Archive for February 2012




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

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