First pre-heat your oven to 325. I like to get mine going early because it takes forever to adequately preheat. I’ve also met chefs who insist the success of macarons depends on the oven. Some people insist on preheating the oven for a full hour. Everyone’s oven is wildly different from the next so I’d say make sure its adequately preheated.

Sift almond Flour with a strainer Twice! Make sure to measure that you still have 3/4 cup! Sift powedered sugar– mostly to break up lumps, again measure your quantity after its sifted. Stir to combine. Set aside.

Begin to whip egg whites NOW: egg whites are “easier” to separate when they are cold. Most recipes I’ve read and researched insist the egg whites be 1. days old, and 2. room temperature.– Both conditions make for quick and easy whipping. I agree with all these statements but I let the eggs sit out for about 20-30 minutes before I started whipping and everything worked out just fine.

Heat granulated sugar and water to reach 235 degrees F. Soft ball stage. Typcially I do so in a pan on the stove but I opted this time to go for the microwave. Again everyone microwave is different if you go this route. I’d start with a minute and stir to make sure the water and sugar is combined. Then heat for 3-4 minutes. Check the temp and don’t over cook– once your sugar surpasses the soft ball stage a whole other chemical reaction will take place and letting it cool will not get the consistency back you are looking for.

Meanwhile start whipping your egg whites. When they reach a soft peak stage pour hot sugar in, in a slow steady stream. Continue to whip until the batter is cool and is at the stiff peak stage! It is essential the egg whites are properly whipped as if they are too soft they cannot support the almond flour. I find egg whites, espceially cool egg whites can take 8-10 minutes to reach the stiff glossy peaks. Older egg whites whip in about 4 minutes. If you choose to dye your cookies add the food coloring : gel or powder, right at the end.

No mistake these are blue macs

Pour in about 1/2 of the flour mixture and delicately fold FOLD together. Folding means you preserve the air in the egg white and if you stir in a circular fashion all bets are off.

At this point I find that scooping the egg white mixture into the flour bowl and remaining flour is best because with only 2 egg whites whipping some of the sugar syrup sticks to the side of the bowl and you don’t want hardened sugar in the batter. Again delicately fold the mixture. I heart Macarons mentions Macaronage and Macaroner as methods of stirring intregal to making the perfect batter– but each time I interpretted the directions I always over mixed the batter and ended up with slop. Fold until just combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat non stick sheet. For the most round and uniform macarons scope the batter into a large 14″-16″ pastry bag. I find a large circular tip is great. for smaller macarons use a #12 tip. Pipe onto the baking sheet. A great tip is to actual stack 2 baking sheets on snuggly on top of the other. This prevents overcooking– it works for cake too! If you are worried your cake will burn on the bottom set it on a baking sheet. The extra insulation prevents burning.

Right before you place your macs in the oven turn the temperature down to 300 degrees. about 8 minutes in, spin the baking sheet around so that all cookies cook evenly. I also recommend placing your baking sheet in the bottom 3rd of your oven. After 12 -16 minutes they should be perfect. remove from the oven and Cool. eat as they are or fill with buttercream, ganache jam whatever tickles your fancy.

Blueberry Macarons with Blueberry buttercream, Chocolate Macs with Mocha buttercream, Peach macs with egg yolk butter cream– recipe to come soon cause what else are you gonna do with all those egg yolks.

Add a comment January 31, 2013

Cupcake Mountain, Wilmington, North Carolina

Read all about my trip to North Carolina for my firned Chrissy’s wedding, and the wedding cake I made for them, which will be hence for known as Cupcake Mountain.

http://christinehennessey.blogspot.com/2012/11/wedding-cupcake-mountain.html

Add a comment November 28, 2012
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BRUNCH: Crock Pot French Toast Revisited

I’m reposting this recipe since its the most searched, and commented post to date. I’ve updated the instructions and tried to address some questions! The recipe I originally posted is 1/2 of the actual recipe I was working from, since I have a small crock pot about 4 quarts.  If you have a bigger crock pot use whole the recipe — 1 whole loaf of bread, 1 dozen eggs 2 cups of milk, 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2tbsp brown sugar.

Crock Pot French Toast:

My aunt gave me this recipe after raving here and there about bring her crock pot full of fluffly ready to serve french toast at work.  She brings it in a couple times a year a round holiday season and serves it to her office.  Its soooo easy to make and its wonderful to wake up on a weekend morning to the smell of ready to dive into French toast– set your coffee maker the night before and you won’t have to lift a finger before breakfast.

I made half of what her recipe calls for as my crockpot is a bit more on the petite side.

Ingredients:

1/2 loaf of bread.

I don’t recommend wheat bread generally though honey wheat is pretty good as french toast.  Cinnamon Raisin Swirl is to die for, or a challah bread works too. A loaf of day old French or Italian is also best as french toast. You can use the pieces whole, but I choose to break the pieces in half to fit into the crock pot better.

Use cooking spray to  grease you crock pot!!! or you will likely have some stickiness to clean later.bSome folks like the slow cooker plastic liners. I’m not a fan personally but thats up to you.

Combine:

6 eggs, 1 c milk, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp light brown sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla.

Dunk each piece of bread into the egg mixture and place inside the greased crockpot. Pour remaining egg mixture over the top of the bread.  Set crockpot to lowest cooking setting. “Warm” is not a cooking setting, so set your crock pot to LOW.  Place cover ontop. Do not over fill your crockpot. Cook for 6- 8 hours. Mine cooked in 7.

In the morning you will find a fluffly, bread pudding-souffle like breakfast.  You will see cooked egg on the edges of the bread slices. Carefully remove the lid about 15 minutes before its done and it will brown and toast.  Serve with warm syrup!!  Serves 4-6 depending on how hungry your guests are.

If yours burned I can’t offer alot of consolation. I can say mine came out great or obviously I wouldn’t have posted. Knowing you crockpot is important, just like knowing your stove or microwave. Read the manufactures instructions. Newer crockpots may not take as long to cook as older crockpots from what I’ve read on the interwebs. I can say that my crockpot is 2 years old and still cooked for 6+ hours after all it is a slow cooker.  Try it yourself and leave your tips for great crockpot french toast.

27 comments October 13, 2012
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What in the What!

A Vegan Cake for my friend Chrissy’s Bridal Shower in August

Yeah yeah Where the hell have I been!?!? Thats an interesting question. If you were to scour the hot and dirty streets of New York City..I’m reminded of Rent lyrics, I would not be found. Not in the mecca of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s halls or loading docks, not in the any of of 3000 starbucks stores or in a remote spot of Central Park, or dozing on the D train back to the Bronx. I have made my last exeunt New York City, at least as a resident.

View of Columbus Circle from Jazz at Lincoln Center

As of April 9th I pack all of my cherish belongings and left for a place I called home long before, and returned to the Capital Region. I can’t say it was not difficult, mostly just to separate the part of my personality that loved saying “I live in New York” not having to say “City” because with my obvious arrogance I know that you know what I mean.  But really most of us need to leave (home) to be able to return. And the home I escaped to proves now, in a global world– where I talk to my best friend in Texas, more than I talk to my own mom (who lives 5 minutes away)New York isn’t, or at least doesn’t have to be the only place you can make “art.” In fact the grind of New York proves so exhausting, I lift my glass to anyone who spends more time involved in there passion then they do at the restaurant or starbucks where they earn their (exhorbetant) rent money.

Marquis in Frederick P. Rose Hall home of Jazz at Lincoln Center

Once Phil and I started dating, even though we entertained the idea of living in the City, I knew it would never make sense and frankly I didn’t want it to. I’d dread having to make a long drive back to the City feeling the exhaustion overwhelm me, going back to “the grind” and emptiness coming back to my huge and lonely apartment. Its easy to come home from a long day at work if your family is there to meet you. I felt disected like a frog in High School Biology class. Working in New York, but “living” upstate and it was always Albany or Saratoga that I felt my energy return. So it was time.

I had an adventure my last night, working a final shift at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and returning to my car only to find I had no idea where my keys were (I STILL don’t). I ended up having to take the first bus back to Albany 2 hours late to my new job, having only gotten an hour or so of sleep on the Mega Bus. New York can SUCK!! in your first year it will beat the crap out of you– training you like a horse to understand the way it ebbs and flows, and when you try to leave it can stretch its grip…well if you choose to see it that way. Maybe I should just made a better point to put my keys in a zippered pocket of my purse.

View of New York from New Jersey on the Megabus April 9, 2012

ANYWAY in the last 5 months Life’s been GOOD! I’ve made a few cakes mostly for baby showers, attempted to unpack…though we’re still not 100% done, repainted many rooms in our apartment, and finally just finished building a (wait for it….wait for it) walk in closet, and I’ve been trying to chip in by walking the dog so that Phil is no longer the sole custodial parent. Between moving chaos, changing jobs twice, and unpacking and construction the blog fell to the wayside.    I was actually having a craptastic day today, feeling uninspired, until I saw this:

Billy (kind of like my dog Billie) is the former poet laurate of the US, and spoke at my college graduation, I also got to work with him once at a reading earlier on in my careeer. And Billie my dog looks similiar to the animation, though she is a cartoon character of herself all on her own.

Which reminded me of :

My Bill and My Phil

The blog above is actually incredibly popular here in upstate, Matt Baumgartner being a kindred spirit, at least in my hopes and dreams of life. He own 3 highly successful restaurants with a 4th opening soon and lives in NYC part time, a lover of dogs and food and big city life he lives my dream! And his blog aint so bad either. And I just so happen to be running a fashion shoot this weekend for Metroland  The alternative Newsweekly I work for, and we are featuring Matt’s new clothing line…Matt when do you sleep!?!

Howes and Baum

What else? Well Phil and I are starting to put some time into side projects– the projects we long daydreamed about over the phone hundred of miles apart. Heres some of Phil’s work

FireFighters Art

I’m loving pintrest lately–  ESPECIALLY for weddding planning!

OH and one more thing!! for all you crafty lad and ladies out there I’m loving LOVING Craftsy.com for classes. I could spend my whole  working day in front of a PC and still come home happily to spend a few minutes (or hours) gettin my learn ON. I’m currently watching/ and working on a “bombshell Dress” course with a “topsey turvey cake” course on the horizon!

AND I’ve been getting all sorts of hits her on my long ignored site, especially on Crock Pot French toast, so for eveyone who had a tough time with their “quick and easy” French toast , I will repost with answers to your questions!!!

Heres some of my most  recent work:

My Bridal Shower Cake…I didn’t bake it or ice it, BUT I staked it and decorated it with 50+ gum paste flowers!!!

Chocolate banana cake with Peanut Butter Frosting Filling and Mocha Frosting…Recipe to come

More cakes and chat to come.

4 comments September 21, 2012
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Bridesmaids

This is my 100th post!! And of course now wordpress is getting stingy with letting me upload photos…I digress.

So lets talk about my wedding again shall we?  There are many things to do: Set a date. Check. Find a venue and book it. Check. Find a cater, DJ, photographer, videographer , figure out our first song, a song for myself and my dad, for Phil’s mom and him, figure out a cake (well I think I’ve got this down already), finalize the guest list, set up a rehearsal, find and officiant, set up the shower, bachelorette party and rehearsal dinner…the list goes on. But Phil and I and our parents are hot on the trail of most of this stuff. And dresses…I refuse to try on anything until I hit the gym a few more times, which I’ve been doing religiously. And then of course theres finding dresses for the wedding party. Speaking of brides maids its time to figure out the wedding party.

Phil and I wrote down those friends and family who are so special to us they will be forced to wear matching dresses and kilts (YES kilts) and stand with us when we take our vows. For ladies anyway picking out your bridesmaids is serious business. The last wedding I was in I was the maid of honor. Your responsibilities are to arrange the bridal shower, bachelorette party and holding the bridal gown anytime your bride friend has to pee. Big responsibilites. When Sarah, my bff (and if you read the last post– the only friend who can vouch I KNEW Phil was going to pop the question) got engaged I knew I’d be her maid of honor as we’d talked about over the years.  We’ve been friends since kindergarten.  But she being the Emily-Post reading bride (zilla) Sarah asked me to be her MOH in such a special way. She is an olympian level scrapbooker, and shortly after she was engaged I recieved a package in the mail. Inside was a small custom-made book filled with pictures and inscriptions going back to when we were kids. The last page was a pic of her and I “I can think of no one else I’d have stand with me as my maid of Honor on my wedding day” Still makes me teary.

I’ve racked my brain on how to pop the same question in a special way, and since baking and blogging is my thing I think this is IT!

Our friendship begin in 1987, as we both embarked on our first of many school days at St. Brigid’s Regional Catholic School. Neither of us can remember our first day of school really. I remember the stress of taking the bus and making friends as any one might. The first memory Sarah and I have of each other is a fateful one. Sarah and I sat next to each other, and regularly shared snack time. I recall quite vividly a particular day when snack time started and Sarah looked a little green. I asked if she was alright. The answer was more visceral then I expected. She puked her purple grape juice all over her’s and my desk. Needless to say she went home sick shortly thereafter. I do remember feeling disappointed we wouldn’t spend the rest of the school day together.  We were in brownies together, took dance classes together, we had fights over boys, fights over friends, shared birthdays, went to prom together, went to dances, joined the same high school clubs, worked to fundraise a trip to Paris as seniors, went off to college on the same day and stayed in touch picking up where ever we had left off even when we were far away from each other. When she was living in our home town I regularly popped in, unexpected, dipping in to a bottle of white wine as we caught up on home town gossip and sharing the trials and tribulations of being working professionals. Shes the girl I know no matter what, I can call late at night whether I’ ve had my heart broken or just wantot chat. having my heart broken.  As a better friend she was the first person to say (after my last big break up) “its time to move on and start over–even if its not what you want to hear. I think the people who love us, know what we need and always have our best interest in mind. And boy am I glad I followed that advice. Even with the time difference (she now lives in Austin) her husband knows when I’m on the phone that his wife Sarah will be incompassitated for a couple of hours!! I told the story of our vomit-ladened meeting at her wedding during my maid of honor speech, but are friendship started sometime before that day spans far beyond and I think it always will. I should also mention that Phil and I are getting married (next year) on her birthday February 9th, which so happens to be today.

Sarah Brooks Grady, will you please be my Maid of Honor?

In honor of my Maid of Honor CHEESECAKE! Its one of Sarah’s most favorite desserts. Sarah had cupcakes for her wedding or a “deconstructed wedding cake” as its called in the industry. I however can’t help but indulge in a more traditional cake as the biggest reason Phil and I met was that he designed my website dedicated to cake.  BUT we also have some good friends who own a fabulous cheesecake shop in Albany and I’ve been thinking of doing a whole dessert buffet with cake, cheesecake and maybe even some candy. Sarah had a  candy buffet at her wedding which was a HIT.

Paula Deen’s Chocolate Explosion Cake, from food network– where btw you can register and save your favorite or interesting recipes in a recipe box online–love it.

Crust:

  • 2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

Chocolate Layer:

  • 6 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cheesecake Layer:

  • 1/2 cup caramel syrup
  • 1 (16 1/2-ounce) package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 6 (1-ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

For the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter, stirring to combine. Press the crust into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 6 minutes; let cool.

For the chocolate layer:-(cooks up like a brownie) Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter (or microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes total). Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and flour until just combined. Pour into the bottom of the cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes; let cool. I think mine needed a little more than 15 min.

For the cheesecake layer: Spread the caramel topping evenly over the cooled chocolate layer. Cut the cookie dough crosswise into 1-inch slices. Place the slices in an even layer over the caramel, pressing gently together to seal the edges.


In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and flour until just combined. Stir in the sour cream. Pour the mixture over the cookie dough layer and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and gently run a knife around the edges to release the crust from the sides of the pan. Let cool completely.

For the ganache: ( I called it quits are this part– I figured that layers beneath were enough) Using a double boiler, combine the chocolate and cream and melt (or microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 1 minute total). Spread over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.

This cake is out of this world good. But a quick not on releasing it from the pan.  I left mine cool andthten refridgerated without thinking of all the ewwy gooey that would keep this cake confined. I actually broke my spring form trying to open it up…I recommend baking this with a cookie sheet beneath it like I did as a bunch of carmel leaked out. I’d also recommend dipping the pan in warm water to loosen the layers of cookies and brownies and caramel that have cemented the pan shut.

 

1 comment February 9, 2012

YES!!!!!!

On one of out first dates, my “boyfriend” and I travelled to Little Italy in the Bronx, dining on eggplant parmigiana and cannolis.  Years later one of the best date nights I have had with my “boyfriend” was the night we went to Babbo. An Italian restaurant on the lower East Side owned by Mr. Mario Batali.


After a night of grilled octupus, prosciutto, quail, and lamb chops, we finished with a delightful bevvy of desserts. And we nearly fell off our chairs when I tried to refill my own glass of wine… and the wait staff dove over to replenish.   I guess we are are not as accustom to fine dining as I’d like to think. We spent a generous gift certificate on our dinner given to me by my dear friends Scott and Mel, an unexpected gift for the wedding cake I had made for them a year before.

Fitting…a wedding cake… as my “boyfriend” is no longer. Philip is now my fiance!!

On Christmas Day Phil, and I ventured from my parents house where we had spent a low key Christmas Eve having dinner with family,  to his parents’ house 30 miles north. When my parents mentioned they’d be stopping up for dinner that night, I was a little suspicious.  I know, after years of traveling all over upstate New York for the Holidays when I was a kid, nothing makes them happier than to staying home, vegging a little, and eating left overs on Christmas Day.  I had even mentioned to my best friend from kindergarten that I had an inclination that an engagement was around the corner, perhaps days away. Sarah, is still my only witness that I knew it was about to happen.

At some point after dinner, my parents arrived.  We dined –appropriately enough on ziti, italian sausages, mozzarella, and peppers. When, as I sat back down at the dinner table Phil, walked in with a huge wrapped box. He slid it across the floor when I notice there were a few purposeful holes punched in the top of the box.  Considering both my cat and dog were wayward strays until we crossed paths– Phil and I are in need of another pet like a hole in the head. I was so caught off guard with the prospect of a puppy or kitten I completely forgot that I believed an engagement ring was in my future.

“What is this?!?  There are holes in this box?!?!”  I kept repeating. I opened the box to realize hanging beneath the top was a large printed sign “HERES YOUR PET ROCK!!” it said. Tied to the bottom of the sign was a diamond ring. His grandmother’s ring. In smaller letters, the sign read “Ella Kathleen Golding, Will You Marry Me?” When I realized what was written on the paper all the family and friends, his and mine disappeared, and suddenly there was only me and him.  He was on his knee. “Will you? Will you Marry Me?”

I considered  no other answer.

Yes.

YES!

YESSS!!!

We went out for a drink that night to the only open bar we could find and started making a guest list and writing down our ideas. We’ve talked about our wedding a million times before, but now. Now it was real, in the present, happening. I couldn’t stop thinking of our engagment over and over for the next few days.

Since then we’ve set a date and booked a space and have started to venture toward the great test of –not get married, but surviving PLANNING a wedding!! hahaha!! and NO! I will not be making my own cake….BUT I’ll have plenty to say about shopping for one!

That was my big New Year’s news! And for me at least, BIG it was!!  For my soon to be Italian  (and Scottish) husband, Mario Batali’s Cannolis. In honor of our first dates and all the dates that will come.

From Mario Batali’s Cannolis from Food Network.com

So before making these I checked the reviews of the recipe. They weren’t so stellar–so I made a few suggested edits to the recipe, as notated and have to say these came out WONDERFULLY. 

First things first you will need some type of cannoli mold.  You can buy metal tubes, or like me cut an extra large cake dowel (approximately an inch in diameter) into 4″ pieces.  I used this dowel as part of the legs of my last cake(pictures below), and as I’ve read using a broom handle is perfectly accetable for a cannoli mold. Wooden molds do have a shorter shelf life since they get so infused with oil in the frying process.

The next prep step is to drain your riccotta cheese using a cheese cloth. Its not listed in the directions but its a good idea based on the reviews. Wrap in 1 lb. Ricotta cheese in cheese cloth.  I placed my cheese on a grease guard screen you’d place over a frying pan. This was suspended over a plate to catch the drippings. I placed another plate ontop and let it sit in the fridge. I actually put a 1/2 gallon of milk on top to help the cheese drain faster.

Shells:

2 c flour

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp cocoa

2 tbsp cold butter

6 tbsp marsala wine ( i ended up using 8 tbsp)

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, cut butter into dry ingredients using 2 knives…I used my pastry mixer like i would for a pie crust. Add marsala and mix to form dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate.

For the filling

1 lb ricotta cheese (I used part skim–cows milk, sheep’s milk was suggested)

1/2 c super fine sugar

4tbsp grated orange peel ( !!! Thats alot suggested!! I grated one whole orange and didn’t measure– it was plenty)

1/2c  mini chocolate chips

1tsp vanilla

1/3 cup lemon juice (!!!I used 1 tsp!!! 1/3 c will ruin your filling!)

Combine all ingredients for the filling thoroughly.  If you don’t have super fine sugar (also called castor sugar) or don’t want to spend the cash on it, Take granulated sugar and grind it in your blender for a a few seconds–its the same as store bought.

To Fry:

1 egg white, lightly whisked for sealing the dough for frying

2 qt vegetable oil for frying

Powdered Sugar for dusting

Roll out dough to approximately 1/16 of an inch thin (my dough was definetly thicker). Cut with a 4″ circular cutter or with a knife. Wrap around cannoli mold and affix edges overlapping with egg white. Press firmly to ensure dough will not unwrap while frying.

Working in small batches carefullly set cannoli molds into a deep frying pan. Oil should be heated to 360 -375 degrees before cannolis are dropped in. When golden brown evenly, remove and let shells drain and dry. To Remove mold twist as you gently pull away from the shell.

Fill shells using a pastry bag with an open tip.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar and Mange!!!

Heres to a very happy life with my sweetie!

2 comments February 2, 2012

8 Days a Week or Living La Vida Loca

I think one of the best phrases the Beatles ever came up with was “8 days a week.” Lately I feel that’s what my work schedule is– 8 days a week. And me being me, I can’t help but add to a completely chuck full plate and throw in another project– aka a cake. I’ll sleep when I’m dead as they say.

Around 4am on Sunday I left work feeling exhausted and accomplished. My overall highlight of the night? I saw Ricki Martin! Let me break it down and have a true confession here, for a minute.  I loved Ricki Martin when I was in High School. I probably loved him more than was good for my already suffering drama-geek reputation. I loved him so much I went to see him in concert and I even had his spanish album Vuelve. I knew all the words en espanol and believed that we might actually make out someday…so much for dreams!

As Ricki’s career waned so did my love and I think about how gaga I was for him as a goofy teenage phase.  On Saturday he arrived to Frederick P. Rose Hall in support of a friend Michael Cerveris, who was performing– they are both in an upcoming run of Evita on Broadway.  As his 6’2″ frame smoothly strolled out of the theater, I got a long look at my teenage crush. His hair was dark and swept to the side and he wore black rimmed “dork” glasses– I wear them too, though he pulled off a Clark Kent kind of look, where the best I can do is be compared to Sarah Palin.  As he passed me I heard him speaking in Spanish to his friends.  And I’m still perplexed as I’ve never heard another dialect of Spanish with quite the same sultry quality.

For a minute I was that dorky 16 year old pining for the gorgeous Latin Sensation. Speaking of Dorky, heres my other weekend endeavor” Bot” from Umizoomi. Everytime I do a kids cake I am shocked at how out of the loop I am in terms of kids characters and TV shows.  Hopefully you can see in the pictures that cake is actually suspended over dowels decorated to look like legs and feet.

A bit of a challenge more so than I anticipated, but I heard with was a hit at the party for a young Mr. Braydon.  All in all a good week/ weekend.  On one last dork note, I’m thinking about getting an iphone…any suggestions on model or memory??

Add a comment January 24, 2012

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